Robert L. Piper

Grambling Official

Robert L. Piper, 58, a former Washington resident who was the athletic director of Grambling State University in Louisiana, died of cancer Nov. 23 at his home in Ruston, La.

During his years in Washington, from 1969 to 1989, his jobs had included positions as head basketball coach at Western High School and a district manager for the Equitable Life Assurance Society.

Mr. Piper, a native of Baton Rouge, La., was a graduate of Grambling and received a master's degree in biology from the University of Iowa.

He joined the Grambling staff in 1991 and had served since 1997 as chief administrator of an athletic program that has averaged nearly 100 student-athletes per semester on the school's honor roll.

Lou Menk

Railroad Executive

Lou Menk, 81, who merged three railroads to create industry giant Burlington Northern, died Nov. 23 in Phoenix. The cause of death was not reported.

He spent years fighting federal antitrust laws before succeeding in 1970 in merging the Great Northern; Northern Pacific; and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroads.

The Burlington Northern became the country's largest railroad with the longest single-line route and kept that status for over a decade.

Before the merger, Mr. Menk, who retired in 1981, worked as chief executive for the Northern Pacific; the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; and the St. Louis and San Francisco railroads. Burlington Northern acquired the St. Louis and San Francisco in 1980.

Toshio Sakai

Japanese Photographer

Toshio Sakai, 59, a Japanese photographer who won a Pulitzer Prize for a Vietnam War photo in 1967, died Nov. 21 at a hospital in Kamakura, Japan, after a heart attack.

He won the Pulitzer Prize in the feature photo category for a picture taken in June 1967, becoming the third Japanese to win a Pulitzer. The photo depicted a U.S. soldier resting after heavy sniper-and-mortar fire while a fellow soldier kept watch in a monsoon downpour.

Mr. Sakai, a Tokyo native, joined the Tokyo bureau of United Press International in 1965 and was sent to cover the Vietnam War. In 1986, he joined the Tokyo bureau of Agence France-Presse as photo director. He became a freelancer in 1989 and set up a video film planning firm in 1994.

John Benson Brooks

Jazz Composer

John Benson Brooks, 82, a jazz arranger, composer and songwriter, died Nov. 13 in New York. The cause of death was not reported.

He composed "Just as Though You Were Here" in 1942, featuring lyrics by Eddie DeLange. The song was recorded by Tommy Dorsey's band with vocals from Frank Sinatra and the Pied Pipers.

His most famous hit was "You Came a Long Way From St. Louis," originally recorded by Ray McKinley and His Orchestra. He also wrote musical arrangements for the swing bands of Dorsey and Les Brown.

Gordon E. Hermanson

College President

The Rev. Gordon E. Hermanson, 83, an ordained clergyman and president emeritus at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, W.Va., where he was president from 1964 to 1982, died of cancer Nov. 21 at his home in Elkins.

Before joining Davis & Elkins, Dr. Hermanson spent the 1950s as associate field director of Christian education for the United Presbyterian Church's Synod of Pennsylvania and field director of Christian education for the New York metropolitan area.

From 1962 to 1964, Dr. Hermanson was vice president for development at Buena Vista College in Iowa.

Peter Wildeblood

Gay Activist

Peter Wildeblood, 76, a retired television writer and producer in Britain and then Canada who gained attention for writing about his imprisonment under Britain's anti-homosexual laws, died Nov. 14 at his home in Victoria, B.C. He had been paralyzed by a 1994 stroke.

After serving 18 months in prison after conviction on charges relating to indecency between males, he published "Against the Law" in 1955.

The book is credited with intensifying protests over Britain's laws prohibiting homosexual sex and ushering in their demise.

The book prompted a debate in the House of Lords and the publication of a 1957 government committee report calling for the decriminalization of gay sex for those older than 21. The law was changed 10 years later.

Faubion Bowers

Writer

Faubion Bowers, 82, an American writer who wrote widely on Asian culture and who helped preserve the Japanese drama Kabuki when occupation authorities tried to ban it after World War II, died Nov. 16 in New York after a heart attack.

He served as a military aide and then as civilian censor under Gen. Douglas MacArthur. In 1948 and 1949, he was the official theater censor for the occupation government.

Kabuki, which dates mainly from the 17th century, is derived from popular themes and has ornamented costumes and stylized music, dancing and acting. All roles are played by men.

William Wagoner

College President

William Wagoner, 72, who led Wilmington College through its transformation into the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, died Nov. 19 in Wilmington, N.C. He had a heart ailment.

He became Wilmington College's fourth president in 1968 and oversaw its growth from a college of 1,240 students to a university of more than 6,000 students by the time he retired in 1990.