Obituaries in the news

AP News
Posted: Nov 18, 2009 5:43 AM

Ed Czekaj

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) _ Former Penn State University athletic director Ed Czekaj, who was credited with helping coach Joe Paterno build the football team for its success in the 1970s and into the 1980s, has died at age 87.

Czekaj died Monday at a retirement home in State College, the university said.

The native of Mount Pleasant, Pa., was a three-year letterman on the Penn State football team in the 1940s. He became an employee of the athletic department in 1953 and held several positions before becoming athletic director in 1969. He held that job until 1980, when Paterno took that position. Czekaj retired in 1982.

Current athletic director Tim Curley said that besides helping to build the football program, Czekaj presided over an expansion of women's sports.

Czekaj also oversaw four expansions of Beaver Stadium, raising the capacity from less than 50,000 to 83,770 for the 1980 season.


Huang Tingxin

BEIJING (AP) _ The last Chinese veteran of the 1944 liberation of France has died, state media reported Wednesday.

Huang Tingxin had been an officer aboard the British aircraft carrier HMA Searcher during the invasion of southern France known as Operation Dragoon. The August landings near the city of Toulon were a follow-up to the June 6 D-Day invasion of Normandy.

Huang returned to China in 1948 and served for a decade in the Chinese navy after the founding of the communist state in 1949. He later taught English and tended the library at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

In 2006, Huang received France's Legion d'Honneur in recognition of his wartime service, dedicating the award to his Chinese comrades.

A graduate of the Qingdao Naval Academy in eastern China, Huang was one of 24 Chinese officers sent to study in Britain in 1942 and who later served with the Allies.

After studying at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich outside London, Huang was assigned to the Searcher, a U.S.-built assault carrier that deployed up to 25 fighter planes.

Huang died Nov. 11 at the age of 91, the official Xinhua News Agency said. No cause of death was given, although earlier reports said Huang suffered from Parkinson's disease.

Although Nationalist China maintained close ties with Nazi Germany before the war, its forces fought on the side of the Allies against Japan, which had linked up with Germany and Italy. Very few Chinese fought in the European theater.


Ken Kirk

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) _ Ken Kirk, a co-captain on the 1959 Ole Miss national championship football team, has died at a Tupelo hospital. He was 71.

Kirk died Monday at the North Mississippi Medical Center after a brief illness.

The Tupelo native lettered for three seasons at Ole Miss as a fullback and center. He played four years at linebacker in the NFL, playing games for the Chicago Bears (1960-61), Pittsburgh (1962) and the Los Angeles Rams (1963).

Members of the 1959 Rebel team are to be honored at Saturday's LSU-Ole Miss game in Oxford.


Ken Ober

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Ken Ober, who hosted the 1980s MTV game show "Remote Control" and helped produce the shows "Mind of Mencia" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine," has died. He was 52.

His agent, Lee Kernis, says Ober was found dead Sunday in his Santa Monica home. Kernis says Ober complained of headaches and flulike symptoms on Saturday night but the cause of his death wasn't clear.

Ober was born Ken Oberding in Massachusetts. He hosted five seasons of "Remote Control" beginning in 1987. Contestants in lounge chairs were asked pop-culture questions from categories such as "Dead or Canadian?" The show featured early appearances by comedians Adam Sandler, Denis Leary and Colin Quinn.


Sy Syms

NEW YORK (AP) _ Sy Syms, founder and chairman of the SYMS Corp. discount clothing chain, died of heart failure Tuesday in New York, according to a statement issued by the company. He was 83.

Syms founded his apparel business in 1959 in New York's financial district as a discount retailer of off-price men's clothes. By 1983, he had expanded the business to 11 stores and taken the company public. It eventually grew to 30 stores in 13 states.

The company was known by its slogan, "An educated consumer is our best customer," which Syms created and debuted on its first TV commercial in 1974. It is still used today.

The company expanded even further in June, when it bought the Filene's Basement chain and expanded its presence to 52 stores in all.

Sy Syms was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on May 12, 1926, with the name Seymour Merinsky. The family changed its name to Merns when Syms' father and brother opened a store of the same name on Vesey Street.

Syms attended Midwood High School in Brooklyn and New York University, under the GI bill. He worked as a sportscaster in Maryland and West Virginia before going back to New York to join the family business in 1950.

Nine years later, he opened a competing store on Cortland Street, around the corner from his family's store. He named it Sy Merns, but he was forced to change the name to Syms after a court fight. He later took the name legally as his own.

Syms was CEO of the company until 1998, when his daughter Marcy took over.