Thom Gunn, 74, a British-born poet who wrote of life as a gay man, died April 25 at his home in San Francisco after a heart attack.
He was born Thomson William Gunn and rose to prominence in 1954 with his first volume of poetry, "Fighting Terms." He was a leading member of the Movement, a British school of poets that included Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis and Donald Davie.
Mr. Gunn, a resident of San Francisco for 50 years, combined the classic techniques of English poets John Donne, Ben Jonson and John Keats with a revealing openness about his life, including his experiments with LSD and homosexuality.
He wrote more than 10 volumes of poetry, including 1992's "The Man With Night Sweats." Mr. Gunn taught at the University of California at Berkeley. He was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1971 and was named a MacArthur fellow in 1993.
Baseball Manager, Player
Darrell Johnson, 76, who managed the Boston Red Sox in the memorable 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, died May 3 at his home in Fairfield, Calif. He had leukemia.
Mr. Johnson's 1975 team -- which included Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, Luis Tiant and rookies Fred Lynn and Jim Rice -- defeated the defending champion Oakland Athletics before losing the World Series. Mr. Johnson was named American League manager of the year by the Associated Press that season.
Mr. Johnson was born in rural Horace, Neb., and played for seven major league teams as a catcher, retiring in 1962. He coached and managed in the minor leagues before the Red Sox hired him in 1974. After the Red Sox fired him in 1976, Mr. Johnson managed the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, compiling a career record of 472-590. He later become a scout and front-office official with the New York Mets.
William J. 'Pete' Knight
California State Senator
William J. "Pete" Knight, 74, a California state senator who wrote the state's gay marriage ban and took it directly to voters after twice failing to get it through the legislature, died of leukemia May 7 at a hospital in Duarte, Calif.
Mr. Knight, a Republican who has been absent from his seat since April 12 because of his illness, was best known as the author of the state's Defense of Marriage Act, which says that only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized as valid in California.
After failing to get similar legislation through the Democrat-controlled legislature, Mr. Knight took it to voters; the measure passed in 2000 with 61 percent approval.
Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd
Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd, 72, a pioneer of reggae credited with launching the career of Bob Marley, died May 4 at a hospital in Kingston, Jamaica, after an apparent heart attack. His death came four days after he attended a ceremony to rename a street after his famous record label and studio, Studio One, in Kingston.
Mr. Dodd started out in the music business in the 1950s, operating a popular "sound system," or portable disco, and releasing records on his own label. His early recordings in the 1950s and 1960s helped launch the birth of ska, a forerunner to reggae. In 1963, he opened Studio One, the Caribbean island's first black-owned music studio. Later that year, he was introduced to a scruffy singer named Bob Marley, who auditioned for Mr. Dodd with his band, the Wailers.
Impressed, Mr. Dodd signed the group to a five-year contract, launching a musical career that would span three decades and take Marley to the heights of international acclaim. At Mr. Dodd's encouragement, Marley emerged as the frontman of the group, recording the 1964 hit "Simmer Down," an appeal for calm among Kingston's idle slum dwellers, known as "rude boys."
Besides Marley, Mr. Dodd is credited with launching the careers of dozens of reggae legends, including Lee "Scratch" Perry, Dennis Brown and Freddie McGregor.
Zen Center Founder, Author
Philip Kapleau, 91, author of "The Three Pillars of Zen" and founder of the Rochester Zen Center in Upstate New York, died May 6 at the Zen center. He had Parkinson's disease.
Mr. Kapleau was born in New Haven, Conn., and became a court reporter in Connecticut. While serving as chief court reporter for the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany, and later covering the Tokyo War Crimes Trials after World War II, he felt compelled to devote his life to spiritual teaching. While in Japan, he became interested in Zen Buddhism and sought out D.T. Suzuki and other Zen teachers. He was ordained by Hakuun Yasutani Roshi in 1965 and given permission by him to teach.
He was one of the first Westerners allowed to observe and record dokusan, the private interviews between a Zen teacher and student. The resulting book, "The Three Pillars of Zen," was published in 1965 and quickly became the standard introductory text on Zen practice. It is still in print and has been translated into 12 languages.