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Obituaries in the News

May 17, 1999

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ Richard Bunkall, a painter and longtime art teacher whose battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease inspired a TV episode, died Wednesday of the illness. He was 45.

A teacher at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, Bunkall was diagnosed in 1994 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an irreversible neuromuscular condition better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Though his condition worsened, Bunkall refused to give up painting and relied on a respirator and a motorized wheelchair. With the help of an assistant, Bunkall painted until the end.

In the tradition of baseball players who hang their gloves up when they retire, Bunkall’s final picture was a baseball mitt hanging on a wall. He completed it two weeks ago, dedicating it to his sons _ 7-year-old twins John and Henry, and 4-year-old George.

Martha Williamson, executive producer of ``Touched by an Angel,″ saw Bunkall’s work at a gallery and asked to meet him.

Bunkall’s wife, Sally Storch Bunkall, had already been working on a script based on her husband’s life. The two collaborated, along with Mrs. Bunkall’s writing partner, Sally Howell, to create ``Flight of Angels.″ The episode aired February 1998.

Thomas C. Cochran

HAVERFORD, Pa. (AP) _ Thomas C. Cochran a former University of Pennsylvania professor regarded as a leading historian of U.S. business and economy, died May 2. He was 97.

Cochran taught at Penn for nearly 30 years before retiring in 1979 as an emeritus professor and was the author of more than 20 books.

Cochran, who said his aim was to convince readers that business was the most important American social institution, had served as president of the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and the Economic History Association.

Mary Lou Conrad

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Mary Lou Conrad, a longtime figure in Indiana Democratic politics who wrote former Sen. Birch Bayh’s signature campaign theme song, ``Hey, Look Me Over,″ died Friday. She was 64.

Mrs. Conrad’s marriage to Larry Conrad, the state’s former secretary of state, brought her into politics. But she wrote her own footnote in political history in 1962 when, as a worker in Bayh’s first senatorial bid, she wrote ``Hey, Look Me Over.″

The jingle became popular and won a national song-writing award.

John Cruise

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) _ John ``Jack″ Cruise, who covered eastern Connecticut sports for more than 60 years for The Day, died Friday. He was 85.

Cruise received the 1995 Media Award from both the Eastern College Athletic Conference and the Sports Information Directors of America.

He began working at The Day shortly after his 1931 high school graduation. He became a decorated Army veteran of World War II.

Survivors include his wife, two daughters, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Wilfred Keyes

DENVER (AP) _ Wilfred Keyes, who led the effort to desegregate Denver’s public schools, died Friday after a battle with diabetes. He was 74.

Keyes was behind a 1969 discrimination lawsuit filed against Denver Public Schools by a group of parents of minority students.

The same year Keyes and the other parents filed the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge William Doyle ruled Denver schools were intentionally segregated and schools in the downtown area were so inferior that they denied equal access to education. He ordered desegregation of northeast Denver schools.

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the complete desegregation of the Denver school system. Mandated busing began the next year.

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch ended court-ordered busing in 1995, saying the schools had been integrated as much as possible. Keyes expressed displeasure with the decision.

Charles W. Mapes Jr.

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Charles W. Mapes Jr., whose hotel-casino attracted the rich and famous during its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, died Thursday of complications following heart surgery. He was 78.

The 12-story Mapes Hotel in Reno, Nev., opened on Dec. 17, 1947, and the glorious mountain views from atop its Sky Room once drew politicians, high rollers and Hollywood’s elite, including Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Shirley Temple.

It closed on Dec. 17, 1982, and has stood shuttered ever since.

Mapes’ hotel was the first in the country to feature gambling, dining, entertainment and luxury accommodations under one roof.

Among those performing at the Mapes were Sammy Davis Jr., Mae West, the Marx Brothers, Gypsy Rose Lee and Danny Thomas.

Its unique art deco style earned it a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The resort was named last year as one of the most endangered historic places in the country by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Bobby Wilson

BRENHAM, Texas (AP) _ Bobby Wilson, a running back who led Southern Methodist University to the national football championship in 1935, died Saturday following a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 85.

Wilson caught the winning touchdown pass in SMU’s 20-14 victory over Texas Christian University in the Southwest Conference championship in 1935.

SMU went to the Rose Bowl, where the Mustangs lost to Stanford, 6-0, but still received the Grantland Rice Trophy.

Wilson was one of the first inductees of the Texas High School Hall of Fame. He’s also in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and in the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, which recognizes the nation’s top college players.

Geoffrey Wigoder

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Geoffrey Wigoder, veteran broadcaster, scholar and a leading editor of the Encyclopedia Judaica, died April 9 of a brain hemorrhage. He was 76.

In the early 1950s, Wigoder directed the overseas broadcasts of Israel radio and in the 1970s was a correspondent for the BBC and the Yorkshire Post.

Wigoder collaborated with Cecil Roth, a well-known Judaica scholar, on the one-volume New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia. The two then began work on what was to be the 16-volume Encyclopedia Judaica. When Roth died in 1970, Wigoder took over as editor.

Wigoder’s credits also include The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, ``Jewish Art and Civilization″ and ``The Story of the Synagogue.″ His Dictionary of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue was commissioned by the Paulist Press in New York in 1995.

Survivors include his wife, two sons, a sister and two grandchildren.

Asrat Woldeyes

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Dr. Asrat Woldeyes, the longtime leader of a major opposition group in Ethiopia, died Friday of complications from a heart condition. He was 70.

Asrat had served a five-year prison term in an Ethiopian jail on charges of encouraging armed insurrection in two speeches, and was awaiting trial on a third similar charge when he was released from jail in December to get medical treatment in the United States.

Asrat was president of the All-Amhara Peoples Organization. The personal physician of the late Emperor Haile Selassie, he was a strong critic of the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and particularly critical of policies that led to the creation of new autonomous regions along linguistic and ethnic lines.

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