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Obituaries in the News

December 9, 2001

Silas L. Copeland

CONROE, Texas (AP) _ Silas L. Copeland, a retired sergeant major of the Army, died Tuesday after a brief illness. He was 81.

Copeland spent 31 years in the Army, serving in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. He was the Army’s highest noncommissioned officer from 1970 until his retirement in 1973.

As the third soldier to hold the rank of sergeant major of the Army, Copeland advised the Army chief of staff on all enlisted personnel matters, including training and quality of life.

Francis Eichler

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Francis ``Frank″ Eichler, a World War I veteran who was awarded France’s highest military honor in 1999, died Nov. 29 from complications following hip surgery. He was 104.

An Army first sergeant who served with Company A of the 548th Engineers of the 5th Engineering Logistic Regiment, Eichler was a recipient of the Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor.

The medal was presented in a ceremony in Los Angeles as part of French President Jacques Chirac’s effort to recognize all surviving World War I veterans who fought in France.

Eichler was born in San Francisco in 1897, living through the earthquake and fire that devastated the city in 1906. He enlisted in the Army in July 1918 and was deployed overseas, arriving in Dijon, France, shortly before the Nov. 11 armistice. While in France, his unit did road repair work.

Eichler worked for American Smelting and Refining Co. for 35 years, rising to the position of vice president. Eichler then practiced law after his retirement in 1963.

Joseph Ferrebee

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) _ Joseph W. Ferrebee, a hematologist who pioneered research in bone marrow transplants, died Nov. 14 in California after a short illness. He was 92.

In 1956, Ferrebee participated in the world’s first human bone marrow transplant, transfusing marrow from a healthy twin to one with leukemia, according to Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown.

Ferrebee worked at Bassett for 27 years until retiring in 1975. His assistant, Dr. E. Donnall Thomas, later won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his transplant research.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and raised in California, Ferrebee graduated from Stanford University in 1930 and Harvard Medical School in 1934. From 1941 to 1948, Ferrebee worked in Boston, teaching at Harvard Medical School and practicing medicine at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.

Ferrebee wrote 124 scientific papers.

Billie Matthews

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Billie Matthews, a UCLA assistant football coach in the 1970s, died Friday of Parkinson’s disease, the university said. He was 71.

Matthews coached the Bruins’ running backs from 1971-78, working for head coaches Pepper Rodgers, Dick Vermeil and Terry Donahue. Among those Matthews coached were Kermit Johnson, James McAlister, Theotis Brown and Freeman McNeil.

After his time at UCLA, Matthews was an assistant with several NFL teams, including the San Francisco 49ers.

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