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Obituaries in the news

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

By The Associated Press

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Leon Altemose

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ J. Leon Altemose, a building contractor known for clashing with unions over the use of nonunion labor, has died. He was 68.

Altemose died Friday at his Malvern home from multiple sclerosis, which he had for many years, according to the Cornerstone Church in Skippack.

Altemose gained national attention in 1972 when unionists attacked his building site in Valley Forge.

Unionists destroyed $400,000 worth of equipment and materials in a coordinated attack that the handful of police officers on site were helpless to stop, according to a Pennsylvania Crime Commission report.

A judge responded with a court order banning pickets within a mile of any Altemose project, leading to a protest by tens of thousands of unionists who marched from Plymouth Meeting to Norristown and back.

Not long after, Altemose was attacked outside a downtown Philadelphia bank.

Altemose paid lower hourly wages than union scale, but said his workers made more annually because they had steady work throughout the year, as opposed to the seasonal layoffs union workers faced.

His company built the Valley Forge Convention Center and several hotels, among many other projects.

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Kahlil Gibran

BOSTON (AP) _ Kahlil Gibran, a sculptor and painter who wrote a biography of his famous poet cousin of the same name, has died. He was 85.

Gibran died Sunday of heart failure, according to his wife, Jean English Gibran.

Gibran lived most of his life in Boston's South End, one of several city neighborhoods where his sculptures stand. A tripod he designed is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Gibran began his career as a painter but became a sculptor in the 1950s, saying painting "didn't demand enough of me."

The switch to sculpting was followed by several honors, including the George Widener Medal, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a fellowship and award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the gold medal in an international exhibit in Trieste, Italy.

With his wife, Gibran also wrote a biography of his famous poet cousin, for whom he was named. The elder Gibran, who died in 1931, wrote "The Prophet," which has sold millions.

Jean English Gibran said she and her husband worked for years to produce the 1974 book, "Kahlil Gibran, His Life and World."

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Ollie Johnston

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Ollie Johnston, the last of the "Nine Old Men" who animated "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Fantasia," "Bambi" and other classic Walt Disney films has died. He was 95.

Johnston died of natural causes Monday at a long-term care facility in Sequim, Wash., Walt Disney Studios Vice President Howard E. Green said Tuesday.

Walt Disney lightheartedly dubbed his team of crack animators his "Nine Old Men," borrowing the phrase from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's description of the U.S. Supreme Court's members, who had angered the president by quashing many of his Depression-era New Deal programs.

Although most of Disney's men were in their 20s at the time, the name stuck with them for the rest of their lives.

Perhaps the two most accomplished of the nine were Johnston and his close friend Frank Thomas, who died in 2004 at age 92. The pair, who met as art students at Stanford University in the 1930s, were hired by Disney for $17 a week at a time when he was expanding the studio to produce full-length feature films. Both worked on the first of those features, 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

Johnston's other credits included "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," "Sleeping Beauty," "101 Dalmatians," "Mary Poppins," "The Jungle Book," "The Aristocats," "Robin Hood" and "The Rescuers."

After Johnston and Thomas retired in 1978, they lectured at schools and film festivals in the United States and Europe and co-authored the books "Bambi; the Story and the Film," "Too Funny for Words," "The Disney Villains" and the epic "Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life." They were also the subjects of the 1995 documentary "Frank and Ollie," produced by Thomas' son Ted.

The pair's guide to animation is considered "the bible" among animators, said John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar animation studios and Johnston's longtime friend.

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