MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Dyer Brainerd Holmes, director of manned space flight for NASA when Americans were making their early forays into space in the early 1960s, has died.
Holmes' stepson, Pierce Ledbetter, said Holmes died at Baptist Memorial Hospital East in Memphis on Friday at age 91. Holmes died from complications from pneumonia, Ledbetter said.
Holmes, who was born in New York in 1921, was an influential figure in the aeronautics and aerospace industries during a career that lasted more than 40 years.
He joined NASA as director of manned space flight in October 1961, according to the NASA History Office. He resigned in June 1963.
During Holmes' time at NASA, John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut in orbit on Feb. 20, 1962 on Mercury-Atlas 6.
Scott Carpenter followed Glenn by riding Mercury-Atlas 7 into space on May 24 of the same year. Walter Schirra became the fifth American in space on Mercury-Atlas 8 on Oct. 3, 1962.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rhythm guitar player John Wilkinson, who performed with Elvis Presley more than a thousand times, has died at his home in southwest Missouri. He was 67.
Wilkinson passed away Friday at his home in Springfield after a fight with cancer, according to a family spokesman and the Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home. Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley offered their "deepest sympathy" to his family, saying in a statement that "John and the beautiful music he made with Elvis will live forever in our hearts."
Wilkinson first met Elvis Presley when he was 10 years old after sneaking into his dressing room before a show at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield. He amused Presley when he told him, "You can't play guitar worth a damn."
Family friend and spokesman Gary Ellison said a Springfield history museum recalled the pair's meeting in an exhibit that ran until about three weeks ago.
"John loved to tell that story," Ellison, a fellow musician, said Friday.
After the chance meeting, Wilkinson developed a name for himself as a singer and guitarist, performing with such groups as The New Christy Minstrels.
BANGOR, Maine (AP) — Two U.S. men accused of participating in a ring that smuggled narwhal tusks from Canada into Maine have pleaded not guilty.
Andrew Zarauskas (zuh-ROO'-skuh) of Union, N.J., and Jay Conrad of Lakeland, Tenn., face 29 smuggling and money laundering charges each. They were free on bond Friday after entering their pleas in federal court in Bangor.
Narwhals have ivory tusks that can grow longer than 8 feet. The tusks can sell for thousands of dollars but it's illegal to import them into the U.S.
Prosecutors say two Canadian men smuggled the tusks across the border in a secret compartment in a trailer. Those two men were charged in Canada, while their alleged buyers, Zarauskas and Conrad, were charged in U.S. District Court in Maine.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Steve Gill, a vocal opponent of efforts to create a state income tax and a two-time Republican congressional nominee, is giving up his radio show.
"We've done this for 15 years, when I thought we'd do it for two or three," he said.
Gill, a Brentwood attorney, said his show most recently syndicated by Radio America will conclude at the end of the month so he can concentrate on creating a business consulting company.
"It's going to be consulting, speaking and working with companies, offering my diverse background of law and politics and media," said Gill, 56. "We're kind of a one-shop stop."
Gill said he has no interest in converting his prominence in Tennessee political circles to either lobby or run for office.
Gill ran for Congress twice against former U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon. He came within 2,000 votes of defeating the Democrat in 1994, the same year Republicans won both U.S. Senate seats and the governor's race.