March 2, 2008 in Nation/World

In Passing: Barbara Seaman, health activist

The Spokesman-Review
 

Barbara Seaman, a writer and activist who challenged the safety of hormone replacement therapy and early oral contraceptives and became a central figure in the women’s health movement, died Wednesday at her home in Manhattan. She had lung cancer. She was 72.

The health movement of the 1970s urged women to educate themselves about their bodies and demand more control over their medical care. Seaman helped shepherd the movement by raising important, often overlooked questions about adequate testing for drugs.

She was also credited with helping to create the concept of patients’ rights, particularly “informed consent” and proper warning labels on drugs.

Over time, she proved correct about the dangers of high doses of the female hormone estrogen in the earliest oral contraceptives. She also denounced hormone replacement therapy, which for decades was promoted as a magic bullet to keep menopausal women young and sexy,

Vivian Pinn, a pathologist who directs the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Research on Women’s Health, said Seaman felt “vindicated” by the Women’s Health Initiative study, for which she was an unofficial consultant.

“She was an advocate who challenged anyone she needed to challenge, including me, and recognized the importance of science” – not just ideology – “in responding to questions she raised,” Pinn said.

J. Allison Conley, FBI inspector

J. Allison Conley, a retired FBI inspector and deputy assistant director who worked on several famous kidnapping cases in the 1960s and 1970s, died Feb. 21 at Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey of complications from hip replacement surgery. He was 84.

Conley chased down leads into the kidnappings of Adolph Coors III, the Coors beer scion who was killed, and Frank Sinatra Jr., the singer’s son, who was released for a ransom, in the 1960s. In the late 1960s and mid-1970s, Conley played supervisory roles in the cases involving the abductions of Barbara Jane Mackle, the heiress who spent three days underground in a fiberglass box, and Patty Hearst, the newspaper publishing magnate’s daughter who ultimately joined her captors from the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Interviewing and talking to people came naturally to him, said son Derek James Conley, of Westfield, N.J. “He would always strike up conversations with people, complete strangers,” Conley said. “He was always interested in people’s backgrounds and how they got where they were.”

Boyd Coddington, hot-rod designer

Boyd Coddington, a renowned Southern California hot-rod and custom car designer and builder who starred in the cable reality TV series “American Hot Rod,” has died. He was 63.

Coddington, a longtime diabetic, died Wednesday at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier of complications of a recent surgery, said publicist Brad Fanshaw.

Once described by Hot Rod magazine senior editor Gray Baskerville as “the Stradivarius of car building,” Coddington was a onetime maintenance repairman and machinist at Disneyland who customized cars and built hot rods at home in his off-hours before opening Hot Rods by Boyd in Stanton in 1978.

“His cars set the standards for custom automotive design because rather than just take a selection of parts from other vehicles, he would design and manufacture virtually every part for the cars that he built,” said Fanshaw, former president of Hot Rods by Boyd and Boyds Wheels.

Dan Shomron, Entebbe rescuer

Former Israeli military chief Dan Shomron, the paratrooper who commanded the famed 1976 hostage rescue at Entebbe airport in Uganda, died Tuesday from the effects of a stroke. He was 70.

He never recovered after being rushed to Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv on Feb. 5, hospital spokeswoman Aviva Shemer said.

Israeli leaders remembered Shomron as one of the greatest military minds in the country’s 60-year history.

“Dan Shomron was a brave-hearted warrior who left his stamp on the fighting spirit of the Israeli army, with some of the most daring operations in its history, ” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a statement. “His death is a loss to the whole of Israeli society”

Born on a kibbutz collective farm near the Sea of Galilee in 1937, Shomron enlisted as a paratrooper in 1955 and fought in the Sinai war the following year, when British, French and Israeli troops invaded Egypt after it nationalized the Suez Canal.

The 1967 Middle East War saw him back in the Sinai fighting Egyptian troops again.

Promoted to brigadier general in 1974, he was put in command of Israel’s paratroopers and infantry. It was in that post that he oversaw the daring Entebbe mission in 1976. His commandos landed at the Ugandan airport under cover of darkness and freed more than 100 airline passengers who had been held hostage by Palestinian and German hijackers for a week.

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