Other Notable Deaths


November 28, 2008


World's oldest person

Edna Parker, who became the world's oldest person more than a year ago, died Wednesday at age 115.

UCLA gerontologist Dr. Stephen Coles said Mrs. Parker's great-nephew notified him that Mrs. Parker died at a nursing home in Shelbyville, Ind. She was 115 years, 220 days old, said Robert Young, a senior consultant for gerontology for Guinness World Records.

Mrs. Parker was born April 20, 1893, in central Indiana and had been recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest person after the 2007 death in Japan of Yone Minagawa, four months her senior.

Dr. Coles, who maintains a list of the world's oldest people, said Mrs. Parker was the 14th-oldest validated supercentenarian in history. Maria de Jesus of Portugal, born Sept. 10, 1893, is now the world's oldest person, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

Mrs. Parker had been a widow since her husband, Earl Parker, died in 1939 of a heart attack. She lived alone in their farmhouse until age 100, when she moved into a son's home and later to the Shelbyville nursing home.

Although she never drank alcohol or tried tobacco and led an active life, she didn't offer tips for living a long life. Her only advice to those who gathered to celebrate when she became the oldest person was "more education."

Mrs. Parker outlived two sons and had five grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren.

"We don't know why she's lived so long," Don Parker said before his grandmother's 115th birthday. "But she's never been a worrier and she's always been a thin person, so maybe that has something to do with it."


Mathematician, entrepreneur

Sandy Ruby, a mathematician turned entrepreneur who, with a partner, founded a business in a dorm room and built it into Tech Hifi, a popular electronics retailer, died Saturday in Boston. The cause was complications of diabetes, said his brother, Michael.

Tech Hifi was born amid a fever for stereo equipment among college students in the 1960s as recordings multiplied and the technology to play them improved. In 1964, John Strohbeen, an audiophile and MIT undergraduate, discovered that stereo systems in Manhattan were selling at a 20 percent discount from their prices in nearby Boston. Hoping to earn enough to buy a sound system of his own, he began a business with the idea of buying in New York and selling on the Cambridge campus of MIT.

Mr. Ruby, four years older, arrived at MIT as a graduate tutor in Mr. Strohbeen's dorm and as the possessor of a nifty stereo system that he received as a gift when he graduated from Harvard. As a result, Mr. Strohbeen said in an interview Monday, "Sandy became the dorm audiophile maven." They eventually became partners.

The business was successful enough that they rented a storefront in an armory on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street in Cambridge, and Tech Hifi was born.

Its hallmark - knowledgeable salespeople who could satisfy the comparison-shopping stereo connoisseur - helped propel its growth until it became one of the nation's largest purveyors of consumer electronics, with more than 80 stores, mostly in the Northeast, including more than a dozen in and around New York City. A recession and competition from discount retailers forced it out of business in the mid-1980s.

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