PASSINGS: Bob Suter, Austin 'Goose' Gonsoulin, Magda Olivero, John D. Kendall, Noel Hinners

Bob Suter dies at 57; member of U.S. hockey team that won gold medal at 1980 Olympics

  Bob Suter

Member of U.S. hockey team that won a gold medal at 1980 Olympics

Bob Suter, 57, a member of the "Miracle On Ice" hockey team that won the Olympic gold medal in 1980 and the father of Minnesota Wild NHL star Ryan Suter, died suddenly Tuesday in Madison, Wis. The Wild announced his death but did not disclose the cause.

Suter is the first to die among the players from the famed 1980 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team that upset the Soviet Union and beat Finland for the gold medal..

Suter did scouting work for the Wild and was a pillar of the youth hockey community and owned a sporting goods store in Madison.

Born in Madison in 1957, Suter helped the University of Wisconsin hockey team win the national title in 1977.

He was a rugged defenseman for Team USA at the Lake Placid Olympics, playing in all seven games and helping the team to one of the greatest upsets in American sports history.

He was drafted by the Kings in 1977 and later signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota North Stars in 1981, but never played a game in the NHL. He did pave the way for his younger brother Gary and son Ryan to become stars in the league, making the Suters one of the most revered families in hockey. Ryan played for Team USA as well and is one of the top defensemen in the NHL.

Austin 'Goose' Gonsoulin

Pro Bowl safety, member of Denver Broncos' Ring of Fame

Austin "Goose" Gonsoulin, 76, a former Pro Bowl safety for the Denver Broncos and a member of the team's Ring of Fame, died Monday while in hospice care in Beaumont, Texas, according to the Levingston Funeral Home in nearby Groves, Texas. The cause of death was not specified, but Gonsoulin had prostate cancer.

A native of Port Arthur, Texas, Gonsoulin had a standout playing career at Baylor University. He was picked in the second round of the 1960 American Football League draft by the Dallas Texans, who shipped him to the Broncos in the team's first trade.

Known as an "Original Bronco," Gonsoulin had 11 interceptions his rookie season, which remains a Broncos record. He led Denver in interceptions four times during his career and finished his Broncos career as the AFL's all-time leader in interceptions with 43.

Gonsoulin dished out plenty of bone-jarring hits and absorbed quite a few. He once said the toughest hit he ever received was when he tried to tackle Houston Oilers running back Billy Cannon on a swing pass. Gonsoulin went low and hit his helmet on Cannon's knee. Not only was Gonsoulin knocked out, he swallowed his tongue.

He was choking on the field and yet no one could pry open his jaws. Just when trainers were ready to break his teeth to save him, teammate Bud McFadin rushed over and forced his mouth open enough to retrieve Gonsoulin's tongue. Two days later, Gonsoulin was back on the field.

He ended up with several lasting ailments from his playing days. His collarbone jutted out from an injury that didn't heal properly and his knees constantly ached. He also suffered numerous concussions.

"A lot of times you hit someone hard and you'd be dazed on sideline," said Gonsoulin, who operated a construction company after his football career. "They'd be like, 'What's your name? Where are you from?' You simply take some smelling salts and go back in.

"I really loved the game. I had so much fun playing."

Magda Olivero

Italian soprano known for Puccini roles made Met debut at age 65

Italian soprano Magda Olivero, 104, one of the most prominent interpreters of the Italian verismo operatic tradition whose career spanned 50 years, died Monday in a Milan hospital, where she was admitted after a stroke last month, according to the ANSA news agency.

The Milan opera house La Scala, where Olivero debuted in 1938, honored her memory with a moment of silence before a performance Monday. La Scala described Olivero's voice as charismatic, her acting as formidable and her intelligence as "ready and cutting until the end."

Born in 1910 in Saluzzo, a small town in northeast Italy, Olivero had her theatre debut in 1933 in Turin.

An established artist by the second half of the 1930s, Olivero intended to retire after her 1941 marriage to Italo-German industrialist Also Busch. But she returned to the stage in 1958 in the title role of "Adriana Lecouvreur" at the urging of the opera's composer Francesco Cilea. It became one of her most memorable roles.

Known also as a Puccini specialist, Olivero debuted at New York's Metropolitan Opera in 1975 at the age of 65 as Tosca. Her last stage appearance was in 1981, but Olivero continued to make recordings and sing in public until a few years ago. In 2009, her voice still sparkled as she sang the aria "Paolo, datemi pace" from the opera "Francesca da Rimini" at an event in Milan.

John D. Kendall

Times reporter contributed to Pulitzer-winning coverage of Watts riots

John D. Kendall, 86, a news reporter who covered the Watts riots, the Charles Manson trial and numerous other local events over a 27-year career with the Los Angeles Times, died Friday at a hospice in West Covina from complications of Parkinson's disease, said his daughter Lisa Peterson.

Kendall joined the Times in 1964 and initially worked as a news editor and assistant city editor before becoming a general assignment reporter. Among his assignments were the trials of Charles Manson and his followers charged with the gruesome 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others. In "Helter Skelter," the best-selling nonfiction retelling of the murders, investigation and legal proceedings, co-authors Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry praised Kendall along with Herald Examiner reporter Bill Farr for their accurate accounts of the sensational trials, writing that they "did an excellent job, often catching little nuances even the attorneys missed."

Kendall became The Times' Riverside-San Bernardino bureau chief in 1978 and retired in 1991. He received several Times editorial awards for his writing and was among the Metro staff members honored with a collective Pulitzer Prize in 1966 for coverage of the Watts riots.

He was born June 20, 1928, in Craig County, Oklahoma, and graduated from USC with a journalism degree in 1951. He worked at the Los Angeles Examiner, Alhambra Post-Advocate, Stars and Stripes, the San Gabriel Valley Daily Tribune and United Press International before arriving at The Times.

Noel Hinners

Former NASA scientist helped plan Apollo, Mars Surveyor programs

Noel Hinners, 78, a former chief scientist for NASA who helped plan the scientific exploration of the moon for the Apollo program and later oversaw projects such as the Mars Surveyor Program, died Friday in Littleton, Colo, after battling a brain tumor, said his brother Bill.

Hinners began his space career in 1963 by helping plan the lunar exploration while working for Bellcom Inc. He worked on the Apollo program until 1972, when he became the space agency's director of lunar programs.

Hinners served as director of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., from 1979 to 1982 before becoming director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. He retired from NASA as its third-ranking executive in 1989.

At Lockheed Martin Corp., Hinners was a vice president of flight systems whose responsibilities included NASA's Mars Surveyor Program and Stardust, the first program dedicated to exploring a comet.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Christmas Day, 1935, Hinners received his bachelor's degree from Rutgers University in 1958, a master's from Caltech in 1960 and a doctorate in geochemistry from Princeton University in 1961.

 

Times staff and wire reports

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