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Obituaries in the News

February 26, 2001

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) _ Luther F. Bliven, the Post-Standard reporter who covered the state Capitol for half a century, died Sunday. He was 85.

Known to all as ``Gus,″ Bliven began working for The Post-Standard in 1930 when he was attending Ithaca High School. He remained an employee there until his death.

Bliven, who served in the Army in World War II, began covering the state Capitol in 1948 at age 32.

By the time Bliven left at the end of the 1997 legislative session, he had covered seven governors.

Sir Donald Bradman

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) _ Sir Donald Bradman, the Australian cricket star who had an astounding test scoring average of 99.94, died Sunday of pneumonia. He was 92.

Bradman’s career average was 40 to 50 runs higher than other outstanding cricket players. South African Graeme Pollock came closest with an average of 60.97, West Indian Garfield Sobers averaged 57.78 and Englishman Len Hutton on 56.67.

Bradman took less than seven hours to set a world-record 452 not out in a domestic Sheffield Shield match against Queensland at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1930, eclipsing Bill Ponsford’s record first-class innings of 437.

Bradman’s last match came at The Oval in south London, when he went into his final innings needing just four runs for a career average of 100. He was bowled for a second-ball duck.

Jackson R. Carter

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) _ Jackson R. Carter, the executive officer of landing ship LST-325, which completed a 4,350-mile sea voyage in January, died Tuesday of lymphoma. He was 71.

LST-325, a World War II landing ship, was manned by a crew of 29 U.S. veterans with an average age of 72. It completed its celebrated journey across the Atlantic from Gibraltar on Jan. 10.

As well as serving as executive officer on the trip, Carter was the ham radio operator onboard the LST-325. He also kept the world updated on the ship’s progress by posting daily messages on the Internet.

The veterans brought the ship across the Atlantic in hopes of turning it into a floating memorial or museum.

John Gravitt

CINCINNATI (AP) _ John Gravitt, who is credited with paving the way for modern whistleblowers to seek damages from companies that overbill on government contracts, died Friday of complications from diabetes. He was 61.

Gravitt sued General Electric Aircraft Engines, headquartered in suburban Evendale, on the government’s behalf under the 1863 False Claims Act, a law Abraham Lincoln signed to prosecute Civil War profiteering. The Justice Department took over the case and won $3.5 million for the government and $770,000 that Gravitt and three other GE whistleblowers shared.

The case also won legal protection for future whistleblowers.

Gravitt was hired by GE as a machinist 1980. When he was promoted into management, he learned that other supervisors routinely billed the government for time spent on commercial contracts. Gravitt was laid off in 1983 when he took his concerns to upper management. A settlement was reached six years later.

Gravitt’s testimony before Congress led to amendments to the False Claims Act that give more power and more protection to those who say their employer is swindling the government. Those changes have increased the government’s annual take for fraud cases from $25 million in 1985 to more than $1 billion per year today.

Radie Harris

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Radie Harris, a celebrated entertainment columnist for the Hollywood Reporter, died Thursday of pneumonia. She was 96.

Harris reported on the comings and goings of entertainment icons in New York, Hollywood and Europe in her column, the ``Broadway Ballyhoo,″ which appeared in the Hollywood Reporter for nearly 50 years.

She was also a longtime reporter for CBS radio, broadcasting her show from Sardi’s restaurant in New York or from the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.

Harris was one of a legendary group of show-business scribes which included Walter Winchell, Louella Parson, Hedda Hopper, Dorothy Kilgallen, Sheilah Graham and Dorothy Manners.

Harris is survived by two nieces.

William T. Hinds

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ William T. Hinds, whose broadcasting career spanned five decades, died Sunday from pneumonia. He was 84.

Hinds, considered a Pittsburgh broadcasting pioneer, started his career at age 12 by reading comics every Friday on WCAE radio.

In 1935, he worked as an office boy for KDKA Radio and also appeared on the air as the ``Singing Office Boy″ and ``Sunbeam Billy″ on the ``Stroller’s Matinee″ program.

Two years later, at just 19 years old, Hinds became the network’s youngest announcer, hosting a show called ``Brunch With Bill.″ He was also an announcer and singer for ``Tap Time.″

Hinds eventually met Phillip Aston and they co-hosted a variety program on KDKA called ``The Buzz and Bill Show.″

After Hinds and Aston were discharged from the Army following World War II, the duo performed again for radio and WDTV, a television station that was the forerunner of KDKA-TV.

In 1950, Hinds replaced the Pittsburgh Pirates pioneer broadcaster Rosy Roswell on the WJAS morning radio program. Later that year, Hinds and Aston formed the ``Buzz ’n Bill″ music and comedy television program on WDTV. It ran for seven years.

Hinds then became a disc jockey for WWSW Radio, where he stayed until 1970.

In 1968, Hinds and Aston were given the Donald B. Hirsch Award for their years of broadcast service by the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

Hinds is survived by his wife Dolores; a son; a daughter; and five grandchildren.

Sylvia Lawry

NEW YORK (AP) _ Sylvia Lawry, founder of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and a lifelong activist on research and public policy related to the disease, died Saturday of heart and respiratory disease. She was 85.

Lawry’s younger brother suffered from MS. When a cure for him could not be found, she placed a classified ad in The New York Times in 1945 that read: ``Multiple Sclerosis. Will anyone recovered from it please communicate with patient.″

She got 50 replies from people who had the disease, but all of them were as desperate for information. In 1946, Lawry brought together 20 research scientists to found the Association for Advancement of Research in Multiple Sclerosis. A year later, the organization was renamed the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

In 1967, Lawry founded the International Federation of MS Societies, to coordinate groups for researchers, patients and their families around the world. Today there are 38 MS societies in other countries.

Lawry served as executive director of the National MS Society until 1982 and was secretary of the International Federation of MS Societies until 1997, when she formally retired.

Andrew Lynch

VICTORIA, British Columbia (AP) _ Andrew Lynch, a former president of the Canadian Newspaper Publishers Association, died Saturday of cancer. He was 59.

Lynch was president of the British Columbia Legislature press gallery and published the Lynch Report, a weekly newsletter on politics.

He was instrumental in the founding of Monday Magazine, which he published for several years before he sold the company in 1996 and moved on to developing specialty newsletters.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

Kirk Schaller

PETOSKEY, Mich. (AP) _ Kirk Schaller, longtime publisher of the Petoskey News-Review, died Sunday of a heart attack while skiing in La Grave, France. He was 61.

Schaller’s history at the newspaper goes back to when he was 4, when he’d sweep up around the office of the old Northern Michigan Review. He started part-time in the mid-1950s, and became full-time in 1962 after his graduation from Ferris State College with a business degree.

He worked as a photographer, advertising sales representative, business manager and then general manager. He was named publisher in 1979 following the death of his father, Albert, who was then-publisher.

Schaller is survived by his mother, wife, three sons, a daughter, and a brother and a sister.

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