Other Notable Deaths

The Baltimore Sun

Ralph Marsh, 70

Author and journalist

Ralph Marsh, an author and veteran journalist for the Associated Press and various newspapers, has died. He was 70.

Mr. Marsh died Wednesday at his home near Heavener, Okla., after a short illness, according to Evans and Miller Funeral Home in Poteau, Okla.

He worked for more than three decades as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Kansas and Oklahoma, including the Wichita, Kan., Eagle-Beacon, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa Tribune, the Chickasha Daily Express and the Topeka Capital-Journal, as well as at the AP.

Mr. Marsh was Capitol correspondent for the now-defunct Tribune and covered the Capitol for the AP in the 1970s.

In recent years, he was a freelance writer. His books included Tomy: Story of a Boy and A Gathering of Heroes. He was a contributing editor for Oklahoma Today magazine.

Hana Ponicka, 85

Writer and dissident

Hana Ponicka, a Slovak writer and former anti-communist dissident, has died. She was 85.

Ms. Ponicka died Tuesday, according to the Christian Democratic movement, the political party she helped found after the 1989 collapse of the communist regime in what was then Czechoslovakia. A cause of death was not given.

In 1977, Ms. Ponicka signed the Charter 77 human rights manifesto inspired by Vaclav Havel, then a dissident playwright and later president of the Czech Republic after it split from Slovakia after the end of communist rule.

Ms. Ponicka was arrested by communist authorities in August 1989 for commemorating the 21st anniversary of Czechoslovakia's 1968 occupation by Warsaw Pact armies, then was released three months later. She died on the 39th anniversary of the invasion.

Rose Bampton, 99

Premier voice in American opera

Rose Bampton, a soprano who performed 18 seasons at the Metropolitan Opera and established herself as a premier voice in American opera, has died. She was 99.

Ms. Bampton died Tuesday in the Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr, said Mark Sullivan, parish administrator at St. David's Episcopal Church in nearby Wayne, where her family attended for years.

Ms. Bampton, who made her professional debut in 1929, appeared several times with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra and sang with such opera immortals as Lauritz Melchior, Helen Traubel, Rosa Ponselle, Jan Peerce and Ezio Pinza. She recorded with Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, and a broadcast version of their Fidelio remains in print.

"I think I lived in the most wonderful period, really, of singing and other things," she once said.

Composer Arnold Schoenberg called her voice a "miracle," and she gained critical attention for her portrayal of the Wood Dove in his Gurrelieder. Ms. Bampton also played the role of Kundry in Wagner's Parsifal at the Met, where she had made her debut in 1932.

She appeared in more popular settings, too, becoming a frequent guest on radio shows. On one, she did a humorous spoken-word dialogue with Humphrey Bogart.

After retiring from the opera stage in 1963, she taught at Juilliard and other schools.

Grace Paley, 84

Activist and writer

Grace Paley, the activist and writer whose vibrant, Bronx-accented short stories illuminated the daily trials and boisterous interior lives of working-class men and women in language that radiated humanity, intelligence and street-wise humor, has died. She was 84.

Ms. Paley died of breast cancer Wednesday at her home in Thetford Hill, Vt., said her husband, playwright Robert Nichols.

During a writing career that began more than 50 years ago, Ms. Paley published only three collections of stories, but those books - The Little Disturbances of Man (1959), Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) and Later the Same Day (1985) - garnered elaborate praise from critics, fellow writers and a loyal core of readers. One noted admirer, novelist Philip Roth, said her stories offered "an understanding of loneliness, lust, selfishness and fatigue that is splendidly comic and unladylike."

In 1993, Ms. Paley received the $25,000 Rea Award, which has been described as the Pulitzer Prize of short-story writing. Declaring that Ms. Paley's voice was like no other in American fiction, the judges called her "a pure short-story writer, a natural to the form in the way that rarely gifted athletes are said to be naturals."

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