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News Columnist Gene Amole Dies, 78

May 13, 2002

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DENVER (AP) _ Longtime Rocky Mountain News columnist Gene Amole, who wrote affectingly about his hometown and his generation, then turned his column into a diary of his final months, died Sunday. He was 78.

Amole had suffered for years from heart problems, high blood pressure and other maladies, and left a final column to be published after his death.

Amole (pronounced AY-mul) had told readers in October that he was dying and began writing reflections on his illness and mortality. But he also wrote of the simple pleasures in life, including his family, old friends, martinis and sparkling October mornings.

In one stretch, Amole wrote his ``diary pages″ in every edition of the News _ six days per week _ for 17 consecutive weeks.

Amole, whose first column appeared in 1977, was to the Mile High City what Herb Caen was to San Francisco, although he eschewed the man-about-town style he believes he was hired to write. Instead he wrote about issues both personal and political and never backed down. One losing battle was his opposition to building Denver International Airport.

Column writing was a third career for Amole, who began in radio in 1942, then became a TV pioneer, writing and producing from the first week commercial television went on the air in Denver in 1952. He won a Peabody Award as writer and host of a live, half-hour show in the late 1950s.

Amole is survived by his wife, two daughters, two sons and a grandson.

Joseph Bonanno Sr.

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ Joseph ``Joe Bananas″ Bonanno Sr., former head of one of New York City’s five original Mafia families, died of heart failure Saturday at a hospital in the city where he had retired in 1968. He was 97.

By his own admission, the Sicily native was a member of ``the Commission,″ which acted as an organized crime board of directors in New York and other major U.S. cities.

Bonanno also described himself in his autobiography as a ``venture capitalist″ who invested in businesses with owners who invited him to become a partner because of his connections. He denied engaging in narcotics trafficking or prostitution, though authorities said otherwise.

He led the Brooklyn-based Bonanno crime family for more than three decades before losing power in the 1960s, reputedly for trying to become the boss of bosses by assassinating his rivals, including Carlo Gambino and Thomas Lucchese, in what came to be known as the ``Banana War.″ Gambino died of natural causes in 1976, and Lucchese died in 1967.

Bonanno was never convicted of anything more serious than obstructing justice. He served nearly eight months in prison before being paroled in July 1984.

He also served 14 months in prison in 1985-86 for contempt of court.

But he was arrested numerous times, including once in the 1930s when he was accused of transporting guns for mob boss Al Capone.

Charles Himawan

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Indonesian human rights activist and legal expert Charles Himawan died Saturday at age 68.

Himawan, a professor of law at the University of Indonesia, was the author of 19 books, mostly on economic law.

He was also a senior member of Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights. He wrote regular articles critical of corruption and human rights abuses.

In 1978, he became the first Indonesian to graduate as a doctor from Harvard University Law School. His dissertation was on the role of law in developing countries.

Florence Roswell

NEW YORK (AP) _ Florence Roswell, a leading expert in helping children overcome reading disabilities, died May 4. She was 97.

Roswell, a former director of the reading clinic at City College of New York, wrote several books and manuals about reading disabilities. She remained active into her 90s and several of her books and manuals are still in print.

Her first book, ``Reading Disabilities: A Human Approach,″ was published in the 1960s. She paired up with Dr. Jeanne Chall, who was also an expert on teaching children to read, and wrote instructional guides and tests for teachers, including the ``Roswell-Chall Diagnostic Reading Test of Word Analysis Skills″ and the ``Roswell-Chall Auditory Blending Test.″

Roswell taught second grade for several years while taking graduate classes at Teachers College. In 1942, City College offered her a teaching fellowship.

During that time, most experts believed that a child’s difficulty in reading was due to emotional problems. Roswell disagreed and set out to prove that children could overcome reading disabilities with special attention. Her determination finally brought recognition of distinct reading disabilities, including dyslexia.

Her first book was ``Reading Disabilities: A Human Approach,″ which had four printings. She recently co-authored ``Teaching Children to Read, a Setp-by-Step Guide for Volunteer Tutors″ and ``Creating Successful Readers.″

Joseph Lowenbach Steiner

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Joseph Lowenbach Steiner, co-founder of toymaker Kenner Products Co., which established playroom favorites with Play-Doh, Easy-Bake Oven, and later Star Wars toys and Care Bears dolls, died Saturday in suburban Kenwood. He was 95 and suffered a heart attack Thursday.

Kenner was founded in Cincinnati in 1947 by Steiner with his two brothers, Albert and Philip. In 1949, the toy company’s first bestseller, the Bubble Rocket, sold over a million units.

Kenner, which was one of the first sponsors of the Captain Kangaroo Show, was advertising on national television by 1958. The following year, Kenner introduced the Give-A-Show projector, which would sell successfully for the next two decades.

Throughout the 1960s, Kenner rolled out an array of hit toys including the Easy-Bake Oven in 1963, the psychedelic Spirograph in 1966 and 1967′s Close’n Play phonograph, which brought music to the ears of younger listeners. Not quite as memorable was 1964′s Gun that Shoots Around the Corner.

Kenner was acquired by General Mills in 1967. Rainbow Crafts merged with Kenner in 1970, and with it came the Play-Doh line of craft dough.

In 1973 Kenner introduced Baby Alive, which became the number one baby doll of the year. Kenner Products broke the $100 million sales mark in 1975, while its Six Million Dollar Man action figures became the toy industry’s first modern successful television license.

Kenner also produced the lucrative ``Star Wars″ toy line, which would help break the $200 million sales mark in 1978. In 1983, while enjoying continued expansion with ``Star Wars: Return of the Jedi″ products, Kenner also introduced plush Care Bears dolls.

In 1985, Kenner Parker Toys Inc., the country’s fourth largest toy manufacturer, spun off from General Mills. Tonka Corp. acquired Kenner Parker in 1987. In 1991, Tonka was bought by Hasbro Inc., making Kenner a division of the world’s largest toy company.

Norman Wechsler

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Norman Wechsler, the former head of elegant San Francisco-based retailer I. Magnin, died Wednesday at age 89.

Wechsler worked his way through the ranks of some of America’s best-known department stores. The son of a coat manufacturer, Wechsler graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

As a young man, he walked into Saks Fifth Avenue and told the store’s chairman, ``What I really want is your job,″ his family said.

From Detroit-based Hudsons to Sacramento’s Weinstocks and Robinson’s in Los Angeles, Wechsler held several management positions before becoming president of Saks in New York.

In the mid-1970s, he was appointed president and chairman of I. Magnin, where he oversaw the opening of 24 new stores and doubled sales.

Wechsler retired in 1981, and I. Magnin was liquidated seven years ago.

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