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America through the eyes of two American-Americans

Geraldine Doyle, 86

Geraldine Doyle, aka Rosie the Riveter, who as a 17-year-old factory worker became the inspiration for a popular World War II recruitment poster that evoked female power and independence under the slogan "We Can Do It!," died Dec. 26 at a hospice in Lansing, Mich.

The woman in the patriotic poster was never named Rosie, nor was she a riveter. All along it was Mrs. Doyle, who after graduating from high school in Ann Arbor, Mich., took a job at a metal factory around 1941, her family said.

One day, a photographer representing United Press International came to her factory and captured Mrs. Doyle leaning over a piece of machinery and wearing a red and white polka-dot bandanna over her hair.

In early 1942, the Westinghouse Corp. commissioned artist J. Howard Miller to produce several morale-boosting posters to be displayed inside its buildings. The project was funded by the government as a way to motivate workers and perhaps recruit new ones for the war effort.

A cellist, Mrs. Doyle was horrified to learn that a previous worker at the factory had badly injured her hands working at the machines. She found safer employment at a soda fountain and bookshop in Ann Arbor, where she wooed a young dental school student and later became his wife.

She never knew she was "Rosie the Riveter" until 1984 when Mrs. Doyle and her family came across an article in Modern Maturity magazine, a former AARP publication, that connected her UPI photo with Miller's wartime poster.

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Filed under: Obituaries

Captain Beefheart, 69

Don Van Vliet, a maverick musician who emerged from the Southern California desert with the name Captain Beefheart and a singular and influential form of avant-garde rock in the 1960s, died Friday. He was 69.

Van Vliet, who retreated to a reclusive life as an abstract painter in the early 1980s, died from complications of multiple sclerosis at a hospital near his home in Trinidad in Northern California, said a spokeswoman for the Michael Werner Gallery, his New York-based art dealer.

"Part of why I stopped doing music was because it was too hard to control the other people I needed to play the stuff, and I'd had enough animal training," he told The Times in 1990.

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Filed under: Obituaries

John du Pont, 72

John E. du Pont, an heir to the DuPont Co. chemical fortune who was known as a generous if eccentric patron of amateur wrestling before he inexplicably shot and killed Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz in 1996, died Dec. 9. He was 72.

He called the wrestlers he supported "Team Foxcatcher" and envisioned them filling the roster of the 1996 U.S. Olympic wrestling team. They lived and trained at the 14,000-square-foot facility he built on his property in Pennsylvania.

On Jan. 26, 1996, Mr. du Pont drove to the guesthouse where Schultz was living with his wife and two children. The heir fired three shots from a .38-caliber handgun out the window of his Lincoln Town Car. Schultz lay in the driveway, dying in his wife's arms.

Among other things: he drove 2 brand new Lincoln Town Cars into a pond back-to-back, believed he was the Dalai Lama of the United States, had razor wire installed in his walls, evicted all three black wrestlers from his property, blew up a family of foxes, and founded and ran the Villanova wrestling program in 1986 only to have it dismantled two years later on the grounds that he fired an assistant head coach for not wanting to be his gay lover.

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Filed under: Obituaries

Don Meredith, 72

The original Tony Romo, Meredith was the original Dallas Cowboy signing a personal services contract on Nov. 28, 1959, two months before the franchise officially gained admittance into the NFL. He was a two-time All-American at SMU and played for the Cowboys from 1960 to 1968. He led the Cowboys to the 1966 and 1967 NFL title games, both defeats to the Green Bay Packers, but he abruptly retired from pro football at age 31.

He was also on Monday Night Football for a decade and lived in an adobe in Santa Fe since 1982.

Goodbye, Dandy Don. The party's over.

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Filed under: Obituaries

Alex Franco, 91

The Rev. Alex Franco, who performed thousands of weddings at his Albertson Wedding Chapel in Los Angeles, has died. He was 91. "On a weekday you can walk in here and be married in 20 minutes," Franco told the Dallas Morning News in 1988. "On weekends, we are busier, we need a little notice."

Our own Seth Romatelli once attended a wedding at Mr. Franco's chapel on April Fool's Day, 1999. As he and his friends poured liquor into styrofoam cups in the parking lot, they ribbed the Israeli groom who had no concept of April Fool's Day, despite living in America for years. To his recollection, the service was beautiful. The couple has since divorced.

Source

Filed under: Obituaries
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