This page lists the obituaries of people who made news during their lifetimes. Obituaries of historians can be found here.
George Cowan, a chemist who helped build the first atomic bomb, detect the first Soviet nuclear explosion and test the first hydrogen bomb, died on Friday at his home in Los Alamos, N.M. He was 92.
The Santa Fe Institute, a scientific research center that Dr. Cowan headed and helped found, announced the death.
For his many contributions, Dr. Cowan was awarded the federal Energy Department’s highest honor, the Enrico Fermi Award, and the highest honor given by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Los Alamos Medal. The citation on his Los Alamos award called him “the driving force in the early radiochemical evaluations of nuclear weapons.”
Dr. Cowan began thinking about the possibility of a bomb in 1938, when he brought a clipping about nuclear fission to his physics professor and asked him to talk about the possibility of a weapon based on splitting the atom. His professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts made a convincing argument that it would not happen, but when Dr. Cowan graduated three years later, the professor referred him to Eugene Wigner, a physicist at Princeton....
Virginia Spencer Carr, a literary scholar whose book “The Lonely Hunter” remains the standard biography of Carson McCullers, died on April 10 at her home in Lynn, Mass. She was 82.
The cause was liver disease, her daughter Karen Carr Gale said.
Ms. Carr also wrote respected lives of two other 20th-century American writers, John Dos Passos and Paul Bowles, but McCullers was her first writerly obsession and the subject that defined her career.
Having written her doctoral dissertation on McCullers’s work, Ms. Carr began “The Lonely Hunter” in the late 1960s after landing a job as an English professor at Columbus College (now Columbus State University) in Columbus, Ga., McCullers’s hometown....
Raymond Aubrac, who took that nom de guerre as a storied leader of the resistance effort in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, died on Tuesday in a military hospital in Paris. He was 97.
His daughter Catherine announced the death.
Mr. Aubrac and his wife, Lucie, became exalted symbols of heroism in their country’s fight against the Germans, who defeated France in 1940. Their story of valor and love was told in movies and books, some written by them, and they were showered with national honors. Mrs. Aubrac died in 2007 at 94.
President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that the Aubracs and their colleagues had “operated behind the scenes and saved the honor of France, at a moment when it seemed lost.”...
Ahmed Ben Bella, a farmer’s son who fought for France in World War II, turned against it in the brutal struggle for Algerian independence and rose to become Algeria’s first elected president, has died at his home in Algiers, the capital. He was 93.
The state news agency announced his death on Wednesday morning.
Tall, athletic, handsome and charismatic, Mr. Ben Bella was known for his quick mind, courage and political cunning, traits that became tools of survival in a turbulent life. He faced heavy combat in wartime France and Italy, escaped French assassination attempts as well as a prison, then survived the murderous intrigues of political rivals as he struggled to impose socialism on his sprawling, divided country in the anarchy that followed independence in 1962....
Mike Wallace, the CBS reporter who became one of America’s best-known broadcast journalists as an interrogator of the famous and infamous on “60 Minutes,” died on Saturday. He was 93.
On its Web site, CBS said Mr. Wallace died at a care facility in New Canaan, Conn., where he had lived in recent years. Mr. Wallace, who received a pacemaker more than 20 years ago, had a long history of cardiac care and underwent triple bypass heart surgery in January 2008.
A reporter with the presence of a performer, Mr. Wallace went head to head with chiefs of state, celebrities and con artists for more than 50 years, living for when “you forget the lights, the cameras, everything else, and you’re really talking to each other,” he said in an interview with The New York Times videotaped in July 2006 and released on his death as part of the online feature “Last Word.”...