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PASSINGS: Charles Sumner 'Chuck' Stone Jr., John Pinette

Charles Sumner 'Chuck' Stone Jr., 89, columnist helped found association of black journalists; John Pinette, 50, stand-up comic appeared in 'Seinfeld' finale

April 07, 2014
  • Charles Sumner “Chuck” Stone Jr. was the first black columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, where he worked as a columnist and editor from 1972 to 1991.
Charles Sumner “Chuck” Stone Jr. was the first black columnist… (Associated Press )

Charles Sumner 'Chuck' Stone Jr.

Columnist and educator helped found association for black journalists

Charles Sumner "Chuck" Stone Jr., 89, a longtime journalist and educator who was one of the founders of the National Assn. of Black Journalists, died Sunday at an assisted living facility in Chapel Hill, N.C., according to his daughter Allegra Stone. The cause was not given.

Many who helped launch the association credited Stone as the driving force behind its founding, said its current president, Bob Butler.

"Chuck chaired the first meeting and became the first president. He provided the rudder that steered NABJ at a time when being a member was not always easy. Some employers back then told members to choose between their jobs and NABJ," Butler said in a news release.

After serving as a Tuskegee Airman in World War II, Stone was a writer and editor at influential black publications in New York, Washington and Chicago through the early 1960s, using his writing to urge the Kennedy administration to advance the cause of civil rights. Subsequently, he served as an advisor to Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D-N.Y.).

His reputation grew after he was hired as the first black columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, where he worked as a columnist and editor from 1972 to 1991. He was known for being outspoken on discrimination, police brutality and racism.

Stone's family said dozens of suspects surrendered to Stone rather than the authorities because of his efforts to hold the criminal justice system accountable. He was also credited with helping to negotiate the release of six guards at a Pennsylvania prison who were held hostage by inmates in 1981.

Stone was born in St. Louis in 1924 and raised in Connecticut. After his time in the military, he graduated from Wesleyan University and earned a master's degree in sociology from the University of Chicago.

He had been a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina since 1991.

John Pinette

Stand-up comic, actor in 'Seinfeld' finale

John Pinette, 50, a chubby stand-up comedian who portrayed a hapless carjacking victim in the final episode of "Seinfeld," died of natural causes Saturday at a hotel in Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office said. The medical examiner's office said no autopsy was performed, and Pinette's own physician signed off on the cause of death.

The portly Pinette was a self-deprecating presence on stage, frequently discussing his weight on stand-up specials "Show Me the Buffet," "I'm Starvin'!" and "Still Hungry."

The Boston native appeared in movies including "The Punisher" and had three stand-up shows released on DVD but was perhaps best known as the portly carjacking victim whose plight lands the "Seinfeld" stars before a judge for failing to help under a "good Samaritan" law in the last episode of the series, in 1998. Pinette also appeared in the television series "Parker Lewis Can't Lose."

Pinette also appeared in a national tour of "Hairspray" as Edna Turnblad, the mother of the play's heroine.

Times wire reports

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