PEOPLE IN BRIEF: Cherokee's Mankiller remembered as humble patriot

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller, one of the few women to ever lead a major tribe, matched strength with a humbleness that made her approachable, the nation's current chief said Saturday.

Chief Chad Smith spoke at a memorial service for Mankiller that drew hundreds of tribe members and 170 tribal, state and federal leaders. Mankiller, one of the most visible American Indian leaders in recent years, died Tuesday at age 64 after a bout with pancreatic cancer.

''Wilma Mankiller was a patriot for the Cherokee Nation,'' Smith said. ''Her strength was absolute humility. That humility made her approachable rather than aloof ... and made her lead rather than follow.''

With her death, Smith said, ''a dark cloud hangs above this nation.''

The road to the Cherokee Nation Cultural Grounds about 70 miles east of Tulsa was clogged with cars early Saturday. Volunteers had set up bleachers and 1,500 chairs, but many mourners expected those to fill quickly and brought their own chairs to sit on the lawn.

Raabe, 'Oz' Munchkin actor, dies at 94

Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin coroner in ''The Wizard of Oz'' and proclaimed in the movie that the Wicked Witch of the East was ''really most sincerely dead,'' has died. He was 94.

His caregiver, Cindy Bosnyak, said Raabe died Friday morning at a hospital in Orange Park, Fla. He was one of the few surviving Munchkins from the 1939 film.

Bosnyak said he complained of a sore throat at his retirement community before collapsing and going into cardiac arrest. He was taken to Orange Park Medical Center, where he later died, she said.

''He had a headful of hair at 94 and he ... remembered everything everyday,'' she said. ''To me he was a walking history book, very alert.''

Raabe was one of the 124 Munchkins in the film classic and one of only nine who had speaking parts. He was 22 years old and a show business veteran, earning money for college as a ''midget'' performer, as they were called then, when the movie was shot in 1938.