Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

October 13, 2003

Joan B. Kroc, 75, the billionaire widow of McDonald's Corp. founder Ray Kroc known for her philanthropy, died of brain cancer yesterday at her home in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Sante Fe.

Mrs. Kroc was known in recent years as a major donor to organizations working to promote world peace, including namesake think tanks at the University of Notre Dame and the University of San Diego. She inherited the San Diego Padres after her husband died in 1984 and sold the baseball club in 1990 to a group led by Los Angeles television producer Tom Werner.

With an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion, Mrs. Kroc ranked No. 121 on Forbes magazine's latest list of the nation's wealthiest people. Her donations created Notre Dame's Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies in 1986 and the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice in 2001. She was also a major benefactor of the Carter Center of Emory University in Atlanta.

Mrs. Kroc contributed $12 million to establish the Notre Dame center after hearing the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, then president of the university, warn about the arms race at a San Diego talk in 1985, said Scott Appleby, the center's director.

"She walked up to him after the talk and said, `I'm going to help you,'" said Mr. Appleby. "She was a passionate champion of peace and justice, and she was single-minded in her dedication to eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons and all forms of deadly violence."

The University of San Diego think tank has worked to broker peace in hot spots including Nepal, Madagascar and the Ivory Coast, said Joyce Neu, executive director, who pegged Mrs. Kroc's donations to the center at more than $30 million.

Born in St. Paul, Minn., she was a musician and music teacher for many years. She married Mr. Kroc in 1969, and the couple moved from Chicago to San Diego in 1976, two years after purchasing the Padres and preventing the team's planned move to Washington. Her husband died at 81.

Buford Saville, 79, a co-founder of one of the nation's first cable television companies, died in Cumberland on Oct. 6 of complications from Alzheimer's disease and leukemia.

Mr. Saville and his father-in-law, J. Holland Rannells, started Potomac Valley Television Co. in Cumberland in 1951. It began with three channels and within a year offered a broader range of programming than was available in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, said Mr. Saville's daughter, Sandra Saville.

The company was among the largest cable television systems in the country for most of the 1950s, according to the Cable Center, a Denver-based trade group that added Mr. Saville to its list of pioneers in 1971. It had 24,000 subscribers when Mr. Saville sold the company to TCI of Maryland in 1983, his daughter said.

Neil Postman, 72, a New York University professor and author who criticized the television industry for treating serious issues as entertainment, died of lung cancer Oct. 5.

Mr. Postman, a faculty member at NYU for 39 years, founded the Steinhardt School of Education's program in media ecology in 1971 and chaired the Department of Culture and Communication until last year.

Mr. Postman argued in his 1986 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, that television has such influence that it diminishes people's ability to take the world seriously.

In The Disappearance of Childhood, in 1994, he wrote that television homogenizes the worlds of children and adults by giving children access to vast amounts of information once reserved for adults.

Mr. Postman was the author of 20 books and more than 200 articles. He was a contributing editor to The Nation and was for 10 years editor of Et Cetera, a journal of semantics.

His survivors include a son, Dr. Marc Postman of Pikesville.

Eugene Istomin, 77, one of the first great classical pianists born in America, died Friday at his home in Washington after battling liver cancer.

At 17, he won the prestigious Leventritt and Philadelphia Youth Orchestra awards. In 1943, he made sensational debuts in the same week with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy and the New York Philharmonic under Artur Rodzinski.

At 25, he began a long association with cellist Pablo Casals. A year and a half after Mr. Casals' death in 1973, Mr. Istomin married his widow, Marta, now president of the Manhattan School of Music.

John Raymond Gora, 91, an award-winning Chicago Tribune photographer who shot a memorable photograph of a beer-splashed White Sox outfielder in the 1959 World Series, died Tuesday in Danville, Ill., of complications from a stroke.

His favorite photo, according to daughter Mary Lou Craig, was of a fan spilling beer over White Sox left fielder Al Smith as he was trying to catch a home run ball in Game 2 of the 1959 World Series.

In August, the famed image was named one of the world's 50 greatest sports photographs in The Observer Sport Monthly, a photography magazine.

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