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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, October 7, 2017

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Las Vegas MassacreLawrence Argent, whimsical sculptorJimmy Beaumont, lead singer of SkylinersHolly Block, NYC arts administratorPeter Burke, New Zealand rugby coachMary Cochran, dancer with Paul Taylor Dance Co.Liam Cosgrave, former Ireland prime ministerTerry Downes, British middleweight boxing championPatrick Flanagan, Nevada District Court judgeBob Gannon, Wisconsin state legislatorRobert D. Hales, Mormon leaderRufus Hannah, performer in 'Bumfights' videosConnie Hawkins, basketball greatArthur Janov, psychotherapist who developed primal scream therapyNora Johnson, novelist and memoiristDr. Michel Jouvet, neurophysiologist who discovered the region of the brain that controls REM sleepIsabella L. Karle, scientist who helped her husband to win Nobel PrizeJim Landis, baseball center fielderHervé L. Leroux, French fashion designer who created 'bandage dress'Ralphie May, Netflix comedianS. I. Newhouse Jr., magazine publisherPaul S. Otellini, former CEO of IntelJim Patterson, Alabama state legislatorTom Petty, hard rock musicianRuss Ringsak, truck driver on 'Prairie Home Companion'Christian Risner, Christmas-loving cancer victimWalter ('Bunny') Sigler, helped to create 'Sound of Philadelphia'Dave Strader, hockey broadcasterJalal Talabani, former president of Iraq who succeeded Saddam HusseinJohn Thompson, falsely convicted of murderEberhaard van der Laan, mayor of AmsterdamAnne Wiazemsky, French novelist and New Wave actressRobert Yates, NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee

Art and Literature

Lawrence Argent (60) British-born sculptor known for whimsical, monumental works in public spaces, most notably a 40-foot blue bear that peers with curiosity into a Denver convention center. Argent’s creations—a giant panda in China and a jumbo rabbit at the Sacramento (Calif.) International Airport among them—have popped up in cities around the globe, but perhaps none more famously than in Denver, where the colossal bear, titled I See What You Mean, stands on its hind legs, its paws and nose pressed against a steel-framed glass wall of the Colorado Convention Center. Argent died of cardiac arrest in Denver, Colorado on October 4, 2017.

Holly Block (58) director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts and a longtime cultural force in New York. As an arts administrator Block moved just outside the center of the New York art world, where the city’s alternative spaces and smaller museums overlap and personal determination and vision can have a big impact. Possessing both qualities, Block transformed the two institutions she served as director—Art in General, an alternative space then in TriBeCa, and the Bronx Museum—reshaping and expanding their local and international profiles. She died of breast cancer in New York City on October 6, 2017.

Nora Johnson (84) novelist and memoirist who had an early success with The World of Henry Orient (1958), made into a 1964 film starring Peter Sellers with the help of her screenwriter father, Nunnally Johnson (died in 1977). In her novels, which are full of relationships under stress, Nora Johnson often drew on her experiences with her father, a prolific screenwriter, producer, and director, and her upbringing as a child of divorce. Her memoirs told of a childhood spent amid glamour, living in New York with her mother but spending considerable time with her father and stepmother in Hollywood, where she worried about boring him. Nora Johnson died in Dallas, Texas on October 5, 2017.

Business and Science

Arthur Janov (93) California psychotherapist variously called a messiah and a mountebank for his development of primal scream therapy—a treatment he maintained could cure ailments from depression and alcoholism to ulcers, epilepsy, and asthma, not to mention bring about world peace. A clinical psychologist, Janov conceived primal therapy, as his method is formally known, after an epiphany in the late ‘60s and introduced it to the world with his first book, The Primal Scream (1970). The book attracted wide attention in newspapers and magazines and made a celebrity of Janov, who became a ubiquitous presence on the talk-show circuit. Primal therapy became a touchstone of ’70s culture, especially after it drew a stream of luminary devotees to Janov’s Los Angeles treatment center, the Primal Institute, among them ex-Beatle John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, actor James Earl Jones, and pianist Roger Williams. Janov died in Malibu, California on October 1, 2017.

Dr. Michel Jouvet (91) neurophysiologist who discovered the region of the brain that controls rapid eye movement and helped to define REM sleep as a unique state of consciousness common to humans and animals alike. The curious physiological phenomenon known as REM sleep was first reported in the early ‘50s by researchers at the University of Chicago. They noticed that people who appeared to be sleeping soundly sometimes moved their fully lidded eyes and that electroencephalogram recordings showed that brain activity during periods of eye movement was closer to that of someone awake than someone unconscious. They eventually determined that sleepers had intermittent periods of REM during which they often dreamed. Jouvet was a researcher at the University of Lyon in France, studying how sleeping cats react to stimuli, before he turned his attention to REM in the late ‘50s. He died in Villeurbanne, France on October 3, 2017.

Isabella L. Karle (95) scientist whose experiments clarifying the shapes of molecules contributed to her husband’s 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Isabella Karle was an expert in bouncing X-rays off crystals to deduce the structure of molecules by observing patterns in the deflected rays. When she and her husband, Jerome Karle (died in 2013), joined the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington in the mid-‘40s, the technique was limited. Scientists did not know how to apply it to most molecules, like large biological ones. In the ‘50s, Jerome Karle, together with mathematician Herbert A. Hauptman, developed a technique that could be used for more complex, three-dimensional structures, but they had trouble convincing anyone that it would work. Isabella Karle had taught herself X-ray crystallography and came up with practical applications of her husband’s theory, which she used to puzzle out the structure of molecules in substances like drugs, steroids, and frog toxins. She died of a brain tumor in Arlington, Virginia on October 3, 2017.

Hervé L. Leroux (60) created the figure-hugging Hervé Léger “bandage dresses” once beloved by celebrities and the jet set and became a fashion cautionary tale after he lost the rights to the name Léger. Internationally known thanks to the success of his first label, Hervé Léger, Leroux (the name he assumed after losing the rights to Léger) helped to create one of the defining styles of the ‘90s in the form of the bandage dress. It was formed from dozens of elasticated bandage-style strips of knitted cloth, creating a body-sculpting, skintight silhouette. At the peak of his popularity, Léger’s designs were worn by stars and celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Victoria Beckham, and Melania Trump. Hervé Leroux died of a ruptured aneurysm in Paris, France on October 4, 2017.

S. I. Newhouse Jr. (89) owner of Condé Nast, publisher of the New Yorker, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Architectural Digest, and other magazines that wielded vast influence over American culture, fashion, and social taste. Newhouse, known as Si, and his younger brother Donald inherited an impressive publishing empire from their father, Solomon I. (“Sam”) Newhouse, and built it into one of the largest privately held fortunes in the US, with estimates of the family wealth running over $12 billion at the turn of the 21st century. Newhouse began to step back from the business in the 2000s at around the same time that publishing, buffeted by a global recession and the spread of the web, became a very different proposition. He died in New York City on October 1, 2017.

Paul S. Otellini (66) chief executive who expanded Intel’s already commanding chip-making business but failed to build a company franchise in mobile phones. Otellini led Intel from 2005–13 and was the first leader of that Silicon Valley giant who was not trained as an engineer. He rose mainly through Intel’s sales and marketing ranks after joining the company in 1974 but held other positions as well, including chief of staff for Andrew S. Grove, longtime chairman and chief executive credited with turning Intel into the dominant supplier of microprocessor chips for personal computers. Otellini died in his sleep in Sonoma County, California on October 2, 2017.


Patrick Flanagan (64) Washoe County (Nev.) District Court judge. Flanagan was a former lawyer and federal public defender who had been a district court judge for nine years and was elected chief judge in 2016. He was partially paralyzed in a bicycle accident in 2001. He died in Reno, Nevada after being hospitalized earlier in the week with flulike symptoms, on October 6, 2017.

John Thompson (55) Louisiana man falsely convicted of carjacking and murder in 1985 because prosecutors deliberately withheld DNA evidence that could have exonerated him. Thompson served 14 years on Death Row before his conviction was reversed in 2002. In the 10 years after he was exonerated, Thompson married, became a churchgoer, and established an organization called Resurrection After Exoneration to help and house former inmates in similar predicaments. He died of a heart attack in New Orleans, Louisiana on October 3, 2017.

News and Entertainment

Jimmy Beaumont (76) lead singer of the doo-wop group the Skyliners who cowrote the ballad “Since I Don’t Have You.” Joe Rock eventually managed the Skyliners. He was helping to promote Beaumont’s former group, the Crescents, when he wrote some lyrics lamenting his girlfriend’s impending departure for flight attendants’ school out of state. That was 1958, and Beaumont was 18. Beaumont, of Pittsburgh, set the lyrics to music, and a hit was born. The song has been covered by Barbra Streisand, Patti LaBelle, Art Garfunkel, Don McLean, and even Guns N’ Roses. Beaumont died in his sleep in McKeesport, Pennsylvania on October 7, 2017.

Mary Cochran (54) versatile dancer with Paul Taylor’s company for 12 years, then chairwoman of the dance department at Barnard College. Cochran was a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Co. from 1984–96, appearing in numerous works, beginning with “Roses.” At Barnard from 2003–13, Cochran presided over a well-regarded program that included courses on both technique and the academic side of dance. She also initiated projects that had students working with professional choreographers, showcased student works, and otherwise connected the academic and professional dance worlds. She was found dead of a suspected heart attack at her Bronx, New York apartment on October 6, 2017.

Rufus Hannah (63) formerly homeless alcoholic who was paid to fight other homeless men and perform dangerous stunts in the notorious Bumfights videos. A Georgia native who began drinking when he was 14, Hannah was living on the streets when he began his Bumfights career. The first Bumfights was released in 2002. It was followed by several sequels in which Hannah, known as “Rufus the Stunt Bum,” and other transients performed dangerous and degrading stunts, such as brawling one another, jumping off buildings, smashing head-first into doors and walls, and lighting their hair on fire. The actors were paid about $10 per stunt and were usually drunk. Hannah eventually turned his life around. He was a passenger in a car driven by his sister that was T-boned by a semi-truck just outside Swainsboro, Georgia on October 4, 2017.

Ralphie May (45) loud and large comedian known for his extensive touring and comedy specials on Netflix and other outlets. May was a 17-year-old student in Arkansas when he won a contest to open for Sam Kinison (killed in a car accident in 1992), who became a mentor of sorts. The experience led May to move to Houston to try comedy full-time. He worked the stand-up circuit for years and in 2002 made his feature film debut in the comedy For da Love of Money. He had been treated for pneumonia and had canceled some shows over the past month. He died of cardiac arrest in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he had been in residence at Harrah’s casino, on October 6, 2017.

Tom Petty (66) rock superstar who drew upon the Byrds, the Beatles, and other bands he worshipped as a boy and produced new classics such as “Free Fallin,’” ”Refugee,” and “American Girl.” Petty and his longtime band the Heartbreakers had recently completed a 40th anniversary tour, one he hinted would be their last. Usually backed by the Heartbreakers, Petty broke through in the ‘70s and later sold more than 80 million records. He was popular for his melodic hard rock, nasal vocals, and down-to-earth style. He died in Los Angeles a day after he suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, California on October 2, 2017.

Russ Ringsak (81) former architect who became the longtime truck driver on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion public radio variety show. Ringsak met Keillor in 1971 when he joined a softball team sponsored by Keillor's old morning radio show. He became the full-time Prairie Home truck driver in 1991, hauling the show's equipment. He also contributed “Letters from the Truck Driver” to the show and occasionally played onstage. Ringsak retired after performing “Six Days on the Road” at a Prairie Home show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in May 2016. Keillor retired as the show's host later that year. Ringsak died in Stillwater, Minnesota on October 3, 2017.

Walter ('Bunny') Sigler (76) singer, songwriter, and producer who helped to create “The Sound of Philadelphia” in the ‘70s. Sigler worked with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff in developing a genre that blended soul, funk, and big band styles with lush horn ensembles and smooth vocals. Gamble said Sigler was one of the most talented songwriters and producers he ever worked with. As a performer, Sigler was known for such hits as “Let the Good Times Roll & (Feel So Good).” His career spanned decades and saw collaborations with acts as varied as Patti LaBelle and Jay-Z. Sigler died of a heart attack outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 6, 2017.

Anne Wiazemsky (70) French novelist and New Wave actress who appeared in seven films directed by her then-husband, Jean-Luc Godard. A granddaughter of Nobel literature laureate François Mauriac, Wiazemsky was a leading lady in Godard's films and his wife, a sometime muse and later a chronicler of his pioneering role in the New Wave, which swept France in the ‘60s. They were divorced in 1979. Wiazemsky became an instant star in 1966 when she was barely 18 after a family friend introduced her to director Robert Bresson, who immediately cast her in his film Au Hasard Balthazar. She died in Paris, France on October 5, 2017.

Politics and Military

Liam Cosgrave (97) former prime minister of Ireland whose devotion to political stability in the ‘70s helped to break his country’s cycle of violence. During his one term in office, Cosgrave negotiated what became known as the Sunningdale Agreement, which diluted the Irish Republic’s constitutional claim to Northern Ireland. The agreement signed by the mostly Roman Catholic republic acknowledged that the predominantly Protestant north was a province under British control. Both sides agreed that the status of the six counties that constituted Northern Ireland could change, but only by a majority vote of their residents. While the agreement collapsed within months, it formed the basis for the 1998 Good Friday power-sharing arrangement that eventually ended years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, commonly known as the Troubles. Cosgrave died in Dublin, Ireland on October 4, 2017.

Bob Gannon (58) Wisconsin state representative, a West Bend Republican in his second term. Gannon was first elected in 2014 and built a reputation as pro-gun and tough on crime, threatening to drop membership in the West Bend Sunshine Rotary Club because the group wouldn't sponsor gun or knife shows. He also defended the Department of Corrections for placing children in solitary confinement at the state's youth prison, saying they earned it. His tenure included giving then-Assembly Democrat Leader Peter Barca the finger in 2016 during floor debate after Barca took issue with Gannon’s remarks on Milwaukee's homicide rate. Gannon apologized at Assembly Speaker Robin Vos's urging. He died in Madison, Wisconsin on October 3, 2017.

Jim Patterson (67) Alabama state legislator perhaps best known for pushing through autism legislation. A Republican from Meridianville, Patterson was first elected to the Alabama Legislature in 2010. He served in the US Army from 1972–76, then served another six years in the Army Reserves. He retired after 29 years as a pharmaceutical representative. Patterson this year successfully sponsored legislation to mandate insurance coverage of autism therapy. He died of a heart attack in Meridianville, Alabama on October 2, 3017.

Jalal Talabani (83) former Iraqi president. Talabani led one of Iraq's main Kurdish factions and later became the country's president after the 2003 US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein. Talabani was often seen as a unifying elder statesman who could soothe tempers among Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. He had suffered a stroke in 2012 and was moved to a German hospital later that year for treatment. He died in Berlin, Germany after his condition rapidly deteriorated, on October 3, 2017.

Eberhaard van der Laan (62) mayor of Amsterdam who ran the city with both a firm hand and a compassionate touch. A lawyer and member of the center-left Labor Party, Van der Laan was a government minister for housing and integration for two years before being appointed mayor in July 2010. He made headlines in April 2013 when he said he was too busy to meet Vladimir Putin during the Russian president's visit to Amsterdam. The move was widely seen as a snub to Putin because of Russian legislation banning gay “propaganda.” Rainbow flags flew at half-staff around the city during Putin's visit. Van der Laan died of lung cancer in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on October 5, 2017.

Society and Religion

Robert D. Hales (85) top-ranking Mormon leader who left a successful career as a businessman to help guide the church. Hales was a fighter pilot in the US Air Force and business executive before he was chosen in 1994 as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a high-level governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, His combination of experience in private business, time spent in the military, and deep roots in the religion made him emblematic of Mormon leaders of his era. He died in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 1, 2017.

Las Vegas Massacre A gunman opened fire on a large crowd of concertgoers on the last night of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip, leaving 58 people dead and 489 injured. Between 10:05 and 10:15 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, on October 1, 2017, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada fired hundreds of rifle rounds from his two-room suite on the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. About an hour after Paddock fired his last shot, he was found dead in his suite from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In all, 23 firearms, a large quantity of ammunition, and numerous high-capacity magazines capable of holding up to 100 rounds apiece were found in the suite. Paddock's motive is still unknown. The incident is the deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in the US. The crime reignited the debate about US gun laws, with attention focused on bump firing, a technique Paddock used to enable his arsenal of semi-automatic rifles to fire at a rate similar to that of a fully automatic weapon.

Christian Risner (3) boy whose fight with cancer prompted Lebo, his small southern Kansas hometown, to celebrate Christmas in September. Christian was diagnosed with rhabdoid kidney cancer in April 2016. He began hospice care in August 2017. He loved Christmas, so Lebo—a town of about 940 people—put on a special celebration on September 10, with Santa, a horse-drawn sleigh, and homes throughout the town decorated for the holiday. Christian died in Emporia, Kansas on October 7, 2017.


Peter Burke (90) coached the All Blacks to victory in the contentious 1981 test series against the Springboks. Burke played three tests among 12 matches for the All Blacks as a lock or backrower in an international career that stretched from 1951–57. He later made a larger impact as a coach and administrator for Taranaki province and New Zealand. Burke coached the All Blacks against Scotland in 1981, then in the test series against the Springboks that played out against a background of violent protest against South Africa’s apartheid system, New Zealand won the series 2-1, playing in stadiums ringed by barbed wire. Burke died in New Plymouth, New Zealand on October 2, 2017.

Terry Downes (81) middleweight boxing champion from Britain, nicknamed the Paddington Express, who became wealthy outside the ring by investing in legal betting shops and later did a bit of acting. Downes, whose record was 35-9, held the British middleweight championship twice and fought all but two of his bouts in Britain, including his defeats of a fading Sugar Ray Robinson and Brooklyn-born onetime champion Joey Giardello in London. After his boxing career, Downes acted onstage, on TV, and in movies like A Study in Terror (1965), a Sherlock Holmes film, and Roman Polanski’s 1967 horror comedy, The Fearless Vampire Killers, in which he portrayed the servant of Count Von Krolock, a vampire played by Ferdy Mayne. Downes died of kidney failure in Hertfordshire, England on October 6, 2017.

Connie Hawkins (75) basketball great. The Hall of Famer's death was announced by the Phoenix Suns, the team with which he spent his most productive NBA seasons. The 6-foot-8 Hawkins was a dazzling playground legend in New York who rose to basketball's heights. The Suns lauded his “unique combination of size, grace, and athleticism.” Hawkins didn't play in the NBA until he was 27. He signed with the Suns in 1969 and was an NBA All-Star for four straight seasons. He also played for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1992. He died on October 6, 2017.

Jim Landis (83) center fielder whose defensive skills, sometimes compared to those of Willie Mays, were instrumental in the Chicago White Sox’s winning the American League pennant in 1959. When Landis joined the so-called Go-Go White Sox in 1957, he strengthened a formidable defense up the middle, with Nellie Fox at second base, Luis Aparicio at shortstop, and Sherm Lollar at catcher. Landis made few errors, led the AL three times in double plays turned by a center fielder, and won the Gold Glove Award every season from 1960–64. He was known for making difficult catches look easy and for snaring balls that appeared to be certain home runs. He died of cancer in Napa, California on October 7, 2017.

Dave Strader (62) hockey broadcaster known affectionately as “The Voice.” Strader was a play-by-play man with the Dallas Stars and a national broadcaster on NBC Sports. Before that he was broadcaster for the Detroit Red Wings, the Arizona Coyotes, and the Florida Panthers and worked three Olympic Games. He died of bile duct cancer in Glens Falls, New York on October 1, 2017.

Robert Yates (74) NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee. Robert Yates Racing won 57 races, 48 poles, and the 1999 Cup title with Dale Jarrett. Yates was also a noted engine builder, and his power plants guided Bobby Allison to the 1983 Cup title and Daytona 500 victories with Davey Allison in ‘92 and Jarrett in ‘96 and 2000. Yates died of liver cancer in Kannapolis, North Carolina on October 2, 2017.

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