Other notable deaths


May 09, 2006

Monad "Monte" Holm, 89, a former hobo who was kicked off trains during the Great Depression and later became a successful businessman and owner of a train museum, died in his sleep Wednesday in Moses Lake, Wash., family members said.

After riding the rails, Mr. Holm became a scrap metal dealer, City Council member and owner of the House of Poverty Museum in Moses Lake, which showcased many antiques and his collection of train cars.

Mr. Holm was one of the few remaining registered owners of a private rail line. His collection included a presidential dining car used by President Woodrow Wilson and later President Harry S. Truman, the last steam engine operated in Alaska, and several cabooses.

In Once a Hobo ... The Autobiography of Monte Holm, published in 1999, he tells of buying the cars to fulfill a promise he made one day to own his own railroad after he was kicked off trains during the Great Depression, while he was a hobo traveling around the country between jobs as a sheepherder in Montana.

Mr. Holm founded Moses Lake Iron and Metal in the 1950s and Moses Lake Steel in the 1970s. He served on the City Council of from 1964 to 1970.

John M. Pocisk, 65, who in the 1950s and 1960s was known as Johnny Paris in the rock group Johnny & the Hurricanes, died May 1 at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Mr. Pocisk, whose group's hits included "Red River Rock" and "Beatnik Fly," had been in the hospital for nearly two months, but his illness and cause of death will not be released until an autopsy is finished, said his son Jeff.

A tenor saxophonist who frequently toured Europe, Mr. Pocisk formed his first band while in high school, and his next group, the Orbits, developed a following. When they backed a vocal group on a demo tape, a management agency noticed them, and the group became Johnny & the Hurricanes.

Hits followed, especially "Red River Rock," which sold more than a million copies and reached No. 5 on the U.S. charts and No. 3 in Great Britain.

The group played at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, in 1962, headlining a gig that included the then-little-known Beatles.

George Mgrdichian, 71, a virtuoso on the oud, the pear-shaped lute common in Middle Eastern music, died of cancer April 30 in the Bronx, N.Y.

In recitals, dozens of albums and collaborations with jazz, classical and traditional musicians of all kinds, Mr. Mgrdichian (pronounced mug-er-DICH-ee-an) helped introduce American audiences to the oud and had a wide influence on the performance and study of the instrument.

Beginning in the early 1960s, when he moved to New York from Philadelphia to study clarinet and started mingling with folk and jazz musicians, Mr. Mgrdichian and his oud became ubiquitous. He played with David Amram, Phil Woods, Avram Pengas, Manny Dworman and Ali Hafid and performed from Morocco to Lebanon and Turkey.

Chen Li, 77, a Chinese journalist and former editor-in-chief of China Daily, the communist government's main English-language newspaper, died Saturday in Beijing of an illness, the newspaper reported yesterday.

He joined the China Daily in 1982 after holding a series of reporting and editing jobs at government newspapers and a book publishing house, the newspaper said. He was the top editor from 1986 to 1993.

Born in Shanghai to the family of a leading figure in the then-Nationalist regime, Mr. Chen "chose a different road and joined the Chinese revolution," the newspaper said. It gave no details of his role in the communists' rise to power in 1949.

As China Daily's editor-in-chief, he oversaw creation of its Shanghai edition, the English-language Beijing Weekend magazine and other publications.

Leighton Kerner, 79, a longtime classical music critic for The Village Voice, died of a heart attack April 29 in Manhattan.

Mr. Kerner, who wrote music reviews for The Village Voice beginning in 1957 and worked at the newspaper until 1998, was a fixture at New York concert halls and opera houses, and few colleagues could match his attendance record for important musical events. He also traveled the country, exercising an unusual avidity for the new or the exceptional in classical music.

Mr. Kerner also wrote for several magazines and other publications, including Opera News, Musical America and Travel & Leisure.

Noall Wootton, 65, the county attorney who prosecuted the nation's first person executed after the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty, died of cancer April 27 in Salt Lake City.

Mr. Wootton, who was Utah County attorney from 1974 to 1986, was in his first term when he prosecuted Gary Gilmore.

Mr. Gilmore was executed by firing squad in January 1977, the year after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty following a 10-year moratorium, for the 1976 killing of Provo motel clerk Bennie Bushnell. He also was charged with killing Brigham Young University law student Max Jensen, a part-time gas station attendant, the night before the Bushnell murder.

Kay Noble-Bell, 65, a star woman wrestler during the 1960s and 1970s, died of stomach cancer April 27 in Amarillo, Texas.

For many years, Ms. Noble-Bell, who wrestled as Kay Noble, was one of the best known women in the sport. The St. Joseph, Mo., native, known for her toughness in the ring, began her pro career in 1957 and continued wrestling until the early 1980s.

After retiring, she owned and operated Kay's Upholstery in Amarillo and worked with children at a local hospital.

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