Joseph Bonanno, 97, the notorious gangster known as "Joe...

Deaths Elsewhere

May 13, 2002

Joseph Bonanno, 97, the notorious gangster known as "Joe Bananas" who ran one of the most powerful Mafia groups in the 1950s and '60s, died Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.

Mr. Bonanno, who retired to Arizona in 1968 and had suffered from several health problems in recent years, died of heart failure. "He is probably the first Mafia godfather to die of natural causes," said A. Butler Yates III, who dealt with Mr. Bonanno while serving as U.S. attorney for Arizona until 1981.

At the height of his power, Mr. Bonanno directed one of the five original crime families in New York City. The public knew him as "Joe Bananas" -- a nickname he detested. By his admission, he was a member of "the Commission," which acted as an organized crime board of directors in New York and other major U.S. cities.

Mr. Bonanno fell from grace during the 1960s, reputedly for trying to become the boss of bosses in what came to be known as "the Banana War." The battle among the crime families resulted in his eventual exile to Tucson.

In 1980, prosecutors succeeded in getting the only felony conviction against him, for obstruction of justice for trying to block a federal grand jury investigating his sons. He served nearly eight months in a federal prison before being paroled in July 1984. In 1985 and '86, he served 14 months in prison for contempt of court.

Diane Pretty, 43, a terminally ill British woman who fought an unsuccessful legal battle for the right to have her husband help her commit suicide, has died, her family said yesterday. Mrs. Pretty, who suffered from motor neuron disease, died Saturday at a hospice near her home in central England, said her husband, Brian.

Mrs. Pretty, whose illness left her paralyzed from the neck down and in a wheelchair, fought in the British courts for her husband to be guaranteed immunity from prosecution if he helped her die. Suicide is legal in Britain, but helping someone else commit suicide is a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

After her case was defeated in Britain's highest court, she went to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Two weeks ago, a panel agreed with the British courts.

Bernice Brown, 93, wife to one California governor and mother to another, died Thursday at her home in Los Angeles. The widow of Gov. Edmund G. "Pat" Brown and mother of Gov. Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown died of natural causes, said Jodie Evans, a longtime political aide and friend of Mrs. Brown's son, who is mayor of Oakland.

Mrs. Brown worked alongside her husband in his campaigns for governor, as well as his successful bids for San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general. Her husband was governor from 1959 to 1967.

Waltah Clarke, 89, once the nation's largest retailer of Hawaiian-style fashions, died Tuesday of heart failure in Rancho Mirage, Calif. A Los Angeles native, Mr. Clarke moved to Hawaii in 1938 and later changed the spelling of his name from Walter to Waltah, reflecting the way it was pronounced by local beachgoers.

In 1952, Mr. Clarke opened a store in Palm Springs, Calif., that offered Hawaiian shirts, swimwear and dresses. The chain totaled 31 stores in California, Chicago and Hawaii.

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