Art and LiteratureErnst Neizvestny
(91) Russian sculptor whose ventures into modernism put him at odds with the Soviet cultural authorities and led to a memorable confrontation with Nikita S. Khrushchev in 1962. Frustrated with official opposition to his work, Neizvestny emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1976 and, after a brief period in Zürich, settled in New York. He had a studio in SoHo and a home on Shelter Island, where he created a sculpture park. He died in Stony Brook, New York on August 9, 2016.Thomas Steinbeck
(72) eldest son of Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath;
d. 1968) and a prominent author and screenwriter in his own right. The younger Steinbeck began his own career as an author relatively late in life. His first book, Down to a Soundless Sea,
a collection of short stories, was published in 2002. He published the novels In the Shadow of the Cypress
(2010) and The Silver Lotus
(2011) and was working on a memoir. He also wrote and produced several films based on his father's books. Thomas Steinbeck died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Santa Barbara, California on August 11, 2016.Joyce Carol Thomas
(78) prize-winning children's author and champion of multiculturalism. Thomas was best known for her debut book, Marked by Fire,
an autobiographical novel set in her native Oklahoma that won the 1983 National Book Award and the American Book Award, which highlights diversity in literature. Her other works included Bright Shadow, Broomwheat Tea,
and The Blacker the Berry.
Thomas was also a three-time nominee for the Coretta Scott King award for outstanding children's books by a black author. She died in Stanford, California of cirrhosis of the liver stemming from a bad blood transfusion decades earlier, on August 13, 2016.
Business and ScienceMichel Richard
(68) French-born chef whose French-Californian hybrid Citrus was one of the top restaurants in Los Angeles for more than 10 years. Richard gave Washington, DC a major claim to be a serious dining city after he opened Citronelle there in 1993. In 2007 the James Beard Foundation named him outstanding chef of the year. He died of a stroke in Washington, DC on August 13, 2016.Fred Schwartz
(84) fur dealer who redefined luxury by marketing affordable furs as TV pitchman Fred the Furrier. A fourth-generation fur dealer who later became a philanthropist dedicated to stopping genocide, Schwartz was best known in the ‘70s and ‘80s as America's first media furrier. Featured in TV commercials wearing his signature designer glasses under a mane of silver curls, he would appear against the backdrop of a skating rink in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, a ski resort in Sundance, Utah, or a glacier in Canada and invite women by their first names to “come in out of the cold” and visit his Fur Vault stand-alone retail outlets or his boutiques at leading department stores. He died of pancreatic cancer in Great Neck, on Long Island, New York on August 7, 2016.
(37) US Border Patrol agent. Alvarez was stationed at the Casa Grande Border Patrol Station in the Tucson Sector and had been an agent since July 2003. He was killed in a motorcycle accident near Tucson, Arizona on August 11, 2016.David Borden
(79) retired Connecticut Supreme Court justice who served more than 15 years and was an advocate for open and transparent courts. Borden was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 1990 by Gov. William O'Neill and was acting chief justice for a year before retiring in 2007. During that time he formed the Public Access Task Force. He previously was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1977–78, a judge of the Superior Court from ‘78–83, and one of the six original judges of the Connecticut Appellate Court from ‘83–90. He led the Commission to Revise the Criminal Statutes of Connecticut from 1963–71 and for the first six years was among the chief architects of the state penal code. He died of cancer in West Hartford, Connecticut on August 7, 2016.Harry Briggs Jr.
(75) as a young boy Briggs was at the center of a lawsuit that culminated with the US Supreme Court outlawing segregated public schools. His parents, Harry and Eliza Briggs, were the first two of more than 100 signers of a 1949 petition seeking equal treatment for black students in Clarendon County, South Carolina. Harry Jr.—then just 8 years old—was the third. The petition said black children were forced to attend schools that lacked adequate heat, lighting, and running water. When the initial case was thrown out on a technicality, the parents pursued a bolder lawsuit challenging segregation. Briggs v. Elliott,
filed in 1950, was the first of five cases that were eventually combined and led to the high court’s landmark ‘54 decision declaring segregation unconstitutional. That decision is named for the Kansas case: Brown v. Board of Education.
Harry Briggs Jr. died in New York City on August 9, 2016.
News and EntertainmentKenny Baker
(81) actor who played the lovable droid R2-D2 in the Star Wars
films, achieving cult status and fans’ adulation without showing his face or speaking any lines. The 3-foot 8-inch performer—a word he preferred to actor—barely fit inside the robot costume. Born to a music-loving family in the central England city of Birmingham in 1934, Baker started performing at 16 as part of a troupe called Burton Lester’s Midgets. He later worked as a deejay and circus clown and as half a comedy-musical duo called the Mini-Tones with Jack Purvis, who also appeared in the Star Wars
films. Fame came when he was cast as the actor inside R2-D2’s robot costume in Star Wars
(1977). Baker was found dead at his home in Preston, northwest England, on August 13, 2016.Connie Crothers
(75) jazz pianist who credited her famous mentor, Lennie Tristano (d. 1978), but built her own identity as a composer, improviser, and instructor. From Tristano, Crothers adopted a technique and a faith in improvisation; like him, she refused to align fully with either jazz’s avant-garde or its traditionalists, insisting that structure and spontaneity could go hand in hand. In all her work, from solo piano to ensemble playing, melody was her main concern. She died of lung cancer in New York City on August 13, 2016.Barbara Gibb
(95) mother of the Gibb brothers whose music with the Bee Gees and solo projects sold tens of millions of records. In 1944 Barbara married Hugh Gibb, a bandleader for the Hughie Gibb Orchestra in Manchester, England, and sang with the band. The couple had five children: Barry, twins Robin and Maurice, Andy, and daughter Lesley. They managed their sons’ early music career, and The Bee Gees became one of the most successful pop bands in history. Hugh and sons Robin, Maurice, and Andy all preceded Barbara in death. She died in Miami, Florida, where she had lived for the past 20 years, on August 12, 2016.Barry Jenner
(75) actor who appeared regularly on shows such as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
and Family Matters.
Jenner played Adm. William Ross in a dozen episodes of Deep Space Nine,
the ‘90s update of the science fiction series. On Family Matters,
he had a recurring role as Lt. Murtaugh. He also appeared frequently on the series Dallas, Somerset,
and Knots Landing
and on the soap opera Another World.
Jenner died of myeloid leukemia in Los Angeles, California on August 8, 2016.Sagan Lewis
(63) actress best known for her work on the ‘80s NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere.
Lewis played Dr. Jacqueline Wade for the entire six-season run of the series, which her husband, Tom Fontana, produced. Lewis also was for several years program director of Arizona’s Sedona International Film Festival. She died of cancer in New York City on August 7, 2016.W. Zachary Malinowski
(57) award-winning investigative reporter for the Providence
During his 30-year career at the Journal,
Malinowski covered a range of stories, from organized crime to public corruption in the administrations of former Rhode Island Gov. Edward DiPrete and former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci. Malinowski died after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in Providence,
Rhode Island on August 11, 2016.W. Carter Merbreier
(90) star of the local Philadelphia children’s TV show Captain Noah & His Magical Ark.
The show, which aired from 1967–94 on WPVI-TV, was syndicated to more than 20 TV markets. It featured Merbreier on a nautical-themed set with his wife, Patricia (d. 2011), who played Mrs. Noah and was a puppeteer. They entertained children while hosting many newsmakers and celebrities, including Elvis Presley, Charles Barkley, and Martina Navratilova. W. Carter Merbreier died in Audobon, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb, on August 9, 2016.B. E. Taylor
(65) musician whose annual Christmas concerts and recordings made him well known in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Taylor's series of popular Christmas recordings began in 1991 and led to seasonal shows that drew thousands of people. He was a popular performer in Pittsburgh in the ‘80s, partly on the strength of the song “Vitamin L.” He died of brain cancer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 7, 2016.John Vaccaro
(86) theater iconoclast whose avant-garde troupe, known as Playhouse of the Ridiculous, helped to establish Off-Off-Broadway as a source of antic creativity and subversion of social and artistic conventions. A writer and occasional performer but mostly a director, Vaccaro made dozens of theater pieces of zaniness and controlled anarchy. In his heyday, from the mid-‘60s into the ‘80s, Vaccaro and his compatriots created what became known as ridiculous theater, borrowing (and twisting) plots from legend and literature and old movies and sending up political hypocrisy and behavioral and sexual norms. Vaccaro died in New York City of complications after surgery for an aneurysm, on August 7, 2016.Ruby Wilson
(68) blues, soul, and gospel singer known as “The Queen of Beale Street.” Born in Texas, Wilson moved to Memphis in 1972 and became a fixture at Beale Street night clubs, including B. B. King’s Blues Club, where she had a regular weekly gig. She recorded 10 albums and performed with Ray Charles, The Four Tops, Isaac Hayes, King, and others. She also performed in Europe and Asia and at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Wilson suffered a massive heart attack on August 6 and never regained consciousness; she died six days later in Memphis, Tennessee on August 12, 2016.Glenn Yarbrough
(86) founding member of folk trio The Limeliters. Yarbrough sang and played guitar with fellow Limeliters members Alex Hassilev and Lou Gottlieb (right above; d. 1996) from 1959–63. The group was known for such songs as “There’s a Meetin’ Here Tonight,” ‘‘City of New Orleans,” ‘‘A Dollar Down,” and “Lonesome Traveler.” Yarbrough left the group in 1963 and had a solo career that spanned nearly 40 years. He achieved his greatest success with the 1965 song “Baby the Rain Must Fall,” which reached No. 2 on Billboard’s
adult contemporary charts. After suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, and other health issues, Yarbrough died in Nashville, Tennessee on August 11, 2016.
Politics and MilitarySusan M. Baer
(65) first person to run all three major airports in the New York metropolitan area for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and first woman to be named its aviation director. A longtime official with the Port Authority, Baer was also the first woman to run the Lincoln Tunnel, which connects New York and New Jersey under the Hudson River. She ran the airports successively: La Guardia from 1994–98, Newark Liberty International until 2007, and John F. Kennedy International until ‘08. Baer died of cancer in Upper Montclair, New Jersey on August 9, 2016.Dr. Alan Bates
(71) Oregon state senator, a Democrat from Medford. A longtime family physician, Bates had served in the Oregon Senate since 2005. Before that he served four years in the Oregon House of Representatives. He died in Oregon after spending the day fly fishing on the Rogue River with his son, on August 7, 2016.Justin Beebe
(26) Vermont firefighter. Beebe was in his first year as a member of the Lolo Hotshots, elite US Forest Service firefighters based in Missoula, Montana. The Lolo Hotshots are called upon to fight the most dangerous wildfires in the West. Crews work to stop the fires by using chainsaws and pickaxes to fell trees and clear fire lines to eliminate fuel for those fires. Beebe was battling a wildfire sparked by lightning in Great Basin National Park in Nevada, a 7-square-mile blaze that had been raging for five days. He died when a tree fell on him, not far from the Nevada-Utah line, about 200 miles northeast of Las Vegas, on August 13, 2016.Doris Bohrer
(93) spy for the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS; precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA]) during World War II who helped to plan the Allied invasion of Sicily and traced the movement of German trains transporting prisoners to concentration camps. As part of her duties, Bohrer created balsa-wood relief maps of Sicily as the Allies prepared to invade Italy. She was later posted to Bari, on the Adriatic coast, where, working jointly with the 15th Air Force, she studied aerial photographs to select sites for dropping and rescuing OSS agents behind enemy lines. She also gathered intelligence about German military movements and the location of arms factories. Bohrer died in Greensboro, North Carolina on August 8, 2016.Robert Kiley
(80) credited with revitalizing and modernizing public transportation networks in Boston, New York, and London. Kiley revived Boston’s public transport system in the ‘70s and New York's in the ‘80s. He was commissioner of transport in London from 2001–06, overseeing the rebuilding of the century-old Tube, its stations, subway cars, and rail infrastructure. Michael Dukakis, former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democrat presidential nominee, appointed Kiley chairman and chief executive of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in 1975 even though he had no background in transportation. Kiley ended decades of patronage by introducing a lottery system for hiring and opening well-paid jobs at the MBTA to minorities and women while beginning Orange and Red line extension projects. He died of Alzheimer's disease in Chilmark, Massachusetts on August 9, 2016.Jimmy D. Long Sr.
(84) Louisiana state representative. Long had served since 2001 as a member of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System. He also served eight terms in the Louisiana House, from 1968–2000, representing Winn and Natchitoches parishes. Because of his lengthy service, he was dean of the House, chairing the body during House elections and budget debates. He also chaired the House Education Committee for 16 years. Long was killed in an automobile accident near his home in Natchitoches, Louisiana, when a car driven by a teenager hit his car as he pulled out of a private driveway, on August 9, 2016.
Society and ReligionGerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster
(64) one of Britain’s wealthiest landowners. The duke’s Grosvenor Estate owns 300 acres (121 hectares) in some of London’s wealthiest areas. His ancestor, Sir Thomas Grosvenor, married heiress Mary Davies and acquired what was then marshland in 1677. Over the generations the family developed the land into two of London’s most affluent neighborhoods, Mayfair and Belgravia. The 2016 Sunday Times
Rich List estimated the duke’s wealth at £9.35 billion ($12 billion). He died at the Royal Preston Hospital in northwest England after becoming ill at his nearby Abbeystead Estate on August 9, 2016.Father Edward Daly
(82) Roman Catholic bishop (1974–93) of Londonderry, Northern Ireland’s second-largest city, who argued for peace during the 30 years of sectarian violence known as the Troubles. On January 30, 1972, as a 38-year-old curate at St. Eugene’s Cathedral, Daly escorted unarmed civilian protesters on a march toward the city center when British soldiers opened fire, resulting in the deaths of 14 people. The massacre became known as Bloody Sunday; images of Daly waving a bloodied white handkerchief as protesters tried to carry a wounded man to safety, circulated around the world. He stepped down in 1993 after suffering a stroke. He was hospitalized several weeks ago after a fall and died in Londonderry, Ireland on August 8, 2016.Pramukh Swami Maharaj
(94) spiritual leader who engineered the global expansion of a socially conservative Hindu sect, Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, known as BAPS, that grew to be the largest in the US. Under the guru’s leadership, the sect, which practices a relatively modern form of Vaishnava Hinduism, established more than 1,000 temples worldwide. Pramukh made numerous trips to East Africa, Britain, Canada, and later to the US after American immigration laws were loosened in 1965, attracting a tide of educated Indians. The BAPS philosophy helped to moor those immigrants, especially those from the state of Gujarat, in western India, to their homeland. Pramukh died in Sarangpur, a village in Gujarat, India, on August 13, 2016.
(19) Pennsylvania man who made headlines when his small town helped him to marry his high school sweetheart despite his terminal cancer diagnosis. The former high school athlete was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, in 2013. Blanock continued to play basketball and baseball at Canon-McMillan High School until fall 2015. Blanock's hometown of Canonsburg rallied together to fund a wedding ceremony for him and his girlfriend Natalie Britvich in February 2016. Blanock's parents set up a GoFundMe page to help finance it. The couple honeymooned, with their parents, in Florida and met members of the Pittsburgh Pirates during spring training. Blanock walked in graduation ceremonies in June and received his diploma. He died in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania on August 7, 2016.Bryan Clauson
(27) widely considered the best dirt-track racer in the US. Clauson was chasing the US Automobile Club's all-time wins mark—having racked up 112 already—and was well on his way to compete in 200 events this season alone. He had earned 27 victories in 116 starts and led three laps of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29—hours before winning a sprint car race 50 miles away in Kokomo. Clauson was leading Saturday night's race at the Belleville Midget Nationals in Kansas when he crashed while passing lapped traffic. His car rolled and was hit by another competitor. He was airlifted to a hospital in Nebraska, where he died the next night, on August 7, 2016.Handsome Dan XVII
(9) English bulldog, mascot for Yale athletics for the last nine years. The dog’s name away from Yale’s fields and courts was Sherman. He became the bulldog who represented the Bulldogs in 2007 and had met former US Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. Yale hasn’t yet put together a plan to pick the next mascot. Handsome Dan died of an apparent heart attack in Quonochontaug, Rhode Island while with his caretaker, on August 11, 2016.Leon Donohue
(77) former NFL offensive lineman. After starring at San Jose State, Donohue spent six seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. He played 84 regular season games, and the final contest of his career came in the 1967 NFL championship game in Green Bay known as the “Ice Bowl.” Donohue died in Redding, California on August 11, 2016.Bill Dooley
(82) three-time coach of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference who piled up 162 wins at North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. Dooley went a combined 162-125-5 in 26 seasons as a head coach with the Tar Heels, Hokies, and Demon Deacons and took them to a combined 10 bowl games. He was the first North Carolina coach to win 11 games, leading the 1972 Tar Heels to an 11-1 finish, and the only coach to lead the school to multiple ACC championships in football. He died in Wilmington, North Carolina on August 9, 2016.Peter Finney
(88) sportswriter whose award-winning career in New Orleans spanned nearly 70 years. Finney began his career with the New Orleans States-Item
in 1945 and joined the Times-Picayune
through a newspaper merger in ‘80. He was the newspaper's lead columnist for decades until his retirement in 2013. Finney covered the first game the New Orleans Saints ever played, in 1967, and their only Super Bowl, in 2010. His career encompassed all of Louisiana State University's national football titles, which occurred in 1958, 2003, and ‘07. He died in New Orleans, Louisiana on August 13, 2016.Hanif Mohammad
(81) Pakistan cricket's “Little Master” who lasted 970 minutes in what is still the longest innings in test history. Mohammad played the longest individual test innings against West Indies at Barbados in 1958, scoring 337 runs. At the time it was also the highest individual test score, and his long vigil at the crease helped Pakistan to draw the test match by scoring 657-8 in the second innings after it had been dismissed for just 106. Mohammad died of cancer in his hometown of Karachi, Pakistan on August 11, 2016.John Saunders
(61) ESPN and ABC sportscaster who guided viewers through many premier sporting events over the last 30 years. Saunders was a familiar presence on fall Saturdays as the host of ABC’s studio coverage of college football and the ESPN show College Football Live.
He anchored coverage of the College Football Playoff national championship game and hosted the postgame trophy presentation. On Sundays, Saunders was the host of The Sports Reporters,
an ESPN round table of journalists. He was found not breathing by his wife at their New York City home on August 10, 2016.Tom Wilson
(72) former Texas A&M football coach. Wilson was Texas Tech's quarterback from 1964–65, going 14-7-1. He was a Red Raiders assistant before joining the Aggies in 1975 as offensive coordinator, then head coach in ’78. He was 21-19 with A&M through 1981, then coached high school teams in Palestine and Corsicana, Texas before his '99 retirement. He served on the Corsicana City Council from 2007 until earlier this year. Wilson died of cancer in Corsicana, Texas on August 10, 2016.George Yarno
(58) former NFL player and coach. Yarno, who last worked for the Jacksonville (Fla.) Jaguars, died of stomach cancer in Jacksonville, Florida, four days before his 59th birthday, on August 8, 2016.Previous Week
Return to Main Page
Return to Top