Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

April 22, 2003

Norbert A. Schlei, 73, a key lawyer in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who found legal underpinning for the 1962 blockade of Cuba and wrote landmark civil rights legislation, died Thursday at a hospital in Los Angeles. He had been virtually comatose for a year since suffering a heart attack while jogging on a beach.

Mr. Schlei was the Democratic candidate for the California Assembly in 1962 when he was chosen by President John F. Kennedy as an assistant attorney general in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel.

He became the principal draftsman of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Immigration Reform Act of 1967.

Mr. Schlei, a personable Democratic campaigner, was y yards from Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when Mr. Kennedy was fatally shot on the night of the California presidential primary in 1968. Mr. Schlei largely bowed out of politics after serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention that year in Chicago.

His subsequent career as a trial and securities lawyer was marred by his conviction in federal court in 1995 for conspiracy and securities fraud for helping others sell $16 billion in fake Japanese government bonds from the mid-1980s to 1992.

Mr. Schlei maintained that he had done nothing illegal and that prosecutors who issued charges against the others after a sting operation had added him only because of his high profile in Democratic and government circles to "get in the papers" and make the trial "newsworthy."

Richard B. Sewall, 95, a longtime English professor at Yale University whose influential biography of Emily Dickinson dispelled many myths about the reclusive poet, died Wednesday in Newton, Mass.

In The Life of Emily Dickinson, published in 1974, Mr. Sewall challenged the received wisdom about Dickinson. Unconvinced by the conventional telling of her life, which portrayed her as a lovelorn woman too fragile for the world, Mr. Sewell visited her hometown of Amherst, Mass., many times and constructed a complex portrait of Dickinson that earned him the National Book Award for biography.

The book, published late in his career, was the capstone of more than 40 years at Yale, where his lectures on English literature were popular with undergraduates.

Ray Hicks, 80, a storyteller who enlivened tales handed down for generations from the earliest settlers in the southern Appalachians, died of prostate cancer Sunday in Asheville, N.C.

He hated traveling from his lifelong home atop Beech Mountain, so folklorists, documentarians and people who read about him in National Geographic came to Mr. Hicks to hear him weave a tale, said Connie Regan-Blake, a fellow storyteller and friend for 30 years.

He was the subject of films, audio tapes and books preserving stories that captured native oral traditions. He won the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1983.

His specialty was Jack tales, similar to "Jack and the Beanstalk," which wove together fairy tale elements with realistic trappings of mountain culture and could take nearly an hour to complete. In them, a boy named Jack confronted adversaries such as giants, witches and the northwest wind.

Mr. Hicks and his wife raised five children on land that had been in his family since the late 1700s. He would work a few months each year as a carpenter, mechanic or saw mill operator to earn cash the family needed to buy staples and pay property taxes.

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