The Rev. Paul M. Abels, the nation's first openly gay pastor with a congregation in a major Christian denomination, died March 12 of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. He was 54. Mr. Abels was pastor of the Washington Square United Methodist Church in Manhattan's Greenwich Village from 1973 to 1984. He publicly acknowledged his homosexuality in 1977 and began performing "covenant ceremonies" for gay couples unable to marry legally.
Connie Lee, an educator who advised the Pentagon on military issues affecting women, died March 13 of cancer. She was 61. She served on the U.S. Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services for four years and headed it for a year before leaving in 1989.
Elvia Allman, a character actress who played Selma on television's "Petticoat Junction" and Elverna on "The Beverly Hillbillies," died March 6 after a brief illness. She was 88. Miss Allman began her career on radio with the Edgar Bergen show and the Jack Benny show. She was the original voice of Walt Disney's Clarabelle the cow and also did voices for the 1990 Disney animated short "The Prince and the Pauper."