Other Notable Deaths


March 03, 2007

ALAN STRINGER, 62 W.R. Grace executive

Alan Stringer, one of seven former W.R. Grace and Co. executives accused of conspiring to conceal asbestos-related health risks posed by a Montana mine, died of cancer Feb. 24 at his home in Oak Harbor, Wash., his wife, Donna, said Thursday.

In Libby, Mont., asbestos from Grace's former vermiculite mine has been blamed for sickening or killing hundreds of people.

Mr. Stringer had been the general manager of the vermiculite mine, which closed in 1990. He was one of seven former executives named, along with Grace, in a 2005 federal indictment alleging conspiracy.

A U.S. District Court trial was delayed last year, pending appeals on a number of legal issues.

Mr. Stringer's death followed by one month the death of Les Skramstad, another major figure in the Libby asbestos dispute. Mr. Skramstad was a Libby activist who became a public face for victims of asbestos-related disease. He had been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, and previously was diagnosed with asbestosis. Mr. Skramstad was 70 when he died.

PERCIVAL LEACH, 80 Led N.J. village restoration

Percival Leach, who helped turn a ramshackle collection of pre-Revolutionary and mid-19th-century buildings along an old industrial canal in northern New Jersey into Waterloo Village, a version of Colonial Williamsburg, died Monday of complications from diabetes in Hackettstown, N.J. He lived in a restored home just outside Waterloo Village, in Stanhope.

Mr. Leach and a college friend and business partner, Louis D. Gualandi, established the Waterloo Foundation for the Arts in 1967 to finance the restoration of about 30 structures -- including old homes, a 1790 gristmill, a canal house, a boarded-up tavern, a general store and a church -- that in the 1820s made up a thriving commercial center serving traffic along the Morris Canal. Mr. Gualandi died in 1988.

Starting in 1964, Mr. Leach and Mr. Gualandi, who were successful interior designers catering to large corporate clients, bought and restored the village building by building and turned it into a tourist attraction. Led by guides in period gowns and bonnets, visitors could watch a blacksmith hammering out iron trivets and cupboard latches, a potter shaping clay jugs on a treadle wheel and women hooking rugs, dipping candles or weaving cloth on looms. Furnishings, largely paid for by Leach and dating from the Federal to the Victorian periods, filled the old homes.

"In that village, you could walk through history in an afternoon," Mr. Leach said. "There was everything from an Indian burial ground to specters of Victorian opulence." The Lenni Lenape tribe had lived amid the forested hills of the nearby Musconetcong River.

Admission fees to Waterloo Village, however, never covered restoration costs. Corporate and state grants helped. But to make up the difference, the foundation held concerts by classical and pop stars and ethnic festivals.

Waterloo Village's financial condition grew worse in recent years. On Jan. 1, New Jersey officials took control of the village and its 400-acre site, which the state had leased to the foundation. The site is part of the 11,000-acre Allamuchy Mountain State Park.

The state is trying to find a new manager for the village.

In 1950, Mr. Leach graduated from the Whitman School of Architecture and Interior Design in Manhattan, which no longer exists. There he met Mr. Gualandi. In 1952, they opened Colony House Interiors in Mendham, and by the early 1960s had completed design projects for several major corporate headquarters. They used part of their earnings from those projects to begin restoring Waterloo Village.

Mr. Leach served in the Navy during World War II, and soon after his return, the family bought a home in Waterloo, which his sister vividly recalled as "a ghost town."

Even then, she said, her brother was fascinated by Waterloo's history and "couldn't believe that it hadn't been restored."

JAY HARNICK, 78 Children's theater advocate

Jay Harnick, a founder of Theaterworks/USA, the nation's largest touring children's theater company, died Tuesday in a Manhattan nursing home after a long illness.

Since Mr. Harnick helped start Theaterworks/USA in 1961, the company has toured shows in 49 states and Canada, playing to millions of children every year, and assembled a repertory of 117 musicals and plays.

Mr. Harnick, who was artistic director from the company's founding until he retired in 2000, attracted top talent, bringing in directors such as Jerry Zaks, songwriters such as Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and writers such as Marta Kauffman and David Crane. The company also helped start the careers of many actors, including F. Murray Abraham and Henry Winkler.

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