Dr. James F. Van Pelt Jr., 76, the navigator of the U.S. plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, in World War II, died Saturday in Corona, Calif. He served in the Army Coast Artillery from 1940 to 1942, then transferred to what was then called the Army Air Forces. He was a member of the 509th Composite Group, which had the mission of dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. After the war, he earned his medical doctor's degree and specialized in obstetrics and gynecology. He retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 1965 and went into private practice.
Ben Rogers, 81, founder of the Texas State Optical chain stores and a developer and philanthropist, died Wednesday in Beaumont, Texas, after heart surgery. In 1936, he and his brother Sol, an optometrist, founded Texas State Optical. They expanded the chain to more than 100 locations statewide before selling it in 1979.