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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, April 30, 2016

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Daniel Aaron, Harvard scholar of American studiesMel Bartholomew, engineer of square foot gardeningRemo Belli, musician who developed synthetic drumheadsRev. Daniel Berrigan, priest who led protests against Vietnam WarJoe Blahak, Nebraska defensive backMurry Blankenship, Mississippi newspaper editor and publisherConrad Burns, US senator from MontanaHarold Cohen, painter who developed computer software for generating artRobert J. Cooper, creator of St-Germain elderflower liqueurEd Davender, Kentucky basketball standoutJenny Diski, British writerMarisol, '60s Pop artist and friend of Andy WarholConnor Everts, LA artist charged with obscenity in 1964Bob Fitch, photojournalist who chronicled '60s civil rights movementWinston Hill, NY Jets offensive tacklePerry Hooper Sr., chief justice of Alabama Supreme CourtSteve Julian, Pasadena radio broadcasterPhilip Kives, TV pitchmanTommy Kono, Olympic weight lifter and champion bodybuilderHarold Kroto, Nobel Prize-winning scientistRev. Samuel Billy Kyles, civil rights leader who witnessed MLK assassinationSteven Lapierre, Vermont volunteer firefighterRobert E. Linton, Wall Street executive who led Drexel Burnham LambertAnthony ('Zippy') Morocco, University of Georgia two-sport standoutBilly Paul, jazz and soul singerTerry Redlin, painter of wildlife and outdoor scenesMuhammad Salah, Chicago man accused of supporting HamasBlackie Sherrod, Texas sportswriterOzzie Silna, co-owner of Spirits of St. LouisJames B. Taylor, one of first black principals of LA Unified School DistrictPapa Wemba, Congolese musicianGeorge Weymouth, member of Du Pont family and friend of painter Andrew WyethWillie L. Williams, first black chief of LAPDHarry Wu, former Chinese political prisoner

Art and Literature

Harold Cohen (87) abstract painter who developed Aaron, one of the first and most complex computer software programs for generating works of art. Cohen was weary of the traditional practice of art in the late ‘60s when he taught himself how to program a computer, inventing a computer-programmed drawing machine, whose works he exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1972. Later, as Cohen developed algorithms that allowed a computer to draw lines with the irregularity of free-hand drawing, Aaron learned to make choices about open and closed shapes and foreground and background, and to recognize when an artwork had reached completion. Cohen died of congestive heart failure in Encinitas, California on April 27, 2016.

Jenny Diski (68) British writer who channeled the turmoil of her early years, which included suicide attempts and confinement in mental hospitals, into bitingly humorous novels, memoirs, and essays. Diski got off to a late start as a writer. She was almost 40 when she published her first novel, Nothing Natural, about a single mother in a sadomasochistic relationship that leads to a mental breakdown. Its account of sexual degradation and psychic disintegration impressed those who were not appalled by its sexual politics. Diski later explored madness, depression, and isolation in nearly a dozen novels and a series of memoirs. She died of lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis in London, England on April 28, 2016.

Maria Sol ('Marisol') Escobar (85) Venezuelan-American artist who fused Pop Art imagery and folk art in assemblages and sculptures that, together with her mysterious persona, made her one of the most compelling artists on the New York scene in the ‘60s. Escobar, who adopted Marisol as her name when she began exhibiting in New York in the late ‘50s, introduced a new element to the emerging Pop Art lexicon. Influenced equally by pre-Columbian art, she began constructing tableaus of carved wooden figures embellished with drawings, fabric, and found objects. Marisol often appeared at parties beside Andy Warhol (d. 1987), who turned the camera on her in his underground films The Kiss (1962) and 13 Most Beautiful Women (1963). Largely forgotten today, she died of pneumonia in New York City on April 30, 2016.

Connor Everts (88) Los Angeles-area artist whose sociopolitical art was the subject of a ‘60s obscenity trial. In 1964 sheriff's deputies arrested Everts for having produced a poster displayed in a store window. They said its depiction of a womb and a face was a violation of state obscenity laws. The ensuing court case became a local cause celebre as fellow artists and progressives rallied to Everts' side, and he was acquitted. He died in Torrance, California on April 24, 2016.

Terry Redlin (78) South Dakota outdoors artist. Redlin was known for his paintings of wildlife and outdoor scenes. His depictions of ducks, deer, and rustic cabins decorate everything from coffee mugs to jigsaw puzzles. The Redlin Art Center museum features more than 150 of his original oil paintings and many prints, sketches, and childhood drawings. The gallery has drawn more than 3 million visitors since it opened in 1997. Redlin also was known for his conservation work; over 17 years his art donations to Ducks Unlimited raised more than $28 million for wetlands projects. The Terry Redlin Environmental Center opened in Watertown, SD in 2010, with exhibits on native ecosystems, wetlands, and the prairie. Redfin died in Watertown, South Dakota after a nine-year struggle with dementia, on April 24, 2016.

Business and Science

Mel Bartholomew (84) construction engineer who turned lattice into lettuce by popularizing a gridlike framework for what he called square foot gardening. Bartholomew turned to gardening after retiring at age 42 and moving his family to Long Island. Frustrated with weeding and watering rows of vegetables in his backyard, he applied his engineering expertise to conceive a densely packed, 12-foot-by-12-foot subdivided plot. It soon captured the imaginations of aspiring horticulturists, introduced a bountiful harvest of vegetables into diets around the world, and inspired a public TV program and a book that sold an estimated 2.5 million copies. Bartholomew died of liver cancer in San Diego, California on April 28, 2016.

Remo Belli (88) musician credited with developing the first commercially successful synthetic drumheads—saving the hides of countless animals, turning millions of finger-tapping novices into accomplished percussionists, and feeding rock ’n’ roll fever in the ‘60s. In 1957, along with his collaborators, Belli perfected and started marketing what has been described as the first successful artificial drumhead, the membrane that stretches over the open end of a drum. It replaced animal hides—usually calfskin—with a durable, acoustical polyester film manufactured under various brand names, including Mylar, made by DuPont. It was later incorporated into products as varied as nail polish and spacesuits. Belli died of pneumonia in Pasadena, California on April 25, 2016.

Robert J. Cooper (39) scion of the family that owns Charles Jacquin et Cie, an old cordials and liqueurs house based in Philadelphia. Cooper's elderflower liqueur, St-Germain, introduced in 2007, was so completely embraced by the cocktail community that it became known as “bartender’s ketchup.” Hungry for new ingredients and flavors to work with, bartenders tossed it into every other new drink. By 2008 it was ubiquitous and helped to resuscitate the dormant liqueur business. Cooper died in Santa Barbara, California on April 25, 2016.

Philip Kives (87) TV pitchman whose commercials implored viewers to “wait, there’s more!” while selling everything from vegetable slicers to hit music compilations on vinyl. Kives became wealthy in the '60s after founding marketing company K-tel International, which sold Miracle Brush hair removers, Veg-o-matic vegetable slicers, and compilation albums with such titles as Goofy Greats among numerous other products. His biggest-selling product was the Miracle Brush, which sold 28 million in the late ‘60s. More products followed, including the Pocket Fisherman, a hamburger patty stacker, and the mood ring. His biggest music seller was Hooked on Classics, which sold more than 10 million records. Kives died in Toronto, Canada on April 27, 2016.

Harold Kroto (76) British scientist who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering a new arrangement of carbon known as the buckyball. As a spectroscopic chemist, Kroto used electromagnetic radiation to reveal the structures of molecules. His Nobel-winning discovery, which he shared with Richard E. Smalley and Robert F. Curl Jr. of Rice University in Houston, Texas, was the Buckminsterfullerene molecule, a cage of 60 carbon atoms made of interlocking pentagons and hexagons. Kroto named it after Buckminster Fuller (d. 1983), the visionary architect whose geodesic dome-shaped buildings closely resemble the fullerene sphere. Kroto died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in East Sussex, England on April 30, 2016.

Robert E. Linton (90) Wall Street executive who led the investment bank Drexel Burnham Lambert in the years before it imploded in scandal. But Linton was largely untainted himself. During his tenure in the early ‘80s, Linton oversaw the firm’s rapid expansion into one of the nation’s biggest—and most profitable—investment banks. At its height, Drexel pioneered the junk bond industry and came to symbolize the ‘80s “greed is good” mentality on Wall Street, inspiring movies and books that detailed the risk-taking of that era. But in 1989 prosecutors filed six felony counts of mail and securities fraud against the firm, which pleaded guilty and later dissolved. Michael R. Milken, the “Junk Bond King” and a central figure in the case, also admitted to crimes, topping off what was then the largest criminal prosecution in Wall Street history. Linton died of heart failure in New York City on April 26, 2016.


Daniel Aaron (103) founding scholar and ambassador of American studies who explored and explained his country through books, essays, and diplomatic missions and helped to preserve the literary canon as first president of the Library of America. Aaron was a professor emeritus at Harvard University, where even at age 100 he worked daily at his office. He died of pneumonia in Cambridge, Massachusetts a week after being hospitalized for breathing problems, on April 30, 2016.

James B. Taylor (89) one of the Los Angeles Unified School District‘s first black principals—and a deputy superintendent during an era of integration controversies who lamented the intrusion of politics into education. An early advocate of magnet schools, Taylor broke racial barriers when he was appointed principal of predominantly white John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, then returned to South LA in 1967 to become first principal of Locke High School. He eventually ascended to the district’s No. 2 post, working as its chief operating officer in the ‘70s. Taylor died of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles, California on April 26, 2016.


Perry Hooper Sr. (91) former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice. Hooper once worked as staff attorney for Justice Davis Stakely. He was working in a private law practice when he was elected probate judge of Montgomery County, then circuit judge until 1983. In 1995 he was elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He also coached football and basketball in youth leagues for many years. Hooper died in Montgomery, Alabama on April 24, 2016.

Willie L. Willams (72) first black chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, who stabilized the agency in the wake of the 1992 riots but was distrusted as an outsider by many officers and politicians. Williams rose to the top ranks of the Philadelphia Police Department before he stepped into the top job at the LAPD, then reeling from its poor handling of the riots that erupted after the acquittal of officers who beat Rodney G. King during a violent arrest. Williams pushed for increased hiring of female officers and advocated reforms in training and discipline but failed to win a second five-year term. He died of pancreatic cancer in Fayetteville, Georgia on April 27, 2016.

News and Entertainment

Murry Blankenship (72) longtime owner, editor, and publisher of the Okolona Messenger newspaper in north Mississippi. Before buying the weekly newspaper, Blankenship worked as a manager of Woolworth stores in Albany and Atlanta, Georgia. He also worked as an area supervisor for Bill’s Dollar Stores. He died in Okolona, Mississippi on April 30, 2016.

Bob Fitch (76) self-taught photojournalist whose images chronicled America’s ambivalence over civil rights and illustrated the passion behind other protest movements since the ‘60s. Fitch photographed Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent black civil rights figures as official chronicler of their organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Dorothy Day of the Catholic Workers Movement; Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers (his photo was the prototype for a 2002 postage stamp), and Jesuit priests Daniel and Philip Berrigan and their followers who opposed the draft and the war in Vietnam. Shown above is Fitch's photo of 106-year-old El Fondren of Batesville, Mississippi, after he registered to vote for the first time in 1966. Fitch died of Parkinson's disease in Watsonville, California on April 29, 2016.

Steve Julian (57) local host of National Public Radio's Morning Edition on KPCC radio in Pasadena, Calif. who delivered news, traffic, and weather for 15 years. A southern California native, Julian began his career in broadcasting in 1980 but then decided to follow his father’s footsteps and become a police officer. He returned to radio in 1995 and in 2000 went on the air at KPCC, where he remained for the rest of his career. Julian was among the first Los Angeles-area broadcasters to report the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. His final broadcast was in November 2015; in January 2016, KPCC named a studio in his honor. He died of brain cancer in South Pasadena, California on April 24, 2016.

Billy Paul (80) jazz and soul singer best known for the No. 1 hit ballad and “Philadelphia Soul” classic “Me & Mrs. Jones.” Paul’s career spanned more than 60 years. Known for his beard and large glasses, he was one of many singers who found success with the writing and producing team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, whose Philadelphia International Records also released music by the O’Jays, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and Lou Rawls. Paul had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died in Blackwood, New Jersey on April 24, 2016.

Papa Wemba (66) musician known around the world as the king of Congolese rumba. Wemba rose to fame in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa during the ‘70s with the band Zaiko Langa Langa, whose guitar-based fusion of Latin and African dance styles inspired a generation of African musicians. With a new band, Viva La Musica, Wemba moved to Paris in the ‘80s and helped to popularize Congolese music beyond Africa. He also was a pioneer of the “sapeur” youth culture marked by its dedication to extravagant fashions. The young men are known for wearing stylish suits and fedora hats. Wemba died after collapsing on stage during a concert in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on April 24, 2016.

Politics and Military

Conrad Burns (81) former US senator from Montana, a onetime cattle auctioneer whose folksy demeanor and political acumen earned him three terms and the bitter disdain of his opponents. As a Republican senator, Burns used his influence on the Appropriations committee to set the course on energy development and public lands management across the rural West. But he was ousted from office in 2006 under the specter of scandal after developing close ties to “superlobbyist” Jack Abramoff, who was later jailed for conspiracy and fraud. No charges were ever filed against Burns, who dismissed criticism over the affairs as “old political hooey.” He died in Billings, Montana on April 28, 2016.

Steven Lapierre (58) Vermont volunteer firefighter. Lapierre was a volunteer firefighter in Georgia, Vt. for more than 40 years and was the town’s fire warden for almost 20 years. He retired from the St. Albans City Fire Department in 2010. He was the first member of the Georgia Volunteer Fire Department to die in the line of duty in its 64-year history. He died of a heart attack while helping to extinguish a brush fire in the northwest Vermont town of Georgia on April 27, 2016.

Harry Wu (79) former political prisoner who dedicated his later life to exposing abuses in China’s brutal prison labor camp system. Wu was born into a prosperous family in Shanghai that saw most of its property confiscated after the civil war victory of Mao Zedong’s Communists in 1949. Wu fell afoul of the authorities for his criticism of the Soviet Union, China’s then-ally, and was sentenced in 1960 at age 23 to China’s prison camp system known as laogai, or “reform through labor.” Laogai was notorious for punishing intellectuals and political prisoners with long sentences and brutal conditions, and the camps were blamed by some for causing millions of deaths. Wu spent various terms in 12 different camps, experiencing harsh work regimens on farms, coal mines, and work sites, along with beatings, torture, and near starvation. Released in 1979 after Mao’s death in ‘76, he moved to the US in ‘85, where he taught, wrote, and founded the Laogai Research Foundation. He died while on vacation in Honduras, on April 26, 2016.

Society and Religion

Rev. Daniel Berrigan (94) Roman Catholic priest whose defiant protests helped to shape Americans' opposition to the Vietnam War. The priest, writer, and poet became a household name in the US in the ‘60s after being imprisoned for burning draft files in a protest against the war. Berrigan and his younger brother, Rev. Philip Berrigan (d. 2002), emerged as leaders of the radical antiwar movement in the ‘60s. The Berrigan brothers entered a draft board in Catonsville, Maryland on May 17, 1968 with seven other activists and removed records of young men about to be shipped off to Vietnam. The group took the files outside and burned them in garbage cans. The Catonsville Nine, as they came to be known, were convicted on federal charges accusing them of destroying US property and interfering with the Selective Service Act of 1967. All were sentenced on Nov. 9, 1968 to prison terms ranging from two to 3.5 years. Daniel Berrigan died in New York City on April 30, 2016.

Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles (81) longtime civil rights leader who was present when Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on a Memphis hotel balcony. King went to Memphis in 1968 to help striking sanitation workers, who were seeking safer working conditions and better pay. At about 6 p.m. on April 4, King, Kyles, and others were about to leave the Lorraine Motel to go to dinner when a .30-caliber bullet killed King. Kyles was the subject of a 2008 documentary short film about the assassination, The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306; the film was nominated for an Oscar. Kyles died of dementia in Memphis, Tennessee on April 26, 2016.

Muhammad Salah 62) suburban Chicago man who fought off charges that he supported Hamas, a Palestinian fundamentalist organization. A Palestinian native and US citizen since 1979, Salah was classified as a specially designated terrorist by the US Treasury Department in the ‘90s. He was imprisoned in Israel for more than four years after $95,000 was found in his East Jerusalem hotel room that police said was to bankroll terrorism. Salah, who contended the money was for humanitarian purposes, pleaded guilty to charges of providing support to Hamas extremists; his lawyers said the confession was coerced by days of sleep deprivation and physical abuse. He was released in 1997. In 2007 Salah was tried and acquitted of racketeering conspiracy for his alleged support of Hamas but was convicted of obstruction for lying under oath about the fatal Hamas shooting of an American teenager in a 1996 drive-by shooting on Israel's West Bank; a federal judge sentenced him to 21 months in prison. He died of cancer in Bridgeview, Illinois on April 24, 2016.

George Weymouth (79) member of the Du Pont family and a longtime fixture in fox-hunting, polo, steeplechase, and carriage-driving circles. A museum founder, conservationist, and artist, Weymouth for years helped to hide a secret cache of his artist friend Andrew Wyeth's now-famous “Helga” portraits. Weymouth opened the Brandywine River Museum of Art in 1971 in a converted gristmill as a place to display the works of his lifelong friend Wyeth (d. 2009). Weymouth died of congestive heart failure in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania on April 24, 2016.


Joe Blahak (65) former Nebraska defensive back, a member of the Cornhuskers' national championship teams in 1970–71. Blahak was best known for throwing a key block to clear the way for Johnny Rodgers' 72-yard punt return for a touchdown in the 1971 Game of the Century against Oklahoma. Some observers believe Blahak's block actually was a clip, but no penalty was called and the Huskers won 35-31. Blahak was named All-Big Eight in 1971–72 and selected by Houston in the eighth round of the ‘73 NFL draft. He played for four teams over five seasons and later worked in the insurance business in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he died on April 25, 2016.

Ed Davender (49) former Kentucky guard, the only Wildcat with at least 1,500 points and 400 assists. Davender ranked 11th in Kentucky scoring with 1,637 points and eighth with 436 assists while playing with the Wildcats from 1984–88. He was among the top 10 in several other categories, including fourth with 191 steals. His 438 free throws are the most by a Kentucky guard. The two-time Associated Press all-Southeastern Conference selection helped Kentucky to win SEC tournament titles in 1986 and ‘88 and play in four NCAA Tournaments. He died of a heart attack in Lexington, Kentucky on April 28, 2016.

Winston Hill (74) All-Pro offensive tackle who played 15 seasons and helped to protect Joe Namath on the way to the New York Jets’s Super Bowl victory in 1969. Hill made a franchise-record eight All-Star teams, the first five at left tackle and the last three on the right. He also held the team mark for offensive linemen with 195 consecutive games played, keeping his streak going despite breaking a leg in the 1965 preseason. He also was selected in 1970 for the American Football League's all-time second team. A member of the Jets’s inaugural Ring of Honor class in 2010, Hill died in his adopted hometown of Denver, Colorado on April 26, 2016.

Tommy Kono (85) California-born Japanese-American who took up weightlifting in an internment camp during World War II and later won two Olympic gold medals for the US. Kono was a frail, asthmatic 14-year-old when a neighbor first gave him a dumbbell at the Tule Lake internment center in northern California. He had packed on 15 pounds of muscle by the time he left the camp in 1945. He became one of the sport's greatest champions, winning golds in Helsinki in 1952 and Melbourne in ’56. He also won a silver medal at the 1960 games in Rome and six straight world championships in the ‘50s. At various times he held 20 world records. In that same period he competed as a bodybuilder, winning the Mr. Universe title three times. He died of hepatic encephalopathy caused by cirrhosis of the liver in Honolulu, Hawaii on April 24, 2016.

Anthony ('Zippy') Morocco (86) University of Georgia's first basketball All-American and one of the school's most accomplished return specialists in football. Morocco was Georgia's first basketball All-American in 1953. In football he returned two punts for touchdowns in 1950. His career average of 14.2 yards per return ranks third in Georgia history. After serving in the Army, Morocco established a successful real estate business. He committed suicide in Athens, Georgia on April 24, 2016, after a battle with depression and cancer. His brain was donated for research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative brain disease.

Blackie Sherrod (96) sportswriter and editor who endeared himself to his Texas readers and to generations of younger reporters. Sherrod was, in Texas parlance, a legend. In a career of more than 60 years, the Dallas Morning News was his final employer, beginning in 1985 after his stints at two papers that are now defunct, the Fort Worth Press and the Dallas Times Herald. He was voted Texas sportswriter of the year 16 times. Sherrod had been suffering from dementia for 10 years and declined rapidly after two recent falls. He died in Dallas, Texas on April 28, 2016.

Ozzie Silna (83) former owner, with his younger brother Daniel, of the Spirits of St. Louis, a team in the old American Basketball Association, which merged with the National Basketball Association in 1976. Ozzie devised a plan that brought him and his brother more than $750 million in TV money from the NBA even after the Spirits were left out of the merger. Ozzie Silna died of cancer in Los Angeles, California on April 26, 2016.

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