other notable deaths

other notable deaths

February 13, 2007

ANGELO MERCURIO, 70 Mafia informant

Angelo "Sonny" Mercurio, a member of the New England Mafia who helped the FBI bug a mob induction ceremony for the first time, leading to the prosecution of dozens of people, has died, a family member said.

Mr. Mercurio, who was living in Little Rock, Ark., in the witness protection program, died in December of a pulmonary embolism, said his mother-in-law, Judith Gopoian.

Mr. Mercurio, an FBI informant, tipped off federal agents about the ceremony at a suburban Boston home in October 1989 that was attended by 17 reputed mobsters. It was the first time law enforcers had recorded one of the secret ceremonies, and it helped bring down the crime family led by Raymond "Junior" Patriarca.

Mr. Mercurio testified that he was never comfortable as an informant but felt trapped by the FBI, which had gathered evidence against him by bugging his Italian food shop, where he and other mobsters planned criminal activities.

ROBERT REARDON, 87 College president

Robert Reardon, president of Anderson College for 25 years, died Saturday in Anderson, Ind., of complications from pancreatic cancer. Chris Williams, a spokesman for the institution now known as Anderson University, verified Reardon's death.

After attending Anderson College as an undergraduate, Mr. Reardon returned in 1947 as an assistant to President John Morrison. He succeeded Mr. Morrison in 1957.

Under Mr. Reardon's administration, the Church of God-affiliated institution took steps toward becoming a university, a transition completed after Mr. Reardon retired in 1983 and was succeeded by Robert Nicholson.

Current President James Edwards said Mr. Reardon guided the development of the campus, about 40 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

Mr. Reardon held a master's degree in sacred theology from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology in Ohio and a master of divinity from Vanderbilt University.

In the mid-1940s, after studies at Harvard University and the University of Michigan, he was pastor of congregations in Loudonville and Kipton, Ohio, and in Chester, Pa.

Mr. Reardon was the author of two books, The Early Morning Light and This Is the Way It Was.

BENT SKOVMAND, 61 Plant scientist

Bent Skovmand, a plant scientist who helped oversee the creation of a "doomsday vault" to house as many as 3 million of the world's crop seeds in case of disaster, died Feb. 6 in Kavlinge, Sweden, his wife said. Swedish media reports said the cause of death was brain tumor complications.

The seed bank, which is being built inside a mountain on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean, will reportedly be the largest in the world when it opens in September.

Its purpose is to ensure the survival of crop diversity in the event of plant epidemics, nuclear war, natural disasters or climate change, and to offer the world a chance to restart the growth of any food crops that have been wiped out.

Mr. Skovmand, a University of Minnesota graduate, traveled around the world collecting and studying wheat and other plant types for the bank, protecting them from human encroachment and breeding them to develop stronger, more disease-resistant strains.

His scientific achievements earned him numerous awards, the most notable of which was the Knight's Cross of the Order of Dannebrog, given to him in 2003 by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

CHARLES R. WALGREEN JR., 100 Son of drug chain founder

Charles R. Walgreen Jr., the son of the founder of Walgreen Co. and the company's former chairman, died Saturday at his home in Northfield, Ill., said Walgreen spokesman Michael Polzin.

Trained as a pharmacist, Mr. Walgreen was the company's president from his father's death in 1939 to 1963. He was chairman of the board from 1963 to 1976. Walgreen's annual sales grew from $72 million to $817 million during his tenure, the Deerfield, Ill.-based drugstore chain said in a statement.

Mr. Walgreen grew up in the family business, making deliveries from his father's second store on Chicago's South Side when he was a boy.

In retirement, Mr. Walgreen obtained an ocean captain's license and sailed the world on his yacht. At age 89, he traveled to Antarctica, where a section of shoreline was named Walgreen Coast in honor of his father by Adm. Richard E. Byrd, a family friend.

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