Richard J. Barnet, 75, a Kennedy administration official and founder of one of the nation's first liberal think tanks, died of a brain disorder Thursday at his home in Washington.
Mr. Barnet and Marcus Raskin founded the Institute for Policy Studies, based in Washington, in 1963. Advocating social action as well as scholarship, the organization has been involved in issues including civil rights, the Vietnam War, national security and, most recently, fair trade and environmental justice campaigns.
Mr. Barnet was a co-director of the institute for many years, and until his death he also served as a distinguished fellow there. He was the author or co-author of more than a dozen books, and a contributor to Harper's Magazine, The Nation and The New York Times. Trained as a lawyer, Mr. Barnet served in the State Department in 1961, and, from 1961 to 1962, in the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He and Mr. Raskin founded the institute to promote social change more directly. Mr. Barnet was born in Boston and raised nearby in Brookline. He graduated from Harvard in 1951 and from Harvard Law School three years later.
Gretchen Bender, 53, an artist whose work is displayed in several major museums, died of cancer Sunday in New York City, her family said.
Ms. Bender, who worked primarily in photography and film, premiered her first Manhattan gallery show at the Nature Morte Gallery in the East Village in 1983. Her early work was a combination of images from abstract art, advertising and photography. Ms. Bender liked to explore issues of gender roles and sexuality, as well as the contrast between industry and the human condition.
Ms. Bender extended her pursuits to include directing music videos for acts such as Babes in Toyland and Martha Wash, and editing videos for R.E.M., New Order and Megadeth. Much of her work is displayed at the Museum of Modern Art, the Pompidou Center in Paris and Houston's Menil Collection.
Sam Papich, 90, a former liaison between the FBI and CIA who was involved in the investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, died Wednesday in Albuquerque, N.M., his son said.
Mr. Papich countered Japanese and Nazi spies in South America during World War II. He later served as the legal attache at the U.S. Embassy in Brazil and supervised undercover agents in the pre-CIA days.
Mr. Papich worked as the FBI's liaison with various divisions within the CIA. He sat at the table with then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and CIA directors Allen Dulles and Richard Helms.
In 1963, he was involved in the probe of Kennedy's assassination, coordinating CIA information for FBI agents investigating Lee Harvey Oswald.
In 1973, Mr. Papich became director of the Governor's Organized Crime Prevention Council in New Mexico.
P.V. Narasimha Rao, 83, former prime minister of India who set in motion the county's economic liberalization more than a decade ago, died of cardiac arrest Thursday at a New Delhi hospital, his aide said.
Mr. Rao, an astute, dour-faced politician, became prime minister in 1991, taking office at a time when India's state-controlled, moribund economy was in deep turmoil, with the state treasury facing near bankruptcy.
Faced with no choice but to initiate bold reforms, Mr. Rao threw open the country to foreign investments, setting the stage for the country's relative economic prosperity today. Mr. Rao also had the dubious distinction of being the first prime minister to be tried on criminal charges while out of office. He was cleared of all charges.
Preston Toledo, 81, a member of the World War II Navajo code talkers, died Dec. 15 in Santa Fe, N.M., after a car accident, his family said.
He was a member of the Navajo Bitter Water People Clan.
Family members said he was a humble man who didn't brag about his role in the group that invented a military code based on the Navajo language to confound the Japanese during World War II, or about a famous photograph of him and his cousin Frank Toledo relaying orders over a field radio while in the South Pacific. The photograph is part of the Smithsonian Institution's collection.
Preston Toledo was awarded the Bronze Star, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the China Service Medal. He served from 1941 until 1945 but didn't receive the medals and recognition until about 10 years ago, family members said.
Code talkers were not allowed to discuss their work when they returned home after the war. It wasn't until 1968 that the Defense Department first released information on the code talkers.
Mack Vickery, 66, who wrote hits including George Strait's "The Fireman" and Jerry Lee Lewis' "Rockin' My Life Away," died Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn., of a heart attack, fellow songwriter Merle Kilgore said.
Mr. Kilgore signed Vickery to his first publishing contract and co-wrote the John Anderson hit "Let Somebody Else Drive" with Mr. Vickery.
"'Rockin' My Life Away' is his whole life in one song," Mr. Kilgore said. "I never met anybody in my whole career that wanted to be around the music 24 hours a day, but all Mack wanted to do was sing, be in clubs and be around music people."
As a teenager, Mr. Vickery played in Ohio and Michigan honky-tonks before heading to Memphis, where he worked with producer Sam Phillips in the late 1950s.
He moved to Nashville around 1964, and released an album in 1970 titled Mack Vickery at the Alabama Women's Prison. The album cover featured eye-catching prisoners looking at Mr. Vickery.
Mr. Vickery was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 2003.