Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

October 15, 2003

Otto Guensche, 86, an aide to Adolf Hitler who burned the Nazi dictator's body to keep it from the advancing Soviets in the final days of World War II, died Oct. 2 at his home in Lohmar, Germany, his eldest son said.

An SS officer and member of Hitler's inner circle, Mr. Guensche spent the last hours with the Nazi leader in Hitler's bunker in Berlin before Hitler and companion Eva Braun committed suicide April 30, 1945.

Mr. Guensche lived quietly in West Germany after the war following several years in Soviet captivity.

Mr. Guensche, in a recent interview, told the Associated Press that Hitler ordered him to burn his body. When the day came, Hitler's chief of staff, Martin Bormann, tried to set the corpses of Hitler and Braun alight in the garden of the Reich chancellery in Berlin. But it was Mr. Guensche who threw a burning rag that started the fire.

Leonard Darvin, 94, retired general counsel for the Comics Magazine Association of Maryland who grew up in Baltimore, died Monday in Albany, N.Y.

A native of Poland, Mr. Darvin moved to Baltimore as a child. He was a state track champion in his teens, and at 18 published a volume of poetry and edited a literary quarterly, Adolescent. Mr. Darvin earned a law degree from the University of Maryland in 1936, and after practicing law in Baltimore for several years he moved to New York City.

Mr. Darvin was a lobbyist and general counsel of the Dental Laboratory Association of New York for 11 years, and represented the comics trade group for 25 years. He remained a consultant to the organization for a decade after his retirement.

Services were held yesterday in Albany, and another will take place at 1 p.m. today in Pikesville at Sol Levinson & Bros. 8900 Reisterstown Road.

Marjorie Bong Drucker, 79, a retired magazine publisher who was the widow of World War II "ace of aces" Maj. Richard I. Bong, died of cancer Sept. 27 in Superior, Wis.

Mrs. Drucker lived for 50 years in Los Angeles, where she was known to friends and associates as an accomplished painter, devoted mother and the editor and publisher of Boxer Review, an award-winning dog magazine read around the world by owners and breeders of boxers.

Few knew she was once married to a legendary Army Air Forces war hero, whose unusual display of affection had made her nearly as famous as he was.

Mrs. Drucker became a national celebrity in 1944 when Bong, a Wisconsin farm boy who had broken World War I pilot Eddie Rickenbacker's record of 26 air victories, proclaimed his love by plastering her picture on the nose of his P-38. The fighter plane subsequently gained worldwide fame as the Marge, and she became what Bong teasingly referred to as "the most shot-after girl in the South Pacific."

In late 1944, after shooting down his 40th enemy plane and earning the Medal of Honor, Bong was sent home for a wedding ceremony attended by 1,200 guests and the international press. He died less than a year later as a test pilot when his P-80, the Army Air Forces' first jet, stalled on takeoff and he was forced to bail out at a low altitude.

His widow found success as a model and later as a teacher of models. After her second marriage ended in divorce, she married fashion trade magazine publisher Murray Drucker and had two daughters. She also became the publisher of one of his magazines, Boxer Review, in 1956 and ran it for next 46 years.

Mrs. Drucker did not renew ties to her past until the mid-1980s, when a Bong family member invited her to the dedication of the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge connecting Duluth, Minn., and Superior. She eventually devoted herself to building what became the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center in Superior, where most exhibits reflect her wish that it honor all World War II veterans and Americans, particularly women, who contributed to the war effort at home.

Arthur Berger, 91, a composer, critic and teacher who was an influential analyst of contemporary music, died of heart failure Oct. 7 in Boston.

In 1943, Mr. Berger began a decade as a music critic for The New York Herald Tribune. Later, he was one of the founders of the periodical Perspectives of New Music. In 1953, he published the first book-length study of composer Aaron Copland.

Mr. Berger's Ideas of Order premiered with the New York Philharmonic in 1952. His primary interest as a composer, however, was chamber music and music for the piano. His neoclassical Quartet for Winds is probably his most performed work.

He celebrated his 90th birthday last year by publishing a collection of essays, Reflections of an American Composer.

Douglas Fang, 38, chief operating officer of The Examiner newspaper and other publications owned by his family, died Oct. 8 in San Francisco of stomach cancer.

Mr. Fang helped guide The Examiner from a broadsheet to tabloid in 2001 after his family took control of the paper from the Hearst Corp.

The Fang family also publishes AsianWeek and several free papers in the Bay area.

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