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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, October 27, 2018

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Earl E. Bakken, invented first battery-powered pacemakerGilberto Benetton, one of four sibling founders of Benetton knitwearCot Campbell, racehorse ownerHoracio Cardo, Argentine artistRobert Faurisson, French professor turned anti-Semitic propagandistSonny Fortune, jazz saxophonistTyrone Gayle, press secretary for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)Ana González, Chilean human rights activistFreddie Hart, country songwriter and singerTony Hoagland, prize-winning  poetBarbara Jonas, art collector turned philanthropistJames Karen, versatile character actor on stage, TV, and filmRev. Thomas Keating, pioneer in centering prayerJohn D. Maguire, trailblazing college presidentMuriel Manings, dancer for New Dance GroupRev. Eugene H. Peterson, Montana pastorJoachim Ronneberg, Norwegian WWII resistance saboteurMario Segale, lent his name to video game characterNtozake Shange, Tony-nominated playwrightVichai Srivaddhanaprabha, billionaire owner of Leicester City, champion soccer teamCharles Wang, businessman and former owner of NY Islanders hockey teamWah Wah Watson, guitarist who got his name from wah-wah pedalWilliam M. Wheeler, NYC transit officialTony Joe White, country bluesmanJohn Ziegler Jr., former NHL president

Art and Literature

Horacio Cardo (74) Argentine artist whose paintings and collages were known for their commentary about politics, war, social issues, and Freudian psychoanalysis. Cardo’s work appeared in many publications, including Clarín, Argentina’s largest newspaper, and the New York Times, where he and other artists turned the Op-Ed page into a showcase for graphic viewpoints in the ‘70s and ’80s. Cardo died of a stroke in Pinamar, a resort city on the eastern coast of Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, on October 22, 2018.

Tony Hoagland (64) prize-winning poet admired for his candor and sharp, offbeat humor. Hoagland published several works of poetry and essays about poetry. The titles helped to sum up his take on life: Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, Application for Release from the Dream, and Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God, which came out in June. Three of his books were released since 2015. His honors included the Jackson Prize, given to poets of “exceptional talent” who deserve greater attention. Hoagland died of pancreatic cancer in Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 23, 2018.

Barbara Jonas (84) who with her husband collected Abstract Expressionist paintings and sold them 30 years later to promote a cause seldom embraced by philanthropists—the recruitment and training of nurses. In 2006 Jonas and her husband, Donald, a founder and former chairman of Lechters, a household goods retailer, auctioned off half their art collection for $44 million to create Jonas Nursing & Veterans Healthcare. Barbara Jonas died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in New York City on October 23, 2018.

Business and Science

Earl E. Bakken (94) working in a Minneapolis garage, Bakken invented the first wearable, battery-powered pacemaker and later helped to create the world’s largest medical device company. When he was a 25-year-old electrical engineering student, Bakken and a brother-in-law founded Medtronic in 1949. Originally conceived as a repair shop for hospitals’ electronic equipment, Medtronic made $8 in its first month in business. But after a blackout in the Twin Cities in 1957, a young surgeon asked Bakken to make a pacemaker that would not be dependent on the hospital’s power supply. Bakken fashioned a small, battery-powered device, basing the circuit on a design for a metronome that he found in a back issue of Popular Electronics magazine. That innovation, along with an implantable pacemaker that Medtronic licensed from its inventors a few years later, provided the foundation for what is today a medical devices giant with nearly $30 billion in annual revenue. Besides pacemakers, the company also manufactures coronary stents, insulin pumps, and surgical equipment. Bakken led the company for 40 years, stepping down as chairman in 1989. He died near Kiholo Bay in the North Kona District of the Big Island, Hawaii, on October 21, 2018.

Gilberto Benetton (77) one of the four founding siblings of the iconic Benetton fashion brand known as much for its provocative ad campaigns as for its colorful knitwear. Along with siblings Carlo (died in July), Luciano, and Giuliana, Gilberto founded Benetton as a knitwear company in 1965, transforming it into a global brand that sustained steady growth in the ‘70s–‘90s, only to suffer competition from fast-fashion in the 2000s. The company has gone through multiple relaunches and management changes over the last 10 years or so. Benetton's ad campaigns have challenged racial, religious, and gender stereotypes, often courting controversy. Some of the most provocative included an image of Pope Benedict XVI kissing an imam, which angered the Vatican, while humanitarian groups protested earlier this year against an ad that contained photographs of migrant rescues. Gilberto Benetton died in Treviso, Italy on October 22, 2018.

Mario Segale (84) Seattle-area real estate developer who unwittingly lent his name to perhaps the most famous video game character in history—Nintendo’s Mario. Starting in the ‘50s, Segale built a small empire in construction and real estate in Tukwila, a suburb of Seattle. Around 1980 he rented a 60,000-square-foot warehouse to Nintendo, a Japanese video-game company, as it sought to expand to the American market. In his book Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World, David Sheff wrote that a small company team had gathered in the warehouse one day and was struggling to come up with American names for the characters in the arcade game Donkey Kong. They were stuck on the character of a squat carpenter wearing a red cap when there was a knock on the door. It was Segale, who had come to berate Minoru Arakawa, then president of Nintendo of America, for being past due on the rent. As soon as he left, Sheff wrote, the team knew it had its name: “Super Mario!” Segale died in Seattle, Washington on October 27, 2018.

Charles Wang (74) technology company founder and former owner of the New York Islanders hockey team. Wang bought the Islanders in 2000 along with Sanjay Kumar, then president of Computer Associates International, which Wang founded in 1976. Wang later bought out Kumar's stake in 2004. Kumar pleaded guilty in an accounting fraud scandal at the company in 2006 and served a prison term. Wang announced in 2014 that he was selling the team to a group of investors, and it took effect in ’16. Since then he had been a minority co-owner. The team left Long Island in 2015 and played in Brooklyn; it will begin splitting games between the two locales later this season. Wang died of lung cancer in Oyster Bay, New York on October 21, 2018.

William M. Wheeler (69) New York mass transit official who oversaw the strategic planning that inaugurated the MetroCard, belatedly spawned the first phase of the Second Avenue subway, and dared, by recommending countdown clocks, to introduce the presumption that subways and buses would arrive on time. As the Metropolitan Transit Authority's deputy director of strategic planning from 1986–92, director of planning and development for the next 10 years, and, since 2002, director of special project development and planning, Wheeler did not have much of a public profile, but he was persuasive privately within the agency and before its board. Long before sandhogs bored the tunnels he conceived or highway workers installed barriers to unclog the bus lanes he championed, Wheeler assembled the statistical nuts and bolts needed to assess the region’s future transportation needs. He died of previously undetected coronary artery disease in Tarrytown, New York on October 27, 2018.


Robert Faurisson (89) former literature professor turned anti-Semitic propagandist whose denial of the Holocaust earned him multiple prosecutions. Faurisson was regarded as a father figure by contemporary French exponents of Holocaust denial, the extremist fringe in a country with a long tradition of anti-Semitism. Contemporary far-right figures have followed in his footsteps, but none have had the long-range tenacity of Faurisson. French writers on the political margins began denying the Holocaust not long after the war ended. But Faurisson distinguished himself by making a rare breakthrough into the country’s mainstream media, publishing a notorious opinion article in France’s most respected newspaper, Le Monde, in 1978. Titled “The Problem of the Gas Chambers, or the Rumor of Auschwitz,” the article was an immediate embarrassment for the newspaper, but it launched the public career of Faurisson, who until then was an obscure professor of French literature at the University of Lyon. He died in Vichy, France on October 21, 2018.

John D. Maguire (86) one of the first college educators in the US to successfully use diversity as a guiding principle in student admissions. In 1970 Maguire became president of SUNY Old Westbury, a college that had opened two years earlier with the intention of serving populations historically overlooked by institutions of higher education, like minorities, older people, and poorer students. The school did not succeed until Maguire’s tenure began. He created a student population that was about 30 per cent each Caucasian, black, and Latino, and 10 per cent other races and ethnicities. A year into his tenure, more than half of Old Westbury’s 610 students were from minority groups. Over the next 10 years Maguire increased Old Westbury’s enrollment to more than 3,000 students. He died of a stroke in Pomona, California on October 25, 2018.

News and Entertainment

Sonny Fortune (79) saxophonist whose improvisations made him an essential member of bands led by some of jazz’s most illustrious figures and a respected bandleader. Fortune was known for his command—not just of the alto saxophone, his primary instrument, but also of the flute, clarinet, and soprano, tenor, and baritone saxophones. He made his biggest impact as a sideman with the likes of Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Mongo Santamaria. But from early in his career he also proved himself a gifted leader whose original music used many of the sounds of ‘70s New York: straight-ahead jazz, jittery funk fusion, the pan-African avant-garde, and salsa dura (hard salsa). Fortune died of a stroke in New York City on October 25, 2018.

Freddie Hart (91) songwriter who had a run of No. 1 country hits in the early ‘70s and won numerous awards for his smash “Easy Loving.” Hart’s career encompassed several eras of country music. He began his recording career as a California honky-tonker in the early ‘50s but did not break through until 1971, when “Easy Loving,” with its slicker “Nashville sound,” made him a star in his mid-40s. He also wrote songs for Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Buck Owens, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, and dozens of others. “Easy Loving,” besides being a No. 1 country hit, reached the Top 20 on the pop charts. It achieved the rare honor of winning the Country Music Association Award for best song two years in a row, in 1971–72. At the 1972 Academy of Country Music Awards, Hart managed a sweep of all five categories he was nominated for: best single and song for “Easy Loving,” best album for the LP of the same title, best male vocalist, and entertainer of the year. In all those categories, he beat out competitors like Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Marty Robbins, and Charley Pride. Hart died in Burbank, California on October 27, 2018.

James Karen (94) character actor whose hundreds of credits included memorable appearances in Poltergeist and Return of the Living Dead. Karen appeared in Elia Kazan’s ‘40s stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire, which starred Marlon Brando. He befriended Buster Keaton in the ‘50s and had a brief role in one of the silent star’s most unusual projects, Film, an experimental short written by Samuel Beckett. Karen filmed a commercial with the Three Stooges and was directed by Oliver Stone in Wall Street and by David Lynch in Mulholland Drive. His TV credits ranged from Dallas and The Waltons to Seinfeld and The Larry Sanders Show. Millions knew him as the friendly man with the glasses in TV ads for Pathmark. Others remembered him as the foreman in Return of the Living Dead, the boss in The China Syndrome, or the notorious Mr. Teague, the real estate developer who moves the headstones—but not the bodies—in Poltergeist. Karen died of respiratory ailments in Los Angeles, California on October 23, 2018.

Muriel Manings (95) dancer who performed with the left-leaning New Dance Group during the politically anxious middle decades of the 20th century and later championed dance through teaching and advocacy work. Manings came of age during an impassioned time for American culture, when various dance, theater, and other artistic groups infused their work with social and political meanings. The New Dance Group, a collective formed in 1932, was among the most prominent of those. Its mission included bringing dance to working-class New Yorkers of all backgrounds, in part by offering inexpensive classes. Some members were in the Communist Party, and the dance works the group created (some to the music of Woody Guthrie) often addressed issues like homelessness and economic inequality. Manings came to the New Dance Group in the early ‘40s to take dance lessons and soon became a regular. She also taught classes for the group and, later in life, helped to resurrect the dances from its heyday. She died in New York City on October 25, 2018.

Ntozake Shange (70) playwright, poet, and author whose most acclaimed theater piece is the 1975 Tony Award-nominated play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, which describes the racism, sexism, violence, and rape experienced by seven black women. It played some 750 performances on Broadway—only the second play by a black woman after A Raisin in the Sun—and was turned into a feature film by Tyler Perry starring Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, and Janet Jackson. Shange had suffered a series of strokes in 2004. She died in her sleep in Bowie, Maryland on October 27, 2018.

Wah Wah Watson (67) guitarist who performed through decades of recording and touring—with the Temptations, Michael Jackson, Maxwell, Herbie Hancock, Alicia Keys, and dozens of others. Born Melvin Ragin, Watson took his nickname from the gadget that gave him his trademark sound: the wah-wah pedal, a filter that altered the tone of his guitar to make notes and chords wriggle, moan, or seem to say “wah.” Working the pedal, he used it on many hit songs—for syncopations and chords in the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” for countermelodies in Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” and for bluesy sighs in Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” He died in Santa Monica, California on October 24, 2018.

Tony Joe White (75) country bluesman and hit songwriter behind such successes as “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia.” In his 50 years as a singer-songwriter, White was best known for his swamp rock style mixing blues, country, and rock ‘n’ roll, which earned him the nickname the Swamp Fox, especially with his fans overseas. His song about the Southern greens wasn’t an immediate hit, but months after its release it eventually became a pop hit. White died in Nashville, Tennessee on October 24, 2018.

Politics and Military

Tyrone Gayle (30) Washington press secretary for Sen. Kamala Harris and a veteran of Democrat campaigns. Despite his youth, Gayle had worked for several top Democrats, from his time as a driver and body man for Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia in 2012 to serving as a spokesman for the ‘16 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state. Married just last May, Gayle died of colon cancer in NYC on October 25, 2018.

Ana González (93) Chilean human rights advocate whose husband, two sons, and pregnant daughter-in-law disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship. In late April 1976, González’s sons Manuel (22) and Luis (29), and Luis’s wife, Nalvia Alvarado (20), who was three months pregnant, were seized by security forces on their way home from the print shop where the brothers worked. The abductors left the couple’s 2-year-old boy on the street. Early the next morning, when González’s husband left to look for his missing children, he too was kidnapped. Ana never saw or heard from any of them again. They were among the 3,000 people who disappeared or died during the 17-year military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who was installed in a coup in 1973 that overthrew Chile’s democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. Ana González became one of the early members of the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared, vowing to turn her grief into political action. She died in Santiago, Chile on October 26, 2018.

Joachim Ronneberg (99) leader of a group of Norwegian World War II saboteurs who blew up a Nazi hydroelectric power plant and, with it, Hitler’s hopes for a critical ingredient to create the first atomic bomb. Ronneberg was the last surviving member of the 1943 raid and one of the most decorated war heroes of a nation renowned for resistance to the 1940–45 German Occupation. The group had been told by British intelligence only that the plant was distilling something called heavy water and that it was vital to Hitler’s war effort. Hours later, in one of the most celebrated commando raids of WWII, Ronneberg and his demolition team sneaked past guards and a barracks full of German troops, stole into the plant, and set explosive charges. Their mission was celebrated in books, documentaries, and films, notably Anthony Mann’s 1965 production, The Heroes of Telemark, in what critics called a fact-flawed version of what had happened. It was not until the war’s end in 1945 that Ronneberg learned the significance of the raid. He died in Alesund, Norway on October 21, 2018.

Society and Religion

Rev. Thomas Keating (95) Trappist monk and a pioneer in the worldwide Christian contemplative prayer movement. Keating was born into affluence and privilege in Manhattan, walked away from it all when he entered an austere monastic community in Rhode Island, and was rewarded with spiritual riches. He played a major role in popularizing what is now known as centering prayer, a method of silent prayer that allows one to rest in the presence of God. Keating, who had been in declining health for several years, died at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, where he had once been abbot (1961-81), on October 25, 2018.

Rev. Eugene H. Peterson (85) Presbyterian minister who challenged the mass marketing of Christian evangelism and wrote a shelf of books on religion—notably The Message, a series that recast the Bible into everyday English. For most of his life Peterson was a small-town pastor and college professor who spread the Gospel with paperback books and with his sermons and ministrations to a few hundred parishioners. But he became an influential voice of American evangelism in his 70s, after the publication in 2002 of his full translation of the Bible, which sold 15 million copies worldwide and lifted him out of anonymity. Peterson, who suffered from dementia, died of congestive heart failure in Lakeside, Montana on October 22, 2018.


Cot Campbell (91) racehorse owner and writer who brought democracy to the sport of kings by pioneering shared ownership of thoroughbreds. Just three months ago, Campbell was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York as one of its Pillars of the Turf, individuals cited for “extraordinary contributions” to the thoroughbred industry. For decades horse racing was mostly a pastime for the moneyed elite, and the best horses were bred and often owned by such old families as the Phipps and the Hancocks. But in 1969 Campbell put together his first ownership syndicate, which allowed people from all walks of life to buy as little as 2.5 of a thoroughbred. He died in Aiken, South Carolina on October 27, 2018.

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (60) Thai billionaire who achieved what seemed impossible in modern soccer: gaining promotion with a modest club and winning the English Premier League title within two years. Bankrolling Leicester City but without the lavish spending of the bigger clubs, Srivaddhanaprabha oversaw one of the greatest underdog successes in sports when the 5,000-1 outsiders won soccer’s richest competition in 2016. In an era of often-absentee foreign owners in the Premier League, Srivaddhanaprabha also broke the mold by forging close ties with supporters and the local community. He was killed when his helicopter crashed in a ball of flames outside the King Power Stadium after Leicester City’s game against West Ham United, in Leicester, England on October 27, 2018. None of the five people on board survived.

John Ziegler Jr. (84) former National Hockey League president. Ziegler oversaw the league's merger with the World Hockey Association and was eventually ousted after the NHL's first labor disruption during his 15-year tenure. He was the NHL's fourth president, succeeding Clarence Campbell in 1977. In 1979 the NHL merged with the WHA by adding four teams from the upstart league, including the Edmonton Oilers. Commissioner Gary Bettman lauded Ziegler for helping the NHL to become an international league by increasing the number of European players and opening the door for Russians to compete in North America. Ziegler died in Florida on October 25, 2018.

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