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Obituaries in the News

July 31, 2000

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) _ Nicole Deck, a blind swimmer who wrote a moving autobiography describing years of physical and sexual abuse, died Saturday. She was 22.

Deck apparently poisoned herself, and left a suicide note, according to the weekly SonntagsZeitung. She was discovered unconscious in her room Friday morning and died in the hospital the following day.

It was an earlier suicide attempt, in June 1998, which robbed Deck of her sight. A year later she published her autobiography, in which she described how she had been mistreated by foster parents and then regularly sexually abused in a children’s home.

Deck had hoped to compete at this year’s Paralympics in Sydney, Australia.

Rene Favaloro

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, (AP) _ Rene Favaloro, a surgeon who pioneered the coronary bypass surgery, an operation routinely performed on millions of people each year, has died. He was 77.

His secretary found his body in the bathroom of his apartment Saturday in what police were calling a suicide. Favaloro had a wound in his chest and a gun was near his body. Farewell letters from Favaloro were found in another room, police said.

In 1967, Favaloro performed the first bypass operation on a 51-year-old woman at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, using a saphenous vein taken from the patient’s leg to detour blood around blockages in her heart, a technique still used today.

Favaloro spent 10 years working in several U.S. medical centers, including the Cleveland Clinic, where he specialized in chest surgery. He later returned to Argentina.

Clyde Hirt

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) _ Clyde Hirt, a longtime sports columnist, died Sunday. He was 73.

Hirt, editorial director and executive columnist for Sports Eye, was a member of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen. He began his career with the New York Daily Mirror after graduating from New York University. Following a stint as a publicist for Roosevelt Raceway, he joined The Racing Form and was with Sports Eye for the past 20 years.

Survivors include his wife, daughter and three grandchildren.

Richard J. Kerry

BOSTON (AP) _ Richard J. Kerry, the father of Sen. John Kerry and a former Foreign Service officer, died Saturday of complications from prostate cancer. He was 85.

Kerry began his law career in 1945 after graduating from Harvard Law School, and became an assistant district attorney.

In 1949 he moved to Washington to work in the office of the General Counsel for the Navy Department. He joined the State Department two years later, where he served in the Bureau of United Nations Affairs and the Office of Legal Advisor.

He joined the Foreign Service in 1956 and was assigned as executive assistant to Sen. Walter F. George, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Kerry taught at the NATO Defense College in Paris in 1958 before being named Chief of the Political Section of the American Embassy there.

Robert McFarland

NEW YORK (AP) _ Robert McFarland, a longtime NBC News broadcaster and producer who served as the network’s Washington bureau chief in the 1980s, died Tuesday of lymphoma. He was 62.

McFarland joined NBC in 1966, as a reporter in its Cleveland bureau, and worked in a variety of positions at the network until retiring 28 years later.

In 1969, he was a domestic producer for ``The Huntley-Brinkley Report″ in Washington.

He later ran the London bureau, and returned to Washington in 1977 as a senior producer for ``NBC Nightly News.″ In 1982, he became vice president and bureau chief. In 1990, he became a principal planning executive at NBC’s New York headquarters.

Survivors include his wife, a daughter, two sons and his mother.

Raymond Portwood Jr.

WINDSOR, Calif. (AP) _ Raymond Portwood Jr., one of the two creators of the popular Carmen Sandiego computer games, died on July 17 of a heart attack. He was 66.

The Carmen Sandiego games he helped create were a fun way to teach children about academic subjects including geography.

Portwood and his colleague Lauren Elliott dreamed up the secret agent character Carmen Sandiego, a fictional wisecracking ringleader of a band of thieves who travel the globe snatching local items of significance.

About 6.5 million copies of the Carmen Sandiego computer game have been sold and Portwood and Elliot’s creation led to three television series.

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