Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

December 26, 2003

Harry Combs, 90, a former president of Gates Learjet and founder of AMR Combs, a national chain of corporate aircraft service centers, died Tuesday of apparent heart failure at a hospice in Phoenix, Ariz.

Mr. Combs' father, a combat pilot shot down twice during World War I, warned him never to set foot in a plane. But after Charles Lindbergh's historic crossing of the Atlantic in 1927, the younger Mr. Combs took up flying. In 1929, at age 16, he built and tested a sport biplane named Vamp Bat.

After flying for two years with Pan American Airways, Mr. Combs founded Mountain States Aviation, an airport operation business and flight school that later became Combs Aircraft.

The business trained more than 9,000 pilots to fly freight planes and fighters, gliders and bombers during World War II.

From 1971 to 1982, he was president of Gates Learjet. He moved the company to Tucson, Ariz., in 1975, believing that it played second to Wichita's larger light-plane manufacturers, Cessna Aircraft Co. and Beech Aircraft Corp.

Wally Hedrick, 75, an iconoclastic artist and leading member of San Francisco's Beat Generation, died of congestive heart failure Dec. 17 in Bodega, Calif.

Mr. Hedrick was a prolific painter whose works shared gallery space with painters such as Jackson Pollock, Bruce Conner, Jay De Feo and Deborah Remington.

He founded the Six Gallery, a major hangout for artists and writers of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. It was there that Allen Ginsberg read his poem "Howl" for the first time.

Despite his renown as a painter, Mr. Hedrick tended to shun the art world and rarely made appearances even at his own exhibitions.

Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951, Mr. Hedrick's works took on an anti-war stance after he was stationed in the Korean War. To protest the Vietnam War, Mr. Hedrick canceled classes at the San Francisco Art Institute where he taught.

Mr. Hedrick was married to Jay De Feo, best known for her two-story, 2,300-pound painting "The Rose." The marriage ended in divorce.

Mr. Hedrick's works are a permanent part of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Herman Keiser, 89, the 1946 Masters champion, died Wednesday from complications of Alzheimer's disease in Copley, Ohio.

The five-time PGA Tour winner beat Ben Hogan by a stroke in the 1946 Masters, Mr. Keiser's first trip to Augusta after serving nearly three years in the Navy in World War II.

The native of Springfield, Mo., moved to northeast Ohio in 1940, becoming an assistant pro at Portage Country Club. He later was the head pro at Firestone Country Club in Akron.

Among his students was Jack Stewart, the father of the late U.S. Open champion Payne Stewart.

Mr. Keiser also played in the 1947 Ryder Cup in Portland, Ore., a team of which Hogan was captain. Although the United States won 11-1, Mr. Keiser's 4 and 3 loss to Sam King prevented a clean sweep.

Don Lamond, 82, a swing band drummer who performed with Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker and Sarah Vaughan in the 1940s, died Tuesday of a brain tumor in Orlando, Fla.

Mr. Lamond made his professional debut with Sonny Dunham in 1943 and developed his own style playing with the Boyd Raeburn Orchestra, an avant garde group and boot camp for young jazz talent, in 1944.

He joined the band Herman's Herd in 1945. After it broke up, he freelanced with Parker, performed with Benny Goodman and Quincy Jones, and appeared on television shows with Steve Allen and Perry Como.

He moved to Orlando in the 1970s to play at the Top of the World nightclub at Walt Disney World, where he accompanied such stars as Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme and Peggy Lee.

Anthony Nugent Jr., 83, who unsuccessfully fought his mandatory retirement from the Missouri Court of Appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, died Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo.

Mr. Nugent and Ellis Gregory Jr., an associate circuit judge, challenged the rule requiring them to retire at the age of 70. Mr. Nugent was forced to leave his post when the nation's highest court ruled that judges on state courts were not protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Mr. Nugent ran unsuccessfully for the Missouri Senate and the Kansas City Council, but won election in 1954 as president of the Urban League of Kansas City.

He left private law practice in February 1966 to take a job arguing appeals for the criminal division of the Justice Department in Washington.

Mr. Nugent returned to Kansas City again in 1967 to become an assistant U.S. attorney, and was appointed to the Missouri Court of Appeals by December 1980 by Gov. Joseph Teasdale.

Virginia Rose Steen, 47, who fought for nearly five years to free her husband from captivity in Lebanon in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died Dec. 19 in Casper, Wyo., of complications from the flu.

The Jackson, Mich., native was widely honored for her work on behalf of her husband, Alann, one of four people kidnapped in Beirut in January 1987.

The Detroit News named her Michiganian of the Year in 1991.

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