Notable deaths last week

From wire reports
Posted9/15/2012 5:35 PM
  • The McGuire Sisters, from left, Christine, Phyllis and Dorothy, pose outside Radio City Music Hall in New York.

    The McGuire Sisters, from left, Christine, Phyllis and Dorothy, pose outside Radio City Music Hall in New York. Associated Press/Oct. 10, 1986

  • Chris Stevens

    Chris Stevens Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Jaylee Mead, a NASA astronomer who married into a paper manufacturing fortune and with her husband, Gilbert, helped transform Washington's cultural scene by donating more than $50 million to local theaters, has died at 83.

In 1959, she was working for the State Department in Washington when she was recruited by NASA. At Georgetown University, where she received a doctorate in astronomy in 1970, she studied with the celebrated astronomer Vera Rubin.

Mead worked at Goddard for 33 years as a mathematician and astronomer, retiring in 1992. She helped create a computerized database of stars and galaxies, a tool used by astronomers seeking to identify new celestial bodies.

Peter Lougheed, who as Alberta's premier turned the province into an oil-powered modern giant and an equal player in Canada's confederation, has died at age 84.

In 1965, at 36, Lougheed took over the Progressive Conservative party and rebuilt it from the ground up.

Larry Gibson, an unlikely activist who fought West Virginia's powerful coal interests to preserve a mountain that had been his family's home for generations, has died at 66.

Photographer Pedro Guerrero, whose 20-year association with architect Frank Lloyd Wright launched a long fine-arts career that included capturing images of American artists, has died at age of 95.

Pedro Guerrero is mostly known for his images of Wright and the architect's work, but he also photographed the lives and works of artists Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson.

After attending the Art Center School in Los Angeles, Guerrero got his first photography job after he visited Wright's home near Scottsdale in 1939. His 15-minute interview with Wright opened up doors for him professionally for years to come.

British filmmaker Stanley Long, whose cheap and cheerful soft-core romps saw him dubbed the "king of sexploitation," has died. He was 78.

A producer, director and cinematographer, Long created movies with titles such as "Nudist Memories" and "The Wife Swappers" before scoring his biggest success with "Adventures of a Taxi Driver" and other 1970s' sex comedies.

Sid Watkins, the former Formula One medical chief credited with saving the lives of several race drivers and introducing major safety improvements in the series, has died. He was 84.

John Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya killed trying to evacuate the U.S. consulate in Benghazi during an attack by Islamist protesters, was a firsthand witness to Libya's painful transition to democracy who became one of its casualties. He was 52.

Known to friends, family and colleagues as Chris, the California native was a fluent Arabic-speaking, 21-year veteran of the State Department who had postings in Damascus, Cairo and other Middle Eastern locales before his first stint in Libya from 2007 to 2009.

"He found humor in the blackest of moments, always made time for a game of tennis, and enjoyed a gin and tonic at the end of a long day," said Molly Phee, who joined the foreign service in the same class as Stevens and is deputy chief of mission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His friendship over 20 years "and kindness helped revive me when I felt low," Phee said in an e-mail.

Stevens, the No. 2 diplomat in Tripoli when Muammar Qaddafi was still in power, went to Benghazi in 2011 as the eyes and ears for policy makers trying to gauge how to respond to the rebellion under way and avert a massacre in that city by Qaddafi forces. He was promoted to ambassador after the dictator was killed by rebels.

Senator Dick Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told reporters that Stevens had been in Benghazi "attempting to at least try to survey how things were going there" with security of the U.S. consulate.

"I feel Chris Stevens' loss as a personal loss," said Lugar. Stevens had worked on the Indiana senator's staff for a year in 2006 on a State Department fellowship.

Japanese Financial Services Minister Tadahiro Matsushita, who since taking the post in June led a crackdown on insider trading that triggered resignations of the top two executives at Nomura Holdings Inc., has died. He was 73.

Mario Armond Zamparelli, an internationally renowned artist who for nearly 20 years created the distinctive, often colorful logos, images and posters for reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes' many companies, has died at age 91.

The artist, who worked in numerous styles and forms, was an illustrator for major magazines and movie posters in the early 1950s when Hughes came looking for someone to design posters for his RKO Pictures' movies. He told his aides to find posters done by people they believed were the best in the business.

"He pointed straight at my dad's poster and said, 'Get me that one,"' the artist's daughter Gina Zamparelli said Monday.

Although Hughes grew increasingly reclusive over the years, Zamparelli never spoke ill of the billionaire.

"He was a gentleman, a real professional, and he had a marvelous sense of humor," Zamparelli told the Los Angeles Times in a 1981 interview.

Verghese Kurien, an engineer known as "India's milkman" who helped revolutionize the country's dairy industry despite his own dislike for milk, has died at age 90.

Ron Taylor, a beloved Australian marine conservationist who helped film some of the terrifying underwater footage used in the classic shark thriller "Jaws," has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 78.

Taylor and his wife Valerie shot several documentaries, including "Shark Hunters" and the TV series "Inner Space," narrated by William Shatner. In "Operation Shark Bite," Valerie wears a chain mail suit the couple designed to ward off damage from shark attacks, escaping without injury despite sharks chewing on her arm. (The suit was too small for Ron.)

Bill Moggridge, a British industrial designer who designed an early portable computer with the flip-open shape that is common today, has died. He was 69.

National Amateur Athletic Union president Louis Stout, who sought to foster a "culture of safety" with the implementation of several reforms, has died at age 73.

Dorothy McGuire Williamson, who teamed with sisters Christine and Phyllis for a string of hits in the 50s and 60s as the popular McGuire Sisters singing group, has died. She was 84.

The McGuire Sisters earned six gold records for hits including 1954's "Sincerely" and 1957's "Sugartime." The sisters were known for their sweet harmonies and identical outfits and hairdos.

They began singing together as children at their mother's Ohio church and then performed at weddings and church revivals. They got their big break on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts show in 1952 where they continued to perform for seven years.

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