Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

April 19, 2003

Russell G. Clark,

77, a retired U.S. District Court judge who ordered Missouri to wipe out segregation from its schools, died Thursday in Springfield, Mo.

The Kansas City desegregation case, which has spanned 26 years and cost more than $2 billion, won Judge Clark both praise and criticism.

He was assigned to oversee the case shortly after he was appointed to the federal bench in 1977. He presided over the case until 1997, three years before his retirement.

In 1984, Judge Clark declared that the school district's "discriminatory and state-fostered dual school system for black and white students must be eliminated." He ruled that the Kansas City district and the state were liable for illegal segregation.

Judge Clark ordered an expensive system of magnet schools and other improvements that led to new school buildings and programs but did not drastically improve student achievement.

Kansas City school officials are seeking to end the case, saying that the district has reduced the achievement gap between black and white students.

Virna Canson,

81, a lifetime civil rights activist and head of the NAACP on the West Coast during the 1970s and 1980s, died Monday in Sacramento, Calif. of kidney cancer.

Known as a tireless leader, Ms. Canson played a role in many of biggest political events of her day. She voted to seat black delegates from Mississippi during the 1964 Democratic National Convention. She helped in the reconstruction of the Watts community in Los Angeles after the 1965 riots. She also was instrumental in getting the Bakke case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976, where justices ruled that race could be used as a factor but not the sole factor in state universities' admission decisions.

In 1974, Ms. Canson took over leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's western region. She served 14 years.

Emil Loteanu,

66, an award-winning Soviet-era filmmaker known for his focus on romance and drama, died yesterday in Moldova.

Moldova's Filmmakers Union said that he died of "an incurable disease."

Mr. Loteanu was born in 1936 in the Romanian village of Clocusna, which became part of the Soviet Union three years later and is now part of Moldova. He made his directing debut with Wait for Us at Dawn in 1964, and went on to make more than 20 movies and documentaries.

He is considered Moldova's greatest filmmaker.

Mr. Loteanu's best known films include 1975's Gypsy Camp Rises to Heaven and 1977's My Tender and Gentle Beast, a heartbreaking romantic drama based on a Chekhov story.

Russia's state-controlled television reported that his films attracted huge crowds and sometimes criticism for their focus on romance and passion. Mr. Loteanu's films always featured stunning actresses -- whom he often fell in love with -- romantic sets and beautiful musical scores.

Mr. Loteanu's films earned him international honors, including top prizes at the San Sebastian International Film Festival.

Luella M. Bennack,

67, a philanthropist for numerous national charitable causes and the wife of Frank A. Bennack Jr., vice chairman and longtime chief executive officer of the Hearst Corp., died Thursday night at her home in San Antonio an apparent heart attack.

Mrs. Bennack enjoyed a varied business and pro bono career that spanned more than 30 years.

"Luella was an exceptional woman, a tireless volunteer and fund-raiser, and a dedicated mother and grandmother," said Victor F. Ganzi, president and chief executive officer of the Hearst Corp. `There were very few people who gave of themselves as Luella did. She will be missed greatly by the organizations she worked for, by her family and friends, and by my many colleagues at the Hearst Corp. who knew her so well."

Mrs. Bennack was active on behalf of a variety of charitable causes and volunteered at educational institutions attended by her daughters. She headed parent-teacher organizations and served as liaison with school boards.

Mrs. Bennack also had a long record of service with United Cerebral Palsy. For more than a decade, she served as co-chairwoman of one of the UCP's primary annual fund-raising galas. With her husband, she was co-chairwoman of numerous civic and charitable fund-raisers for organizations, including New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Museum of Television & Radio.

She and her husband of 51 years maintained homes in Kerrville, Texas; in San Antonio; and in Weston, Conn.

Mrs. Bennack is survived by her husband as well as their five daughters and 11 grandchildren.

Sir William Gunn,

89, a sheep farmer who took over his family's flock as a teen-ager and rose to become one of the most powerful men in Australian agriculture, died Thursday in Sydney.

Mr. Gunn convinced sheep farmers that the only way to save their industry from overseas cartels was to set a minimum price for their wool, a concept known as the floor price. He also helped market Australian wool worldwide.

Born in the rural Queensland town of Goondiwindi in 1914, Mr. Gunn, like the sons of many Australian farming families, was sent to boarding school in Sydney. Within a year of leaving the prestigious King's School he was running a huge Outback sheep ranch.

Mr. Gunn's agriculture empire eventually included prawn fishing and cattle farming in two states.

A slump in the value of cattle in 1973 wiped out his personal fortune, but he rebuilt his finances by investing in other farming ventures.

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