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Bebo Valdes, renowned Cuban pianist and composer, dies at 94

Bebo Valdes, 94, the renowned Cuban pianist who was a composer and bandleader, recorded with Nat "King" Cole and was musical director at Havana's legendary Tropicana Club, died of pneumonia on March 22 in Stockholm, Sweden. Leery of the Castro regime, he left Cuba in 1960. In recent years he won three Grammy Awards and six Latin Grammys.

Booth Gardner, 76, a two-term governor of Washington state whose diagnosis with Parkinson's disease after he left office helped motivate him to lead a successful voter initiative to allow physician-assisted suicide, died on March 15 in Tacoma.

Rise Stevens, 99, the internationally renowned mezzo-soprano who had a 23-year career with the Metropolitan Opera, where she practically owned the role of Carmen during the 1940s and '50s, died on March 20 in New York. She brought opera to millions of Americans through her performances on the radio.

James M. Nabrit III, 80, a civil rights lawyer who fought school segregation in cases he argued before the Supreme Court and helped ensure that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., was allowed to go forward, died of lung cancer on March 22 in Bethesda, Md.

Ian M. Ross, 85, who helped perfect the transistor and calculate whether the moon's surface could support a spaceship's weight, and then went on to lead Bell Laboratories, the legendary fount of technological marvels and Nobel Prize winners, died on March 10 in New Smyrna Beach.

Olen Burrage, 82, a Ku Klux Klan member who owned the Mississippi farm where the bodies of slain civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney were found in 1964, died on March 15 in Meridian, Miss. He was acquitted of federal charges of conspiring to violate the civil rights of the trio.

Bobbie Smith, 76, whose mellifluous vocals helped make the Spinners one of the leading soul acts of the 1970s, died of complications from pneumonia and influenza on March 16 in Orlando. His voice was out front on a number of the Spinners' biggest hits, including Could It Be I'm Falling in Love, I'll Be Around, Games People Play and the Dionne Warwick duet Then Came You.

James Herbert, 69, a British novelist who wrote supernatural thrillers and horror stories and whose menagerie of marauding rats, serial killers, evil spirits, ghosts and ghost hunters filled books that sold millions of copies and frightened readers around the world, died on March 20 in Sussex, England.

Bebo Valdes, renowned Cuban pianist and composer, dies at 94 03/30/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 8:30pm]
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