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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, June 11, 2016

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Al Ackerman, Detroit TV sportscasterManohar Aich, Indian bodybuilder and former Mr. UniverseStuart Anderson, founder of Black Angus Steakhouse chainJack Bausman, Moscow AP bureau chief during Cold WarMelvoid Benson, Rhode Island teacher and state legislatorRhoda Blumberg, author of historical adventures for childrenC. D. Brooks, Seventh-day Adventist evangelistJerome S. Bruner, psychologist who studied human learning processStacey Castor, New York inmate convicted of husband's fatal poisoningHelen Chavez, widow of civil rights and farm labor leader Cesar ChavezPhyllis Curtin, soprano who championed new musicChristina Grimmie, former contestant on 'The Voice,' later singing star of YouTube videosHarold Hammond, retired professor who was suing University of IowaDesmond Heeley, costume and set designer for theater, opera, and balletMargaret Vinci Heldt, creator of '60s 'beehive' hairstyleLeonard Hill, TV movie producer who converted old LA buildings into loftsGordie Howe, 'Mr. Hockey'Viktor Korchnoi, Russian chess grandmasterDavid Lamb, LA Times foreign and national correspondentDr. Philip W. Majerus, first researcher to recommend daily aspirin to help prevent heart attacks and strokesThomas J. Perkins, Silicon Valley venture capitalistBubbles, SeaWorld's pilot whaleBryan Robinson, Chicago Bears defensive linemanSean Rooks, former NBA center and Philadelphia 76ers assistant coachTheresa Saldana, actress who survived stalker stabbingBretagne, last living 9/11 search dogSir Peter Shaffer, British playwright, author of 'Amadeus' and 'Equus'Fred Sheen, South Carolina commissioner of higher educationKevin Slice, MMA fighterPatti Grace Smith, FAA official who licensed first commercial US spaceportBrooks Thompson, basketball player and coachFrank Whipple, artist who painted whimsical nunsBryan Wiedmeier, Cleveland Browns executive

Art and Literature

Rhoda Blumberg (98) late-blooming author of historical adventure books for children. Blumberg started writing in her mid-50s, then produced more than two dozen books over 30 years. One of her books, Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun, won the Newbery Honor for literature from the Association for Library Service to Children in 1986. Another book, Shipwrecked! The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy (2001) is a historically accurate story of a poor fisher boy, Manjiro, who became the first Japanese person to live in the US, arriving in Massachusetts in 1843 as a member of a whaling crew. Blumberg died of Alzheimer’s disease in Yorktown Heights, New York on June 6, 2016.

Frank Whipple (93) artist whose whimsical paintings of nuns wearing the winglike headdresses of the Daughters of Charity found favor with a host of Hollywood celebrities. In the early ‘60s, after turning his amateur enthusiasm for painting into a vocation, Whipple began producing the small-scale works he called “Whipple’s Wimples.” Executed in oil on board, on a miniature scale of 5 inches by 5 inches, they depicted groups of nuns, always seen from behind, in comic situations: playing tick-tack-toe on a wall, smoking cigarettes furtively behind a barn, wandering into a bar with a “Spirits” sign over the entrance. Over more than 50 years Whipple turned out thousands of nun paintings, attracting the patronage of Hollywood luminaries like Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, and John Wayne. He died in Los Angeles, California on June 8, 2016.

Business and Science

Stuart Anderson (93) founder of the Black Angus Steakhouse chain in Seattle in 1964. Anderson offered a big meal for a small price: for $2.99, customers got soup or salad, their choice of steak, and a baked potato with all the trimmings. At its peak, the chain had more than 120 outlets around the country. It was sold in 1972, but Anderson stayed on to run it before retiring in the mid-‘80s. The business had its ups and downs, changing hands several times; there currently are about 45 Black Angus steakhouses, most in California. Anderson died of lung cancer in Rancho Mirage, California on June 6, 2016.

Jerome S. Bruner (100) psychologist whose theories on perception, child development, and learning informed education policy for generations and helped to launch the modern study of creative problem solving known as the cognitive revolution. Bruner was a researcher at Harvard in the ‘40s when he became impatient with behaviorism, then a widely held theory, which viewed learning in terms of stimulus and response, as in Pavlov's famous experiments with dogs. Bruner argued that the human mind is an active learner, bringing a full complement of motives, instincts, and intentions to shape comprehension and perception. He died in New York City on June 5, 2016.

Margaret Vinci Heldt (98) hairstyling celebrity who created the famous beehive hairdo in 1960. The beehive became a cultural phenomenon during the ‘60s and evolved into a style worn for decades as Hollywood's starlets walked red carpets. Heldt created the style at the request of a hairstyling magazine that published images of it in February 1960 and called it the beehive because of its shape. Heldt grew up in Chicago and said she became fascinated with hair as a young girl, opening her own salon on Chicago's Michigan Avenue in 1950. She died in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst, Illinois on June 10, 2016.

Leonard Hill (68) producer of made-for-TV movies turned developer who gave new life to old buildings in downtown Los Angeles's Arts District—then produced a romantic comedy, Dorfman in Love (2011), about the area. Hill also donated $1.9 million for a new downtown park. With partner Yuval Bar-Zemer, he cofounded a company called Linear City Development that developed the Biscuit Company Lofts and the Toy Factory Lofts in the Arts District and transformed a former Metropolitan Water District headquarters into the Elysian, a startling glass rampart of 96 lofts on the eastern edge of Echo Park. Hill died in Hancock Park, California on June 7, 2016.

Dr. Philip W. Majerus (79) biochemist credited as the first to theorize that taking small doses of aspirin regularly can prevent heart attacks and strokes in vulnerable patients. Majerus had taught at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis for almost 50 years. Even before his findings were confirmed in a study by other researchers 10 years later, Majerus was taking aspirin daily. He died of prostate cancer in St. Louis, Missouri on June 8, 2016.

Thomas J. Perkins (84) entrepreneur who nurtured Silicon Valley’s venture capital industry into a force that later helped to foster the growth of companies like Google and Amazon. Perkins cofounded the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 1972, at a time when parts of Silicon Valley were still fruit orchards. He and his partners popularized a model of investment that involved putting small amounts of money into promising young start-ups in return for a stake in the companies, giving them advice and counsel to spur their growth. Some of the investments turned into gigantic hits. Perkins died in Marin County, California on June 7, 2016.


Harold Hammond (82) retired professor suing the University of Iowa for alleged open meetings violations during its presidential search. Hammond was an oral pathologist at UI's dental school, where he taught and conducted research from 1967–2004. In retirement he made news fighting the school in court; he brought a lawsuit alleging that a UI search committee repeatedly violated the open meetings law before the hiring of President Bruce Harreld in 2015. Hammond’s estate could continue the case, assign it to another plaintiff, or drop it; no decisions have been made. Hammond died in Coralville, Iowa on June 11, 2016.

Fred Sheheen (79) former commissioner (‘80s–‘90s) of the South Carolina state Commission on Higher Education and part of a longstanding state political family. Sheheen's brother, Bob, was speaker of the State House; his son, Vincent, is a state senator who twice was the Democrat Party’s gubernatorial nominee. Fred Sheheen was killed in a car accident in Camden, South Carolina on June 6, 2016.


Stacey Castor (48) New York woman convicted of fatally poisoning her husband with antifreeze and trying to kill her daughter in similar fashion. Castor was convicted in 2009 of killing David Castor and trying to kill daughter Ashley Wallace with pills and alcohol as part of a plot to frame her for the murder. Stacey Castor was also convicted of filing a fake will to inherit her second husband's estate and was suspected of fatally poisoning her first husband in 2000. The case was featured on an episode of Forensic Files. Castor was serving 51 years to life at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Westchester County, New York when she died on June 11, 2016.

News and Entertainment

Jack Bausman (92) Cold War-era correspondent and former Moscow bureau chief for the Associated Press. Batsman arrived in Moscow as the news agency's bureau chief in July 1968, about a month before the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia. He also reported from Frankfurt, Germany, from Warsaw, Poland, and from Budapest, Hungary during a 40-year career with the AP, including his four years in Moscow. He underwent heart surgery in April and never fully recovered. He died in Stamford, Connecticut on June 9, 2016.

Phyllis Curtin (94) American soprano celebrated as a champion of new music. A mainstay of the New York City Opera in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Curtin was noted for the purity of her voice, the sensitivity of her musical phrasing, and the perfection of her diction. On the opera stage and in recital, she gave the premieres of dozens of works by 20th-century composers. She died in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on June 5, 2016.

Christina Grimmie (22) onetime star of NBC's The Voice. Grimmie finished third during season 6 of the show in 2014, competing on the team of Maroon 5 star Adam Levine. She began amassing a following on YouTube as a teenager, gripping online viewers with her powerful renditions of hit songs. Her videos on YouTube have garnered millions of views. The singer had performed with the band Before You Exit at The Plaza Live in Orlando. The concert ended around 10 p.m., and Grimmie was signing autographs for fans at a merchandise table when a gunman, later identified as Kevin James Loibl (27) of St. Petersburg, Fla., opened fire, killing the performer before fatally shooting himself, in Orlando, Florida on June 10, 2016.

Desmond Heeley (85) designer for the theater, the opera, and the ballet whose costumes dressed the likes of Laurence Olivier, Beverly Sills, and Margot Fonteyn and whose sets were used in major productions throughout the world. With a painterly eye for beauty and the resourcefulness to create the impression of elegance from the most mundane materials—a glittering chandelier for a 1993 production of La Traviata at the Lyric Opera of Chicago was made from plastic spoons—Heeley was a designer of both grandeur and witty panache. On Broadway alone his career covered more than 50 years and three Tony Awards. He is shown above with a backdrop for a recent production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Heeley died of cancer in New York City on June 10, 2016.

David Lamb (76) Los Angeles Times foreign and national correspondent for more than 30 years who covered the waning days of the Vietnam War and wrote six books about his travels, including The Africans, based on four years of reporting from that continent. Lamb followed American combat units into battle during the Vietnam War, then returned to Vietnam in 1975 to cover the fall of Saigon for the Times. He died of esophageal cancer and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma in Alexandria, Virginia on June 5, 2016.

Bubbles the Pilot Whale (mid-50s) short-finned pilot whale that lived at SeaWorld San Diego for nearly 30 years. Female pilot whales generally live to be about 60 in the wild, and Bubbles was believed to be the oldest of her species in a zoological park. She was captured off the California coast in the ‘60s and performed in marine park shows most of her life. She spent 20 years at Marineland of the Pacific in Rancho Palos Verdes, where she had her own stadium. She was moved to SeaWorld in 1987 when Mainland closed. Park officials estimate that 100 million people saw Bubbles perform over the decades. She died in San Diego, California on June 9, 2016.

Theresa Saldana (61) actress who played Joe Pesci’s wife in the Martin Scorsese film Raging Bull (1980) and, in a 1984 TV movie, relived a near-fatal knife attack she experienced at the hands of a stalker. Saldana's career took a giant step forward when she was cast in Raging Bull as Lenore LaMotta, sister-in-law of boxer Jake LaMotta, played by Robert De Niro. On March 15, 1982, leaving her apartment building in West Hollywood, she was approached by a man who asked if she were Theresa Saldana; when she said yes, he launched a frenzied attack, stabbing her 10 times in the chest, arms, and legs with a hunting knife. Saldana survived only because a passing deliveryman stopped his truck, fought off the assailant, and held him until the police arrived. She spent nearly four months in a hospital, then formed Victims for Victims, an organization devoted to helping others who had suffered violent attacks and to campaigning for antistalker laws. She died in Los Angeles, California on June 6, 2016.

Sir Peter Shaffer (90) British playwright whose award-winning hits included Equus and Amadeus. Shaffer's 18 plays included Amadeus, a drama about the rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and less-talented composer Antonio Salieri that was turned into an Oscar-winning film in 1984. The play is to be revived this fall at Britain's National Theatre, with which Shaffer had a long association. His 1973 play Equus, about a stable boy who inexplicably blinds a horse, was revived in 2007 as the stage debut for Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe. Shaffer was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001 and inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in ’07. He died while on a visit to southwest Ireland on June 6, 2016.

Politics and Military

Melvoid Benson (86) one of the first black women to serve in Rhode Island's General Assembly. Benson was a teacher and community activist who represented residents of North Kingstown for seven terms, then served on the North Kingstown School Committee. A US post office in North Kingstown has been named in her honor; it was the first time a post office in the state had been named after a black woman. Benson died in her sleep in North Kingstown, Rhode Island on June 11, 2016.

Patti Grace Smith (68) US federal aviation official who loosened the regulatory reins in Washington to help spur the growth of the embryonic commercial space transportation industry. Appointed in 1998 to a newly created post, Smith was the first person to head the Federal Aviation Administration's agency for commercial space transportation. During her tenure, the FAA licensed the first inland commercial spaceport in the US, the Mojave Air & Space Port in California, and the launch there in 2004 of SpaceShipOne, the first privately developed manned vehicle to reach space. Smith died of pancreatic cancer in Washington, DC on June 5, 2016.

Society and Religion

C. D. Brooks (85) leading Seventh-day Adventist evangelist who delivered the church’s message to millions as founding speaker of the Breath of Life media ministry. For 60 years Brooks conducted an evangelical campaign credited with converting tens of thousands and establishing 15 congregations in cities across the US. He spent 23 years broadcasting on Breath of Life, billed as the first black religious TV program. Black Entertainment Television began distributing the program in 1989, aiming at blacks in the US and the Caribbean. The church says it has about 1.2 million members in its North American Division, about 37 per cent of whom are black. Brooks died of pancreatic cancer in Laurel, Maryland on June 5, 2016.

Helen Chavez (88) widow of civil rights and farm labor leader Cesar Chavez (d. 1993). Helen Fabela met Cesar Chavez in the mid-’40s and married him in 1948 after he left the Navy. In the early ‘60s, the couple left a comfortable middle-class existence in East Los Angeles to organize farm workers in California’s Central Valley. There, Cesar Chavez, along with Dolores Huerta, founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. Helen Chavez died in Bakersfield, California on June 6, 2016.

Bretagne, the 9/11 Search Dog (16) last known living 9/11 search dog. A golden retriever, Bretagne was 2 years old when she and her handler, Denise Corliss, were part of the Texas Task Force 1 sent to the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attack brought down the buildings on September 11, 2001. They spent 10 days at the scene searching rubble for human remains. Bretagne retired from active duty at age 9. In recent weeks she began experiencing kidney failure and slowing down. She was euthanized in the Houston suburb of Cypress, Texas on June 6, 2016.


Al Ackerman (90) former TV sportscaster who coined the rally cry “Bless You Boys” for the Detroit Tigers leading up to the team’s 1984 World Series win. Ackerman worked for stations including WDIV and WXYZ during a 25-year career in Detroit from the ‘60s–’80s. In 1997 he was inducted into the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, a recognition his family says was among his greatest honors. A family member described him as a “Renaissance man” who loved classical music, appreciated literature, and was interested in public affairs. He died in Florida on June 6, 2016.

Manohar Aich (104) Indian bodybuilder and former Mr. Universe. Aich, who grew up as a puny youngster, overcame many hurdles, including poverty and a stint in prison, to achieve bodybuilding glory. He won the Mr. Universe title in London in 1952 and returned a hero to India, where many took up bodybuilding inspired by his success. Aich also won several titles when competing in the Asian Bodybuilding Championships. He was known as the “Pocket Hercules” owing to his 4-foot 11 inch frame. He often told his fans that a simple diet of milk, fruits, and vegetables along with rice, lentils, and fish kept him healthy. He died in the eastern city of Kolkata, India from health issues related to his age, on June 5, 2016.

Gordie Howe (88) one of the greatest and most durable players in the history of hockey, who powered his Detroit Red Wings teams to four Stanley Cup championships and was 52 years old when he finally hung up his skates. Howe worked all his life to earn the respect and awe that came with being “Mr. Hockey.” The Canadian farm boy who developed his strength and stamina on the Saskatchewan prairie could put his team ahead with a timely goal or even the score with opponents by throwing his elbows and fists. Howe, who received a diagnosis of dementia in 2012, had a stroke in '14 that impaired his speech and movement. He died in Sylvania, Ohio on June 10, 2016.

Viktor Korchnoi (85) chess grandmaster, a former Soviet champion who defected to the West and was considered among the best players never to win a world championship. Angry at the Soviet leadership, Korchnoi defected in the Netherlands in 1976 and moved to Switzerland in ‘77. His matches against official Soviet champion Anatoly Karpov became famous as duels on political, psychological, and physical levels. Korchnoi tried and failed twice to defeat Karpov for the world championship in matches that mirrored the Cold War in international politics at the time. He claimed that the Soviets had hired a hypnotist to distract him in the first three-month match in the Philippines in 1978 and demanded protection during competitions, insisting the USSR would do anything to prevent him from beating the Soviet champion. He died in Wohlen, northern Switzerland, where he had lived for decades, on June 6, 2016.

Bryan Robinson (41) former Chicago Bears defensive lineman. Robinson played for the Bears from 1998–2003 and was an anchor on the defensive line for the ‘01 NFC Central Division champion team. One of his most memorable games for Bears fans was on Nov. 7, 1999, the first game the team played after the death of Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton. Robinson blocked a 28-yard field goal attempt by Green Bay’s Ryan Longwell as time expired to preserve a 14-13 victory at Lambeau Field and snap a 10-game losing streak to the Packers. He was found dead at a Milwaukee, Wisconsin motel on June 11, 2016.

Sean Rooks (46) former NBA center and Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach. Rooks played 12 seasons after being selected in the second round of the NBA draft by Dallas in 1992. He averaged 6.2 points in 749 games with seven teams. He had spent the past two years on Brett Brown’s staff in Philadelphia. He had interviewed earlier in the day with the New York Knicks for an assistant coaching position but died unexpectedly in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 7, 2016.

Kimbo Slice (42) street fighter, born Kevin Ferguson, who parlayed his Internet popularity into a mixed martial arts career and worldwide fame. Born in the Bahamas and raised in the Miami area, Slice was a strip club bouncer and bodyguard who began competing in unsanctioned street fights in 2003. Videos of his violent knockout victories in those bouts became popular online, both for Slice’s raw punching power and his intimidating appearance. After gaining viral Internet fame at a time when the phenomenon was still relatively new, Slice studied MMA and eventually competed for several promotions, including the UFC and Bellator, which staged his two most recent fights. While he went only 5-2 and never won a championship belt, he became one of MMA’s best-known figures, attracting large TV audiences and crowds to his growing sport. He died in Margate, Florida on June 6, 2016.

Brooks Thompson (45) first-round NBA draft pick and former Texas-San Antonio men's basketball coach. Orlando made Thompson the 27th pick of the 1994 draft. He also played for Utah, Denver, Phoenix, and New York during four seasons in the NBA. His best season was in 1996–97, when he averaged 6.8 points and 2.8 assists for Denver, with six starts in 65 games. He later spent 10 seasons at UTSA, going 133-178. His squad claimed the Southland Conference Tournament championship in 2011 and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Thompson died in San Antonio, Texas on June 9, 2016.

Bryan Wiedmeier (57) Cleveland Browns executive. Wiedmeier spent 29 years with the Miami Dolphins, serving in a variety of roles with the team. He joined the Browns in 2010. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer in 2012 and given 15 months to live. He defied medical predictions and lasted four more years. One week after undergoing surgery to have a tumor removed in 2012, Wiedmeier, who spent 35 years in the NFL, attended a Browns game and was awarded a game ball by then-coach Pat Shurmur after Cleveland beat San Diego. Wiedmeier died in Cleveland, Ohio on June 7, 2016

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