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Obituaries in the News

May 11, 2005

Norbert Brainin

LONDON (AP) _ Violinist Norbert Brainin, a founding member of the Amadeus Quartet, has died. He was 82.

Brainin died of cancer on April 10, said Peter Craik of the Royal Academy of Music.

With his family, Brainin fled to England just before the outbreak of World War II. He studied in London with Max Rostal alongside two other Austrian refugees, violinists Siegmund Nissel and Peter Schidlof.

In 1947, Brainin, Nissel and Schidlof, who agreed to play the viola, formed the Brainin Quartet, later to be known as the Amadeus Quartet, with cellist Martin Lovett.

The quartet made its debut performance in January 1948 and quickly gained an international reputation for its affinity with the music of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Mozart. The group toured the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan and South America and produced several recordings.

Brainin won the Carl Flesch prize for solo violinists at London’s Guildhall School of Music in 1946.


James B. Douglas

SEATTLE (AP) _ James B. Douglas, a construction magnate who overcame the crippling effects of polio to play a central role in construction of the Space Needle and other civic institutions, has died. He was 95.

Douglas, who built one of the nation’s first shopping malls, oversaw construction for the 1962 world’s fair and helped institute Seafair as the city’s annual summer festival, died May 4 of pneumonia, relatives and associates said.

As vice president of construction for the Seattle World’s Fair Commission, Douglas brought together investors, architects and contractors to build the 605-foot Space Needle with a revolving restaurant beneath the spire.

His philanthropic contributions included $1 million to the University of Washington Business School and nearly $1 million to Swedish Medical Center.


Lane Nakano

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Lane Nakano, who appeared in the World War II film ``Go for Broke!″ about Japanese-American soldiers who fought in Europe, has died. He was 80.

Nakano died April 28 after a long bout with emphysema, his family said.

Nakano played the lead Japanese-American part of Sam in ``Go for Broke!″ The movie about the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team was directed by Robert Pirosh and starred Van Johnson as an Army lieutenant who trained a volunteer Japanese-American unit.

Nakano himself had served in the 442nd unit after he and his family were uprooted from their home in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles and sent to an internment camp in Wyoming after the Pearl Harbor attack.


Zhang Chunqiao

BEIJING (AP) _ Zhang Chunqiao, one of the Gang of Four that terrorized China during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution by persecuting thousands of people, wrecking the economy and pushing the country to the brink of famine, has died at age 88.

Zhang died April 21 of cancer, the official Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday. The four-sentence obituary didn’t say where he lived before his death or give details of survivors. It didn’t explain the delay in announcing his death.

The Gang of Four, which reportedly was given its name by Communist Party founder Mao Zedong, directed the purge of thousands of moderate party officials and intellectuals.

Led by Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, the Gang of Four and its allies inflicted physical and emotional damage that still reverberates in Chinese society, despite economic reforms that have raised living standards and a loosened social controls.


Lew Zirkle

RATHDRUM, Idaho (AP) _ Lewis G. Zirkle, who founded what would become the world’s largest computer keyboard manufacturing company, has died. He was 90.

Zirkle, who died April 30 at home, started Key Tronic Corp. in 1969, manufacturing keyboards for computers. At one point, Key Tronic was the largest keyboard maker in the world, employing 2,800 people in the Spokane area.

Eventually, the growth of computer technology turned keyboards into mass-produced commodities.

Faced with the need to cut costs, Zirkle resisted the idea of shifting production overseas, said his son, Dr. Lewis Zirkle Jr. The elder Zirkle added manufacturing plants in Ireland and in China, but resisted suggestions that he cut jobs in Spokane and shift them to Mexico, his son said.

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