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In passing: Irvine Robbins, ice cream magnate

Sun., May 11, 2008

Irvine Robbins, who as co-founder of Baskin-Robbins brought Rocky Road, Pralines ‘n Cream and other exotic ice cream concoctions to every corner of America, has died. He was 90.

Robbins had been ill for some time and died May 5 at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., his daughter said.

Robbins opened his first ice cream store in Glendale, Calif., in December 1945, following his discharge from the Army. He used $6,000 from a cashed-in insurance policy his father had given him for his bar mitzvah.

Robbins offered 21 flavors at the store.

His brother-in-law, the late Burton Baskin, opened his own ice cream store in neighboring Pasadena a year later. By the end of the 1940s, they had joined forces to create Baskin-Robbins. Robbins recalled they used a flip of the coin to decide which name came first.

Robbins continued to work for the company until retiring in the 1970s.


Morgan Sparks, invented transistor

Morgan Sparks, who led Sandia National Laboratories for nearly a decade and invented a semiconductor device that has revolutionized almost every aspect of modern life, has died. He was 91.

Sparks died May 3 at his daughter’s home in Fullerton, Calif., Sandia said in a news release.

Sparks worked for 30 years at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey before taking over as director of Sandia in 1972. He served in the post until his retirement in 1981.

Sandia and Bell labs officials said Sparks invented the first practical transistor, a semiconductor device that led to devices such as personal computers, cell phones and DVD players.

Transistors work something like light switches, flipping on and off inside a chip to generate the ones and zeros that store and process information inside a computer.


Dr. Murray Jarvik, patch developer

Dr. Murray Jarvik, a pioneer researcher of smoking addiction and co-inventor of the nicotine patch, has died. He was 84.

Jarvik died May 8 at his home in Santa Monica after a long struggle with congestive heart failure, said Mark Wheeler, a health sciences spokesman at the University of California, Los Angeles.

In the early 1990s, Jarvik, a UCLA professor of psychiatry and pharmacology, and Jed Rose, then a UCLA postdoctoral fellow and currently the director of the Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research at Duke University, invented a transdermal patch that delivers nicotine directly into the body to help smokers fight the urge to light up.

Jarvik’s research into the absorption of tobacco through the skin began with studies of farmhands who harvest it in the South.


Douglas C. Wilson, broke Nixon story

Douglas C. Wilson, the Providence Journal reporter who broke the story that President Nixon would resign, has died. He was 67.

He died Monday at his home in Amherst, Mass., said Annie Hondrogen, the parish administrator of Grace Episcopal Church where his funeral was being held Friday. A cause was not immediately known.

Wilson was the newspaper’s Washington bureau chief on Aug. 7, 1974, when Nixon confidant Baruch Korff tipped him off that the president would resign. He dictated the news for the Journal’s afternoon edition.

Nixon announced his resignation the following day. Wilson was awarded the Merriman Smith Memorial Award for the scoop from the White House Correspondents Association.


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