Obituaries of note: Walt Bellamy, Johnny Kucks

November 5, 2013
Walt Bellamy
basketball player

Walt Bellamy, a Hall of Fame center who averaged more than 20 points per game in 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association, died Nov. 2. He was 74.

The Atlanta Hawks confirmed the death but didn’t provide details. The Hawks said Mr. Bellamy attended the team’s home opener Friday night.

The former Indiana University star won an Olympic gold medal in 1960 and was the first overall pick by the old Chicago Packers in 1961. He was the rookie of the year with Chicago, averaging 31.6 points and 19.0 rebounds, before the team moved to become the Baltimore Bullets (and later the Washington Wizards).

He also played for the New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Jazz. He averaged 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game, played in four all-star games and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.

In three seasons at Indiana, the 6-foot-11 former high school star from New Bern, N.C., averaged 20.6 points and 15.5 rebounds.

Johnny Kucks
baseball pitcher

Johnny Kucks, who pitched a three-hitter for the New York Yankees to win Game 7 of the 1956 World Series, died Oct. 31 in Saddle River, N.J. He was 81.

His daughter said he had cancer, the New York Times reported.

Mr. Kucks pitched in four World Series with the Yankees from 1955 to 1958, going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA in eight games. The 6-3 right-hander was best known for his crisp complete-game performance in New York’s 9-0 victory against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the last World Series game at Ebbets Field.

He struck out the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson to end the game in what was Robinson’s final at-bat as a player.

Mr. Kucks, a Hoboken, N.J., native, went 54-56 with a 4.10 ERA in six seasons in the majors with the Yankees and the Kansas City Athletics. His best season came in 1956, when he went 18-9 with a 3.85 ERA.

Chana Mlotek
Yiddish music archivist

Chana Mlotek, a noted archivist of Yiddish folk music, died Nov. 4 at her home in the Bronx. She was 91.

The cause was cancer, said a son, Zalmen Mlotek, the artistic director of the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene in New York.

Mrs. Mlotek was a collector of Yiddish theater songs and folk music from Europe’s historic Jewish communities. Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer once called Mrs. Mlotek and her husband, Joseph, “the Sherlock Holmeses of Yiddish folk songs.”

The couple wrote a newspaper column called “Pearls of Yiddish Poetry” for the Yiddish edition of the Forward for more than 43 years.

Mrs. Mlotek was born Eleanor Chana Gordon in Brooklyn. She studied Yiddish folklore at the University of California at Los Angeles and worked for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research for 65 years, almost to her death. Her husband died in 2000.

— News services and staff reports

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