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Obituaries in the News

October 14, 2003

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) _ Retired federal Magistrate Joseph W. Bartunek, a former state senator and Ohio Democratic Party officer, died Friday. He was 79.

Bartunek was a magistrate for the U.S. District Court in Cleveland for 11 years before retiring in 1997.

His political career began in 1948, when at age 24 he became the youngest person elected to the Ohio Senate. His parliamentary and political skills catapulted him to the post of minority leader in 1951.

He served as Senate clerk in 1958 and 1959, then returned to his Senate seat, where he remained until 1964.

He ran an unsuccessful campaign to become mayor of Cleveland in 1963. The following year, he was elected to his first term as a Cuyahoga County Probate Court judge. He resigned in 1970 to accept the chairmanship of the county Democratic Party. He later became vice chairman of Ohio Democrats.


William Bennett

NEW YORK (AP) _ William Bennett, whose Manhattan music studio gave hope to those with aspirations of escaping the corporate world to become rock stars, died Oct. 7 from injuries he received in a car accident. He was 49.

Bennett bought Off Wall Street Jam in 1997. The TriBeCa studio became a place where he mentored other musicians and helped to arrange music engagements at city clubs.

Bennett grew up on the Upper East Side in a show business family. He majored in music in college and played guitar in bands like the Immortal Primitives, which had opened for the Ramones.

But he eventually wound up working at a photography agency and did not play guitar for years. A friend advised him to purchase the studio, which grew to more than 400 dues-paying members.


Bernard Evans

LOGAN, W.Va. (AP) _ Bernard Evans, a longtime organizer for the United Mine Workers of America, died Monday while hunting. He was 51.

A hunting partner found Evans dead when he returned to their vehicle Monday afternoon. The state Medical Examiner’s office said investigators ruled the death was due to natural causes.

Evans worked as a coal miner and a rank-and-file union activist for many years until he was elected to the UMWA’s top governing body, the International Executive Board.

He joined the union’s international staff in 1984 at the start of the UMW’s long campaign against what was then the A.T. Massey Coal Co., now known as Massey Energy.


John Noble

VISTA, Calif. (AP) _ John Darcy Noble, a leading expert on the history of dolls and toys and a founding curator of the Museum of the City of New York’s toy collection, has died. He was 80.

Noble died Sept. 21 of complications from diabetes.

Noble, who retired in 1985 after 24 years at the museum, viewed toys as important cultural artifacts.

``Toys of yesteryear tell us a lot about history,″ he told The Washington Post in 1980. ``How they were made, who made them, who played with them tell us a lot.″

Born in London, Noble attended Goldsmith College of Art in that city and was trained as a painter. Upon graduation, he worked as a costume designer in England and helped organize doll and toy exhibits for charity fund-raising events.

He helped build the permanent collection at Pollock’s Toy Museum in London, then moved to New York City, where he became a curator at the Museum of the City of New York in 1961.


Victoria Oakie

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ Victoria Horne Oakie, an actress who appeared in dozens of films, including the Jimmy Stewart classic ``Harvey,″ died Friday. She was 91.

The actress appeared in 46 films, including ``Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer,″ ``Blue Skies,″ ``Daisy Kenyon,″ ``Forever Amber″ and ``The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.″ In ``Harvey,″ she played Myrtle Mae Simmons, the niece of Stewart’s Elwood P. Dowd character.

Oakie retired from show business in 1952 to spend time with her husband, comedy star Jack Oakie. His career, spanning the 1920s to 1960s, included his Oscar-nominated lampoon of Benito Mussolini in Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 film, ``The Great Dictator.″

After her husband’s death in 1978, Victoria Oakie established a lecture series in his name at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and wrote four books about their life together.

Among them was ``Jack Oakie’s Oakridge,″ about their estate, the honeymoon home of actors Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck.


Julia Trevelyan Oman

LONDON (AP) _ Julia Trevelyan Oman, one of Britain’s leading theater designers, died Friday in Herefordshire, western England. She was 73.

Trevelyan Oman, the wife of the writer Sir Roy Strong, joined the British Broadcasting Corp. in 1995 and worked there for 12 years.

While designing Tony Richardson’s film ``The Charge of the Light Brigade,″ she got a call from choreographer Frederick Ashton about drawings she had done trying to interpret Edward Elgar’s ``Enigma Variations″ for ballet.

The 1968 production, choreographed by Ashton, was a major success, and Trevelyan Oman’s career took off.

Her sets and costumes were known for their attention to detail, enhancing such productions as ``La Boheme,″ ``Swan Lake″ and ``The Importance of Being Earnest.″ Other credits included ``Nutcracker,″ ``Die Fledermaus,″ ``Eugene Onegin″ and ``Otello.″

Trevelyan Oman was made a Commander of the British Empire, or CBE, in 1986.


Joe Santoni

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Joe Santoni, who named the Pittsburgh Steelers in a contest in 1940, died at 82.

He died Friday of complications from heart surgery.

Santoni was an avid sports fan and in the 1930s followed an NFL team then known as the Pittsburgh Pirates. But the team wanted a new identity to differentiate it from the city’s baseball team. Santoni submitted the name Steelers and owner Art Rooney Sr. liked it.

Santoni was given season tickets for a year and remained a season ticket holder until shortly before his death, said his sister, Norma Fayer. He also decorated the restaurant he owned with Steelers photos.


Leon Schwartzenberg

PARIS (AP) _ Leon Schwartzenberg, a leading cancer specialist who became one of France’s most outspoken medical figures on topics ranging from euthanasia to AIDS, died Tuesday. He was 79.

The doctor died _ of cancer _ in the cancer division he once headed at Paul-Brousse Hospital, in Paris.

Many of Schwartzenberg’s views won widespread attention among the public but were contested by peers in the medical community. He advocated giving syringes to drug addicts to control AIDS, and ordering mandatory testing of pregnant women for HIV _ proposals that cost him his job at the Health Ministry.

Schwartzenberg was an early proponent of euthanasia and spoke publicly of having helped terminally ill patients die if they asked him repeatedly.

Schwartzenberg also dabbled in French politics. He stayed in the Cabinet as a top health official for only nine days during the summer of 1988. He went on to serve as a lawmaker in the European Parliament from 1989-1994.

The author of several books on health, Schwartzenberg devoted himself in later years to causes that included opposition to genetically modified foods and the plight of illegal immigrants.


Bill Silliker Jr.

BAXTER STATE PARK, Maine (AP) _ Bill Silliker Jr., a wildlife photographer known for his pictures and books about moose, died of an apparent heart attack Monday while leading a photography workshop in Baxter State Park. He was 56.

Silliker, also known as ``the Mooseman,″ had a longtime affection for moose and would paraphrase Will Rogers by saying he never met a moose he didn’t like.

His pictures appeared in such magazines as Audubon, Backpacker, Down East, Field & Stream, National Geographic, Outdoor Life, Outdoor Photographer and Sports Afield.

He was a columnist for the Bangor Daily News, the Maine Sunday Telegram and the Maine Sportsman.

Silliker had worked for 20 years as a safety consultant for insurance companies before turning what started as a part time hobby into a full time job as a wildlife photographer.

His produced four books about moose and one each about eagles, loons and conservation. Four more books were scheduled for publication this year and next.

Silliker is survived by his wife, Maryellen; his father; and a sister.


Robert L. White

BALTIMORE (AP) _ Robert L. White, whose assemblage of John F. Kennedy memorabilia grew to become one of the largest and most significant private collections of the late president’s effects in the world, died Saturday of a heart attack. He was 54.

White was a teenager when he began collecting items related to the 35th president during the 1960s _ writing to him to request an autograph. He continued collecting after the 1963 assassination, and was helped by some Kennedy relatives and former Cabinet members.

But the biggest boost came from Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy’s personal secretary whom White befriended. He became executor of her estate, and was willed rare items from her collection after her death in 1995.

White’s collection was estimated to be worth $5 million and held about 100,000 items. It included the two flags from the bumper of the presidential Lincoln Continental in which Kennedy was riding when he was shot in Dallas, and other artifacts from that day.

He retired in 1994 as a salesman for Porters Supply Inc., a cleaning-supply company founded by his father, and devoted his remaining years to collecting.


Mabel Wyrick

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) _ Mabel Williams Martin Wyrick, whose prose and poetry about her life in southeastern Kentucky appeared in newspapers, magazines and books, died Sunday at a Hamilton, Ohio, hospice. She was 90.

Wyrick wrote weekly columns for several years called ``If Quilts Could Talk ... I’d Listen″ and ``Land Beneath the Lake.″ The columns appeared in several Kentucky newspapers.

She published six books, including three that contained some of her newspaper columns. Two of her books were ``How to Bury a Drifter″ and ``Ultimate Irony.″

Wyrick farmed in Laurel County with her first husband, Lohren F. Martin Sr., who died in 1976.

Wyrick and her second husband, Wilson L. Wyrick, a railroad worker who died in 1996, together wrote a book called ``Tales of the Rails.″

Survivors include three children, an adopted daughter, a brother, a sister, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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