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Former Alcatraz inmate dies
KSHB -AP ^ | 9/27/06

Posted on 09/27/2006 11:57:50 AM PDT by Borges

FORT SCOTT, Kan. (AP) – Willie Radkay, a former bank robber who was assigned a cell next to prohibition-era gangster Machine Gun Kelly while serving time at Alcatraz, died on his 95th birthday.

Radkay, who died Sunday at Mercy Health Center at Fort Scott, had told reporters he was given the number 666 when he began a seven-year stint in 1945 at the San Francisco island prison dubbed "The Rock."

In his later years, Radkay returned to the island for several reunions, where he was interviewed by documentary makers and newspaper reporters.

"We used to hijack bootleggers and stick up gambling houses," he told the San Francisco Chronicle during a 2000 reunion. "When Prohibition ended, we lost our victims, so the only thing left to do was rob banks."

He told the paper he hung around with George "Machine Gun" Kelly and Pretty Boy Floyd and was friends with Baby Face Nelson's driver.

Radkay, who was born in Kansas City, Kan., turned to crime after his father died of pneumonia. His mother was left with four children to support, and Radkay was placed in a foster home.

By the time he was 16, he was committing armed robberies, said his niece, Patty Terry, who wrote her uncle's story in a self-published book, titled "A Devil Incarnate: From Altar Boy to Alcatraz."

While researching his crimes, she came across a newspaper account of a 1935 jewelry store robbery in which her uncle was shot 12 times. She inquired about it, but her uncle said he couldn't recall the shooting.

"I asked how can you get shot 12 times and not remember. He said: 'Tough skin, soft bullets and they didn't hit anything important,"' she recalled in his obituary.

Radkay turned his life around after he was freed in 1969. He married the next year and began working as a custodial supervisor at the Prairie View School District in the small Kansas town of LaCygne.

Radkay spent his final years in a Fort Scott nursing home, after breaking first one hip, then the other.

"A number of people would say a criminal's life should not be glamorized in print ... and maybe this is true but my uncle is a part of history that needed to be recorded," Terry said. "The mere fact he did all those years of incarceration in the worst prisons of the era and mingled with gangsters who became his friends, was released after paying his debt to society, married and became an upstanding citizen of the community in itself is remarkable."

Radkay was cremated. He will be buried Thursday alongside his late wife, Louise, at Mount Calvary Cemetery of Kansas City, Kan.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: alcatraz

1 posted on 09/27/2006 11:57:52 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges

And this is news because....???


2 posted on 09/27/2006 12:00:00 PM PDT by jackibutterfly (.)
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To: Borges

Rest in peace.


3 posted on 09/27/2006 12:00:24 PM PDT by PeterFinn (Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for.)
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To: Borges

"A number of people would say a criminal's life should not be glamorized in print ... and maybe this is true but my uncle is a part of history that needed to be recorded," Terry said. "The mere fact he did all those years of incarceration in the worst prisons of the era and mingled with gangsters who became his friends, was released after paying his debt to society, married and became an upstanding citizen of the community in itself is remarkable."

"Remarkable" only if you learn from the experience. Glamorizing gangsters (whether from the 1930s or in the modern era, like the Sopranos) and crime is not honorable.


4 posted on 09/27/2006 12:00:39 PM PDT by weegee (Remember "Remember the Maine"? Well in the current war "Remember the Baby Milk Factory")
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To: jackibutterfly

Because AP said it was.

It is a matter of unique historical interest in this particular branch of American legend.


5 posted on 09/27/2006 12:01:17 PM PDT by Borges
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To: jackibutterfly
And this is news because....??? it has interesting characters and an iconoclastic location -- how is Pelosi talking bad about a Republican congress news?
6 posted on 09/27/2006 12:02:34 PM PDT by SF Republican
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To: jackibutterfly
And this is news because....???

And you read this article, then posted to this thread because...

7 posted on 09/27/2006 12:04:50 PM PDT by Ol' Dan Tucker (Karen Ryan reporting...)
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To: weegee

America is the only country that glamorizes their outlaws and criminals. But, many of our outlaws were folk heros during the frontier era and during the depression.


8 posted on 09/27/2006 12:10:09 PM PDT by Concho (IRS--Americas real terrorist organization.)
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To: Concho

"America is the only country that glamorizes their outlaws and criminals."

Two words: Robin Hood


9 posted on 09/27/2006 12:11:52 PM PDT by toddlintown (Six bullets and Lennon goes down. Yet not one hit Yoko. Discuss.)
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To: toddlintown

Guy Fawkes


10 posted on 09/27/2006 12:13:06 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Concho
"America is the only country that glamorizes their outlaws and criminals."

Don't know if this is entirely accurate. India, China and Russia come to mind.

The Japanese ronin were considered "mischievous" and hooligans, but in many Japanese 'westerns' were in fact glamorized.
11 posted on 09/27/2006 12:13:57 PM PDT by Al Gator (Refusing to "stoop to your enemy's level", gets you cut off at the knees.)
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To: Concho

Italy had a whole sub-genre of crime films and Japan and Hong Kong films have also glorified organized crime since the 1960s.

As to real crime, the Krays were celebrity gangsters in England, Ronnie Biggs was the last train robber, but I don't know if there are other "famous" criminals (especially murderers but also robbers) in other countries. And infamous is famous if there are fan cults centered around the criminals.


12 posted on 09/27/2006 12:16:06 PM PDT by weegee (Remember "Remember the Maine"? Well in the current war "Remember the Baby Milk Factory")
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To: jackibutterfly

Prayers for him and his. May he rest in peace. He has long since been square with the house.


13 posted on 09/27/2006 12:17:08 PM PDT by Hydroshock ( (Proverbs 22:7). The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.)
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To: Al Gator

"America is the only country that glamorizes their outlaws and criminals."

"Don't know if this is entirely accurate. India, China and Russia come to mind."

C'mon. Admit it. It's a too broad and stupid comment.


14 posted on 09/27/2006 12:18:36 PM PDT by toddlintown (Six bullets and Lennon goes down. Yet not one hit Yoko. Discuss.)
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To: jackibutterfly

And you are a hit and run poster, because?


15 posted on 09/27/2006 12:19:55 PM PDT by Osage Orange (The old/liberal/socialist media is the most ruthless and destructive enemy of this country.)
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To: toddlintown

"America is the only country that glamorizes their outlaws and criminals."

???? Ever watch "Das Will"?


16 posted on 09/27/2006 12:21:45 PM PDT by Bringbackthedraft
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To: Bringbackthedraft

Uh, I didn't make that statement. I quoted it from another poster.


17 posted on 09/27/2006 12:24:35 PM PDT by toddlintown (Six bullets and Lennon goes down. Yet not one hit Yoko. Discuss.)
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To: jackibutterfly
And this is news because....

It's news because it's news, that's why.

18 posted on 09/27/2006 12:24:49 PM PDT by lowbridge (I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming, like his passengers.)
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To: jackibutterfly
And this is news because....

It's news because it's news, that's why.

19 posted on 09/27/2006 12:24:50 PM PDT by lowbridge (I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather. Not screaming, like his passengers.)
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To: Borges

May he rest in peace.

I would love to visit Alcatraz one day. Lots of history for such a tiny island.


20 posted on 09/27/2006 12:26:25 PM PDT by flutters (God Bless The USA)
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To: toddlintown

Captain Morgan..........


21 posted on 09/27/2006 12:27:44 PM PDT by Red Badger (Is Castro DEAD YET?........)
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To: Borges
I couldn't sell my parents or their parents history because they worked,went into the military, paid taxes, and struggled to raise large families on nothing, yet they didn't have to rob banks ....

but that would be boring.......

22 posted on 09/27/2006 12:30:47 PM PDT by cherry
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To: Borges

23 posted on 09/27/2006 12:42:22 PM PDT by Borges
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To: flutters

Very interesting visit. I took this ferry boat over from pier 39. There are these rock formations in the bay where the sea lions hang out. When the wind blows the wrong way you will wish you were somewhere else.


24 posted on 09/27/2006 1:13:34 PM PDT by printhead
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To: Borges

RIP.


25 posted on 09/27/2006 1:32:27 PM PDT by fieldmarshaldj (Cheney X -- Destroying the Liberal Democrat Traitors By Any Means Necessary -- Ya Dig ? Sho 'Nuff.)
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To: Al Gator

Don't forget Austrlia, which was populated by English prisoners. They count them among their ancestors. Makes doing your genealogy quite interesting.


26 posted on 09/27/2006 1:33:03 PM PDT by passionfruit
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To: jackibutterfly

I found it interesting. I have been through Fort Scott many times.


27 posted on 09/27/2006 1:51:53 PM PDT by Sunshine Sister
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To: jackibutterfly
And this is news because....???

If I were you I'd demand that all posts pass your judgment.

28 posted on 09/27/2006 1:55:47 PM PDT by steveo (ADVERTISEMENT)
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To: Borges

Jean Valjean?


29 posted on 09/27/2006 2:13:41 PM PDT by lawdude (Bill Clinton is a virus and should be treated as such.)
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