Semple, Burns, Ellis, Simon, Phillips

Noting the passing of prominent Pittsburghers
Phyllis Semple, Dock Ellis, Sydney Simon Phyllis Semple, Dock Ellis, Sydney Simon
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Dock Ellis, 63

One of baseball’s most colorful, controversial and bizarre figures, Ellis was a Pittsburgh Pirates star, who once pitched a no-​hitter on LSD. In an era of social upheaval, Ellis was branded a militant by the media because of his vocal advocacy for racial equality. His 1970 no-​hitter came about after he had thought he had the day off. Ellis hit several batters and walked eight in the ugliest no-​hitter ever thrown. The best of his 11 years with the Pirates was the 1971 Championship season. Ellis went 199 and started that year’s AllStar game, serving up the famous home run that Reggie Jackson hit into the light tower at Tiger Stadium. Years later, Ellis retaliated, beaning Jackson in the face. In 1973, after appearing in an Ebony magazine hair-​style article, Ellis began wearing curlers to the ballpark. In 1974, during the Pirates’ great rivalry with the Cincinnati Reds, Ellis felt the Pirates had become cowed by the Reds. The fiery right-​hander set out to hit every Red in the lineup, hitting Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen before missing and walking Tony Perez. After throwing twice at Johnny Bench’s head, Ellis was removed from the game. Later in life, Ellis became involved in charitable works. A former alcoholic, he became a vigilant advocate for drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation.

Phyllis Semple, 87

She was an accomplished musician, a civic leader, and matriarch of one of the nation’s leading golf families. She took up golf after marrying her husband, Harton Singer Semple, who became president of the U.S. Golf Association. An outstanding athlete with a competitive nature, she served as captain of the Women’s U.S. Amateur golf team and won six western Pennsylvania Championships, two Pennsylvania State Senior Championships, and one U.S. Senior Championship. She inspired her daughter, Carole Semple Thompson, to become one of the nation’s greatest female amateur golfers. The longtime Sewickley Heights resident was a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra board member and founding member of the Symphony Association and the Sewickley Valley Historical Society.

Sydney Simon, 80

Starting work at 16 in a deli to support his family, Simon went on with his brother, Moe, to create and build a Pittsburgh institution, The Original Hot Dog Shop. In the heart of Oakland, the “O” started in 1960, with a cigar box as a cash register, and became Pittsburgh’s best-​known restaurant, serving its signature hot dogs and fries to a mix of doctors, patients, professors, students, homeless people and everyone in between — all eating shoulder-​to-​shoulder at the front counter. Simon defied melanoma cancer for 25 years and, though he had become legally blind, developed several patents, ranging from engine safety to help for visually-​impaired people.

Arthur Burns Jr., 86

He was the founder and owner of Homewood’s Southern Platter restaurant, a Pittsburgh fixture for soul food and longtime neighborhood icon. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Burns earned a business degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He started the Southern Platter in 1970.

Mary Phillips, 88

In 1944, the lifelong Butler County resident married Donald Phillips, scion of the Butler oil and gas family. She became one of the county’s principal philanthropists, founding the Maridon Museum in 2004. The museum, which takes its name from the combination of “Mary” and “Don,” focuses on Japanese and Chinese art and culture.

PQ Staff

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