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Obituaries in the News

July 13, 2001

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ Ralph Erickstad, who helped streamline North Dakota’s judicial system during 20 years as the state’s chief justice, died Thursday. He was 78.

Erickstad served as president of the National Conference of Chief Justices in the early 1980s. He drew attention for his advocacy of a proposal that attorneys be required to devote 20 hours of time each year to legal services for the poor.

Erickstad became chief justice in 1972 and retired in 1992. When Erickstad joined the Supreme Court, the state’s judicial system was a fractured series of trial courts, with differing jurisdictions. Erickstad worked to streamline the system, with district courts handling trials.

Adolf Thiel

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Adolf Thiel, a scientist who helped the United States build some of its earliest rockets, died June 2. He was 86.

The Austrian-born Thiel spent 30 years with TRW Inc.’s space division in Redondo Beach, Calif. He directed the development of the Thor ballistic missile, which is still the basis for rockets used to launch NASA and commercial satellites into space.

While working as an assistant professor of engineering in Germany, Thiel helped design the German V-2 rocket, which was used to attack England near the end of World War II.

Thiel was the director of space projects for TRW when it developed and launched Explorer VI and Pioneer V, two of the nation’s earliest craft to explore interplanetary space.

He was named a fellow of the American Astronautical Society in 1968.

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