The Baltimore Sun

Leona Helmsley, 87

Hotel's 'queen of mean'

Leona Helmsley, the hotelier who went to prison as a tax cheat and was reviled as the "queen of mean," died yesterday at age 87.

Mrs. Helmsley died of heart failure at her summer home in Greenwich, Conn., said her publicist, Howard Rubenstein.

Mrs. Helmsley and her husband, Harry, ran a $5 billion real estate empire that included managing the Empire State Building. She was tried in 1989 on tax-evasion charges in a trial that included testimony from employees who said she terrorized the help at her homes and hotels.

Her image was sealed when a former housekeeper testified that she heard Mrs. Helmsley say: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes."

She denied having said it, but the words followed her the rest of her life.

Ada W. Weeks Collins, 97

Guitar-playing granny

Ada Wrenne Weeks Collins, the guitar-playing granny who performed for thousands of music fans in Georgia and South Carolina for more than 30 years, has died at 97.

Mrs. Collins died Friday at her daughter's home in Beech Island, S.C., after months of illness, said her daughter, Flo Carter. Her last performance was in late 2005 with her family's country-gospel band, Flo Carter & the Sounds of Joy.

Known to fans as "Groovy Granny," Mrs. Collins performed with her family in churches and at weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations. For the past two decades, she was on the monthly Parade of Quartets gospel music program on WJBF-TV.

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