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Obituaries in the News

September 4, 2004

Sir Alastair Morton

LONDON (AP) _ Sir Alastair Morton, who played a key role in the building of the Channel tunnel between England and France, died Wednesday, his family said. He was 66.

Morton, who died of a heart attack, became co-chairman of Eurotunnel in 1987 and served as group chief executive from 1990 until 1994, when the undersea link opened.

He brought a sharp mind and an explosive temper to a task which many thought would be impossible: to complete the 31-mile tunnel entirely with private funding, as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher insisted.

The construction cost of $18 billion was double the original estimate. Morton, who saw himself as representing the small shareholders in Eurotunnel, battled with the banks that financed the project and with Transmanche-Link, the consortium of construction companies that did the work.

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Paul Shmyr

SURREY, British Columbia (AP) _ Paul Shmyr, the former NHL and WHA defenseman who captained the Edmonton Oilers in Wayne Gretzky’s first season with the team, died Thursday after a battle with throat cancer, the Oilers said. He was 58.

Shmyr played 511 games in the WHA, including 160 with the Oilers, and 343 in the NHL with Chicago, Minnesota, California and Hartford. He captained the Oilers in 1978-79 _ their last season in the WHA.

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William Siri

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ William Siri, a biophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who helped lead the first American expedition to reach Mount Everest’s summit, has died of pneumonia. He was 85.

Siri, who had Alzheimer’s disease, died Aug. 24 at his home in Berkeley, said his wife, Jean.

Among the world’s foremost scientists to conduct research while scaling mountains, Siri served as deputy leader and scientific coordinator on the expedition that put five Americans atop Everest’s 29,035-foot peak in 1963.

Born in Philadelphia on Jan. 2, 1919, Siri earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Chicago before joining the Berkeley lab. He later worked in the radiation laboratory of the Manhattan Project.

Siri also helped medical physicist John Lawrence launch the field of nuclear medicine in which radioisotopes are used to study human physiology.

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