Deaths Elsewhere


Benny Carter, 95, a master of melodic invention on the alto saxophone who also was a renowned jazz composer, instrumentalist, orchestra leader and arranger, died Saturday after being hospitalized for about two weeks with bronchitis, family friend and publicist Virginia Wicks said yesterday.

Mr. Carter was largely self-taught as a musician, playing both saxophone and trumpet before becoming a bandleader in the late 1920s. In a career that spanned more than six decades, he was considered among the top altoists in jazz. He performed with or wrote music for nearly all of jazz's early greats, including Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie.

He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1987, and won two Grammys during his career.

Trumpeter Clark Terry, another early jazz pioneer, said Mr. Carter was revered by other musicians. "We always called him 'the King' because he was probably the most highly respected musician of the whole lot of us," Mr. Terry said.

Mr. Carter was a member of a generation of early jazz musicians responsible for changing public attitudes about the style, which grew out of blues and spiritual music and was largely performed by black musicians, said friend and producer Quincy Jones. "They came out of this thing that was supposed to be the wicked music, and they brought it to life, and it turned into one of our greatest art forms," Mr. Jones said.

Samuel J. Gerson, 61, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Filene's Basement, the nation's oldest off-price department store, died of a brain tumor Saturday at his home in Chestnut Hill, Mass. Mr. Gerson led the retailer, founded in his hometown of Boston, from 1984 to 2000 and steered it through bankruptcy. Earlier, he served as president and chief operating officer of The Gap.

About a decade ago, Mr. Gerson starred in TV ads for Filene's Basement. As a result, almost everyone around Boston seemed to know Sam, as he was called. But if Mr. Gerson was a great pitchman, his record as a merchant was mixed. In 1999, Filene's Basement filed for bankruptcy. In 2000, the company was bought by an Ohio retail chain. Mr. Gerson left a few months later.

As a merchant, Mr. Gerson faced a daunting task. In Boston, Filene's Basement is a revered icon and a tourist attraction. Outside New England, however, Filene's Basement was mostly seen as just another place to buy discount clothing. As a result, Filene's Basement's attempts to expand beyond Boston were hit-or-miss.

Dr. Lewis Alfred Coser, 89, a politically active sociologist who grappled with the social role of intellectuals in influential books, articles and speeches, as well as in his personal politics, died Tuesday in Cambridge, Mass.

Dr. Coser wrote or edited two dozen books. His doctoral dissertation was published as The Functions of Social Conflict, a mainstay of post-World War II sociology. He sought to separate his leftist inclinations from his academic sociology. In 1954, with Irving Howe, he created the radical journal Dissent as he was editing a book of sociological theory.

He taught at the General College of the University of Chicago and the University of California. He founded the sociology department at Brandeis University and taught there for 15 years before joining the sociology department of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Andrew Heiskell, who served as chairman of Time Inc., and whose philanthropic efforts helped improve the New York Public Library and the city's Bryant Park, died July 6.

Mr. Heiskell spent 43 years with Time Inc., where he rose to chairman and chief executive before embarking on a career in philanthropy in which he raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the library system.

His journalism career began in 1937 when he produced and edited pictorial articles on science and medicine for Life magazine. He later moved from editorial responsibilities to business duties. At age 30, he became publisher of Life, and in 1960 was named chairman of the entire Time Inc. media conglomerate.

During the late 1960s, after riots tore through many American cities, Mr. Heiskell helped found the Urban Coalition, an organization of community coalitions that addressed urban problems. Later, as chairman of the Enterprise Foundation advisory board, he helped advance $600 million worth of housing in blighted areas of the city.

Miriam Matthews, 97, the city of Los Angeles' first African-American librarian and an expert on black history, died June 23 on Mercer Island, Wash.

Ms. Matthews, who worked for the Los Angeles public library system from 1927 to 1960, was committed to preserving black history and heritage. She began promoting the observation of Black History Month in Los Angeles in 1929.

She became interested in black history after discovering a small cache of books about blacks while working as a city librarian. She then started building her own collection of materials and researching blacks' role in California's history.

She also helped create a monument listing all 44 of the city's founders by name, race, sex and age - 26 of them black, 16 Native American and two who were white - for the city's bicentennial on Sept. 4, 1981. She was widely known for her research writings, including The Negro in California from 1781-1910: An Annotated Bibliography.

Zhang Aiping, a field commander in the Korean War who later served as defense minister and managed China's nuclear bomb program, has died at age 93, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Made a lieutenant general in 1955, Mr. Zhang was an important builder of the Chinese military after the 1949 communist seizure of power. He commanded the first People's Liberation Army naval force and served in a variety of top posts during a career spanning four decades.

During World War II, Mr. Zhang was the commander of a guerrilla band sent to rescue U.S. flight crews who crash-landed in China after the April 1942 bombing raid on Tokyo commanded by Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle. The raid provided a huge psychological boost for the United States after the attack on Pearl Harbor, proving that the United States could hit Japan. A decade later, Mr. Zhang faced off against the Americans as the head of an army corps in the Korean War.

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