Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

February 23, 2004

Dr. Humphry Osmond, 86, the psychiatrist who coined the word psychedelic for the drugs he introduced to the writer and essayist Aldous Huxley, died of cardiac arrhythmia Feb. 6 at his home in Appleton, Wis.

He entered the history of the counterculture by supplying hallucinogenic drugs to Mr. Huxley, who ascribed mystical significance to them in his playfully thoughtful and widely read book The Doors of Perception, which the rock group the Doors borrowed in part for its name.

But in his view and in that of other scientists, Dr. Osmond was most important for inspiring researchers who saw drugs such as LSD and mescaline as potential treatments for psychological ailments. By the mid-1960s, medical journals had published more than 1,000 papers on the subject, and Dr. Osmond's work using LSD to treat alcoholics drew particular interest.

Clark Byers, 89, who for three decades painted "See Rock City" on more than 900 barns from Michigan to Florida, died Thursday after a heart attack. He lived in Trenton, Ga.

Born in Alabama, he worked in a cotton mill and bottled buttermilk for $3 a week before he was hired in 1936 by a Chattanooga, Tenn., advertiser who hoped to lure motorists to Rock City Gardens, a tourist attraction of rock formations in the nearby Georgia mountains, by painting slogans on barn roofs.

Mr. Byers braved charging bulls, slippery roofs and lightning bolts to get the job done. Equipped with paint, chalk, brushes, ropes and two helpers, he drove the highways looking for barns to carry slogans such as "To Miss Rock City Would Be a Pity" and "See 7 States From Rock City." Willing barn owners got a free paint job, Rock City bathmats and thermometers for their trouble. Those who wanted more than knickknacks were paid about $5.

"His message became a national brand for Rock City Gardens," said Bill Chapin, president of See Rock City Inc., which owns and operates the gardens.

Babs Deal, 74, who wrote more than a dozen novels over a 20-year period, died Friday in Montgomery, Ala., from complications of a recent illness,

Mrs. Deal, whose last novel was published in 1979, was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award - one of the highest honors in mystery writing - for her 1966 novel Fancy's Knell. A later novel, The Walls Came Tumbling Down, was the basis for a made-for-television movie.

Mrs. Deal and her late husband, novelist Borden Deal, were longtime residents of Sarasota, Fla., but she had been living in Gulf Shores, Ala. in recent years. Borden Deal died in 1985.

Sybil Brand, 104, a philanthropist whose efforts to provide better conditions for women inmates led to the creation of a jail bearing her name, died Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Her involvement with jail reform began in 1945 when she was named to Los Angeles County's Public Welfare Commission. She volunteered to oversee the jails and fought hard for a 1960 bond measure that raised $8 million to build a new women's jail and several other jails. Completed in 1963, the women's detention center was named the Sybil Brand Institute for Women.

She spent her life working on behalf of charities, including the American Cancer Society, Braille Institute and March of Dimes. Mrs. Brand was married to Harry Brand, a publicity director for 20th Century Fox.

Doris Troy, 67, a soul singer who penned the hit "Just One Look" and whose life inspired the long-running touring musical Mama, I Want to Sing, died of emphysema Feb. 16 in Las Vegas.

In 1981, her sister, Vy Higginsen, and brother-in-law, Ken Wydro, produced Mama, I Want to Sing, based on Ms. Troy's life. The show toured worldwide for more than 20 years, making it one of the most successful off-Broadway shows ever.

In the 1950s, she worked with a vocal group called the Halos. She wrote the 1960 hit "How About That," performed by Dee Clark. In 1996, she won a Pioneer Rhythm and Blues Award.

Albert Gentile, 92, a Big Band-era musician whose career spanned more than seven decades, died Tuesday in New Britain, Conn. after a long illness.

Mr. Gentile, a musician, bandleader and entertainer nicknamed "The Dean of Big Bands," worked as a musician, booking agent and producer and in other areas of entertainment for more than 72 years.

He organized bookings at New York City's Carnegie Hall and performed with Sammy Davis Jr., Cab Calloway, Gene Krupa, the Ink Spots and other stars. His premier band was Al Gentile's Orchestra, which eventually had 17 musicians, including vocalists.

Leontine Klem, 76, a pioneering female producer-director in the early years of television, died Tuesday in Little Silver, N.J., after a long illness.

She worked on several hit shows, including Your Show of Shows, starring Sid Caesar, and Mrs. USA. Running from 1950 to 1954, Your Show of Shows also starred Imogene Coca and Carl Reiner. Its writers included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Woody Allen.

Frank del Olmo, 55, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who rose from intern to associate editor during a 33-year career at the Los Angeles Times, died Thursday in Los Angeles of an apparent heart attack after collapsing at work.

Mr. Del Olmo, the newspaper's associate editor since 1998, was a longtime columnist and a major voice for Los Angeles' Hispanic community.

He shared a Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service in 1984 for a series of stories on Southern California's Hispanic community. He also won an Emmy for writing The Unwanted, a 1975 KNBC-TV documentary about illegal immigration.

He joined the Times as an intern, rising quickly through the newspaper's ranks to become a staff writer specializing in coverage of Latin affairs.

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