James Elliott Williams

War Hero

James Elliott Williams, 68, a Medal of Honor recipient in the Vietnam War, died Oct. 13 at a hospital in Florence, S.C. The cause of death was not reported.

Mr. Williams, a 20-year Navy veteran, received the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, the Navy's two highest awards for valor. He also received two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Navy and Marine Corps Medals.

Mr. Williams won the Medal of Honor as a boat captain and patrol boat officer on the Mekong River at the end of his military career. Two Vietnamese vessels used to smuggle supplies began firing at him and his crew, who fought back and destroyed one boat.

But when Mr. Williams followed the other boat, several hundred Vietnamese both on the shore and in boats opened fire on the Americans near an apparent enemy base. Mr. Williams and his crew managed to destroy 50 vessels before backup helicopters arrived.

He retired from the Navy in 1967 as a petty officer 1st Class and was appointed U.S. marshal for South Carolina, his home state.

Marvin Wood

`Hoosiers' Coach

Marvin Wood, 71, the high school coach whose tiny Indiana basketball team inspired the movie "Hoosiers," died of bone cancer Oct. 13 in South Bend, Ind.

He led Milan High School's march to the 1954 state championship and was portrayed by Gene Hackman in the 1987 film about the underdogs' victory. His record at Milan was 52-7.

Mr. Wood was elected to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971.

George Forrest


George Forrest, 84, half of a prolific songwriting team that produced standards such as "Stranger in Paradise" and "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" from the Tony Award-winning musical "Kismet," died Oct. 10 in Miami. The cause of death was not reported.

He teamed with Robert Wright for more than 60 years. Their first big job at MGM in 1937 was to write a new score for the Jeannette MacDonald-Nelson Eddy film "Maytime."

In addition to "Kismet," the 1958 Broadway hit based on the music of Borodin, Mr. Forrest and Wright worked on shows including "The Song of Norway," "Magdalena," "Anya" and 1989's "Grand Hotel." They wrote the words and music of the 1940 hit "It's a Blue World" and the lyrics to "Donkey Serenade."

Leo Lionni

Artist and Writer

Leo Lionni, 89, a writer of philosophical children's books who also did artwork for high-profile ad campaigns and who had lived in Italy since 1961, died Oct. 11 at his home in Radda, Italy. He had Parkinson's disease.

In this country, he designed ad campaigns for such clients as Ford Motor Co. and General Electric, employing respected contemporary artists such as Fernand Leger and Willem de Kooning as illustrators. In the 1950s, he became art director for Fortune magazine and edited catalogues for New York's Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum.

In 1959, Mr. Lionni published his first children's book, "Little Blue and Little Yellow," featuring as protagonists a blue dot and a yellow dot whose adventures blend them together into Little Green. He went on to write and illustrate another 30 children's books, which have been published in 11 languages.

George L. GrassmuckGovernment Adviser

George L. Grassmuck, 80, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, where he taught from 1957 to 1990, who also had been a special assistant in the Nixon administration, died of prostate cancer Oct. 10 in Ann Arbor, Mich.

He was the University of Michigan's assistant vice president for academic affairs in the 1960s and acting director of the Center for Near Eastern and North African Studies. He was a founding member of the national Middle East Studies Association.

Dr. Grassmuck served as research chief for the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Richard Nixon in 1960. After Nixon's election in 1968, he served for four years as an aide to Robert H. Finch while Finch was secretary of health, education and welfare and then as a presidential aide.

David A. Huffman

Computer Pioneer

David A. Huffman, 74, who turned his college term paper into a computer coding procedure still in use four decades later, died of cancer Oct. 14 in Santa Cruz, Calif.

While a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1950s, he developed the Huffman Coding Procedure, a mathematical technique still vital to data storage and transmission. The procedure assigns strings of 0's and 1's to each character in a file.

The codes are used to manage files in large computer systems; compress text, image and audio files; and compress data for transmission by fax machines, modems and high-definition television broadcast.

Josef Locke

Irish Tenor

Josef Locke, 82, an Irish tenor whose romantic voice and colorful life inspired the 1991 film "Hear My Song," died Oct. 15 in a nursing home in County Kildare, Ireland. The cause of death was not reported.

He fled to Ireland in 1958 just ahead of British authorities threatening prosecution for tax evasion. After he fled, rumors started that he was still in England, performing under the name of "Mr X." Police eventually arrested "Mr. X" for tax evasion, slapped him in jail -- and then discovered he was not Locke at all, but an impersonator.

The admired film "Hear My Song" featured Ned Beatty as Mr. Locke, who had been a popular singer in Britain in the 1940s and 1950s. The film was based on the "Mr. X" confusion and introduced the tenor to a new generation.