Art and LiteratureDore Ashton
(88) art historian and critic who wrote some of the earliest and most insightful histories of Abstract Expressionism and the leading painters of the New York School. Ashton was closely involved in the small world of artists who were discovering a new pictorial language in the years after World War II, both as a friend of Philip Guston, Mark Rothko, and others and as a reviewer for numerous publications, including Art International,
the Art Bulletin,
and the New York Times.
She died in the Bronx, New York on January 30, 2017.William Melvin Kelley
(79) author who brought a fresh, experimental voice to black fiction in novels and stories that used recurring characters to explore race relations and racial identity in the US. Kelley’s fabulist bent was apparent in his first novel, A Different Drummer
(1962). Set in a mythical Southern state, it traced the fortunes of a black farmer, Tucker Caliban, who salts his land, shoots his horse and cow, burns down his house, and heads north with his pregnant wife and their infant child, prompting an exodus of every black resident in the state. Kelley died of kidney failure in New York City on February 1, 2017.Howard Frank Mosher
(74) Vermont writer best known for his novels about life in the state's rural Northeast Kingdom. Mosher's novels include Where the Rivers Flow North, Disappearances,
and A Stranger in the Kingdom,
in which he reimagined the hardscrabble region by creating a fictional location known as Kingdom County. Several of his novels have been adapted into films. Mosher died of cancer in Irasburg, Vermont on January 29, 2017.
Business and ScienceIvor Noël Hume
(89) self-taught English-born archaeologist who unearthed the earliest traces of British colonial America, a town that had vanished after a massacre almost 350 years earlier. In 1970, as director of archaeology at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, Noël Hume was searching the ruins of Carter’s Grove, a nearby 17th-century plantation along the James River, when he and his colleagues discovered the remains of a once-fortified settlement called Wolstenholme Towne. The site was founded in 1619 by 220 men and women who had arrived on the vessel Gift of God
to establish a plantation for the Virginia Co. of London. Named for John Wolstenholme, a prominent company shareholder, the settlement was about nine miles downstream from Jamestown, where colonists had first landed in 1607. More settlers arrived in the succeeding months, but within three years Wolstenholme had all but disappeared. In 1622, Indians, who had controlled the Tidewater area before the colonists arrived, attacked settlers in their homes and fields, leaving as many as 400 English dead. Noël Hume died in Williamsburg, Virginia on February 4, 2017.Harold Rosen
(90) during the Cold War, when it seemed the Soviet Union was eclipsing America in space, a young engineer at Hughes Aircraft imagined a lightweight satellite that could transmit telephone calls and video images around the world, providing connectivity among nations that at the time was only a far-sighted dream. By 1963 he had succeeded in upending the world of science and engineering, overseeing the creation of the world’s first geosynchronous communications satellite, called Syncom, and laying the foundation for a future multibillion-dollar industry dominated by California. Of all the technological breakthroughs made in Los Angeles during the Cold War, the creation of a communications satellite has had the largest and most enduring cultural, social, and economic impact. Rosen died in Santa Monica, California on January 30, 2017.Lorenzo Servitje
(98) Mexican bakery magnate who built his Grupo Bimbo into an international snack and baked-goods empire that acquired brands like Entenmann's, Thomas’s, Freihofer's, and Stroehmann. Servitje launched Grupo Bimbo in 1945 with other partners, starting with 38 employees and 10 delivery vehicles. The company now operates in 22 countries, with 100 brands, and it recorded over $10.7 billion in sales in 2015. Servitje died in Mexico City, Mexico on February 3, 2017.
(89) millionaire founder of a rural Missouri Christian school where a state raid over disciplinary tactics led to years of lawsuits. Sharpe founded Ozark National Life Insurance Co. in Kansas City, Missouri in 1964. In 1996 he opened the Heartland community in a remote area of northeastern Missouri, about 170 miles northwest of St. Louis. The community includes several businesses, homes, a dairy farm, Heartland Christian College, and Heartland Christian Academy, a K-12 school with about 225 students, including many sent there by their parents because of disciplinary problems. Juvenile authorities raided the school in 2001 amid reports of spankings and allegations that misbehaving students were forced to stand in hip-deep manure. More than 100 students were removed. Sharpe strongly denied the abuse claims, saying unruly kids were made to shovel manure but never to stand in it. Parents overwhelmingly sided with the school. Students were allowed to return days after the raid. Five employees were charged, but all were either acquitted or had charges dropped. Sharpe died of cardiac and renal problems in Bethel, Missouri on February 1, 2017.
News and EntertainmentHerb Oscar Anderson
(88) morning disk jockey for the New York Top 40 radio station WABC-AM during most of the ‘60s. Anderson was one of the station’s “Swingin’ 7” air personalities, a group that included Scott Muni and was known as the All-Americans. But Anderson was a throwback in a changing music scene, a fan of the big band sound, not necessarily the rock ’n’ roll he was playing on a 50,000-watt station that reached well beyond the city limits. As the station’s low-key “morning mayor,” he had a mandate: to appeal to adults whose buying power was critical to advertisers, more than to the teenagers who were already tuning in. He died of kidney failure in Bennington, Vermont on January 29, 2017.Marta Becket
(92) dancer and artist who spent decades presenting one-woman shows at a remote Mojave Desert hall that she made famous as the Amargosa Opera House. Becket was born in New York, where she performed on Broadway and at Radio City Music Hall. A flat tire during a 1967 camping trip with her husband to Death Valley, California changed her life. They discovered an abandoned theater in an old borax mining company town near the California-Nevada state line, about 95 miles west of Las Vegas. The couple rented the building, and Becket made her debut in 1968 at the renamed Amargosa Opera House. She wrote songs and dialogue, sewed costumes, and painted sets. She danced every Monday, Friday, and Saturday whether the house was full or empty—as if thousands were watching. She spent six years drawing and painting imaginary fans on the opera house's walls and painted the ceiling with a blue sky, dancing cherubs, clouds, and doves. She died in Death Valley Junction, California on January 30, 2017.Max Ferrá
(79) cofounder and first artistic director of the Intar Hispanic American Arts Center, an off-Broadway theater company that nurtures and produces the works of Latino playwrights in English. Ferrá left Cuba in 1958 and had little theatrical experience when he and seven colleagues started Intar, or International Arts Relations, in the mid-’60s. For about 10 years they produced plays in Spanish. But Ferrá then had a change of heart that reflected shifts in American culture and demographics. He died of pneumonia in Miami, Florida on February 4, 2017.Frank Pellegrino Sr.
(72) former Sopranos
cast member and New York restaurateur. As an actor, Pellegrino was best known for his role as FBI Chief Frank Cubitoso on HBO's crime drama The Sopranos.
He also appeared on Law & Order
and New York Undercover,
and in films including Cop Land
He was also co-owner of Rao's, legendary as one of Manhattan's most exclusive dining spots. The Italian restaurant, which boasts only 10 tables, has served such luminaries as Hillary Clinton, President Donald Trump, Woody Allen, and Leonardo DiCaprio. For many others, reservations are impossible to come by (at least through 2017). Pellegrino died of lung cancer in New York City on January 31, 2017.David Shepard
(76) film preservationist who restored hundreds of discarded, hidden, or forgotten films by masters like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and F. W. Murnau and packaged rarities for the consumer market. Working for the American Film Institute and later for Blackhawk Films, which reproduced old films for the collectors’ market, Shepard began searching out movies that had been languishing in studio vaults or private collections and bringing them in for restoration. By trial and error, he developed techniques now used widely in commercial preservation laboratories. Shepard died of cancer in Medford, Oregon on January 31, 2017.John Wetton
(67) British singer and bassist of the rock group Asia. Wetton was a founding member of Asia. He rose to fame as part of English rock band King Crimson in the ‘70s. He had planned to tour with Asia but announced in January that he would be unable to join his bandmates owing to chemotherapy treatment. He said at the time he hoped to resume touring later in the year. Wetton was a recovered alcoholic who had worked in the past 11 years to help others quit drinking. He died of colon cancer in Bournemouth, England on January 31, 2017.
Politics and MilitaryTom Drake
(86) former Alabama House Speaker from Cullman. A one-time professional wrestler known as the Cullman Comet, Drake served nine terms in the Alabama House, including two stints as speaker. He was a floor leader for former governors including George C. Wallace. Drake practiced law in Cullman after leaving politics in 1998. A member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, he died in Cullman, Alabama on February 2, 2017.Lt. Scott Hebert
(46) 19-year veteran firefighter with the Salem, Massachusetts Fire Department. Hebert joined the department in 1998 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2008. He died of a heart attack while on vacation with his wife in the Dominican Republic, on January 30, 2017.Doris Lockness
(106) pioneering aviatrix and one of the US’s most honored female pilots. Lockness’s aviation career spanned 60 years and included a stint with the Women Air Force Service Pilots during World War II, when she became one of the first women to fly US military aircraft. She was the 55th woman in the world to earn a commercial helicopter rating, and she also obtained licenses to fly seaplanes, gyroplanes, hot-air balloons, and gliders. Lockness died in Folsom, California just days before her 107th birthday, on January 30, 2017.Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva
(66) former Brazilian first lady, a constant and strong presence at the side of her husband, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, during his rise to the presidency and his recent fall. The still highly popular couple became entangled in corruption investigations that have roiled Brazil during the last few years. In September 2016, Marisa Lula da Silva was charged with corruption in one case along with her husband. She had been hospitalized in São Paulo, Brazil since January 24 after suffering a stroke and died there on February 3, 2017.Rear Adm. Richard Lyon
(93) first Navy SEAL to rise to the rank of admiral. Lyon served 40 years in the US Navy, including World War II and the Korean War, and was among the first US troops to enter Japan after the atomic bomb was dropped. He later worked as a Scout intelligence officer in northern China and served in Korea. He was among the first to endure the SEAL training known as “Hell Week” in which trainees spend seven days with almost no sleep, running, swimming, and doing other drills. An award-winning swimmer, he continued to body surf in competitions into his 70s. He died in Oceanside, California, north of San Diego, on February 3, 2017.Lt. Gen. Leonard H. Perroots
(83) US deputy chief of staff for intelligence in West Berlin during the Cold War who in 1983 saw signs of an elevated Soviet military alert but decided not to respond. Conflict was averted, but more than 30 years passed before his role in the episode was disclosed. A top-secret presidential advisory board analysis released in 2015 concluded that he had made a “fortuitous, if ill-informed” decision during a US and NATO training exercise designated Able Archer 83. Perroots died of Parkinson’s disease in Lake Ridge, Virginia on January 29, 2017.Edward Tipper
(95) World War II paratrooper portrayed in the HBO series Band of Brothers.
Tipper was a member of the famed Easy Company, part of the 101st Airborne Division, and parachuted into France as part of the June 6, 1944 Allied D-Day invasion. The company's exploits were retold in Band of Brothers,
based on research by historian Stephen Ambrose. Tipper was interviewed for the series and was portrayed by actor Bart Ruspoli. A few days after the parachute drop, his eye and leg were badly injured by a mortar shell. He was hospitalized for a year and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. He died in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colorado on February 1, 2017.Etienne Tshisekedi
(84) Congo's opposition icon who pushed for democratic reforms for decades in the vast Central African nation throughout dictatorship and civil war. Tshisekedi died from a pulmonary embolism in Brussels, Belgium, where he was being treated for complications from diabetes, on February 1, 2017.
Society and ReligionRebecca Benight
(73) Pennsylvania woman whose husband is charged with helping her to try to kill herself with a prescription drug overdose. Police said Philip Benight took his wife out of health care services and drove her home, where he fed the dementia patient pudding laced with painkillers and tranquilizers before also taking pills himself. The care service called police, who found the couple unconscious and revived them. Rebecca Benight died eight days later at a Lancaster, Pennsylvania hospital, on January 30, 2017.Jon Henry
(50) Park City, Utah window washer. Henry was struck by an approximately 700-pound slab of ice and snow that fell from a roof while working in the ski town's Old Town area on February 3, and it may have been an hour before another worker heard him moaning and discovered him. Henry was washing windows on the first floor when the slab hit him. It was so heavy that four firefighters couldn't lift it and had to break it up to free him. Henry was flown by helicopter to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he died the next morning, on February 4, 2017.Marilyn Shuler
(77) longtime human rights advocate and former director of the Idaho Human Rights Commission for 20 years. Shuler also cofounded the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in 2002. She was also active in several community and volunteer groups, serving as a member on the Boise School Board and the City Club of Boise and volunteering for a several years as a guardian ad litem
for abused and neglected children in the Fourth District Court. She died in Boise, Idaho on February 2, 2017.
(83) former San Francisco 49ers defensive back. Maderos played two seasons with San Francisco from 1955–56. He had four interceptions and one fumble recovery in 20 games. Maderos was a multisport star at Chico State, earning 14 letters in football, basketball, boxing, and track and field. He later became head coach at the school in football, boxing, and track. He died on February 2, 2017.Shun-Ichiro Okano
(85) soccer official who led Japan's organizing committee of the 2002 World Cup. Okano played for and coached the national team and served a four-year term as the soccer federation's president through the 2002 World Cup cohosted with South Korea. He was also a member of the International Olympic Committee for more than 20 years until he reached the mandatory age limit of 80. He became an honorary IOC member in 2012. Okano died of lung cancer in Tokyo, Japan on February 2, 2017.Jeff Sauer
(73) coach who led Wisconsin to two men's hockey National Collegiate Athletic Association titles. Sauer coached Wisconsin for 30 years, from 1982–2002. In his first year, he led Wisconsin to the national championship in 1983 and followed with another NCAA title in 1990. Sauer led the Badgers to 489 wins. The team also won two Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season titles under Sauer and five WCHA playoff crowns. He previously spent 11 years at his alma mater Colorado College. He was named head of the US National Sled Hockey Team in 2011 and was associated with the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association. He died of pancreatic cancer in Madison, Wisconsin on February 2, 2017.Bobby Watson
(86) key player on Kentucky's 1951 NCAA championship basketball team who also coached Owensboro High School to two state titles. Watson was a Wildcats walk-on in 1949 and earned a scholarship under coach Adolph Rupp. The guard averaged 10.4 points a game during the 1951–52 season to help Kentucky win its third championship. He was an All-Southeastern Conference first team selection in 1951–52 and eventually became Kentucky's fifth 1,000-point scorer. The US Air Force veteran also played for the NBA's Milwaukee Hawks in 1954–55 before becoming Owensboro's coach in ’58. Watson guided the school to state titles in 1972 and ‘80 and 18 district and 14 regional championships. He died in Owensboro, Kentucky on January 31, 2017.Previous Week
Return to Main Page
Return to Top