PASSINGS: Elisa Rishwain, Rhonda Copelon, Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, Rollin 'Molly' Sanders, Norman Hand

Elisa Rishwain

Luxury shoe designer


, 65, who designed luxury shoes under the Elisa Ferare nameplate, died April 25 at her home in Los Angeles after a three-year battle with cancer, her son Brian said.

Born in Stockton on Oct. 28, 1944, to Italian immigrants Stefano and Jennie Ferrari, she operated the Giovanna Ferrari women's clothing boutique in Stockton.

In 1988, after divorcing, she and her three children moved to Los Angeles, where she engaged in a range of activities that included interior design, opening an antique furniture store, opening a clothing and jewelry boutique, and acting.

Rishwain often took her store-bought shoes to a Los Angeles cobbler to have the silhouettes, fabrics and hardware tweaked to fit her personal taste, frequently using the sort of luxe fabrics and trims more commonly found in the world of interior design.

In 2003, she parlayed this penchant for customized footwear into the

line of handmade in America footwear that would routinely juxtapose fabrics such as crushed velvet, python, suede and vintage animal prints.

The shoes were carried by a number of high-end retail shops including Maxfield, Madison and Fred Segal Santa Monica locally, Jeffrey in New York and Neiman Marcus.

Rhonda Copelon

Human rights attorney

Rhonda Copelon, 65, a human rights attorney who helped open U.S. courts to victims of international abuses, especially involving violence against women, died of ovarian cancer May 6, City University of New York announced. She was a professor at the university's law school from 1983 until retiring in 2009.

Copelon co-founded the International Women's Rights Clinic at the law school and was a vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a nonprofit organization founded by attorneys representing the civil rights movement.

Copelon played a key role in Filartiga vs. Pena-Irala, a Supreme Court case that established that human rights abuses committed abroad could be addressed by U.S. courts. She also argued unsuccessfully in Harris vs. McRae, in which the Supreme Court narrowly upheld prohibiting Medicaid reimbursement for most abortions. Both decisions were announced on the same day in 1980.


In the Filartiga case, the high court ruled that a physician from Paraguay and his daughter could sue a police official in U.S. federal court for the torture and murder of the physician's son.

Copelon was born Sept. 15, 1944, in New Haven, Conn. She earned a bachelor's degree at Bryn Mawr College in 1966 and a law degree at Yale University in 1970.

Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert

Anti-apartheid activist

Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, 70, who helped South Africa chart a peaceful way out of apartheid by leading fellow whites into talks with exiled black leaders, died Friday, the Institute for Democracy in Africa announced. No cause of death was given.

Van Zyl Slabbert, who was born March 2, 1940, in Pretoria, was the rugby-playing son of conservative Afrikaners, the descendants of early Dutch settlers known for their commitment to apartheid.

In 1987, Van Zyl Slabbert led a delegation of white South Africans to Senegal to meet the African National Congress, which was banned in South Africa at the time but is now the governing party.

The white government labeled Van Zyl Slabbert's group traitors. In a statement Friday, President Jacob Zuma said Van Zyl Slabbert showed "courage and foresight" by going to Senegal.

Van Zyl Slabbert represented the liberal Progressive Federal Party, a predecessor to the Democratic Alliance, in parliament during the apartheid years. He resigned as party leader and left parliament in 1985, during a crackdown on black activists, saying the whites-only legislature was no longer relevant.

Rollin 'Molly' Sanders

Automotive graphic designer

Rollin "Molly" Sanders, 66, who turned a hobby of painting cars and motorcycles into a business that created logos, graphics and color schemes for a variety of vehicles, died of cancer April 19 at his home in Costa Mesa, said his wife, Terry.

Sanders' graphic and industrial design firm, Molly Designs, worked with such companies as General Motors, Kawasaki, Toyota and Yamaha. He developed

such color schemes as "Kawasaki green" and "Yamaha yellow" and was involved in the development of the logo for the Lexus.

His wife said one of his first high-profile clients was race car driver and owner Dan Gurney.

Sanders was born July 15, 1943, in La Habra. He started painting cars as a teenager and opened Paint by Molly in 1965. He painted motorcycles for dealers in Southern California, then was hired by Kawasaki and later Yamaha to provide graphic designs.

Norman Hand,

a former defensive tackle for several NFL teams, died Friday after collapsing at his South Carolina home. He was 37. Hand suffered from heart disease, Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey said Saturday. The athlete played for the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, San Diego Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.

— Times staff and wire reports