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Leonard M. Greene, 88; aviation safety pioneer...

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Leonard M. Greene, 88; aviation safety pioneer held 200-plus patents

Leonard M. Greene, 88, an inventor and pioneer in aviation safety who developed an instrument that would warn a pilot that a plane was about to stall, died Nov. 30 of cancer at a hospital in White Plains, N.Y.

According to the New York Times obituary of Greene, the device he developed gives an audible alert to a pilot when an aircraft is in danger of not having the required lift to maintain altitude.

A native of New York City, Greene earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at City College of New York. He was an aerodynamicist and engineering test pilot for Grumman before founding Safe Flight Instrument in White Plains, the Times obituary reported.

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Greene, who held more than 200 patents, was also a co-founder of the Corporate Angel Network, which arranges free rides on corporate aircraft for cancer patients.

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William J. Dignam, 86; UCLA professor of obstetrics, gynecology

Dr. William J. Dignam, 86, a founding member of UCLA’s department of obstetrics and gynecology and a former senior associate dean for academic affairs at what is now the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, died Dec. 5 at UCLA Medical Center. The cause of death was not announced.

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“Dr. Dignam was an outstanding and gifted teacher and clinician who was a role model to many,” said Dr. Gautam Chaudhuri, executive chairman of the obstetrics department.

Born in Manchester, N.H., Dignam graduated from Dartmouth in 1941 and earned his medical degree from Harvard in 1943. After he finished his internship, he was a lieutenant in the Navy Medical Corps and later the Naval Reserve.

He completed a residency program in obstetrics and gynecology and another in endocrinology before becoming an instructor at UC San Francisco. He joined the UCLA faculty in 1953 as an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. He was named an associate professor in 1959, a full professor in 1966 and an emeritus professor in 1991.

According to UCLA, Dignam once estimated that he was the attending physician at 30,000 births.

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Clarence ‘Del’ Smith, 86; official pilot for California governors

Clarence “Del” Smith, 86, a World War II aviator who became the official pilot for several California governors, died Dec. 9 of natural causes in Roseville, Calif.

Smith flew California One, the official state plane used by Govs. Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight and Pat Brown. He got the job when he was approached at Van Nuys Airport by Warren, who needed a flight to Sacramento. He became Warren’s personal pilot on a converted cargo plane nicknamed “The Grizzly” for the state bear painted on the aircraft’s nose.

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Born and raised in Los Angeles, Smith flew for the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

After the war, he joined the California Air National Guard as a captain and in 1965 was named an assistant adjutant general. He retired in 1968 as a brigadier general.

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Larry Zox, 69; artist known for hard-edged abstract paintings

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Larry Zox, 69, a painter known for his work in the color field movement of the 1960s, died of cancer Saturday at his home in Colchester, Conn.

The artist’s work involved splicing a color field to create the impression of shifting planes, an approach that produced what critic Robert Hughes once described as “the most openly decorative, anxiety-free, socially indifferent canvases in the history of American art.”

Zox was known for hard-edged abstract paintings, which were showcased in major museums, including a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1973.

In a review of a 2005 show of his work at New York’s Stephen Haller Gallery, Edward Leffingwell wrote in Art in America, “Larry Zox’s geometric abstractions of the 1960s are as probing and engaging today as they ever were.”

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Born May 31, 1937, in Des Moines, Zox studied at the University of Oklahoma, Drake University and the Des Moines Art Center, where he trained under noted German artist George Grosz.

Zox was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a National Council of the Arts award and served as an artist-in-residence at Dartmouth, the University of North Carolina and Yale.

His studio on 20th Street in New York was known in the 1970s as a gathering spot for an eclectic crowd of artists, boxers and bikers.


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