Harvey Wheeler


Harvey Wheeler, 85, co-author of "Fail-Safe," a 1962 best-selling novel about an accidental nuclear war, died Sept. 6 of cancer at his home in Carpinteria, Calif.

The novel, which Mr. Wheeler wrote with Eugene Burdick about an accidental nuclear attack on Russia, sparked a national debate about whether such a catastrophe could happen. It inspired a 1964 movie starring Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau.

Mr. Wheeler's other books include "The Conservative Crisis," "Democracy in a Revolutionary Era" and "The Virtual Library." He was an editor of the Journal of Social and Biological Structures and a fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Donald Yetter Gardner


Donald Yetter Gardner, 91, who wrote the international children's favorite "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," died Sept. 15 after a fall at his home in Needham, Mass.

He wrote the song in 1947 while filling in for his wife as teacher of a grade-school class in Smithtown, N.Y., during the holiday season. He asked the class what they wanted for Christmas, and when they hissed and lisped their answers, he noticed that almost all of them had at least one front tooth missing.

The song has been recorded dozens of times by artists as diverse as Spike Jones, George Strait and Mariah Carey. Mr. Gardner's favorite version was recorded by Nat King Cole.

Glenn Presnell

Football Player

Glenn Presnell, 99, a star player in the early years of the National Football League, died Sept. 13 at a nursing home in Ironton, Ohio. No cause of death was reported.

After playing for the Ironton Tanks from 1927 to 1930, Mr. Presnell joined the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans of the NFL. Starring as a runner, passer, kicker, defensive back and kick returner, he was an All-Pro player and led the league in scoring in 1933.

After the Portsmouth franchise became the Detroit Lions in 1934, Mr. Presnell led the team to the NFL championship in 1935. He and his wife selected the uniform colors, silver and Honolulu blue, that the Lions still wear. Mr. Presnell kicked a 54-yard field goal in 1934, an NFL record that stood for 19 years. It remained the Detroit team record until 1995.

An all-American at the University of Nebraska, Mr. Presnell outplayed the legendary Red Grange of the University of Illinois in a 1925 game won by Nebraska, 14-0. After his nine-year professional career, Mr. Presnell was a coach at Nebraska and the University of Kansas. He served in the Navy during World War II, then spent 28 years as a football coach and athletic director at Eastern Kentucky University.