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Obituaries of note

Compiled from staff and wire reports
Published February 19, 2006

ENDESHA IDA MAE HOLLAND, 61, a noted black scholar and dramatist, died Jan. 25 in Santa Monica, Calif. Her best-known play, From the Mississippi Delta, chronicled her journey from poverty and prostitution in the Jim Crow South to civil rights activism, a doctorate and an academic career. She retired in 2003 from the University of Southern California, where she was a professor.

ROBERT E. RICH, 92, who abandoned his family's dairy business to create the first nondairy whipped topping, died Wednesday in Palm Beach. Made with corn syrup, sugar and isolated soybean protein, his soybean "cream," introduced in 1945, when milk was short because of World War II, lasted longer in the refrigerator than dairy-based whipped cream and could remain frozen for more than a year without degrading. His Rich Products Corp. also introduced one of the first nondairy creamers, Coffee Rich, in 1960.

BETTIE WILSON, the daughter of freed slaves who was one of the three oldest people in America, died Monday in New Albany, Miss. The three people, all women, celebrated their 115th birthday last summer. Two are still living, one in Tennessee and the other in Alabama. A 116-year-old woman in Ecuador is documented as the oldest living person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group based at the University of California at Los Angeles, which studies people older than 110.

EDNA LEWIS, 89, the granddaughter of a slave who became a chef in the 1950s and later wrote several cookbooks about Southern food, died Monday in Decatur, Ga. Alfred A. Knopf published three books of hers: The Taste of Country Cooking in 1976; In Pursuit of Flavor in 1988; and The Gift of Southern Cooking in 2003. That year the James Beard Foundation awards program named her to the Cookbook Hall of Fame for her body of work, including The Edna Lewis Cookbook.

BILL MORAN, 80, a blacksmith who revived the lost art of forging Damascus steel, an alloy prized by sword smiths during the Middle Ages because of its strength and flexibility, died Sunday in Frederick, Md. For more than 60 years, he crafted knives of such superb quality that they lured the likes of Jordan's King Abdullah II and actor Sylvester Stallone to his tiny soot-streaked workshop near Middletown, Va.

PHIL BROWN, 89, an actor who played Luke Skywalker's loving but doomed Uncle Owen in Star Wars, died Feb. 9 in Los Angeles. He also played a council elder in a 1999 short film, Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming, inspired by the 1970s TV series Battlestar Galactica.

SONNY KING, 83, a longtime sidekick of Jimmy Durante and a veteran Las Vegas lounge singer, died Feb. 3 in Las Vegas. He was Durante's partner for 28 years until Durante died in 1980. They appeared together on Ed Sullivan's show five times in the 1960s.

[Last modified February 19, 2006, 01:10:11]

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