Other Notable Deaths


May 01, 2006

Nadia Chilkovsky Nahumck, 98, a performer and transcriber of dances by Isadora Duncan and an influential teacher, died April 23 in Blue Bell, Pa.

Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Ms. Nahumck came to the United States as a child and grew up in Philadelphia, where she established the Children's Dance Theater in 1944. Later known as the Philadelphia Dance Academy, it became part of the University of the Arts. Her students included Judith Jamison, now the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

She performed with Martha Graham in the 1920s and was a founding member of the New Dance Group and of the Society for Ethnomusicology. Her book Isadora Duncan: The Dances Choreographed in Labanotation was published in 1996. She taught at colleges including the Curtis Institute of Music, Swarthmore College and Temple University. She wrote several notation workbooks and notated a variety of choreography.

William Durkin, the Marine who pulled Howard Hughes from the wreckage of a plane he had been test-piloting over Beverly Hills, Calif., died of a heart attack at a hospital in Palm Springs, Calif., on Saturday, a day before he would have turned 90.

Mr. Durkin was on his way to meet a date on July 7, 1946, when he saw the fiery wreckage of Mr. Hughes' XF-11 reconnaissance plane and rescued the flyer. Mr. Hughes was burned over 78 percent of his body and mangled from his forehead to below his knees. He hovered near death days later, but rallied to fly again.

The crash was the centerpiece of Martin Scorsese's 2004 film The Aviator, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Mr. Hughes. Despite rumors that Mr. Durkin received a generous reward, his daughter Kimberly Durkin said he refused to take any money from Mr. Hughes, who died in 1976.

Laura van Dam, 51, a book editor who was president of the National Association of Science Writers, died of central nervous system lymphoma April 24 at a hospital in Cambridge, Mass., where she had lived.

Twenty years ago, her passions for science and writing dovetailed when she joined Technology Review in Cambridge, where she became a senior editor. She had worked as a reporter at the Austin American-Statesman in Texas, the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, and New England Business in Boston.

In 1998, Ms. van Dam went to work at Houghton Mifflin Co., where she was a senior editor and in-house editor of The Best American Science and Nature Writing, published annually. For the past two years, she was a freelance editor with her own consulting company.

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