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December 28, 2013

Goodbye to some who died in 2013

NORMAN — Both were mold-breaking former heads of state who reshaped their own countries and the world. Nelson Mandela, revered for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa, and Margaret Thatcher, the “Iron Lady” who imposed her will on Britain’s politics and economy, were among notables who died in 2013.

Mandela, who died Dec. 5 at age 95, was considered a master of forgiveness. He became South Africa’s first black president after spending 27 years in prison for championing equality against the white-minority government, and he inspired the world by seeking a relatively peaceful transition of power.

As Britain’s only female prime minister, Thatcher ruled for 11 years and showed an unshakable faith in the free market, leaving behind a leaner government and more prosperous nation. While she had fierce critics, praise for her leadership came in from around the world when she died in April at 87.

Other political figures who died this year included Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, former Italian premier Giulio Andreotti, Poland’s ex-prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki, France’s Pierre Mauroy, and Hungary’s Gyula Horn, prominent past mayors of New York and Beijing, Ed Koch and Chen Xitong, and former U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Harry F. Byrd.

Doug Engelbart, who died in July, invented the computer mouse, among other things. Others from the world of science and technology who died this year included the Manhattan Project’s Donald F. Hornig, Nobel Prize winners Frederick Sanger, Robert Edwards and Kenneth Wilson, audio pioneers Ray Dolby and Amar Bose and astronauts C. Gordon Fullerton and Scott Carpenter.

In the arena of arts and entertainment, this year saw the death of one who was hugely influential though not technically an entertainer at all. Roger Ebert, who died in April, was America’s most popular film critic, telling audiences which movies to see or avoid with his famous thumbs-up or thumbs-down reviews.

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