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Deaths Elsewhere


Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, 74, whose agonizing account of imprisonment by the communists in Vietnam made him an inspirational figure for many Catholics in his homeland, died of cancer yesterday in Rome, where he went into exile more than a decade ago.

Although he was made a cardinal only last year, he had appeared on lists of possible successors to Pope John Paul II, particularly by those believing the next pontiff could come from a poor, non-European country. Vietnam has the largest Roman Catholic community in Asia after the Philippines.

Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan was ordained a priest in Vietnam in 1953. He was appointed deputy archbishop of Saigon just days before the South Vietnamese capital fell to the communist north in April 1975.

Targeted for his faith as well as his family connections - his uncle was Ngo Dinh Diem, the assassinated South Vietnamese president - he spent 13 years in a communist "re-education" camp - nine of them in solitary confinement.

In his book The Way of Hope - Thoughts of Light from a Prison Cell, he wrote: "In our country there is a saying: 'A day in prison is worth a thousand autumns of freedom.' I myself experienced this. While in prison, everyone waits for freedom, every day, every minute. We must live each day, each minute of our life as though it is the last."

In 1991, he was forced into exile. At the Vatican, he ran the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, handling issues such as Third World debt.

Guy J. Pauker, 85, an expert on Southeast Asia who served as a consultant to the National Security Council and other federal agencies for more than two decades, died Sept. 4 in Los Angeles after a long illness.

After joining the RAND institute in 1960, Mr. Pauker worked as a consultant to the National Security Council, State Department, Department of Defense, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, House Committee on International Affairs and National War College.

He advised the agencies on topics including Indonesian stability, the value of discovering oil in the Philippines and the wisdom of making the United States a world police force.

In 1977, before uprisings in Iran, Iraq, Bosnia, Africa and Afghanistan, Mr. Pauker outlined "a breakdown of global order as a result of sharpening confrontation between the Third World and the industrial democracies."

Born in Bucharest, Mr. Pauker left Romania for the United States in 1948 because of political turmoil. He taught briefly at Harvard University before joining the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, where he became head of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

Dr. Robert H. Kirschner, 61, an internationally recognized forensic pathologist and human rights activist, died Sunday in Chicago from complications of kidney cancer.

Dr. Kirschner participated in human rights missions for the United Nations, Physicians for Human Rights and other groups. His travels took him to Argentina, Kenya, South Korea and many other countries. He helped exhume mass graves in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, and was a forensic consultant to international criminal tribunals involving those nations.

After completing his pathology residency at the University of Chicago in 1971, Dr. Kirschner worked for the U.S. Public Health Service before returning to the University of Chicago as a professor in 1973. He also worked for the Cook County medical examiner's office from 1978 to 1995.

George Daniell, 91, a photographer best known for his black-and-white portraits of actors, artists and writers, died from stroke complications Saturday in Bar Harbor, Maine.

He was most famous for photos depicting celebrities he encountered during several car trips across the United States and on journeys to Europe.

Mr. Daniell found a young Sophia Loren at a movie studio in Rome and W.H. Auden on the Italian island of Ischia. Audrey Hepburn was photographed on the set of War and Peace, Tennessee Williams in Key West and Georgia O'Keeffe on her New Mexico ranch.

Born in Yonkers, N.Y., Mr. Daniell began taking photographs as a young teen, then attended Yale and became a free-lance photographer in New York and Europe.

His works are represented in collections at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Gallery in Washington.

Lolita Torres, 72, a singer and one of the top actresses of Argentina's golden era of cinema, died Saturday in Buenos Aires of complications from a lung infection. She had been hospitalized since last month, after the rheumatoid fever she had suffered from for a decade grew worse.

Born Beatriz Mariana Torres, she began singing at age 11, performing Spanish folk songs in a leading Buenos Aires theater. She went on to record hits that include "Te lo juro yo" (I swear it to you) and "Gitano Jesus" (Gypsy Jesus).

But Miss Torres was best known for her film career. From 1944, she acted in 17 films alongside some of Latin America's best-known actors in what was Argentine cinema's "golden years." Her acting career took her to Mexico, the former Soviet Union, Spain and Colombia before she retired in 1972.

Jim Heil, 40, news editor of The Holland Sentinel in Michigan, drowned Saturday after suffering hypothermia when his kayak capsized in Lake Michigan.

Mr. Heil was thrown into the water while kayaking near the Straits of Mackinac, authorities said. He had been news editor at the Sentinel since January 2000.

Dr. Salvator Altchek, 92, a humanitarian doctor for the multiethnic population of Brooklyn, N.Y., for more than six decades, died Sept. 10.

Called the $5 doctor because of his low rates, Dr. Altchek treated streetwalkers, shopkeepers and just about anyone else who came to his rowhouse in Brooklyn Heights. He delivered thousands of babies, later meeting 70-year-olds whom he ushered into the world.

A familiar sight in the neighborhood with his black bag, the doctor greeted people by shaking their hand and taking their pulse. Dr. Altchek made house calls until five years ago and worked until two months ago.

"He wasn't out to make money; he was out to help people," said Sara Mercado, whose family had him as their doctor for decades.

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