The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on January 31, 2002 · Page 175
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · Page 175

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Thursday, January 31, 2002
Page 175
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ME_B_12_B12_VN_1_01-31-02_th_2_CMYK 2002:01:30:23:40:56 B12 THURSDAY,JANUARY31,2002VN , LOSANGELESTIMES Obituaries By GARY KLEIN TIMES STAFF WRITER Dick “Night Train” Lane, a pro football Hall of Fame defensive back who had a record-setting rookie season for the Los Angeles Rams in 1952, has died. He was 73. Lane died of a heart attack Tuesday night at an assisted living facility in Austin, Texas. He suffered from diabetes and chronic knee problems and had moved into the assisted living facility two years ago. Lane was a Pro Bowl selection in six of his 14 NFL seasons with the Rams, Chicago Cardinals and Detroit Lions. His 68 career interceptions is third on the NFL’s all-time list and his 1,207 return yards is second best. He made 14 interceptions in 1952, his rookie season, which is still a record. And he did it in only 12 games—the NFL regular season has been 16 games since 1978. “He was far and away the greatest pass interceptor of all time,” said Bob Oates, who has covered pro football for newspapers in Los Angeles for more than 60 years. “When I think of him, I think of how far in the air he used to get to make his interceptions. I’ve never seen a defensive back who could jump as high as Night Train. He could play today and be an All-Pro.” Lane got his nickname in his first training camp with the Rams because of his affinity for the Buddy Morrow song “Night Train.” Tom Fears, the Rams’ great receiver, was the only player in camp who had a copy of Morrow’s record, and Lane made regular visits to Fears’ room to hear it on the phonograph—and talk football. Initially, he didn’t like the name. “I’d been called all sorts of names by that time, and I wasn’t sure what they meant by that nickname,” Lane told the Austin American-Statesman last year. Gradually, he warmed to it. In 1954, after he was traded to the Chicago Cardinals, he was thrilled when, after a good game in a victory over the Washington Redskins and running back Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, a Chicago newspaper headline read: “Night Train Derails Choo Choo.” A member of the NFL’s All- Time Team for its first 75 years, Lane stood 6 feet 3 inches and weighed 185 pounds. He was bigger and faster than most receivers and, early in his career, he tackled opponents by wrapping his arms around their neck and taking them to the ground. The move—dubbed the “Night Train Necktie”—was eventually banned by the league as too dangerous. Jim Murray, the late Times columnist, once said of Lane: “He played the game with a fe- rocity that’s seldom been equaled. Quarterbacks avoided Night Train’s part of the field as a hunter would avoid a rattlesnake nest. There were games in which Night Train had more receptions than the receivers he was covering.” Lane was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in 1974. He was the second defensive back and seventh African American inducted. “I played with him and against him, and he was the best I’ve ever seen,” former New York Giants kicker Pat Summerall, now a broadcaster for Fox, once said. Lane’s Hall of Fame biography describes him as a “gambler on the field who made spectacular plays.” But Lane once said he took only calculated chances. “I never gamble on the ball, just the angles I take on receivers,” he told The Times in 1962. “And I study the receivers to perfect the angles.” The son of a prostitute and pimp, Lane was raised in Austin by a Ella Lane, a widow with two children who found him abandoned in a Dumpster when he was 3 months old. Lane was a three-sport athlete at Anderson High. The school was part of the Prairie View Interscholastic League, which was made up of black schools throughout Texas. Lane led the football team to a state title in 1944. He played one season for Scottsbluff (Neb.) Junior College and then joined the Army at age 19. He played receiver for service teams during his four-year military stint and was spotted by a Rams scout during an Army exhibition game. He was offered a tryout with the defending NFL champions upon his discharge. Lane played two years for the Rams, six for Chicago and six for the Detroit Lions. He retired in 1965, never earning more than $25,000 a season. He worked as a special assistant to Lion owner William Clay Ford from 1966 to 1972, spent a year as road manager for comedian Redd Foxx and had brief coaching stints at Southern University and Central State in Wilberforce, Ohio. Lane later became the first director of the Police Athletic League, a sports program for underprivileged children in Detroit. “I always knew I wanted to give something back to the community,” he said. “That was important to me.” Lane was married and divorced three times. His second marriage was to legendary jazz singer Dinah Washington, who died of an overdose of sleeping pills in 1963. Lane discovered her body. Lane is survived by two sons, Richard Lane of St. Louis, and Richard Walker of Detroit. Funeral services were planned for Saturday. Associated Press contributed to this story. Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane, 73; Set Record as Rookie on L.A. Rams DICK ‘NIGHT TRAIN’ LANE The defensive back played two years for the Rams, six for the Chicago Cardinals and six for the Detroit Lions. He set a record with 14 interceptions in 1952, a mark that still stands. Associated Press George Dickerson, 88; UCLA Coach and Hall of Fame Athlete George W. Dickerson, 88, who played and coached football at UCLA, died at his home Jan. 22 of natural causes, the university announced Wednesday. Dickerson attended Fairfax High School before earning three football letters as a tackle at UCLA. He was captain of the 1936 Bruin team. He also was a four-year letterman in rugby and a boxer. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Dickerson was an assistant football coach at UCLA from 1946 to 1957. Following the death of Henry “Red” Sanders, Dickerson was head coach for the first three games of 1958. After his coaching career, Dickerson worked for a construction company in Alhambra. He retired as a senior vice president at the age of 71. He was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987. Stuart Burge, 84; Actor, Director Revived 2 Theaters Stuart Burge, 84, a British actor and director who turned the Nottingham Playhouse into a major venue and rescued the Royal Court Theatre in London from bankruptcy, died last Thursday of undisclosed causes in Lymington, England. As a television director, Burge worked on acclaimed productions of D.H. Lawrence’s “Sons and Lovers” and “The Rainbow,” several of Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads” monologues and Federico Garcia Lorca’s “House of Bernarda Alba,” which starred Glenda Jackson and Joan Plowright. From 1968 to 1973, he served as artistic director of the Nottingham Playhouse, in the English city of that name, In 1977, he took over the debt-ridden Royal Court, returning it to profitability with such successes as a revival of John Osborne’s “Inadmissible Evidence.” Burge attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst before enrolling in London’s Old Vic theater school in 1936. Leonard Martin, 81; Turned S.F. Cannery Into Shops, Eateries Leonard Victor Martin, 81, who purchased the abandoned Del Monte cannery in San Francisco in 1963 and turned it into the successful shopping and dining attraction known as the Cannery, died earlier this month at his home in Ross, Calif., after a long illness. Martin’s purchase of the ramshackle cannery near Fisherman’s Wharf, along with nearby GhirardelliSquare, helped launch a national movement to renovate older commercial buildings. Martin, whose given name was Leonid Matveyeff, was born in Manchuria to Russian parents who had fled Siberia. He immigrated to San Francisco in 1940 and, after earning a law degree at UCLA, opened a law practice in San Francisco. Newspaper columnist Herb Caen once lauded Martin as one of “those San Francisco individuals who are Slightly Mad in the nicest possible way.” The Cannery is still family- owned; Martin’s son, Christopher, is managing partner. Bibi Osterwald, 83; Versatile Actress Had a 50-Year Career Bibi Osterwald, 83, a stage, film and TV actress who often played brash characters in a career that spanned more than 50 years, died Jan. 2 of a lung ailment in a Burbank hospital. On Broadway in the 1950s, Osterwald appeared in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “Bus Stop,” “Look Homeward Angel” and “The Golden Apple,” for which she received an Outer Critics Circle Award in 1954. From 1964 to 1971, she was an understudy for the title role in “Hello Dolly” on Broadway for such actresses as Carol Channing and Ginger Rogers. Osterwald played the part 122 times. In the early days of television, she performed on everything from the “Hallmark Hall of Fame” to “The Red Buttons Show.” She later guest-starred on “All in the Family,” “The Love Boat” and “Falcon Crest” and appeared frequently on several soap operas. Her film credits include “The World of Henry Orient,” “Parrish” and “As Good as It Gets.” PASSINGS BY CAROL CHAMBERS TIMES STAFF WRITER Van L. Swearingen, the owner of the Iverson Location Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, died of cancer Tuesday at a hospital in Woodland Hills. He was 62. Swearingen and his wife, PhylissMurphy, bought a six- acre portion of the 2,000-acre movie ranch in 1997, keeping the location available for film and television production. The once-sprawling ranch served as a backdrop for such film classics as ‘‘The Grapes of Wrath’’ and ‘‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.’’ An avid automobile enthusiast who at one time raced cars at the Saugus Speedway, Swearingen was restoring the Iverson ranch house and building a 3,200-square-foot garage to keep his collection of more than 80 cars, about half of them 1957 Chevys, Murphy said. Swearingen became involved in Nascar racing at 15, Murphy said, and was well- known in racing circles for helping to launch the careers of young drivers. In recent years, Swearingen had hosted the Wild, Wild West Days festival at the ranch to benefit the Happy Trails Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by the late Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to help abused youth. Born in Summerfield, Fla., Swearingen was a resident of the San Fernando Valley for more than 30 years. In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter, Sharon Swearingen Sabo of Bellview, Ill.; a stepson, Michael Murphy of North Hills; and three grandchildren. Services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Iverson Ranch. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Happy Trails Children’s Foundation, 10755 Apple Valley Road, Apple Valley, CA 92308. Van Swearingen, 62; Owned Filming Site Vermont Avenue where they later were reported alert and in stable condition with multiple fractures. The injuries were said not to be life-threatening. A 9-year-old girl who suffered head injuries and a music teacher with multiple leg and pelvic fractures were taken to County-USC Medical Center, where both are expected to recover. Other children with less serious injuries were taken there and to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. Police quickly cordoned off the area around the school, frustrating the efforts of worried parents to find out whether their children were among the victims. “Let me through! Let me through!” shouted one woman whose way was blocked by police and emergency personnel. Don Hanson rushed to the school after getting a call that his wife, Jan, a music teacher, was among those struck. “All I know is she was under the car and they had to pick it up off her,” Hanson said as he tried to find out how badly his wife had been hurt and where she had been taken. The academy in the 1400 block of Colorado Boulevard serves children from kindergarten through eighth grade. The school is not affiliated with the adjacent Eagle Rock Baptist Church. Police said that at about 3:15 p.m., as customary, about 80 of the school’s 220 students had formed two parallel queues in the parking lot, which doubles as a playground, to await their rides, which turn in from a side street and drive between the lines of children. The cars normally drive slowly, but this time, an older Mercedes- Benz driven by Kae Lee of Glendale accelerated suddenly into one of the lines of children, scattering victims across the asphalt, officials said. “Some of the kids, they just didn’t see it coming,” said Jaryl Mordeno, an 11-year-old student at the school who escaped injury. Jan Gabrielson, who has taught at the school for 30 years, was patrolling the parking lot when she saw the car lurch forward. She quickly moved herself and several children from its path. “It happened too quickly for most everyone else to get out of the way,” she said. The car ran over and dragged several children and one teacher, Gabrielson said. Other teachers and several basketball players lifted the car to free those trapped. Student Jonathan Villegas, 11, ran inside and shouted for help. Another student, Jeffrey Arilar, 12, said he “saw smoke and kids lying around everywhere and kids lying under the car.” Lee suffered minor bruises and was hospitalized for observation. “She was deeply shaken,” Humphrey said. “Our preliminary investigation revealed that this was a tragic accident, with no criminal intent,” said Los Angeles Police Sgt. John Pasquariello. Police said they had no plans to file any charges. The school will be closed today, but a prayer service will be held there at 9 a.m. Times staff writers Manuel Gamiz, Sandra Murillo and Eric Malnic contributed to this report. ACCIDENT: 18 Injured in School Parking Lot Continued fromB1 Photos by WALLY SKALIJ / Los Angeles Times Los Angeles firefighters tend to the injured after Wednesday’s accident in Eagle Rock. Three students and a teacher suffered severe injuries. The driver of the car, a 65-year-old woman picking up her grandchild, received minor bruises and was hospitalized for observation. A student’s shoe lies near car that struck group at school. A woman stands in distress in the parking lot of the Westminster Academy School. The accident occurred as about 80 of the school’s 220 students lined up to await their rides home.

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