Herbert C. Brown Nobel-Winning Chemist
Herbert C. Brown, 92, a retired Purdue University chemist who won a 1979 Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in organic chemistry, died Dec. 19 at a hospital in Lafayette, Ind., after a heart attack.
Dr. Brown was regarded as a 20th-century giant in the field of organic chemistry. In 1979, he shared the Nobel Prize for chemistry with German chemist Georg Wittig of the University of Heidelberg for work with boron- and phosphorus-containing compounds.
He held dozens of U.S. patents, as well as two in Canada and one in Europe. The Herbert C. Brown Laboratory of Chemistry at Purdue is named for him. Although he officially retired in 1978, Dr. Brown continued to work at the university, giving lectures, writing and continuing his research.
Jonathan Drummond-Webb Heart Surgeon
Jonathan Drummond-Webb, 45, a heart surgeon whose work was the focus of a four-part television series and who successfully implanted a life-saving miniature heart pump in a child, was found dead Dec. 26 of suicide, it was reported from Little Rock.
Dr. Drummond-Webb took an overdose of medication and left a note for his wife, who discovered his body, according to Arkansas Children's Hospital. The hospital said friends believe the surgeon suffered a sudden bout of depression.
Dr. Drummond-Webb, chief of pediatric and congenital cardiac surgery at Arkansas Children's Hospital, earned a national reputation. In 2002, his work was the subject of a four-part ABC News documentary mini-series. The network had said it was attracted by Dr. Drummond-Webb's record at the time: 830 surgeries in 18 months with a 2 percent mortality rate.
In September, Dr. Drummond-Webb performed the first successful implant of a miniature heart pump in a 14-year-old boy with a heart defect, keeping him alive until a heart transplant was possible. The teenager, Travis Marcus, was released from the hospital this month.
Freddie Perren Composer, Record Producer
Freddie Perren, 61, a composer, arranger and record producer who won a Grammy Award for producing two songs on the 1977 "Saturday Night Fever" album, died Dec. 16. He suffered a massive stroke 11 years ago.
"Saturday Night Fever" won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1978. Mr. Perren also wrote and produced, with Dino Fekaris, "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, which won the Grammy for Best Disco Recording in 1979.
He was a member of a Motown production group, the Corporation, which wrote and produced the first Jackson Five hit records. The Corporation -- which included Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr., Deke Richards and Fonce Mizell -- produced the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "The Love You Save."
Some of Mr. Perren's post-Motown records include Peaches and Herb's "Reunited" and "Shake Your Groove Thing"; the Sylvers' "Boogie Fever" and "Hot Line"; and Tavares' "Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel."
Ronald M. Sharpe Pennsylvania Police Commissioner
Col. Ronald M. Sharpe, 64, a retired Pennsylvania State Police commissioner who was the nation's first black leader of a statewide police force, died of cancer Dec. 21 in Menands, N.Y.
In 1987, Col. Sharpe was appointed deputy commissioner of the force by then-Gov. Robert P. Casey. When the commissioner at the time, Col. John K. Schafer, died of cancer the next year, Col. Sharpe was chosen to replace him. Traditionally, officers appointed as Pennsylvania State Police commissioner assume the rank of colonel.
During his 3 1/2 years as commissioner, Col. Sharpe was credited with instituting changes to reduce racial bias within the force. He also established a canine drug enforcement team, reinstated the state highway motorcycle patrol and established the computerized Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
Mack Vickery Songwriter
Mack Vickery, 66, who wrote hits that included George Strait's "The Fireman" and Jerry Lee Lewis's "Rockin' My Life Away," died Dec. 21 at his home in Nashville after a heart attack.
Songwriter Merle Kilgore signed Mr. Vickery to his first publishing contract and co-wrote with him the John Anderson hit "Let Somebody Else Drive."
As a teenager, Mr. Vickery played in Ohio and Michigan honky-tonks before heading to Memphis, where he worked with producer Sam Phillips in the late 1950s. He moved to Nashville in the mid-1960s and released an album in 1970 titled "Mack Vickery at the Alabama Women's Prison."
Sam Papich FBI-CIA Liaison
Sam Papich, 90, a former liaison between the FBI and CIA who was involved in the investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, died Dec. 22 in Albuquerque. No cause of death was reported.
Mr. Papich countered Japanese and Nazi spies in South America during World War II. Most of his time with the FBI was spent as the bureau's liaison with various divisions within the CIA.
In the early 1960s, the FBI was making a case against Chicago organized crime leader Sam Giancana. Mr. Papich was approached by CIA representatives who were working with Giancana in hopes of assassinating Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Mr. Papich was assigned by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to keep an eye on the CIA operation.
In 1963, he was involved in the investigation of the Kennedy assassination, coordinating CIA information for FBI agents investigating Lee Harvey Oswald.