Sam M. Gibbons
Longtime Florida congressman
Former U.S. Rep. Sam M. Gibbons, 92, a Democrat who served 17 terms in Congress and rose to head the powerful Ways and Means Committee before his retirement, died in his sleep late Tuesday or early Wednesday at a retirement home in Tampa, Fla., according to his son Tim.
Elected in 1962, Gibbons never lost an election and was among the Tampa Bay region's best-known politicians. He pushed through legislation to create the University of South Florida while serving in the Florida Legislature in the 1950s.
Gibbons retired from Congress in 1997, having served 34 years in what many called an unblemished political career. He enjoyed a reputation in Washington as "jovial" and "avuncular," but colleagues said he was also a keenly skilled politician.
A paratrooper who landed behind enemy lines on D-day during World War II and received a Bronze Star for valor, Gibbons went to Washington during the Kennedy administration after winning an open seat in 1962.
During the 1960s, President Johnson turned to him to help steer many of his "Great Society" initiatives through the House, telling Gibbons: "You vote Northern and talk Southern."
Appointed to the Ways and Means Committee in 1969, he became known for promoting free trade, believing that nations that trade with each other don't fight each other. Gibbons rose to the top spot on the committee after longtime Chairman Dan Rostenkowski's political and legal troubles forced him out in 1994. Gibbons later worked with his sons in a lobbying firm.
Born Jan. 20, 1920, in Tampa, Sam Melville Gibbons was the son and grandson of prominent lawyers.
Carroll 'Beano' Cook
ESPN college football commentator
Carroll "Beano" Cook, 81, the folksy ESPN college football commentator who had worked for the sports network since 1986, died Thursday in his sleep, according to his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh.
"He was one of a kind," ESPN Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer said. "His combination of humor, passion, love of college football and his engaging personality left an indelible mark on the sport."
ESPN host Chris Fowler called Cook "an American original. His passion, depth and breadth of knowledge, and humor were unique.... His imprint can still be seen on Game Day each week."
Born in 1931 in Boston, Cook received his distinctive nickname when he moved to Pittsburgh with his family and a neighbor remarked, "Oh, from Boston, like the beans" and dubbed the 7-year-old "Beano."
He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1954 and served as its sports information director from 1956 to 1966. He left to become ABC Sports' press director for the NCAA and later worked as a writer or media representative for the St. Petersburg Times, Miami Dolphins, the Mutual Radio Network and CBS before joining ESPN.
-- Los Angeles Times wire reports