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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, February 11, 2006

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David L. Abell, piano dealer to the starsDai Ailian, Chinese dancerKhaled al-Fahoum, former head of Palestinian parliamentVincent M. Barnett Jr., former college presidentJohn Belluso, playwright who championed disabledPeter Benchley, author of JawsBhaskar Bhattacharyya, Indian filmmakerLarry Black, Olympic track & field championPhil Brown, actor known for Star Wars roleWillie Grace Campbell, human rights activistNorma Candal, Puerto Rican actressDel Courtney, former big-band leader in the '30sFranklin Cover, actor from The JeffersonsIbolya Csak, Hungarian high-jump championElton Dean, British musician whose first name was appropriated by a more famous colleagueMsgr. John T. Fagan, director of NYC social service agencyMartin Feinstein, first director of Kennedy Center for Performing ArtsReuven Frank, former NBC News presidentPete Frankel, former California policemanJill Fraser, ran British regional theaterMahmoud Fustok, thoroughbred horse breederGerald Georgettis, Florida man unhappy with car priceMichael Gilbert, British mystery writerAlbert Gold, painter of Depression-era scenesPedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, comedic character actorRon Greenwood, manager of English soccer teamDick Harmon, famed golf instructorCol. James Hiteshew, retired USAF fighter pilotAkira Ifukube, Japanese composer of score for GodzillaCharles D. Kelly, publisher of Michigan community newspaperMart Kenney, Canadian big-band leaderSir Freddie Laker, pioneered cheap airfareRickie Layne, ventriloquist with Yiddish-accented dummyNadira, veteran Indian actressRobert Neville Jr., Texas killerJackie Pallo, British wrestlerJohn J. Partington, lawman who helped to develop witness protection programRobert W. Peterson, author of book on Negro baseball leaguesChristopher Pucinski, son of former Illinois congressmanKuljeet Randhawa, Indian actressReinhold E. Rau, taxidermist who tried to breed extinct zebraJacob Robida, most wanted teenager in MassachusettsMax Rosenn, US Circuit Court judgeMitchell Rupe, former death row inmate judged too heavy to hangEsther Sandoval, Puerto Rican actressJockey Shabalala, South African group singerAlan J. Shalleck, cowriter of Curious George booksDr. Norman Shumway, first US surgeon to perform heart transplantJuan Soriano, Mexican painterJames Walker, first black president of Southern Illinois UKatherine Weld, actressStanley Wilson, longtime broadcaster for Dallas CowboysCharles Wolfe, college professor who wrote history of Grand Ole OpryJohn Wymer, authority on early Stone Age settlementJames Yancey, aka J Dilla, hip-hop producer

Art and Literature

Peter Benchley (65) third-generation author, son of children's book writer Nathaniel Benchley (d. 1981) and grandson of humorist/actor Robert Benchley (d. 1945), whose novel Jaws (1974) made millions think twice about stepping into the water even as the author himself became an advocate for shark conservation. Peter Benchley wrote for the Washington Post and Newsweek and spent two years as a speechwriter for President Lyndon B. Johnson. He served on the National Council of Environmental Defense, hosted numerous TV wildlife programs, and gave speeches around the world on conservation. He died of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and fatal scarring of the lungs, in Princeton, New Jersey on February 11, 2006.

Michael Gilbert (93) prolific and much-admired British crime and mystery writer and a senior partner in a firm of London solicitors for many years. Gilbert also wrote stage plays and scripts for radio and TV but was best known for his witty and meticulously plotted thrillers, espionage, and police procedural novels. He died in Luddesdown, Kent, England on February 8, 2006.

Albert Gold (89) award-winning painter whose Depression-era drawings and paintings of everyday life at the Philadelphia Zoo, Reading Terminal Market, city parks, and the Italian Market were strongly influenced by the devastation of ordinary people. Gold's works are now in the collections of museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the National Gallery of London, and Musee Galliera in Paris. He died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 7, 2006.

Alan J. Shalleck (76) writer who collaborated with Margret Rey (d. 1996), cocreator of Curious George, to bring the mischievous monkey to TV and a series of book sequels. Shalleck was found dead and covered with garbage bags in a suspected homicide* in the driveway of his mobile home in Boynton Beach, Florida on February 7, 2006. *On October 18, 2007, Rex Ditto (31) pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and robbery with a weapon in the Shalleck case and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. His codefendant and former lover, Vincent Puglisi (56), was scheduled for trial in 2008.

Juan Soriano (85) Mexican painter and sculptor praised by Spain’s king for a style blending tradition with the vanguard and realism with visual imagination. Soriano exhibited his work around the world and was honored by several countries. He won Spain’s prestigious Velazquez Plastic Arts Prize in 2005. He died in Mexico City, Mexico on February 10, 2006.

Business and Science

David L. Abell (75) founder of David L. Abell Fine Pianos, a Beverly Boulevard piano store that served for 40 years as a resource for movie, pop, rock, and jazz performers. Abell's instruments were sought by Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Steven Spielberg, and those who used the stages at the Hollywood Bowl, the Greek Theater, and UCLA's Royce Hall. Abell was president of the Los Angeles Jazz Society. He died of lung disease in Los Angeles, California on February 11, 2006.

Sir Freddie Laker (83) Englishman who changed the face of air travel with his low-cost trans-Atlantic Skytrain service that challenged the industry giants in the '70s. Laker pioneered the concept of cheap fares for the masses, and although his Skytrain venture eventually collapsed in 1982, he laid the foundations for the low-cost carriers that proliferate today. He died of heart disease in Miami, Florida on February 9, 2006.

Reinhold E. Rau (73) taxidermist who spent 30 years pursuing his dream of breeding an extinct zebra back into existence and nearly achieved it. Rau's interest was the quagga, an equine beast of the arid southern Africa grasslands hunted to extinction in the wild in the 19th century; the last known one in captivity died in the Amsterdam Zoo in 1883. Rau died in South Africa on February 11, 2006.

Dr. Norman Shumway (83) first surgeon to perform a heart transplant operation in the US. Shumway completed the first successful US adult heart transplant in 1968 but may have been best known for continuing with transplant research as many others quit. He won numerous honorary degrees and research honors, including the AMA Scientific Achievement Award in 1987. He died of lung cancer in Stanford, California on February 10, 2006.

John Wymer (77) Britain's foremost authority on early Stone Age settlement who had a major impact on the development of Stone Age studies in western Europe. Wymer was found dead in England on February 10, 2006.


Vincent M. Barnett Jr. (92) former president of Colgate University (1963-69) and cofounder of the Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.) program in political economy. Barnett helped to found the college's Center for Development Economics, which since 1960 has brought economists from developing countries for its one-year master's degree program. He was also an economic adviser for the US government. He died in Williamstown, Massachusetts on February 11, 2006.

James Walker (64) first black president of the two-campus, 35,000-student Southern Illinois University system, who led SIU in receiving millions of dollars in federal research grants involving coal, agriculture, biofuels, health care, and education. Walker died of prostate cancer in Carbondale, Illinois on February 5, 2006.

News and Entertainment

Dai Ailian (89) doyenne of dance in China, who as founder of the Beijing Dance Academy and director of its affiliated National Ballet combined her ballet and modern-dance training in the West with pioneering research into China's folk traditions. Ailian died in Beijing, China on February 9, 2006.

John Belluso (36) playwright with the bone disease Engleman-Camurdrie syndrome who championed the rights of disabled people in both his work and through the writers' program he helped to direct. Belluso's plays included The Body of Bourne, Gretty Good Time, Traveling Skin, and Henry Flamethrowa, all featuring characters with disabilities. He died in New York City on February 10, 2006.

Bhaskar Bhattacharyya (55) documentary filmmaker and consultant to musicians and film crews working in India. Bhattacharyya was also a scholar of Hindu and Sufi mysticism. He drowned on a film shoot, while swimming off the coast of Chennai, India on February 10, 2006.

Phil Brown (89) veteran actor who worked on stage and in film for more than 30 years but was best known for his brief role as Luke Skywalker's Uncle Owen in the hit film Star Wars (1977). Brown was also interested in humanitarian causes and became involved in campaigns to send medical supplies to loyalist Spain and helped in Russian relief efforts. He died of pneumonia in Woodland Hills, California on February 9, 2006.

Norma Candal (76) Puerto Rican actress and comedian best known as one of the lead roles in director Jacobo Morales’s 1979 film Dios los Cria (And God Created Them), with Alicia Moreda and Esther Sandoval. Candal died after a fall in San Juan, Puerto Rico on February 5, 2006.

Del Courtney (95) San Francisco Bay Area big-band leader in the '30s, whose band performed at four US Presidential inaugural balls—for Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan. Courtney also was music director of the Oakland Raiders. He died of pneumonia in Honolulu, Hawaii on February 11, 2006.

Franklin Cover (77) actor who became a familiar face as George and Louise Jefferson's white neighbor in the long-running TV sitcom The Jeffersons. Cover enjoyed a career that lasted nearly 60 years and included numerous appearances on TV shows, including The Jackie Gleason Show, All in the Family, Who's the Boss?, Will & Grace, Living Single, Mad About You, and ER. He began his career on the stage, appearing in Shakespeare's Hamlet and Henry IV and later in numerous Broadway productions, including Any Wednesday, Wild Honey, and Born Yesterday. He died of pneumonia in Englewood, New Jersey on February 5, 2006.

Elton Dean (60) British saxophonist of adventurous tastes and remarkably wide stylistic grasp, best known for his work with the band Soft Machine, although his career encompassed R&B, pop, jazz-rock, and free improvisation. Dean once played with Long John Baldry's backing band, Bluesology, whose pianist was one Reginald Dwight (who later became Elton John, taking Dean's first name). Dean died of heart- and liver-related health problems in London, England on February 7, 2006.

Martin Feinstein (84) arts icon who sought to elevate cultural life in the US capital as first executive director of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and later as general manager of the Washington National Opera. Feinstein designed festivals and arranged for performances by world-renowned artists, including the Berlin Opera, Bolshoi Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, and Vienna State Opera. He also helped to oversee the planning and construction in 1979 of the center's Terrace Theater, which he envisioned as a more intimate space than its opera house. He was responsible for attracting such stars as conductors Gian Carlo Menotti and Daniel Barenboim and tenor Placido Domingo to the Washington Opera. Feinstein died of pancreatic cancer in Potomac, Maryland on February 5, 2006.

Reuven Frank (85) former NBC News president and a pioneer of TV journalism. Frank joined NBC in 1950 and twice held the news division’s top job during his 38 years with the network (1968-73, ’82-84). He produced numerous documentaries, including The Tunnel, which depicted the escape of 59 East Germans beneath the newly constructed Berlin Wall in 1962 and became the only documentary ever to win an Emmy as program of the year. Frank was also responsible for ambitious, hour-by-hour coverage of the early manned space missions, which riveted the nation. He died of pneumonia in New York City on February 5, 2006.

Jill Fraser (59) Briton who ran the Watermill Theatre, a small, vibrant enterprise located in an 18th-century watermill that over more than 20 years had earned an international reputation. Fraser died on February 10, 2006.

Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (80) comedic entertainer and character actor who appeared in John Wayne films and other movies. Gonzalez appeared as a contestant on Groucho Marx's TV quiz show You Bet Your Life, and his banter with the legendary entertainer stole the show, leading John Wayne to sign him to Wayne's production company. Gonzalez appeared in such films as The High & the Mighty, Rio Bravo, and Hellfighters, besides TV series including Gunsmoke. He died in Culver City, California on February 6, 2006.

Akira Ifukube (91) former Japanese forestry officer who taught himself to be a prolific composer and wrote the score for the celebrated monster movie Godzilla (1954). Ifukube was said to have composed about 300-400 works for film throughout his career and was named a Person of Cultural Merit, one of Japan's highest honors, in 2003. He died of multiple organ failure in Tokyo, Japan on February 8, 2006.

Charles D. Kelly (73) publisher and founder of the Michigan Citizen community newspaper in Highland Park, Michigan in November 1978 with his wife, whose publication grew from a 12-page tabloid with a local circulation of 3,000 to a 16-page broadsheet with a statewide circulation of 56,000. Kelly died of carcinoid cancer in Highland Park, Michigan on February 5, 2006.

Mart Kenney (95) once known as Canada’s Big Band King for the swing orchestras he led in the ’30s and ’40s. Kenney’s band, Mart & the Western Gentlemen, was the first Canadian band to broadcast on Canadian, US, and international radio networks and the first to record for RCA Victor. Kenney died in Toronto, Canada on February 8, 2006.

Rickie Layne (81) ventriloquist who frequently appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show with his Yiddish-accented dummy Velvel. Layne was discovered by singer Nat ("King") Cole and won a lifetime achievement award in 2002 from the International Ventriloquist Association. He died of heart failure in Los Angeles, California on February 11, 2006.

Nadira (73) veteran Indian actress, born Florence (or Farhat) Ezekiel, best known for playing negative characters in a series of films in the ’50s and ’60s when most top actresses shied away from such roles. Nadira acted in 63 movies since her debut in Aan (1952) and in TV serials in the late ’90s. She died of complications from a heart attack and a stroke in Mumbai, India on February 9, 2006.

Kuljeet Randhawa (30) Indian actress and former Gladrags model best known for her roles in the Kohinoor series. Randhawa was a close friend of a former Miss India, Nafisa Joseph, and later suffered depression after Joseph committed suicide in July 2004. Randhawa committited suicide by hanging at her apartment in Juhu, India on February 8, 2006.

Esther Sandoval (77) Puerto Rican actress probably best remembered for her role of a prostitute in Jacob Morales’s 1979 movie Dios los Cria (And God Created Them), with Norma Candal, Alicia Moreda, Gladys Rodriguez, and Otilio Warrington. Sandoval died of Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes in Santurce, Puerto Rico on February 6, 2006.

Jockey Shabalala (62) member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, South Africa's most famous a cappella ensemble, featured on Paul Simon's Grammy-winning Graceland album, who continued to tour and record with the group until early in 2005, when they won a second Grammy for their recording Raise Your Spirit Higher. Shabalala died in Ladysmith, South Africa on February 11, 2006.

Katherine Weld (92) lovely minor actress signed by Samuel Goldwyn as a WAMPAS* Baby Star who appeared in a few '30s films under the name Gigi Parrish. A Goldwyn Girl and a 1934 WAMPAS Baby Star, brunette Parrish enjoyed a brief screen career in mostly bit parts. She was John Barrymore's secretary in the farce Twentieth Century and appeared in two films with the other 1934 Babies: Kiss & Make-Up and Young & Beautiful (both 1934). Retiring from the screen in 1936, Parrish resumed her given name of Katherine and later married writer/publisher/documentary filmmaker John Weld (d. 2003), with whom she owned the Laguna Beach Post newspaper (1949-65). She died in Dana Point, California on February 8, 2006. *The WAMPAS Baby Stars was a promotional campaign sponsored by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers in the US, which honored 13 young women each year whom they believed to be on the threshold of movie stardom. They were selected (1922-34) and honored at a party called the "WAMPAS Frolic." Those selected were given extensive media coverage. The awards were not given in 1930 and '33 and ended after '34 owing to objections from the movie studios because of WAMPAS independence from studio control.

Charles Wolfe (62) college professor who wrote the history of the Grand Ole Opry and was considered an expert on music, folklore, and popular culture. Wolfe wrote more than a dozen books and was recognized as one of the leading experts on the history and development of country music. He died in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on February 9, 2006.

James Yancey (32) influential hip-hop producer known as J Dilla whose soulful beats formed the backdrop to songs by such artists as Common, Busta Rhymes, and A Tribe Called Quest. Yancey's most recent CD, the instrumental Donuts, was released three days before his death. He had also finished recording a soon-to-be released compilation album called Welcome to Detroit, Vol. 2. He died of the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus, in Los Angeles, California on February 10, 2006.

Politics and Military

Khaled al-Fahoum (84) former head of the Palestinian parliament in exile and a founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Fahoum was a member of the PLO's Central Committee from its founding (1964-71) and head of the National Palestinian Council (1971-84). He died near Damascus, Syria on February 5, 2006.

James Hiteshew (75) retired US Air Force fighter pilot and a former prisoner of war for six years in North Vietnam who developed tapped codes to stay in touch with other prisoners. Hiteshew won the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star of Valor, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, and several Air Medals. He died in Goldsboro, North Carolina on February 7, 2006.

Society and Religion

Willie Grace Campbell (90) activist who spent 50 years promoting human rights and women's empowerment. Campbell's influence reached to the White House. She was copresident of the National Women's Law Center in Washington, DC and was appointed by President Bill Clinton as vice chairwoman of the African Development Foundation in the '90s, a post she held until her death from congestive heart failure in Washington, DC on February 6, 2006.

Msgr. John T. Fagan (79) Roman Catholic prelate who retired in 2001 as director of Little Flower Children & Family Services of New York, one of the largest social service agencies in the country. Fagan sought to give deprived children stability by finding them families through expanded fostering and adoption programs. He died of Parkinson's disease in Wading River, New York on February 9, 2006.

Pete Frankel (62) former member of the Hawthorne (Calif.) police force who shot three of six robbers holding three clerks and two customers at gunpoint as they raided a surplus store in 1971. Only later did police discover that the robbers were members of the notorious Manson family and that the 140 firearms they had stolen were to be used in a plot to free Charles Manson, imprisoned for the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders. Frankel died of a heart attack in Sun City, California on February 10, 2006.

Mahmoud Fustok (70) thoroughbred horse owner and breeder and a brother-in-law of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah who owned the Buckram Oak Farm near Lexington, Kentucky (1978-2005) until he sold the operation. Fustok's prominent horses included Star Gallant, winner of the 1982 Illinois Derby, and Najran, who in 2003 equaled the world record for a mile race. Fustok was killed when he and a friend were struck by an SUV while jogging, in Pompano Beach, Florida on February 8, 2006.

Gerald Georgettis (56) Florida man accused of driving his new Ford Escape through the Metro Ford dealership's showroom on February 4 and setting it on fire after he became upset about how much he had paid for his car, destroying about a dozen cars and causing about $1 million in damage. Georgettis previously was a sound engineer, roadie, and tour manager for Pink Floyd and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He hanged himself in an airplane bathroom five days after his arrest and was found dead on February 9, 2006.

Robert Neville Jr. (31) paroled burglar who claimed he wanted to be a serial killer of minorities. Neville was executed for the slaying of a mentally impaired woman who once worked with him, in Huntsville, Texas on February 8, 2006.

John J. Partington (77) lawman who as a federal marshal helped to develop the witness protection program. Partington served the US Marshals Service (1962-80), working closely with the Internal Revenue Service on organized-crime cases, and participated in the formation of the witness protection program in the '60s, also helping to protect organized crime figures during the early days of the program. He died of a viral infection after surgery, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island on February 10, 2006.

Robert W. Peterson (80) sports historian whose pioneering history of the Negro baseball leagues, Only the Ball Was White (1970), recaptured a lost era in baseball history and a rich facet of black life in America. Peterson advocated for giving full honors at Cooperstown, New York to Negro leagues' stars. He died of lung cancer in Salisbury Township, Pennsylvania on February 11, 2006.

Christopher Pucinski (48) troubled son of former congressman (D-Ill.) and Chicago alderman (1973-91) Roman Pucinski, who shunned politics and the spotlight and had been turning his life around after a series of personal problems, including two convictions for cocaine possession. Christopher Pucinski was found dead on the second floor after firefighters responded to a fire at the family's Chicago home on February 9, 2006.

Jacob Robida (18) most wanted gang member in Massachusetts for hate crimes, murder, and attempted murder. Robida attacked and harassed patrons at a gay bar earlier in the year and later shot and killed a police officer and a female companion before being caught by authorities. He died of gunshot wounds after a shootout with the police in Norfolk, Arkansas on February 5, 2006.

Max Rosenn (96) senior US Circuit Court judge appointed to the bench by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970. Rosenn became a senior judge in 1981. He died in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on February 7, 2006.

Mitchell Rupe (51) former death row inmate once found too obese to hang. Rupe shot two Olympia, Washington bank tellers to death at point blank range during a 1981 robbery. He died at the Washington State Penitentiary hospital in Walla Walla, Washington on February 7, 2006.


Larry Black (54) gold and silver medalist in track and field at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Black was an 11-time collegiate All-American as a sprinter for North Carolina Central University but saw his life take a dramatic downturn after the Olympics when he battled drug and alcohol addiction in the late ’70s. He defeated his addiction and spent the last 10 years of his life working as a fitness counselor. He died of an aneurysm in Miami, Florida on February 8, 2006.

Ibolya Csak (91) winner of a gold medal for Hungary at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 in one of the most exciting and extraordinary high-jump competitions ever seen. Csak was the first Hungarian woman ever to win an Olympic event and won nine Hungarian national titles. She died on February 9, 2006.

Ron Greenwood (84) former England soccer manager who established his reputation with West Ham United in the '60s and '70s, with the Hammers winning the FA Cup twice, and wiinning the UEFA European Cup Winners Cup in 1965. Greenwood led England to the 1982 FIFA World Cup finals after they failed to make the previous two tournaments. He retired after that tournament and was succeeded by Bobby Robson. Greenwood died in England on February 9, 2006.

Dick Harmon (58) part of golf's most renowned teaching family and son of former Masters champion Claude Harmon. The younger Harmon taught at the Dick Harmon School of Golf near Houston, Texas, where his clients included Masters champions Fred Couples and Craig Stadler and former PGA champion Lanny Wadkins. Harmon was recognized as one of the top 50 golf teachers by Golf Digest and Golf magazine. He died in Palm Desert, California on February 10, 2006.

Jackie Pallo (79) one of the best-known British wrestlers of his era whose bouts were regularly televised on Saturday afternoons. Pallo's autobiography You Grunt, I'll Groan revealed the secrets and scandals of his sport. He later embarked on a mainstream show business career, appearing on the British comedy series Are You Being Served? He died of cancer in Kent, England on February 11, 2006.

Stanley Wilson (90) longtime head of the Texas State Network who secured exclusive rights to broadcast Dallas Cowboys football games on the radio in the '60s and '70s. Wilson enjoyed a 35-year broadcasting career with the Texas State Network, where he held managerial positions at radio and TV stations in Waco, McAllen, and Amarillo. He died in Fort Worth, Texas on February 7, 2006.

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