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Defferre, Marseilles Mayor for 30 Years, Dies After Fall

May 07, 1986|From REUTERS

MARSEILLES, France — Gaston Defferre, the millionaire Socialist mayor of Marseilles for the last 30 years and a leading figure in post-war French politics, died in a hospital today after injuring himself in a fall.

Defferre, 75, was taken to the hospital Tuesday after he fell and injured his head at home, apparently after suffering a stroke. Aides blamed his stroke on an angry party meeting Monday night that rejected his candidate for party leader. He never regained consciousness.

Defferre's third wife, award-winning writer Edmonde Charles-Roux, spent last night with him at the hospital along with the faithful from the Socialist Party, which he had supported throughout his career despite his riches.

Defferre, the undisputed boss of the turbulent Mediterranean city and much of southern France, ran twice for the presidency, in 1965 and 1969, in addition to his roles as government minister, parliamentarian and newspaper owner.

Serving as mayor of Marseilles without a break since 1953, Defferre cracked down on the drug smugglers whose heroin laboratories had turned the city into the key link in "The French Connection."

On a national level, Defferre held several ministerial posts, but he never made it to the top, preferring to hold the south against extremists from left or right.

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