PASSINGS: Simin Behbahani, George Hansen, Hashim Khan, Fernand St Germain

PASSINGS: Simin Behbahani, George Hansen, Hashim Khan, Fernand St Germain
Iranian poet Simin Behbahani attends a meeting on women's rights, in Tehran, Iran, in 2007. (Vahid Salemi, Associated Press)

 Simin Behbahani

Acclaimed poet known as 'lioness of Iran'


Simin Behbahani, 87, a famed Iranian poet who wrote of the joys of love, demanded equal rights for women and spoke out about the challenges facing those living in her homeland, died Tuesday in Tehran. She had been hospitalized and unconscious since Aug. 6 and died of heart failure and breathing problems, Iran's official IRNA news agency reported.

Born Simin Khalili in Tehran on July 20, 1927, Behbahani taught high school for many years.

Her poems came in a variety of styles, far from classical and routine forms normally associated with Persian prose.

Her work often focused on the challenges facing Iran in the wake of its Islamic Revolution in 1979 and women's rights, her strong words earning her the nickname of the "lioness of Iran." Behbahani, who studied law at Tehran University in the 1950s, was awarded the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom in 2009 and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

However, Behbahani was also targeted by authorities. In 2010, Iranian authorities barred her from leaving the country to attend an International Women's Day event in Paris. In 2006, authorities shut down an opposition newspaper for printing one of her works, an editor there said at the time.

President Obama once recited her work in a video message in honor of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, saying: "Old I may be, but, given the chance, I will learn."

In his 2011 video, Obama described Behbahani as "a woman who has been banned from traveling beyond Iran, even though her words have moved the world."

Yet she remained a constant force in Iranian life, writing after the country's disputed 2009 election: "Stop this extravagance, this reckless throwing of my country to the wind."

The poem ends: "You may wish to have me burned or decide to stone me / But in your hand, match or stone will lose their power to harm me."

George Hansen

Idaho congressman served time in prison

George Hansen, 83, a former Idaho Republican congressman known for his colorful antics as well as his time in federal prison, died Thursday of natural causes at a medical center in Pocatello, Idaho, according to the Cornelison Funeral Home.

Hansen represented Idaho's 2nd Congressional District for a total of seven terms in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

"He believed in the [U.S.] Constitution, and believed in individual liberty," Bill Hansen said of his father. "When he was in office, he was always trying to make sure government was accountable to people, to make sure the government served the people and not people serving the government."


In 1979, Hansen went to Iran to attempt to negotiate a deal during the hostage crisis, angering the Carter administration. He was the only member of Congress to visit Iran during the 444-day crisis.

In 1984, Hansen became the first congressman convicted under the Ethics in Government Act for filing false financial disclosure statements, serving two six-month terms in federal prison. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated his conviction 10 years later after finding fault with the act.

In 1993, Hansen was convicted on 45 counts of bank fraud for a multimillion-dollar check-kiting scheme. Despite the conviction, nearly 100 of his alleged victims submitted affidavits to the judge saying they didn't want Hansen sentenced and he was still considered their political champion.

This prompted U.S. District Judge Ed Lodge to say at the time, "I've never seen that kind of blind allegiance."

He earned the nickname "George the dragon slayer" for his stance against federal government overreach and persistent criticism of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Internal Revenue Service. In 1980, he wrote a book, "To Harass Our People" about the IRS abusing its power.

George Vernon Hansen was born Sept. 14, 1930, in Tetonia, Idaho, served in the Air Force and graduated from Ricks College in 1956. He worked as a teacher and life insurance salesman before entering politics.

Hashim Khan

Led Pakistan's supremacy in squash

Hashim Khan, considered one of the greatest squash players of all time, died of congestive heart failure Monday at his home in Aurora, Colo., his family said. He was believed to be 100.

Khan was the patriarch who got the ball rolling on Pakistan's squash supremacy, winning seven British Open titles, including his first in 1951 at an age when most players retire. Khan brought his family to the U.S. in the early 1960s after being offered a lucrative deal to teach squash in Detroit. He later took a pro position in Denver and played the game into his 90s.

No one knew Khan's exact age because he never had a birth certificate. The family's best guess was 100, and that's what they celebrated on July 1.

Khan was exposed to squash through his father, Abdullah, a chief steward at a British officer's club in Peshawar. The youngster would go to the outdoor courts to watch the officers play and fetch their errant shots.

Eventually, the officers would head inside to escape the baking sun. That's when Khan took to the court and emulated their shots wearing no shoes, holding a cracked racket and using a discarded ball.

His father died in a car accident when he was 11, and he dropped out of school to become a full-time ball boy. He honed his skills playing the officers in friendly games. He later became one of the club's squash coaches.

At 37 — and at the behest of the Pakistan government eager for a national hero — Khan went to the British Open, considered the most prestigious tournament. He beat the best player in the world, Mahmoud El Karim of Egypt, 9-5, 9-0, 9-0, for his first title. His last was at 44.

Khan taught his brother, Azam, to play squash and he won four titles. A cousin, Roshan Khan, and a nephew, Mohibullah Khan, each captured one. Add in Khan's cousin's son, Jahangir Khan, who dominated the scene at one point by winning 10 consecutive titles, and the "Khan Dynasty" accounted for 23 British Open titles.

Shortly before he died Monday evening, Khan told his family to get his shoes, cane and passport because he was going to see his wife, who died a few years ago.

Fernand St Germain

Congressman sponsored bill deregulating savings and loans

Fernand St Germain, 86, who represented Rhode Island in Congress for 28 years and co-sponsored a 1982 bill that deregulated savings and loans, died Saturday of kidney failure at his home in Newport, R.I., according to his daughter, Lisette Saint Germain.

St Germain, a Democrat, rose to head the House Banking Committee. The deregulation bill aimed to provide a long-term solution for troubled thrift institutions, but it contributed to the 1980s savings and loan crisis by allowing institutions to expand their lending activities away from home mortgages into more risky commercial ventures. The crisis left U.S. taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars.

St Germain used his clout to shower his district with federal projects. One of his legacies is the housing for the elderly and disabled that can be seen throughout the district. He was proud of the mortgage reforms he introduced, including one that ensured married women could get a mortgage without a husband's signature, his daughter said.


First elected in 1960, St Germain lost a reelection bid in 1988 to a political newcomer, Republican Ronald Machtley, while battling questions about unethical behavior.

St Germain was born in Massachusetts on Jan. 9, 1928. A graduate of Providence College and Boston University's law school, he served in the Army during the Korean War and in the Rhode Island General Assembly.

Times staff and wire reports