Charles C. Gates Jr.

Colorado Billionaire

Charles C. Gates Jr., 84, who became a billionaire by expanding the family-owned Gates Rubber Co. into one of Colorado's largest privately held companies, died Aug. 28, it was reported in Denver. The cause of death was not released.

Mr. Gates's father, Charles C. Gates Sr., bought Colorado Tire & Leather Co. in 1911 and renamed it Gates Co. The company became a success when it introduced a rubber V-belt that became a standard in the automotive industry. Charles Jr. became president and chairman after his father died in 1961.

During the 1960s, he aggressively diversified the company, buying into ranches, subdivisions and mutual funds and buying a controlling interest in Learjet. He sold most of those investments in 1987 after real-estate losses related to the 1980s Colorado savings and loan scandals.

The family sold the rubber business to London-based Tomkins PLC in 1966 for $1.16 billion. The family retained ranching, oil and gas, water and real estate interests, managing them as the Cody Co.

James H. Michael Jr.

Va. Politician, Judge

James H. Michael Jr., 86, a Democrat who served 14 years in the Virginia Senate before being appointed by President Carter to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, died Aug. 29 at his home in Charlottesville. No cause of death was reported.

Judge Michael moved from the state legislature to the federal judiciary in 1980. He assumed senior status in 1995.

A Charlottesville native, he received a bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Virginia.

He was elected to the Virginia Senate in 1967 and served as chairman of the Code Commission. He was a candidate for lieutenant governor in 1973.

In 2001, Judge Michael ruled unconstitutional a Virginia law allowing prosecution of Web site operators who knowingly allow minors access to sexually explicit material. His judgment was vindicated when the ruling was affirmed by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nell I. Mondy

Potato Expert

Nell I. Mondy, 83, a Cornell University biochemist who was considered an international expert on the potato, died Aug. 25 at Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, N.Y. No cause of death was reported.

Dr. Mondy, professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at Cornell, was on the university's faculty for more than 50 years.

Her major research focus was the potato, which she considered to be a "food for the world." Her 1987 proposal on potato marketing resulted in the formation of the National Potato Council research program.

In 2001, she published her autobiography, "You Never Fail Until You Stop Trying: The Story of a Pioneer Woman Chemist." Besides chronicling her challenges as a woman in science, the book recounts her efforts to improve food and nutrition worldwide, from India and Nigeria to Peru and Poland.

She authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific publications, including the textbook "Experimental Food Chemistry."

Ernesta Drinker Ballard

Feminist, Horticulturist

Ernesta Drinker Ballard, 85, a feminist and horticulturist who helped build the Philadelphia Flower Show into a world-class event, died after a stroke Aug. 11 at the Cathedral Village retirement community in Roxborough, Pa.

Heavily involved in feminist and civic causes, Ms. Ballard marched on Washington, lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment and raised money for female candidates. She was a founding member of the National Organization for Women and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. She was chairwoman of NARAL from 1989 to 1991.

Ms. Ballard closed a thriving horticultural business in 1964 to head the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and supervise its annual extravaganza, the Philadelphia Flower Show, expanding the organization from four employees to more than 100 today.