Deaths elsewhere


Leland J. Holland, 63, a retired Army colonel who as military attache at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 was one of the 52 Americans held hostage for 444 days by Iranian militants, died of cancer Tuesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. The hostages were not released until the day of President Ronald Reagan's inauguration in 1981. After their release, Colonel Holland and the other hostages told of beatings, months in solitary confinement and constant fear of death and mistreatment at the hands of their Iranian captors. Colonel Holland enlisted in the Army in 1952 and retired in 1986, six days after he learned that he had cancer. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and was stationed in Italy and Germany before being assigned to the embassy in Tehran in 1978. His military decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star. One of his surviving daughters is Rose M. Brinkman of Chaptico, Md.

Harry Clay Blaney, 86, a producer who was active in New York theater for more than three decades, died in New York on Wednesday. He came from a theatrical family that dated to the 1880s, beginning his theatrical career as a ticket seller in family-owned theaters and stock companies around the country. ended his career as a Broadway producer in 1968 with "Portrait of a Queen," a documentary-style play about Queen Victoria that starred Dorothy Tutin and had a three-month run at the Henry Miller Theater.

Monroe Oppenheimer, 86, a lawyer in the New Deal administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, died Tuesday at George Washington University Hospital in Washington. He graduated from the Yale University law school and was in private practice in St. Louis before joining the Roosevelt administration in 1933. He served as chief attorney for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, general counsel of the Resettlement Administration, head attorney for the Agricultural Department's solicitor's office and general counsel of the Board of Economic Warfare. He was in private practice until his retirement in 1980.

Lilian T. Mowrer, 101, who wrote about life with her Pulitzer Prize-winning husband, correspondent Edgar Ansel Mowrer, in the Nazi Germany of 1933 and the war-threatened Paris of 1940, died Sunday in Chicago. A native of England, she met her husband there in 1911. They spent the early 1920s in Italy. Her husband was a correspondent for the Chicago Daily News. His reporting on the rise of Nazism in Germany in 1932 won him the Pulitzer Prize for Foreign Reporting. In her book, "Journalist's Wife," published in 1937 and banned in Germany, she wrote: "Nowhere have I had such lovely friends as in Germany: looking back on it all is like seeing someone you love go mad -- and do horrible things." Her other books included "Arrest and Exile," "Riptide of Aggression," "I've Seen It Happen Twice," "The United States and World Relations" and "The Indomitable John Scott." She worked in the 1940s and 1950s as the theatrical critic for Vanity Fair as well as Town and Country magazines.

Norbert Vesak, 53, a former director of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and a choreographer for many U.S. and Canadian dance companies, died Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C. As director of the Met's ballet from 1976 to 1980 and as guest choreographer at the Met on several occasions afterward, he staged the dances in such operas as "Don Giovanni," "La Gioconda" and "Tannhauser."

John Groff, 100, a retired brigadier general who was a World War I hero and the Marine Corps' oldest surviving general, died Tuesday in San Diego of a heart attack. He enlisted in the Marines in 1912. He was a gunnery sergeant and patrol leader when his unit fought in France in the Battle of Belleau Wood. He was awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart and promoted to second lieutenant. Promoted to major in 1938, he became commanding officer of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, a post he held for six years, helping to train the Marines who would fight in World War II. He retired in 1946. He worked for the Hughes Aircraft Co. and the Douglas Aircraft Co. during the late '40s and early '50s.

Sergei G. Lapin, 78, a former Soviet diplomat and journalist who told U.S. correspondents during the Watergate scandal that the story was not worth reporting in the Soviet Union, died Thursday in Moscow. He began his journalistic career in 1932, working for Leningrad newspapers. He was ambassador to Austria from 1956 to 1960 and to China from 1965 to 1967. He was general director of Tass for three years. In a 1974 interview with U.S. reporters in Moscow, he was repeatedly asked why Soviet TV viewers had been kept in the dark about then-President Richard M. Nixon's Watergate troubles. He said that the story was an "internal problem" of the United States and that Soviet media did not report "rumors."

Charanjit Singh, an Indian industrialist who headed a soft drink company and built one of New Delhi's most opulent hotels, died there Thursday of a heart attack at age 51. He was on the board of directors of the state-owned Indian Airlines and Air India, and served a term in Parliament in 1980. His Pure Drinks Co. was in partnership with Coca Cola until the multinational firm was evicted from India in 1977 for refusing to divulge the secret formula for Coke. He later joined with other Indian beverage companies in an unsuccessful bid to keep out Pepsi Cola, which put its drink on the Indian market earlier this year. He was embattled over his 5-year-old hotel, Le Meridien, which was heavily in debt and threatened with a government takeover for failure to pay rent.

Alexej Cepicka, 80, a former Czechoslovakian defense minister who was expelled from the Communist Party in the 1960s for his support of Stalinist policies, died Sunday in Prague. He became defense minister in 1950, but was dismissed from the post in 1956. He was expelled from the party in 1963.

Russell Thatcher, 71, a novelist and co-producer of such movies as "Travels with My Aunt" and "Soylent Green," died Monday in Los Angeles. He was an editor for Omnibook magazine and the Book of the Month Club before he was hired as a story editor by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. In 1969, he was promoted to vice president of production at MGM. In the 1970s, he co-produced several adventure films, including the futuristic "Soylent Green." The 1973 movie starred Charlton Heston and Chuck Connors and was set in New York City in 2022. He also co-produced "The Last Hard Men" in 1976 and "Travels with My Aunt" in 1972. He wrote three novels, "The Captain," "The Tender Age" and "A Break in the Clouds." In the early 1980s, he worked as a consultant and executive producer with the Samuel Goldwyn Co.

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