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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, April 14, 2018

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Gillian Ayres, British abstract painterWilliam S. Beinecke, business executive and philanthropistArt Bell, host of paranormal radio showDaedra Charles, former top US college basketball playerNathan Davis, jazz saxophonist, composer, and educatorMilos Forman, Oscar-winning film directorHal Greer, West Virginia basketball starPeter Grünberg, Nobel-winning physicistSam Hamill, poet and publisherMaj. Gen. Michael D. Healy, 'Iron Mike,' icon of US Special ForcesEugene Leff, lead lawyer in Love Canal caseJean Marzollo, author of children's rhyming picture booksRob Matthews, blind runnerChuck McCann, comic actorJ. D. McClatchy, poet, librettist, educator, editor, and translatorJohn Melcher, former US congressman and senator from MontanaBill Nack, sportswriter who wrote biography of Triple Crown winner SecretariatTim O'Connor, prolific TV actorPolixeni Papapetrou, Australian photographerDaphne Sheldrick, conservationist who raised orphaned baby elephantsMitzi Shore, owner of LA's Comedy StoreKirk Simon, documentary filmmakerYvonne Staples, right, with The Staple Singers: Cleo, Mavis, and Pops

Art and Literature

Gillian Ayres (88) British artist whose abstract works celebrated shape and color. Ayres was praised for her bold abstract paintings and prints. She was nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize and had solo exhibitions around the world, including shows at the Tate Gallery in 1995 and the Royal Academy of Arts in ’97. Her works are in major collections, including Britain’s Tate and New York's Museum of Modern Art. Ayres died of heart and kidney failure in North Devon, England on April 11, 2018.

Sam Hamill (74) US poet, translator, and antiwar activist who as cofounder of Copper Canyon Press published works by Pablo Neruda, W. S. Merwin, and many other celebrated poets. Hamill himself wrote poetry and translated poetry from Mandarin and Japanese. At times he used poems for protest. In February 2003 he helped to organize a campaign to send thousands of poems and statements to the White House in opposition to the imminent Iraq War. He died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Anacortes, Washington on April 14, 2018.

Jean Marzollo (75) author who sent millions of young children searching through elaborate photo collages for an eclectic collection of objects in her I Spy rhyming picture books. Marzollo wrote more than 150 children’s books, some factual, some fanciful, all imparting skills and information to young readers. But her signature was the I Spy series, begun in 1992, in which her rhyming text invited the reader to try to find various objects and shapes in elaborate scenes photographed by Walter Wick. Every page was a visual adventure, the images often staged like an artwork. Jean Marzollo died in Cold Spring, New York on April 10, 2018.

J. D. McClatchy (72) versatile man of letters praised as a poet, librettist, educator, editor, and translator. As a poet, McClatchy was acclaimed for drawing upon a rich and unpredictable range of influences, from classical music to Japanese history, for his perception and intimacy about private life and growing concern about political life, especially after the September 11, 2001 attacks. His books included Stars Principal; The Rest of the Way; Hazmat, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2003; and, most recently, the 2014 publication Plundered Hearts. He died of cancer in New York City on April 10, 2018.

Polixeni Papapetrou (57) photographer known for whimsical, eerie, somewhat disturbing pictures that often featured her children and their friends in odd costumes. Papapetrou put three children in pigs’ heads and pink outfits for a 2009 work called “The Harvesters,” an interpretation of the 1857 Jean-François Millet painting “The Gleaners.” Perhaps her most attention-getting picture was of her daughter, Olympia, at age 5 or 6 (news accounts differ), sitting on a rock, naked. It ran on the cover of Art Monthly Australia magazine in July 2008 and fueled a controversy that was already under way over whether such imagery sexualized young children. The furor died down, and Papapetrou continued to make her distinctive photographs, exhibiting regularly in Australia and in New York, New Jersey, China, Greece, Germany, and elsewhere. She died of breast cancer in Fitzroy, Australia, near Melbourne on April 11, 2018.

Business and Science

William S. Beinecke (103) retired chairman and chief executive of Sperry & Hutchinson Co., cofounded by his grandfather in 1896. The company became well known for its Green Stamps, which customers earned by shopping at participating gas stations and grocery stores and could trade in for rewards. S&H, as it was known, benefited greatly from the rise of the suburban middle class after World War II. Beinecke took the company public in 1966 and diversified its holdings into furniture and other businesses. He embraced the idea of corporate social responsibility long before that phrase became fashionable. After retiring in 1979, he became the first chairman of the Central Park Conservancy and quickly recruited to its board many other corporate leaders. The conservancy is widely credited with helping to revitalize the park and has served as a model for similar public-private partnerships across the US. Beinecke died in New York City on April 8, 2018.

Peter Grünberg (78) Nobel Prize-winning German physicist who discovered how to store vast amounts of data by manipulating the magnetic and electrical fields of thin layers of atoms, making possible devices like the iPad and the smart phone. Grünberg shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2007 with Albert Fert of the Université Paris-Sud in Orsay. They had independently made the same discovery—of an effect known as giant magnetoresistance, in which tiny changes in a magnetic field can result in huge changes in electrical resistance. The effect is at the heart of modern gadgets that record music, video, or other data as dense magnetic patchworks of ones and zeros—that is to say, electronic tablets and smart phones, the GPS devices in our pockets and handbags. Grünberg died in Jülich, Germany on April 9, 2018.

Daphne Sheldrick (83) British conservationist. Sheldrick received global attention for her work raising more than 200 orphaned baby elephants. Queen Elizabeth II in 2006 appointed Sheldrick Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. She died of breast cancer in Nairobi, Kenya on April 12, 2018.

Mitzi Shore (87) in the ‘70s David Letterman babysat her children and Jay Leno slept on the back stairs of her Sunset Strip club, where Jim Carrey later tended the door. Shore was the “den mother of some berserk Cub Scout pack,” as Letterman once said—one that celebrated an array of now-famous comics who broke through because she tapped them to perform. The mother of actor and comedian Pauly Shore, Mitzi Shore was regarded as the godmother of comedy in Los Angeles, and her Comedy Store was one of the most important showcases for stand-up in the country. She died of Parkinson's disease in Los Angeles, California on April 11, 2018.


Nathan Davis (81) jazz saxophonist, composer, and educator who helped to establish a place for black music in the academy. After spending nearly all the ‘60s in Paris, Davis returned to the US in 1969 to become founding director of the jazz studies program at the University of Pittsburgh. Early on he envisioned the academy as a place where jazz musicians might be able to write their own histories and situate their work within the greater legacy of black American art. He died of congestive heart failure in Atlantis, Florida on April 8, 2018.

Karen Dawisha (68) Russia scholar who researched Vladimir V. Putin’s circle of trusted friends from St. Petersburg in the ‘90s and, in a 2014 book, labeled the state they plotted out a “kleptocracy.” Dawisha, who at the time was a professor of political science at the Havighurst Center for Russian & Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, distilled her research into Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? The book argued that corruption and authoritarianism in Russia in recent decades were not by-products of the country’s emergence from communism but rather building blocks of a plan devised in the early ‘90s by Putin and a circle of trusted associates. Many were, like him, former KGB officers who were appalled by the breakup of the Soviet Union. Dawisha died of lung cancer in Oxford, Ohio on April 11, 2018.


Eugene Leff (73) former assistant New York state attorney general who reached a record settlement with a chemical company accused of burying toxic waste at Love Canal, the Niagara Falls neighborhood whose contamination became a symbol of environmental disaster. As lead lawyer in the case, Leff successfully concluded a 14-year lawsuit in which the former owners of a dumpsite at Love Canal agreed in 1994 to pay $98 million and to assume cleanup costs and other expenses that eventually amounted to millions of dollars more. Homeowners said the chemicals appeared to have caused tumors and birth defects after bubbling up into the basements of houses built on the site, a 16-acre former landfill that featured an unfinished 19th-century canal. Balls of caustic residue were observed burning on the ground after rising to the surface. The Love Canal case spurred Congress to create the federal Superfund cleanup program. Leff died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 12, 2018.

News and Entertainment

Art Bell (72) radio host best known for a paranormal-themed nightly show syndicated on hundreds of stations in the ‘90s. Bell hosted the popular radio talk show Coast to Coast AM before he left the airwaves in 2002. He broadcast from his radio station, KNYE, in Pahrump, Nev. The program focused on Bell’s conspiracy theories and his fascination with the paranormal and unexplained phenomenon such as UFOs and crop circles (a proven hoax). He was his own producer, engineer, and host. Bell died in Pahrump, Nevada on April 13, 2018.

Milos Forman (86) Czech filmmaker whose American movies One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1981) and Amadeus (1984) won a slew of Oscars, including for best director. When Forman arrived in Hollywood in the late ‘60s, he was lacking in both money and English skills but carried a portfolio of Czech films much admired internationally for their quirky, light-hearted spirit. The orphan of Nazi Holocaust victims, he had abandoned his homeland after Communist troops invaded in 1968 and crushed a brief period of political and artistic freedom known as the Prague Spring. Forman died in Warren, Connecticut on April 14, 2018.

Chuck McCann (83) zany comic who hosted a children's TV show in the ‘60s before branching out as a character actor in films and on TV. McCann became a household name in New York when he took over a variety show, entertaining a generation of children with light-hearted humor and puppets. In 1968 he appeared in his first major film: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. He expanded his work into animation acting and created the voice of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, who cried, “I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!” in commercials for General Mills. McCann moved to Los Angeles in the ‘70s and made guest appearances on shows including Little House on the Prairie, Bonanza, and Columbo. He was a prolific voice actor, lending his voice to characters such as Mayor Grafton on The Garfield Show, Ducksworth in DuckTales: Remastered, and Heff Heffalump in Disney's The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. McCann died of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles, California on April 8, 2018.

Tim O'Connor (90) character actor who tried to bring nuance to scores of TV roles, most memorably as convict-turned-newspaperman Elliot Carson on the ‘60s primetime soap opera Peyton Place. O’Connor, who had piercing blue eyes and stern features, seemed a natural to play heavies and authority figures, and many of his parts fit those molds. But whatever the role, he tried to give depth to the character, even if it was underwritten. His TV career began in the late ‘50s. Over the next 40 years he appeared in a litany of shows across different genres, among them The Defenders, Gunsmoke, Mannix, M*A*S*H, The Twilight Zone, Maude, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Dukes of Hazzard, Doogie Howser, MD, and Murder, She Wrote. O'Connor died of cancer in Nevada City, California on April 12, 2018.

Kirk Simon (63) documentary filmmaker who turned luminaries in the arts into teachers and brought cameras into the classroom, memorably in an Oscar-winning film about a multinational school in Israel. Simon directed and produced documentaries for PBS, National Geographic, and HBO, tackling a wide range of topics. But he often returned to education, as he and his creative partner, Karen Goodman, his first wife, did in 2010 with Strangers No More, which won the Oscar for best short documentary. That film focused on the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv, where children, many of them refugees or migrants from more than 48 countries, came together to learn and adapt to life in their new home. Simon died of a heart attack in New York City on April 14, 2018.

Politics and Military

Maj. Gen. Michael D. Healy (91) icon of special operations and a man who at one time was the US Army’s most battle-tested officer. The general served in the military for 35 years, spending much of his career at Fort Bragg, California. When he retired in 1981, Healy was the nation’s most senior Special Forces soldier. He was a veteran of wars in Korea and Vietnam, with his service in the latter spanning 10 years and ending with his overseeing the withdrawal of troops from the country. Healy was the inspiration for John Wayne’s character, Col. Iron Mike Kirby, in the 1968 film The Green Berets. He was also a former commander of the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center & School at Fort Bragg. He died of a heart attack in Jacksonville, Florida on April 14, 2018.

John Melcher (93) former US senator, a Montana Democrat who narrowly lost a bid for a third term in 1988 just days after a wilderness bill he championed was vetoed. Melcher’s 35-year career included seven years in the US House, then two terms in the US Senate. During his time in Washington, he largely stuck to bread-and-butter issues for a farm-state lawmaker, such as crop subsidies and overseas trade. He was a stout defender of federally funded food programs as a way to fight hunger. Melcher died in Missoula, Montana on April 12, 2018.

Society and Religion

Yvonne Staples (80) whose voice and business acumen powered the success of the Staple Singers, her family’s hit-making gospel group that topped the charts in the early ‘70s with the song “I’ll Take You There.” Yvonne performed with her sisters Mavis and Cleotha and their father, Pops, on hits such as “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There,” their first No. 1 hit. The family was also active in civil rights and performed at the request of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Yvonne wasn’t as interested in singing as the rest of her family but stepped in when her brother, Pervis, left for military service. She died in Chicago, Illinois on April 10, 2018.


Daedra Charles (49) Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer who played on Tennessee’s 1989 and ‘91 national championship teams. Charles played for Tennessee from 1988–91. She won the 1991 Wade Trophy, given annually to the top women’s college basketball player in the nation. Charles played on the 1992 US Olympic team that earned the bronze medal. Tennessee retired her No. 32 jersey. She died in Wayne County, Michigan on April 14, 2018.

Hal Greer (81) Huntington, West Virginia native, a Marshall College Thundering Herd basketball legend, NBA champion, and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member. Greer grew up on Doulton Avenue just off the former 16th Street that was renamed Hal Greer Boulevard in 1978. He was a basketball star at the old Douglass High School and caught the eye of Marshall College head coach Cam Henderson, who recruited him for the Thundering Herd. In 1955, playing for head coach Jule Rivlin, Greer became the first black scholarship athlete at Marshall and at a traditionally white college in West Virginia. He was one of Marshall's all-time greats (1955–58) with career totals of 1,377 points, 765 rebounds, and 54.5 shooting. Greer was part of the 1956 Mid-American Conference championship team that was Marshall's first NCAA tournament participant. He was an All Mid-American Conference performer in 1957–58 whose No. 16 jersey was retired by Marshall and later played for the Philadelphia 76ers. He died in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 14, 2018.

Rob Matthews (56) blind runner who won eight gold medals for Britain at the Paralympic Games and broke 22 world records. Matthews lost his vision gradually to retinitis pigmentosa—as his father did—so that by the time he was 20 he was blind. Attending the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford, England, he ran and played goalball, a game somewhat similar to dodge ball. At the 1983 European athletic championships for the visually impaired in Varna, Bulgaria, he won the gold medal in the 800-, 1,500-, and 5,000-meter races, then earned gold medals in the same distances at the 1984 Summer Paralympics on Long Island. When the 1988 Paralympics were held in Seoul, South Korea, he repeated the feat. Between those Games, Matthews set a record for a blind runner in the 800 meters. He died of brain cancer in Auckland, New Zealand, where he had lived for the past 10 years, on April 11, 2018.

Bill Nack (77) sportswriter, best known for his work at Sports Illustrated, who found an early outlet for his love of horse racing as a teenage groom and later chronicled the magnificent career of the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Over nearly 25 years at Sports Illustrated, Nack was one of its storytelling stars, along with Frank Deford, Gary Smith, Sally Jenkins, Leigh Montville, and Richard Hoffer. His subjects included horses and jockeys, boxers Joe Frazier and Rocky Marciano, racecar driver A. J. Foyt, baseball players Jackie Robinson and Keith Hernandez, and a football player, Bob Kalsu, the only major professional sports athlete to die in the Vietnam War. Nack also wrote Secretariat: The Making of a Champion (1975). He died of lung cancer in Washington, DC on April 13, 2018.

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