William R. Melton

Tuskegee Airman

William R. Melton, 78, a World War II pilot and member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen -- the first black flying unit in the U.S. military -- died Sept. 2 in Los Angeles. He had diabetes and a heart ailment.

Mr. Melton was born, the son of a career Army enlisted man, in New Mexico. He was attending college when World War II broke out. He enlisted in the Army as a pilot and trained at Tuskegee, Ala. As an Army Air Forces fighter pilot during the war, he flew more than 108 missions over North Africa and Europe. He also struggled against American racism on the ground.

After the war, he returned to Tuskegee as a flying instructor. He saw action in the Korean War before being discharged in 1953. He later graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles, worked in real estate sales in California and was long active in civic and civil rights groups.

Frankie Vaughan

British Singer

Frankie Vaughan, 71, a British song and dance man who appealed to audiences in Las Vegas and New York as well as his native England, died Sept. 17 at his home in Buckinghamshire, England. He had a heart ailment.

He made hits of "Green Door" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" and had a moderately successful career in the movies in the 1960s. He appeared in "Let's Make Love" in 1960, performing a musical number with Marilyn Monroe.

Mr. Vaughan starred at all the major British theaters and had hit cabaret shows in Las Vegas and at New York's Copacabana Club. He continued to perform on the theatrical circuit in later years and made frequent appearances on TV specials. In 1985, he starred in a London production of the musical "42nd Street."

James R. West


James R. West, 84, a retired career diplomat who was the widower of writer Mary McCarthy, died Sept. 13 in Bangor, Maine. The cause of death was not reported.

He joined the Foreign Service after World War II, becoming personnel director for the Marshall Plan in Paris. He served as cultural attache in Warsaw before joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 1961. He held the post of information director of the Paris-based group until he retired in 1979.

He met McCarthy in 1960. Married to other people, they both divorced and married. They hosted artists, government officials and literary intellectuals in the 20 years that they lived on the Rue de Rennes. After Mr. West retired, they spent their time in Paris, Maine and New York. McCarthy died in 1989.

Paul Gregory

Player and Coach

Paul Gregory, 91, a former Mississippi State baseball and basketball coach who as a pitcher with the Chicago White Sox once struck out Babe Ruth, died Sept. 16 in Tunica, Miss., after a heart attack.

He played for the White Sox in 1932 and '33. He was 9-14 with a 4.72 earned run average, but in one game he retired Ruth five times, once by strikeout.

Mr. Gregory, a three-sport letterman at Mississippi State University, led the Bulldogs baseball team to a 328-200-1 record and 15 winning seasons from 1957 to 1974. His record included four Southeastern Conference titles and the 1971 College World Series.

Henri Storck

Belgian Filmmaker

Henri Storck, 92, a Belgian film pioneer who broke new ground in documentary movie making with a 1933 account of a coal miners' strike, died Sept. 16 in Brussels. The cause of death was not reported.

He achieved international acclaim with "Misery in the Borinage," which he co-wrote and directed with Dutchman Joris Ivens. Their short, stark account focused on the grim conditions of mine workers in the Borinage region around the southern Belgian city of Mons during a strike to protest pay cuts.

Mr. Storck, who was born in the North Sea resort of Ostend, worked as an actor, cinematographer, art director, producer and director in a career that spanned 70 movies. He was best known for his documentaries, which also included "The Unknown Soldier," "Rubens" and "The Peasant's Symphony."

Thomas E. Atkins

Medal of Honor Recipient

Thomas E. Atkins, 78, who is believed to be the last survivor of the five South Carolinians to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, for World War II service, died Sept. 15 in Spartanburg, S.C. He had cancer and heart disease.

Mr. Atkins was a private first class in the Army stationed in the Philippines when he single-handedly held off two companies of Japanese soldiers for four hours after being severely wounded.

Leo Valiani

Italian Senator

Leo Valiani, 90, an opponent of fascism who helped lead the resistance movement in Italy during World War II and who was appointed a senator-for-life in 1980, died of cancer Sept. 18 at his home in Milan.

An early opponent of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Sen. Valiani spent five years in prison for anti-fascist activities during the 1920s and '30s. He later took refuge in Mexico, returning in 1943 during World War II, when he took over the resistance movement in northern Italy.

Allen Stack

Olympic Medalist

Allen Stack, 71, who won the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke in 1948 and also swam on the U.S. team in the 1952 Olympics, died Sept. 12 in Honolulu. The cause of death was not reported.

He held six world records and 22 American records from 1948 to 1951, when he swam for Yale University. He also won 10 national Amateur Athletic Union championships. He was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1979 and was a charter inductee of the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.