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Acclaimed author discontinues life-sustaining medical treatment

October 13, 1997

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Friends of James A. Michener were asking for privacy on behalf of the 90-year-old author who has taken himself off life-sustaining kidney dialysis.

The University of Texas, where the Pulitzer Prize-winner is a professor emeritus, had no comment on his condition today.

John Kings, a longtime friend and assistant to the renowned and prolific author, said Michener wants to be left alone.

``He has spent his life respecting the press and what it has to do,″ Kings said in a brief statement Sunday. ``He asks now that the press respect his privacy.″

Kings did not immediately respond to calls from The Associated Press today.

Linda Milanesi, spokeswoman for the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., said Sunday that he opted to stop the medical treatment last week.

``He’s decided he doesn’t want to go on living like this,″ the Daily News of New York quoted an unidentified source as saying. His blood is mechanically cleansed three times a week to make up for the malfunctioning kidneys.

The writer has more than 40 titles to his name. He released his latest book, ``A Century of Sonnets,″ earlier this year.

Michener’s literary success began with ``Tales of the South Pacific.″ The book won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize and was the basis for ``South Pacific,″ a long-running Broadway musical and later a motion picture.

For decades, Michener wandered the globe, living in areas of the world he wrote about.

He has made his main home in Austin since working on his 1985 novel, ``Texas,″ his longest book (1,096 pages), which sold 1 million copies.

Other Michener books include, ``Hawaii,″ ``Chesapeake,″ ``The Source,″ ``Space″ and ``Poland.″

He’s made the University of Texas, which is based in Austin, among his biggest beneficiaries of late. He and his wife, Mari, who died in 1994, donated more than $37 million to the school, including $15 million in 1992. That and gifts to other institutions make him one of the nation’s leading philanthropists.

On Oct. 3, the University of Northern Colorado announced that Michener was donating manuscripts and other writings to the school to establish the only official repository of his works. Michener earned a master’s degree and taught at the school from 1936 to 1941. A library on the school’s campus already bears his name.

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