Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

October 06, 2003

Elena Slough, documented as the nation's oldest person, died yesterday at the nursing home in Trenton, N.J., where her daughter died three days before. She was 114 or 115.

Mrs. Slough died in her sleep at Victoria Manor Nursing Home, where she had lived with her daughter Wanda Allen, who died last week at age 90. The Gerontology Research Group said Mrs. Slough was born on July 8, 1889, making her 114 years old at the time of her death. But Krista Rickards, director of marketing at Victoria Manor, said Mrs. Slough's son had a 1930 document that listed his mother as having been born in 1888, which would have made her 115.

What is not in dispute is that Mrs. Slough had been the oldest person in the United States since April, when 113-year-old Mary Dorothy Christian died in San Pablo, Calif.

Sid McMath, 91, a former Arkansas governor who had become a powerful prosecutor and the state's leader by age 40, died Saturday at his home in Little Rock. He had been examined by doctors recently for an irregular heartbeat.

After serving in the military during World War II, Mr. McMath, a Democrat, began a career in public service, becoming a prosecutor in Hot Springs and winning election to his first of two terms as governor in 1948.

"He was a young, progressive governor who had cleaned up Hot Springs and done real good things for Arkansas, real tolerant in race, and tried to do a lot for education and roads," said Cal Ledbetter, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

The year Mr. McMath left office, however, a commission was investigating allegations of scandals in the state Highway Department during the McMath administration. Nothing ever directly linked him to wrongdoing, but he spent more than 50 years living down the allegations.

Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, 89, who held secret worship services and helped Jews continue to live religiously during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, died Sept. 28 in a New York City hospital.

He was rabbinical scholar in Kaunas, Lithuania, when the Nazis invaded in 1941. During the occupation, Nazi officials made him keeper of a warehouse of Jewish books being stored for an exhibit of "artifacts of the extinct Jewish race."

Rabbi Oshry used the books to interpret Jewish law on questions of survival, such as whether a widow could remove her dead husband's gold teeth, a practice he said would desecrate a corpse. He said Jews could not buy Christian baptism certificates, even when faced with death, and could not commit suicide. His notes on the questions and his answers were eventually published in Hebrew in five volumes, two of which won the National Jewish Book Award for best book on the Holocaust.

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