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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, January 27, 2018

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Claribel Alegría, Central American poetGhassan al-Shakaa, PLO member and West Bank mayorJohn Lewis Brandon, second of three segregation challengers to dieDaniel Buechlein, retired archbishop of IndianapolisDr. Arnold Gold, pediatric neurologistJim Johannson, US Olympic men's hockey general managerJack Ketchum, prize-winning horror writerGraeme Langlands, Australian rugby playerUrsula K. Le Guin, sci-fi and fantasy writerHugh Masekela, South African jazz musician and antiapartheid activistWarren Miller, outdoor filmmakerNicanor Parra, Chilean physicist and 'antipoet'Connie Sawyer, oldest working actress in HollywoodChameka Scott, Baylor women's basketball playerMark E. Smith, lead singer and founder of British postpunk band The FallRev. Wyatt Tee Walker, civil rights leader and activistGraham Williams, New Zealand rugby player

Art and Literature

Claribel Alegría (93) poet who wrote of the harsh realities of Central American life and the search for identity and hope—work informed by her own uprooting, first from Nicaragua, then from El Salvador. Alegría's parents had taken her to El Salvador from Nicaragua when she was a baby, but she returned there to live years later. She saw both countries torn by struggles for liberation. That tumult was reflected in the dozens of books she wrote, not only poetry but also novels and histories. She died in Managua, Nicaragua on January 25, 2018.

Jack Ketchum (71) prize-winning horror and screenplay writer known for fiction such as The Box and the controversial Off Season, and once labeled by Stephen King as likely the scariest writer in America. Jack Ketchum is the pen name of Dallas Mayr, who initially wrote as Jerzy Livingston. As a young man he worked as a short-order cook, actor, playwright, and teacher, and for a time he was literary agent for Tropic of Cancer author Henry Miller. Mayr had always loved scary stories and in his teens was mentored by Robert Bloch, whose novel Psycho was the basis for the Hitchcock film. As Jack Ketchum, Mayr won several prizes for horror, and his books were also a source for filmmakers, including The Girl Next Door and The Lost. His first novel, the cannibalistic Off Season, was so violent that publisher Ballantine pulled back on support. The 1980 book has been republished over the years, most recently in 2015. Jack Ketchum died in New York City on January 24, 2018.

Ursula K. Le Guin (88) award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer who explored feminist themes and was best known for her Earthsea books. Le Guin won an honorary National Book Award in 2014 and warned in her acceptance speech against letting profit define what is considered good literature. The Earthsea books have sold in the millions worldwide and have been translated into 16 languages. Le Guin also produced volumes of short stories, poetry, essays, and literature for young adults. Her work also won the Newbery Medal, the top honor for American children's literature. Le Guin died in Portland, Oregon on January 22, 2018.

Business and Science

Dr. Arnold Gold (92) pediatric neurologist whose belief in the importance of an empathetic bedside manner led him and his wife to create a foundation to inspire young doctors to practice compassionate patient care. Gold, who treated patients and taught for more than 50 years at the Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, part of Columbia University Medical Center, had a cheerful but authoritative demeanor. On rounds, he wanted to know about the life of the patient, not just his vital signs. He talked face to face with his young patients, often sitting on the floor and playing with them. He died in New York City on January 23, 2018.

Nicanor Parra (103) Chilean physicist, mathematician, and self-described antipoet whose eccentric writings won him a leading place in Latin American literature. Characterized by wit and irreverence, Parra's works include Poems to Fight Baldness (1993) and The Roller Coaster (1962), in which he says he wants to disturb the comfortable world of poetry. While his poetry won him fame, Parra was a respected physicist, earning a degree from the University of Chile, then studying physics at Brown University and cosmology at Oxford University in England. He was a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Chile and taught at Columbia, Yale, New York University, and Louisiana State University. Parra brought the skepticism of science to his literary work, rejecting traditional poetic techniques and experimenting with proselike styles, everyday images, and grotesque humor in what he called “antipoetry.” He died at his home on the central coast of Chile on January 23, 2018.


John Lewis Brandon (80) second of three men who successfully challenged racial segregation as undergraduates at North Carolina's flagship university to die within less than a month. On December 29, 2017, LeRoy Frasier died at a New York hospital; his brother Ralph Frasier lives in Jacksonville, Florida. With Brandon, the brothers were students at Hillside High School in Durham when all three applied to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1955. They were rejected until a federal court judge ordered their admission. In the decades since, the school has taken steps to make amends by inviting them to speak and naming scholarships after them. Brandon died of cancer outside Houston, Texas on January 23, 2018.

News and Entertainment

Hugh Masekela (78) South African jazz musician and antiapartheid activist. Masekela was a rare artist who succeeded in fusing politics with his music, making his songs and performances compelling and timeless. Trumpeter, singer, and composer Masekela, affectionately known locally as “Bra Hugh,” started playing the horn at 14, He quickly became an integral part of the '50s jazz scene in Johannesburg as a member of the band the Jazz Epistles and of the orchestra in the groundbreaking jazz opera, King Kong. In the '60s he went into exile in England and the US, using his music to spread awareness about South Africa's oppressive system of white-minority rule. He scored an international No. 1 hit in 1968 with “Grazing in the Grass.” Many of his compositions were about the struggle for majority rule and full democratic rights in South Africa. His catchy upbeat 1987 song “Bring Him Back Home” calling for Nelson Mandela's release from prison became an international anthem for the antiapartheid movement. Masekela died of prostate cancer in Johannesburg, South Africa on January 23, 2018.

Connie Sawyer (105) actress who began performing in vaudeville and nightclubs more than 80 years ago and continued to appear on stages and screens until she became known as the oldest working actress in Hollywood. Miss Sawyer, as she liked to be known, was billed as the oldest member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) who was still working. Her memoir, self-published in 2017, was titled I Never Wanted to Be a Star—& I Wasn't. Still, since her Broadway debut in 1948, she had accumulated about 140 acting credits in theatrical, movie, and TV productions. She appeared on dozens of TV shows, including Dynasty, Hawaii Five-O, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Murder, She Wrote, Seinfeld, and Will & Grace. More recently she played the mother of a Boston thug in hiding (James Woods) on the Showtime dramatic series Ray Donovan. Sawyer died in Los Angeles, California on January 21, 2018.

Mark E. Smith (60) lead singer and driving force of the British postpunk band The Fall. Smith formed The Fall when punk hit '70s Manchester, and the gray industrial English city sprouted innovative bands including Joy Division and The Buzzcocks. Smith kept The Fall going for 40 years and more than 30 albums. He was the band's only permanent member, hiring, firing, and falling out with several dozen musicians along the way. The band was never a huge commercial success but had a big influence on other artists. Smith died in Prestwich, England on January 24, 2018.

Politics and Military

Ghassan al-Shakaa (74) senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization and former mayor of Nablus, the West Bank's second-largest city, from 1994-2004 and from '12-15. Al-Shakaa also served on the PLO Executive Committee. In 1996 he was elected to the Palestinian parliament as a candidate for Fatah, the movement headed by President Mahmoud Abbas. A lawyer, Al-Shakaa was arrested by Israel in 1981 and served 15 months in prison for Fatah membership. He suffered from kidney problems and prostate cancer but died of pneumonia in Nablus, West Bank on January 25, 2018.

Society and Religion

Daniel Buechlein (79) archbishop who led the Indianapolis Roman Catholic Archdiocese for 19 years before a stroke forced his retirement in 2011. Buechlein was bishop of the Memphis, Tennessee diocese for five years before Pope John Paul II named him fifth archbishop of Indianapolis in 1992. During his retirement news conference, Buechlein said he believed his greatest accomplishment was strengthening the education system for the archdiocese, which includes some 225,000 Catholics in 39 central and southern Indiana counties. Enrollment in the archdiocese's schools increased during Buechlein's tenure by 30 per cent, to more than 25,000 students, reversing a 25-year decline. Buechlein died at southern Indiana's St. Meinrad Archabbey, where he had been living since his retirement, in Spencer County, Indiana on January 25, 2018.

Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker (88) leader in the civil rights movement who helped Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to assemble his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Walker was a key player in the civil rights movement and was brought in by King to be executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference three years after the civil rights organization was founded. Walker was chief of staff to King and a key strategist behind civil rights protests that turned the tide against racial injustice in the Jim Crow South of the '60s. He had been in declining health the past few years after a stroke and died in Chester, Virginia on January 23, 2018.


Jim Johannson (53) longtime USA Hockey executive and US Olympic men's hockey general manager. The US won 64 medals, including 34 gold, in major international competition during Johannson's tenure. His death came in the midst of the most high-profile role in his career: putting together the US men's Olympic hockey team without National Hockey League players going to South Korea, a position he relished after doing so at several world junior and world championships. He died in his sleep in Colorado Springs, Colorado on January 21, 2018.

Graeme Langlands (76) played 45 rugby league tests for Australia, retiring as the country's most-capped player at that time. A fullback or center, Langlands played 227 matches for St. George during the club's golden era in which it won 11 consecutive premierships in the top-flight competition between 1956-66. He died in Sutherland, Australia on January 21, 2018.

Warren Miller (93) outdoor filmmaker who for decades made homages to downhill skiing that he narrated with his own humorous style. A World War II veteran, ski racer, surfer, and sailor, Miller produced more than 500 action films about a variety of outdoor activities, including surfing and sailing, but was best known for his thrill-seeking films featuring daredevil skiers barreling down breathtakingly steep slopes. His annual ski movies served as informal kickoffs to ski season and became a rite of passage for the legions of ski bums and snowboarders who flocked to see them at movie theaters and played them on video while relaxing after tough ski days. He died on Orcas Island, Washington on January 24, 2018.

Chameka Scott (33) former Baylor women's basketball player. Scott helped the Lady Bears to win the program's first national championship in 2005, when she started 35 of the 36 games. She hit all three of her shots, had four rebounds in the NCAA title game against Michigan State, and later played for the Sacramento Monarchs in the WNBA and in Europe. Her cancer was discovered in 2015. Scott had surgery and was thought to be cancer-free, but it recently returned. She had been undergoing treatment in her hometown of Houston, Texas when she died on January 21, 2018.

Graham Williams (72) rugged All Blacks flanker who once tried to return to the field after his ear was torn off in a provincial match. Williams first toured Britain and France in 1967, playing in all four tests, and Australia in '68, playing in the second international. He made up for his relatively small stature—stood barely 1.83 meters (6 feet) and weighed 90 kilograms (198 pounds)—with speed, fitness, and toughness. He played 174 matches for Wellington province—a record that still stands—and took part in wins over the Springboks in 1965 and British and Irish Lions in '66. Williams, who played five tests among 18 matches for New Zealand, scoring 16 tries, had been suffering from motor neurone disease and frontal lobe dementia. He died in Wellington, New Zealand on January 25, 2018.

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