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Diane Betty Abramson

January 1, 1997

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ Diane Betty Abramson, a 1950s designer whose knit dresses were worn by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and other Hollywood stars, died Dec. 19. She was 86.

Mrs. Abramson designed dresses for several celebrities and was known for her elaborate Beverly Hills home parties, with guests such as actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, said her sister-in-law, Blanche Greer Sarnoff.

She founded the ``Hand-Knit Elegance″ label and ran several stores in California until her fourth marriage in 1962.

Edouard Bled

PARIS (AP) _ Edouard Bled, whose grammar book taught generations the complexities of the French language, died Sunday. He was 97.

Seventeen million copies of the grammar manual Bled co-authored with his wife, Odette, have been published since 1947. Known simply as ``le Bled,″ the 320-page book is still widely used by schoolchildren and professionals.

For Bled, grammar was to be drilled into young minds with the rigor and methodology of mathematics. Bad writing, he believed, was an expression of bad thinking.

Bled also published an anthology of his poems, ``Poemes Pour Mamina,″ earlier this year.

John Fancher

BEDFORD, Ind. (AP) _ John Fancher, a former reporter and editor with The (Bedford) Times-Mail and the former Bloomington Herald-Telephone, died Dec. 23. He was 72.

Fancher started as a reporter with The Times-Mail in 1948 and was promoted to city editor in 1957. He joined the Herald-Telephone in 1964 and served as city editor, editorial page editor and civic affairs editor before retiring in 1986.

His wife, Frances Fancher, died earlier. He is survived by his mother and two daughters.

Gabriel Lewis Galindo

DENVER (AP) _ Gabriel Lewis Galindo, a Panamanian diplomat who helped negotiate the Panama Canal Treaties, died Dec. 19 after suffering fibrosis of the lungs. He was 68.

In 1977, Gen. Omar Torrijos appointed Lewis to be Panama’s ambassador to the United States. Largely as a result, the two countries reached an agreement under which Washington would transfer control of the Panama Canal to Panama in 2000.

After Torrijos died in 1981, Lewis’ relationship with the military dictatorship deteriorated.

But when the Democratic Revolutionary Party returned to power in 1994, Lewis was called upon again to repair relations with Washington as his country’s foreign minister.

Norman H. MacKay

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Norman H. MacKay, an atomic scientist who helped pioneer nuclear weapons research at Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M., died Dec. 22. He was 79.

During World War II, MacKay worked on the Manhattan Project, which built the first atomic bomb.

After the war he became director of nuclear materials and management for the Atomic Energy Commission, forerunner of the U.S. Department of Energy. He also had served as a liaison between the U.S. and British governments on nuclear matters.

Fred J. Nichol

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) _ Fred J. Nichol, a retired federal judge who presided over the 1974 trial of American Indian Movement leaders who occupied a battle site, died of pneumonia Tuesday. He was 84.

The 1973 standoff at Wounded Knee lasted 69 days and two members of the American Indian Movement were killed. Two of the group’s leaders stood trial, but Nichol became so fed up with prosecutors that he threw out the case after nine months.

Nichol was appointed a federal judge in 1965 by President Johnson. His granddaughter was Polly Klass, the California girl who was kidnapped from her home during a slumber party in 1993 and murdered. Her killer, Richard Allen Davis, is on death row.

Chan K’in Viejo

NAJA, Mexico (AP) _ Chan K’in Viejo, the spiritual leader of the Lacandon Indians in southeastern Mexico, died Dec. 23 after an illness of several months. He was 104.

Chan K’in Viejo was made famous by German photographer Gertrude Blum, whose images of the Lacandons in the 1930s, 40s and 50s brought the plight of their endangered culture to international attention.

Fewer than 1,000 Lacandons live in three villages deep in the forest of southern Chiapas state. Only recently have paved roads and electricity reached the area.

Chan K’in Viejo is remembered for teaching many anthropologists about the culture and beliefs of the Lacandons, whose thatch-roofed huts, simple tunics and long hair have largely been replaced by parabolic antennas, buzz haircuts and evangelical Protestantism.

Keith Anthony Walker

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) _ Keith Anthony Walker, an actor, writer and film producer who co-wrote the screenplay for the movie ``Free Willy,″ died Monday of cancer. He was 61.

Walker got the idea for his story about a street boy who frees a killer whale when he saw a tractor-trailer with a ``See Arnold the Whale″ banner, he once said.

The result was the screenplay for the hit movie, which he wrote with his wife, actress Peggy Walton-Walker. The couple also ran a film production company, The Moving Picture Co.

Walker, a St. Louis native, played the role of the father in the 1985 Steven Spielberg movie ``Goonies″ and appeared in several television shows, including ``Mission Impossible,″ ``Quincy″ and ``Fantasy Island.″

Larry Walker

PHOENIX (AP) _ Larry Walker, who founded Basketball Congress International in 1970 as a way to help young players showcase their ability, died Monday at age 82.

Walker’s idea in founding BCI was to provide the basketball equivalent of Little League baseball and Pop Warner football. Currently, about 63,000 young players take part in BCI leagues or tournaments throughout the United States.

Shaquille O’Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kevin Johnson of the Phoenix Suns are among the National Basketball Association players who came up through BCI ranks.

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