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John C. West

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Categories: Education, Military, Politicians

jwest.jpgJohn Carl West, the former governor of South Carolina, died on March 21 from cancer. He was 81.
West graduated from The Citadel and attained the rank of Army major during World War II for deciphering Japanese signals for the Pentagon. At the end of the war, he served in Japan as part of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey and earned an Army Commendation Medal. In 1946, he returned to the states, obtained a law degree from the University of South Carolina and delved into politics.
West was elected as a Democrat to the state Senate in 1954 and became the state’s lieutenant governor in 1967. When he won the gubernatorial race in 1970, West pledged to rid the state government of “any vestige of discrimination” and to make it “colorblind.” Known as a man who embraced change, West hired James Clyburn as a senior aide. Clyburn later ran the State Human Affairs Commission that West set up in 1972, and became the state’s first black U.S. representative since Reconstruction.
During his tenure as governor, West created a state housing authority to run programs to help low-income individuals and families obtain affordable housing. He also passed a law that required mandatory auto insurance for all drivers and vetoed a bill re-establishing capital punishment. The Legislature later overrode the veto.
Once his term in office ended in 1975, West set up law practices in Camden and Hilton Head, S.C. Two years later, President Jimmy Carter appointed him ambassador to Saudi Arabia, where he served until 1981. His final years were spent teaching Middle East studies at the University of South Carolina. The John C. West Forum on Politics and Policy, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic leadership institute, was established at USC in 2002.

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Jenkin Lloyd Jones Sr.

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Categories: Media, Writers/Editors

Jenkin Lloyd Jones Sr.’s journalistic efforts informed and enlightened the people of Oklahoma for 50 years.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin in 1933, Jones became a reporter for the Tulsa Tribune, an afternoon daily owned and published by his father, Richard Lloyd Jones Sr. Over the next eight years, Jones wrote hundreds of stories, covered the Nuremberg war crimes trials and interviewed missionary Albert Schweitzer in Africa.
Jones wrote a moderately conservative weekly column that was syndicated in more than 100 newspapers. He served as the Tulsa Tribune’s editor from 1941 to 1988, and as its publisher until 1991. The paper folded the following year after a 51-year joint operating agreement with the Tulsa World collapsed.
A former president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Jones was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1972. He died on Feb. 24 at the age of 92.

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Vilayat Khan

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Categories: Musicians

Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan, one of India’s leading sitar players, was born into a musical family. He could trace his lineage back six or seven generations to Miyan Tansen, the court musician of Emperor Akbar of the late 16th century.
Khan gave his first public performances at six, and began recording his own music two years later. A determined child prodigy, he sometimes practiced until his fingers bled.
Khan was credited with creating his own style of playing the sitar, and performed in venues all over the world. He twice received the Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan, but rejected these honors because he said the awards committee was too incompetent to judge his artistic abilities.
Khan had a second home in New Jersey. He frequently lectured at Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, Calif., and was scheduled to give a performance this spring at Zankel Hall in New York City. He also composed music for the films, “Jalsaghar” and “Guru.”
Khan died on March 13. Cause of death was not released. He was 76.

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Ludmilla Tchérina

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Categories: Actors, Artists, Hollywood, Writers/Editors

Ludmila Tchérina, a French ballerina, actress and artist, died on March 21. Cause of death was not released. She was 79.
The daughter of a Russian aristocrat father and French mother, Tchérina became a prima ballerina with the Grands Ballets of Monte Carlo when she was only 15 years old. That accomplishment made her the youngest prima ballerina in the history of dance.
Under the pseudonym of Tcherzina, she danced in New York, Milan, Paris and at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. She married her main dancing partner, Edmond Audran, who died in a car accident in 1951. Tchérina stopped dancing for two full years, but was persuaded to return to the stage by her new husband, Raymond Roi, who survives her.
Upon retiring from professional dancing, Tchérina became a true Renaissance woman. Her paintings and sculptures appeared in exhibitions around the world. She opened her own ballet company, choreographed routines, then turned her attention to acting.
From 1946 to 1975, Tchérina appeared in 22 movies, including “The Red Shoes,” “Sign of the Pagan” and “The Tales of Hoffmann.” She also penned two novels and a screenplay.

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Chuck Niles

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Categories: Actors, Media, Military, Musicians

Chuck Niles, the velvety voice of jazz in Los Angeles, died on March 15 from complications of a stroke. He was 76.

Born Charles Neidel, Niles learned the clarinet when he was seven years old, and was playing the saxophone professionally by the time he was 14. He joined the Navy in 1945 and served briefly in the South Pacific. After returning to the states, he played alto sax in the jazz band, the Emanon Quartet, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from American International University and landed a job playing music on WTXL in Springfield, Mass.

In 1956, Niles moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. He appeared in a few films (“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Teenage Zombies”) and stage productions until his friend Sleepy Stein recruited him to be an announcer on KNOB.

He would remain on the air for more than 40 years.

Niles hosted shows on several L.A. stations. Known as “Be-Bop Charlie,” “Mr. Jazz” and the “Minister of Cool,” he spent the past 14 years making the afternoon drive time a pleasant and informative experience for listeners of KKJZ. His love of the genre also endeared him to jazz artists, who wrote songs like “Niles Blues,” “Nilesology” and “Bebop Charlie” in his honor. Niles is the only jazz disc jockey to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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