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Obituaries in the News

December 24, 1998

SEATTLE (AP) _ Adelaide Hawley Cumming, television’s original Betty Crocker, died Monday. She was 93.

Ms. Cumming played the cheerful homemaker who mixed cake batter and sold pancake mix in the 1950s and early ’60s for General Mills, which billed her as ``America’s First Lady of Food.″

Ms. Cumming was once ``the second most recognizable woman, next to Eleanor Roosevelt,″ said Jack Sheehan, a General Mills spokesman.

From 1937 to 1950 she was host of the ``Adelaide Hawley Program,″ first on NBC radio and then on CBS.

The name ``Betty Crocker″ was cooked up by General Mills in 1921. In 1949, Ms. Cumming was hired to assume that persona on radio and television.

Her half-hour ``Betty Crocker Show″ was shown on CBS in 1950-52, followed by the ``Betty Crocker Star Matinee″ and ``Bride and Groom,″ both for ABC, in 1952.

Virginia Graham

NEW YORK (AP) _ Virginia Graham, hostess of talk shows in the 1950s to 1970s that are considered forerunners to today’s daytime television, died Tuesday of complications from a heart attack. She was 86.

Miss Graham started in radio in the 1930s as host of ``Weekday.″ She was best known for the nationally syndicated television talk shows, ``Girl Talk″ on ABC from 1963 to 1969, and ``The Virginia Graham Show″ from 1970 to 1972. In recent years, she made television appearances on the ``Roseanne,″ ``Rosie O’Donnell″ and ``Tom Snyder″ shows.

She was a hostess on the syndicated ``Food for Thought″ from 1956-61. Her ``Girl Talk″ blended news, entertainment, celebrity interviews and female-oriented features much like the current ABC show ``The View.″

In New York, Miss Graham became a script writer and radio voice of cooking specialist ``Betty Baker,″ a subsidiary of Betty Crocker.

Sengchen Lobsang Gyaltsen

BEIJING (AP) _ Sengchen Lobsang Gyaltsen, a senior Tibetan Buddhist cleric and controversial supporter of Chinese rule who openly criticized the Dalai Lama, died in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa on Dec. 6 after a lengthy illness. He was 62.

Sengchen, a vice chairman of Tibet’s regional legislature and China’s national legislature, played a key role in one of the most arcane and divisive episodes in Tibet’s recent political life: the search for the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, Tibet’s most revered religious figure after the Dalai Lama.

China hoped to control the search to help confer legitimacy on its often harsh rule over Tibet.

When the Dalai Lama announced from exile that the reincarnation was found in May 1995, Sengchen denounced Tibet’s spiritual leader and supported Chinese efforts to install a rival candidate.

Sengchen, who held one of Tibetan Buddhism’s highest scholarly degrees, was then named head of a Communist Party-backed committee to ensure the political loyalty of Tashilhunpo, an influential monastery that is the Panchen Lama’s traditional seat of power.

Dr. Patrick Leahy

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ Dr. Patrick Leahy, Ireland’s leading campaigner for euthanasia who once had publicly announced he himself would commit suicide, died Dec. 17 of bladder cancer. He was 81.

Leahy made headlines last year when he told Irish radio from Thailand that he had gone there to commit suicide to end his suffering.

Leahy first courted controversy in the 1970s while working in a Dublin health center when he admitted prescribing contraceptives for patients, an affront to Roman Catholic teachings. He was also a supporter of abortion rights. Contraceptives have since become widely available in Ireland, but abortion remains outlawed.

Later in his career he became Ireland’s most prominent campaigner for euthanasia. Last year he said he had helped about 50 people to die and had referred other terminally ill people to other pro-euthanasia doctors.

He didn’t want to involve any other Irish doctors in his own death, so he went to Thailand. He backed down when he discovered euthanasia was just as illegal in Thailand as in Ireland.

Ethelbert Brinkley Norton III

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) _ Ethelbert Brinkley Norton III president of the University of North Alabama from 1948-72, died Monday. He was 96.

Norton reinstated football at the campus, developed a military science program and created a marching band. Under his leadership, the school underwent an ambitious building program and vastly expanded its curriculum.

Norton served as Alabama superintendent of education and as a U.S. deputy commissioner of education.

Anatoly Rybakov

NEW YORK (AP) _ Anatoly Rybakov, a Russian novelist who was exiled for anti-Stalinist views and won widespread literary praise for his book ``Children of the Arbat,″ died in the United States, Russian news organizations reported. He was 87.

The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Rybakov’s wife, Tatyana, as saying he died in his sleep from complications after a heart operation. He had undergone a heart bypass after two heart attacks earlier this year.

In a 1997 interview, he told Russian television network NTV that he was arrested on Nov. 5, 1933 for ``counter-revolutionary propaganda.″ He spent three years in exile and was then denied permission to live in large cities.

After World War II, he turned to writing and was soon in trouble again, for criticizing Stalinist policies. In the post-Stalinst ``thaw″ in 1960, he was ``rehabilitated″ again.

He also wrote a sequel, ``Dust and Ashes,″ as well as ``Heavy Sand″ and ``Novel-Remembrances.″

Paul H. Smucker

ORRVILLE, Ohio (AP) _ Paul H. Smucker, former chairman of the jelly company that bears his family’s name, died Thursday. He was 81.

Smucker is credited with helping to transform the J.M. Smucker Co. from a small regional jelly and jam manufacturer to a company with global operations.

The company’s product line now includes preserves, jams, jellies and other fruit spread products; health and natural foods, beverages, ice cream toppings and natural peanut butter.

The company was founded 101 years ago by Smucker’s grandfather. Smucker joined the company in 1936 and became president in 1961 and chairman and chief executive officer in 1970.

Smucker stepped down as chairman in 1987.

Pierre Vallieres

MONTREAL (AP) _ Pierre Vallieres, who was jailed in the 1960s for his leading role in a bombing campaign by Quebec separatists, died Tuesday from complications of a heart attack. He was 60.

A leftist journalist, Vallieres became a leader of the Quebec Liberation Front, which carried out a series of bombings in the mid-1960s in a bid to gain independence for the mostly French-speaking province.

When fellow members of the group were arrested, Vallieres fled to New York City, but was arrested there.

Deported to Canada in 1967, he used his four years in jail to write a book which contended that French-Canadians suffered from oppression comparable to blacks in the southern United States.

Luther Francis Yancey Jr.

BOSTON (AP) _ Luther Francis Yancey Jr., a war correspondent during World War II and an editorial artist for The Boston Globe, died Monday. He was 85.

Although an artist, Yancey occasionally wrote for the Globe. He retired in 1978.

He was also a war correspondent for the Afro American Newspaper in Baltimore during World War II.

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