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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, February 20, 2010

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Kathryn Grayson, MGM musical starGen. Alexander Haig, former US Secretary of StateJohn (‘Jack’) Babcock, last Canadian WWI veteranArnold Beichman, conservative political analyst, author, and columnistJim Bibby, former major league pitcherCharmette Bonpua, top aide to LA city councilmanHank Brokaw, California avocado and citrus nurserymanDr. Barton Childs, leader in pediatric geneticsIlona Copen, founder of ballet competitionThomas Michael Eggers, former California mayorDoug Fieger, The Knack singer who cowrote ‘My Sharona’Dr. Anita Figueredo, first female surgeon in San DiegoDick Francis, former British jockey turned best-selling mystery writerLee Freeman, founding member of Strawberry Alarm Clock bandBruno Gironcoli, Austrian sculptorBill Gordon, designed radio telescopeSam Hamilton, head of US Fish & Wildlife ServiceMary Susan Herczog, travel writer who wrote about her illnessMaj. Gen. Jeanne M. Holm, first female USAF generalLionel Jeffries, British actor and directorSandy Kenyon, familiar character actorJohn Kibler, former National League umpireDana Kirk, former Memphis State basketball coachEmilio Lavazza, head of Italian espresso coffee companyDr. Robert E. Litman, cofounded first suicide prevention centerBetty Mabee, breeder of racehorsesRaymond Mason, British sculptorDr. Walter Plowright, British veterinarianSylvia B. Pressler, judge whose ruling allowed girls to play in Little LeagueJohn Thorbjarnarson, expert on crocodiles and alligatorsLeRoy W. Tillman Jr., AP Washington reporterArt van Damme, jazz accordionist

Art and Literature

Dick Francis (89) best-selling British thriller writer and former jockey. Francis was the author of 42 novels. He was also a successful jockey, winning over 350 races. He retired from racing in 1957 and took up writing, first as a racing correspondent for Britain’s Sunday Express newspaper, then began writing novels in ‘62. He died in the Cayman Islands on February 14, 2010.

Bruno Gironcoli (73) Austrian sculptor whose eclectic works and techniques defied categorization. Gironcoli’s refusal to be pinned down to a particular style or direction made him unique on Austria’s artistic scene. He died in Vienna, Austria on February 19, 2010.

Mary Susan Herczog (45) travel writer who reacted to being diagnosed with breast cancer at 33 by documenting her treatment with humor in the Los Angeles Times and on her web site. Herczog died of complications related to the disease, in Silver Lake, California on February 16, 2010.

Raymond Mason (87) British sculptor whose crowded street scenes and narrative sculptures portray a world of ordinary people. Mason, who spent most of his working life in Paris, developed a style of relief sculpture, initially in plaster and bronze, but, starting in the late ‘60s, in epoxy resin, which he painted in vibrant colors. He died of heart failure in Paris, France on February 14, 2010.

Business and Science

Hank Brokaw (82) avocado and citrus nurseryman who played a crucial role in the development of California’s avocado industry. Brokaw had suffered several strokes over the last two years and had been in declining health. He died in Santa Paula, California on February 17, 2010.

Dr. Barton Childs (93) leader in pediatric genetics and an important contributor to the understanding of inherited diseases. Childs taught at Johns Hopkins University for nearly 70 years until shortly before his death from lung disease in Baltimore, Maryland on February 18, 2010.

Dr. Anita Figueredo (93) first female surgeon in San Diego and a well-known philanthropist who was close friends with Mother Teresa for 40 years. Figueredo suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died two weeks later in La Jolla, California on February 19, 2010.

Bill Gordon (92) engineer who in the ‘50s designed the Arecibo Observatory’s photogenic radio telescope in Puerto Rico that spotted the first planets beyond our solar system and lakes on one of Saturn’s moons. The telescope is a 1,000-foot-wide dish set in a sinkhole surrounded by forested hills. Gordon died in Ithaca, New York on February 16, 2010.

Emilio Lavazza (78) Italian businessman who helped to make Lavazza coffee the best-selling espresso in Italy and expanded its global reach to 90 countries. Lavazza started working in 1955 in the family-run business founded by his grandfather Luigi in the late 1800s in Turin. He died of a heart attack in the northern city of Turin, Italy on February 16, 2010.

Dr. Robert E. Litman (88) psychiatrist who cofounded the nation’s first comprehensive suicide prevention center more than 50 years ago in Los Angeles and carried out groundbreaking work there. 

Litman died of acute leukemia in Manhattan Beach, California on February 14, 2010.

Dr. Walter Plowright (86) British veterinarian often called one of the "heroes of the 20th century” because of the massive increase in meat and dairy products resulting from his development of a vaccine that has almost totally eliminated the cattle disease rinderpest. Plowright died in London, England on February 19, 2010.

John Thorbjarnarson (52) US herpetologist, one of the world’s leading experts on crocodiles and alligators. Thorbjarnarson contracted malaria while studying the dwarf crocodile in Uganda. He died of the disease in New Delhi after arriving in India to speak to a wildlife group, on February 15, 2010.

News and Entertainment

Ilona Copen (70) cofounder in 1983 with Igor Youskevitch (d. 1994) of the New York International Ballet Competition and a champion of the exchange of ideas among dance companies around the world. Copen died of cancer in New York City on February 20, 2010.

Doug Fieger (57) leader of the power pop band The Knack who sang on the 1979 hit "My Sharona." Fieger formed The Knack in Los Angeles in 1978, and the group quickly became a staple of Sunset Strip rock clubs. He battled cancer for six years; in 2006 he underwent surgery to remove two tumors from his brain. Fieger died in Woodland Hills, California on February 14, 2010.

Lee Freeman (60) member of the ‘60s band Strawberry Alarm Clock, famous for its flower-power anthem that became a No. 1 hit in 1967. Freeman, who played rhythm guitar, sang, and wrote lyrics, was an original member of the band, called The Sixpence when it was formed in 1966. He died of cancer in San Bruno, California on February 14, 2010.

Kathryn Grayson (88) actress and singer whose beauty and lilting coloratura soprano voice brightened such popular MGM musicals of the ‘40s and ‘50s as Anchors Aweigh, Show Boat, and Kiss Me Kate. Grayson is shown above in one of her early films, Seven Sweethearts (1941), with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh (1945), and in The Toast of New Orleans (1950). She died in her sleep, eight days after her 88th birthday, in Los Angeles, California on February 17, 2010.

Lionel Jeffries (83) British actor whose numerous film roles included Grandpa Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), although he was six months younger than Dick van Dyke, who played his son. Jeffries also wrote and directed the 1971 film The Railway Children, voted one of Britain’s 100 best films by the British Film Institute in ‘99. He died in Poole, in southern England, on February 19, 2010.

Sandy Kenyon (87) character actor and director who provided the voice of Jon Arbuckle in the first Garfield TV special, Here Comes Garfield (1982). Kenyon also appeared in hundreds of movies, TV programs, and stage plays and was recognizable for his prominent cheekbones. He died in Los Angeles, California on February 20, 2010.

LeRoy W. Tillman Jr. (54) former reporter for the Associated Press who covered the city of Washington, DC for more than 10 years (1986-98). Tillman was found dead of a massive heart attack in Washington, DC on February 17, 2010.

Art van Damme (89) US musician known internationally as the father of jazz accordion. Known for his melodic jazz improvisation, Van Damme cut nearly 50 jazz records, made as many world concert tours, and appeared on numerous NBC radio and TV shows (‘60s-‘80s). He died in Roseville, California, a Sacramento suburb, on February 15, 2010.

Politics and Military

John (Jack) Babcock (109) oldest and reportedly the last Canadian veteran of World War I. A naturalized US citizen, Babcock died in Spokane, Washington, where he had lived since 1932, on February 18, 2010.

Arnold Beichman (96) political analyst, author, and newspaper columnist known for being ardently anti-Communist. Beichman was also a research fellow at the conservative-leaning Hoover Institution at Stanford and, since 1986, a columnist for the Washington Times. He died in Pasadena, California on February 17, 2010.

Charmette Bonpua (44) chief of staff to Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson. Bonpua worked behind the scenes as a senior aide for some of the most powerful figures in California government. She was Wesson’s chief of staff when he was speaker of the California Assembly. She died a week after suffering an aneurysm while on a family trip, in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 14, 2010.

Thomas Michael Eggers (61) former mayor of Dana Point, Calif. Eggers died of a heart attack in San Juan Capistrano, California on February 16, 2010.

Gen. Alexander Haig (85) former US Secretary of State, a four-star general, and a top adviser to three Presidents who had Presidential ambitions of his own. Haig’s long and decorated military career launched the Washington career for which he was better known, including top posts in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations. He ran unsuccessfully for President in 1988. He died of complications from an infection, in Baltimore, Maryland on February 20, 2010.

Sam Hamilton (54) head of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and a 30-year veteran of wildlife and habitat conservation. Hamilton suffered a fatal heart attack while skiing at the Keystone Ski Area in Summit County, Colorado on February 20, 2010.

Maj. Gen. Jeanne M. Holm (88) first female general in the US Air Force and the first woman in any military branch to become a two-star general. Holm died of pneumonia in Annapolis, Maryland on February 15, 2010.

Society and Religion

Sylvia B. Pressler (75) trailblazing judge whose 1973 ruling opened Little League baseball to girls. Pressler had been battling lymphoma and was scheduled to begin chemotherapy treatments the next day when she died in Sparta, New Jersey on February 15, 2010.


Jim Bibby (65) former major league pitcher. Bibby played 12 years (1972-84) in the majors and pitched the first no-hitter in Texas Rangers history, beating Oakland 6-0 in 1973. He was a member of the Pittsburgh team that won the 1979 World Series, starting two games against Baltimore—including the deciding seventh game. He died in Lynchburg, Virginia on February 16, 2010.

John Kibler (81) longtime National League umpire. Kibler worked his first major league game in 1963 and was a full-time NL umpire (1965-89). He worked the World Series four times and was at first base for Game 6 of the 1986 Series between the Mets and the Boston Red Sox, which the Mets famously won when Mookie Wilson’s ground ball rolled between first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs. Kibler died of a heart attack in Palo Alto, California on February 18, 2010.

Dana Kirk (74) basketball coach who had a 158-58 record in seven years at Memphis State, now the University of Memphis. Kirk guided the Memphis State Tigers to a 1985 Final Four appearance that was later vacated because of NCAA violations. Kirk was fired after the 1986 season, just before he was indicted for income tax evasion. He served four months in a federal minimum-security prison in Montgomery, Ala. He died of a heart attack in Memphis, Tennessee on February 15, 2010.

Betty Mabee (88) philanthropist who with her husband, John (d. 2002), built one of California’s leading Thoroughbred breeding farms in the hills of Ramona. The Mabees were consistently named California’s leading breeders (1990-2001). In the ‘90s, they won three Eclipse Awards as the outstanding Thoroughbred breeders in North America. Betty Mabee died in Rancho Santa Fe, California on February 15, 2010.

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