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Obituaries in the News

December 4, 1998

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) _ Cleopa, the charismatic Romanian monk persecuted by communists and admired by pilgrims, died Wednesday. He was 87.

Hounded by the Securitate communist secret police, who feared his popular appeal, Cleopa fled to the forest in 1953 and built an underground den, where he lived in hiding for almost a decade.

Born into a family of peasants in a village in northern Romania, Cleopa became a monk at 25. After he entered the monastery he worked as a shepherd for 12 years.

He was best known for his understanding of ordinary peoples’ problems and his healing words. Tens of thousands sought his advice, both under communism and in the years of hardship that followed the toppling of communist rule in 1989.

Romanian Orthodox monks are buried sitting in a chair, which is lowered directly into the ground.

Arthur Groman

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Arthur Groman, the trial lawyer whose entertainment and business clients included major Hollywood studios, Howard Hughes, Judy Garland and Armand Hammer, died Tuesday. He was 84.

Groman had been with the law firm Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp since 1944. His most recent well-known client was the Fred Goldman family, in its civil lawsuit against O.J. Simpson over the slaying of Goldman’s son Ron along with Nicole Brown Simpson.

Groman served on the board of directors of Hammer’s Occidental Petroleum Co., and was secretary of the Armand Hammer Museum. When Hammer faced federal prosecution in the 1970s for campaign financing violations, Groman and Washington lawyer Louis Nizer defended him and arranged a guilty plea to misdemeanors.

Groman’s other clients included RKO, Columbia, Paramount and MGM studios, Norton Simon, Edward G. Robinson, Warren Beatty, Paul Newman, Mick Jagger and Jack Kent Cooke.

Mikio Oda

TOKYO (AP) _ Mikio Oda, Japan’s first Olympic gold medalist, died Wednesday. He was 93.

In 1928, Oda won the triple jump in the Amsterdam Olympics with a mark of 49 feet, 11 inches, and set a world record three years later at 51-1 1/2.

He later became a sports writer for the national newspaper Asahi before becoming a professor in the athletic department at Waseda University.

Oda also served as a member of the Japanese Olympic Committee and an honorary president of the Japan Amateur Athletic Federation.

Chad Silver

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) _ Chad Silver, a Canadian who played for the Swiss national hockey team, was found dead in his apartment Thursday. He was 29.

The cause of death was not immediately clear and an autopsy was ordered. Investigating judge Daniel Regenmass said there was no indication of violence.

Silver, who had Canadian and Swiss citizenship, spent the last nine seasons playing in Switzerland.

Theodore Strongin

NEW YORK (AP) _ Theodore Strongin, a former critic for The New York Times who specialized in contemporary music, died Nov. 24 of leukemia. He was 79.

He started his newspaper career as a reviewer for The New York Herald Tribune in the early 1950s. He later was arts editor and music critic for The Chattanooga Times and The Knickerbocker News, in Albany, before joining The New York Times in 1963.

He retired in 1970 and moved to East Hampton, where he contributed occasional reviews to The East Hampton Star.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, Daniel, a grandson, two stepdaughters and his companion, Leah Lasbury.

Kerry Thornley

ATLANTA (AP) _ Kerry Thornley, author of a book about Lee Harvey Oswald written in part before he was charged with assassinating President John F. Kennedy, died Saturday of cardiac arrest. He was 60.

Thornley became friends with Oswald in 1959 when both were in the Marines in California. He began writing ``The Idle Warriors,″ the story of a disillusioned Marine who defects to the Soviet Union, after Oswald defected.

He finished the manuscript in 1962 and was called before the Warren Commission. He testified about Oswald’s apparent fascination with Communism. He then was hauled into court by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who accused him of conspiring to kill the president.

Thornley’s manuscript eventually was published in 1991 after gathering dust as evidence seized by the commission.

Jimmy Yates

DUCKETT, Ark. (AP) _ Jimmy Yates, the founder of E-Z Mart convenience stores, who was also an Arkansas Aviation Aerospace Commission member, died Wednesday when his aircraft crashed. He was 57.

Yates bought his first convenience store in 1967. After Yates took on a business partner in 1970, the chain grew to 35 stores by 1975. By 1996, there were 375 E-Z Mart stores in 200 communities across Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Gov. Mike Huckabee appointed Yates to the state Aeronautics Commission in August 1996. Yates also owned an aviation company, a pecan orchard and a cattle ranch.

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