Other Notable Deaths

OTHER NOTABLE DEATHS

February 21, 2006

Eli J. Segal, 63, who headed President Clinton's national service program after serving as his 1992 campaign chief of staff, died yesterday at his Boston home from complications of a rare form of cancer in the lining of his lung, said family spokesman Matt Bennett.

"A longtime friend and colleague, Eli embodied the spirit of the American dream and lived his life as a man for others," the former president and U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement. "As he was for many other people, he was a rock of stability and a wise counselor to us."

Mr. Segal also headed retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark's failed 2004 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"He basically put his life on hold to support my efforts," General Clark said. "He was the heart and soul of the campaign."

Mr. Segal was chief of staff of Mr. Clinton's 1992 campaign and later was an assistant to him in the White House. He left in 1996 to head the Welfare to Work Partnership, a nonprofit created by the American business community to train and hire former welfare recipients.

While in the White House, Mr. Segal organized and headed Mr. Clinton's national service program, created in 1993 and known as the Corporation for National and Community Service, or AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps lets college students earn tuition vouchers by performing community service. It uses federal money to attract state and private support.

Mr. Segal later joined City Year, a national service organization that Mr. Clinton said was the inspiration for the AmeriCorps program, which was founded in Boston in 1988.

Robert Holmes, 94, who helped a teenage James Hoffa launch his career as a labor organizer and then served for decades as a Teamsters Union official, died of heart failure at Harper Hospital in Detroit, family members said Sunday.

"He was a great leader who helped found the modern Teamsters as we know it," James P. Hoffa, Mr. Hoffa's son and the general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, told The Detroit News. "Both he and my dad were young men fighting for justice on the job."

The elder Mr. Hoffa, Mr. Holmes and a co-worker were credited with planting the seed for the Teamsters when they organized a 1931 strike at a Detroit grocery warehouse where they worked.

Until 1989, Mr. Holmes served as the Teamsters' international vice president, director of the 13-state Central Conference and president of Local 337 in Detroit.

Mr. Hoffa disappeared in 1975 and is presumed dead. Investigators believe mob figures had him killed to prevent him from regaining the union presidency after he served time in federal prison for jury tampering.

Federal authorities waged a long legal battle to force the Teamsters union to reform and curb alleged mob influence. In 1989, Mr. Holmes, along with two other international vice presidents, resigned from the union executive board and agreed to endorse election reforms and other steps sought by the government.

At a memorial service in 1995 marking 20 years since Mr. Hoffa's disappearance, Mr. Holmes lamented the loss of his 43-year colleague and close friend.

"In life, I enjoyed every minute of my time with him," he said. "I knew a different Jimmy Hoffa than what was portrayed."

William "Billy" Cowsill, 58, lead singer of the 1960s family band the Cowsills, died Friday in Calgary, Alberta. He had emphysema, osteoporosis, Cushing syndrome and other ailments, and was recovering from back surgery in which one lung had to be collapsed.

The Cowsills - inspiration for the TV series The Partridge Family - recorded hits between 1967 and 1970 including "The Rain, The Park and Other Things" and "Hair." The band also represented the American Dairy Association, appearing in commercials and print ads.

Four Cowsill brothers played in the band: Barry on bass, Billy on guitar, Bob on guitar and organ, and John on drums. Their mother, Barbara, and little sister, Susan, eventually joined the group.

The band's career began in Newport, R.I., where by 1965 it had a regular gig at a club. The band was spotted by a producer for NBC's Today show, who booked it for an appearance that led to a record deal.

The band had an acrimonious breakup in the 1970s. Billy, the oldest member, had moved to Canada about 35 years ago, and he continued his music career with Blue Northern, the Blue Shadows and the Co-Dependents. But it was the Cowsills that led to his greatest success.

Richard Bright, 68, a character actor who appeared in all three Godfather movies and more recently on the HBO series The Sopranos, was hit and killed by a bus Saturday while crossing a street in his Manhattan neighborhood.

In the Godfather movies, Mr. Bright played mob enforcer Al Neri, a bodyguard to the Corleone family patriarchs played by Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

He played a con artist hustling Ali MacGraw in the 1972 movie The Getaway, and acted in other films, including Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America and Looking for Mr. Goodbar, and in TV shows such as Hill Street Blues.

Phil Brown, 89, an actor who played Luke Skywalker's loving but doomed Uncle Owen in Star Wars, died of pneumonia Feb. 9 at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif.

He worked in stage and film for more than 60 years, many of them spent in England, but many remember him as Luke's uncle in George Lucas' 1977 blockbuster. Mr. Brown got the role when Mr. Lucas, filming scenes for Star Wars on a London sound stage, needed an actor with a strong American accent. Mr. Brown then spent a month or so in Tunisia filming a handful of scenes.

In the 1950s, Mr. Brown was blacklisted during the communist scare in the United States. A longtime progressive, he always denied being a communist. Moving to London, he found work on stage and in such films as Tropic of Cancer (1970) and Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977).

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