Obituaries in the News
Mar. 08, 2004
Anna Carter Gordon Davis
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ Anna Carter Gordon Davis, the widow of former Louisiana Gov. Jimmie Davis and a longtime country and gospel singer, died Friday of injuries sustained in a fall, according to a local funeral home. She was 86 or 87.
Davis, an alto, was one of the original members of ``The Chuck Wagon Gang,'' a popular family quartet created in Texas in 1935. Her first husband, Howard Gordon, played electric guitar with that group from the mid-1950s until his death in 1967.
She married Davis, whose first wife had died in 1967, in 1969 and sang with him after that.
Dr. Harold Kletschka
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Dr. Harold Kletschka, a cardiac surgeon who pioneered a heart pump now commonly used in open-heart surgery, died Saturday after a stroke, said his friend and biographer, David Racer. He was 79.
In the 1960s Kletschka developed the Bio-Pump, a heart pump now sold by Medtronic. The external pump circulates blood during surgery.
As an Air Force surgeon, Kletschka developed the idea for the centrifugal heart pump in the 1950s while watching an orange juicer in a San Francisco diner, his friend said.
Kletschka held several medical patents and most recently was working on an angioplasty device.
He practiced in Minnesota, New York, California, Texas and Alabama. He returned to Minnesota in about 1970 and was a founder and CEO of Bio-Medicus Inc., set up to develop and manufacture the heart pump.
Kletschka was in the Air Force Reserves from 1955 to 1975 and worked at Veterans Administration medical centers. From 1978 to 1990 he was a consultant at Brainerd Regional Human Services Center.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Jack Leaman, who coached Julius Erving in college and was associated with basketball at the University of Massachusetts for more than 40 years, died Saturday of a heart attack as the team was returning from a game. He was 71.
In 13 years as head coach, he compiled a 217-126 record, won eight Yankee Conference championships, six appearances in the National Invitational Tournament, and coached Erving, Rick Pitino and current Boston College coach Al Skinner.
Following his retirement as head coach, Leaman served as athletic director, men's basketball coach and golf coach at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, which is a part of the University of Massachusetts. He was also head coach of the UMass women's team for the 1986-87 season and an assistant for the women from 1991 to 1994.
He had been a color commentator on radio broadcasts for UMass men's games since 1994.
Val Pinchbeck Jr.
NEW YORK (AP) _ Val Pinchbeck Jr., a former longtime NFL executive who once served as one of commissioner Pete Rozelle's chief advisers, was killed when he was hit by a taxi. He was 73.
Pinchbeck was struck while crossing a street Saturday, police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Pinchbeck retired in 1998 but continued to help the league with scheduling and the Super Bowl.
He was the National Football League's longtime head of broadcasting. He served as a liaison with networks and was instrumental in putting together the schedule.
Pinchbeck was a former public relations director for the Denver Broncos and, in 1966, the American Football League. He joined the NFL commissioner's staff in 1970 after the merger of the two leagues a year earlier.
He was formerly the sports information director at Syracuse University.
John Henry Williams
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ John Henry Williams, the son of Hall of Famer Ted Williams, died Friday of leukemia, an attorney for Ted Williams' family said. He was 35.
Williams, at the center of a controversy surrounding his father's remains, had been battling the disease for months. In December, he underwent a bone marrow transplant, using a donation from Claudia, his youngest sister.
After his father died July 5, 2002, John Henry Williams had his father's body taken to an Arizona cryonics lab for freezing, setting off a battle with his half-sister, who said her father had wanted to be cremated.
The matter was settled last December, when Bobby Jo Ferrell, Ted Williams' oldest daughter, dropped her objections.
Ted Williams finished with a .344 career average and was the last major leaguer to bat over .400, when he hit .406 in 1941.
John Henry Williams made an attempt in the past two seasons to follow in his father's footsteps, playing for some low-level minor league and independent baseball teams.