In passing

John Bahcall, 70, astrophysicist

New York John Norris Bahcall, an astrophysicist who found a new way to study the sun and was a major force behind the Hubble Space Telescope, has died. He was 70.

He died Wednesday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital from a rare blood disorder, according to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., where Bahcall was a faculty member for 35 years.

Bahcall was born in Shreveport, La., in 1934 and considered becoming a rabbi before choosing science.

In 1964, he was working at the California Institute of Technology when he proposed that scientists could figure out why the sun shines by measuring the number of solar neutrinos – ghostly particles that arrive on Earth.

At the time, collaborator Raymond Davis was trying to catch neutrinos in a chemical tank in a South Dakota gold mine. When too few were found, many thought the experiment was flawed. Bahcall said calculations by physicists – including himself – were flawed and that the tiny particles changed their shape. Experiments in the 1990s finally proved him right.

In 1996, Bahcall wrote about what was learned: “The nuclear reactions that produce the neutrinos also cause the sun to shine.”

In the 1970s, he was a leader of the effort to create the Hubble, which was launched in 1990. He pushed for the instrument’s survival until the end of his life.

Bahcall received the National Medal of Science from President Clinton in 1998 and won several other major physics awards.

Herta Ware, actress, theater founder, 88

Los Angeles Herta Ware, an actress and a founder of the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, where she appeared in plays until a few years ago, died Monday at her home here. She was 88 and died of natural causes, her daughter, Melora Marshall, said.

The former wife of actor Will Geer, Ware remained on friendly terms with him and wrote a memoir, “Fantastic Journey, My Life With Will Geer,” which she self-published in 2000. She was with Geer when he died in 1978.

The couple opened their original performance space in the Los Angeles area’s Topanga Canyon in the 1950s after Geer was blacklisted for invoking the Fifth Amendment rather than testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951.

They invited actor and folk-singer friends, including Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, to perform at weekend productions, selling tickets and opening the informal events to the public. In 1973, the Theatricum Botanicum was officially opened as a summer theater.

In addition to daughter Melora Marshall, Ware is survived by her children with Geer: Kate, Thad and Ellen. Ellen is artistic director of the Theatricum Botanicum. Ware also is survived by a brother, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Gideon Nieuwoudt, apartheid policeman

Johannesburg, South Africa A former police colonel who confessed to a role in the death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko and was convicted of killing several other opponents of white rule died in prison Friday.

Gideon Nieuwoudt, who was in his mid-50s, had cancer of the lungs which spread to the rest of his body, his lawyer Jan Wagener told the South African Press Association.

Nieuwoudt was convicted of killing three black policemen and their informer in 1989, three anti-apartheid activists in 1985, and numerous other opponents of white racist rule.

Nieuwoudt repeatedly was refused an amnesty by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which pardoned about 1,000 people who confessed to their crimes as part of efforts to heal the wounds of apartheid.

Nieuwoudt is survived by his wife, Colleen, three sons and a daughter.

Alexander Golitzen, 97, art director

Alexander Golitzen, who oversaw art direction on more than 300 films and shared Academy Awards for three of them – “Phantom of the Opera” (1943), “Spartacus” (1960) and “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962) – has died. He was 97.

Golitzen died July 26 of congestive heart failure at a health-care center in San Diego, said Cynthia Garn, his daughter.

Born in Moscow, Golitzen fled the Russian revolution with his family, going to Siberia, then China, and finally to Seattle.

Beginning in 1939, Golitzen worked on many films with producer Walter Wanger, and in 1942 he became a unit art director and then supervising art director at Universal, where he oversaw dozens of productions over the next 30 years.

Golitzen earned his first Oscar nomination on “Foreign Correspondent” (1940), directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Three years later, he shared the award with John B. Goodman for “Phantom.”

In addition to his daughter, Golitzen is survived by his wife of 72 years, Frances, one son, Peter, five grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

Joseph Rogers, 81, record-setting pilot

Col. Joseph “Whistlin’ Joe” Rogers, a fighter pilot in three wars who retains the world record for flying the fastest single-engine jet, has died. He was 81.

Rogers died Aug. 6 of congestive heart failure at his northern California ranch near Healdsburg.

As an Air Force test pilot, then-Maj. Rogers broke a Soviet speed record in 1959 when he flew an F-106 Delta Dart at 1,525.95 mph over Edwards Air Force Base. The record, verified by national and international aeronautics agencies, has never been broken.

In Korea, Rogers earned his nickname “Whistlin’ Joe” when he attached a whistle to one of his wings to scare enemy ground troops as he came in for a strafing run.

A hero well before he set the single-engine jet speed record, Rogers was one of a dozen or so American fighting men Time magazine designated collectively as Man of the Year for 1950.

As a test pilot, Rogers flew the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, among many others. He narrowly escaped death in 1969 when his SR-71A suffered an explosion and he and his reconnaissance systems officer parachuted to safety near Shoshone, Calif., east of Death Valley.

Rogers, who earned the Air Force’s Top Gun award in 1963 in an air-to-air weapons contest, returned to combat during the Vietnam War. As vice commander of a fighter wing, he flew 100 more missions.

Rogers is survived by sons Joe Jr. and Garrett, daughter Georgia Carver, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.


Click here to comment on this story »



Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(509) 747-4422
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile