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Obituaries in the News

April 25, 2001

NEW YORK (AP) _ Lionel Abel, an award-winning playwright and novelist, died April 19. He was 90.

Abel was best known for his play ``Absalom,″ which told the tale of King David’s struggle to decide which of his sons would succeed him. The play won an Obie award for best play of the 1956 Off-Broadway season.

In his 1984 memoir, ``The Intellectual Follies,″ Abel revisited his early days living in New York City’s Greenwich Village among people such as Joe Gould and Maxwell Bodenheim, and his later years when he was friendly with Abstract Expressionist painters including Willem De Kooning and Franz Kline. He also translated work by Rimbaud and Sartre.

Although he never earned a bachelor’s degree, his writings earned him a professorship at the State University of New York in Buffalo, where he taught until 1980.

James Estes Baker

NEW YORK (AP) _ James Estes Baker, who became the first black American diplomat posted in South Africa during apartheid, died April 15 from lung disease. He was 66.

Baker joined the diplomatic corps in 1960 and was an economics specialist at the U.S. embassy in Pretoria from 1973 to 1975.

He left the foreign service in 1980 to direct economic and emergency relief programs at the Untied Nations until 1995. He later taught courses on diplomacy and disaster relief at Long Island University.

Electra Waggoner Biggs

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ Sculptor and oil-and-ranching heir Electra Waggoner Biggs died Monday. She was 88.

In her artistic career, Biggs was commissioned to create busts of Bob Hope, Knute Rockne, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry Truman. Among her works was ``Into the Sunset,″ the bronze statue in Fort Worth of the late humorist Will Rogers astride his horse.

Biggs was heir to Waggoner Ranch, which continues to manage more than 520,000 acres of ranch, farm and oil properties.

Maria Karnilova

NEW YORK (AP) _ Maria Karnilova, a Broadway actress and a charter member of American Ballet Theater, died Friday. She was 80.

Karnilova won a Tony Award in 1964 for her performance as Golde in ``Fiddler on the Roof.″ She garnered praise for her roles in ``Zorba″ in 1968 and ``Gypsy″ in 1959.

From the 1940s to the 1960s, she performed in many productions, including ``Miss Liberty,″ ``Two’s Company,″ ``The Beggar’s Opera,″ ``Kaleidoscope″ and ``Bravo Giovanni.″

Karnilova began her career in 1927 at the Children’s Ballet of the Metropolitan Opera and joined the corps when Ballet Theater, now American Ballet Theater, was founded in 1939. She was the ballerina of the Metropolitan Opera Company in the 1952-53 season.

Archbishop Judson Michael Procyk

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Archbishop Judson Michael Procyk, head of the nation’s Byzantine-Ruthenian Church who fought to restore the right to ordain married men as Eastern Catholic priests in the United States, died Tuesday. He was 70.

Procyk, a native of Uniontown, Pa., was appointed in 1994 to head the Byzantine-Ruthenian Rite Province, which stretches from Erie to Texas. His archdiocese included 71,000 of the 236,000 Byzantine Catholics in the United States.

Eastern Catholics are loyal to the pope, but follow the practices of Eastern Orthodoxy.

In recent years, Procyk fought for the Vatican to lift a 72-year ban of U.S. married men becoming priests.

Although permitted in Eastern Catholic churches in Europe and the Middle East, in 1929, Rome banned it in the United States. Latin-rite bishops claimed that Slavic priests with wives and children were scandalizing the Irish faithful. The ban pushed many Eastern Catholics to convert to Orthodoxy.

In 1999, the Vatican permitted its bishops to submit the names of married candidates to Rome for approval on a case-by-case basis.

Floyd Schmoe

SEATTLE (AP) _ Floyd Schmoe, who was awarded Japan’s highest civilian honor, died Friday at an adult-care home. He was 105.

Schmoe left his forestry teaching position at the University of Washington during World War II to help interned Japanese-Americans.

In 1948, he and other volunteers traveled to Japan to rebuild homes for 30 families in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, cities devastated by atomic bombs. He was awarded Japan’s Order of the Sacred Treasure.

The sixth-generation Quaker was the first naturalist for Mount Rainier National Park and climb the mountain 14 times. During World War I, he drove an ambulance; during World War II, he helped evacuate European Jews.

He later helped build orphanages, hospitals, ditches and wells in South Korea, Africa and the Middle East. At age 95, Schmoe created Seattle Peace Park, overlooking Lake Union.

Robert Starer

KINGSTON, N.Y. (AP) _ Robert Starer, a composer of operas, ballets and orchestral works, died Sunday at age 77.

Starer wrote several pieces for the stage, including the ballets ``Samson Agonistes″ in 1961, ``Phaedra″ in 1962 and ``The Lady of the House of Sleep″ in 1978. He also wrote the opera ``Pantagleize,″ using his own libretto adapted from a play by Michel de Ghelderode.

Starer wrote several dramas with his companion, novelist Gail Godwin, including a chamber opera entitled ``The Last Lover″ (1975), and the two-act opera ``Apollonia″ (1979). His other works include a cello concerto for Janos Starker and a violin concerto for Itzhak Perlman and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Starer, born in Vienna, was presented in 1995 with the Medal of Honor for Science and Art by the president of Austria. He taught at the Juilliard School, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Florence Whiteman

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) _ Florence Whiteman, believed to be the last member of a Cheyenne women warrior society, died Sunday. She was 74.

Whiteman was an educator and historian who was featured in a number of documentaries and books, including Herman J. Viola’s ``Little Bighorn Remembered″ in 1999.

She was raised by her grandparents and, at age 12, was initiated into the Elk Scrapers. Women traditionally are barred from other warrior societies, and only three girls were inducted into the women’s society in the last century. Her membership made her exempt from the tribe’s tradition that women not speak out in public.

Whiteman served as an instructor at Dull Knife Memorial College in Lame Deer, where she taught native traditions.

Bruce Williams

ATLANTA (AP) _ Bruce Williams, the sausage maker and grocer whose links were delivered by limousine to Georgia governors and smuggled into the White House for President Jimmy Carter, died Monday at age 62.

Williams’ famous Rooster Pepper sausage was named by Atlanta lawyer Griffin Bell, attorney general in the Carter administration, and deemed an aphrodisiac by Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jordan.

President Carter asked for the sausage, but the Secret Service confiscated any food sent to him, Bell said. So Bell had his driver sneak the sausage through the White House fence to presidential adviser Charles Kirbo, who Bell said smuggled it inside.

Paul E. Wilson

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Retired law professor Paul E. Wilson, who helped represent the losing side in the U.S. Supreme Court case that outlawed racial segregation in the nation’s schools, died Sunday. He was 87.

Wilson was an assistant attorney general when the suit challenging racial segregation of the Topeka schools was considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, leading to the landmark 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. He was assigned to argue the case for the state.

Wilson’s book describing his experience on the case, entitled ``A Time To Lose,″ was published in 1995. He said he did not argue that the Kansas racial segregation law was right or just, but that it was constitutional.

Wilson joined the faculty at the University of Kansas School of Law in 1957 and became a nationally known authority on criminal law, serving as co-editor of the American Criminal Law Quarterly. He also started the school’s Defender Project to represent prison inmates. He retired in 1981.

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