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Obituaries in the News

January 28, 1999

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) _ Robin Adair, a technician who helped set up the first Associated Press bureau in New Mexico, died Tuesday. He was 97.

Adair began with the AP in August 1924 after having been a telegrapher for Western Union. He worked for the news organization in west Texas for 12 years until coming to Albuquerque to help set up the AP’s first New Mexico bureau.

Adair worked for the organization until his retirement in 1966 as traffic bureau chief _ in charge of AP technicians _ in the Albuquerque bureau.

The AP bureau was established in New Mexico in the 1930s, with Adair as its first technician _ and later its chief technician.

He is survived by two sons.

Gonzalo Torrente Ballester

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, a major figure in Spanish contemporary literature whose novels blended realism with fantasy, died Wednesday of a heart attack. He was 88.

Winner of the 1985 Cervantes Prize for Literature _ the most important literary award in the Spanish-speaking world _ Torrente Ballester published his first novel, ``Javier Marino″, in 1943 and his last, ``Los Anos Indecisos″ (The Indecisive Years), a year ago.

Torrente Ballester wrote more than 30 novels, establishing his importance with his 1972 novel ``La Saga/Fuga de J.B″ (The Legend/Flight of J.B.).

Mass popularity came around the same time, when Spanish television serialized his trilogy ``Los Gozos y Las Sombras″ (The Delights and The Shadows), set in his native northwestern region of Galicia.

William M. Batten

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) _ William M. Batten, a former head of J.C. Penney Co. Inc., died Friday. He was 89.

Batten, the company’s fourth chairman and chief executive officer from 1958 to 1974, guided J.C. Penney’s growth into a diversified, mass-merchandising chain.

The transformation from small-town stores was launched by a memo Batten wrote in 1957 detailing changes in the country’s population, especially shifts to large cities and suburbs. The memo’s proposed changes included expansion of the merchandise mix and an end to the chain’s ``cash only″ policy.

Batten retired in 1974 and two years later was invited to become chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. He retired again in 1984.

Gabor Carelli

NEW YORK (AP) _ Hungarian tenor Gabor Carelli, who sang at the Metropolitan Opera from 1951 to 1974, died Jan. 22. He was 83.

Carelli began his vocal studies in Budapest and continued them in Rome. He made his opera debut in Florence in a production of Puccini’s ``Boheme.″

He moved to the United States in 1939 and traveled as a recitalist and a principal singer with operatic touring companies.

Carelli sang as Dr. Caius in an NBC Symphony broadcast performance of Verdi’s ``Falstaff,″ conducted by Arturo Toscanini, in 1951.

Carelli made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Don Curzio in Mozart’s ``Nozze di Figaro″ in 1951. Over the next 23 years, he sang more than 1,000 times in 39 operas.

He was on the Manhattan School of Music faculty for 35 years.

Jack DeWitt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Jack DeWitt, a scientist and inventor who later became president of television and radio station WSM Inc., died Monday. He was 92.

Although DeWitt was best remembered for his work in radio and TV, he played a key role during World War II and was awarded the Legion of Merit for inventing the proximity fuse. It was a pencil-sized radio device that rode inside 105mm howitzer shells, dramatically increasing accuracy. He also worked on a project to bounce radio waves off the moon.

DeWitt took a job at WSM, and after a stint at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York, returned to WSM as chief engineer. He played a pivotal role in boosting the station from 5,000 watts to 50,000 watts.

He became president of WSM Inc. in 1947. In 1950 he helped launch WSM Channel 4, using a series of microwave relays to transfer NBC’s signal from Louisville to Nashville. The station is now WSMV-TV. The relay system brought network TV to Nashville years before the telephone company would lay the land lines that brought NBC and other networks to Middle Tennessee.

In the early 1960s, DeWitt worked on a way to download images from a government weather satellite. Soon after, WSMV became the first station in the country to broadcast a near-real time weather satellite photo.

He retired in 1968. In 1987, he was awarded a regional Emmy for lifetime achievement.

David Rimmel

CLEVELAND (AP) _ David Rimmel, a retired reporter and news executive of The Plain Dealer, died Monday. He was 86.

Rimmel was managing editor in charge of general news operations in the 1970s and was assistant executive editor when he retired in 1976.

As night managing editor directing the layout of the 1963 assassination coverage of President John F. Kennedy, Rimmel was told the word ``assassinated″ wouldn’t fit in the headline. He ordered it done and was given the metal front-page press plate as a souvenir.

Survivors include his wife Nell; a son and daughter and two grandchildren.

George Sciranko Jr.

BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) _ George Sciranko Jr., a sportscaster and former mayor, died Monday of a heart attack. He was 55.

Sciranko’s broadcasting career started in the 1960s at WSKE in Everett. He worked for Johnstown-based WCRO in the 1970s, and in the 1980s was an on-air personality for WBFD, a Christian station. He also did play-by-play for WAYC.

As mayor of Manns Choice, Sciranko was instrumental in getting the town a new sewer system.

Max R. Stanley

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Max R. Stanley, a Northrop test pilot who flew the experimental Flying Wing 40 years before its modern-day equivalent, the B-2 Bomber, was invented, died Saturday. He was 89.

He flew the four-engine, 172-foot-long, boomerang-shaped Flying Wing on June 25, 1946, from Northrop’s Hawthorne Airport to the Muroc Army airfield _ now known as Edwards Air Force Base.

About a dozen versions of the Flying Wing were developed by John K. Northrop between 1942 and 1949, including the two-seat N-9s used to train pilots, the B-35 three-man piston-engine aircraft and the eight-jet, 15-man B-49. But the planes were criticized for a lack of safety and fuel inefficiency and eventually were replaced by the Convair B-36.

Jerzy Turowicz

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Jerzy Turowicz, a leading Polish intellectual and editor of a weekly Catholic newspaper, died Wednesday from complications of a heart attack. He was 86.

Turowicz became a philosopher, a writer and a spiritual guide for generations of Polish anti-Communist opposition members. As editor of a leading lay Catholic publication in Poland, he was close to Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, who became Pope John Paul II in 1978.

His newspaper, Tygodnik Powszechy (Universal Weekly), was a leading independent voice during the communist years. Turowicz edited it from 1945 until his death, except for a three-year period from 1953-56 when he was barred from running it by the Communist authorities.

An adviser to the Solidarity trade union that led the movement to topple Communist rule in 1989, Turowicz remained a careful observer and critic of Poland’s new democracy in the past decade.

He is survived by his wife, Anna, three daughters and five grandchildren.

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