Published: April 19, 2010
Carolyn Rodgers, a leading poet of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s whose work wove strands of feminism, black power, spirituality and writerly self-consciousness into a sometimes raging, sometimes ruminative search for identity, died on April 2 in Chicago. She was 69.
April 19, 2010    

Gloria V. Rodgers

Carolyn Rodgers

The cause was cancer, said her sister Nina R. Gordon.

A student of Gwendolyn Brooks and a contemporary of Nikki Giovanni, Ms. Rodgers first came to prominence with poems that were strident, militant and experimental — free-verse declarations of collective black anger and a black woman’s selfhood, written in street language replete with profanities and vernacular spellings.

The poems reflected the philosophy of the Black Arts Movement, begun in the mid-’60s by Amiri Baraka, Ms. Brooks and others as the aesthetic complement to the political black power movement. But from the beginning her work was infused with a sense of the poet as a unique individual with singular passions.

Dark-skinned and statuesque, Ms. Rodgers was a dynamic reader of her own poems and a commanding figure at the coffeehouse gatherings that fueled the Black Arts Movement in Chicago. She was also an influential theoretician who spoke and wrote about the black aesthetic in poetry.

“What made her important was her unique use of language and her descriptions of our community,” said Haki Madhubuti, a poet and the founder of Third World Press, which published two early books by Ms. Rodgers, “Paper Soul” and “Songs of a Blackbird.” “When she read, people would sit up and take notice. Men gravitated toward her like she was a Corvette.”

By the late ’60s she had begun to modify her thinking, shifting from a collective black perspective to an individual one. In the poem “Breakthrough,” she addressed her own poetic evolution in progress:

I’ve had tangled feelings lately

About ev’rything

Bout writing poetry, and otha forms

Bout talkin and dreamin with a

Special man (who says he needs me)

Uh huh And my mouth has been open

Most of the time but

I ain’t been saying nothin but

Thinking about ev’rything

And the partial pain has been

How do I put my self on paper

The way I want to be or am and be

Not like any one else in this

Black world but me

Her best-known book, “How I Got Ovah: New and Selected Poems,” a finalist for the National Book Award in 1976, described her rejection of the revolutionary she once was and the blanket fury that accompanied much of the black power rhetoric of the ’60s. In its place was an embrace of churchliness and spirituality, though not without a vivid sensuousness, as though she had found in Christianity the acceptance of her womanhood that the movement denied.

“I think sometimes/when i write/God has his hand on me,” she wrote in the poem “Living Water.” “i am his little black slim ink pen.”

Carolyn Marie Rodgers was born on Dec. 14, 1940, to Clarence Rodgers, a welder, and his wife, Bazella. She was the last of four children but the only one born in Chicago, where the family had moved from Little Rock, Ark. She grew up in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the city’s South Side.

Ms. Rodgers was writing poetry from the time she was a young girl, her sister said. She honed her art in the writing workshops of the Organization of Black American Culture, a prominent arts collective. In the 1980s she earned a bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University in Chicago and a master’s in English from the University of Chicago.

Ms. Rodgers contributed essays on poetry and black culture to myriad journals and taught at several schools, including the University of Washington and Indiana University, and, in Chicago, Columbia College and Harold Washington College. In the early 1980s her play “Love” was produced off Broadway at the New Federal Theater in Manhattan; in 1982 a gospel music tribute to her work was broadcast as part of the public television series “With Ossie and Ruby,” starring Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.

In addition to her sister Ms. Gordon, she is survived by her mother and another sister, Gloria V. Rodgers, all of whom live in Chicago.





Published: April 20, 2010

United Press International

Ms. Height presented the Mary McLeod Bethune Human Rights Award to Eleanor Roosevelt in New York in 1960.

Associated Press

Ms. Height stood near the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 in Washington.

The death, at Howard University Hospital, was announced jointly by the hospital and the National Council of Negro Women, which Ms. Height had led for four decades. A longtime Washington resident, Ms. Height was the council’s president emerita at her death.

One of the last living links to the social activism of the New Deal era, Ms. Height had a career in civil rights that spanned nearly 80 years, from anti-lynching protests in the early 1930s to the inauguration of President Obama in 2009. That the American social landscape looks as it does today owes in no small part to her work.

Originally trained as a social worker, Ms. Height was president of the National Council of Negro Women from 1957 to 1997, overseeing a range of programs on issues like voting rights, poverty and in later years AIDS. A longtime executive of the Y.W.C.A., she presided over the integration of its facilities nationwide in the 1940s.

With Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan and others, she helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971. Over the decades, she advised a string of American presidents on civil rights.

If Ms. Height was less well known than her contemporaries in either the civil rights or women’s movement, it was perhaps because she was doubly marginalized, pushed offstage by women’s groups because of her race and by black groups because of her sex. Throughout her career, she responded quietly but firmly, working with a characteristic mix of limitless energy and steely gentility to ally the two movements in the fight for social justice.

As a result, Ms. Height is widely credited as the first person in the modern civil rights era to treat the problems of equality for women and equality for African-Americans as a seamless whole, merging concerns that had been largely historically separate.

The recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and other prestigious awards, Ms. Height was accorded a place of honor on the dais on Jan. 20, 2009, when Mr. Obama took the oath of office as the nation’s 44th president. In a statement on Tuesday, he called Ms. Height “the godmother of the civil rights movement and a hero to so many Americans.”

Over the years, historians have made much of the so-called “Big Six” who led the civil rights movement: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and Whitney M. Young Jr. Ms. Height, the only woman to work regularly alongside them on projects of national significance, was very much the unheralded seventh, the leader who was cropped out, figuratively and often literally, of images of the era.

In 1963, for instance, Ms. Height sat on the platform an arm’s length from Dr. King as he delivered his epochal “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. She was one of the march’s chief organizers and a prize-winning orator herself. Yet she was not asked to speak, although many other black leaders — all men — addressed the crowd that day.

Ms. Height recounted the incident in her memoir, “Open Wide the Freedom Gates” (PublicAffairs, 2003; with a foreword by Maya Angelou). Reviewing the memoir, The New York Times Book Review called it “a poignant short course in a century of African-American history.”

Dorothy Irene Height was born on March 24, 1912, in Richmond, Va. Her father, James, was a building contractor; her mother, the former Fannie Burroughs, was a nurse. A severe asthmatic as a child, Dorothy was not expected to live, she later wrote, past the age of 16.

When Dorothy was small, the family moved north to Rankin, Pa., near Pittsburgh, where she attended integrated public schools. She began her civil rights work as a teenager, volunteering on voting rights and anti-lynching campaigns.

In high school, Ms. Height entered an oratory contest, sponsored by the Elks, on the subject of the United States Constitution. An eloquent speaker even in her youth, she soon advanced to the national finals, where she was the only black contestant. She delivered a talk on the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments — the Reconstruction Amendments —intended to extend constitutional protections to former slaves and their descendants. The jury, all white, awarded her first prize: a four-year college scholarship.

As Ms. Height told The Detroit Free Press in 2008, “I’m still working today to make the promise of the 14th Amendment of equal justice under law a reality.”

A star student, the young Ms. Height applied to Barnard College and was accepted. Then, in the summer of 1929, shortly before classes began, she was summoned to New York by a Barnard dean.

There was a problem, the dean said. That Ms. Height had been admitted to Barnard was certain. But she could not enroll — not then, anyway. Barnard had already met its quota for Negro students that year.

Too distraught to call home, as she later wrote, Ms. Height did the only thing possible. Clutching her Barnard acceptance letter, she took the subway downtown to New York University. She was admitted at once, earning a bachelor’s degree in education there in 1933 and a master’s in psychology two years later.

Ms. Height was a caseworker with the New York City Welfare Department before becoming the assistant executive director of the Harlem Y.W.C.A. in the late 1930s. One of her first public acts at the Y was to call attention to the exploitation of black women working as domestic day laborers. The women, who congregated on street corners in Brooklyn and the Bronx known locally as “slave markets,” were picked up and hired, for about 15 cents an hour, by white suburban housewives who cruised the corners in their cars.

Ms. Height’s testimony before the New York City Council about the “slave markets” attracted the attention of the national and international news media. For a time, the publicity was enough to drive the markets underground, though they later re-emerged.

In 1946, as a member of the Y’s national leadership, Ms. Height oversaw the desegregation of its facilities nationwide. In 1965, she founded the Y’s Center for Racial Justice, which she led until 1977.

While working for the Y in the late ’30s, Ms. Height was chosen to escort the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, to a meeting of the National Council of Negro Women. There, Ms. Height caught the eye of Mary McLeod Bethune, the council’s founder, who became her mentor.

As the council’s president during the most urgent years of the civil rights movement, Ms. Height instituted a variety of social programs in the Deep South, including the pig bank, in which poor black families were given a pig, a prize commodity. In the mid-’60s, she helped institute “Wednesdays in Mississippi,” a program that flew interracial teams of Northern women to the state to meet with black and white women there.

Ms. Height, who long maintained that strong communities were at the heart of social welfare, inaugurated a series of “Black Family Reunions” in the mid-1980s. Sponsored by the National Council of Negro Women and held in cities across the United States, the reunions were large, celebratory gatherings devoted to the history, culture and traditions of African-Americans. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the first one, in Washington in 1986.

From 1947 to 1956, Ms. Height was also the president of Delta Sigma Theta, an international sorority of black women.

Besides the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President Bill Clinton in 1994, Ms. Height’s many honors include the Congressional Gold Medal, awarded by President George W. Bush in 2004. The two medals are the country’s highest civilian awards.

Ms. Height, who never married, is survived by a sister, Anthanette Aldridge, of New York City.

If despite her laurels Ms. Height remained in the shadow of her male contemporaries, she rarely objected. After all, as she often said in interviews, the task at hand was far less about personal limelight than it was about collective struggle.

“I was there, and I felt at home in the group,” she told The Sacramento Bee in 2003 “But I didn’t feel I should elbow myself to the front when the press focused on the male leaders.”

Ms. Height received three dozen honorary doctorates, from institutions including Tuskegee, Harvard and Princeton Universities. But there was one academic honor — the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree — that resonated more strongly than all the rest: In 2004, 75 years after turning her away, Barnard College designated Ms. Height an honorary graduate.





Published: April 24, 2010

Someone had called to say the Ku Klux Klan was coming to bomb Robert Hicks’s house. The police said there was nothing they could do. It was the night of Feb. 1, 1965, in Bogalusa, La.

Associated Press

Robert Hicks in 1965, the year of a sit-in by blacks at a cafe in Bogalusa, La., where he lived.

The Klan was furious that Mr. Hicks, a black paper mill worker, was putting up two white civil rights workers in his home. It was just six months after three young civil rights workers had been murdered in Philadelphia, Miss.

Mr. Hicks and his wife, Valeria, made some phone calls. They found neighbors to take in their children, and they reached out to friends for protection. Soon, armed black men materialized. Nothing happened.

Less than three weeks later, the leaders of a secretive, paramilitary organization of blacks called the Deacons for Defense and Justice visited Bogalusa. It had been formed in Jonesboro, La., in 1964 mainly to protect unarmed civil rights demonstrators from the Klan. After listening to the Deacons, Mr. Hicks took the lead in forming a Bogalusa chapter, recruiting many of the men who had gone to his house to protect his family and guests.

Mr. Hicks died of cancer at his home in Bogalusa on April 13 at the age of 81, his wife said. He was one of the last surviving Deacon leaders.

But his role in the civil rights movement went beyond armed defense in a corner of the Jim Crow South. He led daily protests month after month in Bogalusa — then a town of 23,000, of whom 9,000 were black — to demand rights guaranteed by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And he filed suits that integrated schools and businesses, reformed hiring practices at the mill and put the local police under a federal judge’s control.

It was his leadership role with the Deacons that drew widest note, however. The Deacons, who grew to have chapters in more than two dozen Southern communities, veered sharply from the nonviolence preached by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They carried guns, with the mission to protect against white aggression, citing the Second Amendment.

And they used them. A Bogalusa Deacon pulled a pistol in broad daylight during a protest march in 1965 and put two bullets into a white man who had attacked him with his fists. The man survived. A month earlier, the first black deputy sheriff in the county had been assassinated by whites.

When James Farmer, national director of the human rights group the Congress of Racial Equality, joined protests in Bogalusa, one of the most virulent Klan redoubts, armed Deacons provided security.

Dr. King publicly denounced the Deacons’ “aggressive violence.” And Mr. Farmer, in an interview with Ebony magazine in 1965, said that some people likened the Deacons to the K.K.K. But Mr. Farmer also pointed out that the Deacons did not lynch people or burn down houses. In a 1965 interview with The New York Times Magazine, he spoke of CORE and the Deacons as “a partnership of brothers.”

The Deacons’ turf was hardscrabble Southern towns where Klansmen and law officers aligned against civil rights campaigners. “The Klan did not like being shot at,” said Lance Hill, author of “The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement”(2004).

In July 1965, escalating hostilities between the Deacons and the Klan in Bogalusa provoked the federal government to use Reconstruction-era laws to order local police departments to protect civil rights workers. It was the first time the laws were used in the modern civil rights era, Mr. Hill said.

Adam Fairclough, in his book “Race and Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915-1972” (1995), wrote that Bogalusa became “a major test of the federal government’s determination to put muscle into the Civil Rights Act in the teeth of violent resistance from recalcitrant whites.”

Mr. Hicks was repeatedly jailed for protesting. He watched as his 15-year-old son was bitten by a police dog. The Klan displayed a coffin with his name on it beside a burning cross. He persisted, his wife said, for one reason: “It was something that needed to be done.”

Robert Hicks was born in Mississippi on Feb. 20, 1929. His father, Quitman, drove oxen to harvest trees for the paper mill. He played football on a state championship high school team and later for the semi-professional Bogalusa Bushmen.

He was known for his generosity: at the Baptist congregation where he was a deacon, he bought new suits for poor members. As the first black supervisor at the mill, he helped a young man amass enough overtime to buy the big car he dreamed of. Children all over town called him Dad, his son Charles said.

A leader in the local N.A.A.C.P. and his segregated union, Mr. Hicks was the logical choice to head the Bogalusa Civic and Voters League when it was formed to lead the local civil rights effort. He was first president, then vice president of the Deacons in Bogalusa.

Besides Valeria Hicks, his wife of 62 years, and his son Charles, Mr. Hicks is survived by three other sons, Gregory, Robert Lawrence and Darryl; his daughter, Barbara Hicks Collins; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

By 1968, the Deacons had pretty much vanished. In time they were “hardly a footnote in most books on the civil rights movement,” Mr. Hill said. He attributed this to a “mythology” that the rights movement was always nonviolent.

Mrs. Hicks said she was glad it was not.

“I became very proud of black men,” she said. “They didn’t bow down and scratch their heads. They stood up like men.”





Published: April 24, 2010

Purvis Young, a self-taught painter who emerged from prison as a young man and by dint of his striking, expressionist vision of urban life and mammoth output over more than three decades transformed a forgotten Miami neighborhood into a destination for contemporary art aficionados, died on Tuesday in Miami. He was 67.

April 24, 2010    

Larry T. Clemons, Gallery 721

Purvis Young in 2003 with one of his murals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He never attended high school and spent time in prison.

American Folk Art Museum, New York

An untitled painting on paper and mounted on cardboard by Mr. Young. Many of his works were made on found materials.

The cause was cardiac arrest and pulmonary edema, said Dindy Yokel, a friend. Mr. Young was a diabetic and had several health problems in recent years, including a kidney transplant in 2007.

Mr. Young, who never attended high school, was often called an outsider artist or a street artist, and he lived a life that only intermittently surfaced on the art-world grid. But he was influenced by a number of artists — including Rembrandt, El Greco, van Gogh and Delacroix — whose works he pored over in art books in the public library.

“His great ability was to twin urban contemporary culture with high-art motifs,” said Brooke Davis Anderson, a curator at the American Folk Art Museum in Manhattan, which has 20 of Mr. Young’s pieces in its collection, 14 donated by the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, which bought the entire contents of Mr. Young’s studio, as many as 3,000 pieces, in 1999.

His work can also be found in the collections of the Bass Museum in Miami, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among many other places.

Painted or drawn in ink on found materials as diverse as cardboard, discarded doors, orange crates, telephone bills, printed book pages and manila folders, Mr. Young’s work often concerned itself with cacophonous, urgent representations of urban strife. He lived most of his life in the Overtown section of Miami, a once-thriving community that was ravaged by the construction of an interstate highway through it in the 1960s, and he painted what he saw around him.

His work featured writhing calligraphic lines often denoting crowds of people, frenzied bursts of color and repeated symbols — a personal iconography that included horses, which, as he explained in interviews, denoted freedom; angels and large floating heads, which denoted good people and the possibility of goodness in a strife-riven world; and round blue shapes, sometimes coalescing into eyes that denoted an all-seeing establishment.

He often painted images of trucks, trains and railroad tracks to suggest possibilities of escape and methods of connection between the inner city and the outer world. Indeed, there is a storytelling aspect to his paintings; they resonate with the consequences of racism, the plight of the underprivileged, the atmosphere of daily violence, the world’s pervasive hypocrisy.

“I don’t like the luxury I see of a lot of these church people while the world is getting worser,” he said in a mid-1990s interview reprinted in “Souls Grown Deep: African-American Vernacular Art,” by William and Paul Arnett. “What I say is the world is getting worser, guys pushing buggies, street people not having no jobs here in Miami, drugs kill the young, and church people riding around in luxury cars.”

Purvis Young was born in Miami on Feb. 2, 1943. He was introduced to drawing by an uncle, but he gave it up at a young age. In his late teens he was convicted of a felony — it has been variously reported as breaking and entering and armed robbery — and spent between two and three years in a Florida prison, where he began drawing again and perusing art books.

“I didn’t have nothing going for myself,” he said. “That’s the onliest thing I could mostly do. I was just looking through art books, looking at guys painting their feelings.”

When he got out, in the mid-1960s, he was inspired by Vietnam War demonstrations and by the protest art he read about from other cities — notably the Wall of Respect mural in Chicago, painted by members of the Black Arts Movement. In the early 1970s he created a mural of his own, plastering a wall along a deserted stretch of Overtown’s Goodbread Alley with dozens of his works.

The mural drew attention from the news media and from Miami’s art establishment, including an eccentric millionaire, Bernard Davis, who owned the Miami Museum of Modern Art and briefly became Mr. Young’s patron, providing him with painting supplies. (Mr. Davis died in 1973.) From then on, Mr. Young grew into something of an urban legend, a local celebrity, a frequent interview subject and an art-world star.

“He became part of the itinerary for people going to Art Basel,” the Miami Beach art fair, Ms. Anderson, of the Folk Art Museum, said.

Mr. Young’s survivors include his longtime partner, Eddie Mae Lovest; two sisters, Betty Rodriguez and Shirley Byrd; a brother, Irvin Byrd; four stepdaughters, Kenyatta, Kentranice, Taketha and Elisha; and 13 step-grandchildren.

By most accounts Mr. Young never paid much attention to his finances, and in his last years he became involved in a tangled legal battle with a former manager, Martin Siskind, whom Mr. Young sued for mismanaging funds. Mr. Siskind successfully petitioned a judge to have Mr. Young declared mentally incompetent, and his affairs were placed in the control of legal guardians. Several of Mr. Young’s friends say that he was in no way incompetent, and that the arrangement had left him destitute.

In an interview, Mr. Siskind said that he and Mr. Young had settled their suit amicably, and that Mr. Young retained ownership of 1,000 paintings and had plenty of money, although he said he had contributed $1,000 to help pay for Mr. Young’s funeral.

Mr. Young frequently seemed nonplussed by reactions to his work.

“It was mostly white people interested,” he said in the mid-1990s, recalling the days after he was discovered. “Some people would say stuff, say I looked like Gauguin, all different artists they say I looked like. A lot of black people seen them, but they didn’t say much to me about it. Some of them said I was mad, some cursed me out, some liked it, some of them admired me, some didn’t. A friend of mine — he’s passed away now — say to me: ‘I look at your paintings but I don’t see nothing. But every time I turn around you’re in the newspaper.’ ”

Correction: April 24, 2010

An earlier version of this obituary referred to Art Basel as a Miami art fair. It is in Miami Beach.




Pool photo by Charles Dharapak

The former International Olympic Committee chief Juan Antonio Samaranch in October at Madrid’s failed bid to host the Games.


Published: April 21, 2010

Juan Antonio Samaranch, a dominant figure in the modern Olympic movement who over 21 years guided the Games from a period of boycotts and near bankruptcy to an era of unprecedented success and damaging scandal, died on Wednesday in his home city, Barcelona, Spain. He was 89.

Associated Press

In 1980, Samaranch succeeded Lord Killanin of Ireland, left, as I.O.C. president.

The cause was heart failure, said a spokesman for the Quirón hospital in Barcelona, where Mr. Samaranch had been admitted.

In a statement on Wednesday, Jacques Rogge, who succeeded Mr. Samaranch as president of the International Olympic Committee, called him “the man who built up the Olympic Games of the modern era.”

Mr. Samaranch, a former Spanish diplomat, led the I.O.C. from 1980 to 2001. Inheriting an organization with only $200,000 in cash reserves, he guided its transformation into a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

His stamp on the Games was considerable. He helped end the boycott era, after Africans, Americans and Soviets hobbled the Olympics from the mid-1970s through the mid-’80s by withholding participation. Under a program called Olympic Solidarity, he brought financial aid to underdeveloped nations and encouraged the whole world to participate in the Games, from Jamaican bobsledders to Syrian heptathletes.

He opened one of the most closed old-boy clubs, welcoming women as members of the I.O.C. and elevating the participation of female athletes in the Winter and Summer Games to more than 40 percent.

He also ended the sham of amateurism. Americans had often been paid under the table, and Eastern bloc athletes had essentially been state-sponsored employees. But under Mr. Samaranch, many of the world’s greatest professional athletes, including Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong, became Olympians, and athletes who were once forced to abandon their Olympic hopes after college were able to continue to compete while building financially successful careers.

Mr. Samaranch’s final achievement before stepping down on July 16, 2001, was to bring the 2008 Summer Games to Beijing, thus awarding one of the world’s foremost sporting events to the world’s most populous nation for the first time.

His political skills were evident earlier in the separate participation in the Games of China and Taiwan; in the return of South Africa to the Olympics after apartheid was dismantled; in the participation of the former Soviet republics as the Unified Team in 1992 after the Eastern bloc collapsed; and in the joint march of North Korea and South Korea at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

Only Pierre de Coubertin, the French baron who founded the modern Games in 1896, had a longer tenure than Mr. Samaranch’s. And to John J. MacAloon, a historian of the Olympics and a professor at the University of Chicago, no Olympics leader, aside from de Coubertin, was more significant.

“It’s rare that a single person manages to transform so thoroughly an international organization as important as the I.O.C., or an institution as significant as the Olympic Games,” Professor MacAloon said. “His major achievement was to give the I.O.C. a political competence, an ability to deal with states and the United Nations in a way that earned both interest and respect.”

But Mr. Samaranch’s tenure was also marred by scandal. Ten Olympic committee members either resigned or were expelled in the late 1990s after receiving more than $1 million in cash, gifts, scholarships and other benefits as part of Salt Lake City’s winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games. Other members were linked to improprieties in the bidding for the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics.

As a former sports official in Spain in the fascist Franco regime, Mr. Samaranch had come to tolerate a degree of corruption. He tended to co-opt his enemies and ignore the unsavory reputations of some of the members he brought into the I.O.C., among them Francis Nyangweso, a former defense chief for the murderous Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

“It’s a little like the story of the baboon climbing a pole,” Dick Pound, an I.O.C. delegate from Montreal, said. “The higher the baboon climbs, the more undesirable are the parts exposed.”

While the Games became immensely popular under Mr. Samaranch, they also became hugely expensive and difficult to manage. At the 2000 Sydney Games, journalists outnumbered athletes by 2 to 1, state government bailouts totaled $140 million, and the city was left with huge, little-used stadiums.

Mr. Samaranch was also faulted over the issue of doping, which the I.O.C. did not begin to take seriously until after the police uncovered a scandal that nearly shut down the 1998 Tour de France. Many Olympic officials said the failure to mount an effective campaign against the use of banned performance-enhancing drugs was Mr. Samaranch’s greatest deficiency.

When he replaced Mr. Samaranch, Dr. Rogge said doping was the biggest crisis facing international sport. “It is the credibility of sport that is at risk,” he said.

Juan Antonio Samaranch was born on July 17, 1920, in Barcelona, the son of a self-made textile baron. His first love was soccer, but after an illness he turned to roller hockey and became a champion player in table tennis.

Mr. Samaranch attended two business institutes in Barcelona; cemented his social status in 1955 by marrying Maria Teresa Salisachs-Rowe, who was from an old-money family; and built an administrative career in Gen. Francisco Franco’s regime. He joined the I.O.C. in 1966 and five years later became a member of Franco’s national parliament.

“I am not ashamed of what I did in Spain,” Mr. Samaranch said in a 1999 interview with The New York Times. “Franco did good things for my country.”

When Franco died in 1975, Mr. Samaranch adapted to a newly democratic Spain, and two years later he became its ambassador to Moscow. He was living in Moscow when the 1980 Summer Games were held there.

Kurt Strumpf/Associated Press

In 1981, he met with gold-medal winners from the Moscow Games, including Sebastian Coe, right, the chairman of the organizing committee for the 2012 London Games.

 The Takeaway With Jeré Longman

Paul Hosefros/The New York Times

Juan Antonio Samaranch during an interview in 1999, towards the end of his 21-year term as president of the International Olympic Committee.

In I.O.C. voting, he was elected to succeed Lord Killanin of Ireland as president of the International Olympic Committee on the first ballot, mining support from the Eastern bloc and Spanish- and French-speaking countries.

It did not seem a promising job. The United States had boycotted the Moscow Games after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. This followed an African boycott of the 1976 Montreal Games and preceded a retaliatory boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Games by the Eastern bloc. The Olympics had little money and appeared to have even less political currency to prevent the Games from becoming a casualty of the cold war.

“Everybody was writing the Olympic obituary,” said Michael Payne, a former I.O.C. marketing director.

A year later, the 1988 Summer Games were awarded to Seoul, South Korea. Facing a fourth consecutive boycott, now by the Communist world, Mr. Samaranch kept the door open to North Korea’s request to host some of the 1988 events, knowing that the Communist government would never allow the foreign news media or international sports officials to intrude. He was also hoping to prevent any terrorist disruption of the Seoul Games. In the end, the Soviet Union, China and East Germany did not boycott the Games.

“Instead of leaving the political negotiations to the governments of North and South Korea and letting the Olympics be the meat in the political sandwich, we took over the negotiations ourselves,” Mr. Pound said. “He persuaded the Koreans to trust him. We knew the North Koreans would never compete and that Cuba was in hock to North Korea, but he made it possible for the Warsaw Pact and China to participate and avoided a repetition of Los Angeles and Moscow.”

That same year, 1985, as a way to persuade East Germany to compete in Seoul, Mr. Samaranch awarded the Olympic Order, the I.O.C.’s highest honor, to the dictator Erich Honecker. By bestowing the honor, Mr. Samaranch implicitly sanctioned the state-sponsored system of doping in East Germany that was widely suspected at the time and that was later revealed to have involved up to 10,000 athletes. A number of female athletes later gave birth to children who were blind or had club feet.

“The worst thing is, he knew about it,” said Dr. Arne Ljungqvist, a Swedish I.O.C. delegate and a member of its medical commission, referring to Mr. Samaranch and the East German doping situation.

Mr. Samaranch denied knowledge of the East Germans’ doping.

Mr. Samaranch was known to travel incessantly and work indefatigably. When his wife, known as Bibis, died of cancer during the Sydney Olympics, he left for Barcelona, attended her funeral and returned to the Games. On his 81st birthday, the day after he retired, he was hospitalized for extreme fatigue and fluid in his lungs after campaigning to have Beijing named host of the 2008 Games and to have Dr. Rogge, of Belgium, named his successor.

Mr. Samaranch could be gracious, ruthless, funny and imperious. At a breakfast with reporters in 1997 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the I.O.C. has its headquarters, he signaled for his assistant to walk around the table to quarter his grapefruit, apparently because he did not want to exert himself.

Until reforms were enacted after the Salt Lake City scandal in 1998, the I.O.C., a private, tax-exempt organization, conducted its business in secret and often with little real debate.

“There was no public opportunity to understand how decisions were made,” said John Krimsky, a former executive director of the United States Olympic Committee. “I don’t think he thought democracy was a terribly efficient way to run an organization.”

Mr. Samaranch kept such a tight rein on the I.O.C. that many found it highly unlikely that he did not know about the bidding excesses that culminated in the Salt Lake City scandal. Seven years earlier, Toronto officials had alerted the I.O.C., but their concerns were ignored.

Mr. Samaranch rammed through a series of reforms after the scandal, yet he seemed to indicate that the I.O.C. was conducting business as usual when, as he was stepping down in 2001, he nominated his son, Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., to the Olympic committee, ignoring accusations of nepotism.

His son survives him, as do a daughter, Maria Teresa, and Mr. Samaranch’s companion, Luisa Sallent.

In his retirement, despite advancing age and a number of medical ailments — he received dialysis treatment for kidney trouble — Mr. Samaranch remained active with the I.O.C., traveling to meetings around the world and promoting Madrid’s unsuccessful bids for the 2012 and 2016 Games as well as for the Paralympics, for disabled athletes.

Mr. Samaranch spoke during Madrid’s presentation in Copenhagen last October. “Dear colleagues,” he said, “I know that I am very near the end of my time. I am, as you know, 89 years old. May I ask you to consider granting my country the honor and also the duty to organize the Games and Paralympics in 2016.”

The Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro.

Still, Mr. Pound said, Mr. Samaranch’s legacy would endure. “He took a very badly fragmented, disorganized and impecunious organization and built it into a universal, united and financially and politically independent organization that has credibility, not only in the world of sport, but also in political circles,” he told The Associated Press. “That’s an enormous achievement to accomplish in 20 years.”





Published: April 24, 2010

RIO DE JANEIRO — A former Nazi-era German soldier who founded a secretive German cult in southern Chile, where he sexually abused about 25 children, died of heart failure at a prison hospital early Saturday, Chilean officials said. He was 89.

European Pressphoto Agency

Paul Schaefer in 2005.

The former soldier, Paul Schaefer, was serving a 20-year sentence for the sexual abuse of minors, but he was also under investigation for the 1985 disappearance of Boris Weisfeiler, an American citizen who vanished while on a hiking trip.

The Chilean government said officially that Mr. Weisfeiler, then 43 years old, drowned while trying to ford a river. But State Department and C.I.A. reports that were later declassified indicated that he was probably kidnapped by Chilean state security forces, who then handed him over to Mr. Schaefer’s heavily armed Colonia Dignidad religious sect based nearby. Dozens of opponents of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship were tortured at Colonia Dignidad, according to human rights groups.

One military informant said that Mr. Weisfeiler, a Russian-born Jew, was held captive there, and that he was later tortured and executed.

A former nurse from the Luftwaffe, Mr. Schaefer was forced to leave Germany after he was charged with sexually abusing young boys in an orphanage he ran there. In 1961 he founded Colonia Dignidad, an anti-Semitic apocalyptic religious sect about 225 miles south of Santiago. Early last decade it still had about 300 inhabitants, and it still exists but is referred to as Villa Baviera.

Mr. Schaefer ran the sect with a heavy hand, banning almost all contact with the outside world, separating women from men and children from their parents, and controlling intimate contact. While he was never a hunted Nazi, Mr. Schaefer opened Colonia Dignidad for fugitive Nazis to hide out for periods of time.

After Chile’s courts began investigating Mr. Schaefer for sexual abuse charges in the late 1990s, he fled to Argentina, where he hid until he was found in 2005. After being returned to Chile, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually abusing 25 children.

Mr. Schaefer was also sentenced to three years for violating weapons control law after a huge military arsenal was found on Colonia Dignidad grounds, to seven years for homicide and to three years for torture.

The disappearance of Mr. Weisfeiler, who was a mathematics professor at Pennsylvania State University, continues to be an unsolved mystery, and Mr. Schafer was never charged in the case.

Sebastián Piñera, Chile’s president, said Saturday that while Mr. Schaefer now cannot be judged in court for additional crimes he was suspected of, “there is another justice that never ends, which is divine justice.”


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