RICHARD HARWOOD, 75, a retired reporter, editor and ombudsman at the Washington Post who played an important role in the development of the newspaper for more than 30 years, died of cancer Monday at his home in Bethesda, Md. He began his newspaper career in Nashville and established his journalistic reputation on the Louisville Times. When just in his 30s, he was a formidable figure in Kentucky political circles, known as "Black Death Harwood," or "Death" for short. He joined the Post in 1966 as a reporter on the national staff. After two years as a highly visible and successful writer, he was named the paper's national editor and spent the rest of his career as one of the Post's top editors, and as the paper's internal critic, or ombudsman. Even as an editor, he never stopped writing. He made a number of trips abroad, reporting on conflicts in southern Africa, on the status of women in Saudi Arabia and on the Pacific islands where World War II had been fought. A veteran of Iwo Jima, he was a gruff, plain-spoken, broad-shouldered former Marine.
JUNIUS WILSON, a deaf man wrongly placed in a mental hospital for 72 years, died Saturday in Goldsboro, N.C. Based on estimates of his age at the time he was committed, he was between 93 and 104. Mr. Wilson was committed to an asylum in 1925 on a false attempted-rape charge. In a 1997 hearing in federal court, his niece said a family member made up the charge because the family wanted him put away. The attempted-rape charge was dropped after he spent decades in what was once known as the State Hospital for the Colored Insane. He had been deemed incompetent to stand trial. In 1931, he was castrated, a once-common practice for psychiatric patients accused of sex crimes. He could not hear or speak and knew only a dialect of sign language that was taught to blacks in the 1920s. A lawsuit against the state of North Carolina resulted in a settlement of $226,000.
PEGGY CONVERSE, 95, a character actor whose seven-decade career in show business included films, television and more than 100 roles in theaters across the United States and Canada, died March 2 in Los Angeles. Her final performance, in 1985, was a recorded scream. She emitted the scream for the 1958 low-budget thriller The Thing That Couldn't Die and it caught the ear of the producers of a new horror film, she said in an interview. "The producers could not find anyone to scream the way they wanted, so they went back to the dark ages of film and heard mine," she said. "You would have screamed that way, too, if you were in movies like that."
ISAO OKAWA, 74, the man credited with expanding Sega's video games business only to see it fall behind rivals Sony and Nintendo, died Friday in Tokyo. In 1984, he became chairman of Sega Enterprises Ltd. after the computer services company he founded purchased a stake in the video games machinemaker.
RALPH THOMAS, 85, a director of popular British movies of the 1950s and 1960s, died Saturday in London. Best known for Doctor in the House and the ensuing series of hospital comedies, he directed 39 feature films, including the 1960 political drama, No Love For Johnnie and The Wind Cannot Read in 1958 _ one of nine films by Mr. Thomas that starred Dirk Bogarde.
RICHARD STONE, 47, whose musical compositions for such popular cartoon shows as Animaniacs and Freakazoid won him more than a half-dozen Emmys, died March 9 in Los Angeles of pancreatic cancer. He also worked on the cartoons Pinky & the Brain, Taz-Mania, Road Rovers and The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries and scored several movies, including the cult classics Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat and Pumpkinhead.
ANNE GEORGE, Alabama's state poet in 1994 and a publisher who won a prestigious Agatha Award for the first novel of her Southern Sisters mysteries, died March 14 in Birmingham. She was thought to be in her 70s. She wrote seven mysteries, including Murder on a Girls' Night Out, and published a literary work, This One and Magic Life, along with several volumes of poetry.
_ Area obituaries and the Suncoast Deaths list appear in local sections.