PASSINGS: Oswaldo Lopez Arellano, Rosa Rio, Edoardo Sanguineti

Oswaldo Lopez Arellano

Former president of Honduras

Oswaldo Lopez Arellano, 88, a Honduran strongman who led two military coups and served as president for more than a decade, died of prostate cancer Sunday at a private hospital in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, his family said in a statement.

With armed forces backing, then-Col. Lopez Arellano ousted President Ramon Villeda Morales in 1963 and two years later held a constitutional assembly that formalized his position as president of Honduras, then a banana-producing country under the sway of Washington.

Lopez Arellano remained in power until 1971, when he backed elections won by Ramon Ernesto Cruz of the National Party.

As head of Honduras' armed forces, Lopez Arellano toppled Cruz in another military coup in 1972.

Lopez Arellano himself was ousted by the armed forces in 1975 after dissident officers accused him of receiving a $2.5-million bribe that they said U.S. banana company United Brands offered to reduce a banana export tax.

His years in power coincided with a short-lived war with El Salvador in 1969 known as the "Soccer War." Thousands died in the short, bloody conflict that broke out after teams from the two nations played World Cup qualifying matches that saw opposing supporters beaten or killed.

Lopez Arellano was born June 30, 1921, in Danli, Honduras. He joined the military in 1939 and studied to become a pilot in the United States.

After he was removed from power, Lopez Arellano became a businessman with holdings in banks and a Honduran airline.

Rosa Rio

Organist for silent films

Rosa Rio, 107, whose more than 90-year career as an organist spanned silent movies, radio dramas and the early days of television, died Thursday at her home in Sun City Center, Fla., said Bill Yeoman, her husband and manager.

"She was the last one of the organists who had actually played in the original silent movie houses and she was a remarkable talent," said Ken Double, president of the American Theatre Organ Society.

In the 1930s, she was hired by NBC as a temporary replacement in the network's male studio orchestra. She stayed 22 years and eventually had her own radio show. By the 1940s, Rio was known as "Queen of the Soaps" for her work accompanying dozens of radio soap operas. During the 1950s, she played the organ for many network television series.

Since 1996, she played at the Tampa Theatre.

Rio, born Elizabeth Raub on June 2, 1902, began playing music for silent films as a 10-year-old at a movie theater in her hometown of New Orleans. She studied music at Oberlin College and silent film accompaniment at the Eastman School of Music.

Edoardo Sanguineti, a poet, critic and intellectual whose playful use of language made him an important neo-avant-garde figure in Italy's 1960s literary scene, died Tuesday in a Genoa hospital after emergency surgery for an abdominal aneurysm. He was 79.

— Times staff and wire reports

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