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PASSINGS: Barbara Vucanovich, Joey Covington, Pierre Mauroy

Barbara Vucanovich, Nevada's first congresswoman, dies at 91; Joey Covington, who played drums for Jefferson Airplane, dies at 67; Pierre Mauroy, former French prime minister, dies at 84

June 10, 2013
  • Barbara Vucanovich was the first woman to represent Nevada in Congress. The conservative Republican served in the House from 1983 to 1997.
Barbara Vucanovich was the first woman to represent Nevada in Congress.… (File photo )

Barbara Vucanovich

Nevada's first congresswoman

Barbara Vucanovich, 91, who was the first woman to represent Nevada in Congress and went on to serve a sprawling, rural congressional district for 14 years, died Monday at an assisted living complex in Reno after breaking her pelvis in February and never fully recovering, her daughter Patty Cafferata said.

Vucanovich, a conservative Republican, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and served from 1983 to 1997. Her tenure included stints on the House Interior and Appropriations committees and the Subcommittee on Military Construction.

Among the bills she wrote was the repeal of the 55 mph speed limit, and the source tax, which prevented more than one state from collecting taxes on pension and retirement benefits of retirees — many of whom moved to Nevada.

She was born June 22, 1921, in Camp Dix, N.J., to Army Major Gen. Thomas Farrell and Ynez White Farrell, a member of one of Southern California's founding families. Vucanovich was raised in New York state and moved to Reno in the late 1940s.

It was there that she met her first husband, attorney Ken Dillon Sr., and became active in Republican politics. After Dillon's death in 1964, she married George Vucanovich. He died in 1998.

She worked on campaigns and served as a staffer for Republican Sen. Paul Laxalt before assuming a newly created congressional post that encompassed 16 of Nevada's 17 counties — virtually the entire state except Las Vegas and Henderson.

Joey Covington

Drummer for Jefferson Airplane

Joey Covington, 67, who played drums for Jefferson Airplane from 1970 to 1972, died June 4 in a single-car crash in Palm Springs. His car hit a retaining wall and he died at the scene, according to the Riverside County coroner. The Palm Springs resident was not wearing a seat belt.

A psychedelic rock group out of San Francisco, Jefferson Airplane had already achieved national prominence when Covington replaced Spencer Dryden on drums. Covington also joined Hot Tuna, the blues- and ragtime-influenced band that was an Airplane offshoot. He wrote several Airplane songs and helped write "Pretty as You Feel," one of the band's more popular songs from the 1971 album "Bark."

Born in 1945 in Pennsylvania, he began playing drums at age 10. He started out with polka bands, segued to rock groups in high school and arrived in Los Angeles in 1967. He soon met violinist Papa John Creach, who joined Airplane and Hot Tuna after Covington made the introductions.

Pierre Mauroy

Former prime minister of France

Pierre Mauroy, 84, who was France's prime minister in the early 1980s when he implemented radical social reforms that made life easier for French workers, died Friday in a hospital in a Paris suburb, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. Mauroy had lung cancer.

From 1981 to 1984 Mauroy served as prime minister under Socialist President Francois Mitterrand. Mauroy oversaw reforms that included cutting the legal workweek, lowering the retirement age to 60 from 65 and raising the number of paid holidays.

The reforms helped reduce poverty but led to higher inflation and a widening budget deficit, leading to a government U-turn. Mauroy resigned in 1984 after public protest caused him to abandon a plan to cut funding to private schools.

The son of a schoolteacher, Mauroy was born July 5, 1928, in Cartignies, France, and was the eldest of seven children. As a teenager in 1945, he joined the Young Socialists, a youth auxiliary.

He taught history and geography at a vocational secondary school in a Paris suburb in the 1950s and married a schoolteacher in 1951. Mauroy served as mayor of the northern city of Lille from 1973 to 2001 and ran the French Socialist Party from 1988 to the early 1990s.

— Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports

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