William Siri


William Siri, 85, a biophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who helped lead the first American expedition to reach Mount Everest's summit, died Aug. 24 at his home in Berkeley, Calif. He had pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease.

Among the world's foremost scientists to conduct research while scaling mountains, Mr. Siri served as deputy leader and scientific coordinator on the expedition that put five Americans atop Everest's 29,035-foot peak in 1963.

During his career, he helped medical physicist John Lawrence launch the field of nuclear medicine in which radioisotopes are used to study human physiology.

Alastair Morton

Chunnel Tunnel

Alastair Morton, 66, who played a key role in the building of the Channel Tunnel between England and France, died Sept. 1 in Bosham, West Sussex, England, after a heart attack.

Mr. Morton became co-chairman of Eurotunnel in 1987 and served as group chief executive from 1990 to 1994, when the undersea link opened. He brought a sharp mind and an explosive temper to a task which many thought would be impossible: to complete the 31-mile tunnel entirely with private funding, as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher insisted.

The construction cost of $18 billion was double the original estimate. Mr. Morton, who saw himself as representing the small shareholders in Eurotunnel, battled with the banks that financed the project and with Transmanche-Link, the consortium of construction companies that did the work.

Johnny Bragg

Prisoner, Singer

Johnny Bragg, 79, lead singer for the Prisonaires, a black vocal group he formed while in the Tennessee State Penitentiary in the 1950s, died Sept. 1 at a convalescent center in Nashville. He had cancer.

Former governor Frank Clement touted the Prisonaires as part of his prison reform effort, citing them as examples of rehabilitation. In 1953, with a guard and trustee driver in tow, the Prisonaires traveled to Memphis to record the melancholy ballad "Just Walkin' in the Rain" for Sun Records.

Under Clement, the Prisonaires routinely performed for dignitaries and celebrities at the governor's mansion, including President Harry S. Truman and Elvis Presley.

The group's members changed often as singers shuffled through the penal system, but Mr. Bragg, who served time on various charges including rape and shoplifting, was a mainstay with his tenor voice. Clement pardoned Mr. Bragg in 1959, but the singer landed back in prison a couple more times before leaving for good in 1977.

William Pierson


William Pierson, 78, a raspy-voiced movie, television and stage actor perhaps best remembered for his role as Marko the Mailman (who memorably yelled, "At ease!") in the Billy Wilder film "Stalag 17," died of respiratory problems Aug. 27 at a care center in Newton, N.J.

Mr. Pierson originally played Marko in the Broadway version of "Stalag 17," the dark comedy-drama set in a prisoner-of-war camp in World War II Germany. Wilder brought him to Hollywood in 1953 to re-create the role for the film.

He also appeared on Broadway in "High Button Shoes," "Make Mine Manhattan" and "Reuben, Reuben" and in a national touring company of "The Odd Couple."