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Obituaries in the News

April 12, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Author Forrest E. Fickling, creator of the Honey West series of detective novels that became a TV show in the 1960s, died of a brain tumor on April 3. He was 72.

Fickling died in a Laguna Hills nursing facility.

Fickling wrote 16 novels and he is best known for the 11 that featured Honey West, one of the first female fictional private detectives.

Fickling created Honey West in 1956.

``I first thought of Marilyn Monroe, and then I thought of fictional detective Mike Hammer and decided to put the two together,″ Fickling told The Los Angeles Times in 1986. ``We thought the most used name for someone you really like is Honey. And she lives in the West, so there was her name.″

Fickling wrote under the pseudonym G.G. Fickling.

Honey was known for her bejeweled handcuffs, a transistorized lipstick that doubled as a two-way radio and a pet ocelot. The TV show, starring Anne Francis, aired from 1965-66.

Glen Frazier Leet

NEW YORK (AP) _ Glen Frazier Leet, former president of the Save the Children Foundation and the United Nation’s first chief of community development, died on April 7. He was 89.

Leet died at his home in Manhattan.

His antipoverty work started in 1944 when he served as a United Nations volunteer in Greece after a period of war and civil strife.

In the 1950′s, Leet was the UN chief of community development, responsible for directing research and offering technical assistance in various nations.

Leet became president of the Save the Children Foundation in 1971.

With his wife, Mildred Robbins Leet, he founded Trickle Up, a program that offered small grants for people to start small businesses.

The program is estimated to have helped 350,000 people in 115 nations and is estimated to have spawned 67,500 enterprises.

Daniel Pompilio

NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) _ Daniel Pompilio, the last of the founders of Pompilio’s Italian restaurant where a scene from ``Rain Man″ was filmed, died Wednesday of heart failure. He was 80.

Pompilio was a teen-ager when his parents opened Pompilio’s with their three sons in 1933. The family ran the restaurant until 1982, when the three sons retired and sold it.

The restaurant was where actors Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman filmed the toothpick scene for the 1989 film ``Rain Man.″

Steven Lynn Smith

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Steven Lynn Smith, an award-winning broadcaster who became president of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, died Monday. He was 38.

Smith committed suicide, Paul Gomez, a news editor at KNX-AM, said Saturday. He died at at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Monday, the station said.

Smith had been suffering from AIDS, friends told the Los Angeles Times.

Smith was editorial director at KNX until he was overcome by the disease. He began his broadcasting career in 1982 as a producer for KNXT-TV, which later became KCBS-TV.

Among his awards were 10 Golden Mikes, 10 Greater Los Angeles Press Club Awards, four National Editorial Excellence Awards, the National Commendation From American Women in Radio and Television and the National Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

In 1989, Smith joined the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, a nonprofit group that performs around the world. After serving on the group’s board of directors, he was elected president last year.

The native of Chico, Calif., is survived by his parents, Les and Hazel Smith of Stevensville, Mont.; a brother and a sister.

Fannie Lou Spelce

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Folk artist Fannie Lou Spelce, known for capturing detailed scenes of Americana, died of heart failure at her home Saturday. She was 89.

``Fannie Lou Spelce was a delight in person and in her art work, which was so remarkable that we called her our `Grandma Moses of Texas,‴ said author Liz Carpenter, former press secretary to former first lady Lady Bird Johnson.

Mrs. Johnson said her family has six of Ms. Spelce’s paintings.

Ms. Spelce began her career as an artist late in life. She retired as registered nurse at 64, then made her debut in the art world with a one-woman show at the Kennedy Galleries in New York City.

Ms. Spelce often used single-hair paint brushes and a magnifying glass to capture the most intricate details of her subject. For example, ``The Quilting Bee″ took a year to complete and includes details of lace curtains and family photos on the walls.

``Texans talk about `true women,′ and she was one of truest,″ CBS News anchor Dan Rather said from his weekend home on Lake Travis, near Austin. ``She is and remains the Texas version of Grandma Moses.

``Her work is a record of what Texas was and is.″

Nguyen Co Thach

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) _ Former Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach, Vietnam’s urbane and articulate envoy to the world during its post-war isolation, has died, a government source said Sunday. He was 75.

There was no immediate official announcement and no cause of death was given, although Thach had suffered from longtime heart troubles. He died Friday at a Hanoi hospital, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Thach gained prominence as a member of Vietnam’s negotiating team during the Paris peace talks, which led to a U.S. agreement to pull troops out of South Vietnam. But he failed in his mission of establishing diplomatic relations with the United States.

In 1978, three years after the end of the Vietnam War, Thach met with U.S. officials in New York to discuss normalizing relations, hoping to reduce Vietnam’s dependence on the Soviet Union. He continued to press for reconciliation as foreign minister from 1980-91.

He was pushed from office at a Communist Party congress in 1991. Some analysts said it was because his pro-U.S. policy failed to bear fruit and because he opposed moves to draw closer to China.

Thach spent his last years in quiet retirement, even after ties with Washington finally were established in 1995.

Bengt Tornqvist

NEW YORK (AP) _ Bengt Tornqvist, a sea captain who designed cargo ships that could carry cars, died April 3 of intestinal problems. He was 82.

A resident of Stockholm and New York, Tornqvist founded Scandinavian Motorships, an agent company that got automobile manufacturers to use Wallenius Lines as their primary shipping line for export.

He was known as ``Mr. Car Carrier″ because of these ventures and his interest in designing the roll-on, roll-off ship, or RORO. Its creation in the 1940s helped spur the surge of imported cars into the United States.

Tornqvist also was a superintendent for the Swedish-Chicago Line from 1950 to 1953.

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