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Obituaries in the News

August 21, 1999

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ Industrial designer, architect and artist Alfons Bach, who helped create one the nation’s first shopping malls, died Thursday. He was 95.

Born in Magdeburg, Germany, Bach studied architecture in Berlin and opened a design firm in New York City in 1928.

During a career that spanned seven decades, he worked on the Ridgeway Center, a pioneering shopping mall in Stanford, Conn., and designed the interior of Trans World Airlines’ Constellation airliner for billionaire Howard Hughes, who owned TWA at the time.

Bach was a co-founder and national president of the American Designers Institute, which later merged with the Industrial Design Society of America.

``His biggest impact is he had hung in there the longest,″ said Carroll Gantz, a retired industrial designer who is writing a history of 20th century industrial design. ``He was one of the first generation designers and that makes him unusual.″

Bach’s design clients included furniture maker Heywood Wakefield, carpet manufacturer Bigelow-Sanford, General Electric, Keystone Silver and Pacific Mills, a linen maker.

His drawings and papers are stored at Cooper-Hewitt, the National Design Institute of the Smithsonian Institution in New York and some of his works have been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Robert Byck

BOSTON (AP) _ Dr. Robert Byck, a Yale Medical School brain researcher who in 1979 gave Congress an early warning about smokable cocaine, died Aug. 9 of complications from a stroke suffered three days earlier. He was 66.

In the early 1970s, Byck and a Yale associate, Dr. J. Murdoch Ritchie, were the first to show that the major component of marijuana _ tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC _ had a direct effect on nerve cells and was more dangerous than previously thought.

Shortly afterward, Byck and colleagues began a study on the use of coca paste in Peru that led him to predict a coming crisis in the use of smoked cocaine.

In 1979, Byck told the House Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control that smoking coca paste gives a very intense, and almost immediate, high. Byck said that the United States did not have an epidemic of freebase or coca-paste smoking but that the possibility of one strongly existed.

``We are on the brink of a dangerous drug-use phenomenon,″ he said. ``We should do something about it as rapidly as possible.″

Robert Byck was born in Newark, N.J. He received his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania and joined the Yale faculty in 1969.

Gus Girves

AKRON, Ohio (AP) _ Gus Girves, founder of the Brown Derby restaurant chain, died Thursday after a long illness. He was 82.

Girves was born in Sommersworth, N.H., and later moved to Akron.

In 1942, Girves opened his first Brown Derby. He installed a huge bar in his first restaurant and sold liquor at cut-rate prices. The restaurant was open around the clock, and catered to war workers at the nearby Goodyear plant.

He went on to open Brown Derby restaurants in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and Arizona.

Girves, son of a Greek immigrant, was also known for his support of the Greek community in the Akron area.

Vera Krasovskaya

MOSCOW (AP) _ Vera Krasovskaya, a Russian dancer who later became a renowned ballet historian, died Aug. 15 after a serious illness. She was 83.

Krasovskaya began her career in the 1930s as a dancer at the Kirov Ballet, based at the Mariinsky Theater i n what was then Leningrad. She later studied at the city’s Theater Institute and earned a doctorate in art criticism there in 1955.

Krasovskaya wrote extensively on ballet issues for Soviet and foreign publications and published a number of books, including the multi-volume ``Ballet Theater in Russia″ and ``Western European Ballet Theater.″

Donald Louis Mason

HAWORTH, N.J. (AP) _ Donald Louis Mason, an FBI agent whose interest in art led to the creation of a loosely organized unit within the bureau’s major theft squad in New York that targeted art thieves, died Aug. 10 of cancer. He was 74.

Mason’s investigations included a widely publicized case in 1976, when film director Otto Preminger reported the theft of a Kandinsky painting ``Leise Deutung″ (``Soft Interpretations″), from his New York office.

Mason traced the painting from New York to Philadelphia, back to New York, and then to Basel, Switzerland, where it was seized and returned to Preminger. An advertising salesman was charged in connection with the theft.

After solving the case, Mason retired from the FBI and became a private consultant on art security. His clients included the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Newberry Library in Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Although Mason, a 25-year FBI veteran, had no formal art training, he frequented museums and ``was fascinated by all forms of art,″ his wife, Eleanor, told The New York Times for Saturday’s editions.

Stanley J. Winkelman

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) _ Stanley J. Winkelman, the former head of Winkelman’s department stores who also was known for his community involvement, died Thursday. He was 76.

After serving as a naval officer in World War II, Winkelman joined the family-owned business in 1946. His father and uncle formed Winkelman Brothers Apparel Inc. in 1928.

By 1966, when the company became publicly held, Winkelman’s had 62 stores. Ten years later, Winkelman became chairman and chief executive officer. He retired in 1984.

Petrie Retail Inc. purchased the chain in 1983 and last year, in the midst of bankruptcy reorganization, said it would close all remaining Winkelman’s stores.

Winkelman’s community involvement started in the 1960s, when he called upon the Detroit Board of Education to hire more black teachers. In 1967, following the Detroit riots, he called for an investigation of the city’s police department.

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