PASSINGS: Burt Styler, Maria Gomes Valentim, Robert Benson


Burt Styler

Emmy-winning TV writer

Burt Styler, 86, an Emmy-winning TV writer who had a long association with Bob Hope, died of heart failure June 13 at Providence Tarzana Medical Center, his family said.


Styler won an Emmy in 1972 for an episode of “All in the Family” called “Edith’s Problem,” in which Jean Stapleton’s character dealt with menopause. He had a long career writing for television, with credits in such series as “The Life of Riley,” “My Favorite Martian,” “The Brady Bunch” and “The Carol Burnett Show.”

Styler was born Feb. 20, 1925, in New York City. He enlisted in the Army during World War II and fought in France after the D-day invasion.

Later in the war, Styler was writing for the Armed Forces Network in Paris when he met Hope, who was in France to entertain the troops. After the war, Styler wrote a monologue for Hope and was hired as a writer.

Styler wrote for Hope’s radio show and some of his TV programs, and his film credits included the Hope movies “Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number!” in 1966 and “Eight on the Lam” in 1967.

Maria Gomes Valentim

World’s oldest person

Maria Gomes Valentim, 114, a Brazilian woman known as Grandma Quita who was the world’s oldest person according to Guinness World Records, died of multiple organ failure Tuesday at a hospital in her native town of Carangola, her family said. She would have turned 115 on July 9.

Born in 1896, Valentim attributed her longevity to a healthy diet, including “a full roll of bread every morning with coffee, fruit and the occasional milk with linseed,” according to Guinness World Records. Until the end of her life, she could eat on her own, enjoyed spicy food and indulged in an occasional glass of wine.

“Grandma Quita” was the oldest of six children, and all her siblings died before her. She married at age 16, in 1913, and had only one child, who also died. Her husband died in 1946, and she never remarried.

Besse Cooper, 114, of Georgia is now recognized as the oldest person in the world.

Robert Benson

Loyola Law School professor

Robert Benson, 69, a longtime professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, died of chronic lung disease Thursday at his home in Calabasas, his family said.

Benson’s courses included environmental law, public interest law and the law of global warming. One of his longtime interests was trying to simplify language used by lawyers and government officials. “Complicated legal language helps powerful people have an unfair advantage over people who aren’t powerful,” he told The Times in 1981.

He retired in 2007 but continued to teach part time until last year.

Robert Wayne Benson was born May 23, 1942, in Canton, Ohio. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1964 and a law degree from UC Berkeley in 1968. He joined Loyola in 1973 after working for the Connecticut Department of Community Affairs and as an attorney in Washington, D.C.

In the late 1970s, Benson was a member of the committee that selected architect Frank Gehry to design the law school’s campus in downtown Los Angeles. Gehry later designed Benson’s home in Calabasas.

Benson’s books included “Challenging Corporate Rule” in 1999. He also wrote regularly about wine, including the 1977 book “Great Winemakers of California.”

—Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports