Kenneth Koch, 77, a poet of the New York School whose...

Deaths Elsewhere

July 08, 2002

Kenneth Koch, 77, a poet of the New York School whose work combined the sardonic wit of a Borscht Belt comic, the erotic whimsy of a Surrealist painter, and the gritty wisdom of a scared young soldier, died Saturday of leukemia at his home in New York.

Mr. Koch's literary career spanned more than 50 years and resulted in the publication of at least 30 volumes of poetry and plays whose linguistic exuberance and experimental zest were bested only by their omnivorous subject matter. He wrote elegies, parodies, Dadaist dramas and fragmented shards of loosely structured verse on a palette of topics that ranged from his father's furniture business in southern Ohio to Japanese baseball stars to the pleasures of eating lunch.

Mr. Koch was considered a founding member of the New York School, an avant-garde poetic movement that was forged in Manhattan in the 1950s. He and his contemporaries - the poets John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara and the painters Jane Freilicher and Larry Rivers - took up the brash, anti-establishment mantle of their beatnik predecessors, but with a more classically European touch.

Later in life, Mr. Koch became well known as a professor of poetry, mainly at Columbia University, where he lectured on literature for nearly 40 years.

Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, 69, considered India's most powerful businessman, died Saturday in Bombay after suffering a heart attack several days ago, a company spokesman said.

Mr. Ambani was founder and chairman of Reliance Industries, overseeing a vast conglomerate of petrochemical plants, gas pipelines, oil refineries, and textile and telecom holdings. Forbes ranked Mr. Ambani as the world's 138th richest person this year, with a net worth of $2.9 billion.

Born in a remote village in the western Gujarat state, Mr. Ambani began his career working in an oil refinery at age 17. He launched a trading firm in Bombay in 1958, and went on to build India's most powerful industrial empire.

Dr. Monroe E. Wall, who co-discovered the cancer drug Taxol, died Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C. He was in his mid-80s. Reid Maness, a spokesman for Research Triangle Institute, said he did not know what caused Dr. Wall's death. Dr. Wall worked at the research organization from 1960 until he became ill a couple of weeks ago.

He and partner Mansukh C. Wani are credited with isolating two compounds in the 1960s and 1970s that were effective in killing cancer cells and led to lifesaving drugs now in use.

Taxol, which was derived from the Pacific yew tree, has been used to treat ovarian, breast and lung cancers since it was approved in 1992. Camptothecin was isolated from a Chinese tree, and four related drugs are now used to treat ovarian and colon cancers. Both drugs were found to inhibit cancer cell growth in new ways.

Everette Webb, 80, one of the four aeronautical engineers who designed and created Boeing's 747, the world's first jumbo jet, died Tuesday in Renton, Wash., of congestive heart failure. He retired from the Boeing Co. in 1987 after a 46-year career.

He was part of the 747 design team with Joseph Sutter, Kenneth Holtby and Robert Davis. They won many awards over the years, including the $250,000 Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Aerospace Prize for design excellence and the Elmer A. Sperry Award, administered by aeronautical, electrical, automotive, mechanical and naval engineers.

When Boeing introduced the 747 in 1968, it was meant to function as a luxury airliner. Instead, the jumbo jet has helped air travel become more affordable. Mr. Webb also helped design and engineer the Boeing 727, 707 and 767.

William Dufty, 86, who co-wrote Billie Holiday's autobiography and became Gloria Swanson's last husband, died in Detroit on June 28 from complications from cancer. Mr. Dufty was a playwright, musician, ghostwriter of about 40 books, head speechwriter to former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and a reporter and editor at the New York Post.

Mr. Dufty, who became good friends with Miss Holiday, the famed jazz singer, helped write her autobiography Lady Sings the Blues. In 1975, he wrote Sugar Blues, a popular nutrition book about the dangers of sugar in the diet.

Mr. Dufty married Miss Swanson, a silent screen star, in 1976. She died in 1983.

James Gaston Williamson, 88, an attorney who became a civil rights leader during the 1957 desegregation crisis in Little Rock, Ark., died there June 30 of an apparent heart attack.

During the desegregation crisis, Mr. Williamson led the "One Hundred Men for Little Rock," a group that fought to desegregate high schools in the city.

Mr. Williamson practiced for 40 years as an estate attorney with the Rose law firm, which also included Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Jane Bancroft Cook, 90, an heir to Dow Jones & Co. and a former member of its board, died Monday at her home in Cohasset, Mass., after a decade of failing health.

She was the last surviving child of Jane W.W. Bancroft, the stepdaughter of Dow Jones owner Clarence Barron. She served on the board of Dow Jones from 1950 to 1985 as a representative of the Bancroft family.

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