PASSINGS: Dr. Kenneth Edelin, Benjamin Curtis, Johnny Orr

 PASSINGS: Dr. Kenneth Edelin, Benjamin Curtis, Johnny Orr
Dr. Kenneth C. Edelin, left, with attorney William P. Homans Jr. in 1975. (Associated Press)

Dr. Kenneth Edelin

Physician in 1970s


landmark abortion case

Dr. Kenneth Edelin, 74, a Boston physician who was at the center of a landmark abortion case in the 1970s, died Monday in Sarasota, Fla. He had cancer, said his wife, Barbara.

Edelin made national headlines when he was convicted of manslaughter in 1975 for performing an abortion. That was two years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the procedure with its decision on Roe vs. Wade.

According to NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Massachusetts Supreme Court later overturned Edelin's guilty verdict in a case that helped legally define what an abortion is and when human life begins.

Edelin went on to become an outspoken activist and spokesman for reproductive rights, the defense fund said. He also served as a chairman of the board of Planned Parenthood. Edelin joined the defense fund's senior board in 1986.

Edelin was the first black person to become chief resident of the department of obstetrics and gynecology in the history of Boston City Hospital, according to the defense fund.

Born March 31, 1939, in Washington, D.C., he received a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and a medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. He served in the Air Force before joining the staff of Boston City Hospital.

In the book "Broken Justice: A True Story of Race, Sex and Revenge in a Boston Courtroom," Edelin recounted the experiences of his criminal case.

"At the center of this book are the rights of women to control their own bodies, and the rights of doctors to perform legitimate and legal medical procedures," Edelin wrote. "For me, the struggles for reproductive rights for women and civil rights for African Americans are intertwined and at the same time parallel. The denial of these two rights is an attempt by some to control the bodies of others. Both are forms of slavery. We must never let slavery in any form return to America."

Benjamin Curtis

Guitarist for indie-rock

band School of Seven Bells

Benjamin Curtis, 35, guitarist and co-founder of the popular indie-rock band School of Seven Bells, died Sunday of lymphoblastic lymphoma at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, just under a year after his diagnosis. Brady Brock with New York-based GoldVE Entertainment, which co-manages the band, confirmed his death.

An Oklahoma native, Curtis grew up in Dallas, where he played with various local acts before he and his brother Brandon co-founded the rock trio Secret Machines, which rose to national acclaim with its 2004 debut LP "Now Here Is Nowhere."

In 2007, he left that group and started School of Seven Bells in New York with twin sister vocalists Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. The group's 2008 debut LP "Alpinisms," for the indie label Ghostly International, won wide praise for its mix of ethereal vocals, heavily distorted guitars and atmospheric electronics.

The band moved to the Los Angeles label Vagrant Records for its 2010 album, "Disconnect From Desire," and released its final LP, "Ghostory," in 2012, with Alejandra Deheza as the sole lead vocalist.

Johnny Orr

Basketball coach at

Michigan, Iowa State

Johnny Orr, 86, the college basketball coach who led Michigan to the national championship game and Iowa State into national prominence, died Tuesday, according to Iowa State.

The energetic and charismatic Orr spent 29 seasons as a Division I coach, finishing with a record of 466-346 and making 10 NCAA tournament appearances.

He spent 12 seasons at Michigan, from 1968-1980, and guided the Wolverines to four NCAA tournament berths, the national title game in 1976 and 209 wins. He was twice named Big Ten's coach of the year.

At Iowa State, where he coached from 1980 until 1994, Orr led the Cyclones to 218 victories. He guided the program to its first NCAA tournament berth in 41 years in 1985, and followed that up with four more tournament appearances.

Orr was born June 10, 1927, in Yale, Kan., and grew up in Taylorville, Ill. He played football and basketball at the University of Illinois before serving in the Navy. Returning from the military, he attended Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he was a two-time All-American in basketball.

Orr coached for three seasons at Massachusetts before becoming an assistant coach at Michigan.

Times staff and wire reports