BoxCar Willie, whose gentle country voice and songs of...

Deaths Elsewhere

April 13, 1999

BoxCar Willie, whose gentle country voice and songs of life on the road evoked memories of a time when hobos watched America pass by from the door of a freight car, died Monday of leukemia in Branson, Mo. He was 67.

Born Lecil Martin in Sterrett, Texas, in 1931, BoxCar Willie was the son of a railroad man who used to play his fiddle on the porch while his son sat in on guitar. Although he never had a hit single, his albums sold well over the years and he built a loyal following that would later make him one of the most popular performers in Branson, where he operated a motel, train museum and his theater.

He said he took the BoxCar Willie look, as well as the name, after seeing a freight train pass him by one day in Lincoln, Neb., as he was stuck in traffic.

Mary Jane "Brownie Mary" Rathbun,77, who helped launch California's medical marijuana movement by using her kitchen to churn out pot-laced brownies for San Francisco AIDS patients, died Saturday of a heart attack in San Francisco, friends said yesterday.

Without family of her own, Ms. Rathbun was arrested several times for distributing her brownies, and lent her "little old lady" image to the medical marijuana movement in San Francisco. That movement eventually led to California's first-in-the-nation state initiative in 1996, which legalized medical use of marijuana.

Brother John Sellers,74, a blues and gospel singer who started his climb to fame at age 5, died March 27 in New York. He performed regularly in the early 1960s at Folk City, a Greenwich Village nightclub where musicians including Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Joan Baez sang early in their careers.

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