Susie Gibson, an Alabama woman widely recognized as the third-oldest person in the world, died of heart failure Thursday at a nursing center in Tuscumbia. She was 116 years old by her count, and 115 by census records.
According to the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles, which listed her as 115 years old, she was the third-oldest living person in the world at the time of her death, behind Ecuador's Mari Capovilla and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bolden of Memphis, Tenn.
Mrs. Gibson said she was born Oct. 31, 1889, but researchers officially recognize her birth as Oct. 31, 1890, citing census data. Going by the date of birth she claimed, she was the oldest person in America and the second-oldest person in the world at the time of her death.
Bill Bedsole, her minister, said she often told him that the secret to her long life was that she ate dill pickles.
Shoshana Damari, 83, whose voice came to embody the emerging nation of Israel and comforted its people in trying times, died Tuesday in Tel Aviv after suffering from pneumonia.
Ms. Damari, known as "the Queen of Hebrew Music," entertained Israeli civilians and soldiers for nearly seven decades with her strong alto voice, continuing to perform until shortly before her death. Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called her "one of Israel's cultural greats."
She made many recordings and helped soothe the nation during its war of independence in 1948. She performed for Israeli military units in the country's subsequent wars. In 1988, she was awarded Israel's top civilian honor, the Israel Prize, for her contribution to Israeli vocal music.
Jockey Shabalala, 62, a member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, South Africa's most famous a cappella ensemble, died Feb. 11 of natural causes at his home in Ladysmith, South Africa.
He joined Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the 1960s and was featured on Paul Simon's Graceland album, which won the Grammy Award for album of the year in 1986.
He continued to tour and record with the group until early last year, when group members won a second Grammy for their recording Raise Your Spirit Higher. The group, which fuses Zulu and gospel music traditions, was touring the United States to promote their latest release, Long Walk to Freedom, when news of his death reached them.
Michael Gilbert, 93, who produced dozens of intricately plotted and gracefully written detective stories, police procedural novels, espionage thrillers, puzzle mysteries and crime-based plays for stage, radio and television while carrying on a separate career as a senior partner in a firm of London solicitors, died Feb. 8 at his home in Luddesdown, England.
Beginning in 1947 with the novel Close Quarters, his work was notable for its high literary style and meticulous plot construction, elements that put him in the category of the masters of what is often called the Golden Age of the British mystery - Dorothy Sayers, Michael Innes and Cyril Hare among them - who valued above all else a sturdy story with a daunting puzzle, layered with dense detail, multiple clues and schools of red herrings.
He served with the Royal Horse Artillery during World War II and, after being captured in 1943, was imprisoned in an Italian military prison for the duration of the war, an experience that he turned into fiction in his 1952 novel Death in Captivity.
He was a founding member of the Crime Writers Association, which awarded him its Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement in 1994. He was named a grandmaster by the Mystery Writers of America in 1988.
Alan M. Levin, 79, a documentary filmmaker whose work exploring political and social issues won major awards during a long career in television journalism, died in his sleep Feb. 13 at his home in Maplewood, N.J.
His work in the television industry began in the 1970s with PBS. He was one of the original news producers at WNET, New York's public television station, and in 1979 produced the Emmy-winning, six-part series The New Immigrants, about the new wave of non-European immigrants.
He and Bill Moyers worked together on a number of award-winning programs, including The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis, a history of covert CIA operations leading up to the Iran-contra affair.