CARTERVILLE, Mo. (AP) _ Joe Cruzan, whose four-year battle to stop life support for his daughter, Nancy, sparked a national right-to-die debate, was found dead Saturday, an apparent suicide, his uncle said.
Cruzan, who was found by his wife in their home in Carterville, had hanged himself, Virgil Cruzan said. Police refused to release any information on his death.
Cruzan’s age was not immediately available.
Nancy Cruzan suffered permanent brain damage in a 1983 car wreck that left her in a persistent vegetative state. Doctors said Ms. Cruzan could have lived 30 or 40 years in the comatose condition.
Four years later, her parents asked a Jasper County judge for permission to remove Ms. Cruzan’s feeding tube and allow her to die.
The judge agreed, but the state of Missouri appealed. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against the Cruzans in 1990. By a 5-4 decision, the court said the state could require ``clear and convincing″ evidence of a patient’s wishes before allowing them to die.
After the Supreme Court ruling, three former co-workers of Ms. Cruzan’s stepped forward, saying she had told them she would never want to live ``like a vegetable″ on machines.
In December 1990, the Jasper County judge allowed the Cruzans to stop her feeding. The appeals of anti-euthanasia groups were denied, and Ms. Cruzan died Dec. 26, 1990, 12 days after the judge approved her family’s request.
Since then, the Cruzan family has led a personal campaign to get people to express their wishes about life-sustaining treatment before it’s necessary.
Cruzan, a sheet-metal worker, was never comfortable with the attention his daughter’s case received, and sometimes expressed doubts that he had done the right thing.
``I’ve wondered sometimes if we have finally accomplished for God what he set out to do. People say that’s blasphemy, but I don’t mean it that way. I mean it as, `Where does God fit into the equation?‴ he said in 1991.
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) _ Eric Cullen, the 4-foot, 4-inch actor whose television career was ruined by convictions for indecency with children, died Friday. He was 31.
Cullen died following surgery to relieve a restricted bowel _ a congenital condition related to achondroplasia, or dwarfism.
Cullen contended that he had been a victim of sexual abuse since age 13, and that the more than 100 pornographic video tapes found in his home belonged to one of his abusers. That man is serving a 14-year sentence for sex offenses.
Cullen’s arrest in 1993 and conviction two years later ended his role as Wee Burney, one of the two foul-mouthed and feckless sons in ``Rab C Nesbitt,″ a BBC comedy about down-and-out life in the dismal public housing estates of Glasgow.
Cullen was sentenced to nine months in prison, and spent 15 days under suicide watch before successfully appealing for a reduction in sentence to probation. He later made formal complaints against two men he claimed had abused him.
AKRON, Ohio (AP) _ Joseph DiLauro, a pianist who accompanied Cab Calloway, the Ink Spots and other performers, died Thursday at age 88.
During the Depression, DiLauro also conducted the Akron Civic Concert Orchestra, playing for neighborhood street dances.
DiLauro also accompanied performers Joe Penner, Ray Bolger and Vaughn Monroe. He toured nationally with several bands and performed on radio.
LONDON (AP) _ The Very Rev. Eric Evans, dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral since 1988, died Saturday. He was 68.
Evans had continued to work as the cathedral’s presiding official despite being slowed by arthritis and sometimes requiring oxygen because of a chronic chest illness. He was due to retire in September.
During Evans’ tenure, the cathedral where Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married took the controversial step of charging tourists for admission.
``We had a deficit of about 600,000 pounds (nearly $1 million),″ Evans said when the charge was imposed in 1992. ``Unlike French cathedrals and other continental churches, English cathedrals are not maintained by the state.″
Evans was a traditionalist who opposed the Church of England’s decision to ordain women as priests, and was a staunch defender of the royal family.