Deaths Elsewhere

March 06, 2004

Commodore Leroy J. Alexanderson,

93, the last master of the S.S. United States, the fastest Atlantic ocean liner, and former fleet commodore of United States Lines, died Sunday in Hampton, Va., near the vessel's birthplace of Newport News.

Mr. Alexanderson commanded the ship for the last five of its 17 years in service. Decommissioned in 1969, the towering hulk is now moored in Philadelphia, still awaiting its fate. It was bought last year by Norwegian Cruise Lines, which said it planned to refit it as a U.S.-registered cruise liner.

Mr. Alexanderson spent more than 40 years at sea in war and peace. During World War II, as a volunteer for destroyer escort duty, he received his first command on the attack transport ship Gage. It landed Marines on Okinawa and saw heavy action.

After the United States, flagship of United States Lines, floundered in the jet age, he remained in overall charge of the line's fleet.

Gerald W. Getty,

92, a former Cook County, Ill., chief public defender who represented mass-murderer Richard Speck during his trial for killing eight student nurses, died of heart failure Sunday in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Speck's crimes created a national media spectacle in 1966, and Mr. Getty convinced a judge his client could not receive a fair trial in Chicago; the trial was moved to Peoria. Speck was convicted and sentenced to death. He was later resentenced to eight consecutive terms of 50 to 150 years each.

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