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Obituaries of note

By Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 7, 2003

WALTER SISULU, 90, one of Nelson Mandela's earliest political mentors and his closest collaborator for half a century in the campaign against South Africa's apartheid, died died Monday in Johannesburg. Alongside Mandela he rejuvenated and led the African National Congress, twice stood trial on capital charges for his activities, served 26 years in prison. He emerged still deeply devoted to reconciliation. Weakened by age and illness, he declined to seek a position in the new, democratic government elected in April 1994, when Mandela became president after the first all-race balloting.

RICHARD J. SINNOTT, 76, the last municipal official empowered to ban wickedness in Boston, died April 30 in Hyde Park, Mass. For two decades, starting in 1960, he upheld a tradition going back to the Pilgrims, who banned Christmas because it was too showy. He chased overenthusiastic exotic dancers from saloons and forced Broadway producers to alter their shows. His official title was chief of the licensing division of the mayor's office, but his real power was summed up in three words: "Banned in Boston."

JAMES K. BAKER, 83, a civil rights lawyer and the first black department head for the city of Birmingham, Ala., died April 29. In one of his hallmark cases, he argued successfully for a mother who was told she could not bury her son, a Vietnam War casualty, in Elmwood Cemetery because he was black.

JEAN CONIL, 85, a French-born chef who made it his life's work to eradicate bad cooking from Britain, died April 18, according to a death notice published Thursday in the Daily Telegraph of London. He produced more than 100 cookbooks.

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