Obituaries in the News
The Associated Press
Jul. 19, 1999
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli songwriter and singer Meir Ariel, whose works became classics of modern Israeli music, died Sunday from an infection. He was 57.
Ariel wrote the words to hundreds of songs, many of which entered the canon of pop and rock music in Hebrew.
His songs were sung by Israeli greats such as David Broza, Shalom Hanoch, and Yehuda Poliker. About 10 years ago, Ariel began writing music and performing his works himself.
Lauren G. Bessette
GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) _ Lauren G. Bessette, a financial executive at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, was presumed dead after the plane in which she was a passenger crashed off Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
Ms. Bessette was flying with pilot John F. Kennedy Jr., and her younger sister, Kennedy's wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, in Kennedy's single-engine plane when it crashed Friday.
Ms. Bessette, who had worked for the Wall Street investment house for about six years, was promoted in December from vice president to a principal. She specialized in Asian financial markets and worked in Hong Kong until about a year ago.
Ms. Bessette was a member of the company's investment banking division in New York. While in Asia, she acted as a venture capitalist, setting up investment deals.
Ms. Bessette and her twin sister, Lisa Ann, were the first children born to Ann and William Bessette, an architectural engineer. She was 18 months older than 33-year-old Carolyn.
A 1982 graduate of Greenwich High School, Ms. Bessette was a member of the all-girls service club known as the Signettes. She graduated from Hobart and William Smith College in upstate New York in 1986.
Ms. Bessette majored in economics and went on to hold several financial market positions on Wall Street after graduation. She later earned her master's degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
Carolyn Bessette Kennedy
NEW YORK (AP) _ Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, the fashion publicist who catapulted to fame by marrying John F. Kennedy Jr. and came to epitomize the elegance of her mother-in-law, was presumed dead with her husband in a plane crash off the Massachusetts coast. She was 33.
Mrs. Bessette Kennedy was a passenger in her husband's plane, along with her older sister, Lauren Bessette, when it went down Friday.
Born Jan. 7, 1966, the lithe, blonde Bessette Kennedy enjoyed a privileged upbringing as the stepdaughter of a surgeon in Greenwich, Conn. But not even that could prepare her for life in the Kennedy clan, a jet-setting existence complete with White House invitations and family weekends in Hyannis Port.
But she also brought along a bit of her own mystique when she joined the Kennedys' ranks. Even in high school, she made a big impression; her classmates at St. Mary's High School in Greenwich voted her ``The Ultimate Beautiful Person.''
She graduated from Boston University with a degree in elementary education, but wound up working in a marketing job for a nightclub consortium.
She landed a job at a Calvin Klein store in Boston, reportedly hired by a boss who spotting the stunning woman walking down the street. When she actually met Klein, the fashion designer was so impressed that she was quickly transferred to the New York headquarters.
John F. Kennedy Jr.
NEW YORK (AP) _ John F. Kennedy Jr., the son of Camelot who carried his family legacy with style while forging his own identity as a prosecutor and publisher, was presumed dead today after a plane crash just miles from the compound where his family has mourned such tragedies for a half-century. He was 38.
Kennedy's fate was sealed late Friday evening when the single-engine plane that he was piloting plunged into the Atlantic Ocean off Martha's Vineyard, Mass., also killing his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette.
Affable, athletic and attractive, Kennedy embodied the ``Kennedy mystique'' _ the sense of youth and invulnerability that had helped propel his namesake father into the White House in 1960.
The second child and first son of Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy, John Jr. grew up under the eyes of a nation, becoming America's first son. He was the first child ever born to a president-elect and the first infant to live in the White House since 1893.
Americans met him as the playful boy hiding beneath dad's desk in the Oval Office. Decades later they were reintroduced to a man dubbed ``The Hunk'' by gossip columnists, a charismatic magazine publisher and keeper of the family flame.
After his father's murder, his mother moved the family to Manhattan, where she raised John and older sister Caroline after her marriage to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.
Kennedy graduated from Brown University in 1983 but didn't start a career for some time. At least partially to please his mother, he enrolled in law school, earning his degree from New York University in 1989.
After his mother died in May 1994, Kennedy bolted his unfulfilling job as assistant district attorney to launch the $20 million political magazine ``George.'' He was its founder and publisher but became a contributor, too, interviewing figures from ex-Alabama Gov. George Wallace to Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Kennedy's bachelor days ended Sept. 21, 1996, when he married girlfriend Carolyn Bessette, a onetime publicist for Calvin Klein Ltd., in an ultra-secret wedding held on an island off the coast of Georgia.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ Ed Long, who held the world record for the most flying hours as a pilot in the history of aviation, spending a total of nearly seven years in the air, died Sunday. He was 83.
Long began flying in earnest at 17 after taking his first and only flying lesson.
In September 1989, he broke the world record for flying hours, with 53,290 hours _ more than six years _ of logged flights since May 1933, a record that stands today.
The previous record was 52,929 flying hours, set by Max Conrad in 1974, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
At the time of his death, Ed Long had more than 65,000 hours of flying time, nearly seven years, said his brother, Danny Long. His job involved checking power lines, Danny Long said, so ``most of that was under 200 feet, in a Piper Cub.''
He said an Ohio woman once tried to break Ed Long's record, but eventually sent him a card acknowledging defeat.
LONDON (AP) _ Irish actor Donal McCann, who starred in ``The Dead,'' director John Huston's last movie, died after a long undisclosed illness. He was 56.
``The Dead,'' made in 1987, was based on a short story of the same name that appears in James Joyce's collection ``Dubliners,'' and tells the tale of two Irish spinsters throwing a dinner for their relatives and friends. It won an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay.
McCann and Huston's daughter Anjelica played Gabriel and Gretta, a glamorous couple with a melancholy secret.
McCann's other film credits include ``Out of Africa'' with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in 1985 and ``High Spirits'' with Peter O'Toole and Steve Guttenberg in 1988.
McCann appeared with Susan Hampshire in ``The Pallisers,'' the 1970s British TV drama series about Victorian politics and passion based on the novels of Anthony Trollope.
NEW YORK (AP) _ Joan Wight, the model for the character Helen Herriot in her husband's best-seller ``All Creatures Great and Small'' and other books, died Wednesday. She was in her 80s.
Mrs. Wight's health had deteriorated since the death of her husband, James Alfred Wight, in 1995, according to Thomas McCormack, former editor at the publishing house that printed the first five Herriot books.
James Herriot was the pen name for Wight, a Yorkshire, England, veterinarian who didn't start writing until he was 50. He eventually wrote 15 books, but never abandoned his veterinary practice.
The couple met when Ms. Wight came to the vet lugging a calf with a broken leg. The story was later told in the first Herriot book.
``All Creatures Great and Small'' was his first collection in America, released in 1972. It became a long-running television series on the BBC and later on U.S. cable.
Herriot's wife, based on Joan Wight, was ``the humorous, loving, and from time to time, tolerating wife of James Herriot,'' said McCormack.
BUCHANAN, Ga. (AP) _ Whitlow Wyatt, a star pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers and former manager of a championship Atlanta Crackers minor league team, died Friday of complications from pneumonia. He was 91.
The right-hander had a 106-95 record in 16 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies.
He won 22 games in 1941 and led Brooklyn to its first National League pennant in 21 years. In the World Series, he held the New York Yankees to six hits in a 3-2 victory in Game Two, the Dodgers' only victory.
In 1954, he managed the Crackers to the Southern Association pennant and a seven-game victory over Houston in the annual Dixie Series.
Ronald N. Yurcak
FAR HILLS, N.J. (AP) _ Ronald N. Yurcak, a junk bond trader who worked closely with Michael Milken, died of a heart attack Tuesday. He was 57.
Ross Perot, the founder of Electronic Data Systems Corp., hired Yurcak in 1971 as a systems engineer. Yurcak also worked as Perot's personal assistant and in the brokerage subsidiary of EDS, a computer services company in Dallas.
Yurcak later moved to Kidder Peabody & Co. and to Merrill Lynch.
In 1977, he moved to Salomon Brothers, where he started and managed the high-yield bond trading and sales department.
In 1985, Yurcak moved to Drexel Burnham Lambert in Beverly Hills, Calif., where Milken had moved the firm's junk bond operations.
Yurcak was one of eight traders there, buying and selling billions in junk bonds, which are debt securities issued by corporations with poor credit ratings.
After the collapse of Drexel Burnham Lambert, he went to work for a succession of financial companies in the United States and Hong Kong.
NEW YORK (AP) _ Patricia Zipprodt, a Tony Award-winning costume designer, died Saturday of cancer. She was 74.
Ms. Zipprodt's work extended to theater, dance, opera, film and television. She studied art when she was young, and she designed costumes for ballet, an early dream.
She also designed for scores of Broadway shows. She won Tonys for ``Fiddler on the Roof'' (1964), ``Cabaret'' (1966) and ``Sweet Charity'' (1985).
Her costumes were featured in musicals including ``Pippin'' (1972) and ``Chicago'' (1975) and plays such as ``Brighton Beach Memoirs'' (1983) and ``The Glass Menagerie'' (1983).
Her movie and television work included ``The Graduate'' (1967) and ``The Glass Menagerie'' (1973) on ABC.