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Joe Louis' sister dies of exposure

Feb. 20, 2008 at 1:30 PM

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Feb. 20 (UPI) -- The sister of late heavyweight champion Joe Louis died of exposure in the snow after wandering out of a retirement complex in a Detroit suburb.

Vunies High, 92, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, was dressed only in pajamas when she was found dead Monday morning, The Detroit News reported Wednesday. Lt. Nick Loussia of the Southfield Police said that High was last seen at about 8 p.m. Sunday, 14 hours earlier, and that employees at The Heatherwood had been looking for her when they discovered she was not in her room.

An autopsy determined the cause of death to be hypothermia.

High was born Vunies Barrow, the youngest child of Alabama sharecroppers. Her brother, the seventh child in a family of eight, dropped the name Barrow when he became a professional boxer.

The family moved to Detroit, where High graduated from Cass Technical High School. Louis helped High become the first in the family to graduate from college by paying her tuition at Howard University. She was a teacher and counselor in the Detroit schools for 25 years.

Joe Louis died of a heart attack in 1981.

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