Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

December 30, 2004

Dr. Jonathan Drummond-Webb,

45, a pediatric heart surgeon featured on national television for his transplants and other cardiac surgery on children, was found dead Sunday at his home in Little Rock, Ark.

Dr. Drummond-Webb committed suicide by taking an overdose of medication, according to Arkansas Children's Hospital, where he had been chief of pediatric and congenital cardiac surgery for the last three years.

Friends said the surgeon, who once described himself as "a bit of an extreme personality," suffered a sudden bout of depression. He had been diagnosed with a rare tissue cancer on his hip in 2001 but was successfully treated with surgery.

Dr. Drummond-Webb's accomplishments over 18 months in 2001 and early 2002 - 830 surgeries, with a 2 percent mortality rate - became the subject of a four-part ABC News documentary, "ICU: Arkansas Children's Hospital."

The doctor, who had no children, was extremely popular with those he saved and their families. He considered himself their advocate and protector as well as surgeon.

On Christmas Day, he telephoned Rick Marcus, 14, for whom he performed, in September, the first successful implant of a miniature heart pump, keeping the boy alive until the right donor heart became available. Dr. Drummond-Webb harvested the carefully selected heart in Houston last month and flew back with it to Little Rock for the operation.

When others doubted that the boy could return home for Christmas, Dr. Drummond-Webb worked to make sure he was able to leave the hospital two days before the holiday.

A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr. Drummond-Webb was 8 years old on Dec. 3, 1967, when Dr. Christiaan Barnard made history by performing the world's first successful heart transplant in Cape Town.

Charles Biederman, 98, an early American Modernist artist whose later work attempted to capture the "structural processes" of nature, died Sunday in Red Wing, Minn.

Mr. Biederman found success in Chicago and New York, where his work was exhibited alongside such artists as Alexander Calder and Charles Shaw. He spent several months in Paris before returning to New York in 1937.

In 1941 he was back in Chicago, and a year later he and his wife, Mary, settled in Red Wing, where he had produced works for a medical clinic.

Along the way, Mr. Biederman turned away from painting in favor of three-dimensional work, which he thought better represented nature and the play of light. He continued working at his rural farmhouse studio until his eyesight began to fail in the mid-1990s, according to Neil Larsen, a family friend.

Metropolitan Anthony Gergiannakis, 69, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox church in seven Western states, died Saturday in Sacramento, Calif., after battling a rare lymph node cancer, church officials said.

Metropolitan Anthony, who - like other church leaders - was called by his first name, was spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco. In that role, he presided over 70 Greek Orthodox parishes with 150,000 members in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.

During the 25 years he led the Metropolis of San Francisco, he oversaw the construction of three monasteries and about two dozen parishes and missions, and renovations at existing churches.

He also established programs to evangelize abroad, sending teams of missionaries or money to Africa, Romania, Albania and states of the former Soviet Union.

He maintained a particular interest in youth programs and began a multimillion-dollar scholarship program to help seminarians and other students attend religious classes.

George Russell Barber, 90, one of the last surviving chaplains from the U.S. landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day during World War II, died Dec. 17 at a hospital in Whittier, Calif.

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces landed in Normandy, and Mr. Barber was one of four chaplains at Omaha Beach with the Army's 1st Infantry Division.

U.S. forces encountered the fiercest resistance of any Allied force on D-Day from German gun emplacements on the cliffs overlooking Omaha Beach. According to his son, Don Barber, Mr. Barber spent a bloody and chaotic day ministering to the wounded and dying. Then he dug a foxhole near the cliffs and bedded down for the night.

More than 1,500 soldiers had been killed. Mr. Barber spent much of next few days on European soil readying the dead for burial and helping to select the site for the U.S. cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, his son said.

Mr. Barber continued with his combat ministry through much of the fiercest fighting in Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge and the collapse of the strategic bridge over the Rhine at Remagen, Germany.

Colleen "Koky" Dishon, 80, a former associate editor of the Chicago Tribune who was credited with redefining the role of features sections in newspapers, died Tuesday in South Bend, Ind., after a stroke.

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