Obituaries in the news

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Associated Press

Posted on November 25, 2009 at 3:46 AM

Albert Taylor Scroggins Jr.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Albert Taylor Scroggins Jr., a World War II veteran and former dean of the University of South Carolina's journalism school, died Saturday. He was 89.

Dunbar Funeral Home confirmed that Scroggins died after an extended illness, but did not provide specifics.

Scroggins served in the South Pacific in the Navy during World War II. He led journalism and campus publications programs at the University of South Florida, and at Southern Illinois and Samford universities. He retired from the University of South Carolina in 1985 after 20 years as its journalism dean.

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Konstantin Feoktistov

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian spaceship designer Konstantin Feoktistov, the only non-Communist space traveler in the history of the Soviet space program, died Saturday. He was 83.

The Russian Space Agency said that Feoktistov died of unspecified causes in Moscow.

In 1964, he traveled aboard the Voskhod spaceship as part of the first group space flight in history.

Feoktistov played key role in the development of the Voskhod.

Approval of his flight met resistance from the Politburo since Feoktistov was not a Communist Party member at the time.

Until 1990, Feoktistov helped design Soviet space ships and stations such as Soyuz, Progress and Mir.

He criticized the idea of manned space flights to other planets as a "stupid" waste of money.

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Ali Kordan

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Former Iranian Interior Minister Ali Kordan, who was dismissed after being accused of faking a law degree from the University of Oxford, died Sunday. He was 51.

Kordan died of heart failure after weeks of treatment for pulmonary and pancreatic problems, according to reports in Iranian newspapers and news agencies.

Iran's parliament dismissed Kordan in 2008 after questions arose over his credentials from Oxford. The university denied it awarded him an honorary doctorate of law.

Kordan claimed his impeachment was a conspiracy by Iran's foreign enemies, including the U.S. and Israel.

His alleged Oxford diploma, dated June 2000, was imprinted with a purported Oxford seal but was riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes.

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Abe Pollin

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abe Pollin, the Washington Wizards owner who brought an NBA championship to the nation's capital and later had the mettle to stand up to Michael Jordan, died Tuesday. He was 85.

His death was announced by his company, Washington Sports & Entertainment. No details were disclosed but Pollin suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain disorder impairs movement and balance. He had heart bypass surgery in 2005 and broke his pelvis two years later.

Pollin, the NBA's longest-tenured owner, tried to run his pro sports teams like a family business. He bemoaned the runaway salaries of free agency and said it would have been difficult for him to keep the Wizards if it weren't for the NBA's salary cap.

His Washington-area sports empire began when he purchased the Baltimore Bullets in 1964. The Bullets, since renamed the Wizards, won the 1978 NBA title.

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Samak Sundaravej

BANGKOK (AP) — Samak Sundaravej, a firebrand right-wing politician and TV cooking show host who briefly served as Thailand's prime minister and considered himself a proxy of ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra, died Tuesday. He was 74.

Samak died at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok after a long battle with liver cancer, hospital official Navachamol Sangkaew said.

Known as a straight-talker with a penchant for the profane, Samak's political career spanned four decades including an incarnation as an anti-communist rabble rouser, but many supporters remembered him best for his TV show called "Tasting and Complaining," a mix of traditional Thai cooking and rants on pet subjects.

Among the first Thai politicians to express their condolences was former Prime Minister Thaksin, who was forced out in a 2006 coup and tweeted about Samak's death from self-imposed exile.

Samak's tenure as prime minister coincided with one of the worst political crises in Thailand's history and followed the September 2006 that ousted Thaksin. Samak rose to power and became the focus of street rallies by anti-Thaksin protesters who demanded his resignation.

A court ruled in September 2008 that Samak's appearance on his TV cooking show while prime minister — and the fact that he had accepted money — constituted a conflict of interest. The hasty decision prompted speculation that the court ruled to curtail protests and end Samak's divisive tenure, amid fears of another coup.

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Yang Xianyi

BEIJING (AP) — Renowned Chinese literature translator Yang Xianyi died Monday. He was 94.

Yang died in Beijing after a long illness, said China's official Xinhua News Agency. He had reportedly been hospitalized for several weeks with throat cancer and a lung infection.

Together with his British wife, Gladys Taylor, Yang translated classics such as the 18th century "A Dream of Red Mansions" as well as more modern works by 20th century writers such as Lu Xun.

Born in the northern port of Tianjin in 1915, Yang was sent by his wealthy family to study classics at Oxford University in 1936, where he met Taylor.

Returning to China in 1940, the two married and embarked on a decades-long career in translation against the backdrop of war, communist revolution and waves of political campaigns.

Their later work, including foreign classics translated into Chinese, was mostly published through Beijing's Foreign Languages Press, becoming standard texts for generations of China scholars.

Although he had secretly aided the communist underground during the 1940s, Yang was later accused of being a British spy and jailed for four years during the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, a decade-long rampage of violence and radical communism led by Mao Zedong's youthful Red Guards.

Yang was then expelled from the Communist Party after criticizing the government's bloody June 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

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Charis Wilson

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — Charis Wilson, who inspired photographer Edward Weston during an 11-year relationship and posed for many of his pictures, died Friday. She was 95.

Wilson died in Santa Cruz at the home of a close friend, her daughter Rachel Fern Harris said.

Wilson was Weston's model, muse and companion from 1934-1945. She appeared in more than half of Weston's nudes, including some of his most well-known pieces, "Floating Nude" and "Nude in the Doorway."

She also was in many clothed protraits as well, including "Charis, Lake Ediza."

She wrote about Weston's photography and helped him with writing assignments, including an application for a Guggenheim fellowship. In 1937, he was the first art photographer to be awarded the grant.

The couple hit the road with the fellowship money and co-authored "California and the West," which included about 100 photographs. They separated in 1945.

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