A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending May 27.
Burdena “Birdie” Pasenelli, 71, a former Seattle police officer who rose to an unprecedented rank for a woman in the FBI, including appointments as the bureau’s first female assistant director and first woman special agent in charge of a bureau office, died Tuesday in Arizona after a brief illness. She had suffered a stroke last Sunday while at home. Pasenelli was recalled by former colleagues as a no-nonsense and practical pioneer in law enforcement, a dead shot and a loyal friend. She stepped down as the FBI’s assistant director for finance to return to Seattle, where she ended her career as the special agent in charge of the Seattle division. She retired from the FBI in 1999 after a 26-year career.
Robert Joseph Scott, 71, who built two community orchestras in Bellevue and Sammamish, died May 19 of cancer. Scott was a self-made maestro who originally trained as an oboist. He enjoyed conducting so much that he decided to start his own orchestra after studying with Henry Holt (Seattle Opera), Mikael Scheremetiew (Thalia Conservatory) and Vilem Sokol (University of Washington). After three successful decades as the music director, conductor and general manager at the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra, which he initiated, he took on another challenge — the Sammamish Symphony Orchestra.
Ed Miles, 76, a professor whose work pushed the University of Washington to the front lines of climate-change research, died on May 7 at his Seattle home of complications from Lewy body dementia. At the time of his death, he was Bloedel Professor Emeritus of Marine Studies and Public Affairs at the UW. His career reflects a restless intellect that could not be contained by a single field. Dr. Miles earned his bachelor’s degree in history, got a doctorate in international relations and then trained in the sciences, including oceanography, fisheries and the atmosphere. He founded the Climate Impacts Group at UW in 1995 and in 2003 he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. In his later years, Dr. Miles added ocean acidification to his list of interests. During more than 35 years at UW, Dr. Miles helped to mentor, inspire and prod UW colleagues and students to think in new ways about big problems.
Marcus Gordon, 84, the state judge who presided over the “Mississippi Burning” trial in 2005, died Thursday at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. The cause of death was not disclosed. Gordon sentenced Edgar Ray Killen to 60 years in prison after a mixed-race jury convicted the reputed former Ku Klux Klan leader of manslaughter in the 1964 kidnap-slaying of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County. The revival of the cold case from the civil rights era marked the first time state prosecutors had brought charges in the “Mississippi Burning” investigation.
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Rosalie Chris Lerman, 90, a survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp who was the wife of the founder of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and a passionate advocate of Holocaust remembrance, died of natural causes May 19 in Philadelphia.
Angela Paton, 86, an actress best known for appearing with Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” died Thursday in Oakland, California, where she had been in hospice care after a recent heart attack. She had 91 film and television credits, nearly all of them after she was in her late 50s. Before that she had a long stage career based mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, and founded a theater in Berkeley. She most recently appeared in a 2012 run of “Harvey” on Broadway.
Mell Lazarus, 89, who dropped out of high school in Brooklyn, N.Y., to become a successful cartoonist, creating two popular comic strips — “Miss Peach,” about a mythically sweet schoolteacher, and “Momma,” modeled on his own demanding mother — died Tuesday at home in Los Angeles. The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease.
Nick Menza, 51, former drummer for the influential metal band Megadeth, died after collapsing on stage during a performance of his progressive jazz trio at a Los Angeles-area club Saturday night, May 21st, a family spokesman said last Sunday. Menza was Megadeth’s longest-serving drummer, performing on five records over nine years, including the 1990s landmark “Rust In Peace.”
Patricia M. Derian, 86, who actively supported Mississippi public school desegregation and served as assistant secretary of state for human rights during the Carter administration, died May 20 at home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She had Alzheimer’s disease.
Alan Young, 96, comedian and veteran supporting actor who found wide fame as an unlikely sort of second fiddle — the hapless straight man to a talking horse in the 1960s sitcom “Mister Ed” — died May 19 in Woodland Hills, California. He was also a talented voice actor who gave life to Scrooge McDuck, among others.
Bill Herz, 99, the last surviving crew member of Orson Welles’ mock “War of the Worlds” newscast, which terrified American radio listeners in 1938 with vivid bulletins warning Newark residents to evacuate as invading Martians incinerated central New Jersey, died May 10 in Manhattan. The cause was complications of pneumonia.
Cardinal Loris Francesco Capovilla, 100, who as personal secretary to Pope John XXIII helped prepare the Roman Catholic hierarchy for the opening of the Second Vatican Council, died Thursday in Bergamo, Italy.
Yang Jiang, 104, a Chinese author, playwright and translator whose stoically restrained memoir of the Cultural Revolution remains one of the most revered works about that period, died Wednesday in Beijing. She is known to have taught herself Spanish in order to translate Don Quixote from the original. Her death was the top search term on the Chinese microblogging site Weibo on Wednesday, a testimony to her fame and the public adoration she enjoyed.
Burt Kwouk, 85, an actor who played martial-arts expert Cato in the comic “Pink Panther” films, died Tuesday. Born in northwest England in 1930 and raised in Shanghai, Kwouk had his first major film role in 1958’s “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness,” starring Ingrid Bergman. In 2011, Kwouk was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, by Queen Elizabeth II for services to drama.
John Brophy, 83, who coached the Toronto Maple Leafs for 2½ seasons before coaching in the ECHL, a mid-level pro hockey league, for 13 seasons, died Monday after a lengthy illness. Brophy was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2009.