Notable deaths last week
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Scott Carpenter conquered the heights of space, the depths of the ocean, and the darkness of fear. And in doing so he became the second American to orbit the Earth, powered by not just a rocket but an insatiable curiosity.
"Conquering of fear is one of life's greatest pleasures and it can be done a lot of different places," he said.
His wife, Patty Barrett, said Carpenter died of complications from a September stroke. Carpenter, who lived in Vail, Colo., was 88.
Carpenter followed John Glenn into orbit, and it was Carpenter who gave him the historic send-off, "Godspeed John Glenn." The two were the last survivors of the famed original Mercury 7 astronauts from the "Right Stuff" days of the early 1960s. Glenn is the only one left alive.
In his only flight, Carpenter missed his landing by 288 miles, leaving a nation on edge for an hour as it watched live and putting Carpenter on the outs with his NASA bosses. So Carpenter found a new place to explore: the ocean floor.
He was the only person who was both an astronaut and an aquanaut, exploring the old ocean and what President John F. Kennedy called "the new ocean" — space.
"History books will remember him as an explorer of the heavens and the seas," Glenn said.
One of 110 candidates to be the nation's first astronauts, Carpenter became an instant celebrity in 1959 when he was chosen. The Mercury 7 were Carpenter, Glenn, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Walter M. Schirra Jr., Alan B. Shepard Jr., and Donald K. "Deke" Slayton.
A World War II veteran and the nation's oldest living Medal of Honor recipient has died in New Jersey.
Nicholas Oresko, an Army master sergeant who was badly wounded as he single-handedly took out two enemy bunkers during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, died Friday night at 96.
At 28, Oresko was the platoon leader when automatic fire pinned down his unit. Realizing a machine gun in a nearby bunker needed to be eliminated, Oresko moved out alone in the morning darkness, braving bullets that zipped about him, until he was close enough to throw a grenade into the German bunker. He rushed the bunker and used his M-1 rifle to kill the soldiers who survived the grenade blast.
Then another machine gun fired, knocking Oresko down and wounding him in the right hip and leg. He managed to crawl to another bunker and take it out with another grenade. Despite being weak from loss of blood, Oresko refused to be evacuated until he was assured that the mission was accomplished.
Andy Pafko, a four-time All-Star who played on the last Chicago Cubs team to reach the World Series and was the famously forlorn Dodgers outfielder who watched Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard `Round the World" sail over the left-field wall during the 1951 National League playoff, has died. He was 92.
Pafko was born in the northwestern Wisconsin city of Boyceville, and he started his baseball career in Chicago's farm club. Manager Charlie Grimm gave him the nickname "Pruschka" when he joined the Cubs in 1943, and he was later known also as "Handy Andy."
Pafko became a starter the next season at the age of 19. He hit .298 with 110 RBIs in 1945, helping the Cubs to the pennant. In the World Series loss to Detroit, Pafko had six hits, including two doubles, but batted only .214.
He was an All-Star from 1947 until 1950. His best seasons during that stretch were 1950 with .304 average, 36 homers and 92 RBIs and 1948 with a .312 average, 26 homers and 101 RBIs. He was traded to Brooklyn in 1950 and to Milwaukee in 1953. He had declining production numbers and saw limited duty in the last few years before retiring in 1959.
Pafko's other three World Series appearances were all against the Yankees — 1952 with Brooklyn, and 1957 and 1958 with Milwaukee. The Braves won the series in 1957.
Pafko once described a run-in with Robinson in 1948, when the Dodger great hit a triple and bowled him over at third base. The Cubs dugout emptied.
"I thought there was going to be a big fight. But we backed off and it all quieted down," Pafko said in a 1997 interview. "Later, when I joined the Dodgers and he was my teammate, Jackie came over to me and asked me if I remembered that incident at third base. Both of us laughed about it."
William Niehous, a former businessman from Ohio who was kidnapped in 1976 and rescued three years later in a Venezuelan jungle, has died at age 82.
Venezuelan guerrillas held Niehous in the jungle for more than three years while demanding publication of their manifesto and money.
He was rescued in 1979 by police officers who were searching for cattle thieves.
Niehous then returned the United States and to work at Owens-Illinois.
Larry Benoit, a deer hunter who helped spawn a revival of the art of tracking and created an empire of books, videos and seminars, has died. He was 89.
In the past 40 years, the name Benoit has become synonymous with deer hunting and the bagging of huge bucks, many weighing more than 200 pounds. During a lifetime of hunting, his family estimated, Benoit shot at least 200 bucks.
"He has been my hero since I was 12 or 13," said Scott Smolen, 56, a farmer from Mondovi, Wis., who invited Benoit to hunt his farm last November, when Benoit shot his last buck. Smolen first came to know Benoit by buying hunting supplies from him.
"In my opinion," Smolen said, "he was the greatest deer hunter that ever walked the face of the Earth."
Erich Priebke, a former Nazi SS captain who evaded arrest for nearly 50 years after taking part in one of the worst atrocities by German occupiers in Italy during World War II, has died at age 100.
Priebke was finally extradited to Italy from Argentina in 1995 to face trial for the 1944 massacre, and he was sentenced to life in prison. However he served that sentence under house arrest at the Rome home of his lawyer, Paolo Giachini.
Ralph Dungan, a top aide to President John F. Kennedy, who later served as U.S. ambassador to Chile and as New Jersey's chancellor of higher education, has died at 90.
Darris McCord, a member of the Detroit Lions' "Fearsome Foursome" that terrorized NFL offenses, has died at age 80.
McCord played left end on a line that included NFL great Alex Karras at left tackle, Roger Brown at right tackle and Sam Williams at right end. McCord had three interceptions and recovered nine fumbles in 168 games, mostly as a defensive end. He missed only two games in his career.
Stanley Kauffmann, the erudite critic, author and editor who reviewed movies for The New Republic for more than 50 years, wrote his own plays and fiction, and helped discover the classic novels "Fahrenheit 451" and "The Moviegoer," has died at age 97.
Kauffmann's interests and influence were not limited to film. He worked in publishing in the 1940s and throughout the 1950s. He wrote several novels, among them "The Philanderer," released in Britain in 1953, soon banned and the subject of a landmark obscenity trial. Jurors acquitted publisher Fredric Warburg and the case helped change British laws on artistic expression.
Kauffmann did not plan to become a film critic. He was highly valued by paperback pioneers Ian and Betty Ballantine and helped them obtain rights to a book-length edition of Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," a deal Kauffmann helped secure by visiting the playwright at his Brooklyn home. He had worked in book publishing for more than a decade when, in 1957, a friend offered him the chance to write about film for The Reporter, a biweekly magazine. He enjoyed it enough to send a review to The New Republic and soon was hired fulltime. Kauffmann would recall that as a young man, he was told that theater was a vital force because it encompassed all art forms before it. Film, he later decided, was theater's successor.
His favorite films included "Citizen Kane," Fellini's "8½" and Carl Theodor Dreyer's "La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc" ("The Passion of Joan of Arc"). He also kept up on cinema from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. His review in 2012 of the Japanese documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," about a dedicated and ageless restaurateur, seemed to capture some of Kauffmann's feelings about his own work.
"Devotions differ, from the monumental to the personal; but whatever it is, so long as it is not antisocial, we generally feel good when we see it in practice," Kauffmann wrote. "It seems to be what each of us should have for completion but what not everyone is lucky enough to find."
Mark "Chopper" Read, one of Australia's most notorious and colorful crime figures, has died after a long battle with liver cancer, his manager said. He was 58.
Read, who spent 23 years in prison for a variety of crimes including assault and armed robbery, wrote more than a dozen books detailing his long career of violence, including one entitled "How to Shoot Friends and Influence People." He gained international fame in 2000 after Australian-born actor Eric Bana played him in the film "Chopper."
He was known for bilking fellow criminals out of their fortunes and torturing his victims with blowtorches, though he said he never hurt an innocent person. He once tried to kidnap a judge at gunpoint in a failed attempt to get a friend freed from prison. He claimed to have survived being stabbed, shot, run over by a car and beaten in the head with a hammer.
Phil Chevron, the guitarist for boisterous Anglo-Irish band The Pogues, has died at 56.
Pogues manager Mark Addis says Chevron, whose real name was Philip Ryan, died Tuesday in Dublin after being treated for head and neck cancer.
The Dublin-born musician was a member of seminal Irish punk rockers The Radiators From Space before joining the London-based Pogues in the early 1980s.
Former Eau Claire, Wis., Leader-Telegram publisher Charles Graaskamp, who championed freedom of information and oversaw construction of a new printing plant for the newspaper, has died at age 79.
Lebanese singer and composer Wadih Safi, whose strong, clear voice propelled him to fame throughout the Arab world, has died at the age of 92, officials said Saturday.
Safi, whose real name was Wadih Francis, helped spread colloquial Lebanese Arabic outside his country, becoming known to many Arabs as "the man with the golden voice."
Nostalgia-loaded "Lebanon you are a piece of the sky" and "We are coming" about Lebanese migrants were among his many hits.
Patrice Chereau, a celebrated French actor and director in film, theater and opera who was renowned for cutting-edge productions, has died at 68.
Impassioned by the performing arts at a young age, Chereau showed breadth as a director — from his revolutionary production of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle at the 1976 Bayreuth Festival to his blood-soaked 16th-century period piece and biopic "Queen Margot," a 1994 film starring French icon Isabelle Adjani which won the Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Chereau, who headed the Cannes jury in 2003, chalked up directing credits on dozens of plays and operas, plus 10 films — each of which was a "masterpiece," said French President Francois Hollande. Chereau's 2001 film "Intimacy", a love story, won the Golden Bear in Berlin.
Gordon Polofsky, who played three seasons in the NFL and was a linebacker and fullback on Tennessee's 1951 national championship team, has died. He was 82.
Wayne Cole, a leading scholar of the pre-World War II American isolationist movement who wrote a sympathetic biography of one of its staunchest defenders, the aviator Charles Lindbergh, has died at 90.
Wilfried Martens, who led nine Belgian governments and the European Union's Christian Democrat group, has died. He was 77.
Marquette University says a member of its 1977 NCAA championship team has died at age 57.
The university says Gary Rosenberger passed away due to complications from a heart attack and stroke. Rosenberger was also drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1978 in the ninth round.
Karen Strauss Cook, a pioneering female equity trader at Goldman, Sachs & Co. who helped other working moms stay in finance and will be honored next month by the group 100 Women in Hedge Funds, has died. She was 61.
Cook stood out on Wall Street from the day in 1975 when she paid an unsolicited visit to the headquarters of Goldman Sachs, resume in hand, and drew the attention of then-general partner Robert Rubin, the future U.S. Treasury secretary, by refusing to accept a generic referral to human resources. She became the first woman hired in Goldman Sach's Equities Division, and the firm's first female trader.
Abraham Nemeth, a blind mathematician and college professor who developed a widely used Braille system that made it easier for other blind people to become proficient in mathematics and science, has died at his home in Southfield, Mich. He was 94.
Filmmaker Carlo Lizzani, a much-lauded protagonist of Italian Neorealism, has died, Italian state news media reported. He was 91.
Lizzani started out as a film critic, then as a writer, getting writing credits for Roberto Rossellini's 1948 "Germany Year Zero" and as the screenwriter for Giuseppe De Santis' 1950 film "Bitter Rice," which earned him an Oscar nomination.
He collaborated with the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Marco Bellocchio, Bernardo Bertolucci and Pier Paolo Pasolini.
The Academy of Italian Cinema awarded him best director for his 1968 film "The Violent Four" about a manhunt for bank robbers, and best screenwriter for the 1996 film "Celluloide" about the making of Rossellini's masterpiece "Rome, citta' aperta."
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