Other Notable Deaths


November 25, 2007


Wife of former senator

Jane Maury Denton, the wife of former Sen. Jeremiah Denton Jr., a former Vietnam prisoner of war, died Thursday at a Norfolk, Va., hospital after suffering a heart attack, family members said.

She helped organize the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia in the 1960s, after her Navy pilot husband was shot down and captured in 1965. He was held for nearly eight years in a North Vietnamese prison.

Mrs. Denton's advocacy work was credited for the group's efforts in obtaining humane treatment and the ultimate release of American prisoners.

Her husband drew international attention in 1966 when he was being interviewed on North Vietnamese television. He blinked in Morse code the letters "t-o-r-t-u-r-e," letting U.S. intelligence officials know what was happening to the prisoners.

Mr. Denton, who retired as a rear admiral in 1973, was elected in 1980 to the U.S. Senate, representing Alabama. The Republican served one term. The Dentons lived in a home south of Mobile, Ala., for more than 30 years. In September, the couple moved to Williamsburg, Va.


Created scale to gauge hurricane strength

Herbert Saffir, an engineer who created the five-category system used to describe hurricane strength and warn of an approaching storm's danger, died Wednesday of complications from surgery, his son Richard Saffir said.

A structural engineer, Mr. Saffir created his scale in 1969 - laying out for the first time what kind of damage could be expected from an approaching hurricane.

It has since become the definitive way to describe intensity for storms that form in the Atlantic and parts of the Pacific. Previously, hurricanes were simply described as "major" or "minor."

Mr. Saffir's innovation was ranking storm destruction by type, from Category 1, where trees and unanchored mobile homes are in danger of damage, to Category 5 - the complete failure of roofs and other structures.

The five categories were matched with the sustained wind speeds that would produce corresponding damage.

Mr. Saffir's scale was expanded by former National Hurricane Center Director Robert H. Simpson and became known as the Saffir-Simpson scale in the 1970s. The scale is now so well-known that many coastal residents toss off shorthand like "Cat. 1" and few need to be told that it refers to Mr. Saffir's creation.

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