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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, September 9, 2017

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John Ashbery, triple crown poetWalter Becker, Steely Dan guitarist, bassist, and cofounderPierre Bergé, CEO of Yves Saint Laurent fashion houseNicolaas Bloembergen, Nobel Prize-winning physicistEric Chase Bolling, right, son of former Fox News host Eric BollingHolger Czukay, cofounder and bassist of German avant-garde band CanCarrie DeKlyen, Michigan mother of five who chose sixth baby over chemotherapyJoe DeNucci, former boxer who became longest-serving Massachusetts state auditorDouglas Dowd, economist critical of capitalismThomas H. Draper, broadcast news executiveGreg Escalante, patron of Lowbrow artMichael Friedman, composer of on- and off-Broadway musicalsTroy Gentry, half of Montgomery Gentry country music duoJeremiah Goodman, painted glorified interiors of celebrity homesMike Lair, Missouri state legislatorJohn W. Lewis, Stanford University professor emeritusJeanne Lillig-Patterson, cofounder of child health care foundationGina Mason, first-term Maine state legislatorJim McDaniels, Western Kentucky basketball starDan McNeill, Pennsylvania state legislatorH. L. ('Sonny') Merideth Jr., Mississippi state legislatorHarry Meshel, Ohio state senatorGene Michael, New York Yankees managerKate Millett, activist for feminismGastone Moschin, Italian character actorCharles Owens, pro golfer who persisted despite physical painNoel Picard, St. Louis Blues defensemanPierre Pilote, Canadian hockey star who played for Chicago BlackhawksJerry Pournelle, sci-fi authorSugar Ramos, featherweight boxing championBob Robles, Arizona House sergeant-at-armsRick Stevens, vocalist with Tower of PowerDon Williams, country singerSimeon Wright, younger cousin of Emmett Till, kidnapped and slain in 1955Lotfi Zadeh, father of 'fuzzy logic'

Art and Literature

John Ashbery (90) genius of modern poetry whose energy, daring, and command of language raised American verse to brilliant and baffling heights. Few poets were so exalted in their lifetimes. Ashbery was the first living poet to have a volume published by the Library of America dedicated exclusively to his work. His 1975 collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, was the rare winner of the book world’s unofficial triple crown: the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle prize. In 2011 Ashbery was given a National Humanities Medal and credited with changing “how we read poetry.” He died in Hudson, New York on September 3, 2017.

Greg Escalante (62) bond trader who became a key patron of the Lowbrow art movement as a collector, gallerist, and cofounder of the magazine Juxtapoz. Escalante was one of the key figures associated with Lowbrow, a pop school of art that emerged in ‘70s California and drew inspiration from underground comics, punk music, tattooing, the custom car scene, and surf and skate culture—the exact opposite of what the minimalist-minded mainstream art world was into during that era. He died in Huntington Beach, California on September 7, 2017.

Jeremiah Goodman (94) house painter to the stars—not the guy who smeared two coats on the siding and shutters, but the preferred illustrator commissioned to paint shimmering portraits of glamorous interiors for design magazines and advertisements and as keepsakes for the homeowners. Goodman first hoped to be a film-set designer but found that he hated Hollywood. He was encouraged instead to capture idealized versions of existing interiors on canvas rather than to envision imaginary ones for the movies. The accessorized apartment and house interiors he painted belonged to, among others, Greta Garbo, philanthropist Betsy Bloomingdale, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, fashion editor Diana Vreeland, and Wallis Simpson, the duchess of Windsor. Goodman died of heart failure in New York City on September 7, 2017.

Jerry Pournelle (84) writer of science fiction novels and witty advice columns for computer users. Pournelle, whose several degrees included a doctorate in political science, worked in the aerospace industry for years and advised the US federal government on military matters and space exploration. But sci-fi fans knew him as the author of novels like Janissaries (1979), about soldiers abducted by space aliens, and Starswarm (1998), about a boy being raised on a remote planet by an uncle and a computer program named Gwen. His books with Larry Niven included Inferno (1976) and Escape from Hell (2009), related stories inspired by the hell envisioned by Dante. Pournelle died of kidney failure in Los Angeles, California on September 8, 2017.

Business and Science

Pierre Bergé (86) French businessman, philanthropist, and gay rights activist who helped to build the fashion empire of his longtime lover, Yves Saint Laurent (died 2008). A cultural celebrity in France in his own right, Bergé was one of France's leading art patrons and was chief executive of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, also helping to rescue Le Monde newspaper, among his many media investments. He was best known for helping Saint Laurent to found his own fashion house in 1961 after leaving Christian Dior. Saint Laurent's pantsuits and styles capturing his era changed the way generations of women dressed. Bergé died in his sleep of myopathy, a neuromuscular disorder, in the southern town of Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France, on September 8, 2017.

Nicolaas Bloembergen (97) Dutch-born American physicist who studied quantum mechanics by the light of an oil lamp while hiding from the Nazis in the Netherlands during World War II and later shared a Nobel Prize for his contributions to laser spectroscopy. Bloembergen, who spent more than 40 years at Harvard University, was considered the father of nonlinear optics, which investigates how electromagnetic radiation interacts with matter. He died of cardiorespiratory failure in Tucson, Arizona on September 5, 2017.

Jeanne Lillig-Patterson (59) widow of Cerner Corp. chief executive and cofounder Neal Patterson. Lillig-Patterson was cofounder of the First Hand Foundation, which provides access to health care for children that has reached more than 300,000 children worldwide since it began in 1995. She was a Republican candidate for Congress in 2004, losing to Democrat Emanuel Cleaver. Cerner is a health-care technology company with about 24,000 employees worldwide. Lillig-Patterson died of cancer in Kansas City, Missouri less than two months after her husband died of complications from a soft-tissue cancer for which he had been treated previously, on September 4, 2017.

Lotfi Zadeh (96) computer scientist and electrical engineer whose theories of “fuzzy logic” rippled across academia and industry, influencing everything from linguistics, economics, and medicine to air-conditioners, vacuum cleaners, and rice cookers. Emerging from an academic paper Zadeh published in 1965 as a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, “fuzzy logic,” as he called it, was an effort to close the gap between mathematics and the intuitive way that humans talk, think, and interact with the world. Zadeh died in Berkeley, California on September 6, 2017.


Douglas Dowd (97) radical economics professor and author who was in the vanguard of early teach-ins and other demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Dowd, who wrote more than a dozen books and taught for many years at Cornell University, drew on Marxism and Thorstein Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption to deliver what Todd Gitlin, a leftist sociologist himself, described as a “refreshingly undogmatic” view of economic history. His critical view of capitalism was largely shaped by his disappointment that the US, as he saw it, had failed to live up to its ideals. Dowd died of congestive heart failure in Bologna, Italy on September 8, 2017.

John W. Lewis (86) political scientist whose unconventional peace overtures—engaging in ping-pong diplomacy with China and providing antibiotics to North Korea—helped to lift the Bamboo Curtain. Lewis was an adviser to the US Department of Defense and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and had made scores of visits to China since 1972 and to North Korea since the mid-‘80s. In 2002 he was allowed to tour a North Korean plant where uranium was being enriched, ostensibly to fuel power plants. He also brought Stanford researchers to Korea to help contain a strain of drug-resistant tuberculosis there. A longtime professor of political science at Stanford University, he died of urothelial cancer in Stanford, California on September 4, 2017.

Kate Millett (82) activist, artist, and educator whose best-selling Sexual Politics (1970) was a landmark of cultural criticism and a manifesto for the modern feminist movement. The book came out in the midst of feminism's so-called second wave, when Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Millett, and others built on the achievements of the suffragettes from 50 years earlier and challenged assumptions about women in virtually every aspect of society. Millett taught at several schools, including the University of North Carolina and New York University. She died of a heart attack eight days before her 83rd birthday, while on a visit to Paris, France, on September 6, 2017.

News and Entertainment

Walter Becker (67) guitarist, bassist, and cofounder of the ‘70s rock group Steely Dan, which sold more than 40 million albums and produced such hit singles as “Reelin’ in the Years,” “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number,” and “Deacon Blues.” Although Steely Dan had been touring recently, Becker had missed performances earlier in the summer in Los Angeles and New York. He died in Maui, Hawaii on September 3, 2017.

Eric Chase Bolling (19) son of former Fox News host Eric Bolling. A sophomore at the University of Colorado in Boulder, the younger Bolling died just hours after Fox announced that his father was leaving the network. The elder Bolling said the cause of his son's death was under investigation. On September 8, Fox News Channel said it had parted ways with Bolling, who had been suspended in August after allegations that he sent lewd photos to female coworkers. Bolling had been working at Fox for 10 years and had been considered a rising star. Fox is also cancelling the program he hosted, The Specialists. Eric Chase Bolling was found dead in Boulder, Colorado on September 8, 2017.

Holger Czukay (79) cofounder and bassist of the avant-garde band Can and a one-time student of composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. Czukay cofounded Can in 1968. The band mixed rock, jazz, and classical influences with complex harmonies and electronic effects and was a precursor to New Wave and other music. Czukay left Can in 1977 and embarked on a solo career, working with artists including Brian Eno, David Sylvian, and the Eurythmics. His body was found in an apartment in Weilerswist, Germany on September 5, 2017.

Thomas H. Draper (76) longtime Delmarva broadcast news executive. Draper had celebrated his 50th anniversary in broadcasting on September 3. He got his start in 1967 with the purchase of a radio station, WTHD. At his death he owned WBOC-TV, a CBS affiliate and Associated Press member based in Salisbury, Maryland, with satellite newsrooms in Dover and Milton, Delaware. Draper was cycling in Milford, Delaware on September 7 when he was struck by a pickup truck. He was flown to the University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland for surgery but died there the next day, on September 8, 2017.

Michael Friedman (41) Obie-winning composer and lyricist known for the musicals Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Love's Labour's Lost. Friedman's best-known work is the rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which imagines the seventh president of the US as an emo rock star. First performed in 2008, it opened on Broadway in September '10 and closed in January ‘11 after 120 performances. Friedman was a cofounder of The Civilians and artist-in-residence and director of Public Forum at the Public Theater. He died of HIV/AIDS in New York City on September 9, 2017.

Troy Gentry (50) singer from the award-winning country music duo Montgomery Gentry. Troy Gentry was born in Lexington, Kentucky, where he met Eddie Montgomery and they formed an act based on their surnames. Montgomery Gentry had success on the country charts and country radio in the 2000s, scoring No. 1 hits with “Roll with Me,” ''Back When I Knew It All,” ''Lucky Man,” ''Something to Be Proud Of,” and “If You Ever Stop Loving Me.” Some of the songs even cracked the Top 40 on the pop charts. The band mixed country music with Southern rock; it was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2009. Gentry was killed in a helicopter crash in Medford, New Jersey hours before Montgomery Gentry was due to perform at a resort at the airport, on September 8, 2017.

Gastone Moschin (88) Italian character actor remembered by American audiences as Don Fanucci, a dapper crime boss gunned down by Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II (1974). Moschin’s long career in Italian cinema began in the mid-‘50s. He appeared in dozens of films by Italian directors, among them Bernardo Bertolucci (The Conformist, 1970) and Mario Monicelli (My Friends, 1975, and its sequels). He died of kidney failure in Terni, central Italy, on September 4, 2017.

Rick Stevens (77) vocalist for the funk-soul band Tower of Power who, after leaving the group, was convicted of killing three men in a drug-addicted haze and served 36 years in prison. Stevens was known especially for the Tower of Power song “You’re Still a Young Man,” on which he sang lead. The song, about a relationship between an older woman and a younger man, was a track on the band’s 1972 album, Bump City. Released as a single, it reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. Stevens joined Tower of Power, a horn-heavy group based in Oakland, California, in 1969, but Bump City proved to be his peak with the group. He died of liver cancer in Antioch, California on September 5, 2017.

Don Williams (78) award-winning country singer of hits including the love ballad “I Believe in You.” Williams had 17 No. 1 hits before retiring in 2016. His mellow sound influenced a later generation of singers including Joe Nichols and Josh Turner. Nicknamed “the Gentle Giant,” he had a rich voice, gentle delivery, and a storytelling style. He died of emphysema in Mobile, Alabama on September 8, 2017.

Politics and Military

Joe DeNucci (78) former world class middleweight boxing contender who became a politician and longest-serving state auditor in Massachusetts history. In his boxing days DeNucci fought opponents including Emile Griffith, a world champion in multiple weight classes, before turning to the equally rough-and-tumble world of state politics. A Democrat, he was a state representative and later held the office of state auditor for 24 years. Throughout his political career he told voters and supporters that he was in their corner and said he was honored by the trust they placed in him. DeNucci, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, died in Newton, Massachusetts on September 8, 2017.

Mike Lair (71) former Missouri Republican state representative. Voters first elected Lair to the Missouri House in 2008. He represented an area of northern Missouri including Chillicothe, where he previously lived and taught high school history. He was a leader in education policy during his time as a lawmaker. After leaving the Legislature in 2016, Lair moved to Jefferson City. Missouri, where he died of heart problems on September 5, 2017.

Gina Mason (57) first-term Maine state representative and mother of Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason. Gina Mason owned Rick Mason Excavation in Lisbon and served in several elective positions in that town before running for the state Legislature in 2016 to succeed her cousin, Rep. Dale Crafts, who could not seek reelection because of term limits. Mason served on the Lisbon Town Council and the Lisbon School Committee and was named 2010 Maine Public Official of the Year by the Maine Development Foundation and the Maine Downtown Center. In the Maine House, she served on the Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Committee. She died suddenly in Lisbon, Maine on September 5, 2017.

Dan McNeill (70) Pennsylvania state representative, a Democrat from the Bethlehem area. McNeill was a former Whitehall Township commissioner and an advocate for working people. He was an official with Ironworkers Local 36 for many years. The three-term lawmaker died in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on September 8, 2017.

H. L. ('Sonny') Merideth Jr. (86) former Mississippi lawmaker who helped to open the way for casino gambling in the state. Merideth was an attorney from Greenville and a Democrat who served in the Mississippi House from 1960–92. He was chairman of the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee from 1980–88 and played a role in passing the Education Reform Act of ‘82 and a highway program in ’87. In 1990 other lawmakers filed a bill to legalize gambling on boats cruising the Mississippi River. Merideth was chairman of a subcommittee that removed a few words from the bill to allow gambling on riverboats that were docked. He died in Gulf Breeze, Florida on September 5, 2017.

Harry Meshel (93) Ohio Democrat who began his decades-long political career organizing for candidate John F. Kennedy in 1960. Meshel was a former state senator and state party chairman. He ran unsuccessfully for local office before first landing a seat in the Ohio Senate in 1970. He served in the chamber for 22 years, working his way through the leadership ranks to serve as Senate minority leader and president, but resigned in 1993 to lead the Ohio Democrat Party for two years. Meshel remained active in the Mahoning Valley's political, economic, and cultural life into his 90s. He died in Youngstown, Ohio on September 4, 2017.

Bob Robles (63) Arizona House sergeant-at-arms. Robles was named to oversee order and security in the House chamber when House Speaker J. D. Mesnard took office early this year. He had been head of House security and worked at the chamber for nine years. He had previously retired from the Phoenix Fire Department after 20 years of service. Robles died in Phoenix, Arizona on September 7, 2017.

Society and Religion

Carrie DeKlyen (37) Michigan woman who sacrificed the chance to prolong her life to give birth to her sixth child. Doctors removed DeKlyen’s feeding and breathing tubes on September 8, a day after she gave birth to her daughter Life Lynn DeKlyen. The mother chose to forgo chemotherapy to treat her brain cancer because it would have meant ending her pregnancy. Life Lynn was born prematurely and weighed only 1 pound, 4 ounces (567 grams) but was doing well. The DeKlyens, from the western Michigan city of Wyoming, had five other children. Carrie DeKlyen died of brain cancer in Wyoming, Michigan on September 9, 2017.

Simeon Wright (74) was with his older cousin Emmett Till when the Chicago boy was kidnapped in 1955 in Mississippi. Till, who was 14, spent that summer visiting relatives in Mississippi and was kidnapped, tortured, and killed after whistling at a white woman working at a store in the rural hamlet of Money. His death galvanized the civil rights movement when his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, insisted on an open-casket funeral in Chicago to show the world her son's mutilated body. Wright died of bone cancer in Chicago, Illinois on September 4, 2017.


Jim McDaniels (69) 7-footer who led Western Kentucky to the NCAA Final Four in 1971 and ranked at or near the top of several statistical categories. Considered one of WKU’s greatest athletes, McDaniels was a two-time Ohio Valley Conference player of the year. He was a consensus All-American during the 1970–71 season while leading the Hilltoppers to third place at the Final Four in Houston. He played professionally in the NBA and the ABA from 1971–78 and was tied with Courtney Lee as WKU’s career scoring leader with 2,238 points. His 935 field goals, 74 double-doubles, and 27.6 points-per-game average remain school records. McDaniels’ retired No. 44 jersey is one of eight hanging in the rafters at Diddle Arena. He died of diabetes in Bowling Green, Kentucky on September 6, 2017.

Gene Michael (79) former baseball shortstop, nicknamed “Stick,” who later managed the New York Yankees, then as an executive built a powerhouse that won four World Series in five years. Michael hit just .229 with 15 home runs in 10 big league seasons, seven with the Yankees from 1968–74 in one of the worst eras in team history. He was known for pulling off the hidden ball trick, which he was said to have done five times. But he made a far bigger impact during two terms as manager, two as general manager, then as a special advisor to Brian Cashman, the team's general manager since 1998. Michael also managed the Chicago Cubs for two seasons. During his second term as general manager, he put together the core of a roster that won World Series titles in 1996 and from ‘98–2000. He died of a heart attack in Oldsmar, Florida on September 7, 2017.

Charles Owens (85) professional golfer who won two tournaments in 1986 in the Senior Pro Golfers Association Tour—now called the PGA Tour Champions—despite bad legs and a painful back, souvenirs of a botched parachute jump as a stateside Army paratrooper in the early ‘50s. Owens died of Alzheimer’s disease in Winter Haven, Florida on September 7, 2017.

Noel Picard (78) former St. Louis Blues defenseman pictured on the left in the famous shot of Boston star Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring a Stanley Cup-winning goal. Canadian-born Picard spent six of his eight National Hockey League seasons with the Blues. He had 12 goals and 63 assists in 335 regular-season games with Montreal, St. Louis, and Atlanta. In 50 playoff games, he had two goals and 11 assists. Picard died of cancer in Montreal, Canada on September 6, 2017.

Pierre Pilote (85) Hall of Fame defenseman, a three-time Norris Trophy winner who helped the Chicago Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup in 1961. Pilote was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975, and the Blackhawks retired his No. 3 jersey in November 2008. The Canadian played 13 of his 14 National Hockey League seasons for Chicago and was captain of the Blackhawks from 1961–68. He had 80 goals and 418 assists in 890 career NHL games. Pilote died in Barrie, Ontario, Canada on September 9, 2017.

Sugar Ramos (75) Cuban featherweight boxing champion best known for winning a title fight that led to the death of his opponent, Davey Moore, and that prompted calls to abolish the sport. The Ramos-Moore featherweight match took place on March 21, 1963 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Moore, the reigning champion, was favored. But in the 10th round Ramos took over, weakening Moore with every punch and knocking him down. Twice Moore hung over the ropes. When the round ended, he did not come out of his corner but conceded the fight to Ramos and later fell unconscious and slipped into a fatal coma. Ramos died of cancer in Mexico City, Mexico on September 3, 2017.

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