Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

July 19, 2004

Charles W. Sweeney,

84, a retired Air Force general who piloted the plane that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, in the final days of World War II, died Thursday at a Boston hospital.

He was 25 when he piloted the B-29 bomber that attacked Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, three days after the Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and six days before Japan surrendered. About 70,000 people were killed in the explosion of the bomb, dubbed "Fat Man." It was the first bomb Mr. Sweeney dropped on an enemy target.

He was an outspoken defender of the bombings, appearing on CNN and speaking at colleges and universities. He also wrote a book, War's End: An Eyewitness Account of America's Last Atomic Mission, to counter what he considered "cockamamie theories" that the bombings were unnecessary.

Bella Lewitzky,

88, a world-renowned choreographer, teacher and arts advocate who successfully sued over a national anti-obscenity pledge, died Friday in Pasadena, Calif., of complications from a stroke.

When the National Endowment for the Arts implemented a mandatory anti-obscenity pledge, her dance company filed a lawsuit in January 1991. The pledge was declared unconstitutional.

Her modern dance career started in 1934 when she enrolled in a class offered by Los Angeles choreographer Lester Horton at the Norma Gould Studio, where she remained until 1951. She held teaching residencies across the country and abroad, including at the California Institute for the Arts, where she served as the first dean of dance. She retired as a performer in 1978.

Joe Gold,

82, a bodybuilding legend whose namesake gym drew a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, died July 11 after being hospitalized in Marina del Rey, Calif.

Mr. Gold, the son of an East Los Angeles junk dealer, began working out at famed Muscle Beach in Santa Monica as a teenager. In 1965, he founded Gold's Gym in the Venice area of Los Angeles. He stocked it with machines he built specifically for bodybuilders. The gym became famous after Mr. Schwarzenegger's appearance in the 1977 movie Pumping Iron, in which it was prominently featured.

Mr. Gold sold the gym in 1970 and returned to the merchant marine, which he had joined after serving in the Navy in World War II. Under new owners, Gold's Gym became a franchise operation with hundreds of locations. He returned to the gym business in 1977 when he established World Gym, which also became a successful franchise operation.

Frances Hansen,

85, a prolific crossword puzzle creator known for designing puzzles whose answers formed original poems, died July 9 of complications from a stroke at a hospital in Perth Amboy, N.J.

Her puzzles were published in newspapers including The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times and by such book publishers as Dell and Simon & Schuster.

Eighty-two of her puzzles were published by The New York Times, and the 83rd was scheduled to be published in the Christmas issue of the newspaper's Sunday magazine, the newspaper said. She wrote every Christmas puzzle since 1995 and was the newspaper's fourth-most-published crossword puzzle creator, the Times said. Her first puzzle was published in December 1964, the newspaper said.

Douglas Dwight Faris,

58, who recently retired as superintendent of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, died of cancer July 9 in Fayetteville, Ark.

In 1995, he became superintendent of the C&O park, which parallels the Potomac River for 184 1/2 miles from Cumberland to Washington's Georgetown neighborhood. The canal towpath, once traveled by barge-pulling mules, is a hiking and biking trail along the Maryland side of the river.

He led the successful lobbying for $6.4 million in federal funds to repair the park's Monocacy Aqueduct, a 516-foot, seven-arch bridge in Frederick County that is considered one of the finest remaining examples of 19th-century civil engineering in the United States.

Walter Wager,

79, whose spy novels were turned into movies starring Bruce Willis and Charles Bronson, died July 11 of brain cancer in New York City.

Among his novels was 58 Minutes (1987), which provided the basis for the 1990 box-office hit Die Hard 2, starring Mr. Willis. Two other novels were adapted for the screen: Telefon (1975), which became a movie of the same name with Charles Bronson in 1977, and Viper Three (1971), which was the basis for the 1977 film Twilight's Last Gleaming with Burt Lancaster.

His recent books often concerned dastardly villains with dreams of world domination. Tunnel (2000) was about a plot to bomb New York City's Lincoln Tunnel; The Spirit Team (1996) involved a deadly blue fungus unleashed by a North African dictator. In all, he wrote 25 novels and several works of nonfiction. Most of his books published in the 1960s were written under the pseudonym John Tiger.

Azizan Zainul Abidin,

69, chairman of Malaysia's national oil firm Petronas and flagship carrier Malaysia Airlines, died of a suspected heart attack Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr. Abidin, who helped Petronas become a Fortune 500 company with oil and gas investments in more than 30 countries worldwide, joined Petronas as its chief executive officer in 1988, and became chairman in 1995. Petronas has since become Southeast Asia's largest oil-and-gas company.

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