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Originally published Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 6:00 AM

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The week’s passages

A roundup of the week’s notable obituaries

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Aubrey Davis, 95, a civic giant who was a founding member and a board member of Group Health and later led it as CEO, who secured funding for the downtown Seattle bus tunnel, pushed for the lush lid over Interstate 90 on Mercer Island, and invented a no-slip compound still used on house decks around the country, died last Sunday at his Seattle home after a short illness.

Jerry Buss, 80, a self-made millionaire who bought the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979 and put together 10 championship teams, becoming one of the most important and successful owners in pro sports, died of kidney failure Monday in a Los Angeles hospital. He had been receiving cancer treatment.

Robert C. Richardson, 75, a Cornell University professor who shared a 1996 Nobel Prize for a key discovery in experimental physics, died Tuesday in Ithaca, N.Y., from heart-attack complications.

Mindy McCready, 37, a former country singing star who had long struggled with substance abuse, committed suicide by gunshot last Sunday at her home in Heber Springs, Ark., a month after her longtime boyfriend took his life there.

Pat Derby, 70, a Hollywood animal trainer turned animal-rights activist who devoted her life to protecting and rescuing exotic and performing animals, died Friday in San Andreas, Calif., after a long battle with throat cancer.

Debbie Ford, 57, a former drug addict whose popular self-help books, including the best-selling “Dark Side of the Light Chasers,’’ encouraged people to acknowledge their faults rather than pursue perfection, died of cancer last Sunday in San Diego.

Cleotha Staples, 78, the eldest sister of the influential and best-selling gospel group The Staple Singers, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers with such hits as “I’ll Take You There’’ and “Respect Yourself,” died Thursday in Chicago. She had Alzheimer’s disease.

Kevin Ayers, 68, an influential singer-songwriter, an important figure in the British psychedelic movement, and co-founder of the band Soft Machine, died Monday of apparently natural causes in Montolieu, France.

Alexei German, 74, a Russian film director best known for his works offering a bitter view of life in the Soviet Union under dictator Josef Stalin, died of heart failure Thursday in St. Petersburg.

Michael Schwartz, 63, a conservative activist who served as chief of staff to Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, died of Lou Gehrig’s disease Feb. 3 in Germantown, Md.

Lou Myers, 76, an actor best known for his role as ornery restaurant owner Mr. Gaines on the TV series “A Different World,’’ died Tuesday in Charleston, W.Va. An autopsy was planned.

Petro Vlahos, 96, the movie special-effects pioneer whose work opened the door to such films as “Star Wars” and “Titanic” and who received multiple Oscars for technological achievements, died Feb. 10. No other details were released.

Otfried Preussler, 89, a German children’s author whose books have been printed 50 million times and translated into more than 50 languages, died Monday in Prien am Chiemsee.

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