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Obituaries in the News

October 22, 2004

Jack Besser

CHICAGO (AP) _ Jack Besser, co-founder of Monogram Models Inc., which became the nation’s largest model hobby firm, has died. He was 89.

He died Tuesday of lymphoma at a Lake Forest hospice, his family said.

Besser pooled his savings with Robert Reder, a company designer, to found Monogram Models.

The first model line _ three different ships _ was created in the basement of Reder’s home. In ensuing years, the business’ growth required several moves to ever larger locales. By 1961, the company needed more space to handle a model line that included dozens of different cars, airplanes and ships.

Besser joined the Army during World War II, serving with the military police as an inspector. After his discharge, he became sales manager at Comet, a Chicago toy modeling company.

Mattel bought the company in 1968, but Besser remained its president until 1975. Mattell later sold Monogram Models to a banking firm that bought Revell and blended the two companies. Revell-Monogram now belongs to private investors, The Revell Group.


Bob Castleberry

DENTON, Texas (AP) _ Bob Castleberry, who won a $10 million sweepstakes and went on to become mayor of Denton, died Thursday. He was 75.

City spokesman John Cabrales said officials believe the former mayor died of natural causes.

In 1989, Castleberry won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. He was elected mayor in 1990 and served through the spring of 1996.

For years, Castleberry had considered running for mayor _ a nonpaying job _ but finances held him back. Winning the sweepstakes changed all that. Castleberry announced his bid for mayor, then quit his sales job.

Denton is about 35 miles northwest of Dallas.


Julia Scott Reed

DALLAS (AP) _ Julia Scott Reed, one of the first blacks to work in the newsroom of a major daily newspaper in the South, has died. She was 87.

She died Tuesday at her home of complications from surgery in June, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Reed, the first black hired full-time by a Dallas newspaper, wrote a column called The Open Line for The Dallas Morning News for 11 years beginning in 1967.

She started her career as Texas correspondent for a Kansas City, Mo., newspaper. She honed her skills at the weekly Dallas Express, covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She was present when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 24, 1963.

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