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Obituaries in the News

September 8, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ Ernest Ametistov, a member of Russia’s highest court who defended democratic freedoms and spearheaded legal reforms, died Monday of cancer. He was 64.

Ametistov, whose father was arrested and executed in the purges of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, graduated from Moscow State University’s law school in the late 1950s and started working as editor for a state publishing house. Later, he joined research centers dealing with legal studies, specializing in international law.

In the final years before the Soviet collapse, he joined the Memorial human rights group, which supported democratic reforms and publicized details of abuses carried out during the communist era.

Ametistov was elected a judge of the Constitutional Court in October 1991 and was known for his persistent efforts to streamline and liberalize the Soviet-era legal system.

Archie Blount

LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. (AP) _ Archie Blount, an outdoor writer for nearly four decades with The Tampa Times and the Tampa Tribune, died Sunday of cancer. He was 55.

Blount started working as a copy boy at The Tribune Co. in Tampa in 1959 when he was 16. Over the next three decades he would serve in several reporting and editing positions, including news editor with the now-defunct Times.

Blount started working for the Tribune in 1982. There, he was named Pasco County bureau chief in 1987 and moved to the metro desk in Tampa in 1989. His love of fishing and a long career writing about the sport endeared him to so many readers.

Blount is survived by his wife of 35 years, Katherine; three daughters, a son, his mother, a sister, and three grandchildren.

Charlie Feathers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Memphis rockabilly singer Charlie Feathers, who shared songwriting credit on Elvis Presley’s last hit for Sun Records, died Aug. 29 of complications following a stroke. He was 66.

Feathers, best known for the novelty tune ``Tongue-Tied Jill,″ got his start making demos of songs at Sun Records in Memphis. He co-wrote ``I Forgot to Remember to Forget,″ Presley’s final hit with the record company.

England’s rockabilly revival of the 1970s brought Feathers out of obscurity. His music was released on numerous European labels and a double compact disc reissue of his 1950s and 1960s recordings titled ``Get With It″ was released nationally last month.

Ellis Kerley

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Ellis Kerley, a forensic scientist who was called upon for such cases as the identification of Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele and the investigation of the Challenger explosion, died last week of complications from leukemia. He was 74.

Kerley was a staff anthropologist at Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and taught anatomy at the Medical Center of the University of Puerto Rico.

Kerley also was a consultant to a House committee on the John F. Kennedy assassination and helped investigate the fatal Marine helicopter crash in the failed rescue attempt of the U.S. hostages in Iran. Most recently, Kerley worked on prosecution cases involving Bosnian war crimes.

Akira Kurosawa

TOKYO (AP) _ Akira Kurosawa, whose hauntingly poetic vision, innovative style and stunning technical virtuosity made him Japan’s most celebrated film director, died Sunday of a stroke. He was 88.

Kurosawa, who fused the pinpoint precision of traditional Japanese theatrical forms with stunning, larger-than-life spectacles in his half-century, 30-film career, influenced filmmakers throughout the world.

The Cannes Film Festival honored Kurosawa in 1985 with a special trophy for achievement upon the debut of his 28th film, ``Ran.″ Among his other movies to gain worldwide acclaim were: ``The Seven Samurai,″ ``Kagemusha″ and ``Rashomon.″ The latter won him the first of his three Oscars.

Several of Kurosawa’s films were remade in America into hit Westerns _ ``The Seven Samurai″ was the basis for ``The Magnificent Seven″ and ``Yojimbo″ inspired ``A Fistful of Dollars.″

In the 1960s and 1970s, Japanese studios, focusing on soft porn and cheap romances, gave Kurosawa short shrift even as his reputation grew overseas. In 1980, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg persuaded 20th Century Fox to back ``Kagemusha″ (``Shadow Warrior″) after financiers in Japan balked.

In 1990, Kurosawa became the first Japanese to receive the special Oscar for lifetime achievement.

Kirk O’Donnell

BOSTON (AP) _ Kirk O’Donnell, a prominent Washington lawyer who served as general counsel to House Speaker Thomas P. ``Tip″ O’Neill Jr., died Saturday after collapsing while jogging. He was 52.

O’Donnell worked for O’Neill for eight years, gaining a reputation as a skilled strategist and adviser. O’Donnell held other key Democratic positions, including White House adviser and president of the Center for National Policy, a political think tank.

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