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Obituaries in the News

March 29, 2002

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ Thomas Flanagan, award-winning author of a trilogy set in Ireland, died March 21 of a heart attack. He was 78.

Flanagan was a professor of literature at the University of California, Berkeley, in the mid-1970s.

He had moved to the State University of New York at Stony Brook when ``The Year of the French″ was published in 1979. That book won the National Critics Circle award for fiction, a success Flanagan followed with ``The Tenants of Time″ in 1988 and ``The End of The Hunt″ in 1994.

Flanagan said he did not want to romanticize the old country, but rather explore its ``many strands, some bright and some dark.″

He was born in Greenwich, Conn., where he worked at the high school newspaper with friend Truman Capote. As he grew closer to Ireland through annual trips with his wife, Jean, Flanagan struck up a friendship with Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney.

After teaching at Columbia in the 1950s, he moved to Berkeley in 1960, and then to Stony Brook in 1978. Upon retiring in 1996, he returned to Berkeley.

Mina Ivanovic

ATLANTA (AP) _ Mina Ivanovic, a Yugoslavian-born journalist who covered the Balkan crisis for CNN, died Wednesday of cancer. She was 36.

Raised in New York, Ivanovic was fluent in Serbo-Croatian and English and began her career with the network as a temporary interpreter.

She free-lanced for CNN, then was hired in 1994 as its Atlanta-based international assignment reporter.

``Hiring her was great for us and great for her. During the Balkan crisis, she was enormously helpful to us,″ said Eason Jordan, CNN’s chief news executive.

Jordan described Ivanovic as ``a tenacious competitor and a hard-charging reporter″ who sometimes juggled conversations around the world on three telephones at once.

She was banned from her home country by the Milosevic government for her reporting from Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia and Macedonia, said her sister, Gordana Ivanovic of Belgrade and Atlanta.

Alfred Lane

NEW YORK (AP) _ Alfred Lane, the first librarian of a literary haven known as the Writer’s Room, died March 20. He was 85.

Lane, who worked on Columbia University’s library staff from 1944 to 1981, specialized in answering writers’ obscure questions.

After retiring from Columbia, he volunteered as a librarian at the City University of New York for five years. He then became the unpaid librarian at the Writers’ Room, a loft which serves as a haven for novelists, historians, and other writers.

Lane increased the Writers’ Room collection from one dog-eared dictionary to more than 3,000 reference books geared to writers’ interests. When he retired in February 2001, he left a $25,000 contribution to the room’s endowment fund.

Lane was also known for searching for coins on city streets, and would donate the pennies, nickels and dimes he found _ totaling several hundred dollars each year _ to charity.

Adolf Mueller

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) _ Czech publisher Adolf Mueller, whose publishing house in Germany printed books by prominent Czech writers including future president Vaclav Havel and opponents of communist rule, died Tuesday from an unidentified illness, the CTK news agency reported. He was 72.

Mueller fled his homeland after Warsaw Pact troops led by the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, ending the Prague Spring _ a short-lived attempt to reform the communist system.

In exile in Germany, Mueller taught politics at various universities and founded the publishing house Index in Cologne. Index published about 100 books that were banned by the Czechoslovak communist censors, including works by then dissident writer Vaclav Havel.

Havel became the country’s president after the Velvet Revolution brought an end to communist rule in 1989.

Mueller’s house also published works by Czechoslovakia’s 1984 Nobel Prize winning author Jaroslav Seifert; by Jiri Grusa, the current Czech ambassador to Austria; and Pavel Kohout, a playwright who was pressured into exile by the communists.

In 1999, Havel awarded Mueller the Medal of Merit.

Eight weeks ago, Mueller returned to the Czech Republic to live.

Rod Rodgers

NEW YORK (AP) _ Rod Rodgers, a choreographer who created modern dances often motivated by social themes, died Sunday of complications from a stroke. He was 64.

Rodgers, an articulate spokesman for black artists, was known for his experimentation with form and music.

He created dances inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes and other noted black activists and artists. He dedicated ``Victims″ (1987) to ``victims of nuclear war, past and future.″

Rodgers choreographed ``Aida″ for the Syracuse Opera Company and ``The Black Cowboys″ for the Harlem Opera at City Center. His dance company, founded in 1966, is still in existence and has its headquarters on East Fourth Street in Manhattan.

Born in Cleveland, Rodgers studied tap and jazz dance in Detroit. In 1962, he came to New York, where he studied with Erick Hawkins, Mark Anthony and Hanya Holm.

He was honored in January by the International Association of Blacks in Dance for his contributions to American dance.

Peggy Cornelia Elliot Wayburn

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Peggy Cornelia Elliot Wayburn, a San Francisco author who wrote about the wilderness she worked to protect, died March 21 after battling an abdominal disease for more than three years. She was 84.

Wayburn published five books through the Sierra Club, including ``Alaska: the Great Land,″ which is credited with helping to get the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act passed in 1980. That act has resulted in the protection of 104 million acres of wilderness.

Wayburn and her husband, former Sierra Club president Edgar Wayburn, helped establish the 58,000-acre Redwood National Park, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Point Reyes National Seashore and helped expand Mount Tamalpais State Park.

Peggy Wayburn was a former director of the Point Reyes Seashore Foundation and a Sierra Club Foundation trustee for six years, as well as an honorary vice president of the Sierra Club board in 1999.

Whitey Wietelmann

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Whitey Wietelmann, who was nicknamed by Casey Stengel and played for the Braves and Pirates during more than five decades in baseball has died. He was 83.

Wietelmann was found dead in his home on Tuesday. He had lived in San Diego since 1949, when he first played for the Padres of the Pacific Coast League.

An infielder, he played nine seasons with the Boston Braves and Pittsburgh, hitting .232 for his major league career.

William Frederick Wietelmann was born on March 15, 1919, in Zanesville, Ohio, and got his nickname from Stengel, his first manager. He made his major league debut with the Braves in 1939.

Wietelmann played for the minor league Padres from 1949-52. He was a coach with the team from 1960-65 and again in 1968, sandwiched around two seasons as a coach with the Cincinnati Reds.

He was a coach with the National League Padres from their expansion season of 1969 through 1979. He then served the team in a variety of jobs for 14 more seasons.

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