BEIJING (AP) — Zhang Hanzhi, an elegant Chinese diplomat who was Mao Zedong's English tutor and U.S. President Richard Nixon's interpreter during his historic 1972 trip to China, has died. She was 72.
Zhang died Jan. 26 in Beijing from a lung-related illness, state media reported without giving details. Her funeral will be held Friday in the capital's Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, an honor given to the Communist Party's elite.
"I want everyone to remember her smile, her loyalty to love, her kindness of heart and how grandiose she was. Remember her brilliant life," Zhang's daughter, Hong Huang, a well-known publisher, wrote in her blog. "Mother … we will still be together."
Born in Shanghai in 1935, Zhang was the illegitimate daughter of a shop assistant and the son of a prominent family. She was adopted by Zhang Shizhao, a well-known lawyer who had been involved in the custody battle.
Her family moved to Beijing in 1949 and four years later, Zhang entered the Beijing Foreign Studies University, where she taught after graduating with a master's degree.
She met Mao in 1950, at a party to celebrate the first anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, and again in 1963 at Mao's 70th birthday. He seemed relaxed and happy and asked to be her student when he found out she taught English. "Why not?" he asked, when she said she wouldn't dare.
"The Chairman wanted the lessons to start the following day! I was dumbfounded," Zhang wrote in a 1999 article for Time magazine. "I was to teach the great leader whom over a billion people worshipped as their god?"
She described Mao as an ambitious student who was keen on vocabulary — especially political terms — and proper word usage, although he had no interest in grammar and correcting his accented pronunciations.
The pair formed a friendship where Zhang would update him on the latest happenings outside Zhongnanhai — the compound where Beijing's leaders live and work — over dinners where Mao would push her to eat his favorite dish of stewed fatty pork.
The lessons abruptly stopped in 1964 as the devastating Cultural Revolution began taking shape. Zhang and her family and friends were persecuted although she said Mao provided protection at various times.
In 1971, Zhang was transferred to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she began her diplomatic career and attended a series of landmark meetings, including the ones with Nixon, when the countries began restoring tattered diplomatic relations.
Jack D. Johnson
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jack D. Johnson, who managed the careers of Charley Pride, Ronnie Milsap, T.G. Sheppard and other singers, has died. He was 79.
Johnson, who died Thursday morning after battling congestive heart failure, is credited with helping Pride become the first black superstar in country music.
"What he did took a lot of courage," Milsap said. "He brought the first black gentleman into mainstream country, and in my case he brought the first blind boy in. Those two things may never be repeated again, and he orchestrated the whole thing."
Named for the prize fighter Jack Dempsey, Johnson was born in Knoxville and spent most of his youth in east Tennessee.
He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in journalism in 1958. He and his wife, Edie, moved to Nashville in 1961 and he founded Jack D. Johnson Talent a few years later.
Milsap signed with Johnson in 1973 and also became a major star. In 1975, Johnson won the Country Music Association's Producer of the Year award for his co-production of Milsap's records.
A funeral was held Monday.
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Former Auburn University President Harry M. Philpott, who guided the university through more than 14 years of growth and influenced public education throughout the state, has died. He was 90.
University spokesman Brian Keeter announced Philpott's death Monday. Philpott died at the Bethany House hospice center in Auburn after being in declining health for several years.
"Dr. Philpott was an inspirational leader and a champion for Auburn's faculty. His focus on academics is still felt today and represents a substantial part of his legacy," Auburn President Jay Gogue said.
A memorial service for Philpott is planned at 2 p.m. Friday at the First Baptist Church in Auburn. There will be a private burial at Memorial Cemetery in Auburn.
Philpott left his job as academic vice president of the University of Florida to become president of Auburn in 1965. Retiring President Ralph Draughon had encouraged him to apply.
Former Gov. Albert Brewer recalled that Philpott "just fit in immediately" and was popular with students, alumni and politicians at the capital.
"He gave Auburn its best years since World War II," Brewer said Monday.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Larry Smith, the emotional coach who led Southern California to the Rose Bowl three times and won 143 games with Tulane, Arizona, USC and Missouri, has died after a long bout with chronic lymphatic leukemia. He was 68.
Smith died Monday in a Tucson hospital, the University of Arizona confirmed.
His 24-year head coaching career began at Tulane, included seven years at Arizona and ended in 2000 at Missouri. Smith was 143-126-7 and his teams were 3-6-1 in bowl games.
Smith coached Southern California for six years, finishing 44-25-3, before he was fired on New Year's Day of 1993, his departure hastened by a 24-7 loss in the Freedom Bowl to unranked Fresno State.
Smith started his tenure at USC in 1987 and took the Trojans the Rose Bowl in each of his first three seasons. The Trojans lost their first two Rose Bowls under Smith, before beating Michigan and his mentor, Bo Schembechler, in Schembechler's final game as Wolverines' coach after the 1989 season.
Smith remained active in recent years, including working with the College Football Hall of Fame and spearheading efforts to change coaching at the Pop Warner level to make sure youngsters get the proper football fundamentals. As part of that, Smith began an annual football clinic for Pop Warner coaches.