Other notable deaths


April 28, 2006

Fausto Vitello, 59, an entrepreneur and publisher who helped take the dying pastime of skateboarding out of the suburbs and into the streets, where it became a rude and riotous multibillion-dollar business, died of an apparent heart attack Saturday while riding his bicycle in Woodside, Calif.

Mr. Vitello was revered by skateboarders (and reviled by their parents) as a founder and the president of Thrasher magazine, which for a quarter-century has been the rebellious bible of the skateboarding subculture. He was also a founder of Independent Trucks, a leading manufacturer of skateboard equipment, clothing and accessories.

"He's the godfather of punk-rock skateboarding," Michael Brooke, the publisher of Concrete Wave, a skateboarding magazine based in Toronto, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Published monthly, Thrasher has a circulation of about 175,000. Its Web site, thrashermag azine.com, features articles, interviews and, for school-age readers, a selection of downloadable term papers "to free up more time to skate."

Skateboarding has been around since the early 1900s, when some thrill-seeking child first nailed a two-by-four to a roller skate. Conditions improved in late 1950s, when the first commercial skateboards were marketed, and again in the early '70s, when urethane wheels and better boards made fancy maneuvers possible.

By the mid-'70s, skateboarding was hugely popular among suburban boys, who performed in empty swimming pools and in specially built skateboard parks. By the end of the decade, however, many towns, concerned about liability, razed their parks, and the sport went into decline.

But it was still possible to skate in the streets, using features of the urban landscape - curbs, steps, railings, benches - as launching pads from which to take flight. Mr. Vitello, a devoted skateboarder who had founded Independent Trucks in 1978, capitalized on the fledgling sport of street skating, starting Thrasher with several associates in 1981.

With its mantra "skate and destroy," the magazine embodied the punk-rock ethos of the day, exhorting readers to devote their lives to their art. And if the pursuit of art happened to involve some imbibing and inhaling, it implied, that was all right, too.

Mr. Vitello was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and came to the United States with his family as a boy. He grew up in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco and earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish from San Francisco State University.

Alexander B. Trowbridge, 76, a commerce secretary in the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, a former president of the National Association of Manufacturers and longtime member of the Washington establishment, died yesterday at his home there. The cause was dementia with Lewy body disease, his family said.

Mr. Trowbridge was a young executive with a promising career in the oil industry in 1965 when, out of the blue, he was offered the post of assistant commerce secretary in a department that had lost much of its luster and seemed headed for merger with the Labor Department.

As assistant secretary for domestic and international business and then as acting secretary, he traveled widely to promote commercial interests and, by many accounts, raised department morale.

Becoming secretary in June 1967 made him at 36 the youngest member of Johnson's Cabinet and the youngest chief in the history of the Commerce Department.

The lingering effects of a heart attack prompted him to resign in 1968, but he recovered and months later was named president of the American Management Association, the executive development and training organization. He quit over a policy disagreement and, in 1970, took over as president of the National Industrial Conference Board, the business research organization now known as the Conference Board.

Mr. Trowbridge became vice chairman of Allied Chemical in 1976, when it was battered by scandal over dumped pollutants. At issue was the handling and disposal of Kepone, an insecticide banned in 1975 after it contaminated the James River in Virginia. He helped work out a settlement, with Allied agreeing to compensate the affected river users and accept responsibility for the cleanup.

He was later president of the National Association of Manufacturers, and from 1990 until two years ago operated a consulting firm in Washington, Trowbridge Partners.

Bonnie Owens, 76, a singer who married and helped build the careers of country music legends Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, died Monday in Bakersfield, Calif., after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, said family spokesman Jim Shaw, who played keyboards in Buck Owens' band, the Buckaroos.

Buck Owens died March 25.

Born Bonnie Campbell, she met Buck Owens in the mid-1940s when she was a teenager and he had a local radio show. When Owens discovered that she could sing, he helped her get a job with him on another radio show in 1947.

They married a year later, had two sons and separated in the early 1950s.

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