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Obituaries in the News

January 19, 1998

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Marilyn Costello, principal harpist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, died Jan. 5 of cancer. She was 72.

Known as a harp prodigy whose signature style made the harp sound operatic, Ms. Costello also taught at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia for more than 30 years.

Born in Cleveland, Ms. Costello began studying the piano at age 5 and won several prizes for piano in her teens.

She has said her life changed when she was 14 and ran her fingers across the strings of a harp backstage at the Cleveland Orchestra. She moved to Philadelphia, where her principal studies began with composer and harpist Carlos Salzedo at Curtis.

In 1945, her second year as a student at Curtis, Ms. Costello was asked to join the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Ms. Costello was the orchestra’s second harpist for about a half season and in 1946 was appointed principal harpist, the position she held until she retired in 1992. In 1974, she won the orchestra’s C. Hartman Kuhn Award, which is given to the orchestra’s leading musician.

F. Irvin Dymond

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ F. Irvin Dymond, the New Orleans lawyer who won an acquittal for businessman Clay Shaw in the JFK assassination conspiracy trial later fictionalized by movie maker Oliver Stone, died Saturday of cancer. He was 83.

Dymond was the lead attorney on a team of lawyers and investigators who went to work after Shaw was indicted for conspiring to kill President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

District Attorney Jim Garrison charged that Shaw had talked with Lee Harvey Oswald and former airline pilot David Ferrie about killing Kennedy. Shaw was arrested March 1, 1967. Two years to the day after his arrest, Shaw was acquitted of conspiracy charges.

Jim Feeney

NEW YORK (AP) _ Jim Feeney, an ABC-TV sports producer whose three decades of work included ``Wide World of Sports″ and coverage of the Olympics, died Tuesday of colon cancer. He was 61.

Feeney, the associate producer of Monday Night Football, could be seen in 1970 at the start of each telecast counting down to air time. It was a taped sequence meant to simulate a live production.

Feeney, who was known professionally as Doc, started at ABC in 1959 in sales and moved to sports in 1964. He produced college football and golf telecasts, segments of ``Wide World of Sports″ and coverage of events at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France.

He was also the director of Olympic operations for coverage of the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta.

Feeney was known for scouting Don Ohlmeyer, now the president of NBC’s West Coast entertainment division, at Notre Dame in 1966.

Feeney graduated from Notre Dame in 1958. He left ABC in 1971 and worked for NBC and other companies before returning to ABC in 1974. He stayed until 1994.

Survivors include his wife, Barbara, and a daughter, Barbara Colleen.

Mona May Karff

NEW YORK (AP) _ Mona May Karff, a seven-time U.S. women’s chess champion and one of the first four Americans to attain the rank of international woman master in chess, died Jan. 10 of heart failure. She was 86.

From the time she won her first national title at the second women’s championship in 1938 until she clinched her seventh national championship in 1974, Mrs. Karff was in the forefront of women’s chess in the United States.

She and a handful of other players, among them the late Sonja Graf Stevenson, the late Mary Bain and 92-year-old Gisela Kahn Gresser, a nine-time titleholder, dominated tournament competition.

Little is known about the details of Karff’s personal life, as she was an extraordinarily private person.

But according to relatives in Israel, Mrs. Karff, whose maiden name was Ratner, was born in the Russian province of Bessarabia, moved to Palestine when she was a teen-ager and came to the United States in the 1930s.

She settled first in Boston, where she had a brief marriage to a cousin, Abe Karff, a lawyer who died several years ago.

By her own account, Mrs. Karff was 9 years old when she learned chess from her father, Aviv Ratner, a Zionist who acquired vast properties in Israel and later became one of that country’s richest men.

After competing in several international tournaments, she qualified as a women’s international chess master in 1950 when the International Chess Federation created the title to encourage women’s competition.

Edmund Morris

NEW YORK (AP) _ Edmund Morris, an actor, playwright and screenwriter, died Jan. 6. He was 85.

His drama, ``The Wooden Dish,″ about an elderly Texas man whose son tries to pack him off to an old-age home, was performed on Broadway and was well received in London in 1954.

The Public Broadcasting channel in New York produced it for its ``Play of the Week″ series in 1961. A Yiddish version, called ``The Fifth Commandment″ ran at the Folksbiene Playhouse in Manhattan in 1965.

Morris wrote the screenplay for the 1962 film ``Walk on the Wild Side,″ adapted from the Nelson Algren novel, which starred Laurence Harvey and Jane Fonda. He also wrote the screenplays for ``Savage Guns″ (1962) and ``Project X″ (1957).

Morris taught playwriting in New York and worked with the actor and director Jose Ferrer on City Center productions of ``The Alchemists,″ ``S.S. Glencairn″ and ``The Insect Comedy.″

John Jacob Strader IV

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Cincinnati radio announcer John Jacob Strader IV died Friday at his home in Cincinnati. He was 74.

Strader began his career as a student actor for WLW radio in the early 1940s and later worked at WKRC, WCPO and WCKY.

Survivors include his wife, Joan Ganne Strader; a daughter, Jacqueline Whiteman Strader of Hogansville, Ga.; two grandsons; and a great-granddaughter.

Frank Theis

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ U.S. District Judge Frank G. Theis, who presided over the case involving whistleblower Karen Silkwood during his more than 30 years on the federal bench, died Saturday after suffering a stroke. He was 86.

President Lyndon Johnson nominated Theis to the federal bench in January 1967, and he was sworn in two months later.

He became chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Wichita in 1977, holding that post until he took senior status in 1981. He had continued to be active on the bench since then, hearing cases as recently as last month.

In 1980, Theis was named Federal Trial Judge of the Year by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and Kansas Trial Judge of the Year for his handling of the Karen Silkwood case, which put him in the national spotlight.

The Silkwood case, which put Theis into the national spotlight, was turned into a popular movie starring Meryl Streep and Cher in 1983.

Ms. Silkwood blew the whistle on serious worker health and safety violations at a nuclear fuels plant operated by Kerr-McGee in Oklahoma. Several weeks later, she died when her car crashed while she was on her way to meet a New York Times reporter to talk about the violations.

Theis was assigned by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case in Oklahoma. After years in the courts, including two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court, Kerr-McGee settled with the Silkwood family for $1.3 million.

Richard A. Zipf

PATASKALA, Ohio (AP) _ Columbus radio and television personality Richard A. ``Dick″ Zipf died in a two-vehicle crash Saturday. He was 59.

Zipf, of Pataskala, was killed when his eastbound pickup truck was struck head-on by a sport utility vehicle that went left of center on a snow-covered road about 20 miles east of Columbus.

Zipf was the son of the late Bill Zipf, farm editor for The Columbus Dispatch for 34 years.

Zipf succeeded his father in giving the farm report on WBNS-TV and also was a disc jockey on WBNS radio.

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