Obituaries in the news

By The Associated Press
Published March 18, 2007

Dwight R. Chamberlain, 68, a conservationist considered one of the nation's leading authorities on crows and ravens, died March 10. His master's thesis identified 11 crow calls, all of which he could imitate, and by his mid 30s he was such an expert on the birds that he appeared as the nation's "foremost authority on crows" on the television show To Tell the Truth in 1977. He also appeared on Captain Kangaroo with his pet raven, Rolph, which he had trained to say "Come here" and "Hi, Rolph."


Lucie Aubrac, 94, a hero of the French Resistance who helped free her husband from the Gestapo and whose life story became a hit film, died Wednesday. Born in the eastern city of Macon, she was a history and geography teacher when she and her husband, engineer Raymond Samuel, helped create Liberation-Sud, or Liberation-South, one of the first networks set up by the Resistance. French director Claude Berri made the 1997 movie Lucie Aubrac, starring Carole Bouquet in the title role.


Robert W. Young, 94, a linguist whose collaboration with a Navajo linguist resulted in dictionaries of the native language, died Feb. 20. He became an adjunct linguistics professor at the University of New Mexico when he retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1971. He taught Navajo language classes and was co-director of the Navajo Reading Study.


Natalie Bodanya, 98, a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera in the 1930s who also performed popular music in nightclubs and on radio, died March 4. She grew up in a New York tenement, and her talent caught the attention of Met soprano Marcell Sembrich, who helped her obtain a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She won a spot with the Met and debuted in 1936 as Micaela in Carmen. She sang for troops at USO halls in World War II.


Eustace Lycett, 91, who spent more than 40 years bringing fantasy and magic to Disney films through special effects and won two Academy Awards, died Nov. 16. He died at a Fullerton, Calif., nursing home, the Walt Disney Co. said last week after learning of his death. He joined Disney in 1937 and worked on its new multiplane camera, which added dimension to such animated works as Bambi and Pinocchio. In 1958, he became head of the special photographic effects department. He worked on many Disney favorites, including Song of the South and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.


Jack Metcalf, 79, a former U.S. representative from Washington state who was a strong advocate for the environment and veterans in Congress, died Thursday. The longtime state lawmaker was elected to the House in 1994 as part of the first Republican majority in 40 years.


Saadoun Hammadi, a longtime ally of Saddam Hussein and former Iraqi prime minister, died Wednesday at a German hospital, a Baath Party spokesman and the party's Web site said. He served stints as foreign and oil minister under Hussein, and was speaker of the Iraqi parliament until the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.


Raymond Nasher, 85, an arts patron who helped establish museums in Texas and North Carolina and made a fortune in banking and real estate, died Friday in Dallas. He and his late wife, Patsy, amassed what one expert described as the "world's greatest private collection of modern and contemporary sculpture." The real estate developer was also considered a pioneer in placing sculptures in commercial retail complexes.


Marc Torsilieri, 48, who looked like a ginger-bearded lumberjack and played the part in splendid fashion by annually felling the Christmas tree for Rockefeller Center in New York, died Monday in Somerville, N.J. He was a little over half the age of most of the Norway spruces he helped find, transport, decorate, and remove.


Richard Prather, 85, a popular mystery writer of the 1950s and '60s whose novels were known for their swift violence, loopy humor and number of characters with no clothes on, died Feb. 14 at his home in Sedona, Ariz. He was best known for his three dozen novels featuring the private eye Shell Scott, a 6-foot-2 ex-Marine.