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Obituaries in the News

May 23, 2001

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Levi Ben-Avishai Ben-Pinhas

MOUNT GERIZIM, West Bank (AP) - Levi Ben-Avishai Ben-Pinhas, the high priest of the tiny biblical Samaritan community, died Wednesday. He was 82.

The Samaritans number only about 650 people. About half of them live on Mount Gerizim overlooking the Palestinian city of Nablus, and the rest live in the Israeli town of Holon, near Tel Aviv.

Ben-Pinhas, also known by his Arabic name Ates Naji Samri, was high priest for just over three years. As a young man he worked as a clerk for the Nablus bus company, but later he took up astrology, said a cousin, Hosni Samri.

The community immediately named a successor, 79-year-old Yefet Shomroni, who will become high priest after the traditional 30 days of mourning.

The Samaritans broke away from mainstream Judaism 2,800 years ago. They are best known through the biblical parable of the good Samaritan who helped an injured stranger.

Philip Buchen

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Philip Buchen, who served as White House counsel for former President Ford and helped him with his pardon of Richard Nixon, died Monday of pneumonia. He was 85.

Buchen, a longtime law partner of Ford’s, also served as a trusted aide on Ford’s vice presidential staff. One of Ford’s first actions after he succeeded Nixon as president was to appoint Buchen as counsel and elevate the position to Cabinet level.

Buchen delivered to Ford an influential memo written by a Nixon aide that argued strongly in favor of granting Nixon clemency. He also did the legal footwork to determine whether Nixon could be pardoned and outlined the language of the pardon.

Buchen set up a law firm with Ford in Grand Rapids, Mich., which was dissolved when Ford went to fight in World War II. Buchen and Ford again worked together at a law firm in the 1960s while Ford was a Michigan congressman.

Joe Graydon

GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) _ Joe Graydon, who left the FBI for show business and became a popular big band singer, TV talk show host and concert promoter, died Saturday. He was 82.

Graydon joined the FBI in 1940, spending the next six years investigating spy cases and tracking down World War II military deserters.

But Graydon, who had worked his way through college singing in nightclubs and on college campuses, decided to return to music after the war. He accepted a four-month gig as a singer on the highly popular radio show, ``Your Hit Parade.″

A successful singing career followed, and in 1950 he was offered a job in television as well. ``The Joe Graydon Show″ was broadcast on Los Angeles and San Diego television stations for much of the first half of the 1950s.

He later switched to managing the careers of others, including Helen Forrest, Dick Haymes, Ray Eberle and the Pied Pipers. When swing music saw a resurgence in popularity in the 1970s, he began producing Big Band concerts and shows.

Whitman Mayo

ATLANTA (AP) _ Whitman Mayo, who played Grady Wilson on the 1970s television series ``Sanford and Son,″ died Tuesday. He was 70.

Mayo, who has taught drama at Clark Atlanta University since 1996, recently was the host of Turner South’s original weekly series ``Liars & Legends.″

Mayo will forever be remembered as the sidekick of junk dealer Fred Sanford, played by Redd Foxx. The Grady character became so popular that in 1975 NBC briefly aired Mayo’s own show, ``Grady.″

After ``Sanford and Son,″ Mayo appeared in such television shows as ``Diff’rent Strokes,″ ``In the Heat of the Night″ and ``ER.″ His movie credits include ``Of Mice and Men,″ ``The Main Event″ and ``Boyz N the Hood.″

Mayo spent seven years as a counselor for delinquent boys before pursuing his acting career.

Loften Mitchell

NEW YORK (AP) _ Loften Mitchell, a Tony Award-nominated playwright and early leader of the black theater movement, died May 14. He was 82.

Mitchell was nominated for a Tony Award in 1976 for his book for the musical ``Bubbling Brown Sugar,″ a performance of black music and dance.

He also wrote ``A Land Beyond the River,″ ``Star of the Morning,″ and the books ``Voices of the Black Theater″ and ``Black Drama.″

For many years he taught at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Gabriele Rumi

FAENZA, Italy (AP) _ Gabriele Rumi, who once owned the Minardi Formula One racing team, died Monday of cancer. He was 61.

Rumi started sponsoring and supplying Formula One teams in the early 1980s. In 1990, he entered the championship with his own team, called Fondmetal F1, but had to withdraw after three years.

Rumi became Minardi’s largest shareholder and chairman in 1997. He sold the company to Australian aviation tycoon Paul Stoddart in January.

Despite its lack of success, Minardi’s yellow-and-blue car has had a loyal international following, with fan clubs as far away as Montreal.

Frank G. Slaughter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Novelist and physician Frank G. Slaughter, whose best-selling books often drew upon his medical knowledge, died Thursday at the age of 93.

While working as a physician, he published 62 books that sold 60 million copies, from 1941′s ``That None Shall Die″ to ``No Greater Love,″ which was published in 1985.

Several of his novels became films, including ``The Warrior,″ made into the 1953 Rock Hudson film ``Seminole″; ``Sangaree,″ made into the 1953 film of that name starring Fernando Lamas; and ``Doctors’ Wives,″ made into the 1971 film starring Dyan Cannon and Gene Hackman.

Other books by Slaughter included ``Plague Ship,″ ``Surgeon, U.S.A.,″ ``The Mapmaker″ and ``The Scarlet Cord.″

He began writing in 1935 while a physician at Riverside Hospital in Jacksonville, paying off a $60 typewriter at $5 a month. He rewrote the manuscript of ``That None Should Die,″ a semi-autobiographical story of a young doctor, six times before publisher Doubleday accepted it.

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