Other Notable Deaths


September 27, 2005

Urie Bronfenbrenner, 88, a Cornell University psychologist who pioneered an interdisciplinary approach to the study of child development and helped create the federal Head Start program, died Sunday at his home in Ithaca, N.Y., from diabetes complications. He had been a member of the Cornell faculty since 1948.

The Russian-born Dr. Bronfenbrenner was credited with creating the interdisciplinary field of human ecology and was widely regarded as one of the world's leading scholars in developmental psychology and child-rearing.

"Urie was the quintessential person for ... psychologists to look up and realize that interpersonal relationships, even the smallest level of the child and the parent-child relationship, did not exist in a social vacuum," said Melvin L. Kohn, a professor of sociology at the Johns Hopkins University, who studied under Dr. Bronfenbrenner.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Bronfenbrenner helped spur the creation of Head Start, the federal child development program for low-income children that has served millions of children since 1965. According to an account on the American Psychological Association's Web site, he was on a Head Start planning committee appointed by R. Sargent Shriver, director of President Lyndon B. Johnson's anti-poverty efforts. He persuaded colleagues to include the family and community in Head Start in order to better help poor children.

In his later years, he warned that the process that makes human beings human was breaking down as trends in American society produced chaos in the lives of America's children. "The hectic pace of modern life poses a threat to our children second only to poverty and unemployment," he said.

Lord John Brabourne, 80, a British producer whose films included A Passage to India and Murder on the Orient Express, died Thursday, his family said.

Mr. Brabourne survived an Irish Republican Army attack in 1979 that killed his 14-year-old son and his father-in-law, Lord Mountbatten. A director of Thames Television, he produced many films based on Agatha Christie's books, including Death on the Nile, The Mirror Crack'd and Evil Under the Sun. Other productions included Othello with Sir Laurence Olivier in 1965 and Sink the Bismarck in 1959.

Albert "Caesar" Tocco, 77, a reputed mob boss who was sentenced to 200 years after his wife took the unusual step of testifying against him, died Wednesday in the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., after suffering a stroke, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said. He was 15 years into his prison sentence for racketeering, conspiracy, extortion and tax fraud.

Mr. Tocco oversaw organized crime operations in many of Chicago's southern suburbs. "Just the way he looked at you, just the way he talked to you was scary," said retired FBI agent Bob Pecoraro.

Mr. Tocco was arrested in Greece in 1989 and taken to Chicago, where he was convicted in federal court. His wife, Betty, testified that in 1986 she drove him from an Indiana cornfield where he told her he had just buried Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, the mob's man in Las Vegas for two decades, and his brother, Michael. The Spilotro case was portrayed in the 1995 Martin Scorsese movie, Casino.

In an interview published in the Chicago Sun-Times just after Mr. Tocco was sentenced in 1990, and before going into a federal witness-protection program, Mrs. Tocco called her husband a ruthless thug who abused his family, broke the mob's code of ethics and even cheated his daughter at tic-tac-toe.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing," she said of his account leaving the cornfield. "I was shocked, nauseated, disgusted. It was Father's Day. His sister and mother were coming over for a barbecue. "What was I supposed to say - `Albert just buried the Spilotros last night so we can't barbecue today'?"

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.