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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, May 5, 2018

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James Avery, jewelry artisanEdwin G. Burrows, shared 1999 Pulitzer for historyDr. Davida Coady, activist pediatricianChristiane Collins, historian of urban planningNinalee Allen Craig, posed for travel photoAfonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique’s main opposition groupStanley Falkow, Stanford professor who studied antibiotic resistanceLuis Garcia Meza, military dictator of BoliviaBobbie Louise Hawkins, Beat Generation poet and novelistDr. Joel Kovel, psychiatrist turned activistRobert Mandan, TV actor on dramas and soap operas, including 'Soap'Rabbi Aaron Panken, president of Jewish seminaryLester James Peries, Sri Lankan film directorDavid Pines, condensed matter physicistJhoon Rhee, taekwondo grandmasterJohn ('Jabo') Starks, drummer for James BrownBill Torrey, first president of Florida PanthersJoan Wile, songwriter turned protestorWanda Wilkomirski, violin virtuoso

Art and Literature

James Avery (96) World War II bomber pilot who grew his artisan jewelry business from his in-laws’ two-car garage to a national retail chain. Avery began fashioning his mostly Christian-themed creations himself with his wife in his in-laws’ Kerrville, Texas garage in 1954. He didn’t hire his first outside employee until 1957. Today, James Avery Artisan Jewelry operates 80 stores in Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee and sells designs through more than 200 Dillard’s department stores in 28 states. Avery retired from active management of the business in 2007 and turned control over to two of his sons. He died in Kerrville, Texas on April 30, 2018.

Edwin G, Burrows (74) Brooklyn College professor who shared the Pulitzer Prize for the narrative Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. In 1999 Burrows and Mike Wallace, a fellow professor at City University of New York, won the Pulitzer for history for their 1,424-page book, instantly acclaimed a definitive, populist, and novelistic account of the city’s first 300 years. Burrows, who taught at Brooklyn College for 41 years, was the author of two other books, both delving into neglected chapters of the city’s history: Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War (2008) and The Finest Building in America: The New York Crystal Palace, 1853–1858 (2018). He died of Parkinson’s disease in Huntington, Long Island, New York, on May 4, 2018.

Christiane Collins (92) historian of urban planning who helped to make a moment in history herself by defying a bulldozer bent on converting a West Harlem park site into a Columbia University gymnasium. In 1968 Collins figured prominently in a turf war that evolved into a symbolic civil rights struggle: a campaign by a coalition of black community groups and mostly white students and faculty to keep neighboring Columbia from impinging on two of Morningside Park’s mostly craggy 30 acres. Collins and her husband, George, a Columbia art history professor, were among those in the academic community who opposed the planned gym, to be built on parkland designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and that the city had agreed to lease to the university as long before as 1955. After a year of protests, Columbia’s trustees formally abandoned the proposed gym. In a self-published memoir, A Storm Foretold: Columbia University & Morningside Heights, 1968 (2015), Collins gave her side of the controversy. She died of a stroke in West Falmouth, Massachusetts on May 4, 2018.

Bobbie Louise Hawkins (87) Beat Generation poet and novelist whose work reflected her hardscrabble Texas childhood and her liberation from an overbearing husband. Equipped with only a high school education but, as a voracious reader, fortified with a copious vocabulary, Hawkins left her literary imprint on a cultural landscape dominated by men and was a mentor to a generation of female writers. She wrote more than 20 books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and impressionist monologues, which she delivered in her West Texas drawl while touring with folk singer Rosalie Sorrels and singer and guitarist Terry Garthwaite, all billed simply as “Three Women.” She died in Boulder, Colorado on May 4, 2018.

Business and Science

Dr. Davida Coady (80) activist pediatrician whose passion for public health led her to treat impoverished people in Africa, Central America, and Asia before pivoting later in her career to help addicts recover from substance abuse. With humanitarian physicians Albert Schweitzer and Thomas A. Dooley 3rd as her role models, Coady made preventing diseases far from home the cornerstone of her work. She died of ovarian cancer in Alamo, California on May 3, 2018.

Stanley Falkow (84) Stanford professor who discovered how antibiotic resistance spreads among bacteria and how bacteria cause disease. Over his long career Falkow won just about every major award in science, including the National Medal of Science in 2014. In 2007 he received the honor he coveted most when he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in Britain. Founded in 1660, the society has had fellows including Newton, Darwin, and Einstein. Falkow’s discovery of one of the most important ways that bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics began with his observation that resistance can be transmitted from one bacterium to another. He died in Portola Valley, California from complications of myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare disorder in which the bone marrow fails to generate blood cells properly, on May 5, 2018.

David Pines (93) physicist whose theoretical insights helped to explain the electric flow of superconductors and the churning of matter inside collapsed stars. Condensed matter physics is the study of liquids and solids. Although Pines never won a Nobel Prize, he contributed advances that directly led to others’ Nobels. He died of pancreatic cancer in Urbana, Illinois on May 3, 2018

News and Entertainment

Robert Mandan (86) character actor best known for playing lascivious stockbroker Chester Tate 40 years ago on the ABC sitcom Soap. Mandan cut a blustering figure and was often cast as pompous businessmen like Chester. He was also seen on sitcoms like All in the Family, Sanford & Son, and Maude; dramas like The Doctors and Mission: Impossible; and Broadway shows like Applause, which starred Lauren Bacall. Chester’s infidelities were among the more mundane events on Soap, a primetime sendup of daytime soap operas. Its dizzying plot twists included cult brainwashing and demonic possession. Mandan, who had acted on Search for Tomorrow, As the World Turns, and other daytime dramas, played one of the show’s central characters, the patriarch of the wealthy Tate family, from its debut in 1977 until it ended in ’81. He died in Los Angeles, California on April 29, 2018.

Lester James Peries (99) director whose films about the dynamics of family life in Sri Lanka brought world recognition to that island nation’s movie industry, starting with Rekava (The Line of Destiny) in 1956. Peries’ films offered a significant shift from formulaic Indian-influenced dance and fantasy movies that had been standard fare in Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon at the time. He wanted his pictures to accurately reflect the lives of the Sinhalese people, who constitute most of the country's population. Peries described his movies as the “cinema of contemplation,” in which the cameras “eavesdrop on life” to expose his characters’ psychology. He died in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 29, 2018.

John ('Jabo') Starks (79) drummer steeped in blues whose steady groove became the backbone for many of James Brown's hits. Starks was one of two drummers closely identified with Brown (died 2006) during his heyday in the ‘60s and ’70s. The other was Clyde Stubblefield (died 2017), remembered for his indelible drum solo on Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” perhaps the most sampled drumbeat of all time. Both drummers played on some of Brown’s best-known albums, including Sex Machine, I Got the Feelin’, Say It Loud—I’m Black & I’m Proud, and Cold Sweat. Starks drummed on singles like “Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine,” “Super Bad,” and “The Payback.” He had leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes and died in Mobile, Alabama on May 1, 2018.

Wanda Wilkomirski (89) Polish violin virtuoso, a one-time darling of the Communist authorities who became a dissident. The daughter of violinist Alfred Wilkomirski, Wanda played with two half-brothers as the Wilkomirski Trio before becoming a soloist with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. She performed with conductors such as Leonard Bernstein and Zubin Mehta. Her repertory was wide, but she specialized in Poland’s contemporary music. She was married to a Communist party official, journalist Mieczyslaw Rakowski, but became a supporter of dissident movements during the ‘70s. She emigrated secretly after martial law was imposed in 1981 and had lived in Germany and Australia, where she taught violin. Wilkomirski died of a stroke in Warsaw, Poland on May 1, 2018.

Politics and Military

Afonso Dhlakama (65) Mozambican opposition leader who led a rebel group during the devastating civil war that ended in 1992. Dhlakama died of either diabetes or a heart attack in the Gorongosa area of central Sofala province, where he was based amid sporadic violence involving the Renamo opposition group and security forces backed by the ruling Frelimo party, on May 3, 2018.

Luis Garcia Meza (88) former Bolivian military dictator who was serving a 30-year prison sentence. The former army general was imprisoned for crimes including murder and economic damage to the state during his 13 months in office from 1980–81. He was convicted in absentia and extradited to Bolivia from Brazil in March 1995. In January 2017, a Rome court convicted Garcia Meza and seven other former South American political and military leaders for the disappearance and deaths of 23 people of Italian origin during the crackdown on dissidents by the region’s military dictatorships. The Bolivian military leader led a bloody coup in July 1980 that deposed President Lidia Gueiler as the country was trying to return to democracy after 16 years of dictatorship. Garcia Meza was admitted to a military hospital in La Paz, Bolivia after suffering a heart attack and could not be resuscitated. A medical report said he died “from possible respiratory failure” on April 29, 2018.

Joan Wile (86) former songwriter and actress who in her 70s weaponized the power of grandmotherhood by organizing a nine-year weekly vigil by fellow protesters against the war in Iraq. Grandmothers Against the War parked themselves for an hour of street theater every Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan on Fifth Avenue in front of Rockefeller Center from January 14, 2004, until mid-November 2012 to protest Washington’s continuing military entanglement. The protesters, sometimes joined by grandfathers and antiwar veterans, never reached platoon size; their ranks waxed and waned with the weather and were eventually diminished by time. But they logged some 460 Wednesdays in all. Wile died of diabetes in Nanuet, New York on May 4, 2018.

Society and Religion

Ninalee Allen Craig (90) US woman who, while vacationing in Europe in 1951, posed for a photo essay about women traveling alone. The final shot, “American Girl in Italy,” captured Craig walking through Rome's Piazza della Repubblica, where 15 men were loitering. Some were leaning on a wall; two sat on a motor scooter; nearly all were staring at Craig. Shot by free-lance photojournalist Ruth Orkin (died 1985), the photo was first printed in Cosmopolitan magazine and reproduced as a poster in the '80s. Craig died of lung cancer in Toronto, Canada on May 1, 2018.

Dr. Joel Kovel (81) former Freudian psychiatrist who evolved into an apostle of what he called ecosocialism, a so-called green-and-red agenda against the environmental evils of globalization and in favor of the nonviolent eradication of capitalism. Kovel courted controversy early in his career with his book White Racism: A Psychohistory (1970). Racism, he wrote—whether overt bigotry in the South or cold aversion in the North—is built into the very character of Western civilization. Kovel died in New York City of pneumonia and autoimmune encephalitis, on April 30, 2018.

Rabbi Aaron Panken (53) president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, a seminary for Reform Judaism. A skilled pilot, Panken was killed when the Aeronca 7AC aircraft he was flying crashed just after takeoff from Randall Airport in Orange County, New York while on a routine flight check, on May 5, 2018.


Jhoon Rhee (86) grandmaster—a Korean-born martial artist who helped to popularize taekwondo in the US, preached a philosophy of “truth, beauty, and love,” and taught members of Congress how to kick and punch. Few martial artists were as accomplished as Rhee, a onetime aircraft mechanic in the South Korean military who exchanged fighting tips with fellow martial artist Bruce Lee and boxer Muhammad Ali and taught taekwondo to columnist Jack Anderson, actor Chuck Norris, and Washington Redskins coach George Allen. Rhee died in Arlington, Virginia of complications from shingles, on April 30, 2018.

Bill Torrey (83) bow-tie wearing Hall of Famer, general manager of the New York Islanders when they won four consecutive Stanley Cups in the ‘80s, who eventually became first president of the Florida Panthers. Torrey spent the last several years of his career as an advisor to Florida general manager Dale Tallon, also serving as the franchise’s alternate governor. He died in West Palm Beach, Florida on May 2, 2018.

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