Paulo Niemeyer

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Categories: Medicine

Dr. Paulo Niemeyer, one of Brazil’s most renowned neurosurgeons, died on March 10 from complications of heart surgery. He was 89.
Neimeyer was a medical pioneer in Latin America who developed techniques to stop involuntary movements in patients with Parkinson’s disease. He also designed a surgical technique that stopped seizures in 50 percent of the epilepsy patients he treated. Unfortunately, when practiced by other physicians, the technique could not reproduce the same successful results.
A long-time member of the National Academy of Medicine, Neimeyer treated many well-known Brazilians, including two of the country’s former presidents. He also founded the Brazilian League of Epilepsy.


Michael King


Categories: Education, Media, Writers/Editors

mking.jpgMichael King, a New Zealand author and the leading historian of the indigenous Maori, died on March 30 in an automobile accident. He was 59.
Although he was born in Wellington to parents who relished their Irish and Scottish roots, King was more interested in the native culture of New Zealand. He studied English and history at Victoria University, and earned a master’s degree from the University of Waikato.
King taught journalism for a while, then became a reporter for the Waikato Times. There he was assigned to cover Maori issues, a beat that brought him into close contact with the Tainui tribes. Over time, King became fluent in the Maori language and protocol, skills he used to write the books “Moko: Maori Tattooing in the 20th Century” and “Maori: A Photographic and Social History.” He also penned “Te Puea” and “Whina” — biographies of charismatic Maori leaders, Princess Te Puea Heringa and Dame Whina Cooper.
King’s ground-breaking book, “Being Pakeha: An Encounter With New Zealand and the Maori Renaissance,” was the first to examine the non-Maori ingredients of New Zealand society and culture. It also included what he called a “selective and ethnic autobiography” of his childhood. His professional life was recounted in the 1992 sequel, “Hidden Places: A Memoir in Journalism.”
In the 1990s, King developed a reputation as a respected literary biographer for chronicling the lives of authors Frank Sargeson and Janet Frame. His final book, “The Penguin History of New Zealand,” became a surprise best-seller.
A former president of the New Zealand Society of Authors, King was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1988 for services to New Zealand literature. He received the first Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement for nonfiction in 2003. In December, King was named the New Zealand Herald’s New Zealander of the Year. Before the accident that took his life, King was fighting cancer.
His wife, Maria Jungowska, was also killed when their car hit a tree and burst into flames south of Auckland. She was a respected book editor who specialized in New Zealand history, biographies and children’s fiction and nonfiction.
Watch a Tribute to Michael and Maria From ZB News


Mike O’Callaghan

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Categories: Education, Heroes, Media, Military, Politicians, Writers/Editors

mocallaghan.jpgDonal “Mike” O’Callaghan, a newspaper columnist and former governor of Nevada, died on March 5 from a heart attack. He was 74.
Born Donal O’Callaghan in LaCrosse, Wis., he adopted the first name Mike when he was a teenaged boxer. At 16, O’Callaghan enlisted in the Marines as part of the post-World War II occupation forces. He served in the Air Force as an intelligence specialist then joined the Army in order to fight in the Korean War.
On Feb. 13, 1953, his company came under heavy fire from Chinese Communist forces. To rescue several soldiers trapped in an out-guard post, O’Callaghan voluntarily put himself in harm’s way. He was hit by a mortar and badly wounded. Rigging a tourniquet out of telephone wire, O’Callaghan saved the men, crawled back to the command post and continued to direct the firefight for three more hours. His left leg was later amputated below the knee, and his efforts were rewarded with the Silver Star and a Purple Heart.
When he returned to the states, O’Callaghan earned a master’s degree from the University of Idaho and moved to Henderson, Nev., to teach high school history and economics. He helped found and run the Henderson Boys Club, became the state’s first health and welfare director and was named regional director to the federal Office of Emergency Preparedness by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
An interest in politics led O’Callaghan to run for lieutenant governor in 1966. He lost that race, but was elected to the state’s top spot four years later. During his two terms in office, the popular Democrat was best known for supporting the Equal Rights Amendment and creating the state’s Consumer Affairs Office.
After his second term ended, O’Callaghan became a journalist, spending two decades as a columnist and executive editor at the Las Vegas Sun. A high school, a park and a hospital are all named in his honor.
Timeline of O’Callaghan’s Life


Noah Sylvester Purifoy

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Categories: Artists, Military

Noah Sylvester Purifoy could take a piece of trash and turn it into artwork worth thousands of dollars.
The African-American sculptor, who was considered the father of the Los Angeles black assemblage movement, used to scour swap meets and garage sales to find the items used in his sculptures. Bowling balls, toilets, old tires and other debris were gathered and erected into towering pieces of art. Purifoy was best known for “66 Signs Neon,” a sculpture he created from 3 tons of debris left over from the 1965 Watts riot. His assemblage art has appeared in the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum in New York and the California Afro-American Museum.
Purifoy learned welding, metal and woodworking skills in high school. After earning a bachelor’s degree in social science from the Alabama State Teacher’s College, he taught high school shop classes. During World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and served as a Seabee in the South Pacific.
Purifoy returned to home after the war and received a master’s degree in social work in 1948 from Atlanta University. After moving to Los Angeles, he reconsidered his plan of becoming a social worker. Instead, he applied to the Chinouard School of Art and became the first full-time black student to be admitted.
With the help of several friends, Purifoy co-founded the Watts Towers Arts Center in 1965. From 1976 to 1987, he worked for the California Arts Council and brought art to correctional institutions, schools and social programs.
Purifoy moved to the Mojave Desert and spent his remaining years building sculptures. In 1998, he established the Noah Purifoy Foundation to preserve and maintain the 100 pieces of art in his 2.5-acre garden.
Purifoy died on March 5 in a fire. When San Bernardino County firefighters found him inside his home, Purifoy was sitting in his wheelchair with third degree burns on over 90 percent of his body; it is believed he fell asleep while smoking. He was 86.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR


Adan Sanchez


Categories: Musicians

asanchez.jpgSinger Adan Sanchez, the son of balladeer Rosalino “Chalino” Sanchez, died on March 27 in an automobile accident in Sinaloa, Mexico. He was 19.

Sanchez was on a promotional trip through northwestern Mexico when the 1989 Ford Crown Victoria he was riding in blew a tire. The driver lost control and the vehicle rolled. Sanchez, who was not wearing a seatbelt, sustained serious head injuries and died on the scene. The other passengers were hospitalized for their injuries.

Chalino Sanchez was a Los Angeles-based music legend who transformed traditional Mexican ballads into tough tales about criminals and drug traffickers. He was kidnapped and murdered in 1992.

Adan, who adopted Chalino as his middle name, recorded nine albums of ballads and tributes to his father. His songs were mostly played on Spanish language radio stations, but his matinee idol looks appealed to thousands of teenaged fans. Sanchez’s final CD, “Homenaje a Mi Padre,” was released last year.

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