John F. Mitchell
Motorola cellphone pioneer
John F. Mitchell, 81, who helped engineer the technology that paved the way for the world's first cellular phone during a 45-year career at Motorola, where he was president from 1980 to 1995, died of cancer June 11 at a hospice in Palatine, Ill., said his son Kevin.
As chief engineer for mobile and portable products at Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola, Mitchell helped develop the first design for a portable and consumer-friendly cellular telephone system. Motorola's DynaTAC, a radio and telephone cellular system, came out in 1973 and became the basis for the company's first commercial hand-held cellphone.
Mitchell strongly advocated for competition among cellphone distributors -- one of the nontechnical contributions he made to help ensure the product's success.
Born in 1928 to Irish immigrants, Mitchell grew up on Chicago's North Side and developed an early interest in technology when his parents bought him an Erector set.
A veteran of the Navy and graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology, Mitchell was named vice chairman of Motorola in 1995 and retired three years later.
Versatile alto saxophone player
Charlie Mariano, 85, an alto saxophonist best known for his association with Stan Kenton's big band in the 1950s, his playing on two albums by Charles Mingus in the 1960s, and his later stint in Europe with Eberhard Weber's jazz-rock group Colours, died Tuesday of complications from cancer at a hospice in Cologne, Germany, according to his website.
A native of Boston, Mariano served in the Army during World War II and began studying music at what is now the Berklee College of Music after the war.
He had two stints with Kenton in the early 1950s before moving to Los Angeles, where he played with trombonist Frank Rosolino and in drummer Shelly Manne's group.
Mariano married pianist/band leader Toshiko Akiyoshi in 1960, a union that produced one album, "The Toshiko-Mariano Quartet." They lived for a time in Japan, had a daughter and divorced in 1967.
Before moving to Japan, Mariano played on two of Mingus' seminal recordings, "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" and "Mingus, Mingus, Mingus." He also taught at the Berklee School of Music and briefly led a jazz-rock group called Osmosis.
He moved to Europe in the early 1970s, living first in the Netherlands and then Germany. He led the group Pork Pie with guitarist Philip Catherine and pianist Jasper van't Hof and played with a number of fusion bands.
Over the years, Mariano also became interested in South Asian music, learning the nadaswaram, a wind instrument, while on a visit to Malaysia. He returned to South Asia time and again to hone his skills.
Famous French winemaker
Jean Hugel, 84, a French winemaker who helped raise awareness of such Alsatian varietals as Riesling and Gewurztraminer, died June 9 in Ribeauville, France, the Hugel & Fils company announced on its website. The cause was cancer.
The Hugel family has been making wine since 1639 in the region of northeastern France that has alternately been controlled by France and Germany for hundreds of years. By the time Hugel, known as Johnny in the wine business, took the reins of the company with his brothers Georges and Andre in 1948, it had been returned to French hands after the German defeat in World War II.
Hugel helped devise strict rules that govern wine production in the region and set standards for late-harvest wines and those made from selection de grains nobles, grapes affected by the noble rot fungus. He also worked to promote Alsatian wines to consumers around the world.
He was born Sept. 28, 1924, in Riquewihr, France, and received a degree in agronomy from the University of Montpellier. He officially retired in 1997 but stayed active in the business.
-- times staff and wire reportsCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times