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Obituaries in the News

July 7, 2002

Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani

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BOMBAY, India (AP) _ Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani, considered India’s most powerful businessman, died Saturday after having a heart attack several days ago, a company spokesman said. He was 69.

Ambani was founder and chairman of Reliance Industries, overseeing a vast conglomerate of petrochemical plants, gas pipelines, oil refineries, and textile and telecom holdings.

Shares of two of his largest firms _ Reliance Industries and Reliance Petroleum _ fell after he was hospitalized. But analysts say the companies will not be seriously affected by his death, since his sons have run them for more than a decade.

Forbes ranked Ambani as the world’s 138th richest person this year, with a net worth of $2.9 billion.

Born in a remote village in the western Gujarat state, Ambani began his career working in an oil refinery at age 17.

Ambani launched a trading firm in Bombay in 1958, and went on to build India’s most powerful industrial empire.

Monroe E. Wall

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) _ Dr. Monroe E. Wall, who co-discovered the cancer drug Taxol, died Saturday night. He was in his mid-80s.

Reid Maness, a spokesman for Research Triangle Institute, said he did not know what caused Wall’s death. Wall worked at the research organization from 1960 until he became ill a couple of weeks ago.

Wall and partner Mansukh C. Wani are credited with isolating two compounds in the 1960s and 1970s that were effective in killing cancer cells and led to lifesaving drugs now in use.

Taxol, which was derived from the Pacific yew tree, has been used to treat ovarian, breast and lung cancers since it was approved in 1992.

Camptothecin was isolated from a Chinese tree, and four related drugs are now used to treat ovarian and colon cancers.

Both drugs were found to inhibit cancer cell growth in new ways, and the compounds have led to breakthroughs in fighting the disease.

Everette Webb

SEATTLE (AP) _ Everette Webb, one of the four aeronautical engineers who designed and created Boeing’s 747, the world’s first jumbo jet, has died. He was 80.

Webb died July 2 of congestive heart failure. He retired from The Boeing Co. in 1987 after a 46-year career.

He was part of the 747 design team with Joseph Sutter, Kenneth Holtby and Robert Davis. They won numerous awards over the years, including the $250,000 Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Aerospace Prize for design excellence and the Elmer A. Sperry Award, administered by aeronautical, electrical, automotive, mechanical and naval engineers.

When Boeing introduced the 747 in 1968, it was meant to function as a luxury airliner. Instead, the jumbo jet has helped air travel become more affordable.

Webb traveled throughout Africa, South America and Asia as an unofficial spokesman for the world’s largest airliner.

Webb also helped design and engineer the Boeing 727, 707 and 767. He earned commendation from Aviation Week & Space Technology for the design of the 767.