Other Notable Deaths


December 28, 2005

John Diebold, 79, a business visionary who preached computerization during the era of Elvis and Eisenhower as the future of worldwide industry, died Monday of esophageal cancer at his home in suburban Bedford Hills, N.Y., said a nephew, John B. Diebold.

Although Mr. Diebold is now hailed as a prophet of the computerized future, his zeal for computers was not widely shared in the 1950s.

He laid out his vision of a computerized future with his 1952 book Automation, which presented the then-radical notion of using programmable devices in daily business.

His vision of the future was conceived while serving in the merchant marine during World War II. He watched the ship's anti-aircraft fire control system, with its crude self-correcting mechanisms, and envisioned adapting the technology for business use.

In 1954, Mr. Diebold launched his consulting firm, John Diebold & Associates. Coincidentally, that was the same year General Electric unveiled the first full-scale computer system for a business.

Over the next half-century, his firm, which had no connection to electronic equipment company Diebold Inc., provided advice to AT&T, IBM, Boeing and Xerox, along with the cities of Chicago and New York, and the countries of Venezuela and Jordan.

Farouk Nassar, 79, a 42-year-veteran Mideast correspondent for the Associated Press, died Monday, two weeks after suffering a stroke, according to his son, Firas. He was stricken after learning of the Dec. 12 car bomb assassination of Gibran Tueni, editor and general manager of Beirut's leading daily An-Nahar newspaper.

He was supervisor of the newspaper's English-language Web site after retiring from the AP in 1996.

During his AP service, Mr. Nassar covered military coups in neighboring Syria, where he started reporting for the wire service.

From Damascus and later his Beirut base, his monitoring of shortwave radio broadcasts earned him wide credits for reporting earthshaking political developments in the Middle East -- including the 1958 overthrow of the monarchy in Iraq, the 1969 takeover by military officer Moammar Gadhafi in Libya and the conflict in Yemen.

He was jailed several times by authorities in Syria for his reporting. He moved with his family to neighboring Lebanon in the mid-1960s.

He covered the Palestinian fighters who set up a base in Lebanon in the 1970s, frequently interviewing their leaders, and reported throughout Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, the Syrian army intervention, the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1978 and the wider Israeli invasion of 1982 and its occupation of Beirut.

Among the bulletins he filed during his career was the bombing of the U.S. Marine base in Beirut in 1983, an attack that killed more than 240 American service personnel.

Kerry Packer, 68, a media mogul and Australia's wealthiest man, died Monday at his Sydney home, his family said. He was 68.

No cause of death was given, but Mr. Packer had long been troubled by ill health, battling cancer and receiving a kidney transplant.

Mr. Packer was ranked as the world's 94th-wealthiest person by Forbes magazine.

Though he amassed his fortune through his family's Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd., which he inherited from his father, Mr. Packer was widely known for his love of gambling and sports.

He reinvented limited-overs cricket to make it more appealing to a mass television audience. Yesterday, the Australian and South African cricket teams held a minute's silence in memory of Mr. Packer in the southern city of Melbourne.

Mr. Packer was also enjoyed gambling and owned Melbourne's Crown Casino complex, Australia's largest.

When his father died in 1974, Mr. Packer inherited two television stations, five radio stations, nine provincial newspapers and the biggest magazine publishing company in the country.

By the late 1980s, he had acquired another magazine business, bought and sold the nation's largest engineering company and expanded programming at Nine Network.

Mr. Packer also invested in real estate, becoming one of Australia's largest landowners and cattle barons by the late 1980s. His Australian properties were said to cover an area bigger than Belgium.

Vincent Schiavelli, 57, the droopy-eyed character actor who appeared in scores of movies, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Ghost, died Monday at his home in Sicily of lung cancer, said Salvatore Glorioso, mayor of Polizzi Generosa, the Sicilian village where Mr. Schiavelli resided.

The New York-born Mr. Schiavelli, whose gloomy look made him perfect to play creepy or eccentric characters, made appearances in some 150 film and television productions, according to the Internet Movie Database.

In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, he played the science teacher Mr. Vargas, who was married to the character portrayed by Lana Clarkson.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.