Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

October 20, 2003

Preston E. Smith, 91, a former Texas governor known for his assortment of polka-dot ties and his old-fashioned electioneering, died Saturday in Lubbock. A Democrat elected to the first of two terms as governor in 1968, he relied on personal contacts, face-to-face campaigning and direct mail.

Mr. Smith focused on education and criminal justice, pushing for the first comprehensive drug abuse program in Texas. He was also instrumental in passing the state's first minimum-wage law.

When he ran for lieutenant governor the first time, then-Lt. Gov. Price Daniel encouraged him to do something to be a little different, Mr. Smith said. He was staying at a downtown Dallas hotel and saw a sale on ties across the street. He bought three black-and-white polka-dot ties for $1, and the polka-dot design remained his trademark.

He estimated that he had at one time as many as 2,500, as people sent them to him from all over the world.

Marie Marcus, 89, a jazz pianist who was a protegee of Fats Waller and appeared on Manhattan's 52nd Street, the prewar epicenter of jazz, before becoming a summer fixture in nightclubs on Cape Cod, died Oct. 10 in Hyannis, Mass.

She was born Marie Eleanor Doherty in Roxbury, Mass. She started playing the piano at 4 and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music while attending Roxbury Memorial High. She started in children's radio shows and ended up in Manhattan playing the piano on a national radio show for NBC as well as in clubs, under the name Marie Doherty.

When Mr. Waller persuaded her to play in a club in Harlem, he pointed to his heart and said, "For a white girl, you sure got it there." She asked him whether he knew a good piano teacher. He answered, "How about me?" and gave her lessons when he was in town.

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