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Obituary: Nancy Chaffee / Tennis player in the '50s, former wife of Pirates' Kiner

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

By John Nadel, The Associated Press

Nancy Chaffee, a highly ranked tennis player in the 1950s, died Sunday in Coronado, Calif., of complications from cancer. She was 73.

Ms. Chaffee, the former wife of Pirates baseball star Ralph Kiner, was married to Jack Whitaker, a network sports announcer, for the past 11 years.

"Anybody who knew her can tell you she was outgoing and honest, a terrific person, the best friend I ever had," Whitaker said yesterday from the family home in Indian Wells, Calif. "She was just the same with royalty as she was with the gardener."

Whitaker said his wife was diagnosed with cancer six months ago -- on Valentine's Day.

Once the world's fourth-ranked woman tennis player, Ms. Chaffee was a three-time national indoor champion and won the national junior championship twice.

In the late 1940s, she played on the men's tennis team at the University of Southern California. The school didn't have a women's team at the time.

Ms. Chaffee had two sons and a daughter with Kiner, a prolific home-run hitter subsequently elected to baseball's Hall of Fame. All three of their children live in Palm Desert, Calif., where a funeral service is scheduled for Friday.

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