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Obituaries in the News

December 21, 1997

Mike Augustin

ST. PAUL (AP) _ Mike Augustin, a longtime sports writer for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, died Friday of complications from cancer. He was 57.

Raised in Springfield, Augustin attended St. John’s in Collegeville and graduated from the University of Minnesota. He worked first at the St. Cloud Times, later becoming sports editor. He joined the Pioneer Press in 1969.

Nicknamed ``Auggie,″ Augustin covered high school and small-college sports and voted in Associated Press college polls.

He is survived by his mother and two brothers.

Virginia Coigney

REDDING, Conn. (AP) _ Virginia Coigney, a writer and mother of folk singer Mary Travers of Peter Paul and Mary, died Thursday after a long illness. She was 80.

Travers said much of her social awareness came from her mother, who took part in civil rights protests from the 1960s to the 1980s.

``She told me once, `Be very careful with compromise. There’s a very thin line between compromise and complicity,′ ″ Travers said.

Coigney dropped out of school, became a reporter with the Albany (N.Y.) Knickerbocker Press and wrangled an exclusive interview with gangster Dutch Schultz.

She wrote scripts for radio and television, including the soap opera ``The Edge of Night;″ authored several books, including the biography of birth-control advocate Dr. Margaret Sanger; and became public relations director for a Connecticut hospital.

She is also survived by another daughter.

Sally Marr

NEW YORK (AP) _ Sally Marr, the mother of comedian Lenny Bruce and a comedian and talent agent herself credited with discovering Cheech & Chong, Sam Kinison and Pat Morita, died Dec. 14 in Los Angeles. She was 91.

A native of New York, Ms. Marr worked as a waitress and maid and later became a stand-up comedian, doing impersonations of James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. Her son started his career by imitating his mother’s act.

Bruce, a cutting edge comedian who became an inspiration to a generation of stand-up performers, died in 1966. His life story was portrayed in the film ``Lenny,″ which starred Dustin Hoffman.

In a 1989 interview, Ms. Marr said: ``People are always saying that everything in comedy stems from Lenny _ that everything touches him. What can I tell you? He took after me.″

After her son’s death, Ms. Marr continued to perform in nightclubs, on television and in films. In 1994, Joan Rivers starred in the Broadway play ``Sally Marr ... and Her Escorts.″

Esther E. Peterson

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Esther E. Peterson, a pioneering advocate of worker and consumer rights in three presidential administrations, died Saturday at her Washington home. She was 91.

During her career, she pioneered in pressing the food and grocery industries to include unit pricing, more inclusive lists of ingredients and freshness dating, a son, Iver Peterson, noted.

Mrs. Peterson, a native of Provo, Utah, was an official of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union and the AFL-CIO before being named director of the Women’s Bureau and assistant secretary for labor standards at the Labor Department by President Kennedy in 1961.

As the consumerism movement grew in America under the influence of Ralph Nader and other activists, President Johnson named her the first White House consumer adviser in 1964, a post she held through 1967.

Following Jimmy Carter’s election in 1976, Mrs. Peterson returned to the White House as special assistant to the president for consumer affairs. Carter later named her director of the Office of Consumer Affairs in the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

George Tsutakawa

SEATTLE (AP) _ George Tsutakawa, a prolific Northwest artist known for serene fountains and abstract bronze structures, died Thursday at age 87. He had suffered heart problems.

Besides his art work, he spent nearly 30 years teaching others as a professor at the University of Washington. He blended Eastern and Western artistic tradition in his oil and sumi paintings, sculptures and fountains, which can be found throughout the city.

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