Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

September 16, 2002

William Phillips, 94, who co-founded Partisan Review and was its editor for more than 60 years, died Friday in New York. Mr. Phillips founded the magazine in 1934 with Philip Rahv, and the two molded it into one of the most influential literary and political journals in the country in the years before and after World War II.

It introduced Americans to existentialism, and published the work of such well-known intellectuals and writers as Lionel Trilling, Mary McCarthy, Irving Howe and Dwight Macdonald.

The early writings of Norman Mailer and James Baldwin, among others, appeared in its pages, as did many famous works, including Isaac Bashevis Singer's "Gimpel the Fool," and Susan Sontag's essay "Notes on Camp."

Mr. Phillips continued to read manuscripts into his 90s.

David Grene, 89, a classicist best known for translations of Greek tragedy and history, died Tuesday of a hemorrhage in Chicago. Mr. Grene joined the University of Chicago as an instructor in classics in 1937 and was one of five professors who formed the school's Committee on Social Thought, an interdisciplinary group that also included novelist Saul Bellow.

By age 10, Mr. Grene had begun to study Latin, French and Greek. He attended Trinity College in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, and earned a master of arts degree there in 1936. Upon his arrival at the University of Chicago, Mr. Grene drew the ire of some faculty with his intensity, prompting then-university President Robert Maynard Hutchins to leave a note in his file declaring, "This man is not to be fired without consulting me."

Mr. Grene's translations of the Greek tragedies sold more than a million copies. His translations include Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Euripides' Hippolytus.

Philippe Wamba, 31, an author, journalist and son of a Congolese professor who became a rebel leader, died Saturday in an automobile accident in Kenya.

Mr. Wamba, born in California and raised in Boston, was a graduate of Harvard University and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He was the son of American Elaine Brown and Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, one of the first rebel leaders to take up arms against then-Congolese President Laurent Kabila when the four-year war in Congo broke out in 1998.

Through an Alicia Patterson journalism fellowship, Mr. Wamba traveled throughout Africa to learn what young people were doing to improve their lives and communities. His experiences as the son of an African and a black American living between the United States and Africa formed the core of his 1999 memoir Kinship: A Family's Journey in Africa and America, which also explores three centuries of shared history between Africans and black Americans.

He had been editor in chief at Africana.com since July 1999, and his writings were published in journals in the United States, Britain and Tanzania.

Richard L. Holmes, 73, a cancer patient who helped Oregon defend its Death With Dignity Act against a federal challenge, died in Portland on Sept. 9 from colon cancer. He did not take the lethal medication he obtained from his doctor last year in a request that sparked a federal challenge to doctor-assisted suicide.

The prescription became caught in legal limbo when Attorney General John Ashcroft ruled Oregon's law violated federal drug laws. A federal judge ruled in the state's favor, and Mr. Holmes received the drugs, but the case is under appeal.

Mr. Holmes said he would only use the drugs if his illness became unbearable. He stored the small bottle of liquid barbiturate in the basement of his Portland home. In court papers filed in November, Mr. Holmes said doctors estimated he had less than six months to live.

Jerry Boyd, 72, a boxing trainer whose search for literary recognition ended two years ago when he published a book of short fiction, Rope Burns, under the name F.X. Toole, died Sept. 2 of complications after heart surgery at a hospital in Torrance, Calif.

For most of his adult life, he wrote - novels, plays, short stories, screenplays - quietly, fitfully, hopefully, but always unsuccessfully.

In his late 40s, he began to indulge his love of boxing by becoming a fighter, and showed an aptitude for it. Health concerns eventually caused him to quit punching, but he remained in the raffish world as a trainer and cutman, the cornerman who stops fighters' bleeding.

With boxing as his focus, he quit writing for a while. Yet the craft and science of boxing - and the personalities of the small-time fighters, cornermen and promoters he knew - became his source material when his need to write was reawakened after heart surgery in 1988.

His break came in 1999 when he sent a story to a literary journal, Zyzzyva, in San Francisco, and it was published. Seeing the tale in Zyzzyva seemed to Mr. Boyd to be the pinnacle of his career.

David St. Aubin, 50, a renowned marine mammal scientist respected for his research on beluga whales, narwhals and sea lions, died of cancer Tuesday in Mystic, Conn.

Mr. St. Aubin was Mystic Aquarium's director of research and veterinary services.

Mary Ellis "Mel" Borglum Vhay, 86, the daughter of Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum, died Wednesday at her home in Reno, Nev. "She was our last living link to Gutzon Borglum," said Mike Pflaum, chief ranger at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Mrs. Vhay returned to the mountain often and maintained ties with the National Park staff, said Mr. Pflaum. Last month, she was a guest at ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the carving's dedication.

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