John Thomas, 71, a Baltimore native once described by...

Deaths Elsewhere

April 08, 2002

John Thomas, 71, a Baltimore native once described by his friend, noted writer Charles Bukowski, as "the best unread poet in America," died of congestive heart failure March 29 at the Veterans Affairs hospital in West Los Angeles, according to his wife, Philomene Long.

Born John Thomas Idlet, he grew up in Baltimore, attended Loyola College and briefly considered joining the priesthood. During the Korean War, he was a cryptographer with the Air Force. He returned home after his 1953 discharge, married the first of four wives and became a computer programmer for Univac.

His life changed when he was hit by a truck and broke his ankle. During weeks of recovery, he grew a beard and began to write. He produced three unpublished novels. After reading a book about the Beat scene in Venice, Calif., he left home with $14 in his pocket and hitchhiked West.

He became one of the painters, writers and other artists who called Venice home, although he lived briefly in San Francisco, then in the Echo Park and Silver Lake areas of Los Angeles.

His four decades of work, most of it unpublished or out of print, includes From Patagonia, a poem about Los Angeles written in the form of a diary, and the collections Epopoeia and the Decay of Satire, Abandoned Latitudes and John Thomas, all published in the 1970s and early 1980s.

"He was the sage of Venice," said Fred Dewey, director of Beyond Baroque, a Venice literary arts center that is selling a compact disc of Mr. Thomas' poems. Some of the proceeds will help cover funeral expenses.

William Diebold, 86, an economist who helped mold economic policy after World War II, died Tuesday of congestive heart failure in Upper Nyack, N.Y. A scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations for more than five decades, beginning in 1939, he was a strong supporter of the postwar Bretton Woods economic system, which emphasized free trade. He wrote several books on economic issues, including New Directions in Our Trade Policy (1941), Trade and Payments in Western Europe (1952) and Industrial Policy as an International Issue (1980).

Wylie Tuttle, 79, a real estate developer who was the force behind major construction projects in Paris, Chicago and St. Louis, died Friday of cancer at his home in Rock Hall. Mr. Tuttle, the president of Collins Tuttle & Co., played a significant part in the construction of the 680-foot Tour Montparnasse in Paris, which was the tallest office tower in Europe in 1972. (The tallest building in Europe is now the Commerzbank tower in Frankfurt - 850 feet high, or 984 feet with its antenna).

Mr. Tuttle and an associate, Herbert Papock, were partners in the $140 million project. The two also worked together on projects in Chicago and St. Louis, and developed office buildings and shopping centers around the United States.

Edward Irving Levy, 72, a composer and professor of music at Yeshiva University in Manhattan, died Tuesday in New York. The cause was complications from pancreatic cancer, said friend and colleague Noyes Bartholomew.

Mr. Levy taught at the Long Island campus of C.W. Post College from 1961 to 1967 and at Yeshiva University since 1967. He was influenced by the linguistic research of Zelig Harris and Noam Chomsky. He also wrote an important article on the 12-tone composer Stefan Wolpe for the journal Perspectives of New Music in 1963.

Marvin Honig, 66, an advertising executive who developed quirky, creative commercials for Volkswagen, Alka-Seltzer and Cracker Jack, died March 28 in Rhinebeck, N.Y., of complications related to multiple sclerosis.

A talent at the forefront of the creative advertising movement, Mr. Honig joined Doyle Dane Bernbach as a copywriter in 1964. In 20 years with the agency, he rose to vice chairman, handling high-profile accounts, including Sony, American Airlines and Citicorp. One of his most famous commercials, a television spot for Alka-Seltzer, featured a newlywed couple preparing for dinner at home. The groom is seen secretly downing Alka-Seltzer in the bathroom as the bride looks through a cookbook filled with off-the-wall recipes.

He left Doyle Dane in 1984 and worked at Geers Gross Advertising and Leber Katz Partners before being named president of Campbell-Mithun-Esty in 1987. He retired two years later.

Herbert Kesner, 89, a former head of the news broadcast desk at The New York Times, died April 1 at a hospital in Lebanon, Pa. He lived in Manheim, Pa.

For many years, Mr. Kesner led the staff that wrote news broadcasts for The New York Times' classical radio station, WQXR, which it acquired in 1944. The broadcast desk prepared hourly newscasts, drawn from the resources of the paper, from 7 a.m. to midnight. He retired in 1972 after 37 years at the paper, when it reassigned the contingent of radio editors and writers and the station began to use news agency newscasts.

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