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Obituaries

Saturday, March 12, 2005; Page B06

Frederick W. Mote Scholar of Chinese Civilization

Frederick W. Mote, a preeminent scholar of traditional Chinese civilization at Princeton University, died of cancer Feb. 11 at a hospital in Aurora, Colo. He was 82.

Mr. Mote wrote, edited and translated numerous books, articles and essays. He also co-edited two volumes of the Cambridge History of China, the largest and most comprehensive history of China in English.

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Mr. Mote, who spent three decades as a Princeton professor, was born in Plainview, Neb., the fourth of 10 children.

Mr. Mote joined the Army Air Forces in 1943. He failed to qualify for flight training for medical reasons. When his superiors noticed he had taken a Chinese language course at George Washington University the previous summer, he was transferred to Harvard University for intensive Chinese language training.

Mr. Mote joined the newly established Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the CIA, as a noncommissioned officer and served in China from 1944 to 1946, in the China-Burma-India theater. After he was discharged from the military in April 1946, he returned to China to complete his undergraduate studies.

He was admitted to Nanjing University with junior standing, one of the first Westerners ever to enroll there as an undergraduate. As a Fulbright Program fellow, he did graduate work in Nanjing and Beijing before working as a language officer for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in the weeks immediately following the Chinese communist takeover in October 1949.

Just before leaving China for return to the United States in 1950, he married Chen Hsiao-lan.

Mr. Mote earned his doctorate in sinology from the University of Washington. He became an assistant professor of Chinese studies at Princeton in 1956 and retired in 1987.

He was a founding member of the Washington, D.C.-based Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China.

Survivors include his wife, of Granby, Colo.; a sister; and six brothers.

Harold Brooks-Baker Royal Authority

Harold Brooks-Baker, 71, the Washington-born publisher of the aristocratic genealogy guide Burke's Peerage and a much-quoted authority on royalty, died March 5 in London. He had polio all his life and had never fully recovered from a fall last year.

On the completion of his studies at Trinity College in Connecticut and Harvard Law School, Mr. Brooks-Baker became a reporter. After working as a bonds dealer in Paris and Geneva, he came to London, where he headed up a business group that took over Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage -- publishers of a guide to royal lineage.

He left Debrett's and transferred to Burke's Peerage, where he became publishing director and developed the company's blue blood genealogy service. He was quoted extensively in British and foreign press, most recently providing comment on the forthcoming marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles and the royal ancestry of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

George Atkinson Video Store Pioneer

George Atkinson, 69, generally considered the inventor of movie video rental, died March 3 at his home in Los Angeles. He had emphysema.

In the fall of 1977, Mr. Atkinson bought one Betamax and one VHS tape of each of the 50 movie titles that were sold to the public and rented them out at the Video Station, the first store he opened on Wilshire Boulevard that spurred more than 600 franchises.

Mr. Atkinson charged $50 for an annual membership and $100 for a lifetime membership, which allowed viewers to rent the videos for $10 a day. He retired from Video Station in 1997. The chain had more than 600 franchised stores at its peak.


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