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Obituaries in the News

October 27, 1999

HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ Hoyt Axton, a folksy baritone, songwriter and actor who wrote Three Dog Night’s No. 1 hit ``Joy to the World″ and songs that were performed by artists from Elvis Presley to Ringo Starr, died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack two weeks ago and another during surgery. He was 61.

Axton’s mother, Mae Boren Axton, had her own spot in popular culture history as the co-author of Presley’s ``Heartbreak Hotel.″

Three Dog Night’s recording of his novelty ``Joy to the World″ (``Jeremiah was a bullfrog ...″) was on top of the charts for six straight weeks in 1971, making it the top hit of the year. Axton pitched the song to group members when he was their opening act in 1969-70. He also wrote ``Never Been to Spain″ for the band, a song also recorded by Presley.

Axton’s own singing hits include ``Boney Fingers″ (``Work your fingers to the bone, what do you get? Boney fingers″) and ``When the Morning Comes.″

A large man, Axton as an actor specialized in playing good ol’ boys on TV and in films, including ``Gremlins″ and ``The Black Stallion.″

Michael Baring

LONDON (AP) _ Michael Baring, a leading member of the British banking dynasty brought down by a rogue trader in 1995, died Oct. 15, according to the ING Group, which took over the bankrupt Barings bank. He was 50.

News reports said he suffered a heart attack.

Baring played a key role in trying to steady nerves when a Singapore-based British trader, Nick Leeson, brought down the bank with bad bets on financial markets.

At the time, Baring _ great-great-grandson of Sir Francis Baring, who founded the banking dynasty in the 18th century _ was head of international marketing at the bank.

He transferred to ING when the Dutch group bought the bank for $1.60 and took over its debts of some $1 billion.

His most recent appointment was head of a division responsible for ING Barings’ relationships with clients and partners worldwide.

He began work at Barings in a job in the mailroom, before becoming a trader.

Robert Caldwell

SALINA, Kan. (AP) _ Robert Caldwell, the city’s only black mayor and a man who served on everything from the Boy Scouts to the Kansas Board of Regents, died Wednesday. He was 86.

Caldwell served eight years on the Salina City Commission, including three terms as mayor. He served a term in the state Legislature. He was active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and served on the Kansas Board of Regents.

Arturo Herbruger

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ Guatemalan former vice president Arturo Herbruger Asturias, founder of an organization that oversaw the country’s return to democracy after a failed coup, died Monday. He was 87 and had diabetes and bronchial pneumonia.

Herbruger established the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in 1983, the organization that presided over elections for the National Constitutional Assembly in 1984 and presidential elections in 1985 and 1990. He headed the tribunal until 1993.

After the failure of an attempted coup on May 25, 1993, against then-President Jorge Serrano Elias, the Congress designated Ramiro de Leon Carpio as president and Herbruger as vice president, to serve until January 1996.

At the time of his death, Herbruger was serving as a representative of the Central American Parliament, made up of 120 representatives from Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.

Herbruger was considered a brilliant lawyer who also at one time served as president of the country’s supreme court, as attorney general, and as treasury minister.

Wesley C. Mues

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) _ Wesley C. Mues, a Nebraska State Court of Appeals judge who once acted as special counsel in impeachment proceedings against a former attorney general, died Monday night in a traffic accident. He was 51.

He died after his pickup truck collided nearly head on with another pickup truck on U.S. Highway 281, just south of Interstate 80.

Mues, who joined the appeals court in 1994, was appointed special counsel for the state in the impeachment proceedings against then-Attorney General Paul Douglas.

Douglas was impeached by the Legislature in 1984, partly over his conduct in office and personal dealings with a former officer of the failed Commonwealth Savings Co. in Lincoln.

Douglas was acquitted by the state Supreme Court before being convicted of perjury by a county court jury in Lincoln on Dec. 14, 1984. He resigned 12 days later, only to see his perjury conviction later overturned by the state Supreme Court.

Charles E. Simons Jr.

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) _ U.S. District Judge Charles E. Simons Jr., for whom the Aiken courthouse is named, died Tuesday, months after suffering extensive head injuries in a fall. He was 83.

He was the senior federal judge and former law partner of U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C.

Simons received a lifetime appointment to the federal bench in 1964.

Gerald H. Trautman

PHOENIX (AP) _ Gerald H. Trautman, the retired head of The Greyhound Corp., the predecessor of current-day Viad Corp., died Monday of natural causes. He was 87.

Trautman became president of Greyhound in 1966. He shepherded the company’s move from Chicago to Phoenix, retiring in 1982.

During his tenure, Greyhound purchased Armour/Dial, a company twice its size. He directed 150 companies and 57,000 employees during his time at the helm.

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