Curtis Brewer, 65, a Manhattan lawyer who was quadriplegic for much of his life and who founded Untapped Resources, a non-profit legal services agency for the handicapped, died Wednesday at Tisch Hospital in the New York University Medical Center. Mr. Brewer was stricken with a viral infection of the spine in 1955 and left paralyzed from the neck down. He died of complications from stomach surgery necessitated by a progressive weakening of his lungs that stemmed from the initial paralysis, his family said. From his wheelchair, Mr. Brewer fought for the rights of handicapped people. In 1964, he started Untapped Resources, for which he served as executive director and general counsel, to study the effects of social and economic conditions on the disabled.
Min-Chueh Chang, 82, a doctor who helped develop the birth control pill and pioneered research in the fertilization of test-tube babies, died Wednesday at the medical center of Central Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Worcester. The hospital declined to release the cause of death. Dr. Chang did much of his life's work at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, where he was a scientist emeritus. He began work there in 1951 on the effects of synthetic progestins on reproduction. The research, done with foundation co-founder Dr. Gregory Pincus, led to the development of the oral contraceptive in 1959. His in vitro fertilization research led to the development of techniques for fertilizing a human egg with sperm outside the body, which resulted in the births of so-called test-tube babies. Last year, Dr. Chang was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious honor awarded an American scientist short of the Nobel Prize.
Larry Kert, 60, the actor who starred as one of the two star-crossed young lovers in the Broadway classic "West Side Story," died Wednesday of AIDS in New York. The musical, the modern-day retelling of "Romeo and Juliet," starred Mr. Kert and Carol Lawrence as lovers doomed by gang warfare between whites and Puerto Ricans in New York City. It opened on Broadway in 1957. He broke into the New York theater in 1950 in the chorus of the musical revue "Tickets, Please!" He replaced Dean Jones as the star of "Company" in 1970 and went on to win a Tony nomination, the only cast replacement ever nominated for Broadway's highest honor.
Joann Marie Ruiz, 42, a nurse who was one of the nation's first health-care workers known to be infected with AIDS while on the job, died Monday of the disease in Sacramento, Calif. Ms. Ruiz was infected in July 1987 when a syringe slipped and the needle jabbed her right thigh as she was drawing blood from an AIDS patient. She learned she had AIDS a few months later, on her 39th birthday. She later went public with her story, describing how the disease brought her discrimination and rejection, even by her family. She was a volunteer counselor.