Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

October 29, 2003

Pandurang Shastri Athavale, 84, who founded a religious movement based on selfless love for the poor, died of a heart attack Saturday in India.

Mr. Athavale founded the Swadhyaya movement in 1954, when 19 followers visited crime-ridden villages. The movement, which sponsors housing and agricultural projects across India, now reports 5 million followers.

Athavale, who in recent years suffered from Parkinson's disease, preached a blend of community spirit and religious harmony and asked his followers to see God in every person. He persuaded farmers to give away crops to the needy and fishermen to donate one catch every year to their community.

He was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1997 and a rural development award by the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation in 1996. His movement, named after the Sanskrit word for introspection, accepted followers of all religions and had no formal structure.

John Hart Ely, 64, a University of Miami law professor and former dean of the Stanford Law School who was among the most frequently cited American legal scholars, died Saturday in Miami after a long battle with cancer.

Before joining the University of Miami in 1996, Mr. Ely was a professor at Yale, Harvard and Stanford.

Shirley "Shirl" Jennings, 63, who was blind for 40 years before operations restored his vision in 1991, died Sunday in Atlanta of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mr. Jennings' life was depicted in the 1999 Hollywood film At First Sight, starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino.

When two operations restored his sight in 1991 after 40 years, Mr. Jennings suffered from sensory overload, said his wife, Barbara Jennings. She said he could not recognize a tree, for example.

"He knew the top and bottom separately, the trunk, the leaves," she said. "It took him six months to put a tree together."

Mr. Jennings, who worked as a masseur at a YMCA, started losing his sight after becoming sick at age 3 with illnesses including meningitis and polio. By 10, he could only distinguish light from dark. He had pneumonia in January 1992 and much of his restored sight vanished because of a lack of oxygen, said his wife. His illness left him disabled, though his sight returned to some degree.

Oliver Sain, 71, a saxophonist whose work was recorded by artists from Loretta Lynn to Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, died of bone cancer Tuesday in St. Louis.

Mr. Sain was a musician, songwriter and producer, known for his performances on songs like "Bus Stop" and "Feel Like Dancing" in the 1970s. He performed as recently as Monday night, his wife said.

His work was sampled by Combs on his No Way Out CD, and recorded by artists including the Allman Brothers Band, Chaka Khan and Ry Cooder.

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