Obituaries of note: Richard L. Williams; Russell W. Peterson; Gustavo Stroessner; John Strauss

Wednesday, February 23, 2011; 11:08 PM

Richard L. Williams
federal judge

U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams, the oldest and longest-serving active judge in the Eastern District of Virginia, died Feb. 19 of undisclosed causes at his home in Richmond. He was 87.

President Jimmy Carter nominated Judge Williams to the bench for the federal district that stretches from Alexandria to Norfolk in 1979, and he started the job the next year. He took senior status in 1992 but handled court matters until his death, working from home in recent months because of poor health, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He presided over several high-profile cases, including overturning Virginia's ban on late-term abortion in 2003. His decision was affirmed twice by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

Judge Williams served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II. After graduating from the University of Virginia law school a decade later, he went into private practice and became one of the founders of what is now the McGuireWoods law firm. He also served as a Richmond circuit judge from 1972 to 1976.

Russell W. Peterson
former Delaware governor

Russell W. Peterson, 94, who served as Delaware's governor from 1969 to 1973 and was active in environmental causes, died Feb. 21 after a stroke, it was reported from Wilmington, Del.

Mr. Peterson moved from his native Wisconsin to Delaware to work for DuPont Co., where he spent 26 years as a research chemist and manager.

In his one term as governor, he was the guiding force behind the Coastal Zone Act of 1971, which outlawed heavy industrial development on Delaware's coasts. He later served as president of the National Audubon Society from 1979 to 1985.

Gustavo Stroessner
dictator's son

Gustavo Stroessner, 66, the eldest son of the late Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, died Feb. 21 at a hospital in the capital city of Asuncion. He had lung cancer.

Gustavo Stroessner, a former air force colonel, fled with his father when his 35-year dictatorship fell in a 1989 military coup. The Stroessners then spent two decades in exile in Brazil. The former dictator died in 2006 at the age of 93 in Brasilia, and his son returned to Asuncion last year after a judge ruled the statute of limitations on charges of illegal enrichment had expired.

John Strauss
TV composer and editor

John Strauss, 90, an Emmy and Grammy award-winning composer and music editor for film and television, died Feb. 14 in Los Angeles. He had Parkinson's disease.

Mr. Strauss was probably best known as the composer of the bouncy theme song of "Car 54, Where Are You?," a TV police comedy series from 1961 to 1963. He also wrote the theme for "The Phil Silvers Show."

Mr. Strauss, who was born in New York City, studied with composer Paul Hindemith.

Mr. Strauss was the music editor for many films, including Woody Allen's "Take the Money and Run" and "Bananas," "The Blues Brothers" and "Ragtime." He won an Emmy Award for sound editing on 1977's "The Amazing Howard Hughes."

He was the sound editor of Milos Forman's 1984 film "Amadeus." He won a Grammy Award for producing an album of music from the movie about the life of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Mr. Strauss composed a piece of jejune music that a count in the movie showed to Mozart and appeared in one scene as a conductor.

- News services and staff reports

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