Col. Leo K. Thorsness was one of the most highly decorated U.S. airmen of the Vietnam War and a cellmate of Sen. John McCain’s at the notorious North Vietnamese prison known as the Hanoi Hilton. He died May 2 in Jacksonville, Fla. He was 85. He was a belated recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism on a mission that took place 11 days before he was shot down and taken prisoner. No announcement of the honor was made by U.S. military officials until Thorsness’ return home in March 1973 out of fear that his captors would retaliate with even greater brutality. McCain released a statement saying: “One of the greatest honors of my life was serving with Leo.” After Thorsness retired from the Air Force, he entered politics as a Republican and waged an unsuccessful bid in 1974 to capture the U.S. Senate seat held by George S. McGovern, a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War.
Daliah Lavi was an exotic beauty who starred in the 1960s spy spoofs “Casino Royale” and “The Silencers.” She died May 3 at her home in Asheville, N.C., her family announced. She was 74. Lavi met Kirk Douglas, who was filming “The Juggler” in her town in what is now Israel when she was 10. A decade later, they worked together in Vincente Minnelli’s “Two Weeks in Another Town” (1962). Fluent in several languages, she starred in German, Italian, French, and Spanish films in addition to English-language movies.
Mike Lowry was a Democrat who spent a decade in Congress and served one term as governor of Washington. He died May 1 following complications from a stroke. He was 78. Lowry was elected to Washington’s 7th Congressional District, which includes Seattle, in 1978 and was re-elected four times. He was a leading Democratic critic of President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies and also fought against the arms buildup and restrictions on abortions. He gave up his House seat to run for the Senate in 1988 but lost to Republican Slade Gorton. Lowry was elected Washington’s governor in 1992 but did not seek re-election after a four-year term. His political stock, already low after a 1993 tax increase, plummeted when his deputy press secretary, Susanne Albright, accused him of sexually harassing her and using crude and offensive language. Lowry denied any wrongdoing but agreed to an out-of-court settlement.
Toby Kimball was a former NBA player who spent nine seasons in the league, including one with the Kansas-City Omaha Kings. He died May 2 at a hospital near his home in La Jolla, Calif., of complications from an inflammatory lung disease, his son, Tim Kimball, said. He was 74. Kimball played at the University of Connecticut during 1962-65 and was a third-round pick of the Boston Celtics in 1965. Kimball played for the Celtics, San Diego Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks before joining the Kings for the 1972-73 season, their first after moving from Cincinnati. He also played for the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Jazz, averaging 6.1 points and 6.8 rebounds in 571 games before he retired in 1975.
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Jean Stein was a former editor of the Paris Review and a best-selling author of oral histories. She died April 30 in New York City. She was 83. Authorities say that Stein apparently killed herself by jumping from the penthouse floor of a building in upper Manhattan. She collaborated with journalist and editor George Plimpton on the oral history “American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy” in 1970. Her book about Los Angeles and the American dream, “West of Eden: An American Place,” was published last year.
Tony Alamo was a one-time street preacher whose apocalyptic ministry grew into a multimillion-dollar network of businesses and property before he was convicted in Arkansas of sexually abusing young girls he considered his wives. He died May 2 at a federal prison hospital in Butner, N.C., according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. He was 82. Alamo was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman to a Jewish family in Joplin, Mo. He was once known for designing elaborately decorated jackets for celebrities that included Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, and started preaching along California streets in the 1960s. He advocated a advocating a mixture of virulent anti-Catholicism and apocalyptic rhetoric and claimed that God authorized polygamy, professed that gays were the tools of Satan, and believed girls were fit for marriage even at a young age. Alamo was convicted after five women testified they were “married” to him in secret ceremonies at his compound when they were minors — including one when she was only 8 years old — and later taken to places outside Arkansas for sex.
Sam Mele was manager of the Minnesota Twins when they won their first pennant in 1965. He died May 1 at his home in Quincy, Mass. He was 95. Mele made his major-league debut as an outfielder with the Boston Red Sox in 1947. He played 10 seasons with the Red Sox, Washington Senators, Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, batting 267 with 80 home runs and 544 RBIs. Mele became manager of the Twins after the team moved from Washington in 1961. He led Minnesota to the American League pennant in 1965, but the Twins lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games in the World Series. After Mele was fired as Twins manager in 1967, he worked for the Red Sox for 25 years as a scout and in other roles.
Mario Maglieri was a Hollywood entrepreneur who owned two of the Sunset Strip’s landmark nightclubs, the Whiskey A Go Go and Rainbow Bar & Grill. He died May 4 in Los Angeles. He was 93. It was at the Whiskey, which opened in 1964, that the Doors found a following as the house band. The Rainbow opened in 1972, and Elton John played the launch party.
Heinz Kessler was a former East German defense minister who was later convicted of incitement to manslaughter for upholding the shoot-to-kill policy at the communist country’s border. He died May 2 in Berlin. He was 97. Kessler was defense minister from 1985 until November 1989 and became a member of the communist party’s politburo in 1986. After the reunification of Germany, he was arrested in May 1991 and sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison in 1993. An estimated 700-800 people died at East Germany’s heavily fortified border with the West before it was opened in late 1989.
Compiled from news service reports by Chris Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org