Lives


Joe Black, 78, the Brooklyn Dodger who in 1952 became the first Black pitcher to win a World Series game, died May 17 at the Life Care Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. He had prostate cancer.

George Cooper, 85, one of the first Black men to become an officer in the U.S. Navy, died May 20 at a retirement center in Centerville, Ohio. He had been ill for some time. During World War II, civil rights groups pressured the Navy, which had about 100,000 Black sailors and no Black officers, to open their ranks. As a result, 13 Blacks received officer commissions in 1944. Cooper's death leaves three surviving members of the group.

Justin Dart Jr., 71, a champion of the rights of the disabled, died of respiratory failure at his home in Washington, D.C., June 22. Regarded as one of the fathers of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Dart held several government posts, including, from 1989 to 1993, chairman of the president's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. In 1998, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. Dart, who used a wheelchair, was struck with polio at 18 and lost the use of his legs to paralysis.

Three Tuskegee Airmen recently passed away. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., 89, who commanded the Tuskegee pilots in World War II and became the first Black general in the Air Force, died July 4 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. (see additional Davis coverage on page 50). Robert O'Neil, 80, a World War II fighter pilot who fought his way out of enemy-held France after being shot down, died June 18 in South Riding, Va. He had cancer. O'Neil, a native of Detroit, was a 1st lieutenant and was decorated with an Air Medal. Bertram Wadsworth Wilson, 81, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel drowned July 9 in Ashford, Conn. …

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