Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

July 19, 2005

John J. Ford Jr., 81, a coin dealer and collector known for catalogs that brought new clarity to numismatics and whose collections, including the earliest American coins and prized Confederate pennies, have dazzled recent auction-goers, died July 7 at a nursing home in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The scale and completeness of Mr. Ford's collecting have emerged as 11 of as many as 20 auctions have been held to sell off his esoteric collections, which included the notes of Massachusetts issued in 1690, the oldest coins issued by the Continental Congress and African chiefs' medals.

Mr. Ford's impact on the field has been better known in the small circle of its professionals, particularly his catalogs for the New Netherlands Coin Co., which he partly owned. His meticulous descriptions of grades, colors and other qualities were unprecedented, wrote Harvey R. Stack, owner of Stack's, which is auctioning Mr. Ford's collections.

Born in Hollywood, where his father liked to socialize with movie people, Mr. Ford bought his first old currency from a shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., after his father lost his money in business failures and the family moved to Queens. He paid 15 cents for a Confederate bill that years later fetched $200.

Norman Raab, 89, a co-founder of the Villager line of women's clothing that was a mainstay of country-club and collegiate style in the 1960s, died of pneumonia Saturday at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Villager style made its appearance in the late 1950s, featuring a classic preppy look of casual sophistication, with small prints, pleated skirts and Peter Pan collars worn with a circle pin.

Villager became so popular by the mid-1960s that Mr. Raab and his brother, Max, the other founder, introduced the Ladybug apparel line as an offshoot for juniors. At its peak, Villager reached $140 million in annual sales and then was sold to a sportswear manufacturer in 1969. The Raabs left the apparel business.

The Villager brand is now owned by Liz Claiborne, which still markets its dresses and accessories.

A Philadelphia native who dropped out of Penn State University to help support his family through the Depression, Mr. Raab served as a bombardier-navigator in Europe in World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal.

He was able to retire to Florida at age 54 for a life of sport fishing, boating and medical philanthropy.

Dr. Clarence Dennis, 96, who performed the first open-heart surgery that included the use of a heart-lung machine, died Monday in St. Paul, Minn.

Dr. Dennis' research into the heart-lung machine began in the late 1930s at the University of Minnesota. Surgeons were trying to figure out how to keep blood flowing to prevent brain damage in a patient while they stopped the heart long enough to make repairs.

In April 1951, he performed the first open-heart surgery that used a multiple-screen blood oxygenator, or heart-lung machine. The patient died hours later. A staff member's error during surgery led to the death of the second patient on whom the machine was used.

Dr. Dennis left the university in 1951 to become chairman of the Department of Surgery at Downstate Medical Center, State University of New York in Brooklyn.

On June 30, 1955, he became the second surgeon in the country to perform a successful open-heart surgery involving a mechanical pump oxygenator, wrote Dr. Michael Zenilman, chairman of the Department of Surgery at the Downstate center. The machine advanced Dr. Dennis' Minnesota model.

Throughout his career, he was inventing and patenting surgical instruments, according to his wife, Mary Dennis. But his last patent - issued in 1999 - was for a bread slicer, Dr. Zenilman noted.

Pietro Consagra, 84, an Italian abstract sculptor known for his works in iron and bronze, died Saturday at his home in Milan. Best known for metal or bronze sculptures in abstract shapes, often reliefs suggesting the encounter of several figures, he also worked with wood and stone.

He was among "those great artists who successfully sought to modernize Italian art," Gianni Borgna, Rome's top culture official, told the ANSA news agency.

Mr. Consagra's sculptures can be seen in many European plazas, including in Rome and Strasbourg. He returned to his Sicilian homeland for a series of works in the 1980s, including gates and iron doors that symbolized the artist's conception of a flat, "two-dimensional" sculpture favoring a frontal point of view.

Carla Wood, 50, a mezzo-soprano who performed with the Metropolitan Opera and later was the founder and editor of Classical Singer magazine, died Wednesday in West Jordan, Utah. She had a brain tumor.

Ms. Wood was a principal artist for New York's Metropolitan Opera and a featured soloist in Carnegie Hall and regional houses across the country.

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