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Daniel Aaron, pioneer in American studies, dies at 103

Robert F. Bennett
Robert F. Bennett
Published May 6, 2016

Daniel Aaron, 103, a founding scholar and ambassador of American studies who explored and explained his country through books, essays and diplomatic missions and helped preserve the literary canon as the first president of the Library of America, died April 30 in Cambridge, Mass. He was a professor emeritus at Harvard University, where even at age 100 he worked daily in his office.

Robert F. Bennett, 82, a business executive and three-term senator who epitomized Utah's Republican establishment and became in 2010 the first high-profile political casualty of an anti-Washington fervor surging through his party, died of complications from pancreatic cancer and a stroke Wednesday in Salt Lake City.

Conrad Burns, 81, a onetime cattle auctioneer who parlayed his down-home appeal into three terms as a Republican senator from Montana, reaping federal dollars for his state as well as criticism for his impolitic, at times offensive, off-the-cuff remarks, died of natural causes April 28 in Billings, Mont.

Charles Gatewood, 73, a boundary-pushing photographer who mapped, provocatively and disturbingly, the subcultures of strippers, sex-club devotees, bikers, body piercers and fetishists, died April 29 in San Francisco. He gravitated toward extreme behavior, extreme people and extreme situations, epitomized by his annual expeditions to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, which he recorded as a Dionysian rite of drunkenness, nudity and sexual excess.

Remo Belli, 88, a precocious musician who was credited with developing the first commercially successful synthetic drumheads — saving the hides of countless animals, turning millions of finger-tapping novices into accomplished percussionists and feeding rock 'n' roll fever in the 1960s — died of pneumonia April 25 in Pasadena, Calif.

Samuel "Billy" Kyles, 81, a longtime civil rights leader and minister who was present when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on a hotel balcony on April 4,1968, died April 26 in Memphis. He vividly recalled that evening in the documentary film The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2009.

Jenny Diski, 68, a British writer who channeled the turmoil of her early years, which included suicide attempts and confinement in mental hospitals, into a stream of richly observed and mordant novels, memoirs and essays, died of lung cancer April 28 in Cambridge, England. Marisol, 85, a Venezuelan-American artist who fused pop art imagery and folk art in assemblages and sculptures that, together with her mysterious, Garboesque persona, made her one of the most compelling artists on the New York scene in the 1960s, died of pneumonia April 30 in New York. Andy Warhol turned the camera on her in his underground films The Kiss (1962) and 13 Most Beautiful Women (1963).


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