Michael Bennett, 44, a director and choreographer who was the mastermind behind "A Chorus Line," the longest-running musical in Broadway history, died July 2 at his home in Tucson, Ariz. He had AIDS.
He had moved to Arizona in December, 11 months after he had been diagnosed as having acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Mr. Bennett was the ultimate Broadway "gypsy," a dancer in the chorus who went on to become a successful choreographer, director and producer, associated with such hit shows as "Promises, Promises," and "Company." He won a Tony Award for his direction of "Follies," and another for his choreographic work with "Seesaw."
"A Chorus Line" won nine Tony Awards and the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for drama. It also was a financial success not only on Broadway but also around the world. One company toured the United States for seven years. Grosses for the New York company, where the musical has run since 1975, alone have totaled more than $116 million.
It was Bennett's experience as a dancer that gave him the idea for "A Chorus Line." It is the story of two dozen dancers auditioning for a new Broadway musical. Each character talks and sings about his or her ambitions, fears and hopes, before eight are selected for jobs in the chorus.
The musical grew out of a marathon talk session Bennett held in January 1974 with a group of dancers. They talked candidly about their careers, life styles and childhoods. Out of about 30 hours of tape-recorded discussions, "A Chorus Line" was born. Marvin Hamlisch was hired to write the music, Edward Kleban wrote the lyrics and James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante reworked the script.
Mr. Bennett was born Michael Bennett DiFiglia in Buffalo. His father was a machinist in an automobile plant; his mother worked as a secretary. Mr. Bennett started dance lessons at the age of 3.
At the age of 16, he dropped out of high school to tour Europe in a production of "West Side Story," and made his Broadway debut in 1961, dancing in the chorus of the musical, "Subways Are for Sleeping."
He made his debut as a choreographer in 1966 with "A Joyful Noise." In 1968, he scored his first Broadway success with the dances for "Promises, Promises," the Burt Bacharach-Hal David musical. The following year, Mr. Bennett created the dances for "Coco," an Alan Jay Lerner-Andre Previn musical. A year later, he choreographed "Company," the Stephen Sondheim musical. In 1971, he was codirector and choreographer of "Follies."
In 1981, Mr. Bennett directed, choreographed and produced "Dreamgirls," a show business musical about a black vocal trio that climbs to the top of the pop charts despite replacing its lead singer. The musical won six Tony Awards in 1982 and recently returned to Broadway.
Mr. Bennett set out to direct "Chess," the rock musical written by Tim Rice and the pop group ABBA, but he bowed out in January 1986 for what were then said to be heart problems.
His 1976 marriage to Donna McKechnie, one of the original cast members of "A Chorus Line," ended in divorce. His survivors include his mother, Helen DiFiglia, and his brother, Frank.
RALPH W. WATT, 76, a former principal of McKinley High School in Washington who was a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army reserves, died of cancer June 26 at a hospital in Stanford, Calif.
Mr. Watt worked 31 years for the D.C. public school system, and had been principal at McKinley for seven years before he retired in 1965. A former military instructor, science teacher and guidance counselor, he also had been assigned to Hine Junior High School and Eastern and Western High schools.
He was born in Washington and graduated from Eastern High School and the University of Maryland. He served in the Army during World War II and retired from the reserves in 1970. From 1950 to 1958, he was chief of the infantry branch of the Army Reserve School of the Military District of Washington.
A former resident of Washington and Hyattsville, Mr. Watt had lived since 1975 on the campus of Stanford University where his son, Ward B. Watt, is a science professor.
He had been legally blind since 1976 and had done volunteer work at a Veterans Administration rehabilitation facility for the blind in Palo Alto, Calif.
In addition to his son, Mr. Watt is survived by his wife of 53 years, Lois Belfield Watt of Stanford, and two granddaughters.
MILTON ERNEST CANTER, 78, a Washington lawyer and real estate investor, died July 1 at Washington Hospital Center of complications after heart surgery.
Mr. Canter had practiced law in Washington since the end of World War II, specializing in corporate and real estate law. For about 20 years he was with the firm of Canter, Murray, McLaughlin and Urow, and he had also practiced with former D.C. mayor Walter Washington. He was a real estate investor and property manager in Washington and Maryland.
A resident of Washington, Mr. Canter was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He graduated from Union College and earned a law degree at Lawrence University. He earned a doctorate in law at Brooklyn College law school.
Before World War II he was a lawyer for city and state governments in New York.
He served in the Army Air Forces in Europe during World War II.
Mr. Canter was a trustee of the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge, a member of the Advisory Council of George Washington University, a member of the board of governors of the Federal City Club, a director of the Army & Navy Club and a member of the board of directors of the Boys Clubs of America. He was a former post commander of the American Legion's National Defense Post in Washington.
Mr. Canter is survived by a daughter whom he adopted in 1980, Jacqueline Urow-Hamell of Alexandria.
LESTER F. BRIGGS, 80, who with his brothers Luther and Raymond owned and operated Briggs Meat Co. and Briggs Ice Cream Co. here, died of congestive heart failure June 29 at a hospital in Boca Raton, Fla.
Mr. Briggs was born in Washington and had been in the meat packing and processing business here since he was a young man. In 1965 his family sold Briggs Meat Co., but Mr. Briggs and his brothers continued to own and operate Briggs Ice Cream, a manufacturing and distributing company, until they retired in 1983.
Mr. Briggs was a member of Parkwood United Methodist Church in Edgewater, Md., the Congressional Country Club and the Kenwood Golf and Country Club.
He lived in Hillsboro Beach, Fla., and Chevy Chase.
Survivors include his wife, Marian, of Chevy Chase and Hillsboro Beach; three daughters, Shirley Riegel of Augusta, Ga., Carolyn Carter of Naples, Fla., and Leslie Schultz of Glenwood Springs, Colo.; one son, Albert G. Briggs of Rockville; two sisters, Thelma Goodman of Washington and Anita Dunn of Bethesda; two brothers, Raymond C. Briggs of Washington and Luther S. Briggs of Jacksonville, Fla.; 11 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
RICHARD D. SILVER, 49, an engineer with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, died of leukemia June 24 at Suburban Hospital.
Mr. Silver was born in Beacon, N.Y. He graduated from New York University, earned a master's degree in systems management at the University of Southern California and had additional training in nuclear engineering at the Atomic Energy Commission's Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and at the General Electric Facility in San Jose, Calif.
During the 1960s was been a physics teacher in Chicago and coordinator of atomic projects for the New York Hall of Sciences. He moved to the Washington area in 1971 and joined the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at that time.
A resident of Gaithersburg, Mr. Silver had been chairman of several parent-teacher association committees for the Montgomery County Board of Education.
Survivors include his wife, Carol, and two sons, Daniel and Michael Silver, all of Gaithersburg; his father, Martin Silver of Hollywood, Fla.; a sister, June Shapiro of Spokane, Wash., and one brother, Robert Silver of San Francisco.
LLOYD E. CARNRIGHT, 66, a retired Air Force chief warrant officer who later became a data processing specialist in Prince George's County, died of cancer June 27 at Calvert Memorial Hospital in Prince Frederick, Md.
Mr. Carnright, a resident of Owings, Md., was born in Haines Falls, N.Y. He joined the Army Air Forces in 1942 and served in Illinois, Florida, Mississippi, Maryland, New York and Morocco before retiring in 1967. His military specialties included data processing and procurement. A former chief master sergeant, he was promoted to chief warrant officer upon his retirement.
In 1962, Mr. Carnright was named Outstanding Airman of the Year.
For the last 15 years he had worked in the Prince George's County government data processing operation of the Planning Research Corp.
He attended Florida State University and the University of Maryland, and he had been a resident of the Washington area since 1960.
Survivors include his wife, Patricia Carnright of Owings; a daughter, Patricia Yates of Gaston, Ore.; two brothers, Frank W. Carnright of Waterbury, Conn., and William E. Carnright of Leonia, N.J., and three grandsons.
BLAIR WILEY FISHWICK, 72, a former Washington resident who was a member of the Sulgrave Club and the National Society of Colonial Dames of America, died of cancer June 30 at a hospital in Roanoke.
Mrs. Fiswick was born in Salem, Va., and graduated from Roanoke College. She studied art at the Cleveland Art Institute and the Corcoran School of Art.
She lived in Roanoke before moving to Washington in 1981. In 1985 she returned to Roanoke.
Survivors include her husband, John P. Fishwick, former president of the Norfolk & Western Railroad, of Roanoke; two daughters, Mrs. Isaiah Guyman Martin III of Washington and Mrs. Wesley W. Posvar of Pittsburgh; a son, John P. Fishwick Jr. of Roanoke; and four grandsons.
PATRICK M. KILDEA, 81, a retired government attorney who worked for the Reconstruction Finance Corp. and the Renegotiation Board, died of cancer June 22 at his home in Salisbury, Md.
Mr. Kildea, a resident of Bethesda before moving to Salisbury in 1983, was born in Spokane, Wash. He earned a law degree at Gonzaga University there.
He moved to the District in 1933 and went to work for the RFC. He remained with that agency until 1951, when he joined the newly formed Renegotiation Board, whose purpose was to eleminate through nonadversarial proceedings excessive profits on defense and space contracts.
Mr. Kildea specialized in tax matter at the Renegotiation Board. He retired in 1971.
He was a member of St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, the National Lawyers Club and the Bethesda Country Club.
His wife, the former Marie C. Hill, died in 1986.
Survivors include three children, Patricia Whyte of St. Petersburg, Fla., Charles A. Kildea of Salisbury, and Patrick M. Kildea Jr. of Bethesda; and eight grandchildren.
FREDERICK W. POOS, 95, a retired Agriculture Department field entomologist who was active in church and professional organizations, died June 28 at Northern Virginia Doctors Hospital after surgery for a hernia. He lived in Alexandria.
He spent 42 years with Agriculture, in Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, before retiring in 1957 from the experimental station in Beltsville. During his years with the department, he helped develop systemic insecticides and worked in insect control.
Dr. Poos, who moved to this area in the late 1920s, was a native of Kansas. He was a graduate of the University of Kansas and earned a doctorate in entomology at Ohio State University.
He had edited journals for the Entomological Society of America and was a life member of the Cosmos Club. He had been a member of the Presbyterian Church of Pilgrim in Washington since 1929, where he had served as an elder.
His wife, the former Edna Ireland, died in 1974. His survivors include two sons, Dr. F.W. Poos Jr. of Great Neck, N.Y., and Dr. George I. Poos of Fort Washington, Pa.; three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
JULIA GOLDSCHMIDT, 31, an executive secretary for MCI Corp. for the last year, died June 30 at Georgetown University Hospital of complications after a bone marrow treatment for cancer.
Mrs. Goldschmidt, a resident of Alexandria, was born in Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras. She married Michael Goldschmidt, a Foreign Service officer stationed there, and moved to the Washington area in 1980. Later she accompanied him on assignments to London and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
In addition to her husband, of Alexandria, she is survived by a brother, Manuel Welchez of Voorhees, N.J., and two sisters, Hilda Oyola of Jersey City, and Virginia Pineda of Alexandria.
GERTRUDE STEELE BRESNAHAN, 87, a longtime Washington resident who had been active in the Chevy Chase Woman's Club, died of a heart ailment July 2 at a nursing home in Joliet, Ill.
Mrs. Bresnahan was born in North Adams, Mass. and moved to Washington in 1923. She attended George Washington University and worked briefly as a secretary at the U.S. Geological Survey.
With the exception of two years in Massachusetts in the early 1960s, Mrs. Bresnahan lived in Washington until 1978, when she moved to Joliet.
Her husband, Harold W. Bresnahan, a former assistant postmaster general, died in 1962.
Survivors include one son, David Steele Bresnahan of Joliet; and two grandchildren.