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Obituaries in the News

May 1, 1998

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ Florence Skelly Altman, who helped develop many techniques now standard in opinion research, died Tuesday of heart disease. She was 73.

Ms. Skelly, as she was known professionally, developed the use of simulated test markets to gauge the potential of new products.

In 1990, the Market Research Council inducted Ms. Skelly into its Market Research Hall of Fame.

She was a partner in the New York research firm of Yankelovich, Skelly and White. Two years after the firm was sold, the three left to start another company, DYG Inc., a opinion research firm.

Frederic Downs

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (AP) _ Actor Frederic Downs, who spent 10 years on the soap opera ``Days of Our Lives″ and appeared in motion pictures with Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood, died Friday. He was 81.

Downs, appeared in the movies ``Terror From the Year 5000,″ ``California Kid,″ ``Splendor in the Grass″ and ``Playhouse 54.″ He worked for several studios, including Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., MGM and Columbia, and all three major TV networks.

Downs performed in the touring company of ``Three Penny Opera″ and in 1957 opened the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical ``Fiorello.″ He received the Los Angeles Critics Circle Award in 1974 for best supporting actor in ``Bus Stop″ at the Met Theatre.

Downs also wrote, produced and directed ``Lincoln’s Scrapbook,″ a play about President Abraham Lincoln.

Nizar Qabbani

LONDON (AP) _ Nizar Qabbani, the Syrian-born poet admired by generations of Arabs, died Thursday of a heart attack. He was 75.

Qabbani became popular in 1954 when he published ``Childhood of A Breast,″ which broke from the conservative traditions of Arab literature. He wrote poems dealing with social and political issues.

Qabbani, a committed Arab nationalist, had two themes that dominated his verse: dictatorship and the Arab-Israeli conflict. His later work also criticized the male dominance of Arab society and its attempts to deprive women of their rights.

He also contributed to the London-based Arabic-language newspaper, al-Hayat.

William I. Ray

ATLANTA (AP) _ William I. Ray Jr., who retired as president of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after four decades in the newspaper business, died Tuesday from complications of a heart attack. He was 83.

Ray worked for newspapers in Atlanta, starting with the Atlanta Georgian in 1935. He then rose through the ranks of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, first as a sports writer and later becoming Chief executive. He retired in 1976.

Ray was named outstanding alumnus of the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1979.

Harrison Browning Ross

WOODBURY, N.J. (AP) _ Harrison Browning Ross, a two-time Olympian who founded America’s first magazine for runners and the Road Runners Club of America, died Monday of a heart attack. He was 74.

Ross formed the Philadelphia Road Runners Club in 1957, and the Road Runners Club of America a year later. The Road Runners Club of America now has 180,000 members.

Ross won eight AAU national titles. He competed in the 1948 London Olympics, where he finished seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He placed first in the 1,500 meters, second in the steeplechase and fourth in the 5,000 meters in the 1951 Pan American Games in Buenos Aires.

He started the Long Distance Log in 1957, a newsletter that became America’s first magazine for runners. It ceased publication in 1975.

Gregor von Rezzori

FLORENCE, Italy, (AP) _ Gregor von Rezzori, an Austrian whose novels centered on life in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, died April 23. He was 83.

His best-known novels include ``Cernopol’s Ermine,″ published in 1958; ``The Death of My Brother Abel,″ published in 1976; and ``Memoirs of an Anti-Semite,″ first published in 1979.

Most of Von Rezzori’s works were set in an imaginary place with all the characteristics of the lost empire.

Helen Ward

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ Helen Ward, whose supple voice and sense of swing contributed to the early success of the Benny Goodman band, died April 21. She was 82.

Ward toured and recorded with Goodman’s band from 1934 to 1936 and rejoined Goodman for performances and recordings after World War II.

Ward sang with the Benny Goodman band on the radio program ``Let’s Dance,″ from December 1934 to May 1935, and recorded songs including ``Goody,″ ``It’s Been So Long″ and the million-seller ``These Foolish Things.″

Ward later performed with bands led by Hal McIntyre and Harry James and recorded with James, Teddy Wilson, Gene Krupa, Bob Crosby and Red Norvo, among others.

After retiring in the late 1940s, she rejoined Goodman for tours and recordings in 1953, 1957 and 1958. In 1979, she came out of retirement and performed at clubs in New York.