James Merrill, 68, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who was the author of 14 volumes of verse as well as novels, plays, essays and autobiographical works, died Feb. 6 at a hospital in Tucson after a heart attack. A resident of New York and Stonington, Conn., he was stricken while vacationing.
He won the Pulitzer Prize, for "Divine Comedies" (1976), and two National Book Awards, for "Nights and Days" (1967) and "Mirabell: Books of Number" (1978). He also won a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Bollingen Prize. He was a member of the National Institutes of Arts and Letters and was named Connecticut's first poet laureate in 1966.
In 1993, he published "A Different Person," a memoir that told of a two-year journey through Europe as a youth and included reflections on his privileged upbringing and his homosexuality. His 15th volume of poetry, "A Scattering of Salts," is scheduled to be published in March by Alfred A. Knopf.
James Ingram Merrill was born in New York. His father, Charles Merrill, was a founder of the stock brokerage firm that became Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith. His parents' divorce in 1939 provided him with a dominant theme throughout his career.
He was an Army infantry veteran of World War II and a 1947 summa cum laude graduate of Amherst College. He published poems in Poetry magazine and the Kenyon Review before his first book of verse, "First Poems," appeared to mixed reviews in 1951.
He then turned to fiction and plays. His first play, "The Immortal Husband," was produced off Broadway in 1955, and his first novel, "The Seraglio," was published in 1957.
He returned to verse with "The Country of a Thousand Years of Peace" (1959) and "Water Street" (1963). In a review in the New Republic, Charles Molesworth compared Merrill's "Scripts for the Pageant" (1980) to "Yeats and Blake, if not Milton and Donne."
Over the years, Mr. Merrill's work became increasingly personal in subject matter, intimate in voice and colloquial in manner, while remaining highly formal. Critics have called his work philosophical and elegant.
"His common style is a net of loose talk tightening to verse," wrote the critic Denis Donoghue, "a mode in which anything can be said with grace."
Survivors include his mother, Hellen Plummer of Atlanta; a half-sister; a half-brother; and a stepsister. CAROLINE WEST RHEES Homemaker
Caroline West Rhees, 69, a homemaker and retired Navy captain's wife who accompanied her husband to Navy bases around the United States when he was on active duty, died of cardiac arrest Feb. 4 at her home in Vero Beach, Fla. She had Alzheimer's disease.
Mrs. Rhees also lived in Annapolis, and she had been a permanent resident of the Washington area since 1957.
Survivors include her husband of 45 years, Capt. Thomas R. Rhees of Annapolis and Vero Beach; two daughters, Carol Rhees of Bethesda and Patricia Spangler of State College, Pa.; one sister, Jane Grundman of Albuquerque, N.M.; and six grandchildren. RICHARD KOLM Sociology Professor
Richard Kolm, 84, an associate professor of sociology who retired in 1975 after 12 years at Catholic University, died Feb. 6 at George Washington University Hospital. He had Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Kolm, a resident of Washington since 1962, was a native of Poland. He studied at the University of Warsaw, served in the Polish army during World War II and spent five years as a prisoner of war in Germany.
After the fighting in Europe ended in 1945, he was director of displaced-persons camps in Bremen, Germany, and worked as a field representative for the YMCA. He worked with displaced persons in the United Nations Relief and Resettlement Administration and later the International Refugee Organization.
He moved to Springfield, Mass., in 1949, and then studied sociology at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he received a master's degree and a doctorate. Before moving to Washington, he taught at the Merrill Palmer School in Detroit and was director of group services of the International Institutes, which serve immigrants. At Catholic University, he taught graduate courses in human behavior, systems theory and ethnicity. He wrote for the journal Perspectives and published a book, "The Change of Cultural Identity."
Dr. Kolm was founder and first president of the National Ethnic Studies Association and worked toward passage of the National Ethnic Studies Act. He was a member of the President's Commission on Mental Health, the Polish American Congress, the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences, the Polish American Arts Association, the National Federation of American Ethnic Groups, the American Association of University Professors, the American Sociological Association, the Council of Social Work Education, the Public Welfare Association, the World Federation of Mental Health and St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Washington.
Survivors include his wife of 47 years, Kathleen Maginn Kolm of Washington; three children, Patricia Freedman of Washington, Richard B. Kolm of Chevy Chase and Christopher J. Kolm of Kensington; and five grandchildren. JOYCE M. BECK Real Estate Agent
Joyce M. Beck, 51, a retired real estate agent with Colquitt Carruthers and a member of St. Leo's Catholic Church in Fairfax, died of cancer Feb. 1 at her home in Fairfax.
Mrs. Beck, a native of Chicago, moved to the Washington area in 1965. She attended Northern Virginia Community College.
She began her career in real estate about 1980. She was an agent with Century 21 in Fairfax, an office manager with Avis Associates in Vienna and Shannon & Luchs in Oakton, and finally an agent with the Weichert and Colquitt Carruthers companies in Fairfax. She retired in 1994 for reasons of health.
Mrs. Beck was active in the cancer patient support group at Alexandria Hospital.
Survivors include her husband of 30 years, Renold R. Beck; three daughters, Christina, Sharon and Susanne Beck, all of Fairfax; and a brother, Ronald Kiedrow of Richmond. GERALD A. BECCHETTI Computer Specialist
Gerald A. Becchetti, 31, a retired computer specialist with the American Pharmaceutical Association, died Feb. 7 at his home in Fairfax. He had AIDS.
Mr. Becchetti was born into a Foreign Service family in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and later lived in Venezuela, Panama and Mexico. In 1973, he and his family settled in Fairfax. He attended Fairfax High School and graduated with honors from Christ Church School in Urbana, Va.
In 1982, after attending the Computer Learning Center in Springfield, he joined the Agriculture Department as a computer specialist. He later did similar work in private industry. In 1988, he joined the American Pharmaceutical Association, and he retired in 1994 for reasons of health.
Mr. Becchetti was a volunteer with an AIDS hot line after his retirement.
Survivors include his parents, Fred and Vivienne Becchetti of Fairfax; two brothers, Lawrence Becchetti of Fairfax and Gary Becchetti of Alexandria; and a sister, Carole Gardner of Tampa. ANTOINETTE FIELDEN GILL Volunteer
Antoinette Fielden Gill, 101, a former Red Cross Gray Lady who had been president of the Washington chapter of the American Cancer Society and the Women's Society of Christian Service at Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, died of heart disease Feb. 3 at Wilson Health Care Center in Gaithersburg.
Mrs. Gill, of Gaithersburg, was born in Tarrytown, N.Y. She attended Randolph-Macon College.
She came to Washington during World War I. She worked as an auditor at the Bureau of Internal Revenue before her marriage to Dr. William T. Gill Sr. in 1931. He died in the early 1940s.
Mrs. Gill had traveled extensively around the world.
Survivors include a sister, Ruth Fielden Jacobs of California. JOHN E. RABER Public Health Administrator
John E. Raber, 83, who retired in 1972 from the Agency for International Development as chief of staff for the director of public health, died Jan. 30 at his home in Silver Spring. He had dementia and had suffered strokes.
He had lived in the Washington area since 1947, when he joined the Public Health Service to work on programs to eradicate communicable diseases. After joining AID several years later as a health programs officer, he was posted to the Philippines. In the 1960s, he was assigned to South Vietnam, where he directed civilian medical programs and was a consultant to the health ministry.
Mr. Raber was born in Rapid City, S.D., and raised in Normal, Ill. He received a bachelor's degree from Illinois Wesleyan University and attended the Northwestern University medical school. He served in the merchant marine in the Atlantic and Pacific during World War II.
He was a member of Christ Congregational Church and directed the home repair program of the Extended Hand volunteer organization. He taught English and math to adults seeking high school equivalency degrees.
His first wife, Gail Cummings Raber, died in 1984.
Survivors include his wife, Doris Griffith Raber of Silver Spring; three children from his first marriage, James Raber of Alexandria, Thomas Raber of Clifton and Julia Kemp of Silver Spring; two stepsons, Jeffrey C. Griffith of Kensington and Douglas W. Griffith of Grand Rapids, Mich.; a brother, Paul Raber of Belleair, Fla.; and eight grandchildren. GEORGE N. PALEOLOGOS Restaurant Owner
George N. Paleologos, 81, a retired restaurant owner who lived in the Washington area from the mid-1940s until retiring to Florida in 1983, died Feb. 1 at his home in Pompano Beach, Fla., after a heart attack.
Mr. Paleologos was born in Florida and grew up in Greece and in New York. He owned a grocery in New York before moving to Washington.
He owned and operated Carrigan's restaurant on Connecticut Avenue in the 1940s and 1950s, the Assembly restaurant on Capitol Hill in the 1960s and Paley's restaurant at 15th and H streets NW from the late 1960s until retiring.
Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Margaret, of Pompano Beach; two sons, Nicholas, of Potomac, and Paul, of Silver Spring; a daughter, Andrea Belanger of East Lansing, Mich.; a brother, John, of Bethesda; and four grandchildren.