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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, November 10, 2018

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Dorothy Cheney, studied how primates live and communicateEvelyn Y. Davis, shareholder activistRon Johnson, NY Giants running backJuris Jurjevics, cofounder of Soho PressFrancis Lai, Oscar-winning composer of 'Love Story' scoreChristopher Lehmann-Haupt, longtime literary critic and obituary writer for 'New York Times'Herbert London, liberal turned conservative academicRaymond N. Plank, cofounder of Apache Corp.Oskar Rabin, dissident Russian painterBarry Rand, one of few black CEOs of Fortune 500 companyWally Triplett, trailblazing running backAlexandru Visinescu, former Romanian prison guard

Art and Literature

Juris Jurjevics (75) cofounder of Soho Press, an independent publisher that gambled on unsolicited manuscripts by emerging writers and produced serious novels and exotic crime stories. A Latvian-born refugee, Jurjevics joined the publishing industry in 1968. Along with Laura Chapman Hruska and her husband, Alan, he founded Soho Press in 1986. Larger publishers needed to sell as many as 12,000 copies of a book just to break even, but Soho, with lower overhead, could make a profit on sales of as few as 4,000. Headquartered on Union Square in Manhattan, Soho now publishes about 90 books a year under its imprints Soho Press, Soho Crime, and Soho Teen. Jurjevics retired in 2006 to write full-time. He died of heart disease in the Bronx, New York on November 7, 2018.

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt (84) influential literary critic for the New York Times for 30 years who wrote some 4,000 reviews and essays, mostly for the daily column “Books of the Times.” Lehmann-Haupt was the Times’s senior daily book critic from 1969–95, tackling two or three books a week and rendering judgments that could affect, for better or ill, literary careers and book sales. He was a critic until 2000. Readers and colleagues called him a judicious voice on fiction and a seemingly boundless array of history, biography, current events, and other topics, with forays into Persian archaeology and fly fishing. Late in his nearly 50-year career with the Times, Lehmann-Haupt began writing the obituaries of leading authors, editors, and publishers, an assignment he relished as an opportunity to explore the lives of literati, not just their books. And it afforded him an unusual personal pleasure—to see his byline on the front page, only once. He died of a stroke in New York City on November 7, 2018.

Oskar Rabin (90) painter at the center of a group of dissident artists who defied Soviet authorities in the ‘60s and ’70s. Rabin painted still lifes and landscapes, often containing critiques of Soviet life, but his fame rested as much on his defiance as on his artistic ability. In 1978 officials encouraged him to make a trip to Paris; while he was there they stripped him of his citizenship. He lived in Paris for the rest of his life, even though he became celebrated in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. He died of a heart attack in Florence, Italy on November 7, 2018.

Business and Science

Dorothy Cheney (68) whose careful research into how primates live and communicate revealed the surprising complexity of their thought processes and social structures. Rather than doing their research in laboratories, Cheney and her husband Robert Seyfarth spent long stretches in the wilds of Africa and elsewhere, studying gorillas, baboons, vervet monkeys, and other animals. They summarized their research in their first book, How Monkeys See the World: Inside the Mind of Another Species (1990). Their later research in Botswana included insights into the hierarchical nature of baboon societies and its possible evolutionary effects. Cheney died of breast cancer in Devon, Pennsylvania on November 9, 2018.

Evelyn Y. Davis (89) shareholder activist who owned stock in more than 80 public companies and rarely failed to make her presence known at corporate-investor meetings. For decades Davis was notorious among executives at blue-chip companies for raising a ruckus at annual meetings, sometimes turning the typically staid affairs into yelling matches. Simultaneously confrontational and flirty, she would demand that a chief executive resign while letting on that she found him attractive. She died in Washington, DC on November 4, 2018.

Raymond N. Plank (96) farmer’s son and a former combat pilot who witnessed the atomic-bomb attack on Nagasaki, then returned from the war to help found one of the US's largest independent oil and gas companies, Apache. Plank and his partners, in 1954, formed the Apache Corp., originally set up to raise investor funds for oil and gas drilling. It ultimately expanded into exploration and production itself, with reported revenue of almost $6 billion in 2017. At Apache, Plank pioneered the use of what came to be known as master limited partnerships, or MLPs, an investment vehicle that can be traded publicly and offer significant tax advantages to investors. Plank died in Ucross, Wyoming on November 8, 2018.

Barry Rand (74) who in 1999 became one of the few black chief executive officers of a Fortune 500 company when he took control of Avis, the rental car company, after being passed over for the top job at Xerox. Running a major corporation was a critical goal for Rand. He had spent 30 years at Xerox, rising to executive vice president of operations while developing a reputation as a strong salesman and motivator who helped to build a highly diverse workplace. But despite his determination and loyalty, Paul A. Allaire, Xerox’s CEO, found his heir apparent at IBM, hiring G. Richard Thoman as president and chief operating officer in June 1997. Rand stayed at Xerox until November 1998 while methodically hunting elsewhere for a CEO position; a year later he was hired as chairman and CEO of Avis Group Holding. He died of Alzheimer's disease in Norwalk, Connecticut on November 7, 2018.


Herbert London (79) self-described “New York liberal mugged by reality” who became a conservative academic, social critic, and political candidate. A former scholastic basketball star, London later was a founding dean of the Gallatin School for Individualized Study at New York University and a voice for scholarly think tanks. In 1989 he briefly sought the Republican mayoral nomination in New York City. London was president of the Hudson Institute, a conservative research group in Washington, from 1997–2011; a senior fellow at the Center for the American University at the Manhattan Institute; chairman of the National Association of Scholars; and founder of the London Center for Policy Research. He wrote some 30 books, most recently Leading from Behind: The Obama Doctrine & the US Retreat from International Affairs (2017; with Bryan Griffin), three plays, and countless essays and articles. He was also a TV host—of CNN’s Crossfire for about a year (as a cohost) and of the series Myths That Rule America on NBC (based on a book of his by the same title, written with Albert L. Weeks). London died of heart failure in New York City on November 10, 2018.

News and Entertainment

Francis Lai (86) French composer who won an Oscar for the iconic Love Story soundtrack. Born in Nice, France, Lai started as an accordionist but quickly rose through the ranks as a composer, writing songs for singers including Edith Piaf and Yves Montand. It was after his meeting with French New Wave director Claude Lelouch in the ‘60s that Lai turned to the silver screen and produced his most famous work. His success culminated with his 1970 Oscar for the score of Love Story, one of the most enduring romantic movies of all time. Its main song “Where Do I Begin?” boasts recognition even among those unfamiliar with the movie, thanks to popular vocal renditions by Andy Williams and Shirley Bassey. Lai died on November 7, 2018.

Politics and Military

Alexandru Visinescu (93) Romanian Communist-era prison guard serving a 20-year sentence for crimes against humanity. Visinescu was the first prison guard from the early years of communism to go on trial in Romania. He became a national symbol of the Communist era’s brutality against its own people, most of whom had simply fallen afoul of the regime. Romania had about 500,000 political prisoners under the Communist regime that was in power from 1947–89, about one-fifth of whom died while in detention, according to historians. Visinescu died at Rahova prison hospital in Bucharest, Romania on November 5, 2018.


Ron Johnson (71) All-Pro running back who became the first player in New York Giants history to gain at least 1,000 rushing yards in a season, achieving the milestone twice in the ‘70s. The Giants had only two winning seasons between 1964–80. Both came when Johnson achieved rushing milestones for the franchise. Johnson, 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds in his playing days, ran for 1,027 yards and eight touchdowns in 1970, his first season as a Giant. He also had 487 receiving yards, giving him a league-leading 1,514 yards from scrimmage. The Giants went 9-5, and he was voted to the All-Pro first team and the Pro Bowl. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008 and died in Madison, New Jersey on November 10, 2018.

Wally Triplett (92) trailblazing running back, one of the first blacks drafted by an NFL team. Triplett was the third black selected in the 1949 draft, but he was the first of those draftees to play in a regular-season game. He played in 24 games for the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Cardinals. He was also the first black to start for Penn State, and in 1948 he and teammate Dennie Hoggard became the first blacks to play in the Cotton Bowl. Triplett was drafted by the Lions in the 19th round in 1949. He played in 18 games for Detroit from 1949–50. On October 29, 1950, against the Los Angeles Rams, he had 294 yards on four kickoff returns, an NFL record that lasted until 1994. He died on November 8, 2018.

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