Lou Thesz, 86, a pioneer in professional wrestling who...

Deaths Elsewhere

April 30, 2002

Lou Thesz, 86, a pioneer in professional wrestling who grappled for more than 55 years and helped carry the spectacle into the era of television, died Sunday in Orlando, Fla.

Mr. Thesz started wrestling professionally in the mid-1930s at age 17 and took part in a match in Japan when he was 73.

Mr. Thesz was among wrestling's most visible performers in the 1940s and 1950s, according to Kit Bauman, co-author of Thesz's autobiography, Hooker: An Authentic Wrestler's Adventures Inside the Bizarre World of Professional Wrestling.

A good-looking, lithe man at 6-2, 225-pounds, Mr. Thesz began wrestling in St. Louis and was first named world champion at age 21. He regularly fulfilled between 200 and 250 wrestling dates per year and performed all over the world, according to his official Web site.

Mr. Thesz received some mainstream celebrity, posing with movie stars like Alan Ladd and Yvonne DeCarlo and trading mock grips with former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis.

He was named to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in February.

Del Sharbutt, 90, a broadcast network announcer who became one of the most familiar voices on the air during the radio and early television era, died Friday in Palm Desert, Calif.

Mr. Sharbutt had retired from broadcasting in 1976 after four decades as an announcer, newscaster and company spokesman.

Blessed with a resonant voice, he began his radio career in Chicago in 1933 and joined CBS a year later, about the same time he married Mary C. Balsley, who sang with the Gus Arnheim big band as Meri Bell. She died in 1990.

In New York, Mr. Sharbutt was a staff announcer at CBS from 1936 to 1945 on radio and TV shows starring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Robert Benchley, the Dorsey brothers and Your Hit Parade with Frank Sinatra, among others.

Later he was a newscaster for the Mutual Radio network, and a spokesman for Campbell's soups, where he originated the familiar commercial, "Mmm-mm-good."

A musician who played sax, clarinet, piano and organ, he wrote many songs, including the theme for the Bob Cummings TV show.

John P. Morris, 76, the feisty former Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters president who became one of the most powerful labor leaders in the state, died in Philadelphia on Sunday after battling recent heart trouble.

Mr. Morris was ousted in late 1999 from the Philadelphia Teamsters local he founded and led for more than four decades after national union investigators accused him of various abuses, including buying and stockpiling weapons for what he called a "war."

Mr. Morris contended that his removal from Local 115 was political payback for opposing national union president James P. Hoffa. His lawsuit challenging the ouster was pending at the time of his death.

Gordon Randolph Willey, 90, an archaeologist who pioneered the field of "settlement pattern studies" in Peru in the 1940s, died of heart failure Sunday in Cambridge, Mass.

Mr. Willey was a professor in Harvard University's anthropology department for 36 years. He was known for his research at sites in Guatemala, Honduras and British Honduras, now Belize, and for developing a method of research that examined ancient people's use of the landscape and their relations with neighbors to provide insight into their economic, political and social organization.

His books included Archaeology of the Florida Gulf Coast and two volumes of An Introduction to American Archaeology, as well as the archaeological mystery novel, "Selena." He was president of the American Anthropological Association and the Society for American Archaeology.

James Gay, 83, a bond lawyer who arranged financing for the Seattle Kingdome and two major floating bridges in the Puget Sound area, died of kidney failure April 23 in Redmond, Wash.

Mr. Gay graduated at the top of his class in 1943 and worked as a teaching assistant while helping his father start Hansen Baking Co. in Seattle.

He was best known as the lawyer in charge of bond sales to finance the Kingdome, Hood Canal floating bridge between the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas and Evergreen Point floating bridge across Lake Washington.

The stadium, completed in 1976 for $67 million, was the city's leading sports venue as home for the Seattle Mariners and Seahawks.

The Kingdome was demolished on March 26, 2000, after completion of Safeco Field, an open-air stadium with a retractable roof, for the Mariners.

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