Billy Powell, keyboardist with Lynyrd Skynyrd
A keyboardist for the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd has died at his northeast Florida home.
Billy Powell called 911 about 12:55 a.m. Wednesday saying he was having trouble breathing. Rescue crews performed CPR, but Powell was pronounced dead at 1:52 a.m., said Orange Park Police Lt. Mark Cornett.
Powell, 56, who has a history of heart problems, missed a Tuesday appointment with his doctor for a cardiac evaluation. A heart attack is suspected. No autopsy will be performed because Powell's cardiologist will sign the death certificate, Cornett said.
Never miss a local story.
The Jacksonville-based band was formed in 1966 by a group of high school students – famously, it took its name from a P.E. teacher they disliked, Leonard Skinner.
Powell joined the group around 1972, and it went on to become one of the South's most popular rock groups, with such hits as “Free Bird,” “What's Your Name” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” which reached the top 10 on the national charts in 1974. The band was decimated Oct. 20, 1977, when their plane crashed in a Mississippi swamp. Six were killed, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and two other band members. Two years after the accident, Powell and fellow members Allen Collins, Gary Rossington and Leon Wilkeson formed the Rossington-Collins Band. It broke up in 1982.
In 1991, Powell was part of a revived version of the band that launched a tour in Baton Rouge, La. – where Lynyrd Skynyrd was headed in 1977 when their plane crashed. Fans who kept their tickets from the canceled 1977 concert were admitted free.
Mary Crist Fleming, schools founder
Mary Crist Fleming, founder of American schools abroad, has died. She was 98.
Born in 1910 to school founders and directors Haldy Miller Crist and Frances Leavitt Crist in Boston, Fleming graduated from Harvard University in 1933 with a degree in French.
She traveled widely in Europe and in 1944 established Frog Hollow Country Day School in Lansdale, Pa., which she directed until 1955.
In 1956, Fleming founded The American School in Switzerland, according to the school, “as an experiment in international education designed to give students strong preparation for American colleges and universities, with the additional dimension of exposure to cultures and training in languages other than their own.”
She went on to found several further schools including The American School in England in Thorpe, Surrey.
Ramaswamy Venkataraman, former leader of India
Ramaswamy Venkataraman, who was India's eighth president and helped draft the country's constitution, has died. He was 98.
Venkataraman served as president from 1987 to 1992 and before that was the country's vice president. He was a member of the Constituent Assembly that wrote India's constitution, which was adopted in 1950. He was also a member of the country's first Parliament.