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Obituaries in the News

February 23, 1998

BERLIN (AP) _ Erich Mueckenberger, a former member of the East German Politburo and one of six top officials accused in the killings of citizens trying to flee to the West, died Feb. 10. He was 87.

Following German unification in 1990, Mueckenberger was put on trial for manslaughter along with the last East German leader Egon Krenz, who was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.

Mueckenberger, who maintained his innocence, saying those killed trying to cross the Berlin Wall ``were victims of the Cold War,″ was dropped from the trial because of ill health in August 1996.

Mueckenberger was born June 8, 1910, in the eastern German town of Chemnitz and was an illegal organizer for the Social Democratic Party during the Nazi period.

He later joined East Germany’s communists and served for 30 years on the Politburo.

Dr. Jack D. Myers

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Dr. Jack D. Myers, an internist who developed one of the first computer programs to help physicians diagnose complex cases, died Jan. 31. He was 84.

Myers was chairman of the department of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh from 1950 to 1970 and later developed his software there.

His system, called ``QMR″ for quick medical reference, is sold by First Databank and still used to help doctors make diagnostic decisions.

The software scans a database compiled from medical research reports.

Myers compared his system to a doctor’s stethoscope, said Dr. Randolph A. Miller, who collaborated with Myers at Pittsburgh and is now head of the department of informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

``The program could extend a doctor’s abilities but it could not replace what’s between the ears,″ Miller said.

Abraham Ribicoff

NEW YORK (AP) _ Abraham A. Ribicoff, a former U.S. senator and governor of Connecticut who served as secretary of health, education and welfare in the Kennedy administration, died Sunday. He was 87.

Ribicoff, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, died at a New York city nursing home, said ABC’s Barbara Walters, a family friend.

Ribicoff, a Democrat, had a public service career that spanned more than four decades.

He began as a state legislator in the Connecticut General Assembly and went on to serve as a judge, a congressman, governor of Connecticut, a member of Kennedy’s Cabinet, a member of the United States delegation to the United Nations and, for the last 18 years of his career, a U.S. senator.

As a senator, Ribicoff gained national prominence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, when he made a blistering speech criticizing Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley for the strong-arm tactics used to control protesters.

His political career began in 1938, when he was elected to the Connecticut General Assembly as a representative from Hartford. He served two terms, and in 1942, was appointed to a municipal judge.

In 1948, Ribicoff was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served two terms before running for the Senate in 1952. He lost that race to Prescott S. Bush, the father of former President George Bush.

Ribicoff was elected governor of Connecticut in 1954. He was elected to a second term in 1958, but resigned in 1961 to become a member of Kennedy’s Cabinet.

Kennedy originally offered him the attorney general’s job, but Ribicoff suggested Kennedy appoint his brother, Robert, to that post.

Rodney Whited

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) _ Rodney ``Rod″ William Whited, photo editor for The Huntsville Times, died Sunday after a brief illness. He was 48.

Whited joined the Times in October 1974 after working for the Hattiesburg, Miss., Press and the Columbus, Ga. Ledger-Enquirer. He was promoted to chief photographer in 1979 and was named photo editor in 1995.

Whited received several awards from The Associated Press, the Alabama and Georgia Associated Press associations and the Sigma Delta Chi journalism fraternity.

``Rod was a gentle spirit who understood and appreciated the South and its people,″ said Times Managing Editor Melinda Joiner. ``He photographed both with his heart.″

Survivors include his wife, Denise, and a son and two daughters; parents, Ward and Lottie Whited of Oneonta; two brothers and two sisters.

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