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updated: 3/29/2014 5:47 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • Former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger

      Former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger

  • Retired Admiral Jeremiah Denton

      Retired Admiral Jeremiah Denton

  • Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson

      Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson

  • NASCAR Hall of Famer driver Richard Petty, holding the hand of his wife Lynda center, are recognized by fans in Greensboro, N.C. Lynda Petty  died Tuesday.

      NASCAR Hall of Famer driver Richard Petty, holding the hand of his wife Lynda center, are recognized by fans in Greensboro, N.C. Lynda Petty died Tuesday.

 
Associated Press

Prisoner of war Jeremiah Denton declared his loyalty to the U.S. government during a 1966 interview for what was supposed to be a propaganda film. But his enraged captors missed his more covert message: "T-O-R-T-U-R-E," blinked into the camera in Morse code, a dispatch that would alert the U.S. military to the conditions he endured.

Denton, who would survive 7½ years confined in a tiny, stinking, windowless cell at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" and other camps before his release in 1973, died of heart problems in Virginia Beach, Va., at age 89.

Onetime economics professor and longtime nuclear strategist James R. Schlesinger was a political man for all seasons, holding a long string of Cabinet and other high-level posts through three administrations. He was hired -- and dismissed -- by presidents of both parties.

Schlesinger, who died at the age of 85, built an impressive national-security resume under Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and served as the nation's first energy secretary under Democratic President Jimmy Carter during the energy crisis of the late 1970s.

Earlier, he served as a White House budget official, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and director of the Central Intelligence Agency under Nixon; and as defense secretary under both Nixon and Ford.

Jonathan Schell, the crusading author, journalist and anti-war activist who condemned conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq and warned of a nuclear holocaust in terrifying detail in his galvanizing best seller, "The Fate of the Earth," has died at age 70.

Hank Lauricella, a former Heisman Trophy runner-up at Tennessee who went on to serve more than three decades as a Louisiana state legislator, has died. He was 83.

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson never forgot how he was made to feel like an outsider for having the audacity to challenge the NFL.

It was 1959, and Wilson had just invested $25,000 to join Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams in helping establish the upstart American Football League. Wilson and the seven other owners were immediately dubbed "The Foolish Club."

The Bills lost their sole owner, and the NFL lost its last surviving AFL founder and a person regarded as the league's "conscience" on Tuesday, when Wilson died at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Wilson was 95.

Lynda Petty, the wife of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, died Tuesday after battling cancer for several years. She was 72.

Patrice Wymore Flynn, a Hollywood actress and cattle rancher who was the widow of swashbuckling screen legend Errol Flynn, has died at her seaside home in Jamaica. She was 87.

James Rebhorn, the prolific character actor whose credits included "Homeland," "Scent of a Woman" and "My Cousin Vinny," has died. He was 65.

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