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Obituaries in the News

February 9, 1999

ORAIB, Ariz. (AP) _ Thomas Banyacya, a Hopi selected by elders of his tribe to deliver a message of peace and spirituality to the world, died Saturday. He was 89.

Banyacya once addressed the United Nations, delivering in part a message stemming from ancient Hopi beliefs, sometimes called prophecies, that an assembly of world leaders devoted to settling disagreements without war would be established in the eastern United States. The United Nations was deemed to be that assemblage.

Banyacya was selected as one of four ``messengers″ by traditional Hopi elders in 1948.

The message he was to carry was one urging a return to traditional peaceful and spiritual beliefs held by the Hopi for centuries. The selection grew out of Hopi teachings predicting the possibility of momentous global events the elders deemed had begun to occur during the 1940s.

He traveled worldwide in his effort to relay the message. Banyacya’s campaign is credited with having helped revive American Indian interests in their heritage, traditions, beliefs and languages.

John Cordwell

CHICAGO (AP) _ Architect John Cordwell, whose Carl Sandburg Village urban renewal project helped revitalize Chicago’s near North Side during the 1960s, died Thursday. He was 78.

During World War II he served in the Royal Air Force and was in a plane that was downed over German-occupied territory. He survived a German prisoner of war camp and participated in the failed Great Escape from a German stalag in 1944.

After the war, Cordwell moved to Chicago in 1950 and served from 1952 to 1956 as a director of planning for the Chicago Plan Commission and became one of the city’s most influential urban planners.

Cordwell championed the incorporation of public transit into the expressway projects of the 1950s. He insisted that a rapid transit line be built down the middle of what is now the Kennedy Expressway to connect downtown with O’Hare International Airport.

Cordwell later formed his own architectural firm and was one of the designers of Carl Sandburg Village, a 2,600-unit middle-class urban renewal project that opened in 1963.

Gwen Guthrie

ORANGE, N.J. (AP) _ Gwen Guthrie, a singer and songwriter who recorded several dance and R&B hits during the 1980s, died Wednesday of uterine cancer. She was 42.

Ms. Guthrie got her break in the mid-1970s when she was hired as a background vocalist for Aretha Franklin and later worked with Roberta Flack and Luther Vandross. She became a popular recording session singer, performing on albums by Kenny Loggins and Steely Dan, among others.

Her biggest solo success came in 1986 with ``Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on But the Rent.″ Words from that song _ ``no romance without finance″ _ became a popular catch-phrase. She was also among the first recording artists to raise money for the fight against AIDS.

Ms. Guthrie’s self-titled debut album was released in 1982, featuring the song ``Should Have Been You,″ which helped establish her as one of the top club music performers of the period.

Ebba Hoffman

HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) _ Ebba Hoffman, chairwoman of the office-supply maker Smead Manufacturing Co. since 1955, died of pneumonia Friday. She was 87.

Under her leadership, the company grew from 350 employees and about $4 million in annual revenues in 1955 to about 2,500 employees and $315 million in sales in 1998.

The company has been ranked by business publications as among the nation’s largest female-owned companies.

Mrs. Hoffman took control of the company after her husband, Harold, died of a heart attack at age 55. She practiced a management style that focused on preventing and quickly correcting customer complaints.

Leadership began shifting about two years ago to her daughter, Sharon Hoffman Avent, who was elected president and chief executive officer last July.

John Kolbe

PHOENIX (AP) _ John Kolbe, a political columnist and reporter for two Phoenix newspapers for 26 years, died Monday of colon cancer. He was 58.

Kolbe, the dean of Arizona political writers, spent most of his career with The Phoenix Gazette, an afternoon newspaper that shut down in 1997. He then joined the Gazette’s sister, The Arizona Republic.

Kolbe’s columns generally reflected his strongly held conservative beliefs. His brother, Jim Kolbe, is a Republican congressman from Tucson.

Kolbe began his journalism career as a reporter and editor for newspapers in Rockford, Ill., then joined the gubernatorial campaign of Republican Richard B. Ogilvie in 1968. When Ogilvie was elected, Kolbe served four years as a speech writer and press aide. He was hired by the Phoenix newspapers’ owner in 1973.

Survivors include his wife, Mary; a son and daughter; and two step-children.

Muneyuki Matsushita

TOKYO (AP) _ Muneyuki Matsushita, president of one of Japan’s oldest and largest daily newspapers, the Asahi Shimbun, died Tuesday. He was 65.

He had been hospitalized with influenza that developed into pneumonia and also suffered from lung cancer.

Matsushita, whose career at the daily paper spanned more than 40 years, joined the newspaper as a reporter in 1958.

He later held positions including chief political news editor, editor-in-chief and senior managing director, becoming president of the paper in June 1996.

Founded in 1879, the Asahi Shimbun is Japan’s second largest newspaper with a circulation of over 8 million.

Matsushita is survived by his wife, Yoko, and three children.

Dame Iris Murdoch

LONDON (AP) _ Dame Iris Murdoch, whose macabre yet comic sensibility made her one of Britain’s most admired modern novelists, died Monday at Vale House in Oxford. She was 79 and had Alzheimer’s disease.

Philosophical speculation, religion, magic and metaphysics run through many of Ms. Murdoch’s 26 novels. One of her most famous _ ``A Severed Head,″ published in 1961 _ was a black farce about infidelity, incest and violence.

Before beginning to teach at Oxford, she spent a year at Cambridge studying with disciples of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Her first book was nonfiction _ ``Sartre: Romantic Rationalist″ in 1953 _ and she wrote on philosophy throughout her career. ``Existentialists and Mystics,″ a collection of her essays and articles, was published in 1997.

Ms. Murdoch’s first published novel was ``Under the Net″ in 1954, and it won immediate praise.

One of her most admired novels was 1973′s ``The Black Prince,″ about a middle-aged would-be writer and his professional rival’s young daughter. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

In 1978, ``The Sea, The Sea,″ about a retired film director trying to win back his first love, won the Booker Prize, widely considered Britain’s highest literary honor.

In 1987, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, the equivalent of a knighthood for women.

Her husband, John Bayley, an academic, critic and writer, documented her life and the progression of her disease in ``Elegy for Iris,″ published last year.

Her last novel, ``Jackson’s Dilemma,″ was published in 1995.

Elario Questas

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) _ Elario Questas, thought to be the oldest man in Hawaii, died Friday at the age of 112.

Questas was born Aug. 6, 1886, on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. At the time, Grover Cleveland was in the White House and King David Kalakaua ruled Hawaii from Iolani Palace.

Questas came to Hawaii after being promised free rent, free water and $20 a month in plantation wages. He was a veteran of both world wars who lived alone in a plantation shack for a half century.

In 1989, Questas moved to housing for the elderly in Lahaina, but left soon after because the other residents were ``too old.″

Mark Ballard, owner of Ballard Family Mortuary, said Questas was the oldest man in Hawaii at the time of his death.

Marius Schoon

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Marius Schoon, a prominent apartheid opponent who spent 12 years in prison and lost his wife and daughter to a police letter bomb, died Sunday of lung cancer. He was 61.

Schoon returned to the public eye late last year when the ex-police agent who arranged the slayings of his family applied for amnesty and Schoon attended the hearings.

Schoon was among a handful of white South Africans who sought to tear down a system that assured them privileged positions, and who paid a heavy price for doing so.

Schoon, a schoolteacher, was jailed from 1964 to 1976 for planting a bomb at a police station. No one was hurt in the attack.

Craig Williamson admitted arranging the letter bomb that killed Jeanette Schoon, 39, and the couple’s 6-year-old daughter Katryn in 1984. The couple were in Angola teaching at the time. Schoon and his son Fritz were not home when the letter bomb arrived.

Armand Schwerner

NEW YORK (AP) _ Armand Schwerner, a poet whose work inspired numerous dances and theatrical presentations, died of cancer Feb. 4. He was 71.

Schwerner published about a dozen volumes of poetry. Two works will be published this fall _ ``Selected Shorter Poems″ and ``The Tablets,″ the complete edition of a work he developed in 27 sections over 25 years.

Performances of Schwerner’s nonlinear poetry and recordings of his enthusiastic readings attracted big audiences. Schwerner could read in numerous voices and was a master of rhythm. In the 1980s, the Living Theater presented versions of his ``Tablets.″

Schwerner taught English at Long Island University in the 1960s and was on the Staten Island Community College faculty for 12 years. He taught at the College of Staten Island of the City University of New York from 1976 until his retirement last summer.

Giuseppe Tatarella

ROME (AP) _ Giuseppe Tatarella, a leader of Italy’s far right National Alliance, died of a heart attack Monday. He was 63.

Tatarella, head of the National Alliance’s parliamentary group, was pivotal in the party’s decision to shed its fascist past in 1995.

Tatarella said in an interview published Monday in Milan’s Il Giornale that he was never a fascist. He said he joined the old fascist party, the Italian Social Movement, because ``it was the most anti-Communist party.″

A lawyer, Tatarella was deputy premier in the 1994 government headed by center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Bobby Troup

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Bobby Troup, a musician and actor who penned the popular song ``Route 66″ and played a neurosurgeon on the 1970s television drama ``Emergency,″ died Sunday. He was 80.

Troup penned a little ditty in 1946 as he drove across the country to California, where he had dreams of making it big in music. He chose Route 66, as his song says: ``If you ever plan to motor West: Travel my way, the highway that’s the best. Get your kicks on Route 66!″

Besides ``Route 66,″ Troup also wrote and performed ``Daddy,″ ``The Girl Can’t Help It,″ ``Meaning of the Blues,″ ``Baby, All the Time,″ and ``Lemon Twist.″ He also wrote songs for Tommy Dorsey and played Dorsey in the movie, ``The Gene Krupa Story.″

He landed a role on the 1970s drama ``Emergency″ as Dr. Joe Early, a neurosurgeon who was often left in charge of younger patients. Troup also was host of ``Stars of Jazz″ in the late 1950s and had a minor role in the movie ``MASH.″

Among Troup’s survivors his wife, actress and singer Julie London, who played Nurse Dixie on ``Emergency.″

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