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Syd Hoff,

91, a former cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine who is known to generations of children as the author of Sammy the Seal and Danny and the Dinosaur, died of pneumonia Wednesday at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla.

The Bronx-born Mr. Hoff wrote and illustrated the inaugural volume of the Danny and the Dinosaur trilogy in 1958. The book, about a dinosaur who comes to life, was part of the I Can Read series, a line of books aimed at beginning readers. Anne Hoppe, executive editor of the HarperCollins children's books division, said he was one of the first creators of books for beginning readers.

Mr. Hoff contributed 571 cartoons to The New Yorker, from 1931 to 1975. He also had two syndicated cartoons. Tuffy, about a little girl, started in 1939 and ran 10 years. Laugh It Off started in 1958 and ran for 20 years. He also starred in a brief series of television shows in the 1950s, Tales of Hoff, in which he told a story and drew cartoons.

Jean-Jacques Laffont,

57, an economist known for developing mathematical models to estimate what something is worth in situations of deep uncertainty, died of cancer May 1 in Toulouse, France.

In 17 books and 200 articles, Mr. Laffont brought an elegant simplicity to the branch of economics known as information theory, particularly the study of incentives in contracts where one party has more knowledge than the other, or different knowledge.

He particularly focused on what is known as the "free-rider problem," referring to those who benefit from a particular action or policy but escape having to pay for it.

His career later centered on developing policies for improving the economies of less developed countries.

Thomas S. Smith,

83, who was named in 1972 to the President's Committee on the National Medal of Science, died Wednesday of cancer in Pine Lake, Wis.

He headed Lawrence University from 1969 until his retirement in 1979. His tenure as president began with a Vietnam War protest disrupting his first faculty meeting.

John D. LaPorta,

84, a classically trained clarinetist who performed with the stars of early modern jazz before beginning a long teaching and composing career, died Wednesday in Sarasota, Fla.

He played and recorded with many prominent jazz musicians, including Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich and Miles Davis. From 1944 to 1946, he was a performer and composer for the Woody Herman Orchestra. He also performed with Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, Leopold Stokowski and the Boston Pops.

Rita R. Fraad,

88, an art collector who lent works to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art and other museums and galleries, died May 9 at her home in Scarsdale, N.Y., of cardiac arrest.

She collected 19th- and 20th-century works by such American artists as Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins and Edward Hopper, and frequently gave pieces to Smith College, from which she graduated in 1937. She was a member of an advisory board to the school's renowned art museum until last year.

Robert Mokros,

90, an amputee who made custom shoes in his Minneapolis shop for people with disfigured feet, died May 1.

He learned to be a shoemaker at a religious school for children with disabilities, where he was sent after losing his foot in a farming accident in his native Germany when he was 13. Eventually he would make footwear for customers all over the United States.

He could look at a person's feet and cut a likeness of them from a block of wood, said his son, Norbert Mokros. He would also use sketches, footprints on dye, and paper and plaster casts of disfigured feet, transforming his designs into leather shoes and boots.

Lygia Pape,

77, an influential Brazilian artist who worked in two important movements, Concretism and the looser Neo-Concretism, and later moved beyond them, died on May 3 in Rio de Janeiro of complications from myelodysplasia, a blood disease.

A restlessly experimental artist, Ms. Pape worked at challenging formal and conceptual limits in many media, including painting, printmaking, sculpture, dance, film, performance and installation. In the 1950s she was involved in Concretism, which was based on severe abstract styles of European painters like Piet Mondrian and Kasimir Malevich.

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