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Obituaries in the News

April 28, 2003

Bastiampillai Deogupillai

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Bastiampillai Deogupillai, a former bishop of Sri Lanka’s troubled northern city of Jaffna, died in his sleep Friday. He was 86.

Deogupillai aided tens of thousands of people during Sri Lanka’s 19-year civil war.

Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in February 2002 when the Tamil Tiger rebels and government signed a cease-fire. The two sides are holding talks on the rebels’ demand for self-rule.

Ordained in December 1941, Deogupillai first served in churches in the northern town of Trincomalee and the eastern town of Batticaloa. He was named bishop in 1972 and retired in 1992.

He was born in 1917 in the northern Jaffna Peninsula, the traditional home of most of Sri Lanka’s 3.2 million Tamils.

David S. Lavender

OJAI, Calif. (AP) _ Author David S. Lavender, who worked his family’s Colorado ranch and mined for gold before beginning a career as a historian of the West, died Saturday of natural causes. He was 93.

He had been in ill health for some time and about a year ago had to stop writing a book for youngsters about wildfires because he no longer could use a typewriter, his wife said Sunday.

Although he lacked an academic degree in history, Lavender’s contributions to the field were well-noted. He was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize and was honored in 1997 by the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado with its Wallace Stegner Award for sustained contribution to the cultural identity of the American West.

Lavender grew up on a ranch outside Telluride, Colo. He attended Stanford University and Princeton.

He became a copywriter for an advertising agency in Denver, later moving to California, where he provided plots for Westerns to a screenwriter. He branched out into fiction, selling ``shoot-’em-ups″ to Western pulp magazines, and eventually began writing historical books about Western themes, such as fur trappers and railroad barons.

His first book was a 1943 collection of essays called ``One Man’s West″ that chronicled his own experiences on the ranch and mining for gold.

Lavender gained renewed attention last years after the late historian Stephen Ambrose was accused of plagiarizing passages from his book ``The Great Persuader,″ about railroad magnate Collis Potter Huntington.

Helen Honig Meyer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Helen Honig Meyer, who worked her way through the ranks of Dell Publishing to become one of the first women to lead a major publishing company, died April 21. She was 95.

Meyer, who died in Livingston, N.J., began working for Dell in 1923. She was the firm’s president and chief executive from the early 1950s until it was sold to Doubleday & Co. in 1976.

During that time, she pushed for and championed a profitable line of comic books featuring Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters, and led the firm into hardback publishing with Delacorte Press.

Authors who signed with Dell during her tenure included Kurt Vonnegut, James Baldwin, James Jones, and Irwin Shaw.

After Dell was sold, Meyer worked as a consultant until her contract ended in 1982. She then became a literary agent, representing some Dell hardcover authors, including James Clavell.

Meyer, who was born in Brooklyn, attended New York City public schools. She was inducted into the Publishers Hall of Fame in 1986.

Peter Stone

NEW YORK (AP) _ Peter Stone, who won an Oscar, an Emmy and three Tony awards during a career in which he wrote the musicals ``1776″ and ``Titanic″ and the film classic ``Charade,″ died Saturday of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 73.

Stone was an acclaimed writer for both the stage and screen. He won Tonys for writing the books to the musicals ``1776″ (1969), ``Woman of the Year″ (1981) and ``Titanic″ (1997).

He also revised the musical ``Annie Get Your Gun,″ originally produced by Rodgers and Hammerstein in the late 1940s, for a revival that ran more than 1,000 performances before closing in September 2001.

With co-writers S.H. Barnett and Frank Tarloff, Stone won an Oscar in 1964 for ``Father Goose,″ the World War II comedy starring Cary Grant as a man who watches Japanese spy planes on a deserted South Seas island. His Emmy was for the 1960s television drama ``The Defenders.″

His other writing credits include ``Charade,″ starring Grant and Audrey Hepburn; the screenplay for the musical ``Sweet Charity″ and the 1974 drama about a hijacked New York subway, ``The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.″

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