Notable Deaths


April 11, 2009


Dungeons & Dragons co-creator

Dave Arneson, one of the co-creators of the fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons, died Tuesday in hospice care in St. Paul, Minn., after a two-year battle with cancer.

Mr. Arneson and Gary Gygax developed Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 using medieval characters and mythical creatures. The game known for its oddly shaped dice became a hit, particularly among teenage boys. It eventually was turned into video games, books and movies.

Dungeons & Dragons players create fictional characters and carry out their adventures with the help of complicated rules. It spawned copycat games and later inspired a whole genre of computer games that's still growing in popularity.

Mr. Gygax died in March 2008.


Medal of Honor winner

Russell Dunham, a World War II veteran who was awarded the Medal of Honor for killing nine German soldiers and taking two others captive despite being wounded himself, died Monday of heart failure at his home in the southwestern Illinois community of Godfrey, said his stepdaughter, Annette Wilson.

Mr. Dunham never considered himself a hero on Jan. 8, 1945, when he charged a hill near Kayserberg, France, despite being wounded in the back, Wilson said Thursday.

Mr. Dunham was a technical sergeant in the Army when he "single-handedly assaulted three enemy machine guns," according to the Medal of Honor's official Web site.

Wearing a white robe made of a mattress cover, Mr. Dunham toted a dozen carbine magazines and had 12 hand grenades in his belt, suspenders and buttonholes when he charged the snow-covered hill under fire from two machine-gunners and German riflemen, according to the profile.

He was within 10 yards of one of the enemy machine guns when he jumped to his feet and charged forward. A round from a rifle seared a 10-inch gash across his back, sending him spinning 15 yards downhill into the snow.

By the end of the attack, Mr. Dunham had fired about 175 rounds of ammunition and used 11 grenades.

"Once you get into battle, you forget your fears," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1999.

After the war, Mr. Dunham spent three decades working for the Veterans Administration.

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