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Obituaries in the News

April 20, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Grace Zia Chu, who introduced Americans to Chinese cooking through her book, ``The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking,″ died Thursday. She was 99.

Mrs. Chu wrote clearly and simply to tailor her recipes for American kitchens.

Mrs. Chu lived in Washington during World War II when her husband was posted as a military attache to the Chinese embassy, but returned to China at the end of the war.

They returned to the United States in 1950, settling in Manhattan in 1955. She wrote ``The Pleasures of Chinese Cooking″ in 1962.

Her husband died in 1985, and Mrs. Chu moved the following year to Columbus.

James Copp

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ James Copp, a cabaret singer and society columnist who also wrote children’s songs, died April 7 of respiratory problems, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was 85.

Copp collaborated with Ed Brown, a University of Southern California graduate, linguist and designer and wrote scripts for albums.

The zany songs described quirky characters such as the Glup family who traveled in a broken-down car with their pet cow. The duo made nine albums, and they are considered classics among children’s recordings.

His act, called James Copp III and His Thing, caught the eye of a Columbia Records talent scout and Copp soon headlined with performers such as Billie Holiday, Art Tatum and Lena Horne in New York cabarets.

After serving in the Army during World War II, he returned to Los Angeles and wrote the column ``Skylarking with James Copp,″ for the Los Angeles Times, beginning in 1950.

Cao Huoxing

BEIJING (AP) _ Cao Huoxing, whose best-known song, ``Without the Communist Party there would be no new China,″ died Friday at age 75, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

Cao began composing at age 16 and wrote more than 1,500 songs.

His most famous song became a standard of party propaganda. It was composed in the autumn of 1943, before the Communists won a civil war and took power in 1949.

Vanessa Hunter

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) _ Vanessa Hunter, a newscaster for 20 years in Williamsport for WILQ, died Saturday night of cancer. She was 43.

Ms. Hunter was a familiar sight at meetings, at City Hall and the Lycoming County Courthouse, and at the scene of breaking news.

She was also frequently honored by The Associated Press for exceptional local news coverage.

She is survived by her husband, Louie, and two sons.

Shijaku Katsura

TOKYO (AP) _ Shijaku Katsura, a popular performer of traditional ``rakugo″ comic monologues, died Monday at a hospital in western Japan. He was 59.

Katsura had been in a coma since last month, when he tried to hang himself in his home in Suita, 250 miles west of Tokyo.

Born Toru Maeda in Kobe, Katsura gained popularity with his lively and innovative performances in a western Japan dialect, though he also performed in English. He also was known for his humorous looks, characterized by his bald pate and broad smile.

``Laughing is a way to release stress,″ he once said.

After dropping out of the literature department at Kobe University, Katsura made his debut in 1962 under his previous stage name, Koyone. Using his English skills, Katsura developed his trademark ``rakugo,″ entertaining audiences in Europe, the United States and Australia since 1987.

Herbert Kunzel

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Herbert Kunzel, a businessman and lawyer who managed Republican campaigns and rescued bankrupt companies, died Saturday of heart failure. He was 90.

Kunzel was known as one of the premier salvagers of bankrupt companies and untangled two of the nation’s most difficult bankruptcies: Itel Corp. in San Francisco and Westgate California Corp., financier C. Arnholt Smith’s empire of banks, hotels and transport holdings.

An active Republican, he managed the campaigns of former U.S. Sen. Thomas Kuchel and Nelson Rockefeller’s presidential campaign in San Diego County.

Kunzel was one of the founders of a San Diego law firm now called Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps, where he practiced law before serving in the Naval Reserve during World War II. His military service earned him a Bronze Star.

William Pleeth

LONDON (AP) _ Cellist William Pleeth, a founding member of the Allegri string quartet and a master teacher whose students included the late Jacqueline du Pre, died April 6 of leukemia. He was 83.

A professor of cello at London’s Guildhall School of Music for 30 years, Pleeth taught du Pre, the celebrated British cellist whose life was the subject of the movie ``Hillary and Jackie,″ when she was a child prodigy.

Pleeth founded the Allegri quartet in 1952 and played across the world in duos, trios, string quarters and concertos.

He was educated in the capital and at the Leipzig Conservatoire, where he studied from 1930 to 1932. He made his debut in Leipzig in 1931.

Al Rawley

BANGOR, Maine (AP) _ Al Rawley, a radio and television personality who was the star of ``Popeye Theatre″ and co-starred in the ``Al and Aileen Show″ with his wife, died Friday. He was 80.

Rawley’s 60-year career included work in vaudeville as well as radio and television.

He began his career as a vaudevillian and radio star at age 13 and worked with the Sons of the Pioneers, Liberace, Basil Rathbone and Gabby Hayes. His also worked on MGM records and the CBS shows for Armed Forces Radio at the end of World War II.

The Rawleys spent 10 years at Channel 2 _ now WLBZ _ in Bangor before moving in 1967 to WEMT-TV Channel 7, now WVII. Rawley hosted a popular oldies program on Ellsworth’s WDEA radio station in the 1980s. Mrs. Rawley died in 1997.

Willi Stoph

BERLIN (AP) _ Former East German Premier Willi Stoph, who was dropped as a defendant in a manslaughter trial for killings at the Berlin Wall because of illness, died April 13 of a long illness. He was 84.

Stoph joined a Communist youth group in 1928. He served in Hitler’s army as a private in the artillery from 1940-42 and was released after being wounded.

He became East Germany’s first defense minister in 1956 and was known as the architect of the East German People’s Army.

Stoph moved up in East Germany’s Politburo hierarchy to become premier in 1970, succeeding Otto Grotewohl.

As East Germany’s communist rulers faced growing pressure for reform from a peaceful, popular uprising, Stoph was ousted Nov. 7, 1989, along with East German leader Erich Honecker. Two days later, the Berlin Wall was opened.

Along with Honecker and four other defendants, Stoph went on trial in Berlin on Nov. 13, 1992, charged with 13 counts of manslaughter in the killings of people trying to escape East Germany. He was dropped from the case in August 1993 after the court decided he was too sick to continue because of heart problems.

Honecker was also dropped from the trial due to illness. He died in exile in Chile in 1994.

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