Obituaries of note

By Times Staff Writer
Published August 14, 2005

ROY M. "BUTCH" VORIS, 86, a retired Navy captain who was a World War II ace and the first flight leader of the Blue Angels, died Wednesday in Monterey, Calif., the precision flying team said. He was handpicked by Adm. Chester Nimitz in 1946 to organize the Blue Angels, now based at Pensacola Naval Air Station.

MATTHEW McGRORY, 32, the 7-foot-plus actor who moved from Howard Stern's radio show to a high-profile role as a gentle giant in the movie Big Fish, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. He died at his home, said director Drew Sky. Paramedics determined he died of natural causes.

PHILIP J. KLASS, 85, an aviation journalist who investigated UFO sightings and wrote books debunking reports of visits from outer space, died Tuesday in Cocoa. Widely recognized as an authority on unidentified flying objects, he was reviled as a "disinformer" by believers in alien beings. He had retired as senior avionics editor of Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine.

COL. JOSEPH ROGERS, 81, a flying legend who piloted aircraft in three wars and still maintains the world record for flying the fastest single-engine jet, died Aug. 6 at his northern California ranch. In 1959, he flew an F-106 at 1,525 mph. He was a top fighter pilot during both the Korean and Vietnam wars, over 270 missions.

ABE HIRSCHFELD, 85, an eccentric multimillionaire immigrant whose bizarre behavior led him into politics, publishing and prison, died Tuesday in New York. The self-made magnate amassed a real estate empire. Time magazine listed him among the 20th century's top builders and business titans, beneath the headline "Crazy and in Charge." He ran unsuccessfully for a number of New York offices. He also spent 22 months in prison for plotting to kill a business partner and got out just before his 83rd birthday.

HELEN L. PHILLIPS, 86, a soprano who broke the color barrier among singers at the Metropolitan Opera seven years before Marian Anderson's historic debut, died July 27 in New York, her nurse said. She was the first black chorister when hired as an extra for five performances of Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana in1947, said Met archivist Jeff McMillan.

BILL DAILEY, 76, credited with helping build Branson, Mo., into an entertainment mecca, died Aug. 5 in Branson, friends said. His projects included the Country Music World and Americana theaters and the Wildwood Flower Supper Club, paving the way for more than 30 other theaters to open.

AL ARONOWITZ, 77, a pioneer of rock journalism who introduced Bob Dylan to the Beatles, died Aug. 1 in Elizabeth, N.J., said his son, Joel Roi Aronowitz. The 1964 summit of the Beatles and Dylan came about as Mr. Aronowitz was covering the British band for the Saturday Evening Post. He also claimed that Dylan wrote Mr. Tambourine Man in his kitchen.