PASSINGS: Hans Joachim Tiedge, Norman Mirman, Arthur Lessac, Walter Breuning

Hans Joachim Tiedge West German spy defected to East Germany

Hans Joachim Tiedge, 73, a top West German counterintelligence officer who defected to East Germany in 1985, died April 6 at his home near Moscow, according to his German publisher.

Tiedge, a Berlin native, led the hunt for East German spies for 19 years from a Cologne office and remained at his post even after his superiors became aware of his increasingly serious drinking problem and mounting debts.

Heribert Hellenbroich, the head of West Germany's domestic intelligence agency, was fired shortly after the defection for keeping Tiedge on the job.

Tiedge left East Germany for the Soviet Union in 1990, less than two months before German reunification.

West German prosecutors issued an international arrest warrant for Tiedge in 1986, but Germany did not seek his extradition from Russia.

Eulenspiegel-Verlag published Tiedge's memoirs in 1998.

Norman Mirman Co-founder of school for gifted children

Norman Mirman, 91, who founded a school for gifted children nearly 50 years ago with his late wife, Beverly, died April 10 at his home in Brentwood of complications from aging, said his son, Alan.

The Mirman School opened in 1962 in the couple's West Los Angeles home with nine students. Since 1972, the school has been on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles and now has more than 300 students ages 5 to 14. Norman Mirman had been an elementary school teacher in Southern California for several years before starting the school.

"These children need a program and environment where they can move on when they want to, and our intent is to provide opportunities," he told The Times in 1992. "We also have a love of children and that's part of the atmosphere here."

Mirman was born Oct. 5, 1919, in the Bronx, New York, the youngest of six children of Sol Mirman, who was a tailor and founded a synagogue in the Bronx, and his wife Jennie.

He graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the City College of New York in 1941. He met Beverly Marmour that year and they married in 1943. Mirman served overseas in the Army Air Forces from 1943 to 1945.

After his service, the Mirmans moved to Florida and then settled in Los Angeles in 1947. He worked as a chemist for a gas company but earned an emergency teaching credential to start his career in education.

While teaching, Mirman earned a master's degree and a doctorate in education from UCLA.

He was headmaster of the Mirman School until retiring in 2003 but remained a trustee until his death. His wife died last year.

Arthur Lessac Voice coach worked with many actors

Arthur Lessac, 101, a speech therapist who gave voice, acting and movement lessons for decades, died April 7 of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his family said.

Born in 1909, Lessac studied speech therapy at New York University. In New York he established a business that became the Lessac Institute for Voice and Speech, taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary and trained actors in the Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre Company.

Over the years his students included Martin Sheen, Faye Dunaway, Michael Douglas, Frank Langella, Michael O'Keefe and Linda Hunt, according to his website.

Lessac was the author of "The Use and Training of the Human Voice" and "Body Wisdom: The Use and Training of the Human Body."

Walter Breuning World's 2nd-oldest person

Walter Breuning, 114, the world's oldest man and second-oldest person, died Thursday of natural causes at a Great Falls, Mont., hospital, said a spokeswoman of the Rainbow Senior Living retirement home where he lived.

Breuning was 26 days younger than Besse Cooper of Georgia, whom the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles lists as the world's oldest person at 114.

Breuning was born Sept. 21, 1896, in Minnesota and spent his early years in South Dakota.

He lied about his age and got a job in Minnesota with the Great Northern Railway at 16. He moved to Montana two years later and worked there for 50 years, marrying co-worker Agnes Twokey.

She died in 1957 after 35 years of marriage. The couple did not have children and Breuning never remarried. He moved into the retirement community in 1980.

Breuning attributed his longevity to eating only two meals a day, working as long as he could and always embracing change.

He told the Associated Press last year: "We're all going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you're born to die."

Times staff and wire reports

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