Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

July 27, 2004

John Corbally, 79, first president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and former president of the University of Illinois and Syracuse University, died of brain cancer Friday at his home in Mill Creek, Wash.

He served as president of the Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation from shortly after its founding in 1979 until 1989. During his tenure, the philanthropic foundation started its famous fellowship program that became known as "genius grants," which are no-strings-attached stipends of $500,000 awarded to creative people to pursue their work.

He oversaw the conversion of businessman John MacArthur's disparate enterprises into a philanthropic foundation dedicated to work in mental health, education, conservation, human rights and support for documentary filmmaking and public broadcasting. Mr. Corbally also was on the foundation's board for 13 years and served as chairman from 1995 to 2002. During his 23 years with the foundation, it gave away more than $3 billion in grants.

Wilton Mkwayi, 81, who served 20 years of a life sentence alongside former President Nelson Mandela for organizing an armed liberation movement to fight apartheid in South Africa, died Friday in a South African hospital where he was being treated for cancer.

He helped the party fight the system of white rule by founding and leading its armed wing, Umkhonto We Sizwe, or Spear of the Nation, for which he was sentenced in 1964 to life in prison. He served two decades along with Mr. Mandela and other liberation luminaries at the notorious prison on Robben Island. With the end of apartheid, he was released in 1989.

He was among the first of more than 150 South Africans of all races to be charged with treason in 1956 for supporting the Freedom Charter calling for a nonracial democracy and a socialist-based economy. All were acquitted after a five-year trial.

Yoko Watanabe, 51, the first Japanese opera soprano to have starred at the world's top four opera houses, died July 15 in Milan, Italy, after receiving a diagnosis of cancer in 2000.

After graduating from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1976, she left for Italy to study opera. She spent two years at an institute tied to La Scala, Milan's opera house. In 1978, she made her debut in Europe; she mostly performed in Italy.

She returned to Japan in 1985 for her much-celebrated first performance at home with the Fujiwara Opera troupe, as Butterfly in Puccini's Madama Butterfly. It was to be her signature role. She also won leading roles in Charles Gounod's Faust, Bizet's Carmen, Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Puccini's La Boheme and Turandot.

Carlos Kleiber, 74, the celebrated perfectionist conductor whose mystique grew partly out of the rarity of his performances, died July 13 after a long illness, a Slovenian news agency said. No information was released on where he died.

The son of famed conductor Erich Kleiber, he refused to accept positions with companies, instead preferring to guest conduct wherever and whenever he pleased. He was considered one of the great conductors of the late 20th century along with Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan and Georg Solti.

He demanded double or triple the typical number of rehearsals. And he never announced what he would conduct in advance, deciding on repertory when he showed up for rehearsals. Nearly every one of his small number of recordings is considered a classic.

Ed Lewis, 86, a 1995 Nobel Prize winner for his studies into how genes regulate development of specific regions of the body, died of cancer Wednesday in Pasadena, Calif.

A member of the California Institute of Technology faculty since 1946, he spent his career working on the genetics of the fruit fly. He specialized in the fundamental ways that genes relate to embryonic development. In awarding him the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, the Nobel committee cited him for identifying and classifying "a small number of genes that are of key importance in determining the body plan and the formation of body segments."

He retired from faculty duties in 1988 but until recently kept an active schedule in his campus laboratory.

Peter Baird, 52, the son of legendary puppeteers Bil and Cora Baird and himself a master puppeteer trained from age 5, died July 16 in New York City of esophageal cancer.

He worked on the children's television show Shining Time Station for all 65 episodes from 1990 to 1993, voicing and manipulating Grace the Bass in the show's Juke Box Puppet Band. His feature film credits include The Muppets Take Manhattan in 1984 and Howard the Duck in 1986.

Mr. Baird grew up above his parents' marionette theater in New York City's Greenwich Village. He began as a ticket-taker at age 11, and by 19 he was a professional puppeteer.

Queen Susan, 63, the wife of the self-proclaimed heir to Albania's throne, died of lung cancer July 17, said a spokesman for the royal family in Tirana, Albania.

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