Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

October 15, 2003

Otto Guensche, 86, an aide to Adolf Hitler who burned the Nazi dictator's body to keep it from the advancing Soviets in the final days of World War II, died Oct. 2 at his home in Lohmar, Germany, his eldest son said.

An SS officer and member of Hitler's inner circle, Mr. Guensche spent the last hours with the Nazi leader in Hitler's bunker in Berlin before Hitler and companion Eva Braun committed suicide April 30, 1945.

Mr. Guensche lived quietly in West Germany after the war following several years in Soviet captivity.

Mr. Guensche, in a recent interview, told the Associated Press that Hitler ordered him to burn his body. When the day came, Hitler's chief of staff, Martin Bormann, tried to set the corpses of Hitler and Braun alight in the garden of the Reich chancellery in Berlin. But it was Mr. Guensche who threw a burning rag that started the fire.

Leonard Darvin, 94, retired general counsel for the Comics Magazine Association of Maryland who grew up in Baltimore, died Monday in Albany, N.Y.

A native of Poland, Mr. Darvin moved to Baltimore as a child. He was a state track champion in his teens, and at 18 published a volume of poetry and edited a literary quarterly, Adolescent. Mr. Darvin earned a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1936, and after practicing law in Baltimore for several years he moved to New York City.

Mr. Darvin was a lobbyist and general counsel of the Dental Laboratory Association of New York for 11 years, and represented the comics trade group for 25 years. He remained a consultant to the organization for a decade after his retirement.

Services were held yesterday in Albany, and another will take place at 1 p.m. today in Pikesville at Sol Levinson & Bros. 8900 Reisterstown Road.

Marjorie Bong Drucker, 79, a retired magazine publisher who was the widow of World War II "ace of aces" Maj. Richard I. Bong, died of cancer Sept. 27 in Superior, Wis.

Mrs. Drucker lived for 50 years in Los Angeles, where she was known to friends and associates as an accomplished painter, devoted mother and the editor and publisher of Boxer Review, an award-winning dog magazine read around the world by owners and breeders of boxers.

Few knew she was once married to a legendary Army Air Forces war hero, whose unusual display of affection had made her nearly as famous as he was.

Mrs. Drucker became a national celebrity in 1944 when Bong, a Wisconsin farm boy who had broken World War I pilot Eddie Rickenbacker's record of 26 air victories, proclaimed his love by plastering her picture on the nose of his P-38. The fighter plane subsequently gained worldwide fame as the Marge, and she became what Bong teasingly referred to as "the most shot-after girl in the South Pacific."

In late 1944, after shooting down his 40th enemy plane and earning the Medal of Honor, Bong was sent home for a wedding ceremony attended by 1,200 guests and the international press. He died less than a year later as a test pilot when his P-80, the Army Air Forces' first jet, stalled on takeoff and he was forced to bail out at a low altitude.

His widow found success as a model and later as a teacher of models. After her second marriage ended in divorce, she married fashion trade magazine publisher Murray Drucker and had two daughters. She also became the publisher of one of his magazines, Boxer Review, in 1956 and ran it for next 46 years.

Mrs. Drucker did not renew ties to her past until the mid-1980s, when a Bong family member invited her to the dedication of the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge connecting Duluth, Minn., and Superior. She eventually devoted herself to building what became the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center in Superior, where most exhibits reflect her wish that it honor all World War II veterans and Americans, particularly women, who contributed to the war effort at home.

Victoria Horne Oakie, 91, an actress who appeared in dozens of films, including the Jimmy Stewart classic Harvey, died Friday at a Beverly Hills retirement home.

Her 46 film appearances included Abbot and Costello Meet the Killer, Blue Skies, Daisy Kenyon, Forever Amber and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

The New York City native retired from show business in 1952 to spend more time with her husband, Jack Oakie, a comedic film star.

After her husband's death in 1978, she established a lecture series in his name at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and wrote four books about their life together.

Bill Silliker Jr., 56, a wildlife photographer known for his pictures and books about moose, died of an apparent heart attack Monday while leading a photography workshop in Maine's Baxter State Park.

Mr. Silliker, also known as "the Mooseman," had a longtime affection for moose and would paraphrase Will Rogers by saying he never met a moose he didn't like.

His pictures appeared in such magazines as Audubon, Backpacker, Down East, Field & Stream, National Geographic, Outdoor Life, Outdoor Photographer and Sports Afield.

Mr. Silliker had worked for 20 years as a safety consultant for insurance companies before turning what started as a part-time hobby into a full-time job as a wildlife photographer.

He produced four books about moose and one each about eagles, loons and conservation.

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