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PASSINGS

December 31, 2008

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Ted Lapidus

Designer was known for '60s unisex fashions

Ted Lapidus, 79, the French fashion designer who helped redefine chic with the 1960s unisex look, died Monday at a hospital in Cannes, on the French Riviera. He reportedly had been suffering from pulmonary problems.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in homage to the designer, said Lapidus "democratized French elegance and classicism" and "made fashion accessible to men and women in the street."

Born Edmond Lapidus on June 23, 1929, in Paris, the son of a tailor, Lapidus created his label in 1951, and in 1963, he became a member of the prestigious Paris fashion club that runs haute couture, La Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

The sandy-colored safari suit became emblematic of the modernist Lapidus style, with purist lines that swept the international fashion scene in the 1960s and '70s.

Lapidus designed high fashion for only a brief portion of his career, however, preferring to put the accent on accessories early on. Today, the Ted Lapidus label lives mainly through the sale of accessories such as fragrances and watches.

Olivier Lapidus, the designer's son, continued diversifying the label through new partnerships starting in 1982.

Eric Wilson

Oldest living holder of the Victoria Cross

Eric Wilson, 96, who had been the oldest living holder of the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest combat honor, died Dec. 23 in Stowell, England, according to obituaries published Tuesday in the Times of London and the Daily Telegraph.

Wilson died 68 years after he was "posthumously" awarded the medal by officials who thought he had been killed in action while fighting Italian troops in North Africa.

He was commanding a company of the Somaliland Camel Corps when Italian forces attacked their position in what was then British Somaliland. Italy had declared war only the day before. The citation with the Victoria Cross noted that Wilson was killed on Aug. 15, 1940, when enemy troops overran his machine gun emplacement.

In April 1941, however, he was found alive in a prisoner of war camp in Eritrea. Wilson and his fellow prisoners had nearly finished digging an escape tunnel when the Italian soldiers fled the camp ahead of the arrival of British troops.

Wilson later served in North Africa as adjutant of the Long Range Desert Group, a motorized force that harassed Italian positions. He later served in Burma as second in command of the 11th King's African Rifles.

Wilson, who was born Oct. 2, 1912, at Sandown on the Isle of Wight, retired from the army in 1949 with the rank of lieutenant colonel and became a colonial officer in Tanganyika (now part of Tanzania), which became independent in 1961.

Alvah H. Chapman Jr.

Exec helped merge Knight Ridder in '74

Alvah H. Chapman Jr., 87, the former president of the Miami Herald who helped arrange the 1974 merger of Knight Newspapers and Ridder Publications, died Thursday at his home in Miami of pneumonia after battling Parkinson's disease.

Chapman became president of the Herald in 1969 and, after the merger, was named chief executive of the Knight Ridder Inc. chain of 30 newspapers. He held the post until 1989. Under his tenure, Knight Ridder's revenue tripled and its newspapers won 33 Pulitzer Prizes.

He also was active in philanthropy and public service in Miami. He worked to house the homeless, helped sculpt downtown Miami's contemporary appearance and led the group We Will Rebuild after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Chapman was born March 21, 1921, in Columbus, Ga. At the Citadel, the South Carolina military college, Chapman became regimental commander, the school's top cadet. He served in the Army Air Forces during World War II.

He got his start in newspapers at the Bradenton Evening Herald in Florida, where his father was publisher, and worked at the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Ga. He later became executive vice president and general manager of the St. Petersburg Times in Florida and publisher of the Savannah Morning News and Evening Press.

Lark Previn, an adopted daughter of actress Mia Farrow, died Christmas Day at New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. She was 35. Previn, born in Vietnam in 1973, was one of three children adopted by Farrow and her then-husband, conductor Andre Previn.

-- times wire reports