Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

January 12, 2004

Alfred Pugh, 108, the last known combat-wounded U.S. veteran of World War I, died Wednesday at a veterans hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Mr. Pugh, who often told visitors the key to a long life is "keep breathing," joined the Army in 1917 and fought in France with the 77th Infantry Division. In 1918, he was wounded during the Meusse-Argonne offensive, one of the war's bloodiest battles.

Born Jan. 17, 1895, in Everett, Mass., Mr. Pugh raised 16 foster children, played the organ into his 100s and was an avid football and baseball fan.

He is one of 10 veterans profiled in the book, The Price of their Blood, published last month and co-authored by Jesse Brown, former U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs.

He spoke French and was used overseas as an interpreter until the battle in the Argonne forest, when he inhaled mustard gas that left him suffering from chronic laryngitis.

After the war he returned to Maine and worked as a railroad telegraph operator for 12 years before delivering mail for 26 years. He moved to Florida in 1971.

In 1999, he was named chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor by the French government.

Thomas G. Stockham Jr., 70, the internationally recognized "father of digital recording" whose pioneering work in the 1960s and 1970s revolutionized the recording industry and laid the groundwork for music on compact discs and other forms of digital audio, died Tuesday in a Salt Lake City hospice of complications related to Alzheimer's disease.

Mr. Stockham also served on a panel of audio experts who analyzed President Richard Nixon's secret White House tapes. They concluded that the 18 1/2 -minute gap on one tape was a deliberate erasure.

He received Emmy, Grammy and Academy awards for his role in the development of digital recording and editing.

He was a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Utah in 1975 when he founded Soundstream Inc., the world's first digital recording company.

Mr. Stockham and his company first captured public attention in 1976. That year, RCA released Caruso: A Legendary Performer, the first in a series of the famed opera singer's early 20th-century recordings that had been digitally remastered by Soundstream.

He and his colleagues had digitally eliminated surface noise and compensated for flaws such as the tinny sounds and echoes caused by the primitive recording horns used at the time. The result was stunningly clear and clean restored recordings of the great Italian tenor.

The same year, Mr. Stockham made the first live digital recording, of the Santa Fe Opera, and demonstrated his recorder at the annual Audio Engineering Society meeting.

Mr. Stockham later recalled that several prominent members of the society told him, "You can make a limited demonstration easily enough, but when you get it in the field, it will fail."

Basically, what Mr. Stockham did was take sound waves produced by either a microphone or a pre-existing recording and digitize the sound waves into numbers with a computer. The information is then stored in the computer and, when brought back up, is reconverted into sound waves.

"It was a real big breakthrough," said Larry DeVries, a distinguished professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Utah and friend of Mr. Stockham.

Traditional vinyl records, Mr. DeVries said, are subject to wear, scratching and distortion with time and temperature, "but once you convert the signal to numbers on a computer, they're permanent."

Mr. Stockham also was the principal contributing engineer to a digital hearing aid, and in the years leading up to his 1994 Alzheimer's diagnosis he worked extensively in digital image processing that helped with the human genome project.

Steven Dorfman, 48, who for nearly two decades wrote questions -- that is, answers -- for the television game show Jeopardy! died Jan. 4 at his home in Los Angeles of complications of colon cancer.

A devotee of game shows since childhood, Dorfman had written for Jeopardy! since the debut of its latest incarnation in 1984. With more than 50,000 clues to his credit, he was that show's longest-serving and most prolific writer. As part of a team of writers, he won six Daytime Emmy Awards for special-class writing, given for shows that do not fit into traditional categories.

Mr. Dorfman had a quirky sense of humor and eclectic interests, from early Star Trek episodes to jellyfish. He came up with both answers and categories himself, although researchers checked his work.

Some of his categories were "Wacky Roman Emperors," "Original Crayola Colors" and "Grub, Shrub or Beelzebub?" (Answer: "Azazel." Question: "What is Beelzebub?")

He was adept at coming up with ideas for special categories, engineering tie-ins with another popular game show from the same producer, "Wheel of Fortune," and with the crossword puzzle in The New York Times.

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