Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

February 29, 2004

Daniel J. Boorstin,

89, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who wrote more than 20 books, died of pneumonia yesterday at Sibley Hospital in Washington.

Renowned for his scholarship, Dr. Boorstin was appointed librarian of Congress in 1974 by President Gerald R. Ford and spent 12 years as director of the world's largest library.

That year he also won the Pulitzer Prize for history for The Americans: The Democratic Experience. The book was the third in Dr. Boorstin's "The Americans" series, following The Colonial Experience and The National Experience. The books sought to identify and analyze the distinctive character of American institutions and culture.

Dr. Boorstin tackled world history with The Discoverers, which looked at the human search for knowledge. That was perhaps the book he was most fond of, his wife said.

Dr. Boorstin's successor at the Library of Congress, James H. Billington, remembered him as a great historian and scholar. "This is a remarkable American of our times. He was an extraordinary historian, first and foremost of American historians. He was a polymath," he said.

His wife of more than 60 years, Ruth, collaborated with Dr. Boorstin on his books. After he punched out his manuscript on his manual typewriter, the copy went straight to her for her input.

"It was wonderful about how modest he was," said Ruth Boorstin, a writer and poet. "He would say, `Tell me if you don't like it, and I'll rewrite it,' but it was always brilliant," she said.

He was born in Atlanta, raised in Tulsa, Okla., and educated at Harvard, Yale and Oxford universities. Before his appointment to the Library of Congress, he was director of the National Museum of History and Technology, senior historian of the Smithsonian Institution and a history professor at the University of Chicago for 25 years.

Alvino Rey,

95, a swing-band leader of the 1930s and 1940s and the pioneer of the pedal steel guitar that became his trademark, died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia and congestive heart failure at a rehabilitation center in Draper, Utah.

Born Alvin McBurney, Mr. Rey changed his name in 1929 to capitalize on the Latin music craze after beginning his music career in New York. He led orchestras for 40 years under his new name. His band featured the Four King Sisters, including Luise, whom he had married in 1937.

Mr. Rey and his orchestra gained national fame with the 1942 hit "Deep in the Heart of Texas." Nearly 25 years later, he was again in the national spotlight when he and the King Sisters were featured for several seasons on ABC's The King Family Show.

His longtime interest in electronics led him to develop his own pedal steel guitar in the infancy of the electric guitar age. The pedal steel guitar is now a fixture of country music.

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