Other Notable Deaths


July 31, 2006

David Gemmell, 57, a fantasy author known for his adventure tales revolving around heroism and leadership, died in London Friday two weeks after quadruple heart bypass surgery.

Born in West London in 1948, he was expelled from school for gambling in 1965 and worked as a laborer, driver's assistant and nightclub bouncer before becoming a journalist. He became a full-time writer after being fired for using his colleagues as characters, according to the Web site of his publisher, Transworld Publishers.

He wrote 30 novels, starting in 1984 with Legend, a tale of a fortress under siege.

Ken Hansen, 53, who spent 30 years trying to convince the U.S. government that the Samish Indian Nation wasn't extinct and deserved treaty fishing rights, died of complications related to diabetes and heart problems Wednesday in Anacortes, Wash.

He retired from tribal leadership in October because of his failing health, said Thomas Wooten, who succeeded him as chairman. Mr. Hansen gained attention in the 1980s when he petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service for listing under the Endangered Species Act, noting that his San Juan Islands-area tribe and several others had been dropped from a tribe list prepared by a Bureau of Indian Affairs clerk in 1969.

The Samish, which were federally recognized under the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, were also excluded in a federal judge's 1974 ruling on allocation of fishing rights. In January 2005, a federal appeals court panel helped the tribe acquire a share of the state salmon catch.

Lt. Col. Besby Frank Holmes, 88, a World War II fighter pilot who took part in the successful 1943 mission to kill the Japanese admiral who planned the Pearl Harbor attack, died of a stroke July 23 in Greenbrae, Calif.

He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and the U.S. Air Force from 1941 to 1968. His assignments included Japan, Panama and New Zealand.

He was a member of the 67th Pursuit Squadron, which flew planes against the Japanese during the Guadalcanal campaign. In October 1942, he blew up a beached Japanese ammunition ship. In early 1943 he was among the 16 fighter pilots whose planes ambushed Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.

Rabbi Alexander Safran, 95, the former chief rabbi of Romania who tried to prevent the deportation of Jews by the pro-Nazi regime during World War II, died Thursday in Switzerland.

After leaving for Switzerland, he became the chief rabbi of Geneva in 1948 and philosophy professor at the city's university; he published many literary works.

He was elected chief rabbi of Romania in 1940 when he was only 30. After authorities ordered the dissolution of all Jewish organizations in December 1941, Rabbi Safran helped set up the Jewish Council - an underground group comprising all sectors of the Jewish population.

The council used its links with Romanian church officials, the Vatican and the royal family in a bid to prevent the mass deportation of Romania's Jews to the Nazi extermination camps. About half of the 800,000 Jews who lived in Romania before World War II were killed during the war, but that so many were saved was widely credited to Rabbi Safran's efforts.

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