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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, December 26, 2009

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Arnold Stang, longtime character actorYitzhak Ahronovitch, captain of ‘Exodus’Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Shiite clericBart Andrews, author of TV trivia booksGrigory Baklanov, Russian author and editorCesar Barone, Oregon killerEd Beach, former NYC jazz radio disc jockeyAl Bernardin, invented McDonald’s Quarter PounderDennis Brutus, South African poet and antiapartheid activistRafael Caldera, former president of VenezuelaCharles Wilson Capps Jr., Mississippi state legislatorEsther Chavez, Mexican women’s rights activistVic Chesnutt, singer/songwriterAnn Nixon Cooper, Atlanta centenarianDave Diles, former Detroit sportscasterJohn H. Fischer, superintendent who integrated Baltimore schoolsJames Gurley, guitarist with Big Brother & Holding Co.Tim Hart, founding member of British folk-rock group Steeleye SpanKnut Magne Haugland, last of ‘Kon-Tiki’ crewmenRobert Lewis Howard, America’s most decorated soldierMary Gardiner Jones, first female member of FTCDon Kott, owner of auto dealership chainDr. Edwin G. Krebs, Nobel winnerJudy Kreston, NYC cabaret singerChristos Lambrakis, Greek media mogulMorris E. Lasker, US federal judge in NYCConsuela Lee, jazz pianist and aunt of Spike LeeGeorge Michael, Washington TV sportscasterDavid P. Murbach, chose Rockefeller Center’s Christmas treesBrittany Murphy, Hollywood actressNgapoi Ngawang Jigme, Tibetan who joined Chinese governmentKemper Nomland Jr., LA architectShari Rhodes, casting directorYves Rocher, French businessmanLester Rodney, ‘Daily Worker’ sports editorAlbert Scanlon, British soccer playerRev. Edward Schillebeeckx, Belgian-born priestIhor Sevcenko, scholar of Byzantine and Slavic history and literaturePercy Sutton, civil rights attorneyMatt Turney, former dancer with Martha Graham companyNorval C. White, coauthor of NYC city guideFelix Wurman, cellist who founded concert series

Art and Literature

Grigory Baklanov (86) Russian author and editor who wrote fictional books inspired by his World War II experiences. During Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms, Baklanov was editor of Znamya, a leading literary monthly that published works previously banned by Communist censors and exposing the crimes of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Baklanov died in Moscow, Russia on December 23, 2009.

Dennis Brutus (85) South African poet and former political prisoner who fought apartheid and remained an activist long after the fall of his country’s racist system. Brutus died in his sleep of prostate cancer in Cape Town, South Africa on December 26, 2009.

Business and Science

Al Bernardin (81) McDonald’s franchise owner who developed a more meaty burger by inventing the Quarter Pounder during his long career with the company. The Quarter Pounder was born in 1971 during Bernardin’s years owning McDonald’s franchises in Fremont, Calif. He died of a stroke in Monterey, California on December 22, 2009.

Don Kott (78) US businessman who established a chain of auto dealerships, including his flagship operation in Carson, Calif., next to the 405 Freeway. Kott died of cancer in Long Beach, California on December 21, 2009.

Dr. Edwin G. Krebs (91) scientist who shared a Nobel Prize in 1992 for discovering a crucial bodily process that helps to govern the movement of muscles, the shape and division of cells, and even learning and memory. Krebs died of progressive heart failure in Seattle, Washington on December 21, 2009.

David P. Murbach (57) horticulturist and manager of Rockefeller Center’s gardens division who for 26 years scouted 80-foot spruces from the air and ground to find the perfect Christmas tree for New York’s Rockefeller Center. Murbach was found dead of heart disease in his West Palm Beach, Florida apartment on December 23, 2009.

Kemper Nomland Jr. (90) Los Angeles architect who teamed with his father early in his career to design and build one of the homes in the landmark post-World War II Case Study House program, a forum for experimentation in low-cost modern housing for middle-class families. Nomland & Nomland designed Case Study House No. 10 in Pasadena. Kemper Nomland Jr. died in Long Beach, California on December 25, 2009.

Yves Rocher (79) French businessman, founder of a global chain of beauty products and a pioneering advocate of the use of plants and other natural elements in cosmetics. Rocher’s company has annual sales of euro2 billion ($2.88 billion) and 2,000 stores worldwide. He died in Paris, France on December 26, 2009.


John H. Fischer (99) school superintendent who in 1954 made Baltimore the first large American city to integrate its public schools and later brought reform and innovation to Teachers College at Columbia University as its dean and president in the ‘60s and ’70s. Fischer died of congestive heart failure in Westwood, Massachusetts on December 25, 2009.

Knut Magne Haugland (92) last of six crew members who crossed the Pacific Ocean in 1947 on board the balsa wood raft Kon-Tiki. A former Norwegian resistance fighter and explorer decorated by the British in World War II, Haugland joined the expedition of Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl (d. 2002) as a radio operator. The Kon-Tiki team sailed the raft with basic equipment 4,900 miles to Polynesia from Peru in 101 days. Haugland died in Oslo, Norway on December 25, 2009.

Ihor Sevcenko (87) leading scholar of Byzantine and Slavic history and literature who as a young man persuaded British author George Orwell to collaborate with him on a Ukrainian translation of Animal Farm for distribution to refugees. Sevcenko died of bone cancer in Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 26, 2009.

Norval C. White (83) coauthor of the quintessential city guide, the AIA Guide to New York City, first published in 1968 with 464 pages. The fifth edition, with 1,056 pages, will be published in June 2010. White died of a heart attack in the village of Roques, in southwest France, on December 26, 2009.

News and Entertainment

Bart Andrews (64) author of TV trivia books who wrote The ‘I Love Lucy’ Book (1985), an appreciation of the classic sitcom. Andrews wrote more than 25 books, most of them TV-related with "Trivia” or "Quiz” in the title and four of them about his favorite show, I Love Lucy. He suffered a series of strokes in 2006 and died in Los Angeles, California on December 26, 2009.

Ed Beach (86) host of a popular New York jazz radio show on WRVR (106.7 FM), Just Jazz, in the ‘60s and ’70s who attracted listeners in the city and elsewhere with his sonorous voice, eclectic taste, erudition, and irascible temperament. Beach died in Eugene, Oregon on December 25, 2009.

Vic Chesnutt (45) singer/songwriter whose songs about mortality and vulnerability made him a favorite of critics and fellow musicians. A car crash while driving drunk at age 18 left Chesnutt partly paralyzed, and he performed in a wheelchair. He had been in a coma after purposely taking an overdose of muscle relaxants on Dec. 23 and died two days later in Athens, Georgia on December 25, 2009.

James Gurley (69) virtuoso guitarist with Big Brother & the Holding Company, the psychedelic rock band that launched Janis Joplin to stardom. Gurley died of a heart attack two days before his 70th birthday, in Palm Springs, California on December 20, 2009.

Tim Hart (61) founding member in 1971 of the British folk-rock group Steeleye Span. Hart was a star of the ‘60s folk scene in Britain, first gaining fame in a musical partnership with singer Maddy Prior in 1966. He died of lung cancer on La Gomera, Canary Islands, where he had lived since retiring from the music scene in 1983, on December 24, 2009.

Judy Kreston (76) New York cabaret singer and, for a time (1999-2003), owner of Judy’s Chelsea, a cabaret on Eighth Avenue. Kreston performed for more than 20 years with her husband, pianist David Lahm. She died of cancer in New York City on December 23, 2009.

Christos Lambrakis (75) publisher and journalist who headed Greece’s largest media group for decades and was the driving force behind the creation of Athens’ main venue for classical music concerts. Lambrakis died of multiple organ failure after undergoing heart surgery on Nov. 30, in Athens, Greece on December 21, 2009.

Consuela Lee (83) jazz pianist who fought to establish an arts school for children in rural Alabama on the grounds of the defunct academy founded by her grandfather in 1893. Lee was an aunt of filmmaker Spike Lee. She died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease in Atlanta, Georgia, where she had lived since 2007, on December 26, 2009.

Brittany Murphy (32) actress who got her start in the sleeper hit Clueless (1995) and rose to stardom in the Eminem vehicle 8 Mile (2002) before her movie roles declined in recent years. Murphy went into cardiac arrest at her Hollywood Hills home and was pronounced dead at a Los Angeles, California hospital on December 20, 2009. An autopsy showed she died of pneumonia complicated by anemia and prescription drugs.

Shari Rhodes (71) casting director for the film industry for 30 years. Rhodes cast such movies as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Silverado, Tender Mercies, and Terms of Endearment. She had been working in Albuquerque casting TV series such as Crash, Breaking Bad, and In Plain Sight. She died of cancer in Santa Fe, New Mexico on December 20, 2009.

Arnold Stang (91) character actor whose bespectacled nerdy face and distinctive nasal urban twang made him unique and recognizable, whether on radio or TV, in the movies or in commercials, or even in cartoons (Top Cat). Stang began his show business career as a teenager—his first radio appearances were on the shows The Horn & Hardart Children’s Hour and Let’s Pretend—and he later performed on dozens of radio programs in the ‘30s and ’40s, including soap operas, mysteries, and comedies and often played more than one role. Most memorably, Stang was one of two gas station attendants (Marvin Kaplan was the other) who witness the destruction of their station by Jonathan Winters in the 1963 lunatic film comedy It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Stang died of pneumonia in Newton, Massachusetts on December 20, 2009.

Matt Turney (84) principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company (‘50s-’70s). Turney created roles in major Graham works, most memorably as the Pioneering Woman in the 1944 Graham classic Appalachian Spring. She died of complications from Parkinson’s disease in Poughkeepsie, New York on December 20, 2009.

Felix Wurman (51) cellist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra who founded the Church of Beethoven performance series of Sunday morning concerts in Albuquerque. Wurman died of bladder cancer in Hillsborough, North Carolina on December 26, 2009.

Politics and Military

Yitzhak Ahronovitch (86) captain of the Exodus ship whose attempt to take 4,500 Holocaust survivors to Palestine in 1947 built support for Israel’s founding. Britain controlled Palestine at the time and was limiting the immigration of Jews. The British navy seized the vessel off Palestine’s shores and, after a battle on board that left three people dead, turned the ship and its passengers back to Europe. The event inspired a fictionalized account by American writer Leon Uris and a classic 1960 film directed by Otto Preminger and starring Paul Newman. Ahronovitch died in northern Israel on December 23, 2009.

Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri (87) senior Shiite cleric who helped to forge Iran’s religious government but later became a critic of its hard-line rulers. Once designated to succeed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Iran’s supreme leader, Montazeri renounced the country’s hard-line path in the ‘80s and later embraced the reform movement. He died of heart failure in his sleep in Beirut, Lebanon on December 20, 2009.

Rafael Caldera (93) former two-time Venezuelan president. Caldera had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for several years. He died in Caracas, Venezuela on December 24, 2009.

Charles Wilson Capps Jr. (84) Mississippi politician, once one of the most powerful members of the state legislature and the longest-serving (1972-2005) in the state house. Capps died in Cleveland, Mississippi on December 25, 2009.

Ann Nixon Cooper (107) centenarian spotlighted by US President Barack Obama in his election night victory speech as someone who had witnessed "the heartbreak and the hope” of the 20th century. Ann Cooper first registered to vote on Sept. 1, 1941, but because of segregation did not vote for years. She died less than a month before her 108th birthday, in the Atlanta, Georgia home where she had lived since 1938, on December 21, 2009.

Robert Lewis Howard (70) considered America’s most decorated soldier. Howard served in the US Army (1956-92) and was nominated three times for the Medal of Honor, the nation’s most prestigious award for combat veterans. He was awarded it once, for his bravery in Vietnam during a mission to rescue a missing soldier in enemy territory. He was wounded 14 times in Vietnam and was awarded eight Purple Hearts. He died in Waco, Texas on December 23, 2009.

Mary Gardiner Jones (89) consumer advocate who, as the first female member of the Federal Trade Commission in the ‘60s and early ’70s, helped to ensure that products were safer, less expensive, and more truthfully advertised. Jones died of congestive heart failure in Washington, DC on December 23, 2009.

Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme (99) former Tibetan aristocrat who declared allegiance to Beijing after the Communist takeover of his Himalayan homeland. Ngapoi became one of the most prominent Tibetan figures in the Chinese government. He died two months short of his 100th birthday, in Beijing, China on December 23, 2009.

Percy Sutton (89) civil rights attorney who represented Malcolm X before launching successful careers as a political power broker and media mogul. Sutton died in New York City on December 26, 2009.

Society and Religion

Cesar Barone (49) Oregon death row inmate who killed four women in the early ‘90s. Barone had been awaiting execution since 1995. He died of natural causes after several weeks in the infirmary at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, on December 24, 2009.

Esther Chavez (73) women’s rights activist who first drew attention to the brutal slayings of women in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where more than 100 women were strangled and their bodies dumped in the desert or vacant lots in a string of killings that began in the ‘90s. Chavez died of cancer in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on December 25, 2009.

Morris E. Lasker (92) US federal judge in New York and Massachusetts for 40 years who struck down squalid, often brutal conditions in New York City jails and upheld prisoners’ rights. Lasker also sentenced Ivan Boesky to prison in an ‘80s insider trading scandal. He died of cancer in Cambridge, Massachusetts on December 25, 2009.

Rev. Edward Schillebeeckx (95) prominent Belgian-born member of a wave of Roman Catholic theologians who helped to reshape Catholicism during the Second Vatican Council in the ‘60s. Schillebeeckx’s writings were later investigated for heresy. He died in Nijmegen, Netherlands on December 23, 2009.


Dave Diles (78) longtime local and national sports broadcaster and commentator. Diles was a mainstay of Detroit sports for much of the ‘60s-‘80s when he worked for WXYZ-AM radio and WXYZ-TV. He hosted the first radio sports talk show in Detroit, called Dial Dave Diles, and gained national fame when he worked for ABC Sports for part of the ‘70s and ‘80s, hosting Wide World of Sports. He died of complications from a stroke suffered in April, in Athens, Ohio on December 26, 2009.

George Michael (70) TV personality on the Washington, DC sports TV scene for decades who reached a national audience with The George Michael Sports Machine highlights show (1980-2007). Michael died of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in Washington, DC on December 24, 2009.

Lester Rodney (98) former sports editor of the American Communist Party newspaper, the Daily Worker, who fought an early battle against baseball’s color barrier. In the ‘30s and early ‘40s, Rodney used his sports section to condemn racial discrimination in professional sports and to spotlight the talents of players in the Negro leagues, starting more than 10 years before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Rodney died in Walnut Creek, California on December 20, 2009.

Albert Scanlon (74) former Manchester United soccer player, one of the survivors of the 1958 Munich air disaster. One of the "Busby Babes” who earned their nickname for being trained through the youth system and playing for the first team under manager Matt Busby, Scanlon made his debut for United in 1954 at 19. He had been hospitalized since October with a kidney ailment and pneumonia and died in Salford, England on December 22, 2009.

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