February 3, 2008 in Nation/World

In Passing

The Spokesman-Review
 
The Spokesman-Review photo

Butz
(Full-size photo)

Washington

Earl Butz, Cabinet member

Earl L. Butz, an outspoken U.S. agriculture secretary forced from office in 1976 for making a racist joke and once a dean at Purdue University, died Saturday. He was 98.

Butz died at his son’s home in Washington, D.C. Randy Woodson, dean of Purdue’s College of Agriculture, said Butz had been in poor health recently.

The free-market advocate had a relaxed and earthy style that won him acclaim as an after-dinner speaker but caused problems in his public life.

Controversy began swirling around Butz after President Nixon appointed him secretary of agriculture in 1971. The farm economist figured in public disputes ranging from foreign grain sales to high meat prices.

He was forced to resign in October 1976 after telling an obscene joke that was derogatory to blacks.

The slur was overheard by John Dean, the former counsel to Nixon who was jailed in the Watergate scandal, and Dean’s report on it was published in Rolling Stone magazine.

Rectortown, Va.

Dwight Hemion, TV producer

Dwight Hemion, a television director and producer best known for his musical specials who won 18 Emmy awards and was nominated a record 47 times, died Monday at his home in Rectortown, Va. He was 81.

The cause was renal failure.

In television specials starring Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Mikhail Baryshnikov and many other world-class performers, Hemion and his partner, producer Gary Smith, captured popular and critical acclaim.

Hemion began collecting television’s top prize in 1965 with an Emmy for “My Name is Barbra.” He worked with Streisand a number of times after that and earned Emmys for other specials including “Color Me Barbra” in 1966 and, most recently, “Barbra Streisand The Concert” in 1995.

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