Art and LiteratureBarbara Gelb
(91) author and journalist who with her husband Arthur Gelb collaborated on three extensive books about playwright Eugene O’Neill. The Gelbs’s work on O’Neill extended across 50 years. They published the best-selling O’Neill
in 1962, then returned in 2000 with O’Neill: Life with Monte Cristo
after additional materials became available. By Women Possessed: A Life of Eugene O’Neill
came out in 2016, two years after the death of Arthur Gelb, a longtime reporter and editor for the New York Times.
Barbara Gelb also wrote for the Times.
She died in New York City on February 9, 2017.Thomas Lux
(70) poet who used direct language to express the absurdities and sorrows of human life and whose 1994 collection, Split Horizon,
won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, one of the most lucrative prizes in American poetry. Lux showed a rare gift for blending comedy and surrealist images in his early collections. Hedied of lung cancer in Atlanta, Georgia on February 5, 2017.Tzvetan Todorov
(77) Bulgarian-French literary theorist and historian of ideas whose concerns in dozens of books ranged from fantasy in fiction to the moral consequences of colonialism, fanaticism, and the Holocaust. Todorov became prominent in the ‘70s for his work on structuralism, a method of interpretation—influenced by cultural anthropology—that focuses on recurring patterns of thought and behavior. He died in Paris, France of multiple system atrophy, a progressive brain disorder, on February 7, 2017.
Business and ScienceAlbert Boscov
(87) chairman of a century-old department store chain. Boscov was credited with driving the growth of the business established by his father in 1914 to sales in excess of $1 billion and employing more than 7,500 people. The Reading, Pa.-based chain's website lists 45 stores in Pennsylvania and six other states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio. Albert Boscov died of pancreatic cancer in Reading, Pennsylvania on February 10, 2017.Miles Cahn
(95) cofounder with his wife Lillian (d. 2013) of the Coach Leatherware Co., which helped to redefine the American handbag as both chic and practical. The Cahns founded Coach in 1961 after buying a small wallet manufacturer in Manhattan and renaming it. It was Lillian’s suggestion that they began producing their first generation of women’s handbags. One of their biggest successes was Coach’s now classic “shopping bag” purse. The company’s other innovations—the bucket bag, the “tongue” bag, and ones with chains and coin-purse attachments and turn lock/toggle fastenings created by designer Bonnie Cashin—took the American purse from a stiff, impractical, ornamental pocketbook to something that women could use in their daily lives. Miles Can died in New York City on February 10, 2017.Bill Cooper
(73) chief executive credited with reviving and building the once-failing savings and loan TCF Financial Corp. into Minnesota’s third-largest bank. Cooper was TCF’s chairman and CEO for nearly 30 years. He led the former Twin City Federal Savings & Loan out of the savings and loan crisis in the ‘80s, took it public, and rechartered it as a bank that grew to several hundred branches in seven states. He was also a dominant leader in Minnesota politics, serving as state Republican Party chairman in the late ‘90s. He died in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 7, 2017.Mike Illitch
(87) billionaire businessman who in 1959 founded the Little Caesars pizza empire before buying the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Tigers.The pizza business eventually grew into one of the world's largest carry-out pizza chains with several spinoff companies that now employ 23,000 people worldwide and posted revenues in 2016 of $3.4 billion. Illitch won praise for keeping his professional sports teams in the city as others relocated to new suburban stadiums. The Tigers made the American League playoffs in 2011, a return to winning that brought more fans to Comerica Park. The team last made the playoffs in 2014, losing to the Baltimore Orioles. Illitch died in Detroit, Michigan on February 10, 2017.Sir Peter Mansfield
(83) British physicist who won the Nobel Prize for helping to invent MRI scanners. London-born Mansfield joined the University of Nottingham in central England in 1964 as a lecturer in physics. He shared the 2003 Nobel Prize in medicine with US chemist Paul Lauterbur for their work in developing magnetic resonance imaging, which uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate three-dimensional images of the body’s internal organs without potentially harmful X-rays. In 1978 Mansfield became the first person to step inside a whole-body MRI scanner so it could be tested on a human subject. Their work revolutionized the detection of disease by revealing internal organs without the need for surgery. Mansfield was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993. He died in London, England on February 8, 2017.Hans Rosling
(68) Swedish global health professor at Karolinska Institute, Sweden’s top medical university, known for his ability to make numbers and facts entertaining. Rosling died of pancreatic cancer in Uppsala, Sweden on February 7, 2017.Raymond Smullyan
(97) mathematician whose agile mind led him to be a musician, a magician, and a puzzle-creating logician. Smullyan was a serious mathematician, with the publications and the doctorate to prove it. But his greatest legacy may be the clever logic puzzles he devised, presenting them in numerous books or just in casual conversation. Sometimes they were one-offs, and sometimes they were embedded in longer narratives to explain mathematical concepts, such as Boolean logic. He died in Hudson, New York on February 6, 2017.Abba Tor
(93) engineer who helped the landmark Trans World Flight Center to take wing at Kennedy International Airport—and kept it from cracking apart. Associated with Eero Saarinen and Louis I. Kahn, pillars of modern architecture, Tor worked with Saarinen on the John Deere World Headquarters in Moline, Illinois and the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center in New York, and with Kahn on the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. But Tor earned his reputation with Trans World Airlines’ birdlike terminal, designed by Saarinen. It was completed in 1962 but closed in 2001 when TWA was sold to American Airlines and has since been celebrated as a symbol of the jet age. Tor died of cardiac arrest in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York on February 11, 2017.
News and EntertainmentSvend Asmussen
(100) Danish jazz violinist who played with legends Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Toots Thielemans. Asmussen was one of Denmark’s best-known jazz musicians abroad and considered a swinging great at home. Known as the Fiddling Viking, his gigs included performances with guitarist Django Reinhardt and violist Stephane Grappelli. Asmussen also was a member of a popular swing trio with Danish guitarist Ulrik Neumann and Swedish singer Alice Babs, best known for their swinging scat. Asmussen died in Copenhaen, Denmark, three weeks before his 101st birthday, on February 7, 2017.David Axelrod
(83) Los Angeles music producer, composer, and arranger whose string arrangements and melodies reverberate in some of the hip-hop era’s biggest hits, most notably Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “The Next Episode.” Axelrod died in Los Angeles, California on February 5, 2017.Irwin Corey
(102) wild-haired comedian and actor known for his improvisational riffs and nonsensical style who billed himself as “The World’s Foremost Authority.” Corey’s mix of mock-intellectual circumlocutions, earnest political tirades, and slapstick one-liners made him the king of comedic confusion and earned him the nickname “professor.” He became a staple on TV talk shows and in comedy clubs, and his film career included working with Jackie Gleason and Woody Allen. Irwin Corey died in New York City on February 6, 2017.Richard Hatch
(71) actor perhaps best known for playing Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica
film and TV series. Hatch started his career in off-Broadway theater. After an early role on the soap opera All My Children
in 1970, he worked steadily on TV, appearing on such series as The Streets of San Francisco, Dynasty, The Love Boat,
and Santa Barbara.
He received a Golden Globe nomination in 1979 for his work on Battlestar Galactica.
He also appeared on the rebooted Battlestar Galactica
TV series from 2004–09. Hatch died of pancreatic cancer in Los Angeles, California on February 7, 2017.Walter Hautzig
(95) concert pianist who escaped from Nazi-occupied Vienna as a teenager armed with a fellowship from the Jerusalem Conservatory who later became a touring musical good-will ambassador. Hautzig became a cultural ambassador for the US, performing around the world for 30 years. In the ‘50s he performed frequently in Japan under State Department sponsorship. In 1979, after relations thawed, he was the first American artist officially delegated to perform in mainland China. He died of congestive heart failure in New York City on February 6, 2017.Harvey Lichtenstein
(87) executive producer who transformed a moribund Brooklyn Academy of Music into a dynamic showcase for cutting-edge performing arts and its Fort Greene neighborhood into a cultural hub during his 32 years (1967–99) in the post. Lichtenstein had a stroke in 2010 and had been in declining health over the past few months. He died in New York City on February 11, 2017.Anthony Marquez
(55) Associated Press intern who in 2003 rose to Los Angeles bureau chief, where he brought stability to AP's news coverage in southern California amid titanic changes for the journalism industry. Marquez died of cancer in Los Angeles, California on February 9, 2017.Alec McCowen
(91) British actor, a West End and Broadway star who had global success with St. Mark's Gospel,
a one-man show about the life of Jesus, and performed in London and New York through the ‘50s before joining the Old Vic Co.—alongside Judi Dench and Maggie Smith—then the Royal Shakespeare Co. Although best known as a stage actor, McCowen appeared in more than two dozen films. He was memorable as a detective in Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy
and played gadget-master Q in the unofficial James Bond film Never Say Never Again.
He died in London, England on February 6, 2017.Alan Simpson
(87) British screenwriter who, with his longtime writing partner Ray Galton, cowrote the landmark British TV comedy series Hancock’s Half Hour
and Steptoe & Son,
a sitcom about father-and-son junk dealers on which US TV producer Norman Lear later based the popular US sitcom, Sanford & Son.
Simpson died of lung disease in London, England on February 8, 2017.Irwin Stambler
(92) author of The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul
(1974), one of the earliest sourcebooks on pop music. Stambler wrote dozens of books on many topics, from space missions to sports biographies. His musical interests prompted him to create encyclopedias on Broadway musicals, folk, and country and Western music. The pop encyclopedia, which went through several revisions, chronicled the professional and personal lives of everyone from Chuck Berry to The Zombies. Stambler often did his own research, interviewing musicians and attending concerts. He died in Los Angeles, California on February 10, 2017.H. C. ('Cal') Thornton
(91) longtime executive with United Press International and later the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post
News Service. Thornton was UPI’s regional manager in Boston and Chicago and in 1971 became vice president of sales. He later joined the LA Times-Washington Post
News Service, rising to president and editorial director and retireing in 1988. He died in Fall River, Massachusetts a week after being hospitalized with mild coronary disease, on February 11, 2017.
Politics and MilitaryLjubisa Beara
(77) former senior Bosnian Serb security officer convicted of genocide by a United Nations war crimes tribunal for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Beara was security chief at the wartime Bosnian Serb army headquarters, one of two senior Bosnian Serbs convicted in 2010 of genocide for their role in the slaughter of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern enclave of Srebrenica—Europe's worst massacre since World War II. He died in prison in Berlin, Germany on February 8, 2017.Claudia Watkins Belk
(79) widow of the late former Charlotte, North Carolina mayor John Belk (d. 2007) and one of the first women to be elected to public office in Mecklenburg County. Claudia Watkins won a District Court judgeship in 1968 and held the post until ‘72. Before that she had been assistant clerk of Mecklenburg County Superior Court. The Belks were married in 1971. Central Piedmont Community College paid tribute to Claudia Belk by naming a building the Claudia Watkins Belk Center for Justice. She died in Charlotte, North Carolina on February 8, 2017.Lt. Gen. Harold G. ('Hal') Moore
(94) American hero known for saving most of his men in the first major battle between the US and North Vietnamese armies. Moore was best known for his actions at the 1965 Battle of Ia Drang, where he was a lieutenant colonel in command of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. His actions were later reflected in the 2002 movie We Were Soldiers,
in which actor Mel Gibson portrayed Moore. The book on which it was based tells what happened to virtually every trooper involved in the 34-day campaign and the climactic four-day battle in which 234 Americans were killed at landing zones X-Ray and Albany in November 1965. Moore died in his sleep in Auburn, Alabama, two days shy of his 95th birthday, on February 10, 2017.
Society and ReligionMatthew Badger
(51) man whose three young daughters were killed in a Connecticut fire on Christmas morning in 2011. The fire at a Victorian home in Stamford owned by the children’s mother, New York advertising executive Madonna Badger, killed 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah Badger, 9-year-old Lily Badger, and their maternal grandparents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson, formerly of Louisville, Kentucky. Madonna Badger and her boyfriend at the time, Michael Borcina, escaped the flames. Borcina, a contractor, had been renovating the house. Matthew Badger filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Borcina, his construction company, other contractors, and the city of Stamford. He died in Stamford, Connecticut on February 9, 2017.Adele Dunlap
(114) oldest person in America. Dunlap became the country’s oldest person in July 2016 after the death of 113-year-old Goldie Michelson of Worcester, Massachusetts. The oldest known person living in the US now is 113-year-old Delphine Gibson of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks people older than 110 worldwide. Dunlap didn’t have an explanation for her longevity, and neither did her children. Her son said she never jogged and ate anything she wanted. She died near Flemington, New Jersey on February 5, 2017.Tara Palmer-Tomkinson
(45) British former party girl and a goddaughter of Prince Charles. Palmer-Tomkinson was a fixture on the international social stage throughout the ‘90s. She was regularly photographed partying with the rich and famous and helped to fuel her reputation as a wild child with regular appearances on TV shows, including the first season of the reality show I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here
in 2002, in which she came in second. Her entertaining life contained as many lows, including public meltdowns, as it did highs. She had a highly publicized, and reportedly very expensive, cocaine habit that led to the collapse of her nasal septum, which had to be surgically repaired. In 2016 she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She was found dead at her home in London, England on February 8, 2017.
(92) radio “voice of the Gophers” who did play-by-play for the Minnesota Gophers for 50 years. Christensen was a well-known voice on WCCO Radio. He did his 510th and final Gopher football broadcast in the fall of 2000. He also broadcast Gopher basketball for 45 straight seasons. His banner hangs from the rafters at Williams Arena. He also broadcast games for the Minneapolis Lakers, Minnesota Twins, and Minnesota Vikings. Christensen died of an upper respiratory infection in Rosemount, Minnesota on February 5, 2017.Don McNelly
(96) known worldwide for powering through marathon runs and running up record totals into his 70s and 80s. A retired paper company executive, McNelly didn't start running marathons until he was nearly 50 after a close friend died of a heart attack. He ran his first marathon in Boston in 1969. By 2009 he had completed 744 of them, running 26.2-mile races in all 50 states, every Canadian province, and on every continent, including Antarctica. McNelly died in Rochester, New York on February 5, 2017.Steve Sumner
(61) captain of the New Zealand soccer team that played at the 1982 World Cup after the longest qualifying campaign in the tournament’s history. English-born Sumner led New Zealand through a 15-match qualifying campaign that included matches against Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, China, China Taipei, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. To reach the final playoff, New Zealand had to beat Saudi Arabia by five goals in Riyadh and did so, leading 5-0 at halftime and holding on in a scoreless second half. It then beat China 2-1 in Singapore to reach its first World Cup finals after playing more matches than any other nation to reach a World Cup at that time. Sumner played 105 times for New Zealand over 12 years, scoring 27 goals as an attacking midfielder. He died of prostate cancer, first diagnosed in 2015, in Wellington, New Zealand on February 8, 2017.Joost van der Westhuizen
(45) rugby player who won the 1995 World Cup with South Africa as newly elected President Nelson Mandela looked on. The 15-12 victory helped to rally South Africans of all colors behind a nation emerging from apartheid. Van der Westhuizen died in Johannesburg, South Africa after a six-year-battle with motor neuron disease on February 6, 2017.Previous Week
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