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Obituaries in the News

November 27, 2003

Ramona Barnes

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ Ramona Barnes, a tough-talking, gritty Republican from Anchorage who rose to be the first woman speaker of the House, died Wednesday. She was 65.

She was the first woman to hold every legislative leadership position, from majority leader to minority whip, and became House speaker in 1993.

Barnes served 20 years in the Legislature, first elected in 1978, and gained a reputation for taking care of her friends and punishing her enemies.

Under attack by an Alaska Native lawmaker for a lack of spending on rural water and sewer projects, Barnes called the lawmaker a bigot who hated white people. She later apologized for the remarks.

On her desk, Barnes displayed a pair of brass balls _ actually 2-pound fishing sinkers painted gold _ given to her by Senate President Rick Halford as a joke.

Barnes was a social conservative who pushed for greater resource development _ especially oil _ in Alaska.


J. Robert Cook

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ J. Robert Cook, a longtime producer for Indianapolis television station WFYI and the winner of six Emmys for his documentary and feature work, died Tuesday of pneumonia. He was 51.

Cook worked at the Public Broadcasting Service station for 26 years, producing documentaries and segments for the ``Across Indiana″ program.

His work included profiles of local artists for the ``Painting Indiana″ special in 2001 and a tour of Indiana’s state parks, nature preserves and natural wonders for this year’s ``Naturally Indiana″ documentary.

An original member of WFYI’s ``Across Indiana″ production team, Cook’s work also won a Humanities Achievement Award from the Indiana Humanities Council for his documentary ``Visible Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Indiana 1921-1928.″ The film was distributed nationally, airing on more than 100 PBS stations.


Abelardo Forero

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Abelardo Forero, a politician who tried to soothe a nation wracked by violence, died Tuesday. He was 91.

He served eight terms as a Liberal Party lawmaker in Congress in the aftermath of an era known as ``La Violencia,″ in which thousands were slaughtered in fighting in rural Colombia between partisans of the Conservative and Liberal parties. In the 1970s, Forero endeavored to end animosity between his party and the rival Conservatives that paralyzed Congress.

Forero began a diplomatic career early in the last century, taking part in a delegation to the League of Nations. At different times, he met with Adolf Hitler and Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill.

He spent much of his early years as reporter for the newspapers El Liberal and El Espectador.

Forero also was an ambassador to Argentina, and served as a professor of history and philosophy in Bogota’s Los Andes University.

In 1978, Forero launched a television show, ``The Past in the Present,″ that brought to life Colombia’s tumultuous history. The award-wining program ran for 15 years.


Donald Gratz

NEW YORK (AP) _ Donald Gratz, a metal craftsman who helped create pieces for such designers as Maya Lin, Philip Johnson and Isamu Noguchi, died Nov. 22 of cancer. He was 68.

Gratz owned Gratz Industries, a metal-fabricating business started by his father, Frank Gratz, and a partner, Harold Treitel, in 1929. The company, Treitel-Gratz, worked on the interior of Radio City Music Hall among many other projects.

Gratz joined the business after graduating from St. Lawrence University in 1955. The company, renamed Gratz Industries, began doing custom pieces for sculptors as well as contract furniture manufacturing.

Gratz helped create furniture designed by Johnson and Mies van der Rohe and on the timepiece by Lin in Penn Station.


Sheik Abu Hassan Aref Halawi

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ The spiritual leader of the Druse, Sheik Abu Hassan Aref Halawi, died Wednesday. He was 103.

An offshoot of Islam, the Druse have 300,000 followers in Lebanon and nearly half a million around the world. There are small Druse communities in Israel, Syria and other Arab states.

Halawi issued a religious decree banning the Druse from collaborating with the Israeli government or serving in its army. Druse who live in Israel often serve in the military.


John Patrick Hunter

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ John Patrick Hunter, a crusading journalist who once tried _ and failed _ to get citizens to sign the Declaration of Independence during the heyday of Joe McCarthy, died Wednesday. He was 87.

As Hunter told the story, the city editor of The Capital Times directed him to find something to write about for the Fourth of July in 1951.

The assignment came at the height of the campaign by McCarthy, a Republican senator from Wisconsin, to root out what he considered to be Communist influences in government and the entertainment industry.

Hunter took the preamble to the Declaration, six of the 10 amendments that make up the Bill of Rights plus the 15th Amendment, typed them up in the form of a petition, and headed to Vilas Park to see if anyone would sign it.

In his resulting report, Hunter said that of the 112 people he talked to that day, only one would sign the petition _ and 20 accused him of being a Communist. Many said they feared repercussions if they signed any petitions.

After national publications picked up on the story, President Truman called to congratulate Capital Times Editor and Publisher William T. Evjue for running the account and later cited it in a speech.

Hunter joined The Capital Times in January 1951. He became editorial page editor of newspaper in 1970, and in 1979 became associate editor in charge of the paper’s political coverage.

Hunter retired from the newspaper in 1995.


Audrey Love

NEW YORK (AP) _ Audrey Love, an art collector and patron who contributed to the construction of the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan, died Saturday in Key Biscayne, Fla. She was 100.

Love, who was the daughter of Edyth Guggenheim and Adm. Louis Josephthal, grew up in Manhattan and graduated from Smith College.

She and her late husband, financier and diplomat C. Ruxton Love Jr., were avid collectors of art, including Napoleonic works that were featured in a Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibit in 1978.

Love was a director of the New York Infirmary Hospital and a member of the Committee for Deaf and Dumb Children at Lenox Hospital. She was president of the American Women’s Voluntary Service during World War II.


Mary Quinne

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ A pioneer of Egyptian cinema, the actress and movie producer Mary Quinne, died Tuesday. She was 90.

Quinne, whose original name is Mary Younis, acted in or produced more than 45 films. The best known were ``The Seventh Wife,″ ``Sacrificing My Love″ and ``Prisoner No. 17.″

With her late husband, the director Ahmed Galal, she set up the movie production company Studio Galal in 1944. It helped establish Egypt as the center of the Arabic-language cinema industry. It also gave many young actors and directors their first break.

Among the movies she produced were ``Son of the Nile,″ ``Women Without Men,″ ``The Poor Millionaire″ and ``Dawn of a New Day.″


John Steensma

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) _ John Steensma, an internationally recognized advocate for the disabled who helped found a rehabilitation center in Korea, died Monday. He was 82.

Steensma, who had two prosthetic arms, was a pioneer in the use of prosthetics both in Michigan and Korea.

Steensma lost his arms at 18 after being electrocuted while trying to free a homemade parachute from a power line.

Although he intended to go into the seminary, he accepted a position as director of a statewide rehabilitation for handicapped children in 1945. He remained with the program for 12 years before moving with his family to South Korea.

There, he worked with amputees at a small clinic that later grew into a seven-story rehabilitation complex attached to a university medical complex in Seoul.

Steensma also developed a shoe for victims leprosy. The illness wears away at a patient’s sole.

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