Notable deaths: Beurt Servaas, reggae singer William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke

February 4
Beurt SerVaas
politician, businessman

Beurt SerVaas, a businessman and Republican leader who played a key role in the revitalization of Indianapolis beginning in the 1970s and was the owner of the Saturday Evening Post, died Feb. 2 in Indianapolis. He was 94.

His daughter, Joan SerVaas, confirmed the death but did not disclose the cause.

Mr. SerVaas served in China with the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II forerunner of the CIA. After the war, he bought and sold dozens of businesses. Along the way, he acquired Curtis Publishing Co., Bridgeport Brass, Carpenter Bus and the Bar Keepers Friend line of cleaning products. He bought the Saturday Evening Post in 1970.

During his 40 years on the Indianapolis City-County Council, including 27 as president, Mr. SerVaas played a key role in the state legislation that created Unigov, which consolidated the city and county governments and extended the Indianapolis city limits to the Marion County line in 1970. He retired from the council in 2002.

William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke
reggae singer

William “Bunny Rugs” Clarke, the husky-voiced lead singer of the internationally popular reggae band Third World, died Feb. 2 at his home in Orlando. He was 65.

The cause was leukemia, former bandmate Colin Leslie said.

Mr. Clarke worked with the band Inner Circle and top reggae producer Lee “Scratch” Perry in Jamaica before joining Third World in 1976. The next year, the band released “96 Degrees in the Shade,” one of its most popular albums. The group was signed to Island Records and had hits on British and U.S. charts, including with “Now That We Found Love,” “Always Around” and “Reggae Ambassador.” He performed on all of Third World’s records except the group’s debut.

Stevie Wonder, who performed on stage with the band at Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash festival in 1981, co-wrote and produced Third World’s 1982 song “Try Jah Love.”

Mr. Clarke and Third World were known for seamlessly fusing reggae with soul and pop music, something they were occasionally criticized for by reggae purists. In a 1992 interview with Billboard magazine, he described the band’s identity this way: “Strictly a reggae band, no. Definitely a reggae band, yes.”

— News services