Deaths Elsewhere


Jane Barbe, 74, whose voice was familiar to millions of telephone users across the country who ever dialed a wrong number or had to "Please listen to the following options" in a voice-mail system, died July 18 in Roswell, Ga., of complications from cancer.

Mrs. Barbe was the queen of telephone recordings. Her friendly but authoritative voice was heard an estimated 40 million times a day in the 1980s and early 1990s on everything from automated time and weather messages to hotel wake-up calls.

During her unusual 40-year career she articulated immortal lines including "At the tone, the time will be 7:22 and 40 seconds," "I'm sorry, the number you have dialed is no longer in service," and "Please press 1 for more options." She was not the only person who recorded voice mail and other automated phone messages, but she likely did it longer than anyone else.

Mrs. Barbe, a Florida native who grew up in Atlanta, studied drama at the University of Georgia. There she learned how to remove the Southern inflections from her voice. "You hear my voice in more than 1,000 cities in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, South America, Canada. ... Vocally, I get around," she told the Chicago Sun-Times years ago.

John Bailey Lloyd, 71, a librarian and storyteller who was widely considered the unofficial historian of Long Beach Island, N.J., died Wednesday in a Manahawkin, N.J., hospital after collapsing Tuesday with a brain aneurysm.

Mr. Lloyd wrote two hardcover books about the island. His first, Eighteen Miles of History, also was the first book published by Down the Shore Publishing, which specializes in regional topics. The other was titled Six Miles at Sea. According to his publisher, Mr. Lloyd was writing a New Jersey shore-based historical novel for publication in 2005.

He worked as a reference librarian at the Ocean County Library, wrote features and columns for the island's three weekly newspapers and delivered lectures at the Long Beach Island Museum.

Mr. Lloyd graduated from Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg. He earned a master's degree in English from the University of Michigan, and a second in library science from Rutgers University.

Harold C. Schonberg, 87, the chief music critic of The New York Times from 1960 to 1980, died in a Manhattan hospital Saturday. Mr. Schonberg won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, the first won by a music critic. His work documented and influenced changes in the world of opera and classical music.

"I write for myself, not necessarily for readers, not for musicians," he said in a 1967 interview with Editor and Publisher. "I'd be dead if I tried to please a particular audience. Criticism is only informed opinion."

His musical specialty was the piano and he championed the work of several Russian pianists. He was born in Washington Heights in 1915 and began studying the piano when he was age 4.

He served with the Army Airborne Signal Corps during World War II and became a music critic for The New York Sun on his return to New York. He joined the Times in 1950. He estimated that he wrote 1.3 million words during his two decades as senior critic and wrote 13 books. Some remain standard reference volumes.

Dr. Kurt Semm, 76, whose pioneering techniques in minimally invasive surgery initially were ridiculed but led to innovations in many types of operations, died July 16 at his home in Tucson, Ariz. The cause was complications of Parkinson's disease, his family said.

In the 1960s, Dr. Semm, a gynecologist and engineer, began working on laparoscopic surgery, in which no large incision is made. Instead, several tiny incisions are made to insert a scope and instruments. Such operations can greatly reduce costs and the patient's recovery time.

"Someday in the future, people will look back at a regular surgical incision as something archaic and barbaric," Dr. Paul A. Wetter, chairman of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons, said Friday. "We have Kurt Semm to thank for that."

Dr. Semm, who worked in fertility, developed instruments that allowed the uterus to be manipulated without large incisions being made in the abdominal wall. When Dr. Semm presented his inventions at medical meetings, he often was derided as unethical by people who were shocked at how different his techniques were.

Norman Lewis, 95, a British travel writer of the old school, who described the world he saw before the proliferation of Club Med and McDonald's, died Tuesday in Saffron Walden, Essex, England.

Mr. Lewis also was a novelist of distinction. As a professional literary traveler he was able, Cyril Connolly observed, to "write about the back of a bus and make it interesting."

He received similar accolades from peers such as V.S. Pritchett and Graham Greene, who deemed him one of the finest - albeit underrated - authors of the 20th century. Mr. Lewis was singularly averse to that contemporary world and the industrial civilization it spawned.

From his first published book in 1938, and especially in the 1950s through the 1980s, his reputation spread in Britain and America, as well as on the Continent through translations of his books. He journeyed to exotic, even sinister, places and conveyed their nature in a subtle style of detached irony.

Lucille Roberts, 59, a businesswoman whose ambition to create "the McDonald's of health clubs" inspired a chain of bargain-basement gyms for women, died July 17 of lung cancer in New York City.

Ms. Roberts, a native of what is now the independent country of Tajikistan, built a chain of 50 gyms with 200,000 members in the New York metropolitan region by charging half or less of what many competitors asked. Her clubs were for women only, partly because she wanted to protect women from being ogled.

Her business strategy involved recruiting as many members as possible and crowding them into large gyms. By continually adding more gyms, she was able to keep down the cost of advertising - a significant and critical expenditure for health clubs - on a per-member basis.

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