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In passing

Sun., March 6, 2005

R. Gregory Stevens, GOP adviser, 42

Beverly Hills, Calif. Republican media adviser R. Gregory Stevens, recently co-chairman of the Bush/Cheney Entertainment Task Force, died in a guest room at the home of longtime friend and actress Carrie Fisher. He was 42.

Stevens was found dead by Fisher Feb. 26, officials said.

Stevens, an associate with the Washington lobbying group Barbour Griffith & Rogers, specialized in foreign campaign consulting and advised candidates in 24 international elections, according to his biography on the Barbour Griffith & Rogers Web site.

During President Bush’s re-election run last year, Stevens managed the campaign’s relationships with entertainment industry leaders and film, television and music celebrities.

He served as director of Entertainment Outreach for the 2001 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Rev. Walter Halloran, exorcism participant

Wauwatosa, Wis. The Rev. Walter Halloran, who took part in an exorcism that spawned the book and movie “The Exorcist,” died Tuesday night at a Jesuit retirement home, officials there said. He was 83.

He was the last living Jesuit who assisted in the 1949 exorcism at a psychiatric unit in St. Louis.

Halloran was a 27-year-old Jesuit scholastic at Saint Louis University when a priest called him to the psychiatric wing at Alexian Brothers Hospital.

The Rev. William S. Bowdern was trying to help a 14-year-old boy who he believed was possessed by a demon, and he needed a strong man to help control the boy. A third Jesuit, the Rev. William Van Roo, also was there.

A three-paragraph news account of the incident inspired William Peter Blatty to write his 1971 best seller, “The Exorcist,” which led to the movie a few years later. Blatty’s story featured a 12-year-old girl.

Halloran earned two Bronze Stars for serving as a paratrooper chaplain during the Vietnam War, the oldest airborne chaplain at the time at 48. Halloran would later teach at Saint Louis University and was named its director of national alumni relations in 1972.

U.S. District Judge Robert Renner, 81

Roseville, Minn. U.S. District Judge Robert Renner, who presided over the trial of a lawsuit over a birth-control device and also had a career as a U.S. attorney and state legislator, died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack, his wife said. He was 81.

Renner served in the Minnesota House from 1957 to 1969. He chaired the Government Operations Committee and co-sponsored a bill creating the state’s public-defender system.

Renner was appointed by President Nixon in 1969 to be U.S. attorney for Minnesota.

Renner later became a U.S. magistrate, an official who helps with the work of federal court, and in 1980 was named a federal judge by President Carter.

In 1988, Renner presided over the case of a Minnesota woman who claimed using a Copper-7 intrauterine device made by G.D. Searle & Co. caused her infertility. A jury awarded the woman more than $8 million.

Searchers drummer Chris Curtis, 63

London Chris Curtis, drummer with the British band The Searchers that briefly rivaled The Beatles in the 1960s, died Monday. He was 63.

Band members said Curtis, whose real name was Christopher Crummey, was found dead at his home in Liverpool after a long illness. The exact cause of death was not disclosed.

Formed in the same rough-and-ready Liverpool club scene as The Beatles and named after a Western by John Ford, The Searchers briefly rivaled the Fab Four for popularity. After The Beatles’ success made Liverpool acts a hot property, The Searchers were signed by Pye Records.

The band scored international hits with “Needles and Pins,” “Sugar and Spice” and “Don’t Throw Your Love Away.” Curtis played drums and contributed to the band’s distinctive vocal harmonies.

Curtis left The Searchers in 1966, but the band carried on, with several lineup changes. In recent years, members engaged in acrimonious legal battles over the right to the group’s name.

Curtis later joined Roundabout, which evolved, after his departure, into hard rock behemoth Deep Purple.

Curtis eventually worked as a civil servant until poor health forced him to retire.


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