Deaths Elsewhere

December 26, 2004

Col. Ronald M. Sharpe,

64, a retired Pennsylvania State Police commissioner who was the nation's first black leader of a statewide police force, died Tuesday of cancer in Menanda, N.Y.

In 1987, Colonel Sharpe was appointed deputy commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police by then-Gov. Robert P. Casey. When the commissioner at the time, Maj. John Schafer, died of cancer in 1988, Colonel Sharpe was chosen for the top job.

During his 3 1/2 years as commissioner, he was credited with instituting changes to reduce racial bias within the state police. He also established a canine drug enforcement team, reinstated the state highway motorcycle patrol and established the computerized Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

Harold Benjamin,

80, who established a national network of support centers for cancer patients after his wife developed breast cancer, died Thursday of complications from pulmonary fibrosis, in Marina Del Rey, Calif.

The former attorney created the first Wellness Community center in 1982, offering cancer victims and their families a place to attend support groups or workshops. The idea was to raise patients' optimism, increasing their odds of recovery.

Ruth Etta Tantaquidgeon,

95, one of the two matriarchs of the Mohegan tribe, died Wednesday in Uncasville, Conn.

Ms. Tantaquidgeon, along with her sister Gladys, was credited with helping the Mohegan tribe gain federal recognition. The sisters were 10th-generation descendants of Uncas, the Mohegan sachem, or chief, who settled at Fort Shantok. Gladys Tantaquidgeon, who is 105, is now the last surviving full-blooded Mohegan.

In the early 1990s, Ruth Tantaquidgeon organized a large collection of family memorabilia, which included correspondences and notices of births, funerals, graduations, marriages, military and tribal records. The documents proved vital to the tribe's federal recognition effort.

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