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April 23, 2012

Obituaries: Charles Colson, Watergate Felon Turned Prison Reformer; Bernard Rapoport, Liberal Texas Donor

Charles W. Colson, who became a prominent evangelical Christian and advocate for prison reform after doing time for his role in the Watergate scandal, died Saturday at age 80 from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage , the Los Angeles Times reports.

As a special counsel to President Richard Nixon, Mr. Colson was one of the leading architects of the "dirty tricks" efforts that culminated in the Watergate break-in and brought down the Nixon White House. He served seven months in federal prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.

During the crisis, Mr. Colson became a born-again Christian, and after serving his sentence he founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, the world's prison ministry with operations in more than 1,300 U.S. institutions and programs for ex-convicts and their families.

Bernard Rapoport, an insurance mogul who gave millions of dollars to the University of Texas and backed liberal candidates and causes in the largely Republican state, died early this month in Waco, writes The New York Times. He was 94.

A self-described "capitalist with a conscience," Mr. Rapoport founded the American Income Life Insurance Company, which marketed its services to labor unions and their members.

His gifts to the University of Texas included funds for scholarship and endowed faculty positions focused on human rights and ethics, and he supported Israeli organizations that promoted accommodation with the Palestinians.