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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, July 8, 2017

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John Blackwell Jr., Prince drummerGene Conley, won championships in two major pro sportsKeith Conners, established standards for diagnosis and treatment of ADHDJosé Luis Cuevas, Mexican painterJi-Tu Cumbuka, film and TV actorKevin DelGobbo, Connecticut state legislatorBob Elliott, college assistant football coachNelsan Ellis, actor on HBO's 'True Blood'Bracha Graber, NYC whistle blowerDaniil Granin, Russian authorPierre Henry, French electronic composerVice Adm. Diego Hernandez, former highest-ranking Hispanic in US NavyWilliam Hogan, president and first chancellor of UMass/LowellNancy P. Jeffett, tennis promoterDr. John Spencer, physician turned authorMinos Kyriakou, Greek media mogulJoan Lee, wife of Marvel Comics cartoonist Stan LeeBradley Lowery, British soccer mascotLibby Adler Mages, Chicago theatrical producerElsa Martinelli, Italian fashion model turned actressJoachim Meisner, former archbishop of Cologne, GermanyJoaquin Navarro-Valls, former Vatican spokesmanDiane J. Nelson, jockey and modelJoseph Nkaissery, Kenya's interior ministerJames B. Nutter, founder of Kansas City mortgage companyJohn S. Palmore, former Kentucky Supreme Court chief justiceJan Pauls, Kansas state legislatorMarina Ratner, late-blooming mathematicianIrina Ratushinskaya, Soviet dissident poet and novelistCarol Lee Scott, British TV's 'Grotbags'Kenneth Silverman, NYU biographerLouise Solheim with Ping puttersJean-Jacques Susini, opposed independent AlgeriaPaolo Villaggio, Italian comic actorDavid Vincent, baseball historian and scorer

Art and Literature

José Luis Cuevas (83) Mexican painter who made his mark by breaking with the hypernationalist tradition of his country's muralists of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Muralists of that time, like Diego Rivera, idealized the working class, peasants, and Mexico's indigenous past. But Cuevas was known for his twisted, distorted depictions of the human form, both in painting and sculpture. He was best known for his ‘50s manifesto The Nopal Curtain and a “temporary” mural he erected on a billboard in 1967 and took down a month later. Both were a reaction to the ponderous, stereotyped images that prevailed in Mexico's school of mural painting. He died in Mexico City, Mexico on July 3, 2017.

Daniil Granin (98) Russian author who wrote a chronicle of the Nazi siege of Leningrad and several widely popular novels. Granin was a World War II veteran whose writings made him a moral authority for many in Russia. Trained as an industrial engineer, he joined the Red Army when the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and fought through the end of the war. He published his first work in 1949 and wrote several novels inspired by his experience as an engineer, describing scientists fighting for their inventions against stolid bureaucracy. He died in St. Petersburg, Russia on July 4, 2017.

Dr. Spencer Johnson (78) physician turned author of Who Moved My Cheese? and coauthor of The One-Minute Manager, among the best-selling books of all time. Johnson was a little-known children’s book author in the early ‘80s when he met Ken Blanchard at a cocktail party in San Diego and the two decided to write a parable for business leaders. They self-published One-Minute Manager, sold thousands of copies on their own, then struck a deal with a major New York publisher. The book has sold more than 15 million copies. Johnson then took a story he’d told to friends about two mice and two mouse-sized humans maneuvering through a maze and turned it into a 98-page allegory about change, Who Moved My Cheese? it’s sold more than 25 million copies, spawned teen and children’s versions, and become such a pop culture touchstone that it’s been parodied in comic strips and books. Johnson died of pancreatic cancer in Encinitas, California on July 3, 2017.

Joan Lee (93) wife of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee (94), cocreator of numerous Marvel Comics superheroes including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men. Lee met his future wife while trying to meet another woman for a date in New York. The couple was married in December 1947. Lee has credited his wife with supporting him early in his career, when he was trying to create superheroes that he and others could care about. Joan Lee died in Los Angeles, California on July 6, 2017.

Irina Ratushinskaya (63) Soviet dissident poet and novelist who, after barely surviving nearly four years in a brutal prison camp, delivered a singular woman’s perspective on the forbidding gulag. Sentenced in 1983, on her 29th birthday, to the seven-year maximum term for “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda,” Ratushinskaya composed some 250 poems in prison, many drafted with burned matchsticks on bars of soap. She memorized them and smuggled them on cigarette paper through her husband to the West, where they were published, and where human rights groups indefatigably lobbied for her release. She was finally freed in October 1986 in a gesture of glasnost, the more permissive policy pursued by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. Ratushinskaya died of cancer in Moscow, Russia on July 5, 2017.

Kenneth Silverman (81) biographer whose The Life & Times of Cotton Mather, a deeply researched biography of the Puritan preacher, won both the Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize in 1985. A specialist in Colonial American literature and codirector of the program in American civilization at New York University, Silverman also wrote well-received biographies of Edgar Allan Poe, Harry Houdini, Samuel B. Morse, and John Cage. But it was his first effort in the genre that brought him his greatest acclaim. Mather (1663–1728) was a difficult figure to take the measure of, in part because of his enormous output—388 works appeared under his name—but also because of his fearsome reputation as the great ayatollah of American Puritanism and sinister apologist for the excesses of the Salem witch trials. Silverman died of a respiratory illness in New York City on July 7, 2017.

Business and Science

Keith Conners (84) whose work with hyperactive children established the first standards for diagnosing and treating what is now known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD—and who late in life expressed misgivings about how loosely applied that label had become. In the early '60s, children with emotional and behavioral problems often got a variety of diagnoses, depending on the clinic, and often ended up being given strong tranquilizers as treatment. Conners focused on a group of youngsters who were chronically restless, hyperactive, and sometimes aggressive. Doctors had recognized that type—“hyperkinesis,” it was called, or “minimal brain dysfunction”—but Conners combined existing descriptions and, using statistical analysis, focused on the core symptoms. He later founded the Duke University ADHD Clinic. Conners died of heart failure in Durham, North Carolina on July 5, 2017.

Minos Kyriakou (75) Greek media mogul, a former president of his country's Olympic Committee. Kyriakou became president of the Greek Olympic Committee after Athens hosted the Summer Olympics in 2004 and served in that position until ’09. He was president of the Panellinios Athletic Club and a former council member of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), having been elected in 2003. Kyriakou was chairman of the media conglomerate Antenna Group, which he founded in 1989. It includes radio and TV stations in Greece and several Balkan countries, Internet providers, and a publishing house. Kyriakou began his career as a ship owner in the mid-‘60s and remained involved in that sector. Twice divorced, he died of a heart attack in Athens, Greece on July 2, 2017.

James B. Nutter (89) founder of home mortgage company James B. Nutter & Co. Nutter founded the Kansas City-based company that bears his name in 1951. He also was a political donor and philanthropist. He died of diabetes in Kansas City, Missouri on July 7, 2017.

Marina Ratner (78) mathematician and Russian-Jewish émigré who defied the notion that the best and the brightest in her field do their finest work when they are young. Ratner started as a good but unexceptional mathematician. A common belief is that a mathematician who does not do great work by age 40 never will. But Ratner was about that age when she set off on an ambitious effort to connect the physics of the motion of objects with more abstract ideas of number theory. She proved her most influential theorem after she turned 50. Ratner died of cardiac arrest in El Cerrito, California on July 7, 2017.

Louise Solheim (99) widow of late Ping golf equipment founder Karsten Solheim, who died in 2000. Louise Solheim died in Phoenix, Arizona on July 7, 2017.


William Hogan (84) former chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell who led the school for 25 years. Hogan was credited with reinventing the campus and its academic reputation. He joined the university as an engineering professor in 1963 and quickly ascended the ranks. He was president of the school for 10 years, long before it joined the UMass system, then was its first chancellor from 1991–2006. He was known as the father of UMass Lowell and was credited with building close ties with the city and establishing the university as a strong research institution. He died in Lowell, Massachusetts on July 3, 2017.


John S. Palmore (99) Kentucky Supreme Court chief justice who helped to shape his state's modern unified justice system. Palmore chaired a commission that drafted Kentucky's criminal code and wrote more than 800 published opinions and a manual on jury instructions that are still used in courtrooms today. He also helped to adopt and implement judicial reforms in the ‘70s that brought about the state's current judicial system. He died in Frankfort, Kentucky on July 4, 2017.

News and Entertainment

John Blackwell Jr. (43) one of Prince's drummers. Tampa-based Blackwell was Prince's drummer for more than 10 years. A Go Fund Me account set up by his wife, Yaritza, said Blackwell was in the process of getting tested for “what the doctors think may be tumors in his brain.” The fund, set up about four months ago, had raised about $79,000. Blackwell died in Tampa, Florida on July 4, 2017.

Ji-Tu Cumbuka (77) actor known for the original Roots, Bound for Glory, and Harlem Nights. Cumbuka landed his first major role in the 1968 movie Uptight, directed by the late Jules Dassin. The 6-foot-5 actor later starred in Brewster's Millions and Mandingo. His TV roles included gigs on Knots Landing, Sanford & Son, The Dukes of Hazzard, Walker Texas Ranger, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, his last in 2004. Cumbuka had had at least 10 years of health complications related to vascular disease. He died in Atlanta, Georgia on July 4, 2017.

Nelsan Ellis (39) actor best known for his memorable portrayal of Lafayette Reynolds on HBO's True Blood. The Illinois-born actor, who studied at Juilliard, played the role of Lafayette, a gay short order cook, on the HBO drama from 2008–14 and more recently appeared on the CBS detective series Elementary. He also was a playwright and a stage director. Ellis appeared as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Lee Daniels' The Butler, as singer Bobby Byrd in the James Brown biopic Get On Up, and in The Help. He died of heart failure in Los Angeles, California on July 8, 2017.

Pierre Henry (89) French composer whose experiments with electronically manipulated sound helped to create the style known as musique concrète and anticipated the innovations of techno. Early in his musical career, Henry abandoned notes in favor of ambient sounds—dripping water, car horns, bird calls, locomotive engines—which he manipulated with a tape recorder in surprising ways. He died in Paris, France, his birthplace, on July 6, 2017.

Libby Adler Mages (93) famed Chicago-based theatrical producer. During Mages' long career, she won a Tony Award for her show Thoroughly Modern Millie and a Pulitzer Prize for Three Tall Women. She had a lifelong love affair with the theater and kept working in theater until the day she died of a heart attack in Chicago, Illinois on July 2, 2017.

Elsa Martinelli (82) Italian fashion model turned actress whose Hollywood career included roles opposite Kirk Douglas in The Indian Fighter and John Wayne in Hatari! Martinelli’s modeling career was already on the upswing in 1955 when a photograph of her in Vogue was spotted by Douglas’s wife, Anne Buydens. Douglas was producing The Indian Fighter, a western, and was seeking an actress to play Onahti, the daughter of a Sioux chief, who falls in love with his character, a scout leading a wagon train through Native American territory. In Hatari! (1962) she portrayed a photographer nicknamed Dallas working with a group, led by Wayne, trapping African wildlife for sale to zoos. Her character’s attachment to the film’s scene-stealing elephant calves was captured memorably in scenes featuring composer Henry Mancini’s song “Baby Elephant Walk.” She died of cancer in Rome, Italy on July 8, 2017.

Carol Lee Scott (74) actress best known for entertaining British children on TV as colorful witch Grotbags. Scott appeared on several children's TV shows in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Her Grotbags character first appeared on Emu's World before Scott left that show to star as the character for three seasons on Independent TeleVision's (ITV) Grotbags. Scott was born in Somerset, England and began her career as a cabaret performer and a pub singer in London. She spent nearly 20 years working for holiday park company Pontins before moving onto TV. She died in London, England on July 4, 2017.

Paolo Villaggio (84) comic actor whose invented workplace characters interpreted Italians' foibles. Widely popular in Italy, Villaggio expressed his comic qualities through slapstick, satire, and irony. His iconic character, accountant Ugo Fantozzi, personified Italians' worst fears about making fools of themselves in the workplace. The character also allowed them to laugh at themselves as Italians entertaining fantasies about obtaining a job for life, said to be every parent's dream for their child, at least during the economic boom years of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Villaggio invented the Fantozzi character, first in a book, then as the main character in 10 films. He died of diabetes in Rome, Italy on July 3, 2017.

Politics and Military

Kevin DelGobbo (53) former Connecticut state legislator from Naugatuck and chairman of the state's Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. During his 12 years in the State House of Representatives, DelGobbo served 10 years as ranking Republican House member on the General Assembly's Energy & Technology Committee. He died unexpectedly in Hartford, Connecticut on July 3, 2017.

Bracha Graber (68) whose whistle-blowing over widespread fraud in New York's foster care bureaucracy in the ‘90s was a catalyst for an overhaul of its practices. A midlevel city official, Graber filed a lawsuit for damages in 1993 only after being repeatedly rebuffed by her bosses and disregarded by outside investigators when she confronted them with evidence that her agency was defrauding the federal government. She accused the agency, the Child Welfare Administration, of claiming tens of millions of dollars in federal reimbursements that it had not been entitled to. Graber died of lung cancer in Los Angeles, California on July 5, 2017.

Vice Adm. Diego Hernandez (83) once the highest-ranking Hispanic officer in the US Navy. Hernandez was the top-ranking Hispanic on active duty for several years in the ‘80s and was Navy ambassador to many Latin American militaries and institutions. His military awards included the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He commanded the US Third Fleet in the Pacific and held senior posts at the US Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, both in Colorado. Hw also led 147 combat missions during the Vietnam War. Hernandez died in Miami Lakes, Florida on July 7, 2017.

Joseph Nkaissery (67) Kenya's interior minister and a retired general. Concerns are growing about August’s election. The European Union observer mission has said it's “no secret” that violence is possible, as had occurred in past votes. In 2007 more than 1,000 people died in postelection violence. Opposition leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga eulogized Nkaissery, saying his death was a totally unexpected tragedy. Nkaissery died a few hours after being admitted for a check-up at a Nairobi, Kenya hospital on July 8, 2017.

Jan Pauls (64) former Kansas state representative. An attorney and former judge, Pauls served in the Kansas Legislature beginning in 1991, representing the 102nd district as a Democrat until switching to the Republican Party in 2014 to advocate for conservative social issues. She lost her bid for reelection in November 2016 to Democrat Patsy Terrell, who died in June near the end of her first legislative session. Pauls died in Hutchinson, Kansas on July 5, 2017.

Jean-Jacques Susini (83) leader of a right-wing terrorist group that opposed Algerian independence from France and was twice condemned to death in absentia for plots to assassinate President Charles De Gaulle of France. Susini was a so-called pied noir, an Algerian with European roots, who came of political age when the National Liberation Front, known as the FLN, began its insurgent revolt against French colonial rule in 1954. Even as the FLN battled France for nearly eight years in a war for independence, Susini could not fathom Algeria as a sovereign state. He died on July 3, 2017.

Society and Religion

Joachim Meisner (83) former archbishop of Cologne and a prominent conservative voice in the German church. Meisner was an outspoken and sometimes controversial conservative figure in liberally minded Germany. He opposed plans to build a large mosque in Cologne and once urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to apologize for criticizing the Vatican's handling of the case of a Holocaust-denying bishop. He died while on vacation in Bad Fuessing, in Bavaria, on July 5, 2017.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls (80) Spaniard who was a close confidant of Pope John Paul II (died in 2005), serving for more than 20 years as chief Vatican spokesman. Navarro-Valls was fiercely loyal to John Paul, accompanying the Polish pope on most of his 104 international trips. He also performed delicate diplomatic missions, such as helping to prepare the pope's historic pilgrimage to Cuba. He died of pancreatic cancer in Rome, Italy on July 5, 2017.


Gene Conley (86) one of the only players in history to win championships in two major professional sports. Conley played for the Boston Red Sox from 1961–63, helped to pitch the Milwaukee Braves to a World Series championship in '57, and won three NBA titles with the Celtics. Otto Graham won championships in the NFL and the National Basketball League, a precursor to the NBA. Conley was a right-hander and three-time All-Star who spent 11 years in baseball with four teams. He was selected by the Celtics in the 1952 draft and, after spending most of the next six years playing only baseball, he returned to the NBA in '58 and won three consecutive titles. He died in Foxborough, Massachusetts on July 4, 2017.

Bob Elliott (64) longtime college assistant football coach. Elliott spent 38 years as an assistant at several high-profile schools. He worked 11 years as an assistant under Hayden Fry with the Hawkeyes and worked for Kansas State, Iowa State (where he played and later coached), San Diego State, and Notre Dame. He spent the last five seasons under Brian Kelly with the Fighting Irish and was set to become an off-the-field defensive analyst for Nebraska this fall. He died of cancer in Iowa City, Iowa on July 8, 2017.

Nancy P. Jeffett (88) tennis promoter instrumental in arranging the first network broadcast of women's tennis. Jeffett was among the first female promoters in the sport. She staged the Maureen Connolly Brinker Memorial Tournament in 1969; in '72 it became the first televised women's tournament and the first to award prize money. The tournament evolved into the Virginia Slims of Dallas. Jeffett and Connolly (died in 1969), a nine-time Grand Slam singles champion, cofounded the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation to help get more people involved in the sport. Jeffett was longtime chairman of both the US Wightman Cup and Federation Cup. She was the only American woman who wasn’t a Wimbledon champion to be named an honorary member of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club. She died in Dallas, Texas on July 6, 2017.

Bradley Lowery (6) British soccer mascot who struck up a close friendship with England striker Jermain Defoe after being diagnosed with a rare cancer and gaining fans across the sport. Bradley, who had neuroblastoma, was a mascot for then-English Premier League team Sunderland several times last season and formed a bond with Defoe, who now plays for Bournemouth. Soccer fans had hoped a massive fund-raising effort in 2016 could get Bradley to the US for pioneering treatment, but his family announced in December that his cancer was terminal. Bradley Lowery died in Sunderland, England on July 7, 2017.

Diane J. Nelson (54) multiple graded-stakes winning jockey who rode over 1,000 winners while capitalizing on her good looks with a modeling career. Nelson was the sixth female jockey in North America to reach 1,000 winners. She had 1,095 victories from 9,905 career races and purse earnings of $19,106,392. She was one of the elite women jockeys in the sport, although she never rode in any of the most prestigious Triple Crown or Breeders' Cup races. She rode regularly on the highly competitive New York circuit, where at times she was the lone woman. Nelson died on July 5, 2017.

David Vincent (67) Washington Nationals official scorer and respected baseball historian who compiled home run statistics for the Society for American Baseball Research. Vincent began serving as an official scorer in the District of Columbia area with a minor league franchise, now the Potomac Nationals, in Woodbridge, Virginia. When the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, Vincent worked the Nationals' home opener at RFK Stadium on April 14, 2005 and continued in that role into the '17 season. He died of stomach cancer in Centreville, Virginia on July 2, 2017.

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