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Obituaries in the News

October 26, 2004

Maurice Carter

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) _ Maurice Carter, who spent 28 years behind bars for shooting a police officer before his life sentence was commuted for medical reasons, died Sunday. He was 60.

Carter died of complications from hepatitis C and liver damage, said a friend, Doug Tjapkes.

Carter was released from prison three months ago and had hoped to receive a liver transplant. He was hospitalized four times after his release, Tjapkes said.

Tjapkes, who led the effort to free Carter, said he will continue to try and clear his name. Carter had maintained his innocence.

A jury convicted Carter in 1976 of shooting and wounding an off-duty Benton Harbor police officer.

Carter claimed he was innocent but his efforts to get a new trial were denied. As his health declined in recent years, his friends started a grass-roots movement to get him freed from prison.

Carter received the support of several individuals and organizations, including the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Wisconsin Innocence Project and Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions.

Ruth Schadler wrote a letter to the Michigan Parole Board requesting that Carter be kept in prison. But this year, the board recommended that Gov. Jennifer Granholm commute his sentence for medical reasons, which she did in June.

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Harry Ellen

MESA, Ariz. (AP) _ Harry Ellen, a longtime intelligence operative who aided and then publicly clashed with the FBI, died Friday. He was 56.

Ellen died at University Medical Center in Tucson after complications from a heart attack suffered several weeks ago, said Joe Abodeely, a lawyer and friend of Ellen.

Ellen spent more than 20 years as an American agent in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

Between 1995 and 1999, he made four trips to the Gaza Strip, where he established a charitable foundation and met with top Palestinian officials. He also met with five major terrorist groups in the region, seeking guarantees that doctors he brought to the region would not be targeted for violence.

His relationship with the FBI, however, soured in early 1999 over a separate investigation of a Chinese woman whom the FBI suspected was a spy. Agents disclosed Ellen’s relationship with the bureau to the woman, who never faced any charges and was allowed to stay in the country.

The Justice Department was investigating Ellen’s complaints.

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Donald Crawford McCoy

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) _ Donald Crawford McCoy, the owner of the houseboat where Otis Redding purportedly wrote ``The Dock of the Bay,″ died Oct. 11. He was 72.

McCoy, who was known as ``Papa Don″ and ran a commune in Marin County in the 1960s, died of a heart attack.

A fourth-generation Californian who could trace his genealogy back to the Revolutionary War, he was, at first glance, an unlikely candidate for his counterculture role in the 1960s.

In 1961, the family moved to Marin County, where McCoy and his brother, Douglas, developed the first modern houseboat marina at the Sausalito heliport.

Some of the most popular musicians and performers of the day lived in the eclectic houseboat community, including comic Bill Cosby.

``He loved Bill Cosby, and he loved Otis Redding,″ said his longtime companion, Sheila McKendrick. ``They all became buddies.″

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Dorothy Comstock Riley

GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. (AP) _ Dorothy Comstock Riley, former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, died Saturday of complications from Parkinson’s disease. She was 79.

Riley served from 1982-83 and 1985-97 on the Michigan Supreme Court and was chief justice from 1987-91. In 1976, she became the first woman justice on the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Republican Gov. William Milliken appointed Riley on Dec. 9, 1982 to fill the vacancy created by the death of high court Justice Blair Moody Jr. Democratic Gov.-elect James Blanchard, who was taking office the following month, argued he should have chosen Moody’s replacement.

In February 1983, shortly after Blanchard took office, her colleagues voted 4-2 to oust Riley from the court. Riley, however, won election to the Supreme Court in 1984, and was re-elected in 1992.

Riley was the founder and Honorary Chair of the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society. Riley earned bachelor’s and law degrees from Wayne State University.

The State Bar of Michigan presented Riley with its Distinguished Public Servant Award in 2000. She was a member of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

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Charles Seaver

NEW YORK (AP) _ Charles Seaver, the father of Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver and a top amateur golfer in the 1930s, died Monday. He was 93.

He died in Pebble Beach, Calif., after a short illness, the New York Mets said.

Charles Seaver played on the 1932 Walker Cup team and won both his matches in the 8-1 victory by the United States over Britain at Brookline, Mass. The Seaver Cup, an amateur golf tournament in California, is named in his honor.

``My dad was my hero,″ said Tom Seaver, a former Mets star and now a broadcaster for the team. ``All of my competitiveness on the playing field came from him. He always came to as many games as possible, and it was so important to me that he was there when I was inducted into the Hall of Fame (in 1992). I wouldn’t have gotten where I am without his instruction and guidance.″

Charles Seaver competed in 39 consecutive Bing Crosby National Pro-Am tournaments. He often paired with such movie stars as Douglas Fairbanks and Randolph Scott and business mogul Howard Hughes.

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Dennis Nicholas Skiotis

WATERTOWN, Mass. (AP) _ Dennis Nicholas Skiotis, longtime Harvard University faculty member, former president of Athens College in Greece and noted Middle East expert, died Oct. 19 of complications from pneumonia. He was 67.

Skiotis had leukemia and died at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Skiotis was at Harvard for 22 years. He was associate director of Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies from 1976 to 1985, and then director of undergraduate studies at Harvard’s history department until 1998.

From 1974 through 1976, he was a U.S. Senate appointment as head of a mission to Cyprus, in which he investigated refugees and other issues surrounding Turkey’s invasion of part of the island. His linguistic skills in both Turkish and Greek proved invaluable in collecting information from both sides.

From 1998 to 2003, Skiotis was president of Athens College in Greece, nearly 50 years after he had won a scholarship to that school.

Skiotis graduated from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, in 1958, earned a master’s degree in international relations from Lehigh University and a doctorate in history and Middle Eastern studies in 1971 from Harvard. He was an expert in military history, and provided commentary on military affairs at various times for the BBC, CNN, PBS and NPR.

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