Drag racing, strong men, brave men, and pasta? Great recent obits

We start our review in the Chicago Tribune with an obituary lede.

Jan C. Gabriel died Sunday.

Or as he might say, “Sunday! Sunday!! SUNDAY!!”

The voice of the once ubiquitous radio commercials for “Smoking U.S. 30” drag strip, Mr. Gabriel was also the longtime announcer at the old Santa Fe Speedway and the producer of “Super Chargers,” a nationally syndicated motor sports television show.

In The New York Times, via Jess, another lede. Usually I don’t exempt newspaper stories at this length. But the lede here is extended in high fashion, and I have no doubt you’ll click through after reading.

Joe Rollino once lifted 475 pounds. He used neither his arms nor his legs but, reportedly, his teeth. With just one finger he raised up 635 pounds; with his back he moved 3,200. He bit down on quarters to bend them with his thumb.

People called him the Great Joe Rollino, the Mighty Joe Rollino and even the World’s Strongest Man, and what did it matter if at least one of those people was Mr. Rollino himself.

On Monday morning, Mr. Rollino went for a walk in his Brooklyn neighborhood, a daily routine. It was part of the Great Joe Rollino’s greatest feat, a display of physical dexterity and stamina so subtle that it revealed itself only if you happened to ask him his date of birth: March 19, 1905. He was 104 years old and counting.

A few minutes before 7 a.m., as Mr. Rollino was crossing Bay Ridge Parkway at 13th Avenue, a 1999 Ford Windstar minivan struck him. The police said he suffered fractures to his pelvis, chest, ribs and face, as well as head trauma. Unconscious, he was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where he later died.

New York is a city of extraordinary lives and events, and here, indisputably, was one of them — one of the city’s strongest and oldest, struck down on a Monday morning by a minivan in Brooklyn.

One more lede from the Times, in the obit of a life-saving man, Mel Cuba: “The winds were whipping toward shore that summer day more than seven decades ago when 105 orphans from the Pride of Judea Home on Dumont Avenue in Brooklyn stepped off buses for what was supposed to be a gleeful romp at the beach in Rockaway, Queens.”

A good week for NYT obits. You know the Los Angeles Times is my obit paper of choice (if one can have such a thing), but consider the edge grafs in the week’s NYT obit for Donald Goerke, creator of SpaghettiOs.

Lede: “Donald Goerke, a Campbell Soup Company executive whose nonlinear approach to pasta resulted in SpaghettiOs, died Sunday at his home in Delran, N.J. He was 83.”

Final graf: “Shapes considered and rejected by Mr. Goerke’s team included baseballs, cowboys, spacemen and stars.”

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