Steve Thoburn


Categories: Business

sthoburn.jpgSteve Thoburn, a greengrocer in Sunderland, England, earned the nickname the “Metric Martyr” in 2001 when he refused to sell his wares using the metric system.
For selling bananas by the pound, Thoburn’s scales were seized by Trading Standards officers and used in his prosecution. European Union rules adopted by the British Parliament allow fruit and vegetables to be labeled in both metric and imperial measures, but all produce must be sold in grams and kilograms only.
Thoburn was found guilty of breaching the Weights and Measures Act and given a conditional six-month discharge. He and four other British vendors appealed the conviction to the House of Lords, but ultimately lost their two-year legal battle.
Thoburn left school when he was 16 and joined the family fruit and vegetable business. He opened his own shop in Southwick market in 1989, where he worked six days a week.
Britain’s most famous fruit vendor died on March 14 from heart failure. He was 39.


Jorge Guinle


Categories: Hollywood

Jorge Guinle, a once-wealthy playboy who romanced several movie stars, died in poverty on March 5 after refusing to undergo surgery to remove an aneurysm in his aorta. He was 88.
Heir to one of Brazil’s wealthiest families, Guinle moved to Hollywood in the 1940s. He took a job reviewing scripts set in Brazil for accuracy, and spent his off-hours partying with movie stars like Orson Welles and Ronald Reagan. He even shared an apartment with Errol Flynn.
Known as “Jorginho,” the suave Guinle bragged in interviews and in his memoir, “A Century of the Good Life,” about his romantic liaisons with Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner, Veronica Lake, Marilyn Monroe and several other beautiful starlets. Although he was married three times, Guinle earned a reputation as a playboy who threw lavish champagne parties until he squandered his entire fortune. He spent his final years living off a government pension.
“The secret of living well is to die without a cent in your pocket. But I miscalculated, and the money ran out too early,” Guinle once said.


Les Gray


Categories: Musicians

lgray.jpgThomas Lesley Gray, the lead singer of 1970s glam rock group Mud, died on Feb. 21 from a heart attack. He was 57.

Gray played the trumpet in his school band and joined a traditional jazz band when he was 12 years old. He later wrote commercials for an advertising agency and played in a skiffle group called The Mourners with his younger brother, Pete.

In 1966, Gray, drummer Dave Mount, bassist Ray Stiles and guitarist Rob Davis formed Mud. The band won a talent contest and appeared on “The Basil Brush Show,” then toured Great Britain as the opening act for Jack Jones. Mud produced more than a dozen hit singles, including the chart-toppers “Lonely This Christmas,” “Tiger Feet” and “Oh Boy.” “Tiger Feet” was the biggest-selling single of 1974.

The band split up three years later, and Gray launched a solo career. He released five singles between 1977 and 1982, and toured as Les Gray’s Mud. In 1981, he also recorded “Rock on Elvis” under the name Tulsa McLean.

After smoking 50 cigarettes a day, Gray spent his final years battling throat cancer. Although doctors wanted to remove his voicebox, he opted for chemotherapy instead.

Watch Classic Mud Video Clips


Edward Zubler


Categories: Military, Scientists

Edward G. Zubler once had a bright idea.

After doing six years of research at General Electric, he developed the halogen lamp in 1959. Zubler and his team of engineers improved standard incandescent light bulbs by adding a halogen gas. The halogen recycled tungsten deposits, creating a brighter, longer-lasting light bulb. Halogen lamps are mostly used in automobile headlights, floodlights and in studio lighting.

For his work in advancing lighting technology, Zubler earned numerous patents and awards. In 1978, his portrait and biography were put on display in an exhibit to technical pioneers in lighting at the Toshiba Science Institute in Kawasaki, Japan.

Prior to joining GE, Zubler received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Canisius College in New York, and a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Notre Dame. He served as a combat medic in the U.S. Army’s 102nd Infantry Division in Europe during World War II, earning a Purple Heart for a shrapnel injury to his back and a bayonet cut to his knee, and two Bronze Star Medals for valor.

Zubler died on March 20 from complications of surgery. He was 79.


John C. West

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Categories: Education, Military, Politicians

jwest.jpgJohn Carl West, the former governor of South Carolina, died on March 21 from cancer. He was 81.
West graduated from The Citadel and attained the rank of Army major during World War II for deciphering Japanese signals for the Pentagon. At the end of the war, he served in Japan as part of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey and earned an Army Commendation Medal. In 1946, he returned to the states, obtained a law degree from the University of South Carolina and delved into politics.
West was elected as a Democrat to the state Senate in 1954 and became the state’s lieutenant governor in 1967. When he won the gubernatorial race in 1970, West pledged to rid the state government of “any vestige of discrimination” and to make it “colorblind.” Known as a man who embraced change, West hired James Clyburn as a senior aide. Clyburn later ran the State Human Affairs Commission that West set up in 1972, and became the state’s first black U.S. representative since Reconstruction.
During his tenure as governor, West created a state housing authority to run programs to help low-income individuals and families obtain affordable housing. He also passed a law that required mandatory auto insurance for all drivers and vetoed a bill re-establishing capital punishment. The Legislature later overrode the veto.
Once his term in office ended in 1975, West set up law practices in Camden and Hilton Head, S.C. Two years later, President Jimmy Carter appointed him ambassador to Saudi Arabia, where he served until 1981. His final years were spent teaching Middle East studies at the University of South Carolina. The John C. West Forum on Politics and Policy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic leadership institute, was established at USC in 2002.

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