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Obituaries in the News

July 8, 1998

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) _ Moshood Abiola, Nigeria’s most prominent political prisoner, died Tuesday of a heart attack during a meeting with a visiting U.S. delegation. He was 60.

Abiola was the apparent winner of 1993 presidential elections annulled by the military government then in power. Dictator Gen. Sani Abacha, who took power in a coup later that year, jailed Abiola in 1994, accusing him of treason. Abacha died last month of a heart attack.

The U.S. delegation, led by Thomas Pickering, former ambassador to Nigeria, was in the country to meet with the new military leader, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, and to lobby for the release of political prisoners.

Abiola became a rallying point for Nigeria’s disparate opposition groups during his years of imprisonment.

Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited Nigeria and announced that Abubakar was planning to release Abiola and other political prisoners soon.

Abiola amassed a fortune in industries including publishing, shipping, and oil. He also worked for the International Telephone and Telegraph Corp., serving as company chairman for Africa and the Middle East from 1971 to 1988.

Jim Burnett

NORTH CANTON, Ohio (AP) _ Jim Burnett, a longtime Ohio broadcaster and former president of the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters, died in his sleep Monday. He was 72.

Burnett was news director at WHBC AM-FM radio station in Canton for 22 years. He served terms as president, vice president and regional director of the OAPB.

Burnett, who retired in 1988, began his broadcast career in Youngstown. He joined WHBC as a news reporter in 1953 and was appointed assistant news director in 1961 and news director in 1966.

Survivors include his wife, Susie, and three children.

Bruce Galphin

ATLANTA (AP) _ Bruce Galphin, international wine judge and former writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Washington Post, died Monday of complications from a stroke. He was 65.

In 1986, for his promotion of French wines, Galphin was awarded the highest honor the French government can bestow on an American civilian, Chevalier of the Ordre du Merite Agricole. He was only the second American to be so honored.

Galphin was executive director of the international wine competition, Atlanta Wine Summit, which will be continued under his name. The summit is a reorganization of the Atlanta International Wine Festival Competition that began in 1982 and grew into the largest international wine competition outside of Europe.

Galphin also wrote an unauthorized biography of former Gov. Lester Maddox and was co-author of the coffee-table book ``Atlanta: The Triumph of a People.″

He formerly was on the editorial board and a political reporter for the Atlanta Constitution, managing editor of Atlanta Magazine, a Washington Post reporter and in 1962 attended Harvard as a Nieman Fellow in journalism.

He is survived by a half-brother.

Aphrodite B. Haseotis

DUXBURY, Mass. (AP) _ Aphrodite B. Haseotis, who immigrated to America in 1909 and founded the Cumberland Farms milk chain with her husband 30 years later, died Sunday. She was 96.

In 1939, she and her husband, Vasilios S. Haseotis, bought a tract of wooded land on Bear Hill Road in Cumberland, R.I., and started their business with a single cow.

The company, now based in Canton, has hundreds of retail stores and processes millions of gallons of milk every week.

Semon E. Knudsen

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) _ Automotive executive Semon E. Knudsen, who bolted from General Motors Corp. only to be fired after 19 months as president of Ford Motor Co., died Monday. He was 85.

Knudsen, whose father was president of GM from 1937 to 1940, headed the No. 1 automaker’s Pontiac and Chevrolet divisions in the 1950s and early 1960s. Record sales prompted former Ford Chairman Henry Ford II to offer Knudsen the presidency of the No. 2 automaker in 1963.

Knudsen declined, holding out for the top position at GM _ where he had become executive vice president of U.S. non-automotive divisions and all international operations. But he was passed over for the GM presidency in 1967, and he joined Ford the following year.

Knudsen encountered immediate opposition from a contingent of Ford executives led by Lee Iacocca, who took over as president after Knudsen was fired during a 10-minute meeting in September 1969. Iacocca himself would be fired nine years later.

In 1971, Knudsen became chairman and CEO of White Motor Co., which made heavy trucks and farm equipment. He retired as chairman in 1980.

Anthony D. Liberatore Sr.

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Anthony D. Liberatore Sr., who was convicted in the slayings of two police officers and a rival gangster, died Wednesday of a heart attack and dementia while serving a 10-year prison term for money laundering and racketeering. He was 77.

Liberatore served 20 years of a life prison term in the 1937 slayings of two Cleveland police officers. The main triggerman was executed in 1938.

In 1965, Liberatore became business manager of Local 860 of the Laborers International Union of North America. His son, Anthony Jr., is the current head of the local.

In 1982, Liberatore was convicted of bribing an FBI clerk to obtain a list of informants and was convicted of racketeering in the car bombing that killed rackets figure Danny Greene during a fight for control of the mob in Cleveland.

Liberatore was released from prison in 1990, but two years later was convicted of federal labor racketeering and money laundering and went back to prison.

Gene Letourneau

WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) _ Gene Letourneau, the dean of Maine’s outdoor writers, died Sunday from complications of a stroke. He was 90.

Letourneau’s ``Sportsmen Say″ column was a fixture in Guy Gannett newspapers in Portland, Waterville and Augusta.

Letourneau’s first career was as a musician. He began playing drums in the pit orchestra at the Waterville Opera House in the early 1920s, providing music for silent films and vaudeville shows.

Letourneau began his newspaper career in the Waterville bureau of the Portland Evening Express. He soon moved over to the Waterville Sentinel’s staff.

In 1930, he began his ``Sportsmen Say″ outdoors column which became an immediate success. Sportsmen and women from across the state _ and eventually the nation _ began calling and writing him about issues and adventures.

For years, Letourneau combined column-writing with other duties at the paper. Finally, Guy P. Gannett, founder of the chain of Maine newspapers, asked him to become a full-time columnist.

He is survived by his three children, their spouses and eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

George Lloyd

LONDON (AP) _ George Lloyd, who wrote 12 symphonies in a late Romantic style and was associated with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, died Friday. He was 85.

He completed a Requiem, scored for chorus and organ, shortly before his death.

Lloyd began playing the violin at age 5 and wrote his first composition at age 10. His First Symphony was completed in 1932, and two years later his opera, ``Iernin,″ with a libretto by his father, was produced. His second opera, ``The Serf,″ was also well received in 1938.

Lloyd joined the Royal Marines during World War II and suffered severe post-traumatic stress after his ship was sunk. He was discharged in 1942, and his Fourth Symphony was completed in 1946, but years passed before his health and career recovered.

Later in life, his career blossomed with the help of pianist John Ogdon, who commissioned a concerto; conductor Edward Downes; and the Albany Symphony Orchestra in Albany, N.Y., which commissioned his last two symphonies. The Albany orchestra recorded those symphonies and two others.

Lenore Romney

LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ Lenore Romney, the widow of former Gov. George Romney and the state’s only first lady to run for U.S. Senate, died Tuesday from complications of a stroke. She was 89.

George Romney served as chairman and president of American Motors Corp. from 1954 to 1962, when he was elected governor. He unsuccessfully sought the GOP presidential nomination in 1968, then resigned as governor in 1969 to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Richard Nixon.

Mrs. Romney ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 1970. She won a tight contest against Robert Huber, a conservative state senator from Oakland County, but lost the general election to popular Democratic incumbent Phillip Hart, who won 67 percent of the vote.

Mrs. Romney also served on the boards of the National Conference for Christians and Jews, the Detroit Grand Opera Association and the National Center for Voluntary Action.

Charles Carr Smith

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) _ Charles Carr Smith, who served as president of the Georgia Associated of Broadcasters and the Georgia Associated Press Broadcasters Association, died Tuesday of cancer. He was 71.

Smith was the general manager and owner of radio station WDEC-FM in Americus between 1948 and 1968. He later owned WPDC-AM and FM in Elizabethtown, Pa., before selling his interests in the stations and moving back to Georgia.

In Gainesville, he directed the Brenau University radio station WBCX-FM and taught broadcasting and speech at the college in the 1980s.

Smith served as a director of the National Association of Broadcasters from 1965 to 1970. He was inducted into the Georgia Association of Broadcasters in 1996.

He is survived by his wife, Sue Marshall Smith; a sister, three daughters and three grandsons.

Kay Thompson

NEW YORK (AP) _ Kay Thompson, the author of a series of books about the adventures of a spoiled 6-year-old named Eloise, died Thursday. She was believed to be in her 90s.

Thompson was a singer on radio and then a musical arranger and composer in Hollywood before turning to nightclubs and, then, books.

Among the films she contributed to were ``The Ziegfeld Follies,″ 1944, directed by Vincente Minnelli, and ``The Harvey Girls,″ 1946, which starred Judy Garland.

Thompson also had occasional roles in front of the camera, notably as the fashion editor in the 1957 Fred Astaire-Audrey Hepburn film, ``Funny Face.″

She was best known for creating the fictional Eloise, the poor little rich girl who lives at the Plaza Hotel with her nanny, her dog and her turtle while her mother is off seeking the sun.

``Eloise,″ published in 1955, led to an Eloise doll, a record, fashions, a TV special and three sequels: ``Eloise in Paris,″ 1957; ``Eloise at Christmastime,″ 1958; and ``Eloise in Moscow,″ 1959. The original is still in print, a perennial favorite among city girls.

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