obituaries

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Walter Clifford, detective who nabbed burglars in stakeouts, dies at 85

When Detective Walter Clifford realized that wily burglars were breaking into homes while mourners were at wakes and funerals, he had an idea. Sitting in his living room, reading the death notices, he decided to place phony death notices in newspapers to smoke them out. He arranged for police stakeouts at the homes of real and made-up mourners, and even established lookout posts at neighbors’ houses. Then Mr. Clifford and other officers waited inside one of the “bait’’ homes for the fish to bite.

One of world’s top Syria historians

BEIRUT — Patrick Seale, a veteran journalist and author on Middle Eastern affairs as well as one of the world’s leading historians on Syria, has died in London after a battle with cancer, according to family and friends. He was 83. An accomplished reporter, writer …

Tony-winning deaf actress

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Phyllis Frelich, a Tony Award-winning deaf actress who starred in the Broadway version of “Children of a Lesser God,” has died. She was 70. Her husband, Robert Steinberg, said Ms. Frelich died Thursday at their home in Temple City, Calif. She suffered from a rare …

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Edward Claussen, who moved pickles to groceries’ refrigerated aisle, dead at 85

Edward Claussen, a former Claussen Pickles chief executive, is dead at 85. He shifted the key product of the business that his great-grandfather started from store shelves to the refrigerated aisle, a move that strengthened the company’s market share.

Margaret Herguth, journalist and author, dies at 79

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Margaret Herguth was a mother, journalist and longtime resident of Wilmette whose life, in many ways, revolved around the written word.

As a grandmother, she authored “How Do You Hug a Giraffe?” a children’s book that she wrote and her daughter, Jeni, illustrated.

Years earlier, …

One of the last Native American code talkers

OKLAHOMA CITY — Edmond Harjo, one of the last surviving members of a group of American Indians who used their Native languages to outmaneuver the enemy during World Wars I and II, died last week in Oklahoma. He was 96. Mr. Harjo died March 31 …

Father of Mich. sextuplets

HOLLAND, Mich. — The 39-year-old father of Michigan’s first surviving set of sextuplets suffered a heart attack and died after setting up a trampoline for his children, a relative said. Ben Van Houten died Wednesday night, said Sue Herweyer of Dykstra Life Story Funeral Homes …

8-year-old girl befriended by hoops star dies

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DETROIT — When Michigan State was fighting to stay afloat despite a succession of injuries to key players, Lacey Holsworth was there. When the team rebounded to win the Big Ten tournament, the 8-year-old from St. Johns, Mich., was there. And as the cold-shooting Spartans …

Glenbrook South teacher Jeff Yordy, dead at 55, led award-winning horticulture teams

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At a north suburban high school known for academics, Jeff Yordy made his mark teaching horticulture. Mr. Yordy, who died March 29 at age 55 following heart surgery, started teaching at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview in 1984, and the school horticulture team he coached won the state championship for an astounding 22 years of his tenure there.

As a director at WMAQ-Channel 5 news, Alison Ebert was calm voice in ears of anchors, reporters

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Ms. Ebert won multiple Emmys during the 30 years she worked at WMAQ-Channel 5, rising to become director of the noon and 5 p.m. newscasts. Part of the directing team for major events including the Chicago Marathon and Chicago Auto Show, she was also an unflappable presence on high-pressure election nights, when she always wore an American flag pin.

Comic appeared in final episode of ‘Seinfeld’

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PITTSBURGH — John Pinette, the chubby stand-up comedian who portrayed a hapless carjacking victim in the final episode of “Seinfeld,” has died. He was 50. Mr. Pinette died of natural causes Saturday at a hotel in Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said Sunday …

Frank Mauro Gesualdo, WWII vet who founded car dealerships, dies at 90

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During World War II, Frank Gesualdo survived 72 hours awaiting rescue in the waters of the Pacific Ocean after his aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet, was battered by Japanese bombs in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. When he returned home to Chicago, he founded multiple companies connected to the automotive industry: a collection agency, a repossession business and a chain of car dealerships that has grown to 24 dealerships operated by his children in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Otis McDonald, lead plaintiff in U.S. Supreme Court case tossing city’s handgun ban, dies at 80

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Otis McDonald, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that prompted the U.S. Supreme Court decision that forced Chicago to abandon its 28-year ban on handguns, has died at 80, a family spokesman said Sunday.

Fred Jones said his uncle died on Friday while in hospice …

Writer-environmentalist Peter Matthiessen dead at 86

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Peter Matthiessen, a rich man’s son who spurned a life of leisure and embarked on extraordinary physical and spiritual quests while producing such acclaimed books as “The Snow Leopard” and “At Play in the Fields of the Lord,” died Saturday. He was 86. Matthiessen, who had been diagnosed with leukemia, was ill “for some months” and died at a hospital near his home on Long Island, N.Y.

Julie Brady, 51, ‘hard-working grass roots’ political worker, ‘beautiful soul’

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Julie Brady shunned the limelight, even though she often belonged in it.

The wife of former Illinois GOP Party Chairman Pat Brady liked to work behind the scenes. During U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign she helped lead a grassroots effort to put his name …

Anja Niedringhaus, 48, fearless photojournalist slain in Afghanistan attack

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Anja Niedringhaus faced down some of the world’s greatest dangers and had one of the world’s loudest and most infectious laughs. She photographed dying and death, and embraced humanity and life. She gave herself to the subjects of her lens, and gave her talents to …