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Obituaries in the News

August 16, 2003

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ Idi Amin, who called himself ``a pure son of Africa″ but whose bizarre and murderous eight years as president of Uganda typified the continent’s worst dictatorships, died Saturday. He was believed to be 80.

Amin, who had lived for years in exile in this Saudi port city, died at 8:20 a.m at King Faisal Specialist hospital, a hospital official said on condition of anonymity.

Amin had been hospitalized on life support since July 18. Hospital staff said he suffered kidney failure.

A one-time heavyweight boxing champ and soldier in the British colonial army, Amin seized power on Jan. 25, 1971, overthrowing President Milton Obote while he was abroad.

What followed was a reign of terror laced with buffoonery and a flirtation with Palestinian terrorism that led to the daring 1976 Israeli raid to rescue hijack hostages in his country.

Amin declared himself president-for-life of his landlocked country of 24 million, awarded himself an array of medals and ran the country with an iron fist, killing real and imagined enemies.

Human rights groups say from 100,000 to 500,000 people were killed during his 8-year rule.


Charles Devens

MILTON, Mass. (AP) _ Charles Devens, the last living New York Yankee from Babe Ruth’s final championship season of 1932, has died. He was 93.

Devens, who was also a leading Boston businessman, died Wednesday at his Milton home.

A star pitcher for Harvard, Devens was wooed by the Yankees.

``He’s got everything it takes _ speed, brains, fielding ability, and hitting power,″ Yankees legendary manager Joe McCarthy said.

Devens stayed with the Yankees that season, winning his only start. They went on to win the World Series over the Chicago Cubs.

Devens’ last season was in 1934, when he pitched one game in the majors and won it in a complete-game, 11-inning effort.

He left the game for love. The father of his bride-to-be told him he didn’t want a ballplayer for a son-in-law, said Devens’ son, Charles Devens Jr.

His future father-in-law set him up with a teller’s job at the State Street Trust Co. In 1954, he left the bank to become president of Incorporated Investors, then one of the country’s oldest and largest mutual funds. It later merged with Putnam.


Michael Perkins

PROVO, Utah (AP) _ Michael Perkins, a former newspaper reporter who eventually became chairman of the Brigham Young University communications department, drowned Thursday in a kayaking accident in central Idaho. He was 45.

Perkins was at a family outing on the Salmon River in a remote area of central Idaho when the accident occurred, said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.

Perkins worked for the Deseret News as a night police reporter during the 1980s. After teaching at the University of New Mexico and working at the Albuquerque Journal, he taught at Drake University in Iowa before becoming an associate professor of communications at BYU in 1999. He helped create the journalism program at BYU-Hawaii and became chairman of the department in fall 2001.

Perkins recently became head of the media law division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.

Perkins’ survivors include a wife and two children.


Kirk Varnedoe

NEW YORK (AP) _ Kirk Varnedoe, an art historian who for more than a decade was the chief curator of the Museum of Modern Art’s department of painting and sculpture, died Thursday of colon cancer. He was 57.

Under his leadership, the museum acquired such works as Andy Warhol’s paintings of soup cans, a portrait by van Gogh of Joseph Roulin and a sketch by Picasso for ``Les Demoiselles D’Avignon.″ Exhibitions he worked on included retrospectives of Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns and Cy Twombly.

Varnedoe also launched the Artists Choice series, in which living artists organized exhibitions of works from MoMA’s permanent collection.

His first substantial work for the museum came in 1984-85, when he collaborated with William Rubin, then-director of MoMA’s department of painting and sculpture, on a controversial exhibit about the relationship between tribal artifacts and modern art. Rubin chose Varnedoe to succeed him in 1988.

The Savannah, Ga., native earned a doctorate in art history in 1972 from Stanford University and became an assistant professor there in 1973. He taught art history at Columbia University and New York University, where he worked until 1988.

He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, commonly known as a ``genius grant,″ in 1984 and a Knighthood of the Royal Order of Donnebroge from Denmark in 1983.


Donald Winn

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Donald Winn, the congressional liaison for the Federal Reserve Board and a top adviser to Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, has died. He was 66.

Winn, who suffered from pancreatic cancer, died Thursday.

During his nearly 30-year career with the Federal Reserve, Winn served under four chairmen and was head of congressional liaison throughout Greenspan’s chairmanship as well as the chairmanship of Paul Volcker.

Over the last two decades, The Washington Post reported, Winn was said to have played a role in almost every facet of major banking legislation considered by Congress and was known as Greenspan’s point man on Capitol Hill.

Winn, during the years he served as the Fed’s representative on Capitol Hill, worked on legislation ranging from the charges levied to banks for Fed services to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. That bill effectively removed the barrier between commercial banking and investment banking that was erected by the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act.

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