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posted: 2/23/2014 1:01 AM

Notable deaths last week

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  • Garrick Utley

    Garrick Utley

  • Bob Casale

    Bob Casale

  • Mavis Gallant in 1981

    Mavis Gallant in 1981

From Daily Herald wire reports

Garrick Utley, who reported from Vietnam and Europe for NBC News and moderated its influential Sunday-morning show, "Meet the Press," from 1989 to 1991, has died. He was 74.

Utley, who also worked for ABC and CNN before his retirement, started his NBC career in 1963 in Europe as a researcher for the "Huntley-Brinkley Report." He became an on- air reporter in time to cover the Vietnam War for NBC's nightly news program.

He was NBC's correspondent in Berlin, Paris and London, then worked in the 1980s as the network's chief foreign correspondent, based in New York, according to a biography on the website of the State University of New York in Oswego, where last year he became a senior fellow and professor.

Clifton Garrick Utley was born on Nov. 19, 1939, in Chicago to Clifton Maxwell and Frayn Garrick Utley, according to Marquis Who's Who. His father was a well-known figure on Chicago radio and television. His mother served on the school board and was a radio and TV commentator.

John Breen, a journalism professor who taught at the University of Connecticut for more than three decades, has died. He was 71.

A Chicago native, Breen attended the University of Illinois and worked for the Champaign-Urbana Courier and the Knickerbocker News in Albany, N.Y., before joining the UConn faculty.

Fighter pilot Miroslav Standera, who fled Czechoslovakia to fight for the British and French air forces in World War II, has died at age 95.

Born a month before the end of World War I, Standera graduated from an aviation school but fled in 1939 following the country's takeover by Nazi Germany.

He joined France's air force and fought the German invasion there in May 1940. He was seriously wounded during a dogfight a month later but safely crash-landed. The Czech Defense Ministry said Standera was the last surviving Czech pilot to have flown for France during the war.

After France's surrender, Standera became a founder member of the Royal Air Force's No. 312 Fighter Squadron composed of Czechoslovak pilots; he and 87 countrymen served as RAF pilots during the Battle of Britain that year.

Later in the war, he flew twin-engine fighter-bombers on night-time raids into France and Germany. He clocked a total of 1,320 hours of combat flying time.

Marty Plissner, the longtime political director of CBS News, has died of lung cancer. He was 87.

He was known for his extensive political knowledge and his range of political contacts, establishing himself by one appraisal as the gold standard for several generations of political journalists.

Mavis Gallant, the Montreal-born writer who carved out an international reputation as a master short-story author while living in Paris for decades, has died at age 91.

The bilingual Quebecoise started out as a journalist and went on to publish well over 100 short stories in her lauded career, many of them in The New Yorker magazine and in collections such as "The Other Paris, "Across the Bridge" and "In Transit."

Gallant's following in the United States remained small. Many of her books remain out of print, short stories tend not to be best sellers and as a Canadian living in Paris she often wrote about foreign cultures.

Another Canadian literary luminary, Margaret Atwood, tweeted: "Very sad to hear that MavisGallant has died... wonderful, scrappy person, wonderful writer, fascinating life."

Venezuelan folk singer-songwriter Simon Diaz has died at age 85, prompting an outpouring of mourning in the country that considered the man known as "Uncle Simon" to be a national treasure.

Diaz's most often-performed song is "Caballo Viejo," which translates as "Old Horse." It was one of more than 200 songs he composed while recording 70 albums. His popularity grew as he hosted a children's television show and appeared in five films.

Mary Grace Canfield, a veteran character actress who played handywoman Ralph Monroe on the television show "Green Acres," has died. She was 89.

Canfield had appearances on a number of TV shows during a four-decade career, including "General Hospital" and "The Hathaways." She was Harriet Kravitz on four episodes of the 1960s series "Bewitched."

But she was best known for her role of Ralph Monroe in some 40 episodes of "Green Acres," which ran from 1965 to 1971.

Monroe greeted folks in the town of Hooterville with a cheery "howdy doody," wore painters' overalls and was forever working on the Douglas family's bedroom with her brother, Alf.

Bob Casale, the guitarist for Devo, best known for the 1980 hit "Whip It," has died of heart failure, his brother and band member Gerald Casale said. He was 61.

The Ohio-based Devo introduced themselves to the world in 1977 by making a frenetic version of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." The new wave band released its Brian Eno-produced debut, "Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!," in 1978 and reached platinum status with 1980's "Freedom of Choice," which featured "Whip It."

Richard N. Cabela, an avid hunter who co-founded the direct marketer and retailer of outdoor gear Cabela's Inc., has died. He was 77.

Cabela handed chairmanship of the $3.6 billion seller of guns, camping gear and clothing to his younger brother Jim in June, transitioning to the role of chairman emeritus.

He founded the company in 1961 with his wife, Mary, and brother when he bought $45 of hand-tied fishing flies during a trip to Chicago with his father. The purpose of the trip was to stock the family's Chappell, Nebraska, furniture store with goods including housewares.

The founder of beauty-products company Aveda Corp. has died at his Wisconsin home.

A notice posted on the company's website says Horst Rechelbacher died in Osceola after an illness. He was 72.

Puppeteer John Henson, the son of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson, has died in New York. He was 48.

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