Vi Graham; Teacher and Social Worker
Vi Graham, 81, teacher and social worker dedicated to providing continuing education for adults. Born Vi Thies in Staten Island, N.Y., she earned a degree in social work at UCLA, where she established a dormitory for non-sorority women. Before her 1941 marriage to high school sweetheart Willard Graham, a picture of the two of them at a dance appeared in Life magazine. After raising their children, Vi Graham earned a teaching degree at USC and taught and tutored reading in the Torrance School district. An avid tennis player, Graham founded the Palos Verdes Tennis Club, and in 1992 was a finalist in the U.S. Tennis Assn. National Women’s 75+ Clay Court Championships. Always a civic and educational leader, she helped develop several chapters of the League of Women Voters and the American Assn. of University Women. In 1955, she organized the Palos Verdes Peninsula Great Books Club, one of the oldest clubs in the Chicago-based Great Books Foundation. More recently, she became well-known for founding and working with the Palos Verdes Peninsula chapter of Omnilore, a continuing education program for retirees affiliated with California State University and the Elderhostel Institute Network. A world traveler, Graham was stricken on a cruise around Cape Horn in South America. On Dec. 26 in Santiago, Chile, of an aortal aneurysm.
Hurd Hatfield; Actor Starred in ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’
Hurd Hatfield, 80, American-born actor in England best known for portraying the title character in “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” William Rukard Hurd Hatfield was born in New York City and went to England to study acting at the Chekhov Theater Studio in Devonshire. He acted in more than 20 films and scores of television programs and stage plays. But he was forever associated with his starring role in the 1945 movie of Oscar Wilde’s haunting novel about the man who remained young while his portrait aged. Forty years after the film won an Academy Award for cinematography, Hatfield referred to his Dorian Gray part as “that accursed role.” On Friday in Monkstown, Ireland.
Keisuke Kinoshita; Japanese Film Director
Keisuke Kinoshita, 86, prominent Japanese director whose films dealt with social problems. Born in Hamamatsu in central Japan, Kinoshita joined a major Japanese movie company, Shochiku Co., in 1933. He became known for his signature long, panoramic shots that established the setting for his films. Kinoshita made his directing debut in 1943 with “The Port Where Flowers Bloom” and was best known for “Twenty-Four Eyes,” which won Japan’s Kinema Jumpo Award as best film of 1954. Among his films were “Carmen Comes Home” in 1951, “The Ballad of Narayama” in 1958 and “Impulse Murder, My Son” in 1976. Kinoshita was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, gold rays with rosette, from the Japanese government in 1984 for his contributions to the film industry. On Wednesday in Tokyo.
Dean Brown McNealy; Board of Equalization Official
Dean Brown McNealy, 92, key official with the California Board of Equalization. Born in Paris to a singer and an organist, McNealy was a musical prodigy but opted for a career in government. He studied at the University of Chicago and Stanford and later earned a law degree at USC. McNealy served as a political advisor to Herbert Hoover during his presidential campaign, and later worked in campaigns for Richard M. Nixon and Goodwin Knight. McNealy ran unsuccessfully for state senator in 1950. While working for the Board of Equalization, McNealy rewrote the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, giving officers greater regulatory powers. During World War II, he served as Army adjutant general in Brazil, where he acted as war loan officer and was sent to Italy with the Brazilian Army. He earned the Medalha de Guerra, Brazil’s highest military decoration for a foreigner. He also attained the rank of major and was awarded a Bronze Star among other U.S. decorations. In later years, McNealy worked as an official at the San Francisco Veterans Administration. On Nov. 30 in Escondido.
Hans Oeschger; Pioneer in Climate Research
Hans Oeschger, 71, climate researcher who warned of the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate. With his research into climate changes that occurred over thousands of years, Oeschger showed that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere had increased over the last two centuries. He conducted his research by analyzing air bubbles trapped in layers of polar ice in Greenland and Antarctica, and developed new methods for extracting data from the ice, including radiocarbon dating. He also invented the Oeschger counter, a device for measuring small quantities of natural radiation. After studying physics at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, Oeschger obtained a doctorate from the University of Bern in 1955. He became a professor at the university, and in 1992 was made professor emeritus of physics. Oeschger was honored for his work last December by the American Geophysical Union. In 1996, he received USC’s Tyler Prize. On Friday in Bern, Switzerland.
Daniel E. Patt; Pianist and Bandleader
Daniel E. “Danny” Patt, 86, pianist whose band appeared on the cover of Life magazine. The cover photo in 1938 showed Patt and his Maine Lumberjacks entertaining President Franklin D. Roosevelt at a picnic. Patt also performed for Roosevelt in the White House. The pianist began his career at age 12 playing background music for silent movies. He had recently recorded background piano music for use with revivals of silent films. On Dec. 24 in Portland, Maine.
Raemer Schreiber; Atomic Physicist
Raemer Schreiber, 88, physicist who helped assemble plutonium cores for the atomic bomb. Schreiber worked on the Manhattan Project, which set off the first atomic bomb, nicknamed “The Gadget,” in the New Mexico desert July 16, 1945, and built the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki the next month. Schreiber belonged to the crew entrusted with one of the most delicate steps leading to the first test blast--placing the plutonium core into a cylindrical uranium container. The assembled bomb was raised to the top of a tower where a separate crew attached the detonators. Schreiber personally escorted the plutonium core of “Fat Man,” the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, to the Pacific Island of Tinian, where he helped assemble it. Educated at Purdue University, Schreiber began working at Los Alamos in 1943 and remained at Los Alamos National Laboratory after the war. He retired in 1974. On Thursday in Los Alamos, N.M.
Gaetano Vella; N. Calif. Cheese Executive
Gaetano “Tom” Vella, 100, who was credited with developing the Italian-style cheese industry in Northern California and southern Oregon more than 60 years ago. Vella was founder and owner of the Vella Cheese Co. in Sonoma and the Rogue River Valley Cheese factory in Central Point, Ore. Those factories make cheese for Borden, Kraft and other companies. Vella was born in Comitni, Sicily, and moved to the Sonoma Valley in 1922 to join his older brother. In the early 1930s, he opened a creamery in Sonoma and in 1935 he opened another in Oregon. In addition to being a cheese maker, he was a financier who developed a bank mortgage system that encouraged farmers to buy cows and make payments from regular milk production. At the height of the business, he was supervising four factories in California and two in Oregon. For more than 50 years, he commuted every two weeks between the two states. On Dec. 22 in Sonoma.