Noteworthy Deaths

Posted: July 31, 2014 at 4:06 a.m.

Last crewman on Enola Gay’s A-bomb run

The Associated Press

ATLANTA -- The last surviving member of the crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, hastening the end of World War II and forcing the world into the Atomic Age, has died in Georgia.

Theodore VanKirk, also known as "Dutch," died Monday of natural causes at the retirement home where he lived in Stone Mountain, Ga., his son Tom VanKirk said. He was 93.

VanKirk flew nearly 60 bombing missions, but it was a single mission in the Pacific that secured him a place in history. He was 24 years old when he served as navigator on the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic bomb deployed in wartime over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

He was teamed with pilot Paul Tibbets and bombardier Tom Ferebee in Tibbets' fledgling 509th Composite Bomb Group for Special Mission No. 13.

The blast and its aftereffects killed 140,000 in Hiroshima.

Three days after Hiroshima, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The blast and its aftermath claimed 80,000 lives. Six days after the Nagasaki bombing, Japan surrendered.

VanKirk stayed on with the military for a year after the war ended. Then he went to school, earned degrees in chemical engineering and signed on with DuPont, where he stayed until he retired in 1985.

Tearful mourner of Nixon’s impeachment

The New York Times

M. Caldwell Butler, who as a first-term Republican representative from Virginia wept after he voted to impeach President Richard Nixon, whose landslide 1972 re-election victory had propelled Butler into Congress, died Tuesday in Roanoke, Va. He was 89.

His friend Richard Cullen confirmed the death.

The Republican Party's initial response to the investigation of a possible presidential cover-up of the break-in at the Democratic Party's headquarters in the Watergate complex in June 1972 had been dismissive.

But by the summer of 1974, mounting evidence -- including secretly made tapes of Oval Office conversations acquired by subpoena -- prompted seven Republicans and three conservative Southern Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee to waver in their support of Nixon.

From his seat on the committee, Butler on July 25, 1974, announced that he would vote for impeachment -- a statement many treated as a bellwether.

Most of Butler's views during his 10 years in Congress mirrored those of his conservative constituency, and he fought to prohibit an extension of the Voting Rights Act on the ground that its restrictions were no longer needed in Virginia -- a position the Supreme Court accepted earlier this year. But he favored programs to help the poor obtain legal representation and a woman's right to have an abortion, stands many considered liberal.

In Congress, Butler helped win legislation restoring Gen. Robert E. Lee's U.S. citizenship, which Lee had lost when he joined the rebelling states. Butler served in the House until 1983.

NPR correspondent, Wicca practitioner

The New York Times

Margot Adler, a longtime correspondent for NPR who was also a recognized authority on, and a longtime practitioner of, neo-pagan spiritualism, died on Monday at her home in New York. She was 68.

Her death, from cancer, was announced by NPR.

Adler joined NPR, then known as National Public Radio, in 1979 and was variously a general-assignment reporter, the New York bureau chief and a political and cultural correspondent.

She was the host of NPR's Justice Talking, a weekly program about public policy broadcast from 1999 to 2008, and was heard often on All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

She reported on a wide array of subjects, among them the Ku Klux Klan, the AIDS epidemic, the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Sandy, the Harry Potter phenomenon and the natural world.

Adler was also a self-described Wiccan high priestess who adhered to the tradition for more than 40 years.

She was the author of Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today (1979), a book that both documented contemporary pagan movements and was credited with helping ignite heightened interest in them.

The daughter of Kurt Alfred Adler and the former Freyda Nacque, Margot Susanna Adler was born on April 16, 1946, in Little Rock and reared on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Adler was drawn to neo-paganism in the early '70s, she said, because its invocation of ancient goddesses appealed to her feminism and its ecological concerns resonated with her love of nature.

Metro on 07/31/2014