Sister Lucia Marto
Sister Lucia Marto, 97, the last of three shepherd children who said they saw the Virgin Mary in a series of 1917 apparitions in the town of Fatima, died Feb. 13 in her convent in Coimbra, Portugal. No cause of death was reported, although she had been ill for three months.
Sister Lucia and two of her cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco, said in 1917 that the Virgin Mary had been appearing to them once a month and predicting events -- such as world wars, the reemergence of Christianity in Russia and one that church officials say foretold the 1981 attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. The appearances lasted five months.
Shortly after, Jacinta and Francisco died of respiratory diseases. But Lucia became a nun and wrote two memoirs. The Catholic Church built a shrine in Fatima, which is visited each year by millions of people.
The pope has visited three times since 1978, spending a few minutes with Sister Lucia in 1991. He has contended that the Virgin of Fatima saved his life after he was shot by a Turkish gunman in St. Peter's Square in 1981. The attack, on May 13, coincided with the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. In 2000, he visited Fatima to beatify Jacinta and Francisco.
Jewel 'Sammi' Smith
Country singer Jewel "Sammi" Smith, 61, known for her trademark ballad "Help Me Make It Through the Night" and a knack for sharing everyday life in her music, died Feb. 12 at her home in Oklahoma City. No cause of death was reported.
Ms. Smith won a Grammy for best country vocal performance-female in 1971 for the ballad, which was written by Kris Kristofferson. She produced her first hit, "So Long Charlie Brown," in 1967. Six years later, she moved to Dallas, where she joined the "Outlaw Movement" with Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.
Ms. Smith also found time to celebrate her Apache heritage. She was a frequent visitor to an Apache reservation in Arizona, where she made pottery and jewelry.
Owen Allred, 91, the leader of one of Utah's largest polygamous churches, the 6,000-member Apostolic United Brethren, died Feb. 14, a week after falling and breaking his hip.
Mr. Allred succeeded his brother, Rulon Allred, as leader of the church after the brother was shot to death in 1977 by followers of a different polygamist cult believed responsible for at least two dozen murders.
Mr. Allred's sect opposed arranged marriages or intermarriage between relatives but never apologized for the church's practice of plural marriage and faulted the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for abandoning polygamy to appease the federal government so Utah could acquire statehood.
In March 2003, a judge ruled in a civil suit that leaders and members of Brethren bilked a woman out of $1.54 million in a 1989 real estate deal. The judge also held that Mr. Allred laundered thousands of dollars and conspired to steal more, and ordered him to pay $30,000 in damages. He is survived by 23 children and, as his family tactfully stated, "more than one wife."
Samuel W. Alderson
Crash Test Dummy Inventor
Samuel W. Alderson, 90, the inventor of crash test dummies that are used to make cars, parachutes and other devices safer died Feb. 11 at his home in Marina del Rey, Calif., of complications from myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder.
He grew up tinkering in his father's custom sheet metal shop, worked on various military technologies, including missile guidance systems and helped develop a coating to enhance vision on submarine periscopes during World War II. By 1952 Mr. Alderson formed Alderson Research Labs, which made anthropomorphic dummies for use by the military and NASA in testing ejection seats and parachutes. The dummies were built to approximate the weight and density of humans and hold data-gathering instruments.
There was little interest in his first automobile test dummy, he once said, until publication of Ralph Nader's consumer protection book "Unsafe at Any Speed" in 1965. The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act was passed a year later.
He left his original company in 1973 to form a competing crash test dummy maker, and the two companies were dominant in the market until eventually merging in 1990 to form First Technology Safety Systems.
Otto Plaschkes, 75, producer of films including "Georgy Girl" and "Hopscotch," died Feb. 14 of a heart attack in London.
Born in Vienna, Mr. Plaschkes went to Britain as part of the Kindertransport of Jewish children before World War II. One of his teachers in Britain was writer William Golding, and classmates swore that Mr. Plaschkes was the model for plump, sensitive schoolboy Piggy in Golding's "Lord of the Flies" -- a claim the author neither confirmed nor denied.
After study at Oxford and Cambridge universities, Mr. Plaschkes had production roles on the films "Exodus" in 1960 and "Lawrence of Arabia" two years later. His first feature as producer was "Georgy Girl," the 1966 film starring Lynn Redgrave that helped popularize the image of swinging London in the 1960s.
His most commercially successful film was "Hopscotch," a 1980 thriller starring Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson.
Christopher Marquis, 43, a New York Times reporter who had worked in the Washington bureau for the past five years, died of complications from AIDS Feb. 11 at his brother's home in San Francisco.
Mr. Marquis, whose specialty was Latin American politics, had worked for the New York newspaper since 2000. Previously, he was chief foreign affairs writer for the Washington bureau of Knight Ridder Newspapers, moving there from the Miami Herald in 1989.
Mr. Marquis was born in Marin County, Calif. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University in 1998 and 1999. His novel, "A Hole in the Heart" (2003), earned favorable reviews, and he took a leave of absence several months ago to work on a second novel.
Sister Mary of Lourdes McDevitt
Sister Mary of Lourdes McDevitt, 90, president at Immaculata College when the Mighty Macs won the first national women's basketball title, died Feb. 9 at Camilla Hall, a retirement residence in suburban Philadelphia, the school said on its Web site.
Born Amelia McDevitt, she was appointed president of the Catholic college in 1955 after spending a decade teaching chemistry there. She remained president for 17 years before becoming the first woman to serve as principal of a Philadelphia archdiocesan high school in 1973.
In 1972, Immaculata defeated West Chester State, 52-48, to win the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women title, the first women's national basketball championship. The Mighty Macs won three straight titles and were runners-up in 1975 and 1976. Immaculata's enrollment doubled and seven buildings were built during Sister McDevitt's tenure at the school, now a university.