May 31, 2009 in Nation/World

Ephraim Katzir, Israeli president

 

Ephraim Katzir, Israel’s fourth president and an internationally recognized biophysicist, died Saturday, several weeks after his 93rd birthday.

Katzir’s 1973-1978 tenure spanned two seminal events in Israeli history: The 1973 Mideast war and the visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem in 1977. He left the presidency after one term to return to scientific research.

“Ephraim Katzir was devoted to the state of Israel in all that he did and was a scientific pioneer,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “He also contributed to Israel’s security, and his integrity and modesty set an example.”

Born in Kiev in 1916, Katzir immigrated at age 6 with his family to British-ruled Palestine and studied biology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, receiving his Ph.D. in 1941, according to his official biography on the Foreign Ministry Web site.

Katzir was a founder of Israel’s renowned Weizmann Institute of Science and headed its biophysics department, where his work on synthetic protein models deepened understanding of the genetic code and immune responses.

PARKER, Ariz.

Thomas Claw, Navajo Marine

Thomas Claw, one of an elite group of Navajo Marines who confounded the Japanese during World War II by transmitting messages in their native language, has died. He was 87.

Claw died Tuesday at the veterans hospital in Prescott, Ariz., after a battle with cancer, according to his son, Harold.

Harold Claw said his father freely spoke to groups about his role in the war until his health began to decline in recent years.

Claw was born in the Navajo community of Chinle in northeastern Arizona. He moved to an area near Parker in western Arizona in the late 1940s, where he and his wife raised a family.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif.

Sam Maloof, furniture designer

Sam Maloof, whose simple, practical handmade wooden furniture sits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the White House, has died. He was 93.

Maloof died Thursday at his Southern California home, his business manager Boz Bock told the Los Angeles Times.

Maloof was praised for putting usefulness before artistry in the chairs, cradles, hutches and other pieces he designed and crafted by hand.

Maloof’s signature piece was a rocking chair with elongated rockers that appeared sculptural, but were actually incorporated to keep the chair from tipping over.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who signed a photograph “to my woodworking hero” during a visit to Maloof’s home, and subsequent presidents used the rocking chairs in the White House.

Maloof’s modern furniture, assembled entirely out of wood without nails or metal hardware, fit handsomely in the minimalist homes of the postwar era. Its wood, leather and cork softened the hard edges of the era’s architecture.

In 1957, the American Craft Museum in New York displayed Maloof’s work in its first exhibition of studio-craft furniture. Over the decades, his work has entered permanent collections at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other museums.

From wire reports


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