Wilfried Martens, 77, the resilient Belgian prime minister who led nine governments and deepened Belgium's integration in the European Union, died Wednesday at his home in Lokeren, in East Flanders.
A family statement confirming his death did not provide a cause, but Martens had a history of heart problems and had been in failing health in the last year.
From his campaign as a student activist for greater use of the Dutch language at the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels, Martens played a role in a series of constitutional reforms that handed powers from the central government to the linguistically divided regions of the country where Dutch is generally spoken in the north and French in the south.
"Belgium today has lost one of its most eminent politicians and a true statesman," Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, the first French speaker to run Belgium since the 1970s, said in a statement. "A convinced European, he pursued to the utmost his commitment to achieving the European ideal."
Leading members of the Christian Democratic party and opposition figures praised Martens as a tireless leader who kept his nation of Dutch and French speakers together while giving the two linguistic regions more autonomy.
Martens, who was prime minister between 1979 and 1992, led governments with Christian Democrats, socialists and liberals and proved capable of keeping the volatile factions in the nation together.
He also helped found the European People's Party and led the EU's Christian Democrat group for almost two decades before asking last week to be relieved of the job.
Born April 19, 1936 in Sleidinge in Dutch-speaking Flanders, Martens studied at Catholic University of Louvain, graduating in 1959 with a doctorate of law and a degree in Thomistic philosophy.
He was elected to Parliament in 1962 and the Chamber of Representatives in 1974.
After forming his first government in 1979, he spent much of the next decade grappling with economic stagnation, NATO obligations to deploy intermediate-range cruise missiles on Belgian soil and clashes over language that have plagued Belgium for decades. Martens resigned briefly in 1980 when his center-left government collapsed over a dispute between Dutch-speaking and French-speaking citizens.
Dodger outfielder for 'Shot
Heard 'Round the World'
Andy Pafko, 92, a former Brooklyn Dodger outfielder who famously watched Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" sail over the left-field wall of the Polo Grounds during the 1951 National League playoffs, died Tuesday at a nursing home in Stevensville, Mich. He had Alzheimer's disease, his family said.
Pafko spent 17 seasons in the major leagues — with the Chicago Cubs, Dodgers and Milwaukee Braves — and was voted an All-Star five times. A fan favorite known for his dogged play and diving catches, he is perhaps best remembered as being part of one of the most famous games in baseball history, when Thomson's three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth gave the New York Giants the victory in the decisive Game 3 of their NL playoff against the Dodgers at the Polo Grounds.
Thomson later became Pafko's teammate and roommate with the Braves — and "Bobby never wanted to talk about that homer," Pafko said.
Pafko was born Feb. 25, 1921, in Boyceville, Wis., and started his baseball career in Chicago in 1943. He was voted to the All-Star team in 1945, when the game was not played because of wartime travel restrictions, and helped the Cubs to the NL pennant that season. They lost to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, Chicago's last appearance in the postseason classic.
He was an All-Star from 1947 until 1950. He was traded to Brooklyn in 1951 and to Milwaukee in 1953, then retired in 1959.
Pafko's other three World Series appearances were all against the New York Yankees — 1952 with Brooklyn, and 1957 and 1958 with Milwaukee. The Braves won the series in 1957.
Pafko was a sought-after figure for baseball card collectors. One of them — a Topps card from 1952 in excellent condition — sold for nearly $84,000 in 1998.
Developer helped found
Palm Springs Golf Classic
Ernie Dunlevie, 96, a Coachella Valley real estate developer who co-founded the original Palm Springs Golf Classic that came to be known for its celebrity participants and longtime host Bob Hope, died Sunday night at his home in Bermuda Dunes of complications from cancer.
His death was announced by the organizers of the current PGA Tour event, the Humana Challenge.
Dunlevie was born in New York City on Aug. 3, 1917, and came west with his mother after graduating from high school in 1936. Apart from his military service in World War II, he lived the rest of his life in the Coachella Valley.
After the war, Dunlevie became involved in real estate and began developing golf courses and housing tracts in resort settings. He and a partner, Ray Ryan, developed Bermuda Dunes Country Club in 1959 and, capitalizing on the migration of celebrities looking for second homes in the low desert, were instrumental in attracting Clark Gable, Cary Grant and other Hollywood stars to the club.
The inaugural Palm Springs Golf Classic was held in 1960 and won by Arnold Palmer. For most of the tournament's history, it was played with pro golfers and celebrity amateurs over five days in January and on four different courses, among them Bermuda Dunes.
Dunlevie represented Bermuda Dunes on the tournament's board. In 1965, he and another board member, Milt Hicks, persuaded Hope to lend his name to the event, as his fellow entertainer Bing Crosby had done for years in Monterey. For decades, the tournament was called the Bob Hope Desert Classic and then the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
"Just by having Hope's name on the tournament gave us legitimacy," Dunlevie told the Desert Sun newspaper in 2004.
TV producer staged
Marc Merson, 82, a film and television producer who went on to a second career organizing national consumer shows for environmental products, died of heart failure Sept. 29 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his family said.
Born Sept. 9, 1931, in New York, Merson got his start in television, producing segments for anthology programs and specials including a 1967 staging of George Bernard Shaw's "Androcles and the Lion" featuring music by Richard Rodgers.
Merson's film credits include "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" (1968), "Leadbelly" (1976) and "Doc Hollywood" (1991).
In 1990 he and his wife, actress Nina Wilcox, launched Eco Expo, a traveling marketplace for environmental products and services.
Producing consumer shows wasn't so far removed from the entertainment world, Merson told The Times in 1991.
"The fact that I come from the show business field is not accidental," he says. "Part of the vision is saying, 'We're going to put on a show.' My whole sense is to bring together things that will interest, will excite people and then will get them into action."
Innovative director of
opera, film, theater
Patrice Chereau, 68, a celebrated French actor and director in film, theater and opera who was renowned for cutting-edge productions, died Monday in Paris of complications related to cancer, said the Artmedia talent agency that represented him.
Impassioned by the performing arts at a young age, Chereau showed breadth as a director — from his revolutionary production of Richard Wagner's "Ring" cycle at the 1976 Bayreuth Festival to his blood-soaked 16th century period piece and biopic "Queen Margot," a 1994 film starring French icon Isabelle Adjani which won the Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Chereau, who headed the Cannes jury in 2003, chalked up directing credits on dozens of plays and operas, plus 10 films. His 2001 film "Intimacy" won the Golden Bear in Berlin.
He made a long-overdue U.S. debut at the Met four years ago with Leos Janacek's final opera, "From the House of the Dead," based on a 19th century novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Chereau's production of Richard Strauss' "Elektra" has been scheduled for the 2015-16 season at the Met.
His film acting roles included Gen. Montcalm in "The Last of the Mohicans" (1992) and Camille Desmoulins in "Danton" (1983).
Chereau was born Nov. 2, 1944, in Lezigne, France, and studied at the Sorbonne before starting a theater company.
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