Andris Slapins, 48, who was shot to death Sunday as he filmed an attack by Soviet internal security troops on the Latvian Interior Ministry building in Riga, was recognized internationally for his films about the lives of Siberian natives and other cultures.
An ardent nationalist who had suspended work in the field to record the Latvian independence movement, the ethnological filmmaker was carrying a video camera when he was shot through the heart at barricades outside the ministry, it was reported. He died on the way to the hospital, one of at least four civilians killed Sunday night in the escalation of fighting.
Mr. Slapins was a visual anthropologist in the tradition begun by Margaret Mead, making films under rigorous conditions while living and traveling with the people under study. Described by associates as strong-willed and creative, he was said to have produced some of the finest ethnographic films of Soviet native cultures.
His film "20th Century Peoples of the North Pacific" was produced for the first jointly curated Russian-American exhibition seen in this country. Called "Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska," the exhibition opened at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History in 1988 and is now in Los Angeles.
"He was remarkably capable in dealing with the hardships of life in the country, producing some of the finest filmic examples of native personalities, of their humanity and their cultural spirit," said William Fitzhugh, director of the Arctic Studies Center at the Smithsonian.
Mr. Slapins, who had long been associated with the Riga Film Studio, had spent much of the last five years collaborating with filmmakers from the United States, Britain, Canada and Japan.
He produced two other major documentary films on Siberian people, including "Chukota, Land of Memories" and "Times of Dreams," about the religion of shamanism in the native cultures of the Soviet Far East. He also had produced films about art and traditional life in Scotland, life in Labrador and the songs of whales.
"Andris had a passion for visual imagery and the connecting threads of arts with native cultures and with animals," Fitzhugh said. "It was an integrative type of filming that we don't really do in this country."
Until he turned to recording the power struggle in his homeland, he had been working on a film about the return of Latvian refugees of World War II from exile in Finland. The Smithsonian was developing plans with Mr. Slapins for a major project on native peoples, Fitzhugh said.
Among the films left unfinished by Mr. Slapins was a project on the effects of glasnost on Siberian and Alaskan Eskimos, "who are beginning to talk together for the first time in 40 years," said Ann Fienup-Riordan, a cultural anthropologist in Anchorage who worked with Mr. Slapins in the field in Alaska two years ago. The presence of the filmmaker had brought excitement to the villages they visited, she said, but the footage he shot has not yet been seen.
ROBERT E. WREN
Alexandria Road Inspector
Robert E. Wren, 85, a retired curb and gutter inspector for the city of Alexandria, died Jan. 2 of a heart attack at his home in Spring Hill, Fla. He had lived there since his retirement 17 years ago.
A native of Callison, S.C., Mr. Wren lived in Alexandria and worked for the city for 35 years, starting as a dump truck driver. He was an inspector for about 20 years.
Mr. Wren's first wife, Dycie M. Wren, died in 1979. His second wife, Lenora Wren, died in 1987.
He is survived by a daughter of his first wife, Jeanette W. Conway of Fairfax; two grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
JOHN JOSEPH JANKOWSKI
Eastern Athletics Director
John Joseph Jankowski, 79, retired director of athletics at Eastern High School, died of cancer Jan. 21 at his home in Mount Rainier.
Mr. Jankowski was a physical education teacher and coach with the District of Columbia school system from 1940 to 1972. He taught first at Central High School and was at Eastern from 1951 until his retirement.
A native of Worcester, Mass., Mr. Jankowski moved to this area in 1934 to attend Catholic University. He had a bachelor's degree from Catholic University and a master's degree from George Washington University.
He was a manager of the Northeast Boys Club of Washington from 1935 to 1940. He also was a part-time football coach at Gonzaga College High School and football and baseball coach at Catholic University.
Mr. Jankowski played golf at Prince George's County Club for more than 50 years, winning championships there and twice qualifying for the competition of the National Seniors Golf Association. He won the Maryland Senior Golf Championship three times.
Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Anne Jankowski of Mount Rainier; a daughter, Joanne Williams of Chesapeake Beach, Md.; two brothers, Martin Jankowski of Cape Cod, Mass., and Victor Jankowski of Oxford, Mass.; a sister, Mary Cumiskey of Kensington; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
JOHN JULIAN HILL TRANT
Certified Public Accountant
John Julian Hill Trant, 73, a retired certified public accountant who was director of internal audit here for the U.S. Synthetic Fuels Corp., died of cancer Jan. 12 at a hospital in Colorado Springs, where he had gone for treatment. He had lived in Bethesda for the last eight years.
Mr. Trant worked for U.S. Synthetic Fuels from 1983 to 1987. For 26 years before that he was an assistant director of internal audit with Kennecott Copper Corp. in New York and Salt Lake City.
A native of Baltimore, Mr. Trant attended Dartmouth College and graduated in 1941 from Colorado College. He served with the Army during World War II in North Africa and Italy.
Mr. Trant was a member of the Potomac Curling Club and was active in Potomac Presbyterian Church. He was a former president of the Salt Lake City chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors.
Survivors include his wife, Claudia VanVoorhis Trant of Bethesda; two daughters, Elizabeth Lamar Trant of Pueblo, Colo., and Marsha VanVoorhis Trant of Silver Spring; and a sister, Virginia Trant Berg of Springfield.
PAUL R. EGLOFF
Paul R. Egloff, 56, vice president for marketing and sales of the Clusterlink Corp. in Silver Spring, died Jan. 18 at Montgomery General Hospital after a heart attack. He lived in Rockville.
Mr. Egloff, a native of Evansville, Ind., was a Navy veteran and a business administration graduate of Kent State University. He came here in 1967, and held marketing posts with several firms, including Burroughs and International Business Machines, until 1980. He had sold hotel security systems since that time. He joined Clusterlink, which sells computer software systems, about six months ago.
He was a member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Norbeck and the parents association at Good Counsel High School in Silver Spring. He had served as vice president of the Manor Country Club Community Civic Association and had coached youth teams in the Wheaton-Silver Spring area.
Survivors include his wife, Carole, of Rockville; four sons, Scott M., of Bethesda, and Mark J., Eric C., and Brett D., all of Rockville; a brother, Donald R., of Kansas City, Mo.; and a sister, Nancy Guthormsen of Nashville.
MONA KEITH FRANCIS
Mona Keith Francis, 87, a former teacher and a resident of Montgomery County since 1935, died of a heart attack Jan. 16 at her home in Silver Spring.
She was a native of Curtis, Neb., and a 1919 graduate of the Nebraska School of Agriculture at Curtis. She attended Peru (Neb.) State Normal School, taught school in Nebraska and Vermont for four years and then received a bachelor's degree in accounting and statistics from the University of Denver.
Mrs. Francis moved to Takoma Park in 1935. Later she served as a volunteer parent trustee at Takoma Park Elementary School and as president and treasurer of the Woman's Association of Takoma Park Presbyterian Church. She was also a member of the Fortnightly Book Club and the Mothers' Club of Takoma Park.
Her husband, Gerald M. Francis, died in 1987.
She is survived by two sons, Donald Francis of Austin, Tex., and Gerald Francis of Coraopolis, Pa.; two daughters, Marian Long of Rockville and Julie Crater of Potomac; seven grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.
ARTHUR J. HARRIMAN
Arthur J. Harriman, 84, a native Washingtonian and former faculty member at Catholic University who later became research director at Thomas J. Lipton Inc. soups in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., died of heart ailments Jan. 20 at a nursing home in Freehold, N.J.
Dr. Harriman graduated from Catholic University, where he also received a master's degree and a doctorate in chemistry. He was on the faculty of Catholic University from 1931 to 1942 and served there as head of the department of biochemistry and faculty secretary.
During World War II, he served in the Navy and on the War Production Board. In 1946, he became research director at Lipton. He remained with the company until retiring in 1971.
His wife, the former Hattie Bodenhamer, died in 1970.
Survivors include four children, Arthur J. Harriman Jr. of Holmdell, N.J., James M. Harriman of Atlanta, Patricia A. Foley of Bay Head, N.J., and Ann E. Hill of Nashville; 17 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.