Louis L'Amour, 80, one of the world's best-selling novelists whose Homeric chronicles of the old West have sold more than 200 million books, died of cancer June 10 at his home in Los Angeles.

Mr. L'Amour has published 101 books, most of them meticulously researched and swiftly paced novels of the West. "Hondo," published in 1953, was his first novel and probably his best-known and most popular book. It has sold more than 1.5 million copies and was made into a film starring John Wayne.

His most recent novel was "The Haunted Mesa," published in 1987. Other recent best-sellers included "Last of the Breed" (1986), "Jubal Sackett" (1985) and "The Walking Drum" (1984).

Shortly before his death, he had completed several yet-unpublished books, including "Lonigan," a western short story collection, and "The Sackett Companion," a nonfiction work about the research and facts of his popular series of 17 novels. That book series was made into a television miniseries "The Sacketts," starring Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott.

More than 45 of his novels and short stories have been made into feature films and television movies. These included "Shalako," starring Brigitte Bardot and Sean Connery; "The Burning Hills," with Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood, and "Stranger on Horseback," featuring Joel McCrea. Mr. L'Amour's novel "How the West Was Won" was made into a 1962 film with a cast that included John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Gregory Peck.

In addition to novels, short story collections and works of nonfiction, Mr. L'Amour had published more than 400 magazine stories and articles. His work had appeared in such journals as Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post and Argosy. His work has been translated into 20 languages, including Serbo- Croatian and Chinese.

Mr. L'Amour was a recipient of the Congressional National Gold Medal for lifetime literary achievement, and in 1984 he was presented with the nation's highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom, by President Reagan. The president had once hailed Mr. L'Amour for "having brought the West to the people of the East and to people everywhere."

The president had read "Jubal Sackett" while recovering from surgery in 1985. Other presidents who had read Mr. L'Amour's work inluded Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter.

The typical L'Amour western featured an all-American hero, though sometimes on the wrong side of the law, who sought to open the West. He came into conflict with both man and the elements. If the story featured gunplay, it was not often. Contrary to the traditional western, his Indians were as often heroes as villains.

Indeed, though Mr. L'Amour was often faulted by critics for cardboard, simplistic characters, his westerner heroes often fought an inner struggle against admiration for the Indian and his way of life on one hand and the need to advance "civilization" on the other. His were often stories of cultures in conflict.

In addition to carrying an encyclopedic knowledge of the Indian and his ways in their heads, his heroes also had saddlebags that bulged with the great works of civilization. These might include Blackstone's "Laws," Montaigne's "Essays," Plutarch's "Lives" or Juvenal's "Satires."

If Mr. L'Amour's plots could be predictable and his narrative wooden, he had a story and could tell it. His plots spanned the continent, conveying an unyielding sense of optimism in the face of adversity. The books also were burnished with a wealth of historical research.

Among the myths he tried to shatter concerned those of townspeople fleeing from gunslingers. In fact, he pointed out, many settlers were Civil War veterans who were adept at using the rifles they were apt to own. He also pointed out that between 1800 and 1816, there were more gunfights in the U.S. Navy than along the American frontier.

Mr. L'Amour maintained a working library of more than 8,000 volumes of western history as well as collections of frontier court records, old newspapers and letters. He also traveled to whatever part of the country he wrote about. If a bad guy met his fate after being cornered in a box canyon, Mr. L'Amour more than likely had scouted it.

He conducted his own research and interviews. He once told the Associated Press: "I go to an area I'm interested in and I try to find a guy who knows it better than anyone else. Usually it's some broken-down cowboy. I've known five men and two women who knew Billy the Kid well. I talked to the woman who prepared his body for burial."

In another interview, he said: "I'm actually writing history. It isn't what you'd call big history. I don't write about presidents and generals. I write about the man who was ranching, the man who was mining, the man who was opening up the country."

Louis Dearborn L'Amour, a 10th-generation American, was born in Jamestown, N.D., where his father was a veterinarian and farm machinery salesman. He dropped out of school as a teen-ager and began a life that was every bit as colorful as a novel. He was a longshoreman, lumberjack, elephant handler, cattle skinner and hay baler. Before Army service in World War II, he also had lived with bandits in Tibet and western China and was a seaman aboard an East African schooner. He also had been a successful boxer.

His first book, a volume of poetry, was published in 1939. After the war, he began writing westerns under the pseudonym Tex Burns. In 1953, he published his first western under his own name, "Hondo," which was such a success that he wrote 15 more westerns in the next five years.

Despite his undeniable popularity, he never achieved critical acclaim. He blamed much of this on an East-West conflict in literature, in which the man of the West was critically shunned as throwing together mere genre fiction.

But Mr. L'Amour did not see it that way. He chose to write about what he called "hard-shelled men who built with nerve and hand that which the soft-bellied latecomers call the 'western myth.' "

Mr. L'Amour said, "I'm a storyteller in the old folk tradition, like the man on a corner in the marketplace."

He said his books were about the frontiersman's idea of freedom, the freedom to climb on a horse and move on. And, he added, everyone had dreams of that kind.

Survivors include his wife of 32 years, the former Katherine Elizabeth Adams, and their two children.


Seafarers President

Frank Drozak, 60, president of the 100,000-member Seafarers International Union of North America since 1980 who also was president of the AFL-CIO's maritime trades department, died of cancer June 11 at his home in Alexandria.

He was a member of the AFL-CIO executive council and had chaired the general president's offshore committee. He also had served on the International Labor Organization's joint maritime commission and had been a member of the national board of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. He also had headed several organizations affiliated with the Seafarers.

Mr. Drozak had been a labor adviser to the Congressional Maritime Caucus and had been a subcommittee chairman of the Public Advisory Committee on the Law of the Sea. He was a member of the board of governors of the National Maritime Council and had been an adviser to the office of the U.S. trade representative.

He also had been honorary chairman of the American Trade Union Council for Histadrut and was a member of the Navy League.

Mr. Drozak was a native of Coy, Ala. He took a job in a shipyard in Mobile, Ala., when he was 16 years old. He served with the Merchant Marine during World War II.

He had been active in the Seafarers union since 1944. After working as an organizer in Mobile, he became a union agent in Philadelphia in 1964. He was elected international vice president while working in San Francisco in 1965. He moved to the old SIU headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1972 as the union's executive vice president. He held that post until succeeding the late Paul Hall as international president.

Mr. Drozak's survivors include his wife, Marianne Rogers Drozak of Alexandria; a daughter, Sarah Frankie Bell of Winston-Salem, N.C.; a sister, Mary Alice Walraven of Lilburn, Ga.; a brother, David, of Stone Mountain, Ga., and three grandchildren.