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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, November 3, 2018

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Phylis Skloot Bamberger, lawyer representing prison inmates in Attica uprisingGérald Bloncourt, immigrant photographer who focused on other immigrantsBernard Bragg, deaf performer and teacherJames ('Whitey') Bulger, notorious Boston gangsterRaymond Chow, Hong Kong film producer who made stars of Bruce Lee (left) and Jackie ChanLouise A. DeSalvo, Virginia Woolf scholar and memoiristMaría Irene Fornés, experimental playwrightHardy Fox, man behind The Residents, avant-garde bandRuth Gates, coral reef scientistLodi Gyari, top envoy for Dalai LamaRoy Hargrove, jazz trumpeterMari Hulman George, former voice of Indianapolis Motor SpeedwayCarlene Roberts Lawrence, first woman to become airline industry executiveJohn Marttila, political consultantWillie McCovey, Hall of Fame first baseman and left fielderJean Mohr, Swiss photographerWilliam J. Murtagh, leading preservationistKitty O'Neil, deaf stuntwomanDevah Pager, Harvard sociologistTeodoro Petkoff, Venezuelan political figureDave Pickerell, master distillerRico J. Puno, Filipino pop singerJin Yong, Chinese novelistPaul Zimmerman, NFL writer for 'Sports Illustrated'

Art and Literature

Gérald Bloncourt (91) Haitian-born photographer who went to postwar Paris and captured the humanity of immigrants and factory workers. Bloncourt's passion for chronicling the everyday dignity of exploited peoples found a focus in Portuguese émigrés who had fled authoritarian rule and conscription to seek jobs in construction and factories in France. For several years he followed them on foot and by train, from their villages to makeshift slums outside Paris, where their odysseys ended in renewed hardship in a foreign land. An immigrant following other immigrants, Bloncourt showed people in the Pyrenees on their journeys to France and people in the ankle-deep mud of shantytowns in suburbs of Paris like Champigny-sur-Marne. He died of melanoma in Paris, France on October 29, 2018.

Louise A. DeSalvo (76) Virginia Woolf scholar and memoirist who mined her own Italian-American heritage for her books and her cuisine and once observed that life “is too short for even one bad meal.” DeSalvo taught writing and literature at Hunter College in Manhattan. Her Virginia Woolf: The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Her Life & Work (1989) was named one of the most important books of the 20th century by the Women’s Review of Books. DeSalvo was a feminist scholar and essayist, also writing about D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and Djuna Barnes, among others. She taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University from 1977–82, when she became a professor of English and creative writing at Hunter. She also published memoirs with titles like Vertigo, Breathless, Chasing Ghosts, and Crazy in the Kitchen: Food, Feuds & Forgiveness in an Italian American Family. She died of metastatic breast cancer in Montclair, New Jersey on October 31, 2018.

Jean Mohr (93) Swiss photographer who brought a humanist’s eye to refugee camps, the Palestinian territories, and places of distress all over the world. Mohr built his reputation shooting photographs for aid groups like the Red Cross and the World Health Organization (WHO). He also collaborated on books with two acclaimed writers, John Berger and Edward W. Said. In all his work, Mohr's interest lay not in the cataclysmic event but in its effects—on the landscape, the society, and, especially, the individual people. He died of cancer in Geneva, Switzerland on November 3, 2018.

Jin Yong (94) literary giant of the Chinese-speaking world whose epic novels inspired countless film, TV, and video game adaptations and were read by generations of ethnic Chinese. Jin Yong, the pen name of Louis Cha, was one of the most widely read 20th-century writers in the Chinese language. The breadth and depth of the fictional universes he created have been compared to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and have been studied as a topic known as “Jinology.” Jin Yong got his start as a novelist in the mid-‘50s while working as a film critic and editor for the New Evening Post in Hong Kong, then a British crown colony. He had moved there in 1948 and lived there for most of his life. From 1955–72, Jin Yong wrote 14 novels and novellas and one short story in the popular genre known as wuxia, which consisted mainly of swashbuckling martial arts adventures. He died of organ failure in Hong Kong on October 30, 2018.


Business and Science

Ruth Gates (56) pioneering coral reef scientist who dedicated much of her career to saving the world’s fragile and deteriorating underwater reef ecosystems. Gates became known globally for her idea to speed up coral evolution and create more resilient reefs. Her goal was to develop coral that could withstand the effects of climate change. Her work was featured in the 2017 Netflix documentary Chasing Coral. Warmer ocean temperatures can cause corals to go through a process known as bleaching, where the animals become weak and sick. Repeated bleaching events can lead to coral death and the loss of entire reef ecosystems. Gates was diagnosed with brain cancer in May and had been on medical leave since. She died in Honolulu, Hawaii on November 1, 2018.

Carlene Roberts Lawrence (105) airline executive who worked her way up from a $150-a-month secretarial job to become, by wide acknowledgment, the first woman to break into the airline industry’s executive ranks. Known as Carlene Roberts at the time, she was elected vice president of American Airlines in 1951, when few women were being admitted into the executive suites of any industry. When the company’s board elected her, at 37, newspapers and magazines published profiles of her that marveled at her corporate climb. But a corporate office had scarcely been her dream destination when she graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1934. Carlene Lawrence always said that if she had not needed a job during the Depression, she would have pursued her ambition to become an actress. Instead she learned shorthand and typing and went to work as a secretary for the Chamber of Commerce in Oklahoma City. Her organizational ability was soon recognized by O. M. Mosier, a vice president of Braniff Airways, which began as an Oklahoma operation, and Lawrence was on her way. She died in New York City on October 29, 2018.

Dave Pickerell (62) master distiller who played a central role in the growth of Maker’s Mark bourbon and later used his expertise to help entrepreneurs start dozens of small craft distilleries. Pickerell was a chemical engineer who enforced high-quality standards in distilling whiskey, whether at a major company like Maker’s Mark or at small operations like Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, which makes bourbon and Tennessee whiskey. He was once nicknamed the Johnny Appleseed of American whiskey for having his hand in myriad brands and for advocating the production of higher-priced premium whiskeys. He died of hypertensive heart failure while attending WhiskyFest San Francisco, an event that lets consumers taste whiskeys from around the world, in San Francisco, California on November 1, 2018.


Education

William J. Murtagh (95) first designated “keeper” of the US National Register of Historic Places and a leader among preservationists. Hoping to reverse what he called “the visual trashing of America” inflicted by urban renewal bulldozers and interstate highway billboards, Murtagh galvanized architects, historians, preservationists, archaeologists, local civic leaders, and an informed public to consider places worth saving. For more than 50 years he predominated in the field of preservation. A vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, he taught and started preservation programs at Columbia University and the Universities of Maryland and Hawaii and wrote the discipline’s first leading textbook, Keeping Time: The History & Theory of Preservation in America (1988). He was the first steward of the National Register, the official federal list, established in 1966, of historic places worthy of preservation. Murtagh died of congestive heart failure in Sarasota, Florida on October 28, 2018.

Devah Pager (46) Harvard sociologist best known for measuring and documenting racial discrimination in the labor market and in the criminal justice system. In her seminal work, Pager, who was the Peter & Isabel Malkin professor of public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a professor of sociology at the university, documented what she called the “powerful effects of race” on hiring decisions, which she said contributed to persistent inequality. Employers, she found, were more likely to hire a white man, even if he had a felony conviction, than a black man with no criminal record. Pager died of pancreatic cancer in Cambridge, Massachusetts on November 2, 2018.


Law

Phylis Skloot Bamberger (79) lawyer who successfully sued to protect inmates from what a federal judge described as “barbarous abuse” by guards in the wake of the 1971 Attica prison uprising. Bamberger, who later became a judge herself, and William E. Hellerstein, both of the Legal Aid Society, were the lead lawyers representing the inmates. The prisoners were appealing lower court decisions denying an injunction against the ongoing “physical abuse, torture, beatings, and other forms of brutality” that they said they had endured at Attica, about 37 miles east of Buffalo, New York. The prison riot left 10 correction officers and civilian employees and 33 inmates dead after exasperated officials ordered the State Police to end the siege. Bamberger died of Lewy body dementia in New York City on October 28, 2018.

James ('Whitey') Bulger (89) Boston gangster who benefited from a corrupt relationship with the FBI before spending 16 years as one of America’s most wanted men. The model for Jack Nicholson’s ruthless crime boss in the 2006 Martin Scorsese movie, The Departed, Bulger led a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling, and drug rackets. He also was an FBI informant who ratted on the New England mob, his gang’s main rival, in an era when bringing down the Mafia was a top national priority for the FBI. Bulger’s rap sheet started as a juvenile, and he spent three years in Alcatraz, the infamous island prison off San Francisco. He fled Boston in late 1994. With a $2 million reward on his head, Bulger became one of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” criminals. After more than 16 years on the run, he was captured at age 81 in Santa Monica, Calif. In 2013 he was convicted and was sentenced nearly five years ago to two consecutive life sentences plus five years. He had just been moved to USP Hazelton, a high-security prison with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, where he was found beaten to death on October 30, 2018.


News and Entertainment

Bernard Bragg (90) trailblazer for deaf performers who in 1967 became a founder of the National Theater of the Deaf in Connecticut. Born deaf to deaf parents, Bragg began carving out a performing career in the late ‘50s after studying with French mime Marcel Marceau. He appeared at clubs in the San Francisco area like the hungry i, working in a style of his own invention he called sign mime, which combined elements of American Sign Language with mime. In the mid-‘60s he joined up with Edna Simon Levine, a psychologist who worked with the deaf, and David Hays, a set and lighting designer. Together they formed the National Theater of the Deaf, which gave its first public performance in 1967 at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. The company won a special Tony Award in 1977. Bragg performed with it for 10 years, including in several Broadway shows, before becoming a visiting professor at his alma mater, Gallaudet University in Washington, which serves deaf and hard-of-hearing students. He died in Los Angeles, California on October 29, 2018.

Raymond Chow (91) Hong Kong film producer who thrust Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan into global stardom while helping to transform the action movie genre. A former journalist, Chow entered the film industry as a publicist in 1958 when he joined Shaw Brothers, a studio that had a pioneering role in kung fu movies and other popular low-budget films. But Chow quickly grew frustrated with the quality of the studio’s output. So studio founder Run Run Shaw invited him to contribute his ideas on scripts, and Chow became a producer. In 1970 he left to cofound his own studio, Golden Harvest, then outbid his former employer to sign Bruce Lee, a young actor and martial arts expert who had appeared in the sidekick role of Kato on the American TV series The Green Hornet. Golden Harvest offered him $15,000 for two films, along with a share of the profits and greater say in the production. After Lee’s death in 1973, Jackie Chan became a breakout star for Golden Harvest. Chow died in Hong Kong on November 2, 2018.

María Irene Fornés (88) Cuban-born American playwright whose works were hallmarks of experimental theater for 40 years. A favorite of many critics, theater scholars, and fellow playwrights, who often declared that her achievements far outstripped her fame, Fornés came to playwriting relatively late—her first artistic pursuit was painting—and never earned the popular regard of contemporaries like Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, John Guare, and Lanford Wilson. Her plays earned eight Obie awards, the Off-Broadway equivalent of the Tonys, and she was given an Obie for lifetime achievement in 1982. But her only work to appear on Broadway, a 1966 comedy called The Office, directed by Jerome Robbins, closed in previews. She taught playwriting at New York University and elsewhere. Fornés died of Alzheimer's disease in New York City on October 30, 2018.

Hardy Fox (73) force behind the Residents, an avant-garde band that subverted the conventions of rock music for decades while insisting on anonymity, which the group maintained by performing in outlandish costumes. The Residents were more than a band: they were performance and visual artists, critics and deconstructors of pop culture, and pioneers of music videos. Some of their absurd music anticipated forms of punk, new wave, and industrial music. The band found a following even though its work could be difficult, if not outright annoying. Fox always denied that he was in the group, although journalists and fans suspected otherwise. But even if he was not onstage, he was critical to the band’s success as a composer, producer, and engineer. He died of glioblastoma in San Anselmo, California on October 30, 2018.

Roy Hargrove (49) trumpeter, a prolific player who provided his jazz sound to records across a vast range of styles and won two Grammys. Many of Hargrove’s peers regarded him as the greatest trumpeter of his generation. Through his own bands and as a sideman, he played his jazz with African and Latin sounds, rhythm and blues, soul, pop, funk, and hip-hop. He led the progressive, genre-melding group The RH Factor; played in sessions for Common, Erykah Badu, and D’Angelo; and collaborated with jazz giants including Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis. Hargrove died in New York City of cardiac arrest stemming from a longtime fight with kidney disease, on November 2, 2018.

Kitty O'Neil (72) stuntwoman who in 1976, in a three-wheeled rocket-powered vehicle called the SMI Motivator, shattered the land-speed record for women by about 200 miles per hour. For O’Neil, her record—which still stands—was the highlight of a career in daredevilry. Deaf since infancy, she also set speed records on water skis and in boats. O'Neil crashed cars and survived immolation. In one stunt, as a double for Lindsay Wagner, she flipped a dune buggy on the TV series The Bionic Woman. In another she leaped 127 feet from a hotel balcony onto an inflated airbag as Lynda Carter’s stunt double on Wonder Woman. O’Neil died of pneumonia in Eureka, South Dakota, where she had lived since 1993, on November 2, 2018.

Rico J. Puno (65) pop singer from the Philippines who channeled American superstars to forge a distinctive brand of local soul music. Puno became famous in the ‘70s by covering American hits—including Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were” and Marvin Gaye’s “Baby I’m for Real”—in a mix of English and Tagalog, the country's dominant language. Those recordings put him in the vanguard of the Manila Sound, Filipino popular music from roughly the mid-‘70s through the end of the Ferdinand Marcos era, in 1986. Puno had triple-bypass heart surgery in 2015. He died of cardiac arrest in Taguig, east of Manila, the Philippines, on October 30, 2018.


Politics and Military

Lodi Gyari (69) top envoy for the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, who helped to promote their homeland’s cause abroad and negotiated unsuccessfully for decades with Chinese officials. Gyari was lead negotiator in nine rounds of talks with Chinese officials over the status of Tibet, the vast region that the People’s Liberation Army invaded in 1951 and that the Dalai Lama fled, for India, in ’59. During the talks, which began in 2002, Gyari and his team extended a proposal from the Dalai Lama that Tibet and traditionally Tibetan areas of nearby provinces be given autonomy under Chinese rule. Nominally, Tibet is already autonomous, but in fact the region is in the grip of China. Tibetans have long worried about the deterioration of their language, culture, and religion under Beijing’s rule. China rejected the Dalai Lama’s proposal in 2008, saying his call for a “Middle Way,” which would leave Tibet neither fully independent nor completely under China’s control, was really a bid for secession. Gyari died of liver cancer in San Francisco, California on October 29, 2018.

John Marttila (78) political consultant whose shrewd, often audacious and methodically executed campaign strategies helped to ignite the careers of major liberal, black, and antiwar Democrat candidates. Marttila served successfully as a campaign manager or consultant for Rev. Robert F. Drinan of Massachusetts, the first priest elected as a voting member of Congress, in 1970; Mayor Kevin H. White of Boston, who fended off a challenge in 1971 from school busing opponent Louise Day Hicks; and Joseph R. Biden Jr., who won an upset election to the US Senate from Delaware in 1972. Marttila's clients also included Sens. John F. Kerry and Edward J. Markey and Rep. Barney Frank, all Massachusetts Democrats; and Coleman A. Young and David N. Dinkins, the first black mayors of Detroit and New York, respectively, in 1974 and ‘89. Marttila died of prostate cancer in Boston, Massachusetts on November 3, 2018.

Teodoro Petkoff (86) independent Venezuelan political figure whose trajectory from armed Marxist guerrilla to government minister to apostate under the country’s socialist president, Hugo Chavez, reflected the evolution of the Latin American left. In a political career that spanned 60 years, Petkoff fled escape-proof prisons twice, unsuccessfully sought the presidency three times, and metamorphosed into an intellectual elder statesman. He had been ailing since he was injured in a fall in 2012. Petkoff died in Caracas, Venezuela on October 31, 2018.


Sports

Mari Hulman George (83) “quiet pioneer” of auto racing who was instrumental in the expansion of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and became known to millions of fans over the years as the one who ordered countless drivers to start their engines before races. Hulman George was IMS chairman from 1988–2016. Her father, Anton (“Tony”) Hulman Jr. (died 1977), bought the speedway in 1945 and saved it from demolition after World War II. Racing and the facility became a staple of Mari Hulman George’s life. She was a familiar figure and voice before the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 from the late ‘90s until 2015. She died in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 3, 2018.

Willie McCovey (80) Hall of Famer nicknamed “Stretch” for his 6-foot-4 height and long arms. A first baseman and left fielder, McCovey was a .270 career hitter with 521 home runs and 1,555 runs batted in, in 22 major league seasons, 19 of them with the San Francisco Giants. He also played for the Athletics and the Padres. He made his major league debut at 21 on July 30, 1959 and played alongside the other Willie—Hall of Famer Willie Mays—into the ‘72 season before Mays was traded to the New York Mets. McCovey batted .354 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs on the way to winning the 1959 National League Rookie of the Year award. The six-time All-Star also won the 1969 NL Most Valuable Player and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in '86 after his first time on the ballot. He died in Stanford, California on October 31, 2018.

Paul Zimmerman (86) longtime Sports Illustrated NFL writer known as “Dr. Z” for his analytical approach. NBC Sports football writer Peter King worked with Zimmerman at Sports Illustrated and completed Zimmerman’s autobiography, Dr. Z: The Lost Memoirs of an Irreverent Football Writer. Zimmerman’s tenure at Sports Illustrated ended in 2008, when he had three strokes that left him unable to write and read and almost unable to speak. He died in Noblesville, Indiana on November 1, 2018.


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