Other Notable Deaths

OTHER NOTABLE DEATHS

July 16, 2006

Mary Day, 96, whose name was synonymous with ballet in the nation's capital for 60 years, died of heart failure Tuesday at her home in Washington.

She co-founded the Washington School of Ballet, one of the nation's premier training grounds for classical dancers, in 1962 and created the internationally renowned Washington Ballet company. She retired as the ballet's director in 1999 and in 2004 stepped down as the school's director.

She made her reputation as a teacher who could spot and develop talent. Her pupils included Kevin McKenzie, artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre; Amanda McKerrow, the first American to win a gold medal in a Moscow International Ballet competition; and Virginia Johnson, a former principal at the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Raja Rao, 97, a novelist who helped create the English literature of 20th-century India, died of heart failure July 8 at his home in Austin, Texas.

His works included Kanthapura, which explores turbulence in a South Indian village, and the semi-autobiographical The Serpent and the Rope.

He was born in the Indian town of Hassan and like many South Indians at that time, he did not have a surname. Rao was added in his adulthood when he needed a passport. In 1966, he joined the faculty at the University of Texas in Austin, where he taught Indian philosophy. He retired in 1980.

Gerald Gidwitz, 99, founder of the Helene Curtis cosmetics company, died of congestive heart failure Tuesday in Chicago.

He and his partner, Louis Stein, started Helene Curtis with clay dug out of the Arkansas River, which they placed in jars and sold as "Peach Bloom Facial Mask."

He was chairman of Helene Curtis when the publicly traded business was sold to Unilever for $915 million in 1996. Despite his position at Helene Curtis, he was more focused on acquisitions and side businesses. Among his start-ups was Continental Materials Corp., a building materials company that remains in family hands.

Fred Montgomery, 89, the childhood friend of Roots author Alex Haley and the first black mayor of the rural west Tennessee town of Henning, died Wednesday at his home. His health had been steadily declining after kidney failure.

He often traveled with Mr. Haley while he was writing. He accompanied Mr. Haley during his work on the book Roots, which won a Pulitzer Prize and was turned into a television miniseries watched by millions in 1977.

Lucas L. Johnson II, a writer with the Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn., wrote a book about his friendship with Mr. Montgomery, Finding the Good, which was published in 2003.

Zelda Foster, 71, a social worker and early leader of the hospice movement who wrote a seminal article in 1965 attacking what she called the "conspiracy of silence" facing dying patients in hospitals, died of cancer July 4 at her home in Brooklyn, N.Y.

She applied principles of hospice care to patients in her charge at a Veterans Administration hospital long before such practices became widespread. She was largely successful at spreading those ideas throughout the nation's hospitals, particularly in the VA hospital network.

In her 1965 article in the Journal of the National Association of Social Workers, she wrote of her experiences as supervisor of social work at the VA Medical Center in Brooklyn and of the hospital's efforts to reform its treatment of the terminally ill. For the first time, she wrote, "the majority of patients were considered capable of understanding the nature of their diseases."

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