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PASSINGS: Salvador Jorge Blanco, Robin White

Salvador Jorge Blanco

Former president of

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Dominican Republic

Salvador Jorge Blanco, 84, a former Dominican Republic president who was convicted of corruption in a decision later overturned by an appeals court, died Sunday at his home in Santo Domingo, said his son, Orlando Jorge Mera.

He had been in a coma since suffering a cerebral hematoma when he fell out of bed Nov. 20 and had been diagnosed with hydrocephalus, in which liquid builds up around the brain and spinal cord.

President from 1982 to 1986, Jorge Blanco and three other men were each sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1991 for misspending government funds meant for military purchases. He was the first former Dominican head of state to be convicted of corruption. He served two months in prison before being released to continue his appeal.

The conviction was overturned in 2001 by an appeals court ruling that Jorge Blanco and the three other men had not been provided the right to defend themselves during the trial.

A member of the

Revolutionary Party

, Jorge Blanco had maintained his innocence and said he was the victim of political persecution during the presidency of Joaquin Balaguer.

Jorge Blanco was born in 1926 in Santiago de los Caballeros. His term in office was marked by severe economic problems in the country.

Labor unions called repeated one-day general strikes in protest of his austerity measures, which included freezing public paychecks. Judges, government-employed doctors and agronomists went on strike over wages. Rioting in April 1984 left dozens dead. He did not seek reelection.

At the end of Jorge Blanco's term in 1986, Balaguer's lawyers announced a corruption probe and Jorge Blanco sought asylum in

Venezuela

after his arrest was ordered. Venezuela turned him down.

He moved to Atlanta to seek medical treatment for a heart ailment, returning to the Dominican Republic for his trial.

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Robin White

Prize-winning writer

Robin White, 82, a prize-winning novelist and leader of a short-lived effort to split

California

into two states, died Dec. 10 in

Sacramento

of

congestive heart failure

, his family said.

White was the author of 10 books, including the novel "Elephant Hill"(1959), the short story collection "Foreign Soil" (1962), and the nonfiction "Be Not Afraid: the Story of a Tragically Afflicted Child and His Stubbornly Courageous Family" (1973), about the challenges of raising an epileptic son.

Many of White's stories were set in India, where he was born to missionary parents July 12, 1928. He earned a bachelor's degree from

Yale University

in 1950 before moving to California to be a Stegner Fellow at

Stanford University

in the 1956-57 academic year.

He won the Harper Prize in 1959 from publisher Harper & Brothers (now HarperCollins) for "Elephant Hill" and an

O. Henry

Prize in 1960 for the short story "Shower of Ashes." From 1965 to 1969 he published and edited Per/Se, a literary magazine.

While attending Stanford he was a prominent member of a bohemian colony in Palo Alto on Perry Lane, which writer

Tom Wolfe

described in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" as a place where people never shut their doors "except when they were pissed off." White shepherded novelist

Ken Kesey

into the community, but, according to Wolfe, regretted doing so because of drug use by Kesey and his traveling band of "merry pranksters."

White later moved to Mendocino, where in November 1974 he led 500 local artists and other bohemians in a somewhat whimsical effort to make Northern California a separate state. Its failure did not seem to faze him. "Well," he told The Times in 1976, between sips of beer, "if at first you don't secede…."

Times staff and wire reports

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