The Rev. Leonard E. Boyle, who led the Vatican Library...

Deaths Elsewhere

October 30, 1999

The Rev. Leonard E. Boyle, who led the Vatican Library into the age of computer catalogs and gift merchandising, died Monday. He was 75.

During his 13 year at the Vatican, Mr. Boyle oversaw the world's largest collection of ancient manuscripts.

As keeper of manuscripts and chief librarian, he modernized the library by computerizing its old catalogs and wiring the main reading room for computers.

He also tried to make money by selling the rights to its warehouse of images.

He was in charge of the library when Ohio State University professor Anthony Melnikas stole pages from an ancient manuscript once owned by the 14th-century Italian poet Francesco Petrarch. Mr. Melnikas was sentenced to 14 months in prison and fined $3,000 for theft.

In 1996, the Vatican was forced to pay the equivalent of $8.8 million, plus $1.3 million in attorney's fees, to settle a lawsuit that resulted from Mr. Boyle's sale of exclusive rights to reproduce library images.

It is unclear if the two incidents led the Vatican to dismiss Mr. Boyle in 1997 or if he accepted early retirement.

Walter Francis Skees, a sergeant major who sang for seven presidents in the White House as the Army's top vocalist, died Oct. 23 of a heart attack. He was 64.

Sergeant Skees was a soldier from 1955 to 1983. He entertained Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan.

In 1954, at 19, he was drafted into the Army, where he won a contest to select the service's best vocalist, following such notables as Eddie Fisher and Steve Lawrence.

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