Nobel Winner; Oldest Man on Earth; Ex-Lyric Director

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Byline: Daily Herald news services

Japan's Jiroemon Kimura, recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest man in recorded history, has died at the age of 116.

Kimura died of natural causes in a hospital in his hometown of Kyotango, western Japan.

Born on April 19, 1897, when Queen Victoria still reigned over the British Empire, Kimura dodged childhood killers such as tuberculosis and pneumonia that kept life expectancy in Japan to 44 years around the time of his birth. He became the oldest man in recorded history on Dec. 28, 2012, at the age of 115 years and 253 days.

The oldest woman in recorded history, France's Jeanne Calment, died in 1997 at the age of 122.

His wife, Yae, died in 1978 at the age of 74. Four of Kimura's five siblings lived to be more than 90 years old, and his youngest brother, Tetsuo, died at 100, Timatso Miyake, his nephew, said.

Miller Barber, the unique-swinging golfer who made the most combined starts on the PGA and Champions tours, has died. He was 82.

Barber, nicknamed "Mr. X," played in 1,297 tournaments on the PGA Tour and 50-and-over circuit. He won 11 times in 694 PGA Tour starts and added 24 victories in 603 events on the Champions Tour.

Robert Fogel, a Nobel Prize-winning economic historian who used empirical data in innovative and iconoclastic ways, most notably to dispute longheld assumptions about why slavery collapsed as an institution in the United States, died at a rehabilitation facility in Oak Lawn, Ill. He was 86.

The cause was pneumonia, said his daughter-in-law Suzanne Fogel. Fogel, a Chicago resident, spent much of his career at the University of Chicago and directed its Center for Population Economics.

Fogel shared the 1993 Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences with Douglass North, then of Washington University in St. Louis. Both winners were on the 1960s vanguard of a field known as cliometrics, which merges economic theory with statistical analysis of hard numbers raked from the past; Clio is the muse of history in Greek mythology.

Fogel drew on historical documents such as medical records, census data and pension documentation, and then used modern computing systems to process the information. The Nobel citation credited him with "having renewed research in economic history by applying economic theory and quantitative methods in order to explain economic and institutional change."

"Fogel was one of the intellectual pioneers and certainly the most visible member of a generation of economic historians who transformed the discipline from what had been narrative history into history informed by economic theory and statistical methods," said Barry Eichengreen, an economics and political science professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Bruno Bartoletti, an orchestra conductor who was associated with the Lyric Opera of Chicago for a half-century, and who championed modern opera as well as classic works, died in his native Tuscany, a day before his 87th birthday.

The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, where the maestro had served as artistic director from 1985 until 1991, said Bartoletti died in a Florence hospital after a long illness.

In a career that saw Bartoletti conduct well into his 80s -- he directed Giacomo Puccini's "Manon Lescaut"at Florence's Teatro Comunale in February 2011 -- he served as the first music director of Chicago's Lyric Opera, starting as guest conductor there in 1956, when he was relatively unknown.

Bartoletti was 30 when the then 2-year-old Lyric Opera needed a replacement conductor for Giuseppe Verdi's `'Il Trovatore" in 1956. Baritone Tito Gobbi endorsed him, and Bartoletti made his American debut with the company. He conducted more than 600 performances of 55 operas in the Lyric, in his 51 years there, with his last in 2007. He served as co-artistic director with Pino Donati from 1965 till 1975, and as artistic director from 1975 till 1999. …