Joseph Biden Sr., 86, the father of Delaware Sen. Joseph...

Deaths Elsewhere

September 03, 2002

Joseph Biden Sr., 86, the father of Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., died early yesterday at his son's home in suburban Wilmington, Del. He had been in failing health in recent weeks.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Biden moved to Wilmington with his family as a young child. He was a graduate of St. Thomas Academy in Scranton, Pa.

Mr. Biden married Jean Finnegan of Scranton while he was employed as a sales representative for Amoco Oil Co. in Harrisburg in 1941.

During World War II, he worked as an executive for a company that made a waterproof sealant used on U.S. merchant marine ships. Later, he moved his family to the Wilmington suburb of Mayfield, and worked for 15 years in real estate sales in New Castle County and in Rehoboth Beach.

In addition to his son and wife, Mr. Biden is survived by two other sons, a daughter, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Lucas Johnson, 61, an artist whose visions ranged from quirky undersea drawings to enigmatic, volcanic landscapes and still lifes of orchids, died Saturday near Rockport in South Texas. The artist had fallen ill while fishing with a friend.

Mr. Johnson, born in Hartford, Conn., traveled widely as a young man. He studied marine biology, worked on a dude ranch, taught skiing and harvested wheat before mastering drawing as a starving artist in New Orleans' Jackson Square. After a stint in New York, he moved to Mexico City in 1963.

He connected with Mexico's humanist and socio-political art traditions and stayed there for 10 years, establishing himself as a painter of the first rank. He met his wife, Houston Chronicle art critic Patricia Covo Johnson, when she was managing Misrachi Gallery in Mexico City.

They moved to Houston in 1973 and Mr. Johnson quickly developed a following here. His international reputation grew with an exhibit of drawings at London's prestigious Serpentine Gallery; he also exhibited in China, Northern Ireland and Germany.

Bernard Laxer, 78, owner of an eccentric Tampa, Fla., steakhouse known internationally for its varied cuts, live fish tanks and 2,500-page wine list, died Saturday after a long illness.

Mr. Laxer's restaurant, Bern's Steak House, drew thousands of diners to its tables and became a popular Florida attraction after it opened in 1956. In addition to boasting of 50 ways to cook a steak, the restaurant offered vegetables grown in Mr. Laxer's garden, pages of decadent desserts and 20 kinds of caviar.

The restaurant's servers were trained for one year before they were allowed to wait on customers.

Mr. Laxer was born in Manhattan and grew up in the Bronx. He served in the Army during World War II. He and his wife, Gertrude, moved to Tampa in 1951 and bought a diner, naming it Bern & Gert's Little Midway.

In 1956, the couple bought a local restaurant called the Beer Haven and changed its name to Bern's. The restaurant quickly became popular and the couple expanded the building and menu over the next 40 years.

In 1993, Mr. Laxer was in a car accident that resulted in a serious head injury. He retired in 1996 and the restaurant's day-to-day operations were passed to his son, David.

Prince Zeid bin Shaker, 67, a confidant of the late King Hussein who fought for Jordan as a military commander and later implemented political reforms as prime minister, died Friday of a heart attack

The soft-spoken army commander led a Jordanian armored brigade in the 1967 Middle East War, when Jordan lost the West Bank and east Jerusalem to Israel. A year later he helped Jordan force out Israeli troops pursuing Palestinian guerrillas, and in 1970 he helped crush a Palestinian insurgency.

After Mr. bin Shaker became prime minister in 1989, he implemented political reforms King Hussein introduced after violent riots fueled by price increases widened into calls for public freedoms.

Mr. bin Shaker also held the first general elections after a 22-year hiatus sparked by Jordan's loss of the West Bank.

He revived a multiparty system banned since 1956 and initiated steps toward abolishing martial law, which had been enforced since the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948.

In 1996, he was made an emir, or prince - a move aimed at sending him into retirement as royal title holders are banned from public posts.

Mr. bin Shaker was King Hussein's high school classmate. Both studied at Britain's Sandhurst Military Academy.

Charles M. Lichenstein, 75, who as America's No. 2 envoy at the United Nations 20 years ago offered to wave "a fond farewell" to the world body if its members chose to leave the United States, died Thursday in Washington.

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative research organization where he worked, said the cause was complications during heart surgery.

His provocative remarks were made Sept. 19, 1983, at a meeting of the U.N. committee overseeing relations with its host country.

On Sept. 1, Soviet fighter jets shot down a Korean airliner that had strayed over Soviet territory, killing all 269 on board, including an American congressman.

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