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Obituaries in the News

March 12, 2003

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) _ Alta Cohen, the oldest Brooklyn Dodger, died Tuesday. He was 94.

Born in Brooklyn on Christmas Day 1908, Cohen played 10 games with the Dodgers as an outfielder in 1931 and 1932, and 19 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1933.

Cohen came to the Brooklyn Dodgers from the Toledo Mud Hens, a minor league team where he was a Triple-A all-star. A left-handed hitter, Cohen batted .194 in 29 major league games.

After his baseball career, Cohen went into business in New Jersey.

He is survived by two sons, a daughter, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Fred Danback

NEW YORK (AP) _ Fred Danback, a former janitor who became an early pioneer in the fight against companies polluting the Hudson River, died Monday of an aortic aneurysm. He was 79.

In the 1960s, Danback was working as a janitor for the Anaconda Wire and Cable Company at its Hastings-on-Hudson plant when he became concerned about the company’s dumping of copper filings, waste oils and sulfuric acid into the river.

Danback, who lived along the river his whole life, learned of the problem when fishermen he knew complained about the dwindling catch and fish that were too polluted to sell as food.

Danback made maps of the company’s pipes, showing how chemicals were being released into the river. But the company did not change its practices, and Danback was denied promotions.

In 1969, Danback left the company and joined forces with the Hudson River Fishermans Association. Together, they sued under the 1899 Refuse Act, which prohibited dumping anything but storm drainage and water into a river.

In 1971, Anaconda was charged with 100 federal counts of violating the act. Two years later it paid a $200,000 fine _ at the time largest ever paid by an American company for polluting.

Wallace M. Greene Jr.

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Wallace M. Greene Jr., a four-star general who was Marine Corps commandant during the buildup for the war in Southeast Asia, died this month of multiple myeloma at age 95.

His 37-year Marine career took Greene to China in the 1930s and to London and the South Pacific in World War II.

He was commandant from 1964 through 1967. In March 1965, when President Johnson ordered combat troops to what was then South Vietnam, a Marine regiment was the first American combat unit to enter the country.

The U.S. presence eventually grew to 500,000, of which about 70,000 were Marines.

Under Greene, the Marine Corps grew from 178,000 active-duty personnel to nearly 300,000.

As chief of staff of the Marine Corps and then as commandant, Greene was instrumental in a study that put forth new ideas that are part of Marine doctrine today.

A key proposal was training infantrymen to spot targets and use satellite positioning and ``terminal guidance″ systems to call in artillery, airstrikes or rockets.

Manny Harmon

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Big-band orchestra leader Manny Harmon, who played at Republican national conventions from 1956 through 1992, died March 5. He was 93.

Harmon gained fame for providing the music at GOP conventions and at the inaugural balls of both Democrat and Republican presidents.

Harmon was born in Philadelphia but spent most of his life in Los Angeles, where he played violin for vaudeville shows at the old Orpheum Theater in downtown. He eventually formed Manny Harmon’s Orchestra.

After providing the music for several Miss Universe contests, he went on to lead the band at 10 GOP conventions.

At the 1976 GOP convention in Kansas City, Harmon helped end a shouting contest between Reagan and Ford delegates by playing ``God Bless America″.

When asked about his own political affiliations, Harmon often replied, ``I belong to the Cocktail Party.″

Harry Matthews

SEATTLE (AP) _ Harry ``The Kid″ Matthews, a world boxing contender in three divisions with 61 knockouts, died Feb. 21. He was 80.

Matthews’ career faltered after he was knocked out in the second round by Rocky Marciano.

After 12 years of fights in the Pacific Northwest, Matthews hooked up with promoter Jack Hurley. He compiled an 87-7-7 record in 1937 through 1956 with 61 knockouts in the middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. His top weight was 180 pounds.

His victories included 10-round decisions over middleweight titleholder Al Hostak, lightweight title contender Bob Murphy and former heavyweight champ Ezzard Charles.

Then came the Marciano fight before 20,000 fans at Yankee Stadium in New York on July 28, 1952.

Matthews missed with half a dozen punches but still won the first round against the larger Marciano, 41-0 at the time and a year away from becoming world champion.

Two minutes and four seconds into the second round, Marciano decked him with two left hooks and the match was over.

After that match, which earned Matthews nearly $50,000, he fought 13 times over the next five years, two fewer bouts than he had in 1951 alone.

He briefly became a King County sheriff’s deputy, then owned and operated the Bell Pine Tavern in Seattle and a rental equipment and welding business in Everett.