Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

April 08, 2005

Dale Messick, 98, whose long-running comic strip "Brenda Starr, Reporter" gave her entry into the male world of the funny pages and ran in 250 newspapers as its peak in the 1950s, died Tuesday in Penngrove, Calif.

Ms. Messick - who jettisoned her given name Dalia to further her career - once said Brenda had "everything I didn't have."

Mixing hot copy with high fashion, Brenda plunged from one thrilling adventure to another, sassing her tough-talking editor, Mr. Livwright, and sometimes filing her copy with the only person left in the newsroom, the cleaning woman.

As World War II raged, Brenda did her part, parachuting into action - every red hair in place.

"Most comics, the main characters are heroes, guys, and they don't write for women," Ms. Messick told Associated Press in 2002. "I was a woman, so I was writing for women and I think that's what put her over."

Born in South Bend, Ind., Ms. Messick studied art and had jobs at greeting card companies while working on her strips at night. Her break came when her work came to the attention of publisher Joseph M. Patterson. Reputed to be no fan of women cartoonists, he wouldn't take the slot for daily publication but it began running in the Sunday comics in 1940.

The name came from a 1930s debutante; she borrowed the figure and flowing red hair from film star Rita Hayworth.

Ms. Messick retired from the strip in 1985, but it still appears in many newspapers - now written by Mary Schmich and drawn by June Brigman.

Ms. Schmich praised Ms. Messick yesterday: "She created, where there did not exist on the comics pages, a gutsy, independent, working woman so the little girls of my age could read the comics, and they could find something to relate to."

Frank Conroy, 69, who directed the University of Iowa's celebrated Writers' Workshop for nearly two decades and wrote a memoir chronicling his troubled, nomadic childhood, died of colon cancer Wednesday at his home in Iowa City.

Mr. Conroy made a memorable literary debut with Stop-Time, which described his youth growing up in homes that included a Florida shack, a snowy cabin and a tiny Manhattan apartment. The impressionistic memoir was nominated for a National Book Award.

He gained even greater stature, and welcome stability, helping other writers. ZZ Packer, Nathan Englander and Thisbe Nissen were among the young writers he worked with.

He returned to teaching last year after a bout with colon cancer, but became ill again in recent months.

Mr. Conroy's books also include Time and Tide, A Walk Through Nantucket, a collection of essays titled Dogs Bark, But the Caravan Rolls On, Body and Soul and Midair.

Donn Dughi, 72, a photographer whose pictures were published on newspaper front pages for more than a quarter century, died Wednesday in Tallahassee, Fla.

Mr. Dughi spent 21 years with United Press International. His shots included captured serial killer Ted Bundy being returned to Tallahassee and former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes punching a Clemson player at the 1978 Gator Bowl.

He covered space shots at Cape Canaveral, baseball spring training, presidential campaigns, the civil rights movement and the Equal Rights Amendment battle.

Fred Haley, 92, a savvy businessman who helped open international markets to Brown & Haley's signature Almond Roca candy and became a stalwart champion of civil rights, died Monday in Tacoma, Wash.

Mr. Haley served in the Navy in World War II, and returned home to assume the presidency of Brown & Haley, succeeding his father, J.C. Haley, one of the candy company's founders, in 1954.

He quickly immersed himself in local causes. The same year he started running the company, he won a seat on the Tacoma School Board, where he fought for desegregation and the hiring of minority teachers.

In 1985, the American Civil Liberties Union gave Haley its William O. Douglas Award for his work fighting for civil liberties.

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