By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  June 7, 2002 at 4:11 PM
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You would have thought that the graduating class at Dartmouth would have been thrilled to discover that former student Fred Rogers was returning to deliver this year's commencement address. After all, the school's public relations department trumpeted the announcement in early May. But, according to published reports, many students think the idea is silly. Now it's a certainty that all generations have to "find themselves," but it would appear from media reports that Mister Rogers may have a tough row to hoe when he mounts the dais on Sunday. Rogers will be given an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He attended Dartmouth in the late 1940s before moving on to Rollins College in Orlando. By the way, the upcoming visit by Rogers has been quite a topic on local student chat channels. On the dartlog channel on the Internet there's a comment from one student, criticizing the choice of Rogers that ends with the notation: "If he makes us sing, I'm leaving!" Well, it would appear that there's only one person who can set the students straight and give them their comeuppance ... Lady Elaine Fairchild. But, there's no work on whether King Friday XIII will let her leave the museum to attend.


Less than three months after the Ramones -- one of the all-time great punk groups -- were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a co-founder of the group has died. Los Angeles police confirm that Dee Dee Ramone was found by his wife in their Los Angeles home, dead of a possibly accidental overdose. Born Douglas Glenn Colvin, with three others he started The Ramones in the mid 1970s. They all took a common last name. The group's initial album was released in 1976. Over the years Ramone struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. Addictions play a large part in the scenario of his autobiography, "Lobotomy: Surviving the Ramones." Dee Dee Ramone was only 49. Another of the group, Joey (Jeffrey Hyman), died just over a year ago.


The diminutive actor who played Mini-Me opposite Austin Powers has been asked to be a presenter for the upcoming Flameworthy Video Music Awards. According to CMT, organizer of the yearly broadcast event, Verne Troyer will join a long list of country icons and several non-country notables who are already scheduled to hand out statuettes. Others on the list include Eddie George, Ty Pennington, Melissa Etheridge and Cheri Oteri. Even Gene Simmons -- of KISS fame -- will be there. The all-star list for the awards includes Trace Adkins, Gary Allan, Chris Cagle, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Cledus T. Judd, Montgomery Gentry, Kathy Najimy and Rascal Flatts. The broadcast will be on June 12.


Cody, Wyo., is now home of what some are calling the nation's most unusual museum dedicated to natural history. Venerable sportscaster Curt Gowdy was the master of ceremonies for the opening of the Draper Museum of Natural History in an outdoor ceremony under gorgeous Wyoming skies. The facility is the fifth museum at the city's Cody Center. Though not a featured speaker, more of a roaming guest, actor Clint Eastwood told the crowd that the West and jazz are the two great truly American contributions to the world. He noted that the new museum, built at a cost of $17 million, goes out of its way to display the natural history of the area. Others in attendance included second-generation naturalist Richard Leakey, who flew in from Kenya to participate. According to the Cody Enterprise newspaper -- a twice-weekly publication founded by the city's namesake, "Wild" Bill Cody -- the high point of the event was the release of 250 monarch butterflies.


In a previous report we talked about the way that the daughter of singer Mel Tillis, Pam, has carved out her own niche in the world of country music. Today our focus is on Shana Morrison, daughter of Irish rock legend Van Morrison. The San Francisco Chronicle says that for the first three decades of her life she tried to avoid show business, but now -- after being bitten by the show biz bug while appearing on stage with her dad -- Shana has released her first album. Called "7 Wishes," the CD was released on Vanguard Records. In seeking her own style, the younger Morrison hired producer Steve Buckingham, who has worked with Dolly Parton, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Martin Taylor in past projects. Shana Morrison's style is described as experimentation, with "variations on high-sheen contemporary R&B mixes." She's now 32 and preparing a second CD.


There are reports in Seattle that one of the country's best-known aviation executives may be asked to head the nation's second-largest airline. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says that Alan Mulally, the head of Boeing's commercial plane business, has reportedly been approached by United Airlines to become the company's latest CEO. The publication says that Mulally is credited with stopping the red ink at Boeing and turning the company around in recent years. Mulally has been with the premiere aircraft maker for more than 30 years and is considered one of the company's best design engineers. Were he to move to United, he would bring to the employee-owned carrier a unique knowledge of the hardware of aviation.


In light of the flap at Dartmouth over Fred Rogers' upcoming commencement address there, here is today's question: "Is it too much to expect that students at Dartmouth should honor Rogers for his work, rather than laugh at him as if he has nothing to say to them since they feel they are 'grown up' now?" Put FRED in the subject line and send to via the Internet.


Last week we asked a question about the greatest loss of a colleague you've ever suffered. We got some bittersweet replies. So, from a quick sampling of the inbox, here are a few: AntiM777 says that she remembers a co-worker named Harold. He was the "joker" of the office. "He died of a heart attack one weekend. Things were never the same without him. I quit a month later." NH remembers a colleague named Jon who was a project manager at the utility where he worked. He had to leave to have cancer treated and returned once (for a week) and it was evident that he was in horrible shape. Less than six months after Jon died the company's computer system was completely reworked; the old system, of which his departed colleague was the driving force, was phased out. NH writes that in essence, "his life's work died with him." And cricketn says being a care provider you often see people die ... it just takes some getting used to. Susan says that a favorite colleague was killed by a drunk driver who went the wrong way up an exit ramp. Before the court system could get the guy off the road he caused another fatal accident -- in which the young daughter of a preacher was killed. Personally, I remember a very fun guy named David with whom I worked at the U.S.D.A. in Washington. He was in his final year before retirement and took on one more assignment, in Miami. During a live interview with a reporter he dropped dead of a heart attack. I can still see him anchoring a mock tour of our office I did on an early video tape recorder. He constantly referred to the contents of the office as "squalor." Funny guy. I still miss him. NEXT: Is society getting messier? GBA.

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