Walter F. Kerr, 83, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who was one of New York's most influential drama critics and who began writing for the theater while teaching at Catholic University, died of congestive heart failure Oct. 9 at a nursing home in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Mr. Kerr was labeled a "supercritic" by Newsweek magazine when he became drama critic of the New York Times in 1966. But he didn't enjoy the power to make or break Broadway shows, saying he wanted to write mainly for the Sunday paper, where he would be one voice among several critics.

"He was a man who loved the theater," said his friend, caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. "Even if you didn't agree with what he said, you wanted to see the show because the review was so well written. He was a great wordsmith."

Mr. Kerr began writing film criticism at age 13, for a newspaper in his home town, Evanston, Ill. He attended De Paul University, took time off during the Depression to work as a booking clerk for the Fox Film Co., and later received bachelor's and master's degrees in speech from Northwestern University.

In 1939, he joined the fledgling drama department at Catholic University. He taught speech and drama for 11 years and directed, wrote and adapted plays for the university theater. He wrote that the drama faculty "started from nothing" and in three years was performing plays that were attracting first-string drama critics from Washington's newspapers.

He also lectured on play-writing and directing at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and other universities.

Among the 50 plays he directed at Catholic University were works written by his wife, Jean Kerr, who began in theater as a stage manager and went on to become a best-selling author. The first Kerr collaboration to hit the big time was a musical comedy, "Count Me In," that opened at Catholic University and was produced in New York in 1942. A second, "Stardust," was optioned the next year but closed after a tryout in Baltimore.

Another Kerr musical from Catholic University, "Sing Out, Sweet Land," was brought to Broadway in 1944 and starred Alfred Drake. Other collaborations with his wife that went to Broadway were an adaptation of "Song of Bernadette" in 1946 and "Touch and Go" in 1949.

Mr. Kerr collaborated with Leo Brady in a 1939 musical biography of George M. Cohan, "Yankee Doodle Boy," that was said to have inspired Hollywood to produce other biographical epics about composers. Mr. Kerr also wrote several modern adaptations of classical drama and contributed articles to the New York Times that began to attract national attention.

By 1949, Catholic University's theater was being described in publications such as Time magazine as the finest nonprofessional theater in the country. That year, Mr. Kerr took a leave of absence and began writing for Commonweal, a Roman Catholic weekly.

In 1951, he joined the staff of the New York Herald Tribune, where he earned his reputation as a penetrating and insightful critic. Great theater, he often insisted, was popular, entertaining theater. Art and overt didactic messages did not mix, he said.

After the Herald Tribune folded in 1966, he wrote for the New York Times until he retired in 1983. In 1978, he won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism for the body of his work.

He was honored again in 1990 when the restored Ritz Theater, on West 48th Street in Manhattan, was renamed the Walter Kerr Theater.

In New York, Mr. Kerr directed "King of Hearts," a comedy written by Jean Kerr and Eleanor Brooke, and "Goldilocks," which he wrote with his wife.

Mr. Kerr wrote 10 books, including "Criticism and Censorship," "How Not to Write a Play" and "The Decline of Pleasure," but was probably best known as a writer for his book "The Silent Clowns," a reference work on the silent film era.

Arthur Gelb, president of the Times Foundation, said Mr. Kerr was "the heart, soul and brain of what theater criticism should be. He was a man of such integrity, wit and far-reaching theater knowledge that he was incapable of writing a review that wasn't lively and brimming with intelligence. In his wry and unassuming way, Walter was also a great teacher. All of us who love the theater were proud to be his students."

In addition to his wife, of Larchmont, N.Y., survivors include six children and nine grandchildren.


World Bank Engineer

Hui Huang, 92, a Bethesda resident who retired in 1974 as a senior power engineer with the World Bank, died Sept. 30 at a hospital while on a visit to Beijing. He had a heart ailment.

Dr. Huang was a native of Fukien, China, and a graduate of Chiao-tung University in Shanghai. He came to the United States in 1928 to study at Purdue University and later received a master's degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University. He received an honorary doctorate from Purdue.

Dr. Huang was executive of an electric power company in Taiwan before moving to the Washington area in 1962 to work for the World Bank. After he retired, he was a consultant and then chairman of the board of an engineering and construction operation in Taiwan until 1989. He returned to live in Potomac in 1990.

Among his interests was the development of a system for coding Chinese characters for computer use.

His wife, Soonyin Szetu Huang, died in 1990. Survivors include seven children, Anna Huang Kau of Bristol, R.I., Cora Huang Chow of Warren, N.J., Diana Huang Wei of Houston, Dr. Eddy Huang and Dr. Harry Huang, both of Potomac, Flora Huang Chang of North Potomac and Gloria Huang Chang of Princeton Junction, N.J.; 14 grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.


Budget Analyst

Gerald L. Black, 68, a retired Army Corps of Engineers budget analyst, died Oct. 7 at Holy Cross Hospital. He had pneumonia, heart disease and emphysema.

Mr. Black, who lived in Silver Spring, was born in Greenville, Ala. He came to Washington when he was 15 as a Senate page under the sponsorship of Sen. Lister Hill (D-Ala.). He attended the Capitol Page School.

After World War II, he served two years in the Navy, then returned to the Washington area and joined the Army Corps of Engineers as a civilian budget analyst. He retired there in 1983.

Survivors include his wife, Marion H. Black of Silver Spring; two sons, Stephen Gerald Black of Seabrook and Thomas Edward Black of Chevy Chase; and four grandchildren.


Church Member

Margaret S. Judkins, 79, a former high school English teacher who was a member of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington, died of septicemia Oct. 8 at Arlington Hospital. She had lived in Arlington since 1961.

Mrs. Judkins was a graduate of Hastings College in her native Hastings, Neb. She taught in Nebraska in the 1940s.

She was a member of the Ashlawn Homemakers Club and the American Association of University Women.

Her husband, James W. Judkins, died in 1993. Survivors include three children, William S. Judkins of University Park, Mary M. Danforth of Arlington and James C. Judkins of Fairfax; a sister, Maxine Miller of Hastings; and six grandchildren.


Software Engineer

Christopher E. Abrams, 36, a software engineer consultant, died of pneumonia Oct. 1 at his home in Arlington. He had diabetes. He had lived in Reston for 11 years before recently moving to Arlington.

Mr. Abrams was born and raised in Cleveland and graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1982. He worked briefly as a cartographic supervisor in Fort Collins, Colo., before moving to Indianapolis and working as a computer programmer and analyst.

In 1985, he moved to the Washington area and worked as a consultant for several area high-tech defense and computer firms. He was working for U.S. Pharmacopeia Inc. in Rockville at his death.

His marriage to Lynn Abrams ended in divorce.

Survivors include a daughter, Rachel Abrams of Winchester, Va.; his mother, Arline Abrams of Holiday, Fla.; a brother, Thomas Abrams of Holiday; and two sisters, Natalie Balchak and Peggy Schwarz, both of Fort Collins.


Nuclear Engineer

Robert J. Campbell, 75, a nuclear engineer who retired in 1983 after 16 years with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, died of lung cancer Oct. 8 at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in Charlotte Hall, Md. He had lived in Rockville.

Mr. Campbell was a native of Chicago and a graduate of the University of Illinois, where he also received a master's degree in engineering. He served in the Army Air Forces in the Pacific during World War II.

He began his career in Illinois with Argonnne National Laboratory and later worked at the Elk River Nuclear Reactor in Minnesota. He moved to Washington in 1967.

After he retired, he was a consultant.

Mr. Campbell was a member of the American Legion and the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Fern Campbell of Rockville; two children, Maureen Knill of Urbana, Md., and Paul Campbell of Vinton, Va.; and three grandchildren.



Ralph A. Graninger, 66, a Northern Virginia businessman who had operated real estate and insurance businesses in Arlington, Woodbridge and Stafford, died Oct. 8 at Potomac Point Nursing Home in Fredericksburg, Va. He had heart ailments and diabetes.

Mr. Graninger, who lived in Arlington, was born in Washington.

He served for 12 years in the Marine Corps, including service in Korea during the Korean War and aboard carriers as an aircraft pilot. He also had been posted in Japan. He was discharged in 1960.

He graduated from the College of William and Mary.

On leaving the Marine Corps, he opened Graninger Realty, which also sold insurance. Mr. Graninger retired in 1985.

He was a member of the National Association of Realtors and the Virginia Association of Realtors.

In the late 1960s, he served on the Board of Supervisors of Stafford County.

His marriage to Eugenia Graninger ended in divorce.

Survivors include their three children, Wade Graninger of San Francisco, Emily Haywood of Nokesville and Lois Pearson of Hume, Va.; his mother, Emily Neuhaus of Arlington; his companion of 25 years, Sara H. Stroup of Arlington; and four grandchildren.