Sunday, December 7, 2008


WSB Radio Co-Anchor/Host Dies Of Heart Attack On Birthday

Mike Kavanagh, the award-winning "Money Matters Radio Talk Show" host on News/Talk 750 WSB, died Saturday after suffering a heart attack at his home in suburban Atlanta. He had just turned 57 that day.

WSB Radio news director Chris Camp said Kavanagh was on vacation when he passed away. Camp said Kavanagh had a heart attack while putting up holiday decorations. Camp said Christmas was Kavanagh's favorite time of year.

Kavanagh's 18-year career at WSB Radio included 15 years as co-anchor of "Atlanta's Evening News" on News/Talk 750 WSB alongside Lisa Campbell before hosting "Money Matters."

"Mike was an incredible talent, my longtime co-anchor, but most of all, my dear, dear friend. I will miss sharing our stories, and hearing about how much he loved Grace. There will never be another Kavanagh," Campbell told WSB Radio.

"Mike had a way of making you feel like things would be ok -- that as bad as things have been for folks in the past year, things would get better."

Kavanagh's long and respected journalism career included work in the early days of CNN both as a radio anchor for daily business news and as a TV anchor for "CNN Headline News." His career spanned the country, including stops in Washington, D.C., and New York.

He was part of a noted team that backed up consumer advocate Clark Howard and was a recipient of the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award.

"He cared about every last person he dealt with about what would happen to them financially," said Howard. "Especially in this last year, he would shepherd people through the crisis. After a while that can begin to wear on you," Howard told WSB Radio.

Kavanagh is survived by his wife Grace, a daughter and granddaughter.

Sunny von Bülow, 76, Focus of Society Drama, Dies

Martha (Sunny) von Bülow, the American heiress who was first married to an Austrian playboy prince and then to a Danish-born man-about-society who was twice tried on charges of attempting to murder her, died Saturday at a nursing home in Manhattan. Mrs. von Bülow, who was 76, had been in a coma for nearly 28 years.

Maureen Connelly, a spokeswoman for the family, confirmed the death. Mrs. von Bülow's three children said in a statement that they "were blessed to have an extraordinary loving and caring mother." The cause, as listed in the death certificate, was cardiopulmonary arrest, Ms. Connelly said.

Mrs. von Bülow's death came 27 years, 11 months and 15 days after she was found unconscious on the floor of her bathroom in her mansion in Newport, R.I., on Dec. 21, 1980.

In her long, silent years at the Milstein Building at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital, and then at a nursing home on the Upper East Side, doctors said Mrs. von Bülow never showed any signs of brain activity; she was fed through a tube in her stomach. Yet there were always fresh flowers in her room, and photographs of her children and grandchildren sat on a bedside table. She was attended by private nurses, and her room, for some time, was guarded by private security personnel.

She is survived by her daughters, Annie-Laurie von Auersperg Kneissl Isham and Cosima Pavoncelli; her son, Alexander von Auersperg; and nine grandchildren.

Her second husband, Claus von Bülow, was convicted and later acquitted of twice trying to kill her with injections of insulin so as to aggravate her hypoglycemia, a low blood sugar condition.

His trials were among the most sensational of the 1980s. News media from around the world were drawn to the drama of the beautiful heiress who lay in a twilight zone, the debonair husband accused of attempted murder and two royal children pitted against their younger stepsister, with the glittering social milieus of Newport and New York providing the backdrop.

Hollywood, too, could not resist. The trials became the subject of the 1990 movie "Reversal of Fortune" with Glenn Close as Mrs. von Bülow and Jeremy Irons as Mr. von Bülow.

The prosecutions were the result of an investigation initiated by Alexander von Auersperg and his sister Annie-Laurie von Auersperg Kneissl, known as Ala, the children from Mrs. von Bülow's marriage to Prince Alfred von Auersperg. The accusations pitted the von Auerspergs against their stepfather and their half sister, Cosima von Bülow, and divided the loyalty of friends in Newport and New York.

In his first trial, in Newport in 1982, Mr. von Bülow was found guilty of twice trying to kill his wife and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He appealed and posted a $1 million bond believed to have been put up by his friend J. Paul Getty Jr., the oil tycoon.

The appeal was guided by Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor, and the conviction was overturned on the grounds that certain information had not been made available to the defense and that there had been no search warrant when pills were sent for testing.

Mr. von Bülow was acquitted in 1985 after a second trial in Providence, R.I., where his chief defense counsel was Thomas P. Puccio.

A $56 million civil suit filed against Mr. von Bülow by his stepchildren was settled in 1987 with the stipulation that Mr. von Bülow agree to a divorce and not discuss the case publicly. The couple were divorced in 1988. Mr. von Bülow lives in London.

A principal prosecution witness at the trials, Maria Schrallhammer, Mrs. von Bülow's longtime maid, testified that shortly before Christmas 1979, she became worried when Mr. von Bülow refused to call a doctor as his wife, moaning behind a locked door, sank into a coma. Mr. von Bülow said that he thought his wife was sleeping.

Mrs. von Bülow eventually recovered at Newport Hospital, where tests indicated a high level of insulin. A few months later, the maid said, she found in Mr. von Bülow's closet a small black bag containing syringes, yellow paste and white powder. She said she had passed these on to Ala von Auersperg, who had the family physician analyze the contents. They were determined to be Seconal and a paste form of Valium. Ms. Schrallhammer said that she kept an eye on the bag and that some months later found insulin in it.

On Dec. 21, 1980, Mrs. von Bülow was again found unconscious and taken to Newport Hospital. Shortly afterward, an investigator working on behalf of the two older children searched the house and found a black bag said to contain three hypodermic needles, one with traces of a sedative and insulin.

Mrs. von Bülow, who had inherited $75 million, was depicted by the defense as a reticent woman who drowned her insecurities in alcohol and was familiar with drugs. The von Auersperg children, backed by Ms. Schrallhammer, claimed that Mrs. von Bülow needed as little as two drinks to appear that she had had too much.

The prosecution put Alexandra Isles, a socialite and former actress who had been Mr. von Bülow's mistress, on the stand to admit that she had given Mr. von Bülow an ultimatum about dissolving his marriage. It was noted, too, that a divorce would have voided the $14 million that Mr. von Bülow would have inherited under his wife's will and left him with an annual income of $120,000 from a trust.

Mr. von Bülow acknowledged that he and his wife had discussed divorce, but he denied that the issue was another woman. He initiated the talks, he said, because he wished to return to work and his wife did not agree. He had been working intermittingly as a broker.

Mrs. von Bülow, the former Martha Sharp Crawford, was born in Manassas, Va., on Sept. 1, 1932, the only child of Annie-Laurie and George W. Crawford, a former chairman of Columbia Gas and Electric Company of Pittsburgh, who died in 1935. Mrs. Crawford, the daughter of Robert Warmack, founder of the International Shoe Company, was remarried in 1957 to Russell Aitken, a sculptor. She died in 1984, leaving an estate estimated at $100 million.

Her daughter was originally nicknamed Choo-Choo because she was born in her father's railway car, and later called Sunny because of her disposition. She attended the Chapin School in Manhattan and St. Timothy's School in Maryland, and she had an elaborate debut in 1949. She was 24 when she married Prince Alfred von Auersperg, a 20-year-old tennis pro at the exclusive Schloss Mittersell in Austria.

The couple settled in Munich and later in Kitzbühel, Austria. Ala von Auersperg was born in 1958 and Alexander the following year. The marriage ended in divorce in 1965. The princess had few interests in common with her husband, did not share his ardor for big-game hunting in Africa and disliked his flirting. She also missed the United States. The prince received $1 million and two houses in a settlement. (In a twist of fate, Prince von Auersperg went into an irreversible coma in 1983 after an automobile accident in Austria. He died in 1992.)

The year after her divorce, the princess married Claus von Bülow, whom she had met years earlier in London. He was originally neither a von nor a Bülow. His mother was divorced from his father, Svend Borberg, a playwright and drama critic who was convicted of collaborating with the Nazis by a Danish court after the war. He was sentenced to four years in prison, released after 18 months and died shortly after.

Claus grew up with his mother and maternal grandfather, Frits Bülow, a former minister of justice in Denmark and a successful businessman. Claus adopted the Bülow name and added "von" as a young adult. At the time of his marriage, Mr. von Bülow was a senior aide to Mr. Getty.

The couple settled in an imposing Fifth Avenue apartment facing Central Park. A short time later, following the lead of her mother, Mrs. von Bülow acquired a Newport estate, Clarendon Court, a 23-room Georgian mansion on 10 acres overlooking the sea. Mrs. von Bülow had the huge lawn lowered 17 feet to improve the view of the ocean.

The house had been the setting for the 1956 musical "High Society," starring Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. The property was sold in 1988 for $4.2 million; the same year, an auction of von Bülow furniture, paintings, porcelains and silver brought more than $11.5 million.

A daughter, Cosima, was born in 1967, and the three siblings apparently got along well until their mother's comas aroused the suspicions of the von Auersperg children. Miss von Bülow supported her father during his trials and as a result was cut out of her maternal grandmother's will. When Mrs. Aitken died in 1984, Miss von Bülow filed suit claiming that family members had turned her grandmother against her. In a 1987 settlement, Mr. von Bülow renounced all his claims to his wife's fortune in return for his daughter's receiving a share of Mrs. Aitken's estate, equal to those of her half sister and half brother.

Ms. Connelly, the family spokeswoman, said the three siblings, after a long period of estrangement, are "reconciling and moving forward together as a family, because that is what their mother would have wanted."

After the trials, the von Auerspergs founded the Sunny von Bülow National Victim Advocacy Center, with headquarters in Fort Worth, Tex., and the Sunny von Bülow Coma and Head Trauma Research Foundation in New York. The author Dominick Dunne wrote about the case and had known Mrs. von Bulow since she was a debutante. He said on Saturday that she had been portrayed unfairly in the film as an emotionally frail alcoholic. He said she was a "beautiful and shy" woman who "really did not like the social life, although she was totally associated with the social life."

H. M., an Unforgettable Amnesiac, Dies at 82

He knew his name. That much he could remember.

He knew that his father's family came from Thibodaux, La., and his mother was from Ireland, and he knew about the 1929 stock market crash and World War II and life in the 1940s. But he could remember almost nothing after that.

In 1953, he underwent an experimental brain operation in Hartford to correct a seizure disorder, only to emerge from it fundamentally and irreparably changed. He developed a syndrome neurologists call profound amnesia. He had lost the ability to form new memories.

For the next 55 years, each time he met a friend, each time he ate a meal, each time he walked in the woods, it was as if for the first time. And for those five decades, he was recognized as the most important patient in the history of brain science. As a participant in hundreds of studies, he helped scientists understand the biology of learning, memory and physical dexterity, as well as the fragile nature of human identity.

On Tuesday evening at 5:05, Henry Gustav Molaison - known worldwide only as H. M., to protect his privacy - died of respiratory failure at a nursing home in Windsor Locks, Conn. His death was confirmed by Suzanne Corkin, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who had worked closely with him for decades. Henry Molaison was 82.

From the age of 27, when he embarked on a life as an object of intensive study, he lived with his parents, then with a relative and finally in an institution. His amnesia did not damage his intellect or radically change his personality. But he could not hold a job and lived, more so than any mystic, in the moment.

"Say it however you want," said Dr. Thomas Carew, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine, and president of the Society for Neuroscience. "What H. M. lost, we now know, was a critical part of his identity."

At a time when neuroscience is growing exponentially, when students and money are pouring into laboratories around the world and researchers are mounting large-scale studies with powerful brain-imaging technology, it is easy to forget how rudimentary neuroscience was in the middle of the 20th century. When Mr. Molaison, at 9 years old, banged his head hard after being hit by a bicycle rider in his neighborhood near Hartford, scientists had no way to see inside his brain. They had no rigorous understanding of how complex functions like memory or learning functioned biologically. They could not explain why the boy had developed severe seizures after the accident, or even whether the blow to the head had anything do to with it.

Eighteen years after that bicycle accident, Mr. Molaison arrived at the office of Dr. William Beecher Scoville, a neurosurgeon at Hartford Hospital. Mr. Molaison was blacking out frequently, had devastating convulsions and could no longer repair motors to earn a living.

After exhausting other treatments, Dr. Scoville decided to surgically remove two finger-shaped slivers of tissue from Mr. Molaison's brain. The seizures abated, but the procedure - especially cutting into the hippocampus, an area deep in the brain, about level with the ears - left the patient radically changed.

Alarmed, Dr. Scoville consulted with a leading surgeon in Montreal, Dr. Wilder Penfield of McGill University, who with Dr. Brenda Milner, a psychologist, had reported on two other patients' memory deficits. Soon Dr. Milner began taking the night train down from Canada to visit Mr. Molaison in Hartford, giving him a variety of memory tests. It was a collaboration that would forever alter scientists' understanding of learning and memory.

"He was a very gracious man, very patient, always willing to try these tasks I would give him," Dr. Milner, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University, said in a recent interview. "And yet every time I walked in the room, it was like we'd never met."

At the time, many scientists believed that memory was widely distributed throughout the brain and not dependent on any one neural organ or region. Brain lesions, either from surgery or accidents, altered people's memory in ways that were not easily predictable. Even as Dr. Milner published her results, many researchers attributed H. M.'s deficits to other factors, like general trauma from his seizures or some unrecognized damage.

"It was hard for people to believe that it was all due" to the excisions from the surgery, Dr. Milner said.

That began to change in 1962, when Dr. Milner presented a landmark study in which she and H. M. demonstrated that a part of his memory was fully intact. In a series of trials, she had Mr. Molaison try to trace a line between two outlines of a five-point star, one inside the other, while watching his hand and the star in a mirror. The task is difficult for anyone to master at first.

Every time H. M. performed the task, it struck him as an entirely new experience. He had no memory of doing it before. Yet with practice he became proficient. "At one point he said to me, after many of these trials, 'Huh, this was easier than I thought it would be,' " Dr. Milner said.

The implications were enormous. Scientists saw that there were at least two systems in the brain for creating new memories. One, known as declarative memory, records names, faces and new experiences and stores them until they are consciously retrieved. This system depends on the function of medial temporal areas, particularly an organ called the hippocampus, now the object of intense study.

Another system, commonly known as motor learning, is subconscious and depends on other brain systems. This explains why people can jump on a bike after years away from one and take the thing for a ride, or why they can pick up a guitar that they have not played in years and still remember how to strum it.

Soon "everyone wanted an amnesic to study," Dr. Milner said, and researchers began to map out still other dimensions of memory. They saw that H. M.'s short-term memory was fine; he could hold thoughts in his head for about 20 seconds. It was holding onto them without the hippocampus that was impossible.

"The study of H. M. by Brenda Milner stands as one of the great milestones in the history of modern neuroscience," said Dr. Eric Kandel, a neuroscientist at Columbia University. "It opened the way for the study of the two memory systems in the brain, explicit and implicit, and provided the basis for everything that came later - the study of human memory and its disorders."

Living at his parents' house, and later with a relative through the 1970s, Mr. Molaison helped with the shopping, mowed the lawn, raked leaves and relaxed in front of the television. He could navigate through a day attending to mundane details - fixing a lunch, making his bed - by drawing on what he could remember from his first 27 years.

He also somehow sensed from all the scientists, students and researchers parading through his life that he was contributing to a larger endeavor, though he was uncertain about the details, said Dr. Corkin, who met Mr. Molaison while studying in Dr. Milner's laboratory and who continued to work with him until his death. By the time he moved into a nursing home in 1980, at age 54, he had become known to Dr. Corkin's M.I.T. team in the way that Polaroid snapshots in a photo album might sketch out a life but not reveal it whole.

H. M. could recount childhood scenes: Hiking the Mohawk Trail. A road trip with his parents. Target shooting in the woods near his house.

"Gist memories, we call them," Dr. Corkin said. "He had the memories, but he couldn't place them in time exactly; he couldn't give you a narrative."

He was nonetheless a self-conscious presence, as open to a good joke and as sensitive as anyone in the room. Once, a researcher visiting with Dr. Milner and H. M. turned to her and remarked how interesting a case this patient was.

"H. M. was standing right there," Dr. Milner said, "and he kind of colored - blushed, you know - and mumbled how he didn't think he was that interesting, and moved away."

In the last years of his life, Mr. Molaison was, as always, open to visits from researchers, and Dr. Corkin said she checked on his health weekly. She also arranged for one last research program. On Tuesday, hours after Mr. Molaison's death, scientists worked through the night taking exhaustive M.R.I. scans of his brain, data that will help tease apart precisely which areas of his temporal lobes were still intact and which were damaged, and how this pattern related to his memory.

Dr. Corkin arranged, too, to have his brain preserved for future study, in the same spirit that Einstein's was, as an irreplaceable artifact of scientific history.

"He was like a family member," said Dr. Corkin, who is at work on a book on H. M., titled "A Lifetime Without Memory." "You'd think it would be impossible to have a relationship with someone who didn't recognize you, but I did."

In his way, Mr. Molaison did know his frequent visitor, she added: "He thought he knew me from high school."

Henry Gustav Molaison, born on Feb. 26, 1926, left no survivors. He left a legacy in science that cannot be erased.

Jan Kemp, UGA Whistleblower, Dies At 59

Jan Kemp, the University of Georgia professor who publicly criticized the school for allowing athletes to continue playing sports and stay in school after they failed remedial classes, has died. She was 59.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Kemp died of complications from Alzheimer's Disease on Friday at an Athens nursing home.

Kemp was fired from the university in 1982. She sued in federal court the following year, claiming she was targeted because she protested UGA's preferential treatment of athletes. The jury awarded her $2.57 million in 1986, though that was later reduced to $1.08 million.

The trial eventually led to sweeping reforms at UGA and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.


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