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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, July 22, 2017

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Harvey Atkin, actor in 'Meatballs'Chester Bennington, singer with Linkin Park groupJerry Bird, University of Kentucky basketball playerFred Britten, Nebraska prison wardenJake Butcher, Tennessee bankerDr. S. Allen Counter, Harvard neurobiologistPeter Doohan, Australian tennis proC. Weston Houck, US District judge in South CarolinaKenneth Jay Lane, designer of fake jewelryDr. Herbert Needleman, linked lead exposure in children to health and developmental problemsJoseph Rago, Pulitzer-winning editorial writer for 'Wall Street Journal'Ralph Regula, US congressman from OhioGeorge Romero, director of 'Night of the Living Dead'Dr. Raymond Sackler, cofounder of Purdue Pharma, maker of OxycontinDawn Seymour, former WWII WASPClancy Sigal, novelist and memoiristRobert Gene ('Red') West, Presley confidant turned actor

Art and Literature

Clancy Sigal (90) blacklisted Hollywood talent agent whose soul-searching journey across the backroads of America provided the road map for Going Away, a memoir of a young man’s explorations of his own past and the mood of a nation, captured in visits with old friends, former enemies, union activists, radicals, oddballs, and those whose lives had been upended by the so-called Red scare in 1956. In a career that stretched for decades, Sigal wrote more than half a dozen novels and memoirs; worked as a Fleet Street journalist in London; became the soulmate of Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing; took acid trips with radical psychiatrist R. D. Laing; wrote scores of newspaper commentaries, columns, and book reviews; taught long-form journalism at the University of Southern California; and wrote screenplays with his wife, including the film Frida (2002). He died in Los Angeles, California on July 16, 2017.

Business and Science

Jake Butcher (81) helped to bring the World's Fair to Knoxville before his family's east Tennessee banking network collapsed amid a federal investigation. Butcher and his brother, C. H. Butcher Jr. (died in 2002), built their father's banking business in Clinton into a multimillion-dollar financial network that included United American Bank. Jake had twice run for governor as a Democrat and had used his extensive political and business connections to help land the World's Fair in Knoxville in 1982. The fair brought in more than 11 million people over its six-month run. City officials hoped the fair would lead to redevelopment at the site, a former downtown rail yard. Instead, the day after the fair ended, federal agents raided the brothers' multibillion-dollar banking empire. They also padlocked the doors of United American in 1983. Ultimately a slew of banks with total deposits of more than $1 billon failed. Some depositors were insured, but others lost their life savings. The brothers pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and bank fraud, and both served time in prison before being paroled. Jake Butcher died in Clinton, Tennessee on July 19, 2017.

Dr. S. Allen Counter (73) Harvard neurobiologist and explorer who reclaimed the reputation of Matthew A. Henson, a black explorer on Robert E. Peary’s 1909 expedition to the North Pole, and tracked down his descendants in Greenland. A member of the Explorers Club, Counter combined a scientific career with travel to the four corners of the earth. At Harvard Medical School, which he joined in 1970, his research on nerves and muscle synapses led him to such far-flung destinations as Ecuador to study the neural damage caused by lead-glazing in the village of La Victoria, and China, to study acupuncture; one of his interests—discovering the cause of widespread hearing loss among the Inuit of Greenland. Counter died of cancer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 11 days after his 73rd birthday, on July 19, 2017.

Kenneth Jay Lane (85) designer and bon vivant who built a global business producing fake and junk jewelry—or, as he liked to say, “faque” and “junque.” Lane was regarded as the first American jewelry designer to make it not only acceptable but also chic to wear fake jewelry, and he transformed himself into a high-society, jet-setting businessman with a lifestyle that was anything but cheap. The wider public knew him from his frequent appearances on QVC, the home shopping network, where his company made a fortune in sales. He died overnight in his sleep in New York City on July 19, 2017.

Dr. Herbert Needleman (89) pediatrician and University of Pittsburgh researcher who linked lead exposure in children to health and intelligence issues. Needleman was also a psychiatrist and had been a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Pitt's School of Medicine and Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic. But he was best known for his research in the ‘70s that led companies to remove lead from gasoline and other products after documenting behavior problems, lower intelligence scores, and worse school performance in children exposed to lead. He died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 18, 2017.

Dr. Raymond Sackler (97) co-owner of Purdue Pharma, a Connecticut company that markets the powerfully addictive painkiller OxyContin. In 1952 Sackler and his brother purchased Purdue, then based in New York City and now headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut. The company develops and markets medicines, health-care products, and antiseptics for pain management, including the opioid OxyContin. Sackler began pursuing his medical degree at Anderson College of Medicine in Glasgow, Scotland and earned it in 1944 from the Middlesex University School of Medicine on the site of present-day Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He died in Greenwich, Connecticut on July 17, 2017.


Fred Britten (62) longtime Nebraska prison warden. Britten began his career with the department as a corrections counselor in 1977. He was named Tecumseh State Prison's first warden, serving 13 years. In 2013 he returned to Lincoln to serve as warden of the Diagnostic & Evaluation Center, and in '16 he also took on the role of warden of the Lincoln Correctional Center. He led both facilities until his death from cancer in Lincoln, Nebraska on July 19, 2017.

C. Weston Houck (84) US District judge, the jurist whose ruling opened the door for women to join The Citadel's Corps of Cadets. Houck was nominated to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. In 1994 he rejected The Citadel's attempts to keep South Carolina's public military college exclusively male, ruling that Shannon Faulkner could become its first female cadet. Houck's ruling covered only Faulkner, but other female cadets followed. The crux of his July 1994 ruling was that the school's refusal to enroll a state resident on grounds she was female violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Houck represented Florence in the South Carolina statehouse in the mid-‘60s. He died in Florence, South Carolina on July 19, 2017.

News and Entertainment

Harvey Atkin (74) Canadian actor who played summer camp director Morty in Meatballs. Atkin appeared in more than 90 episodes of Cagney & Lacey as Sgt. Ronald Coleman and appeared frequently as Judge Alan Ridenour on Law & Order. But many knew him best for his breakout role in Ivan Reitman's 1979 Bill Murray comedy. His mustachioed, bespectacled Morty Melnick—a heavy sleeper—was the target of numerous pranks by the camp counselors. The movie ended with Morty waking up on a raft in the middle of a lake. Atkin died of cancer in New York City on July 17, 2017.

Chester Bennington (41) Linkin Park singer who sold millions of albums with a unique mix of hard rock, hip-hop, and rap. The group sold 10 million copies of their 2000 debut, Hybrid Theory, then another 4 million with multiplatinum Meteora (2003). Both albums explored feelings of frustration and fury. Bennington, who sported piercings and tattoos, struggled with drug and alcohol addictions at various times. He was married and was the father of six children. He was found dead at his home near Los Angeles, California, an apparent suicide, on July 20, 2017.

Joseph Rago (34) Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal, which he had joined as an intern in 2005. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Rago won the Pulitzer for editorial writing in 2011. He was found dead at his New York City apartment on July 20, 2017 after he failed to appear for work. Foul play was not suspected.

George Romero (77) film director whose classic Night of the Living Dead and other horror films turned zombie movies into social commentaries. Romero saw his flesh-devouring undead spawn countless imitators, remakes, and homages. He was credited with reinventing the movie zombie with his directorial debut, the 1968 cult classic. The movie set the rules imitators lived by: Zombies move slowly, lust for human flesh, and can be killed only when shot in the head. If a zombie bites a human, the person dies and returns as a zombie. But Romero's zombies were always more than mere cannibals. They were metaphors for conformity, racism, mall culture, militarism, class differences, and other social ills. Romero died of lung cancer in Toronto, Canada on July 16, 2017.

Robert Gene ('Red') West (81) actor and songwriter, a longtime confidant of Elvis Presley. West met Presley in high school and worked for him for 20 years. He was a friend, driver, and bodyguard. He also took small roles in some of Presley's films and cowrote some songs Presley sang, including “Separate Ways” and “If You Talk in Your Sleep.” After being fired by Presley's father in 1976, West became a full-time actor and appeared on TV shows and in movies. His best-known role was in Road House (1989), starring Patrick Swayze. West died of an aortic aneurysm in Memphis, Tennessee on July 18, 2017.

Politics and Military

Ralph Regula (92) former Ohio congressman who was elected to 18 terms in the US House and was a key player in creating the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Regula represented Canton and northeastern Ohio for 36 years before retiring in 2008. At the time he was dean of Ohio's congressional delegation and the No. 3 Republican on the powerful Appropriations Committee. His moderate views on federal spending and social programs sometimes put him at odds with conservatives in party leadership during his later years in office, but he wasn't afraid to go against his own party on trade and increasing the minimum wage. Regula died in Bethlehem Township, Stark County, Ohio on July 19, 2017.

Dawn Seymour (100) woman honored at a New York air show for her World War II service as a civilian pilot flying military aircraft. Seymour served with the Women's Airforce Service Pilots, known as WASPs. She and her fellow WASPs flew bombers and other warplanes in the US to free up male pilots for combat service overseas. In 2010 the WASPs were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, among the nation's highest civilian honors. Seymour was among the female aviators honored during the National Warplane Museum air show in nearby Geneseo. She died in the Finger Lakes, New York area on July 18, 2017.


Jerry Bird (83) former Kentucky basketball player, a member of the school's Athletics Hall of Fame who had his No. 22 jersey retired to the Rupp Arena rafters. Bird played for Kentucky from 1954–56 and helped the school to attain two Southeastern Conference titles in ‘54–55. He was part of the 1954 team crowned national champions by the Helms Athletic Foundation after a 25-0 season. Bird scored 713 career points and had 589 career rebounds under coach Adolph Rupp. He played one season with the New York Knicks before returning to his hometown of Corbin to work at American Greetings. He died in Corbin, Kentucky on July 16, 2017.

Peter Doohan (56) former Australian tennis professional whose most famous victory was over Boris Becker at Wimbledon in 1987. Becker was world No. 1 and tournament favorite, while Doohan was ranked 70 after beginning the year ranked 301. He won 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, earning the nickname the “Becker Wrecker.” Doohan reached a best singles ranking of 43 and a doubles ranking of 15. On July 1 he celebrated the 30th anniversary of his victory over Becker in the second round at Wimbledon, then considered one of the biggest upsets in the tournament's history. Doohan was diagnosed nine weeks ago with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a particularly aggressive form of motor neurone disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He died in Sidney, Australia on July 21, 2017.

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