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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, February 3, 2018

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William Milton Anderson, Native American tribal chairmanCliff Bourland, Olympic sprinterFidel Castro Diaz-Balart, eldest son of Cuba's late leaderLeon Chancler, drummer and songwriterBill Clayton, California firefighterRaymond Danowski, collector of books of poetryDennis Edwards, singer with Motown's TemptationsWillora Craft Ephram, owner of Jackson's Peaches RestaurantOscar Gamble, baseball outfielderSonia Gechtoff, Abstract Expressionist painterPierre Godé, business adviser to French luxury fashion groupHaim Gouri, Israeli poetJon Huntsman Sr., Utah industrialistRuth Ann Koesun, ABT ballerinaRick McKay, Broadway documentarianRobert Pincus-Witten, art critic and historianJoseph Polchinski, string theory physicistDr. Isadore Rosenfeld, media-savvy physicianDr. Victor Sidel, physician who defined medical consequences of social illsAndré Surmain, founder of NYC's Lutèce restaurantAzeglio Vicini, Italian soccer coachNicholas von Hoffman, left-wing author, commentator, and columnistMelvyn I. Weiss, litigious lawyerLouis Zorich, Tony-nominated actor

Art and Literature

Raymond Danowski (74) US art dealer and philanthropist for whom a book-collecting hobby became an obsession. Danowski amassed a staggering 75,000 volumes of verse, believed to be the largest private library of 20th-century poetry in English. In 2004 he donated them to Emory University in Atlanta, where they became known collectively as the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library. He died of brain cancer in Stellenbosch, South Africa on February 2, 2018.

Sonia Gechtoff (91) Abstract Expressionist painter on the West Coast early in her career and later a mainstay of the New York art scene. Gechtoff made an impression in San Francisco, where she had arrived from her native Philadelphia in 1951, a time when the Bay Area art scene was bubbling. An early oil, Self Portrait, made in 1954 when she was still in her 20s, is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. That same year she was represented in a group show of young painters at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan. She was also becoming well known in the California art world, with solo exhibitions at outlets like the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco and the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, both in 1957. But in 1958 Gechtoff and her husband, artist James Kelly (died 2003), whom she had married in '53, decamped for New York. Gechtoff died in the Bronx, New York on February 1, 2018.

Haim Gouri (94) leading Israeli poet of the state's founding generation. Gouri was born in Tel Aviv and fought in the Palmach, the elite force of the prestate militia later serving in Israel's army. He was a prolific and influential poet with songs about the birth of modern Israel that became rooted in the country's ethos. He was not shy about airing his political views and was critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government. Gouri died in Jerusalem, Israel on January 31, 2018.

Robert Pincus-Witten (82) art critic and historian who brought context and insight to the proliferation of styles and artists that began in the '60s. Pincus-Witten, who wrote for Artforum magazine for nearly 50 years, was credited with coining the term Post-Minimalism to describe a range of ideas and practices that began emerging in the late '60s in response to the dispassionate Minimalism that had prevailed. But that coinage was only his most frequently cited accomplishment. He spotlighted new artists and their work in diarylike pieces for Arts magazine from the mid-'70s through the '80s. A professor at City University of New York for decades, he curated shows and was a personal adviser to art collectors. In all those guises he brought a scholar's perspective to his assessments of the contemporary art scene. He died in New York City on January 28, 2018,

André Surmain (97) chef who transformed his cooking school’s Manhattan townhouse into Lutèce, an epicurean mecca defined by haute cuisine, even higher prices, and a high-andmighty clientele. Lutèce’s reputation rose slowly by word of mouth as its menu steadily improved, until it was known in culinary quarters as America’s greatest restaurant. It became a fixture for bons vivants at dinner and a hub for the ladies who lunch. In 1972 Raymond A. Sokolov, a Times restaurant critic, awarded Lutèce the maximum four stars—a rating it retained for years as its chef, André Soltner, working in the restaurant’s cramped 8-by-18-foot kitchen, cooked up signature dishes like his Alsatian onion tart, crab cassolette, and sautéed foie gras with chocolate sauce and orange marmalade. Surmain died in St. Paul en Foret, in the South of France on January 31, 2018.

Business and Science

Willora Craft Ephram (94) owner of Peaches, a soul food restaurant in downtown Jackson, Miss. that took its name from her nickname. Peaches Restaurant opened in 1961 and was a safe haven for activists during the civil rights movement. Medgar Evers was a frequent customer. Integration took away the core black businesses from downtown during the '70s, but Peaches remained. In 2013, open-heart surgery prompted Ephram to step down from the restaurant. Her son, Roderick Ephram, continued to run Peaches until it closed later that year. Willora Ephram died of pancreatic cancer in Jackson, Mississippi on January 28, 2018.

Pierre Godé (73) éminence grise of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and a talented French lawyer whose negotiation skills and strategic vision were considered integral to the world's largest luxury group. Polished, charming, and deliberately low-profile, Godé was for 30 years rarely far from the side of Bernard Arnault, LVMH's chairman and chief executive. The two men built a brand portfolio that today includes more than 70 fashion houses, among them Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Bulgari. Godé and Arnault met in 1973, when Godé was the youngest-qualified law professor in France and an attorney to Arnault's father, Jean, head of a property company. Godé died in the southern French city of Nice on February 2, 2018.

Jon Huntsman Sr. (80) billionaire industrialist and philanthropist who overcame poverty to become a powerful figure in his home state of Utah. Huntsman was founder of an $11 billion company, now called the Huntsman Corp., that refines raw materials that go into thousands of products. He was also the father of Jon Huntsman Jr., current US ambassador to Russia and a former Utah governor, presidential candidate, and ambassador to China and Singapore. The elder Huntsman had a painful inflammatory condition, polymyalgia rheumatica, and previously had prostate cancer. He died in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 2, 2018.

Joseph Polchinski (63) one of the most creative physicists of his generation, whose work helped to lay the mathematical foundation for the controversial proposition that our universe is only one in an almost endless assemblage that cosmologists call the “multiverse.” Polchinski was a giant force in the development of string theory, the attempt to achieve a “theory of everything,” which envisions the fundamental particles of nature as tiny wriggling strings. The theory has brought forth ideas and calculations that have opened new fields of study and new visions of a universe that is stranger and richer than astronomers had dreamed. Polchinski was a longtime professor and a permanent member of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara, where he had been treated for brain cancer since 2015. He died in Santa Barbara, California on February 2, 2018.

Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld (91) media-savvy New York physician who dispensed medical advice in best-selling books, in magazine articles, and on TV. Rosenfeld was a cardiologist and general practitioner who worked for more than 50 years at an Upper East Side office that attracted prominent patients. Until he retired in 2011, he also taught clinical medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College and hosted the Fox News health program Sunday House Call with Dr. Rosenfeld. He had earlier been health editor of Parade magazine, president of the New York Medical Society, and a member of the board of Research!America, a nonprofit organization that advocates more medical and health research. He wrote more than a dozen books, several of them best-sellers. He also made a cameo appearance as a professor presenting a ceremonial pen to mathematician John Nash (played by Russell Crowe) in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind. Rosenfeld died of influenza in Greenwich, Connecticut on January 30, 2018.

Dr. Victor Sidel (86) physician who campaigned to bring attention to the medical consequences of nuclear war, poverty, and other social issues. Sidel was a founding member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the US branch of a worldwide group that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for working to prevent nuclear war. He also was president of the American Public Health Association. Sidel worked for many years at Montefiore Medical Center, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. He died in Greenwood Village, Colorado, a Denver suburb, on January 30, 2018.

André Surmain (97) chef who transformed his cooking school's Manhattan townhouse into Lutèce, an epicurean mecca defined by haute cuisine, even higher prices, and a high-and-mighty clientele. Lutèce's reputation rose slowly by word of mouth as its menu steadily improved, until it was known in culinary quarters as America's greatest restaurant. It became a fixture for bons vivants at dinner and a hub for the ladies who lunch. In 1972 Raymond A. Sokolov, a New York Times restaurant critic, awarded Lutèce the maximum four stars—a rating it retained for years as its chef, André Soltner, working in the restaurant's cramped 8-by-18-foot kitchen, cooked up signature dishes like his Alsatian onion tart, crab cassolette, and sautéed foie gras with chocolate sauce and orange marmalade. Surmain died in St. Paul en Foret, in the South of France on January 31, 2018.


Melvyn I. Weiss (82) attorney whose numerous class-action lawsuits made him a pariah to corporate America, a hero to plaintiffs, and finally a felon. Weiss was a pro bono lawyer for victims of terrorism and other causes, a fund-raiser for liberal Democrat candidates, and a leader of the Israel Policy Forum, which favors a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict. But he was best known for building a fledgling law firm into a powerhouse that compelled businesses to pay billions of dollars in claims to aggrieved shareholders and customers. He sued, or threatened lawsuits against, them or their advisers for securities fraud, phony accounting, environmental damage, false advertising, and other misconduct. Weiss found himself in legal crosshairs in 2007 when federal prosecutors charged that in 150 cases across the country, Milberg, as his firm was known, had funneled $11.3 million in kickbacks to so-called figurehead investors so they would be readily available as potential plaintiffs. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to forfeit $9.75 million and pay a $250,000 fine. He died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease) in Boca Raton, Florida on February 2, 2018.

News and Entertainment

Leon Chancler (65) drummer whose grooves and fireworks of syncopation were heard on hundreds of albums—including Michael Jackson's Thriller, on which his drumbeat starts the song “Billie Jean.” Chancler prided himself on versatility; he played on jazz, pop, funk, disco, and country sessions and recorded with Lionel Richie, Tina Turner, Donna Summer, Frank Sinatra, John Lee Hooker, Kenny Rogers, LeAnn Rimes, DeBarge, and Fantasia. In his notable jazz catalogue, he backed Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Flora Purim, Hubert Laws, George Duke, and others and shared decades of collaboration with keyboardist and singer Patrice Rushen. In the '70s Chancler toured with Miles Davis and Santana before increasingly turning to studio work. He was also a Grammy-nominated songwriter (for the Dazz Band's “Let It Whip”) and a producer and educator. Chancler died of prostate cancer in Los Angeles, California on February 3, 2018.

Dennis Edwards (74) Grammy-winning former member of the famed Motown group The Temptations. Edwards replaced founding member David Ruffin in 1968, and his soulful voice defined the group for years. A member on and off for about 20 years, he was part of the lineup that released the hits “Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today),” ''Cloud Nine,” and the chart-topping “Papa Was a Rollin' Stone.” He died in Chicago, Illinois on February 1, 2018.

Ruth Ann Koesun (89) principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater who epitomized the company's early eclectic profile by excelling in roles that ranged from Billy the Kid's Mexican sweetheart to the “Bluebird” pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty. Because of her lyrical style in ballets like Les Sylphides, Koesun was often cast as a Romantic ballerina. But she could also show dramatic ferocity, as the evil antiheroine Ate in Antony Tudor's “Undertow,” which depicts the development of a young murderer. Koesun found her signature role in Ballet Theater's revivals of Eugene Loring's Billy the Kid from 1938. A stylized experimental work that used occasional speech, the ballet had a biographical plotline by Lincoln Kirstein (a founder of New York City Ballet) and a double role for Koesun, who portrayed both the sweetheart and the mother of the outlaw Billy. Koesun died in Chicago, Illinois on February 1, 2018.

Rick McKay (62) passionate theatergoer who made it his task to preserve Broadway memories by recording hundreds of hours of interviews with dozens of actors about their recollections of New York theater, then turned them into the documentary Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There (2004). McKay had far more material than he could squeeze into one documentary, so he worked on two sequels. He had completed a rough cut of the second, but neither was released before he died. He sang in cabarets and on cruise ships and produced segments for programs about the arts on the New York public TV station WNET. He was found dead at his home in New York City on January 29, 2018,

Nicholas von Hoffman (88) author, broadcast commentator, and syndicated columnist who examined American politics and culture for 50 years from a left-wing perspective. Von Hoffman wrote for the Washington Post from 1966-76, contributed to major magazines, aired his views on national TV and radio, and wrote more than a dozen books, including Citizen Cohn (1988), a best-selling biography of Roy M. Cohn, chief counsel to Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.) in his '50s anti-Communist crusades. Von Hoffman, who never attended college, styled himself a “creative troublemaker” after his mentor, social activist Saul Alinsky, for whom he worked as a community organizer in Chicago before starting his journalism career at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1963. He died of kidney failure in Rockport, Maine on February 1, 2018.

Louis Zorich (93) Tony Award-nominated actor who played a grumpy Greek diner owner in The Muppets Take Manhattan and the father of Paul Reiser's character on the NBC sitcom Mad About You. Zorich made his Broadway debut in Becket in 1960, and his credits include The Odd Couple, the 2001 revival of Stephen Sondheim's Follies, the 1993 revival of She Loves Me, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2003). He earned a Tony nomination for Hadrian VII (1969). But Zorich was perhaps best known as sporting goods salesman Burt Buchman on Mad About You from 1992-99. The husband of Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, he died in New York City on January 30, 2018.

Politics and Military

William Milton Anderson (44) former chairman of the Moapa Band of Paiutes and environmental advocate. Anderson became one of the youngest leaders of the tribe when he was named chairman at age 26. He was selected chairman for a second time in 2011. During his second term he organized efforts against the Reid Gardner power plant, located only a few hundred yards from the tribe's housing area. Many of the about 320 tribal members had complained about respiratory ailments for years. Anderson's environmental efforts helped to lead to the eventual closure of the coal-fired plant about 40 miles north of Las Vegas. He died in Moapa, Nevada on January 28, 2018.

Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart (68) eldest son of Cuba's former leader known for his distinctive beard and resemblance to his father. Castro Diaz-Balart's mother was Mirta Diaz-Balart, a woman from Cuba's aristocracy whom Fidel Castro married in his youth before beginning the revolutionary struggle that later brought him and his brother Raul to power. The son took his own life after months of treatment for a “deeply depressed state,” in Havana, Cuba on February 1, 2018.

Bill Clayton (77) firefighter who helped to rescue hundreds of people and twice received California's highest honor. Clayton spent 50 years with the US Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection. He received the state's Medal of Valor for a 1997 rescue in which he and others drove through a 50-foot wall of flame to rescue three people in Escondido. Clayton also received a second medal for saving a man in 2003 and coordinating help for some 200 people trapped inside a casino during a San Diego County wildfire. He died in Carlsbad, California on January 28, 2018.


Cliff Bourland (97) Olympic sprinter, America's oldest living gold medalist. Bourland won gold at the 1948 London Games while running the second leg of the US 1,600-meter relay. He also finished fifth in the 200 meters. He won the NCAA 440-yard championship in 1942-43 while attending the University of Southern California. He was a three-time letterman, with the Trojans winning the NCAA team title each year. Bourland was captain of the 1943 team, which had just four athletes at the NCAAs but still won the team title. He was third in the 100 and second in the 220 in 1941 and finished third in the 220 in '42-43. The 46 total points Bourland scored at the NCAAs set a school record and currently is fourth-most ever. At the AAU championships he won the 400 in 1942–43 and was second in the 200 both years. He ran a leg on a 1,600 relay at the 1941 AAUs that broke the world record despite finishing second. He died of pneumonia in Santa Monica, California on February 1, 2018.

Oscar Gamble (68) outfielder who hit 200 home runs over 17 major league seasons and was famous during his playing days for an Afro that spilled out of his cap. Although many players of his era chewed tobacco, Gamble never did. A left-handed hitter known for the deep crouch in his batting stance, he had a .265 batting average and 666 runs batted in while playing for seven big league teams. He spent seven seasons with the New York Yankees over two stints. He had an endorsement deal with Afro Sheen but had to trim his hair to comply with owner George Steinbrenner's grooming policy when he joined the Yankees for the 1976 season. Gamble was diagnosed with a benign tumor, ameloblastoma, around 2011. He was hospitalized Jan. 22 in Birmingham, Alabama and died of the rare tumor of the jaw nine days later, on January 31, 2018.

Azeglio Vicini (84) former Italian national soccer team coach. Vicini coached Italy from 1986-91, guiding the Azzurri to the semifinals of the 1988 European Championship and later to a third-place finish as host of the '90 World Cup. During the 1990 World Cup, Italy's only loss was a penalty shootout defeat to Argentina and Diego Maradona in the semifinals. Vicini died in his hometown of Brescia, Italy on January 30, 2018.

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