Notable Deaths

OTHER NOTABLE DEATHS

January 24, 2009

JOHN A. BLACKBURN, 67

University of Virginia dean of admissions

John A. Blackburn, the University of Virginia's dean of admissions since 1985, died Tuesday of cancer at his home in Charlottesville, Va. He had planned to retire in June.

Mr. Blackburn pushed for U.Va. to boost its financial aid and abolish its early-decision admissions policy, which he believed gave an unfair advantage to students who could afford to commit to attending without first seeing a financial aid offer. He traveled extensively to promote the AccessUVa financial-aid program for students from lower-income backgrounds.

He also was among the first admissions officials to actively recruit international students.

CONSTANCE EBERHARDT COOK, 89

Cornell official helped legalize abortion in N.Y.

Constance Eberhardt Cook, who helped legalize abortion in New York and compel Episcopalians to ordain women before becoming the first female executive at Cornell University, died Tuesday at her home in Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell announced. It did not give a cause of death.

Ms. Cook was elected to the Assembly as a Republican in 1962 and served 14 years, representing the 128th Assembly District in the Finger Lakes region of central New York.

In 1970, she sponsored a bill to repeal state anti-abortion laws and to provide for legal, on-demand abortions during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. After a bitter legislative debate, abortion became legal in New York by a one-vote margin three years before the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision made it legal nationwide.

During the mid-1970s, in private law practice, Ms. Cook represented the Rev. Betty Bone Schiess of Syracuse, who sued the Episcopal Church on grounds of sex-based employment discrimination. The case helped force the church to revise canon law in 1977 to allow the ordination of women.

She became Cornell's vice president for land-grant affairs in 1976, a position she held until 1980.

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