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Obituaries in the News

March 2, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ Mary Bodne, an owner of New York’s Algonquin Hotel for 41 years, died Monday. She was 93.

Bodne lived at the elegant hotel, the literary hangout of the Jazz age, from 1946 until her death.

Along with her husband, Ben, she purchased the 200-room hotel in 1946 for about $1 million from Frank Case, who had catered to writers and editors including Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Franklin O, Adams, Edna Ferber and Alexander Woollcott.

The Bodnes owned the hotel until 1987, when it was sold to the Aoki Corp. A decade later, it was sold to the Camberley Hotel Company. Both sales brought renovations, including the installation of self-service elevators in 1991.

Bodne, whose family had immigrated to South Carolina from Ukraine when she was a child, spent most afternoons greeting regular guests from an armchair in the lobby of the French Renaissance style hotel built in 1902. Ben Bodne died in 1992.

Dennis Danell

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Dennis Danell, a guitarist for the punk rock band Social Distortion, died Tuesday of an apparent brain aneurysm. He was 38.

Danell teamed with frontman Mike Ness who formed Social Distortion in Orange County, Calif., in 1979. The band has been on hiatus since it released its live album, ``Live at the Roxy,″ in 1998. Ness composed most of the band’s songs, and Danell co-wrote with him periodically.

Danell and the group’s bassist also played in their own band, Fuel, in 1994 while Ness was working on material for a new album for Social Distortion.

Danell’s discs with Social Distortion include: ``Mainliner″ (1981); ``Mommy’s Little Monster″ (1982); ``Prison Bound″ (1985); ``Social Distortion″ (1990); ``Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell″ (1992); ``White Light, White Heat, White Trash″ (1996); and ``Live at the Roxy″ (1998).

Social Distortion appeared in the 1983 movie ``Another State of Mind,″ which documented the group’s low-budget cross-country tour.

Baron Enrico di Portanova

HOUSTON (AP) _ Baron Enrico di Portanova, a jet-setter and grandson of Texas oil magnate Hugh Roy Cullen, died Monday of throat cancer. He was 66.

Di Portanova’s life included high-profile legal wrangling over the immense Cullen family estate, elaborate parties attended by the rich and famous, and lavish homes in Acapulco, Italy and Houston.

By the mid-1980s, di Portanova was said to have a net worth of more than $50 million.

He and his wife, Alessandra di Portanova, regularly entertained such guests as Sylvester Stallone, Barbara Walters, Henry Kissinger and Beverly Sills. Their Acapulco mansion served as a backdrop for the James Bond movie ``License to Kill.″

George Duning

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ George Duning, whose musical scores for movies such as ``Picnic″ and ``From Here to Eternity″ earned him Academy Award nominations, died Tuesday of heart disease. He was 92.

Duning was hired in the 1930s as musical director of the NBC radio show ``Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge.″

When he returned from the Navy after World War II, he joined Columbia Pictures, where he scored the movies ``Let No Man Write My Epitaph,″ ``My Sister Eileen,″ ``Houseboat,″ ``That Touch of Mink″ and ``Bell, Book and Candle.″

He also wrote the music for such television series as ``The Big Valley″ and ``Naked City.″

Walter Kelley

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) _ Walter Kelley, a former jockey and trainer of several stakes-winning horses, died Wednesday. He was 93.

Kelley trained Blue Swords, who ran second to Triple Crown winner Count Fleet in the 1943 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and his John’s Treasure was second to Danzig Connection in the 1986 Belmont Stakes.

Kelley also trained stakes winners such as Prince John, Belle’s Gold, Nickel Boy and Ziggy’s Boy at New York tracks.

Louisa Matthiasdottir

DELHI, N.Y. (AP) _ Louisa Matthiasdottir, a painter in postwar America, died Saturday. She was 83.

Matthiasdottir, who was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, had her first solo show in 1948 at the Jane Street Gallery, New York’s first artists’ cooperative. She had moved to New York six years earlier and lived there until last year.

Her similarly cryptic painting style reduced the world to a series of simple, blocky shapes and angled planes of clear, ringing color, all dispatched with a crisp, unfettered directness that allowed no reworking.

Matthiasdottir’s work included portraits and self-portraits, still lifes, interiors and light-filled paintings of the coastal landscape of Iceland.

Her work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, the Indiana Art Museum in Bloomington and the National Gallery of Iceland in Reykjavik.

The Rev. Brian O’Connell

LEWISTON, N.Y. (AP) _ The Rev. Brian J. O’Connell, a former president of Niagara University, died Monday of cancer. He was 59.

O’Connell served as president of the university from 1989 to 1995, when he became a chaplain at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C. Last August, he was named dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at St. John’s University in New York.

O’Connell also wrote ``Blacks in White Collar Jobs,″ published in 1979, and numerous articles for academic and professional journals on topics related to urban housing and employment.

Charles O’Nesti

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) _ Charles O’Nesti, a former congressional aide who pleaded guilty to serving as a go-between for mob bribes, died Tuesday of cancer. He was 71.

O’Nesti resigned as a district office assistant to Democratic Rep. James A. Traficant after pleading guilty in 1998 to perjury and racketeering conspiracy.

Last year, testifying at the trial of Mahoning County Sheriff Phil Chance, O’Nesti said he delivered mob bribes to Chance, who was convicted of racketeering.

O’Nesti, a former fire chief, joined Traficant’s Capitol Hill staff when Traficant was elected to Congress in 1984. He returned to Youngstown in 1989 to work in Traficant’s district office. Traficant has not been charged in connection with any bribes and has denied any wrongdoing.

Lester W. Seago Jr.

BARTLETT, Tenn. (AP) _ Lester W. ``Les″ Seago Jr., a former correspondent for The Associated Press who filed the bulletin on the death of Elvis Presley, died Wednesday. He was 61.

As a reporter for The Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock in the 1960s, Seago reported on the civil rights movement, including the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis in 1968.

Seago worked for the AP from 1972 to 1987, covering politics and state government in Nashville and then serving as the news service’s correspondent in Memphis. In 1977, he confirmed the death of Presley and wrote about the entertainer’s funeral and the aftermath.

Seago also worked on military newspapers in Korea, Arkansas and Mississippi, and for The Chattanooga Times in Tennessee. He was a public relations specialist with the University of Memphis at the time of his death.

He is survived by a son, Les Seago III, and a daughter, Linda Rebecca Seago.

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