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Obituaries in the News

March 4, 1999

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Jack Atlas, who made some of the earliest movie trailers and started a company devoted to making the previews, died Friday. He was 81.

Atlas became a key figure in the trailer industry during the past 40 years of their evolution and was an authority on their history.

He began his career in MGM’s publicity department and later worked full-time creating previews. MGM was one of the first studios with a full-time trailer production staff, and only a dozen companies in the world produced trailers at the time Atlas started.

Trailers grew in popularity with ``talkies,″ and over the years evolved into a key marketing strategy for new film releases. Today, more than 100 companies make trailers.

After working for MGM and then Columbia, he started his own production company, Atlas Organization, in 1973, which made trailers for films and Ted Turner’s television enterprises.

Richard Braach

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) _ Richard ``Lee″ Braach, 44-year-old president of Tacoma’s longshore union, died Saturday after he collapsed outside his hotel while on business in Germany. The cause of death was not made public.

Braach rose from an entry-level dockworker to become president of Local 23 and a major player in West Coast port labor matters. He was elected local president last year and had been active in union matters since the early 1990s.

Friends said Braach also was a world-class athlete who had won a track and football scholarship to Washington State University.

Rev. W. Frank Harrington

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Rev. W. Frank Harrington, the leader of North America’s largest congregation in the Presbyterian Church USA, died Wednesday of cardio-respiratory failure. He was 63.

During Harrington’s 28 years at Peachtree Presbyterian, its membership went from 2,400 to the current nearly 12,000.

Harrington began his ministry at First Presbyterian Church in Hinesville and served at Fairview Presbyterian Church in North Augusta, S.C., before moving to Atlanta.

Laban Johnson

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) _ Laban Johnson, host of the nationally syndicated ``Cookin’ Cheap″ television show, was found dead at his apartment Tuesday. He was 56.

Johnson suffered from diabetes and heart disease.

Johnson, who had been the co-host of ``Cookin’ Cheap″ for 19 years, worked at the public TV station WBRA for 31 years in various capacities. He became best known as co-host with Larry Bly of the budget cooking program, which is televised in Roanoke and Philadelphia, and syndicated across the country on cable’s Nostalgia Channel.

Herbert C. Kelley

REVERE, Mass. (AP) _ Herbert C. Kelley, the head of technical services for The Associated Press in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, died Tuesday of a heart attack. He was 63.

``Herb was the best, a class act,″ said John Reid, AP vice president for technology. ``He was justifiably proud of all his accomplishments during his three decades with the AP, but he was even prouder of the people he worked with.″

Kelley, who worked for the wire service for 30 years, began with the AP when stories were moved over land lines at 55 words a minute. He helped oversee its transition to the computer age, with transmissions via satellite that handle 1,000 times that amount.

Kelley rose through the ranks of the Boston office, taking charge of northern New England operations and then southern California in 1975. He rose to deputy director of communications operations for the entire AP before coming back to Boston in 1980.

Survivors include three daughters, a son, a sister and seven grandchildren.

Stuart Mossman

WINFIELD, Kan., (AP) _ Stuart Mossman, a guitar maker, entertainer and entrepreneur, died Tuesday after a long hospitalization following a heart attack. He was 56.

Mossman built 6,000 guitars from 1968 to 1984, first in his garage and later in a factory with 28 employees.

His guitars attracted the attention of professionals and celebrities, including John Denver, Eric Clapton, Albert Lee, Doc Watson, Hank Snow, Cat Stevens and Merle Travis.

Mossman stopped making guitars when he suffered severe headaches and a skin condition caused by the chemicals used in guitar-making. The company was sold to a former employee and moved to Garland, Texas, where Mossman guitars are still being built.

Rev. Norman Perry

CINCINNATI (AP) _ The Rev. Norman Perry, editor-in-chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine since 1981, died Monday of heart failure. He was 69.

Perry, a Franciscan priest ordained in 1958, oversaw editing and production of the Roman Catholic monthly magazine, published for 105 years. It is published in Cincinnati by the Franciscan Friars, St. John the Baptist Province.

He served at St. Clement, St. Therese and St. William churches and the St. Francis Friary in the Cincinnati area and Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Perry won numerous awards for his writing and editing at the St. Anthony Messenger. In 1996, he won the Salesian Guild’s Distinguished Communicator Award.

Shirley Satin Simmons

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Shirley Satin Simmons, who appeared in television commercials and exercise videos with her son, fitness guru Richard Simmons, died Sunday. She was 87.

Mrs. Simmons, a New York City native, was a tap dancer when she met Leonard D. Simmons Sr., a singer and master of ceremonies, at a theatrical boarding house in Philadelphia in 1938, according to Leonard Simmons Jr.

They married and performed under the stage names Bobby and Shirley Leonard. They moved to New Orleans in 1939, where Mrs. Simmons tap danced in Bourbon Street variety shows.

After Leonard Jr. and Richard were born in 1946 and 1948, she abandoned show business and went to work selling cosmetics. She retired in 1965.

When Richard Simmons became well known through his exercise programs and fitness videos, his mother often was with him. She appeared in commercials with him and did an exercise video, ``The Silver Foxes,″ with the parents of other celebrities, including Sylvester Stallone’s father and Dustin Hoffman’s mother.

Dusty Springfield

LONDON (AP) _ Singer Dusty Springfield, the husky-voiced white soul singer who put her stamp on the 1960s with such hits as ``Son of a Preacher Man″ and ``Wishin’ and Hopin’,″ died Tuesday of breast cancer. She was 59.

The Encyclopedia of Popular Music paid tribute to her inviting voice, saying she could ``chill the spine and warm the heart.″

Springfield’s finest album is considered 1969′s ``Dusty in Memphis.″

Though she started out in several groups, her first solo success came in 1964 with the jaunty ``I Only Want To Be With You.″ Other hits included ``I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself″ and ``You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.″

In 1988, she returned to the charts by teaming up with the Pet Shop Boys duo for the pop single ``What Have I Done to Deserve This?″

Her resurgence was capped this decade with the inclusion of ``The Son of a Preacher Man″ on the ``Pulp Fiction″ soundtrack, which introduced her to a whole new audience.

Her breast cancer was diagnosed in 1994 shortly after she recorded her most recent album, ``A Very Fine Love.″

Springfield’s death came 11 days before she was to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony in New York, along with Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen.

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