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Obituaries

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Yuri LevadaRussian Sociologist

Yuri Levada, 76, a sociologist who was shut out of his profession in Soviet times but returned to track public opinion as Russia transitioned out of communism, died Nov. 16 at the Levada Analytical Center, his institute in Moscow. He had a heart attack.

Mr. Levada, considered one of the founders of Soviet sociology, began his career under Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, whose political "thaw" allowed him to carry out the first public opinion surveys. He was ousted from his job at Moscow State University in 1969, banned from having his work published and barred from leaving the country for what Communist Party authorities condemned as "ideological mistakes in lectures."

In 1988, as Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev's glasnost campaign swept the country, Mr. Levada joined the first independent public opinion survey firm in the Soviet Union, which provided snapshots of Russians' attitudes toward the biggest questions of the day and to their own lives. He took the helm in 1992.

Nicholas ProffittNovelist

Nicholas Proffitt, 63, a writer who drew inspiration from his time in the Army and as a Vietnam war correspondent, died Nov. 10 of kidney cancer at his home in Naples, Fla.

Mr. Proffitt served in the honor guard at Arlington National Cemetery in the 1960s, which he used as the basis of his 1981 novel, "Gardens of Stone." It was later made into a film by Francis Ford Coppola.

After graduating from the University of Arizona, Mr. Proffitt was a reporter for Newsweek and worked in Vietnam, Kenya, England and Lebanon. His other novels included "Embassy House" (1986) and "Edge of Eden" (1990).

Mario MerolaItalian Singer

Mario Merola, 72, whose dramatic renditions of traditional songs from his native Naples made him wildly popular with Neapolitans for decades, died Nov. 12 at a hospital in Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples, after a series of heart attacks.

Mr. Merola mixed dialogue and singing in stage and TV performances. His melodramatic voice -- sometimes verging on wailing and ripe with passion -- reflected the vibrant, emotional personality of Naples and its rich tradition of songs, many of them in Neapolitan dialect.

He influenced many Italian singers and performers, including Massimo Ranieri and, more recently, Gigi D'Alessio, and he was considered an excellent talent scout. Mr. Merola liked to perform wearing elegant jackets and was nicknamed "the last of the singers in a jacket."

Joseph UngaroNewsman

Joseph Ungaro, 76, a former managing editor of the Providence Evening Bulletin whose question to President Richard M. Nixon at an editors' meeting elicited Nixon's "I'm not a crook" reply, died Nov. 12 at South County Hospital in Rhode Island. No cause of death was reported.

At the Associated Press managing editors' convention in 1973, Mr. Ungaro asked Nixon whether he had accurately reported his income taxes. Nixon's famous declaration came after he had gone on to answer a subsequent question about the Watergate scandal. At the end of that reply, he doubled back to Mr. Ungaro's question, saying: "People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook."

Nixon later agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. A reporter for the Providence newspaper, Jack White, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for reporting on Nixon's tax troubles.

Mr. Ungaro worked at Gannett Westchester Rockland Newspaper Group in 1974 as managing editor. He later became vice president and executive editor, vice president and general manager and then president and publisher. He later became president and chief executive of the Detroit Newspaper Agency, the company that managed a joint operating agreement between the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. Mr. Ungaro served as president of the Associated Press managing editors group in 1983.

For the past decade, Mr. Ungaro worked at the newspaper Stars and Stripes, where he put together a consolidation plan and then became ombudsman.


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