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Obituaries in the News

August 25, 1998

ATLANTA (AP) _ Gregg Burge, a Broadway and film dancer who starred in such movies as Spike Lee’s ``School Daze″ and ``A Chorus Line,″ died July 4 of complications from a brain tumor. He was 40.

Burge landed his first big role as a teen-ager _ the scarecrow in the Broadway production of ``The Wiz.″

That led to roles in ``Sophisticated Ladies,″ ``Song and Dance″ and ``Oh Kay!″ and his movie roles. He played Virgil in ``School Daze″ and Richie in ``A Chorus Line.″

Burge, who was nominated for two Tony awards and two Drama Desk awards, won two Fred Astaire awards.

Burge choreographed the video for Michael Jackson’s ``Bad″ and a video for the reggae band Steel Pulse. And for two years, he played the Easter Bunny at Radio City Music Hall’s Easter show.

Jerry Clower

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Grand Ole Opry comedian Jerry Clower, who regaled audiences for more than 25 years with stories about rural Southern culture and the fictional Ledbetter family, died Monday of cardiorespiratory arrest, five days after undergoing heart bypass surgery. He was 71.

Clower’s stories often involved church revivals, country fairs, cotton farming or crappie fishing. Most of his stories really happened, but he had a flair for embellishment.

His most famous story was about a coon hunt where a buddy ran into a feisty lynx instead of a harmless coon.

Clower, who recorded his first album in 1970, performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry beginning in 1973 and often did 200 dates a year, mostly in small towns.

He was also co-host of the ``Country Crossroads″ cable TV show on the ACTS channel and co-host of the ``Nashville on the Road″ syndicated TV program with singer Jim Ed Brown for six years.

Samuel V. Cooper

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Samuel V. Cooper, one of only two surviving players from the first Pittsburgh Steelers football team, died Saturday. He was 89.

He was the star captain of the Geneva College football team in 1932 when scouts for team founder Art Rooney’s fledgling Pittsburgh Pirates _ as the Steelers were then known _ saw Cooper play in the first North-South game in Baltimore.

They signed him as a lineman for $100 per game in the 1933 inaugural season.

Cooper played only one season in the 1930s and went on to become superintendent of a boys’ home, a teacher, coach and principal. He also worked at a steel company and operated a farm with his wife.

Charles Diggs Jr.

DETROIT (AP) _ Former Rep. Charles Diggs Jr., who served 26 years in Congress before he was censured by the House in 1980 and resigned after being convicted of operating a kickback scheme, died Monday night of a stroke. He was 75.

Diggs a Democrat, represented Detroit. He was elected to Congress in 1954 after serving as a Michigan legislator and became a leading black spokesman in the House. He was convicted in 1978 of operating a payroll kickback scheme in his congressional office but was subsequently re-elected. He resigned in 1980.

He served seven months of a three-year prison term.

He was involved in Michigan reapportionment negotiations that followed the 1960 census. He founded the Congressional Black Caucus and chaired the House subcommittee on Africa and the committee that oversees the District of Columbia.

He also ran a funeral home in Maryland.

Steve Hopkins

MARSHFIELD, Wis. (AP) _ Steve Hopkins, a retired publisher who guided Marshfield’s daily newspaper into the computer age, died Sunday. He was 85.

Hopkins joined the Marshfield News-Herald in 1937 and became advertising director. He became publisher in 1968. He retired in 1978.

Under his leadership, the newspaper moved through various technological advancements, with the newsroom going from typewriters to computer editing and the printing process shifting from hot metal to offset production.

Hoyt C. Hottel

WINCHESTER, Mass. (AP) _ Hoyt C. Hottel, a scientist and professor who helped develop the incendiary bomb and flamethrower during World War II, died Tuesday of pancreatic cancer. He was 95.

Hottel helped develop the M-69 incendiary bomb, which was used in Europe and Japan during World War II. After the war, he visited Japan and commented on the friendliness and culture of the Japanese people.

``One can’t help having regrets about the way things were and what had to be done,″ he told the Boston Herald in 1962, a year after his visit.

Hottel, who was born in Salem, Ind., joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1928. He was director of MIT’s fuel research laboratory for 35 years.

He retired in 1968. The school began a lecture series in his name in 1985, and later a chair in chemical engineering was endowed in his name.

Hottel is survived by three daughters, a son, 10 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.

James W. Joseph

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) _ James W. Joseph, a former editor at two Cincinnati dailies and retired journalism professor, died Friday of heart failure. He was 67.

Joseph wrote a weekly column that appeared in four area newspapers. He published a book, ``Heroes and Other Folks,″ in 1997.

Joseph started his newspaper career at age 15 in 1946 as a sports writer for the Portsmouth Daily Times. From 1961 to 1967, he worked for The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., and the Eagle-Gazette in Lancaster, Ohio.

He was with The Kentucky Post and The Cincinnati Post from 1967 to 1978, serving as city editor of The Kentucky Post. From 1978 to 1983, he served at The Cincinnati Enquirer, rising to Kentucky editor.

Joseph went on to become an assistant professor of journalism at Troy State University in Alabama until his 1988 retirement.

Survivors include his wife, Norma Johnson Joseph; two daughters, a son, two brothers, three sisters, and four grandchildren.

Eddie Shipstad

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Eddie Shipstad, who co-founded the legendary Ice Follies, the ice shows that entertained families for decades, died Monday. He was 91.

Raised in St. Paul, Minn., Shipstad skated on frozen lakes, ponds and rivers, where met his future partner, Oscar Johnson. Soon, they were practicing daring stunts that drew large crowds.

Shipstad and Johnson were hired to perform half-time shows for St. Paul’s professional hockey team, the Saints, and then spent five seasons in New York performing at Rangers games in Madison Square Garden.

In 1936, Shipstad, Johnson and Shipstad’s brother, Roy, created the Ice Follies. Based in San Francisco, the world’s first traveling ice show started out with 18 young skaters and a bus. It grew into a successful entertainment business.

In 1963, after 27 years, the partners sold their interest in the show to a Fresno-based media company, with Shipstad serving as a producer. He retired four years later.

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