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Obituaries

Obituaries in the news: TV pioneer Farnsworth dead at 98

| Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Elma Gardner "Pem" Farnsworth

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Elma Gardner "Pem" Farnsworth, who helped her husband Philo T. Farnsworth develop the television and was among the first people whose images were transmitted on TV, has died at age 98.

Her death Thursday was confirmed by Mary Rippley, assistant director of nursing at Avalon Care Center in Bountiful, where Farnsworth lived.

Farnsworth, who married the young inventor in 1926, worked by her husband's side in his laboratories and fought for decades to assure his place in history after his 1971 death.

Other inventors had demonstrated various developments in the 1920s, including mechanical transmission of images, but it was Farnsworth's work that led to the electronic TV we know today.

His first TV transmission was on Sept. 7, 1927, in his San Francisco lab, when the 21-year-old inventor sent the image of a horizontal line to a receiver in the next room.

He said inspiration for his invention had come seven years earlier, while plowing a field on his family's Idaho farm. He realized an image could be scanned onto a picture tube the same way: row by row.

His widow recalled that morning in the lab "like it was yesterday," she told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2002. "It was a very small screen, about the size of a postage stamp, an inch and a half square. At first, we were stunned. It was too good to be true. Then Phil said, 'There you have it — electric television.'"

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Bruce A. Peterson

LAGUNA NIGUEL, Calif. (AP) — Bruce A. Peterson, a NASA test pilot who flew the wingless "lifting body" vehicles that led to the development of the space shuttles, has died. He was 72.

Peterson died Monday in Laguna Niguel after a lengthy illness, NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center said in a statement Tuesday. The specific cause was not disclosed.

Lifting bodies, conceived in the 1950s, were highly unusual wingless aircraft that derived aerodynamic lift from their shape, unlike conventional planes that get their lift from wings.

Starting in the early 1960s, a series of lifting bodies were tested at Edwards Air Force Base, in the Mojave Desert, where Dryden is located.

The prototype was the M2-F1, known as the "flying bathtub," which Peterson flew 42 times on glide flights.

He then piloted its successors, the M2-F2 and the HL-10, which were heavier and powered by rockets.

On Dec. 22, 1966, he came close to disaster on the first flight of the HL-10 when a problem involving airflow across control surfaces made it almost unflyable, but he still managed to land it safely, NASA said. Data from the flight allowed the HL-10 to be successfully modified.

Disaster did strike on May 10, 1967, when Peterson was flying the M2-F2 and it rolled violently.

Peterson regained control but the craft hit Edwards' dry lakebed at an estimated 250 mph before the landing gear fully deployed. The M2-F2 tumbled across the ground before ending up on its back with the badly injured Peterson inside.

He recovered from the crash injuries, but lost sight in one eye due to a secondary infection while hospitalized.

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Louis Rukeyser

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — For more than three decades, Louis Rukeyser delivered pun-filled, commonsense commentary on complicated business and economic news as a best-selling author, columnist, lecturer and television host.

Rukeyser, 73, died Tuesday at his home in Greenwich after a long battle with multiple myeloma, a rare bone marrow cancer, said his brother, Bud Rukeyser.

As host of "Wall $treet Week With Louis Rukeyser" on public TV from 1970 until 2002, Rukeyser took a wry approach to the ups and downs in the marketplace and urged guests to avoid jargon. He brought finance and economics to ordinary viewers and investors, and was rewarded with the largest audience in the history of financial journalism.

"He brings to the tube a blend of warmth, wit, irreverence, thrusting intellect and large doses of charm, plus the credibility of a Walter Cronkite," Money magazine wrote in a cover story.

Rukeyser also won numerous awards and honors, including a citation by People magazine as the only sex symbol of the "dismal science" of economics.

"Our prime mission is to make previously baffling economic information understandable and interesting to people in general," he once said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Bud Rukeyser called his brother "a giant at what he did."

"He was a pioneer in economic reporting in television. Right up to the time he got ill, he was at the top of the heap," he said in a telephone interview.

Louis Rukeyser quit "Wall $treet Week" and moved to CNBC in March 2002 rather than go along with executives' plan to demote him and use younger hosts to update the format.

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John C. Trever

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (AP) — John C. Trever, the American scholar who photographed the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem in 1948, has died, his family reported. He was 90.

Trever died Saturday at home in Lake Forest in Orange County, said his son John Trever, political cartoonist for New Mexico's Albuquerque Journal.

The younger Trever said it was by chance that his father was in Jerusalem doing unrelated research when Father Boutros Sowmy brought several scrolls to the American School of Oriental Research in February 1948 that were said to have been found in a cave the year before by a Bedouin shepherd.

Trever was experienced in photographing ancient scrolls and quickly took pictures of the finds. He had immediately recognized a similarity between the scrolls' script and that of the Nash Papyrus, at the time the oldest known biblical manuscript.

He is credited as being the first American scholar to come in contact with the scrolls in the James VanderKam and Peter Flint book "The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity."

His photos continue to appear widely in books and articles on them.

Among his books were "Scrolls from Qumran Cave One," "The Untold Story of Qumran" and "The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Personal Account." He taught at colleges including Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio and California's Claremont School of Theology.

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Noall Wootton

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Noall Wootton, the county attorney who prosecuted the nation's first person executed after the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty, died Thursday. He was 65.

Wootton died of cancer. Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, a former Utah County commissioner, said Wootton "provided great public service (as county attorney) and was also well-regarded in his private practice. He served with honor and distinction and was respected by his peers."

Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad in January 1977, the year after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty following a 10-year moratorium.

Gilmore was executed for the 1976 slaying of Provo motel clerk Bennie Bushnell. He also was charged with capital murder for killing Brigham Young University law student Max Jensen, a part-time Orem gas station attendant, the night before the Bushnell murder.

Wootton, who was Utah County attorney from 1974 to 1986, was in his first term when he prosecuted Gilmore.

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