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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, August 18, 2018

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Aretha Franklin, 'Queen of Soul'Kofi Annan, two-term UN secretary-generalRita Borsellino, sister of Sicilian prosecutor murdered by MafiaLeonard Boswell, former US congressman from IowaJohn Calder, publisher of Nobel Prize-winning literatureRev. Katie Cannon, first black woman ordained in United Presbyterian Church in USATom Clark, lyric poetJack Costanzo, bongo-playing ChicagoanThomas Hofeller, Republican master of redistrictingCostas Kondylis, architect of Trump buildings and other New York high-risesHilary  Lister, disabled British sailing enthusiastBobby Lynn Maslen, author of 'Bob Books' for preschoolersVivian Matalon, British stage directorDavid McReynolds, pacifist and Socialist activistQueeneth Ndaba, South African jazz advocateJim Neidhart, pro wrestlerMiriam Nelson, choreographer and dancer, with then-husband Gene NelsonMary Pratt, Newfoundland realist painterLawrence Rubin, US art dealerAlex Storm, Nova Scotian treasure-finderSterling Stuckey, black historianAtal Bihari Vajpayee, former prime minister of IndiaJames Villas, professor turned food writerWakako Yamauchi, Asian-American playwright

Art and Literature

John Calder (91) publisher who championed avant-garde authors and battled censorship. Born in Montreal, Calder worked in the family timber business before founding London-based Calder Publications in 1949. It published European writers including Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, and Emile Zola, and modern authors—notably Samuel Beckett. After his retirement, Calder Publications was sold to Alma Books, which said Calder had published 1,500 books, including works by 18 Nobel Prize winners. He died in Edinburgh, Scotland on August 13, 2018.

Tom Clark (77) lyric poet who hitchhiked across England with Allen Ginsberg, wrote a biography of Jack Kerouac, was poetry editor of the Paris Review (1963–73), and wrote verse about baseball. Clark—whose influences included Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens—wed lyricism to modernism; added humor, cosmology, and a love of the natural world; and demonstrated in his use of language a grounding in the poetry of British masters like John Donne. He died in an Oakland hospital a day after he was struck by a car while crossing a street three blocks from his home in Berkeley, California on August 18, 2018.

Costas Kondylis (78) architect of choice for Donald J. Trump and other developers of luxury apartment towers in New York for 30 years. Designer of Trump Plaza, Trump Place, Trump Park Avenue, Trump World Tower, and Trump International Hotel & Tower, among other Manhattan high-rises, Kondylis did not so much have an aesthetic style as a business formula. He provided developers with efficient, marketable, dependable, comfortable buildings. His designs won few prizes or critical plaudits, but they also caused few headaches for those who financed and built them. He died of Parkinson’s disease in New York City on August 17, 2018.

Mary Pratt (83) Newfoundland realist painter. Pratt attracted a following for a series of meticulous, realist paintings that documented everyday objects and scenes from her life as a homemaker in ways both beautiful and unsettling. Much of what caught her eye around her house was too fleeting to capture through sketching: sunlight passing through jars of jelly, or through water as it boiled in a Pyrex saucepan; blood emerging from a fish head that had been dropped near the drain of a stainless steel kitchen sink; the remains of yolks and egg whites in newly broken shells. So she began taking photographs for reference, eventually using a rear projection screen to display the slides next to her easel. Her resulting paintings often resembled exceptionally clear photographs, a quality that sometimes attracted criticism at a time when realism was not fashionable. Pratt died in St. John’s, Newfoundland on August 14, 2018.

Lawrence Rubin (85) art dealer who oversaw galleries in Paris and New York and presented the first European solo show of Frank Stella, with whom he had a long association. Starting in 1959, Rubin owned or directed five different galleries. He spent the last 20 years of his career as president of Knoedler & Co., one of the nation’s oldest art galleries. He joined Knoedler as head of contemporary art several years after financier and art collector Armand Hammer bought the gallery in 1971, when it was in financial trouble. Rubin soon rose to director, then president. During his tenure he helped to restore Knoedler’s fortunes by emphasizing the increasingly lucrative 20th-century and contemporary art market. He retired from the gallery in 1994. Knoedler closed abruptly in 2011 after it was engulfed in a scandal over selling paintings found to have been forged. Rubin died in Zurich, Switzerland on August 16, 2018.

James Villas (80) author of numerous cookbooks and magazine articles who staunchly defended his homegrown Southern cooking and waged uncivil war against gustatory gimmickry. After a brief stint as a scholar and professor of French Romanticism, Villas switched careers in his early 30s. In 1972, with only a few articles in his portfolio, he accepted an offer to become food and wine editor of Town & Country magazine, where he remained until ’99. He also wrote 12 cookbooks, won four James Beard Awards for his tart commentary in books and magazines, and produced three novels. He died in East Hampton, New York on August 17, 2018.

Business and Science

Rita Borsellino (73) younger sister of Paolo Borsellino, prosecutor who was murdered with a car bomb by the Sicilian Mafia in 1992. A pharmacist, Rita Borsellino became a leading crusader against the Mafia’s longstanding, ruthless grip on life in Sicily, where small businesses are routinely extorted for protection money and killings are commonplace. She died in Palermo, Italy on August 15, 2018.

Alex Storm (80) Nova Scotian finder and salvager of shipwrecks and a teller of tales about the treasures that still lie undiscovered at sea and on land. In 1965, with two friends, Storm found coins from the French ship the Chameau, which had broken apart during a gale off Canada’s eastern shore in 1725. The ship, bound for Quebec, then still part of French Canada, was full of passengers; 316 people are thought to have died. But it was also laden with money to pay for French garrisons and other expenses of the colony. Storm and his partners eventually recovered hundreds of coins, a treasure-hunting coup that made news around the world. He died in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia on August 12, 2018.


Bobby Lynn Maslen (87) preschool teacher who devised Bob Books, a series of short books for very young readers. Maslen’s approach was to combine ideas from phonics—the relationship between sounds and spelling patterns—with just enough storytelling to allow a young reader to feel pride in having grasped the tale. Her husband John matched the simplicity of the stories with rudimentary drawings that had a childlike quality. Many were just outlines, so children could color them in. In 1993 the publisher Scholastic began putting out the books, and over the decades countless children have used them to learn reading. More than 16 million Bob Books are now in print. Maslen died of Alzheimer's disease in Portland, Oregon on August 16, 2018.

Sterling Stuckey (86) black historian who challenged his white colleagues by documenting how uprooted Africans not only retained their culture while they survived slavery but eventually influenced the rest of American society with their transplanted folkways. Stuckey taught history at the University of California at Riverside from 1989 until he retired in 2004. He had recently finished the manuscript of his latest book,The Chambers of the Soul: Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville & the Blues. Through meticulous research, Stuckey sought to discredit the white academics who had dominated and, in his view, devalued the field of African studies. He suffered a stroke in his office on August 6 and died nine days later in Riverside, California on August 15, 2018.

News and Entertainment

Jack Costanzo (98) Chicagoan of Italian descent who taught himself to play the bongos and became a ubiquitous figure in Afro-Cuban jazz, accompanying singers like Nat (“King”) Cole and mingling with Marlon Brando, a bongo aficionado, and other Hollywood stars. After stints with Stan Kenton, Cole, and other prominent artists, Costanzo became a bandleader himself, recording albums across 50 years, some of them employing his nickname, “Mr. Bongo,” in the title. He was also a session player on numerous other albums and accompanied performers in TV appearances, including Ann Miller during a spunky rendition of “I’m Gonna Live ’Til I Die” on a 1957 episode of The Dinah Shore Chevy Show. Costanzo died of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm in Lakeside, California, near San Diego, on August 18, 2018.

Aretha Franklin (76) undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang with matchless style on such classics as “Think,” “Say a Little Prayer,” and her signature song, “Respect,” and stood as a cultural icon around the globe. A professional singer and accomplished pianist by her late teens, a superstar by her mid-20s, Franklin long ago settled any arguments over who was the greatest popular vocalist of her time. Her gifts, natural and acquired, were a multioctave mezzo-soprano, gospel passion, and training worthy of a preacher’s daughter, taste sophisticated and eccentric, and the courage to channel private pain into liberating song. She recorded hundreds of tracks and had dozens of hits over the span of 50 years, including 20 that reached No. 1 on the rhythm and blues charts. But her reputation was defined by an extraordinary run of top 10 smash hits in the late ‘60s, from “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” to “Chain of Fools” to her unstoppable call for “Respect.” Her records sold millions of copies, and the music industry couldn’t honor her enough. Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. In 1987 she became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She died of pancreatic cancer in Detroit, Michigan on August 16, 2018.

Vivian Matalon (88) British-born director who, after directing Noël Coward in London in his final stage appearance, became a regular on Broadway, where his biggest success was a Tony Award-winning revival of Morning’s at Seven in 1980. Matalon was as comfortable with dramas like William Inge’s Bus Stop, which he directed in 1970 in London with a cast that included Keir Dullea and Lee Remick, as he was with a musical like The Tap Dance Kid, whose ‘83 Broadway production earned him a nomination for best direction of a musical. He died of diabetes in Glenford, New York on August 15, 2018.

Queeneth Ndaba (81) South African jazz advocate who managed Johannesburg’s most influential home of art and culture during apartheid. Ndaba began her career as a singer, but after illness forced her to give that up, she found that she had a talent for organizing. In the early ‘70s she began to help with booking bands and handling logistics at the arts center, called Dorkay House, and eventually became its chief proprietor and defender. By that time, the South African government had expelled black Africans from their homes in the Johannesburg city center, forcing them into townships outside the city. Besides helping to manage the arts center’s operations, Ndaba invested in the music she staged. In 1982 she helped to form the African Jazz Pioneers, a group of elder musicians who covered a wide range of mid-20th-century music. Ndaba died in Boksburg, South Africa on August 15, 2018.

Jim Neidhart (63) pro wrestler who joined with his brother-in-law Bret Hart to form one of the top tag teams in the ‘80s with World Wrestling Entertainment. Neidhart’s daughter, known as Natalya, wrestles for WWE and is a former women’s champion. Neidhart made appearances with her on the WWE reality series Total Divas. Neidhart, Bret (“Hitman”) Hart, and manager Jimmy (“The Mouth of the South”) Hart made up the Hart Foundation stable in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and the tag team won two WWE championships. Neidhart fell at home, hit his head, and “succumbed to his injury” in Wesley Chapel, Florida on August 13, 2018.

Miriam Nelson (98) choreographer and dancer whose 70-year career spanned the golden ages of Broadway, Hollywood, and TV. When William Holden and Kim Novak slow-danced to “Moonglow” in the 1956 film Picnic, that was Nelson’s choreography. Much of Nelson’s movie work was for nonmusicals. She choreographed the madcap party scene at Holly Golightly’s apartment in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and appeared in it as the glamorous party guest in gold brocade and pearls who argues with the man wearing a fake eye patch. Behind the camera, Nelson taught Tuesday Weld to watusi in I’ll Take Sweden (1965), Ingrid Bergman to do early disco moves in Cactus Flower (1969), Jerry Lewis to hoof it like a space alien in A Visit to a Small Planet (1960), and the whole cast of Cat Ballou (1965) to execute Old West dances for the hoedown scene. Once married to Warner Brothers musicals' dancer Gene Nelson (died 1996), Miriam Nelson was still tap dancing the week before her death in Beverly Hills, California on August 12, 2018.

Wakako Yamauchi (93) Asian-American playwright whose plays exploring the Japanese-American experience drew on her own life of relocation, rootlessness, assimilation, and internment during World War II. Yamauchi’s plays were produced frequently, especially by the Asian-American troupe East West Players in Los Angeles. She was best known for And the Soul Shall Dance, a work she adapted from her own short story. East West Players staged it in 1977, a time when Asian-American voices, especially female ones, were rarely heard in the theater. In 1978 a film version was made for PBS. The play tells the story of two Japanese immigrant families in California working as itinerant farmers during the Depression, one still rooted in the old culture, one trying to assimilate. Yamauchi herself was Nisei—a first-generation child of Japanese immigrants—and grew up in a farming family. Her experiences and the ones she had later are the heart of the work. She died in Gardena, California on August 16, 2018.

Politics and Military

Kofi Annan (80) one of the world's most celebrated diplomats and a charismatic symbol of the United Nations who rose through its ranks to become the first black African secretary-general. Annan spent virtually his entire career as an administrator at the UN. His aristocratic style, cool-tempered elegance, and political savvy helped to guide his ascent to become its seventh secretary-general and the first hired from within. He served two terms, from 1997–2006, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the UN in ’01. During his tenure, Annan presided over some of the worst failures and scandals at the world body during one of its most turbulent periods since its founding in 1945. Challenges from the outset forced him to spend much of his time struggling to restore the UN’s tarnished reputation. He died in Bern, Switzerland after a short but unspecified illness, on August 18, 2018.

Leonard Boswell (84) former US congressman, an Iowa farmer and soldier turned politician who served 16 years in Congress. Although he focused on agriculture, securing services for veterans and their families, and helping college students with financial aid, Boswell may have been best known for his plain-spoken, courtly demeanor. The civility he was known for in the Iowa state Senate at first carried over into his congressional campaigns, and he gained national attention when he and his first opponent stuck to their agreement not to launch personal attacks. But later campaigns weren’t quite so gentlemanly. The Democrat and former state Senate president died in Des Moines, Iowa after suffering complications from a rare form of cancer, on August 17, 2018.

Thomas Hofeller (75) political consultant whose mastery of redistricting strategy helped to propel the Republican Party from underdog to the dominant force in state legislatures and the House of Representatives. For most of his 48-year career, Hofeller was little known outside the small band of government clerks, political strategists, and data buffs who surfaced after every census to draw new political maps. But after Republicans swept many state legislative elections in 2010, giving them control over the political maps that would be drawn after that year’s census, he gained a reputation as an architect of the party’s comeback. Hofeller died of cancer in Raleigh, North Carolina on August 16, 2018.

David McReynolds (88) longtime pacifist and Socialist activist. McReynolds was one of five men who burned their draft cards at an antiwar protest in 1965. He later ran for president in 1980 and in 2000 on the Socialist Party USA ticket. He ran as an openly gay candidate, but gay issues were not central to either campaign. McReynolds also ran for Congress from lower Manhattan twice. He ran for US Senate from New York on the Green Party ticket in 2004. His death was confirmed by the War Resisters League, where he was a staff member from 1960–99. He died in a hospital after falling at his New York City apartment on August 17, 2018.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (93) former Indian prime minister, a Hindu nationalist who set off a nuclear arms race with rival Pakistan but later reached across the border to begin a groundbreaking peace process. A onetime journalist, Vajpayee was a political contradiction. He was the moderate leader of an often-strident Hindu nationalist movement. He was a lifelong poet who revered nature but oversaw India’s growth into a regional economic power. He was the prime minister who ordered nuclear tests in 1998, stoking fears of atomic war between India and Pakistan; then, a few years later, it was Vajpayee who made the first moves toward peace. He had been hospitalized for more than two months for treatment of a kidney infection and chest congestion and died in New Delhi, India on August 16, 2018.

Society and Religion

Rev. Katie Cannon (68) first black woman to be ordained in a leading branch of Presbyterianism and a groundbreaking scholar who helped to elevate the perspective of black women in church and academic thought. Cannon was a strong voice in womanist theology, which seeks to escape the white- and male-centered views of religion and ethics and to value the experiences and insights of black women in those areas. In her teaching, at various seminaries and divinity schools and in books like Black Womanist Ethics (1988) and Katie’s Canon: Womanism & the Soul of the Black Community (1995), she pushed to broaden the definitions and frames of reference underlying religious and ethical thought. Cannon died of acute leukemia in Richmond, Virginia on August 15, 2018.


Hilary Lister (46) British sailing enthusiast who had been relegated to her couch for years by reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a degenerative disease that rendered her immobile from the neck down and left her in near-constant pain. A friend introduced Lister to sailing, and in time she became an adept sailor, skippering sailboats with mechanisms similar to those that control electric wheelchairs. She was the first quadriplegic person to sail alone across the English Channel, in 2005, and the first disabled woman to circumnavigate Britain solo, in ‘09. Lister died in Ashford, Kent, England on August 18, 2018.

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