Notable deaths last week
Richard Nelson Current, a prolific and award-winning Abraham Lincoln scholar who for decades was a leader in his field and helped shape a more realistic view of the iconic president, has died. He was 100.
Current's many books included "The Lincoln Nobody Knows" and "Lincoln the President," winner of the Bancroft Prize in 1956. He had many other interests, writing about Daniel Webster, the invention of the typewriter and the state of Wisconsin. In his 80s, he and his wife, Marcia Ewing Current, co-wrote a biography of dancer Loie Fuller. In his 90s, he translated essays and stories by the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun, teaching himself the language of his ancestors.
"He never lost his sense of curiosity. It was remarkable," Marcia Ewing Current, married to the historian for 28 years, said.
Bill Dees emerged from his days as an out-of-cash young songwriter to pen tunes recorded by Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and other country music greats, but the centerpiece of his career was his work with Roy Orbison, including co-writing the classic rock hit, "Oh, Pretty Woman."
Dees, who died in Arkansas at age 73, had said writing that song with Orbison in 1964 changed his life. In a 2008 interview with National Public Radio, Dees recalled that the night they penned the hit song, Orbison told him he wouldn't need to go to work that Monday if he didn't want to.
"He said, 'Buy yourself an electric piano, and I'll take you on the road with me.' And he said, 'I'll pay you what the band's getting,"' Dees said during the NPR interview, which is posted on his Dees' website.
He went on to tour Europe and perform on the Ed Sullivan Show with Orbison, with whom he also co-wrote numerous other songs, including "It's Over," which also was a No. 1 hit.
Roger Wood, who became editor of the New York Post shortly after it was purchased by Rupert Murdoch and shaped the feisty tabloid it is today, has died. He was 87.
Jack Hood Vaughn, whose long list of jobs included serving as director of the Peace Corps, U.S. ambassador to Panama and Colombia, as well as stints for the federal government across Latin America, has died. He was 92.
The three-time Golden Gloves champion, who served with the Marines in World War II and once lunched with Che Guevara, was reportedly in great health toward the end of his life.
Mitchell Lucker, frontman for the death-metal band rising star Suicide Silence, has died of injuries in a Southern California motorcycle crash. He was 28.
One night in 1969, as a salvo of Viet Cong rockets exploded in the streets of Saigon, Edwin Q. White paused after typing a dateline on his typewriter to light his pipe and reflect on his belief that as an American journalist, he belonged in Vietnam.
To his Associated Press colleagues, it was typical of the reporter-philosopher known as "unflappable Ed," the calmest person in any crisis.
White, who served as AP's Saigon bureau chief as the U.S. deployed massive numbers of combat troops to Vietnam, died at age 90.
"Ed White led an extraordinary AP bureau that covered the American involvement in Vietnam from its start through the fall of Saigon in 1975," said John Daniszewski, AP's senior managing editor for international news. "He embodied accuracy, dispassion and objectivity in his reporting, and his contribution to the telling of that history will never be forgotten by his colleagues."
Letitia Baldrige, the White House social secretary during the Kennedy administration who came to be regarded as an authority on etiquette, has died at 86.
Ernie Hays, an organist who was a fixture at St. Louis sporting events and provided the soundtrack of Cardinals baseball for four decades, has died at age 77.
Pascual Perez, whose Major League Baseball pitching career was marked by an All-Star berth along with drug use and a highway mishap that earned him the nickname "I-285," was found dead with a head wound in the Dominican Republic, police said.
Perez, 55, was found in his home in San Gregorio de Nigua. No arrests have been made.
The right-hander made his major-league debut on May 7, 1980, with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Perez pitched for 11 seasons with the Pirates, Braves, Montreal Expos and, for the final two years, the New York Yankees. He was an All-Star selection with the Braves in 1983, when he went 15-8 with a 3.43 earned run average, and had a career record of 67-68 with a 3.44 ERA.
Cordelia Edvardson, a Holocaust survivor and award-winning Swedish journalist who reported on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for three decades, has died. She was 83.
She was born in Munich, Germany, in 1929. Her father was Jewish and though she was raised Catholic, the Nazis regarded her as a Jew and sent her to concentration camps in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. She described her experiences in a 1984 autobiography for which she won the German Geschwister-Scholl literary award.
Authorities say R&B singer Natina Reed, 32, known as a member of the female group Blaque, was killed after being stuck by a car in metro Atlanta.
Blaque's hits included "808" and "Bring It All to Me" in the late '90s. Reed was also in the movie "Bring It On," released in 2000.
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