Back to Life In Legacy Main Page Pages for Previous Weeks Celebrity Deaths Message Board
Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, March 24, 2018

Hold pointer over photo for person's name. Click on photo to go to brief obit.
Click on name to return to picture.

José Antonio Abreu, Venezuelan economist turned music educatorLi Ao, Taiwanese writer and politicianAndrew Balducci, founder and proprietor of gourmet Italian food marketDeborah Carrington, Hollywood actress and stuntwomanElizabeth Ebert, 'cowboy poet'Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, identified and avoided what he considered carcinogensMel Gordon, drama scholar and teacherLawrence K. Grossman, former president of PBSRobert Haas, California winemakerHelen Mayer Harrison, half of husband-and-wife team of eco-artistsArnold R. Hirsch, University of Chicago historianH. Wayne Huizenga, business entrepreneurCarolyn Jacobson, labor union communications directorPhilip Kerr, Scottish author of detective novelsMorgana King, jazz singer who played 'Godfather' wifeCharles P. Lazarus, founder of Toys R UsNancy McFadden, California Gov. Jerry Brown's chief of staffZell Miller, former Georgia governor and US senatorKeith O'Brien, disgraced cardinalLes Payne, Pulitzer-winning journalistPeter G. Peterson, business executive and philanthropistAnne Forer Pyne, feminist activist and writerCharlie Quintana, punk rock drummerCarl Scheib, Philadelphia Athletics pitcherHazel Smith, country music journalist, publicist, and songwriterOleg Tabakov, Russian actor and stage directorDelores Taylor, costarred in 'Billy Jack' filmsJohan van Hulst, saved Dutch children from concentration campsSudan, last male northern white rhinoJulie Yip-Williams, author of blog about her cancer

Art and Literature

Elizabeth Ebert (93) South Dakota farmer's wife who rose to prominence in cowboy poetry, which originated in the cattle drive era after the Civil War, as cow punchers tried to keep themselves entertained during the long and often tedious journeys north from Texas. Typically narrative-based and following traditional ballad rhyme schemes, the genre mostly retreated from popular view until the founding of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada in 1985. Although cowboy poetry remains an outsider art, the national gathering helped to launch the careers of several poets. After her first performance at the Elko gathering in 1991, Ebert attracted an almost immediate following with her portrayals not only of the cowboy but also of “the cowman’s wife.” Her woman’s perspective helped to open a male-dominated genre to female voices. Her first collection, Prairie Wife, was published in 2006. She died in a Bismarck, North Dakota hospital after breaking a hip, on March 20, 2018.

Helen Mayer Harrison (90) half of the husband-and-wife team known as the Harrisons, pioneers in the eco-art movement whose works blended elements of art, biology, environmentalism, and more. Harrison and her husband, Newton Harrison, were both well into careers as educators when. in the late ‘60s. they began shifting their focus to making art, vowing that anything they created would involve ecosystems and environmental awareness. Their artworks were unconventional, pushing the very boundaries of what constitutes art. They made topsoil and grew crops in it; they consulted on urban planning projects in Baltimore, Europe, and elsewhere. And then there was Hog Pasture, one of their earliest works, created for a 1971 exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts called “Earth, Air, Fire, Water: Elements of Art.” They made an actual pasture indoors, with hopes of having a real hog root around in it. The museum was fine with the pasture but not with the pig. In 2012 they re-created the work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and that time a pig named Wilma was allowed. Helen Harrison died of Alzheimer’s disease in Santa Cruz, California on March 24, 2018.

Philip Kerr (62) Scottish-born writer whose popular novels feature a Nazi-era detective named Bernie Gunther, whose hard-boiled style made him literary kin to Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler’s classic private eye. Through 13 novels, beginning with March Violets (1989), Kerr drew Gunther as a savvy and cynical Berlin criminal police investigator who hates Hitler and quits his job when the Nazis take over. He becomes a private detective but is then pressed into gumshoe jobs for propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and Reinhard Heydrich, a principal architect of the Final Solution. Kerr died of bladder cancer in London, England on March 23, 2018.

Business and Science

Andrew Balducci (92) New Yorker whose famed Greenwich Village gourmet food mecca attracted fans including Anna Wintour, Lou Reed, and Lena Horne. Food experts including the late chef James Beard flocked to Balducci’s, a richly stocked market that opened at its Sixth Avenue location in the Village in 1972 and stayed there for 30 years. Balducci’s was a culinary destination for gourmet-quality prepared food and Italian imports not easily available elsewhere, including Parma prosciutto and fresh vegetables such as broccoli rabe, red chicory, arugula, and radicchio. Since Balducci sold the original store in 1999 for more than $26 million, new owners expanded the business to a midtown Manhattan location, suburban Westchester County, and stores in Maryland and Virginia. He died of leukemia in Roslyn, Long Island, New York on March 22, 2018.

Dr. Samuel S. Epstein (91) British-born physician who blamed greedy manufacturers, lax regulators, misguided researchers, and complicit charitable groups for what he saw as a coming cancer epidemic. A widely read author and lecturer, Epstein was venerated by some as an environmental prophet and reviled by others as an overzealous toxin avenger. He outlived many of his critics, perhaps because he had practiced what he preached about prevention in his own life. Epstein sought to avoid tobacco, X-rays, pesticides, saccharin, talcum powder, cyclamates used as preservatives, hair spray with vinyl chloride, hot dogs dyed with nitrites, milk from cows injected with genetically engineered growth hormones, and pajamas treated with a certain flame retardant—all of which he considered carcinogenic. He died of cardiac arrest in Chicago, Illinois on March 18, 2018.

Robert Haas (90) winemaker and retailer. After helping to expand his father's Manhattan wine and liquor store into what became—after being sold to a rival in 1965—Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, one of the best-known wine retailers in the US, Haas also founded Vineyard Brands, a leading wine importer, and, at age 62, embarked on a high-risk, long-haul venture as a California vintner. Planting vines brought over from the Rhone Valley in France, the winery, Tablas Creek Vineyard, founded in 1989 with the Perrin family, Rhone wine producers, now turns out about 30,000 cases a year. Haas died of pneumonia in Templeton, California on March 19, 2018.

H. Wayne Huizenga (80) college dropout who started with a trash-hauling company, struck gold during America’s brief love affair with VHS tapes, and eventually owned three professional sports team. Huizenga owned Blockbuster Entertainment, AutoNation, and Waste Management Inc., the world’s largest trash hauler, and was founding owner of baseball’s Florida Marlins and the NHL’s Florida Panthers. He bought the NFL’s Miami Dolphins for $138 million in 1994. The one thing he never got was a Super Bowl win. He died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on March 22, 2018.

Charles P. Lazarus (94) World War II veteran who founded Toys R Us 60 years ago and transformed it into an iconic piece of Americana. Lazarus, who stepped down as chief executive of Toys R Us in 1994, transformed the toy industry with a business model that became one of the first retail category killers—big stores that are so devoted to one thing and have such an impressive selection that they drive smaller competitors out of business. More recently Toys R Us found itself unable to survive the trends of the digital age, namely competition from the likes of Amazon, discounters like Walmart, and mobile games. No longer able to bear the weight of its heavy debt load, the company announced last week that it would close or sell its 735 stores across the country, including its Babies R Us stores. But for decades it was Toys R Us that drove trends in child’s play, becoming a launch-pad for what became some of the industry’s hottest toys. Lazarus died of respiratory failure in New York City on March 22, 2018.

Peter G. Peterson (91) business executive and philanthropist who argued passionately that the US must reduce its national debt. Born to Greek immigrants, Peterson was chief executive of two major corporations over more than 30 years, including the investment bank Lehman Brothers. He cofounded the private-equity firm Blackstone Group with Stephen Schwarzman in 1985. The firm's success made the two billionaires. Peterson also was commerce secretary during the Nixon administration. In retirement he became a prominent voice on the national debt and government spending. He used his wealth to create the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, an organization focused on reforming entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. He died in New York City on March 20, 2018.


José Antonio Abreu (78) Venezuelan government economist turned music educator who created a network of youth orchestras that has been replicated in dozens of countries around the world. Abreu was teacher to generations of Venezuelan classical music performers. His most famous protégé is Gustavo Dudamel, musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. El Maestro, as Abreu was almost universally known in Venezuela, studied music from an early age but put his artistic aspirations on hold to become an economist, teaching at two universities in Caracas and later entering politics. Well into his 30s in 1975, he formed a small orchestra of a dozen young musicians that became the seed for El Sistema, as the program is known; 40 years later the government-financed program claims to currently put 1 million Venezuelan children in contact with classical music through a network of hundreds of youth choirs, orchestras, and music centers spread across the country. Abreu died in Caracas, Venezuela on March 24, 2018.

Mel Gordon (71) unorthodox drama scholar who taught a course in the history of bad acting and wrote books about the ghastly Grand Guignol theater of Paris and the deviant sexual world of Weimar Berlin. Gordon, who taught at New York University, then UC Berkeley, wrote a two-volume history of the Stanislavsky method of acting—and the libretto to a Yiddish opera. He collaborated on a study of Funnyman, a Jewish shtick-wielding comic book superhero who was conjured up in 1948 by the creators of Superman—and wrote about commedia dell’art. At his death Gordon was finishing books about American Fascist love cults and women from the ‘20s known as flappers. He died of renal failure in Richmond, California on March 22, 2018.

Arnold R. Hirsch (69) historian whose landmark study of Chicago documented the role of government policy in creating highly segregated black ghettos during the mid-20th century. Hirsch’s best-known book, Making the Second Ghetto: Race & Housing in Chicago, 1940–1960 (1983), began as an inquiry into the causes of the urban riots that racked American cities in the late ‘60s, including the disturbances that followed the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. A longtime professor at the University of Chicago, Hirsch died in Oak Park, Illinois from complications of Parkinson’s and Lewy body diseases, 10 days after his 69th birthday, on March 19, 2018.

Anne Forer Pyne (72) early feminist activist and writer whose use of the phrase “consciousness raising” helped to make it a foundational principle of the women’s rights movement. A self-described left-wing hippie, Pyne was a young kindergarten teacher in the late ‘60s when she began attending meetings of New York Radical Women, a small group that met in cramped Manhattan apartments to discuss how to fight the oppression of women. But before overturning entrenched power dynamics and cultural norms, they knew they first had to identify and define them. Pyne, by her account, was uncertain about what, exactly, women needed to be liberated from. So she asked. Her question ignited the group. As women shared their first-hand accounts of slights and injustices they had suffered—at work, at home, and in the bedroom—they found patterns and solidarity. Pyne died of kidney failure in Tucson, Arizona on March 21, 2018.

News and Entertainment

Deborah Carrington (58) actress and stuntwoman who broke into Hollywood by answering an ad for dwarf actors and later performed stunt work and costume-specific roles in Hollywood blockbusters and campy horror movies. Audiences might best remember Carrington, whose stage name was Debbie Lee Carrington, for her violent performance as Thumbelina, the 3-foot, 10-inch pink-clad prostitute in the 1990 sci-fi action film Total Recall. The movie told the story of a construction worker in the future who visits a colonized Mars. During a mob scene, Thumbelina stabs one of the movie’s villains with a bowie knife before jumping on a table and mowing down the police with a machine gun. She died in Pleasanton, California on March 23, 2018.

Lawrence K. Grossman (86) former president of PBS who doubled the length of the MacNeil/Lehrer Report, its signature news program, then headed NBC News, where he dealt with budget austerity after it came under General Electric's ownership. A former advertising executive, Grossman transformed PBS over eight years. Despite his initial reluctance to spend the required money, PBS became the first broadcast network to deliver its programming by satellite. Grossman expanded the influence of the Mac-Neil/Lehrer program by lengthening it to an hour from a half-hour and started the Frontline documentary series and the 13-part series Vietnam: A Television History (1981). He had Parkinson’s disease and oral cancer when he died in Westport, Connecticut on March 23, 2018.

Morgana King (87) boldly original jazz singer with a four-octave voice and dramatic stage presence who was perhaps better known for portraying Vito Corleone’s (Marlon Brando) wife in the first two Godfather movies. King performed in nightclubs for more than 50 years and recorded about 20 albums, yet her fame never equaled her acclaim. She had a modest hit in 1964 with “A Taste of Honey,” but for most of her career she remained an exacting, uncompromising, and even defiant song stylist. She died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in Palm Springs, California on March 22, 2018.

Les Payne (76) Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, columnist, and editor for Newsday who helped to pave the way for a generation of black journalists. Beginning in 1969, when he joined Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, Payne exposed inequality and racial injustice wherever he found it, whether it was apartheid in South Africa, illegally segregated schools in the American South, or redlining by real estate agents in suburban New York. He was on the reportorial team that won a Pulitzer for public service in 1974 for a 33-part series, “The Heroin Trail,” which traced a narcotics scourge from its source in Turkey to the mean streets of America. Payne died of a heart attack in New York City on March 19, 2018.

Charlie Quintana (56) fixture on the southern California punk and roots music scene for decades. Quintana was probably best known as drummer for 10 years with long-running Orange County punk band Social Distortion but first came to fame as teenage drummer for the Plugz, the groundbreaking Los Angeles punk group that was among the first to be started by local Latino musicians. From his hardscrabble beginnings on LA’s punk rock scene of the late ‘70s, Quintana developed a reputation as a drummer par excellence and later was tapped by Bob Dylan to be part of his touring band in the early ‘90s. He died in Cancun, Mexico after struggling in recent years with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), on March 19, 2018.

Hazel Smith (83) country music journalist, publicist, and songwriter. Smith was credited with coining the term “outlaw country” in the ‘70s. She worked as a publicist for Kinky Friedman and worked out of Tompall Glaser’s studio with artists like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. It was there that she came up with the movement’s term for artists who were bucking Music Row trends. Smith wrote a regular popular column for Country Music magazine, wrote for other outlets, and had songs recorded by Tammy Wynette and Dr. Hook. She also worked with Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White and was host of a CMT series, Southern Fried Flicks. She died of heart failure in Nashville, Tennessee on March 18, 2018.

Oleg Tabakov (82) Russian actor and theater director who for decades was one of the most revered figures in Russia’s theater and film communities. Tabakov led the Moscow Art Theater for the last 18 years. Born in the Volga River city of Saratov, he joined the Sovremennik theater after graduating from a Moscow theater school in 1957. He performed in both classic and modern productions and became widely popular as a film actor, starring in many Soviet films and lending his voice to cartoon characters. Tabakov died in Moscow, Russia on March 19, 2018.

Delores Taylor (85) actress who costarred with her husband Tom Laughlin (died in 2013) in his productions of the Billy Jack series of films, in which she played a teacher whose progressive school is defended by Billy Jack—a half-white, half-Native American Vietnam veteran who had come to hate war. The films became counterculture favorites. Taylor had suffered from dementia and died near Los Angeles, California on March 23, 2018.

Politics and Military

Li Ao (82) Taiwanese writer and politician whose antiestablishment polemics, provocative antics, and unwavering support for reunification with mainland China made him one of Taiwan’s most recognizable, if divisive, public figures. Li was known as the “madman” of Taiwan’s literary and political circles—a man who vigorously defended freedom of speech and rarely missed an opportunity to exercise that freedom, even when it was denied to him by the government. He wrote more than 100 books, mostly about history and politics, and more than 90 of them were banned by the authorities during Taiwan’s long decades of martial law, which ended in 1987. Li also had broad popular appeal as host of several political talk shows, cementing his fame on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. He died of brain cancer in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, on March 18, 2018.

Carolyn Jacobson (67) roused organized labor to confront sexism in its ranks and helped to place women’s health care on its bargaining agenda. During her 40-year career in the union movement, Jacobson galvanized support for her agenda from several platforms, beginning as communications director for the Bakery, Confectionary & Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers. She was also a founder of the Berger-Marks Foundation, which trained women union organizers; a founding member of the Coalition of Labor Union Women; and a member of the International Labor Press Association (now the International Labor Communications Association). She died of uterine cancer in Washington, DC on March 23, 2018.

Nancy McFadden (59) chief of staff for California Gov. Jerry Brown and a driving force behind his agenda. McFadden was hired as Brown's chief of staff in 2011 when he returned to the governor's office and quickly became an indispensable asset as he pushed ambitious policies on climate, criminal justice reform, and more. She died of ovarian cancer in Sacramento, California on March 22, 2018.

Zell Miller (86) former Georgia governor (1991–99) who successfully championed selling lottery tickets to fund scholarships in a Bible-belt state but lost a fight to change the Confederate-themed state flag. As a US senator, Miller enraged fellow Democrats with a primetime convention speech endorsing the reelection of President George W. Bush in 2004. Time and again he proved himself a stubbornly independent Southern Democrat during a political career that spanned 40 years. He died of Parkinson's disease in Young Harris, Georgia on March 23, 2018.

Society and Religion

Keith O'Brien (80) first cardinal in history to recuse himself from a papal election over a personal scandal. Once Britain’s highest-ranking Catholic leader, O’Brien resigned in disgrace as archbishop of St. Andrews & Edinburgh in 2013 and recused himself from the conclave that elected Francis as pope after unidentified priests alleged in British newspaper reports that he acted inappropriately toward them. The men said they had complained to church authorities about O’Brien’s conduct but that the church had failed to respond. None of the men are believed to have been minors at the time of the purported misconduct. After initially denying the allegations and impeding the investigation, O’Brien eventually admitted that his sexual conduct had “fallen below the standards expected” of a priest, archbishop, and cardinal. He apologized and promised to play no further role in the public life of the Scottish church. He died of a heart ailment in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in northeast England, where he had been living in exile, on March 19, 2018.

Johan van Hulst (107) in the spring and summer of 1943 in Amsterdam, Van Hulst was at the center of a daring scheme to save Jewish children from being sent to a concentration camp. The children—from infants to 12-year-olds—had been taken from their parents at a deportation center and brought by nursery workers to a nursery next to the teachers’ college where Van Hulst was principal. The rescue plan was simple but risky: the children were handed over a hedge between the nursery and the college and hidden in a classroom until they could be smuggled to the countryside by Dutch Resistance groups. Van Hulst was credited with helping to rescue as many as 600 children, yet he was haunted by those he could not save. He died in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on March 22, 2018.

Sudan, northern white rhino (45) world’s last male northern white rhino. Sudan had been part of an ambitious effort to save his subspecies from extinction after decades of decimation by poachers, with the help of the two surviving females. One is Sudan’s 27-year-old daughter, Najin, and the other is her 17-year-old daughter, Fatu. Sudan’s death won’t have an impact on the efforts to save the subspecies, as the focus turns to in vitro fertilization techniques using stored semen from other dead rhinos and eggs extracted from the two remaining females. He was euthanized at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Nairobi, Kenya on March 19, 2018 after his condition “worsened significantly” and he was no longer able to stand. His muscles and bones had degenerated, and his skin had extensive wounds, with a deep infection on his back right leg.

Julie Yip-Williams (42) woman whose candid blog about dealing with Stage IV colon cancer also described a life of struggles that began with being born blind in Vietnam and her ethnic Chinese family’s escape in a rickety fishing boat. Yip-Williams’ blog, which she started writing after receiving her diagnosis in 2013, was more than an account of her siege with cancer. It was also a meditation on love and family and a message of openness to her young daughters, Mia and Isabelle, about her illness. Yip-Williams died of metastatic colon cancer in Brooklyn, New York on March 19, 2018.


Carl Scheib (91) Philadelphia Athletics pitcher who made his major league debut in 1943 at age 16. Scheib was the youngest in all of modern MLB history when he pitched his first game for the As. But that distinction was erased a year later when Joe Nuxhall pitched one-third of an inning for the Cincinnati Reds in his major league debut at age 15. Scheib became a mainstay of the As pitching staff as a starter and reliever and won 45 games for teams that were usually mediocre or worse. His best season came in 1948, when he went 14-8 with a 3.94 earned run average and 15 complete games for an As team that finished fourth in the American League with an 84-70 record, the franchise’s best mark in his years with them. He also batted .298 that year, hit a pair of home runs along with eight doubles and three triples, and drove in 21 runs in 104 at-bats. He died in San Antonio, Texas on March 24, 2018.

Previous Week
Next Week

Return to Main Page
Return to Top