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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, December 1, 2018

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George H. W. Bush, 41st US president and father of the 43rdThomas J. J. Altizer, radical theologianNina Berlina, Russian violinistKen Berry, actor and dancerBernardo Bertolucci, Italian film director of 'Last Tango in Paris,' 'Last Emperor'Randolph Braham, scholar of Hungarian HolocaustP. M. Forni, leading exponent on civilityRichard Fulton, former Tennessee congressman and Nashville mayorPalden Gyatso, Tibetan Buddhist monkRuth Haring, US chess playerCharles Harrison, redesigned trash cans, View-MasterStephen Hillenburg, creator of 'SpongeBob SquarePants'Gloria Katz, Hollywood screenwriterHarold O. Levy, former chancellor of NYC public schoolsRobert Morris, minimalist sculptorEd Pastor, Arizona's first Hispanic congressmanRobert Plotnik, lawyer turned record dealerPatricia Quintana, Mexican chef and cookbook authorDr. Lisa Schwartz, warned of unnecessary medical treatment and excessive diagnosesHarry Leslie Smith, British political activistBaroness Trumpington, British codebreaker and government minister

Art and Literature

Robert Morris (87) American sculptor, one of the founders of the minimalist movement that emerged in the ‘60s. Morris studied art at the Kansas City Art Institute. After a stint in the Army Corps of Engineers he began making Abstract Expressionist paintings. In 1956 he moved to New York, where he joined the avant-garde scene and began producing and exhibiting neo-Dada sculptures. He later expanded on the minimalist style using a variety of media, from performance to plywood. One of his large-scale works was composed of piles of earth and felt. A common theme was fear of nuclear war. Morris died of pneumonia in Kingston, New York on November 28, 2018.


Business and Science

Charles Harrison (87) industrial designer who rethought hundreds of ordinary items, including a plastic trash bin on wheels, a see-through measuring cup, and the 3-D View-Master, which were then snapped up by the nation’s postwar middle class. Harrison was a designer, not an inventor. His mission was to refashion consumer products so they could be mass-produced and were easier to use. By the time he retired in 1993, Harrison had broken through racial barriers to become chief product designer for Sears, Roebuck & Co. When he was hired at Sears in Chicago in 1961, he was the first black executive there. He had a hand in shaping versions of countless items that Americans in the second half of the 20th century realized they needed: the riding lawn mower, the cordless shaver, and the Dial-O-Matic Food Cutter, among more than 750 products for Sears alone. The product he was most closely associated with was the View-Master, which allowed users to look at photographs in three dimensions; two inventors introduced the first version, a bulky model, at the World’s Fair in 1939, and it became a specialty item used mainly by photographers. When Harrison was put in charge of the View-Master’s redesign in 1958, he made it lighter, more durable, and much easier to use—easy enough for a child. Harrison died of a bacterial infection in Santa Clarita, California on November 29, 2018.

Robert Plotnik (75) lapsed lawyer better known as the namesake of Bleecker Bob’s Records, a Greenwich Village record store that survived cassettes, compact discs (CDs), downloading, and the death of CBGB, the nearby club where punk rock was born. Bleecker Bob’s was immortalized in a 1993 episode of Seinfeld (when Kramer and Newman fail to make a windfall selling used records there), in the opening credits of Saturday Night Live, and in Colson Whitehead’s 2009 novel, Sag Harbor. For nearly 50 years, until it closed in 2013, the business that Plotnik began with a fellow record collector, Al Trommers, drew rock fans and performers. Although it originally specialized in oldies, it soon switched its focus to the cutting edge, helping to popularize emerging musicians by sales and word of mouth. Plotnik had been incapacitated since suffering a stroke in 2001. He died of kidney failure in New York City on November 29, 2018.

Patricia Quintana (72) chef and author whose work championed the range and sophistication of Mexican cuisine. Beginning with her first cookbook, La Cocina Es un Juego (The Kitchen Is a Game), in 1979, Quintana’s work pushed back against the stereotypes of Mexican cuisine, increasing appreciation for regional flavors in her country and abroad. Over several decades she wrote more than 28 books on Mexican food and long-running columns for Vogue México and national newspapers. Quintana was given a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma several years ago. She died in Mexico City, Mexico on November 26, 2018.

Dr. Lisa Schwartz (55) with her husband, Dr. Steven Woloshin, Schwartz devoted her life to warning patients about the dangers of unnecessary medical tests and treatment and excessive diagnoses. The couple were directors of the Center for Medicine & Media at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice, part of Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine. There they trained hundreds of journalists to become more skeptical about claimed scientific breakthroughs and miracle cures and to better communicate the benefits and risks of medical tests and treatments. They often collaborated with another Dartmouth colleague, Dr. H. Gilbert Welch, on books and articles—for laymen and medical professionals alike—that aimed to demystify the credible risks of getting diseases. Schwartz died of cancer in Lebanon, New Hampshire on November 29, 2018.


Education

Randolph Braham (95) American scholar of the Holocaust in Hungary, his homeland, who rejected that country’s highest award to protest what he denounced as an official whitewash of its collusion in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews during World War II. In 2014 Braham was outraged by what he described as attempts by Hungary’s current nationalist government to equate the murder of nearly 600,000 Jews in Hungary with the suffering of other Hungarians under the German occupation, “a German occupation, as the record clearly shows, that was not only unopposed but generally applauded” by the country’s wartime regime, he wrote. He publicly returned the Order of Merit he had received for his research in 2011 and asked that his name be removed from the Library & Information Center of the Holocaust Memorial Center, or Holokauszt Emlekkozpont, in Budapest, the country’s capital. A longtime professor at City University of New York, Braham died of heart failure in Forest Hills, Queens, New York on November 25, 2018.

P. M. Forni (67) professor of early Italian literature who became a leading exponent of civility in our own discourteous times. Forni was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore when, in 1997, he became principal founder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project, which not only examined the importance of civility in human society but also encouraged the practice of it on campuses and in communities through campaigns with bumper stickers, buttons, and speaking programs. Forni, who directed the project (now known as the Civility Initiative) for many years, also wrote two books on the topic, Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct (2002) and The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude (2010). Forni died of Parkinson’s disease in Towson, Maryland on December 1, 2018.

Harold O. Levy (65) chancellor of New York City's vast public school system from 2000–02 who waged war on its bureaucracy, created specialized high schools, and attracted thousands of new teachers by insisting on higher starting wages. The son of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, Levy grew up in New York, attended its public schools, and became a Wall Street lawyer who immersed himself privately for years in state and city education issues. He had no experience as an educator, but he had headed a 1995 city commission that castigated the city over shoddy school conditions, and as a member of the New York Board of Regents he sought more state funding for city schools. Levy died in New York City of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) on November 27, 2018.


News and Entertainment

Nina Beilina (81) emigrated from the Soviet Union in midlife when she was one of that country's premier violinists and built a whole new following in the US, playing top halls and founding her own ensemble. Beilina had won competitions when she lived in the Soviet Union, but she was largely unknown to American audiences when she arrived in New York in 1977. Under the authoritarian Soviet system, she had performed primarily in the Soviet bloc and South America. Her formal debut, in January 1978 at the 92nd Street Y, brought her quick acclaim. Beilina, who taught for many years at the Mannes College of Music in Manhattan, later played at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall and with the Miami Chamber Symphony, the Arlington Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 1988 she founded the Bachanalia Festival, at which she and an ever-changing group of musicians played music by Bach and other composers. Beilina died in New York City of complications from a stroke, compounded by congestive heart failure, on November 25, 2018.

Ken Berry (85) actor and dancer who played clumsy Capt. Wilton Parmenter in the '60s sitcom F Troop. The show was on TV only from 1965–67 but lived on in syndication, and accident-prone Capt. Parmenter became one of Berry's best-known roles. After F Troop, he starred in Mayberry RFD, a spinoff of The Andy Griffith Show, on which he appeared during that show's final year. Berry's last TV series was Mama's Family, which aired for six seasons beginning in 1983. But F Troop was the show that remained closest to his heart. He died in Burbank, California on December 1, 2018.

Bernardo Bertolucci (77) Italian filmmaker who won nine Oscars with The Last Emperor (1987) and whose erotic drama Last Tango in Paris (1972) enthralled and shocked the world. Bertolucci’s movies often explored the sexual relations among characters stuck in a psychological crisis, as in Last Tango, which was banned in his own country for over 10 years. The self-professed Marxist also did not shy away from politics and ideology, as in The Conformist, which some critics consider his masterpiece. Despite working with A-list American and international stars, Bertolucci always defended his own filmmaking style against what he said was the pressure of the US film industry. He maintained critical success for most of his career, weathering the controversies that his sexually provocative work stirred and some commercial flops. He died in Rome, Italy on November 26, 2018.

Stephen Hillenburg (57) cartoonist who used his loves of drawing and marine biology to spawn the absurd undersea world of SpongeBob SquarePants. Hillenburg conceived, wrote, produced, and directed the animated series that began in 1999 and bloomed into hundreds of episodes, movies, and a Broadway show. The eternally jolly SpongeBob and his yell-along theme song that opened, “Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?!” appealed to college students and parents as much as it did to kids. A musical stage adaptation debuted on Broadway in 2017, with music from such stars as Steven Tyler, Sara Bareilles, and John Legend. It earned 12 Tony Award nominations. Hillenburg announced he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) in March 2017. He died in southern California on November 26, 2018.

Gloria Katz (76) Hollywood screenwriter who cowrote American Graffiti and helped to give Princess Leia her power in Star Wars. Katz and her husband, Willard Huyck, shared an Oscar nomination with director George Lucas for American Graffiti and secretly doctored his script for Star Wars. They also wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, which Lucas executive-produced, and later cowrote Lucky Lady, Messiah of Evil, French Postcards, Best Defense, Howard the Duck, and Radioland Murders. Katz died of ovarian cancer in Los Angeles, California on the couple’s 49th wedding anniversary, November 25, 2018.


Politics and Military

George H. W. Bush (94) World War II hero whose US presidency (1989-93) soared with the coalition victory over Iraq in Kuwait but then plummeted in the throes of a weak economy that led voters to turn him out of office after a single term. Bush also presided during the collapse of the Soviet Union and the final months of the Cold War. The son of a senator and father of a president, Bush was the man with the golden résumé who rose through the political ranks: from congressman to United Nations ambassador, Republican Party chairman to envoy to China, Central Inteligence Agency director to two-term vice president under hugely popular Ronald Reagan. The 1991 Gulf War stoked his popularity. But Bush acknowledged that he had trouble articulating “the vision thing,” and he was haunted by his decision to break a solemn vow he made to voters: “Read my lips. No new taxes.” He lost his bid for reelection to Bill Clinton in a campaign in which businessman H. Ross Perot took almost 19 per cent of the vote as an independent candidate. Still, he lived to see his son, George W., twice elected to the presidency—only the second father-and-son US presidents after John Adams and John Quincy Adams. George H. W. Bush died in Houston, Texas on November 30, 2018.

Richard Fulton (91) Democrat who was elected to seven terms in Congress and served 12 years as mayor of Metro Nashville, Tennessee. Fulton was elected to Congress in 1962 and was a rare Southern supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and Medicare. He left Congress to serve three terms as mayor of Metro Nashville from 1975–87. While mayor, he was president of the US Conference of Mayors and the Tennessee Municipal League. Fulton ran for governor in 1978 and ‘86 but lost in both primaries. As mayor, he helped to spearhead the approval of the Nashville Convention Center, a downtown park on the banks of the Cumberland River, and development along the river and elsewhere downtown. He died in Nashville, Tennessee on November 28, 2018.

Ed Pastor (75) former US representative who championed liberal causes as Arizona's first Hispanic member of Congress but was known for his bipartisanship. A Democrat, Pastor served 23 years in Congress until deciding in 2014 against running for reelection. He won a 1991 special election for the House seat vacated by fellow Democrat Morris K. Udall and was reelected 11 times. He had previously been a Maricopa County supervisor, aide to Arizona Gov. Raul Castro in the ‘70s, and a high school teacher. Pastor suffered a heart attack while dining at a restaurant with his wife and died at a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona on November 27, 2018.

Harry Leslie Smith (95) British World War II veteran and political activist. Smith had built a strong following with his calls for social justice and his warning that a greed-driven society was failing those in need. He was an outspoken human rights activist with a Twitter following of more than 250,000. He had come to prominence in recent years with his advocacy of the National Health Service and the need to protect refugees. He was also a strong critic of Britain’s austerity program. Smith had toured refugee camps to highlight their plight. He said he had witnessed scenes like that in his youth and couldn’t bear to see them repeated in his old age without speaking out. He argued that greed and globalism were stripping away the advances wrought by his generation, which had survived the Great Depression and World War II and built a more just society. Smith, who lived part-time in Canada, had been hospitalized there in critical condition after a recent fall. He died in Ontario, Canada on November 28, 2018.

Baroness Trumpington (96) codebreaker, British government minister, and bon vivant. Jean Alys Campbell-Harris was born into a wealthy Anglo-American family in 1922. When World War II broke out, she served in naval intelligence, translating messages from German submarines at the secret Bletchley Park codebreaking center. After the war she moved to New York, where she got a job in advertising. Returning to England in the early ‘50s, she married historian Alan Barker and entered Conservative politics, becoming a councilor and mayor of the city of Cambridge. She was appointed to the House of Lords in 1980 by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government, taking the title Baroness Trumpington of Sandwich, and was a minister and a whip during the ‘80s and ’90s. She was known for her sense of fun—dancing on tables and belting out “Chattanooga Choo Choo” at social functions well into old age—and for her forthright opinions. She became a United Kingdom media star in 2011 after she made a rude hand signal in the House of Lords at a member who had referred to her age, a gesture caught on camera and endlessly replayed online. Baroness Trumpington died in her sleep in England on November 26, 2018.


Society and Religion

Thomas J. J. Altizer (91) one of a handful of radical theologians in the ‘60s who espoused that “God is dead.” The idea that God was dead had been around for centuries, most prominently with Nietzsche in the late 1800s. But after World War II and the Holocaust, it reemerged in the US, as Altizer, who taught religion at Emory University in Atlanta, and others questioned whether a benevolent God could exist. The subject burst out of the ivory tower on April 8, 1966, when a Time magazine cover, all black with bold red letters, pointedly asked: IS GOD DEAD? The article focused mostly on how science and secularism were supplanting religion. But in a country where 97 per cent of adults said they believed in God, it touched off a backlash against the magazine and led to the vilification of Altizer. He died of a stroke in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania on November 28, 2018.

Palden Gyatso (85) Tibetan Buddhist monk who defied Chinese control of his country, then fled to tell the world his story of more than 30 years of hardship in Chinese prisons and labor camps. Gyatso’s voice became one of the strongest against Beijing’s continuing hold on his homeland after China invaded it in 1950, vanquished Tibet's army in days, and signed an agreement with Tibetan officials granting it control, beginning a long and brutal occupation. The Chinese Communist Party has argued that Tibet has long been a culturally distinct part of China. But in the nearly 70 years since the invasion, China has destroyed many of Tibet’s monasteries and restricted aspects of Tibetan culture, like the Tibetan language and Buddhist religious practices. Gyatso said he was first imprisoned in 1959 after being arrested in an uprising that ended after the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual and governmental leader, escaped to India. Gyatso remained incarcerated almost continuously until 1992, he said, enduring starvation, hard labor, and torture. He died of liver cancer in Dharamsala, India on November 30, 2018.


Sports

Ruth Haring (63) top American chess player in the ‘70s and ’80s who played for the national women’s team in five consecutive Chess Olympiads and became a rare female president of the US Chess Federation. The standout in a family of chess players, Haring was chosen for the women’s national team for the 1974 Chess Olympiad, a biennial tournament in which teams from all over the world compete. The leading four or five women in the country were usually selected for the competition. That same year Haring played in the US Women’s Championship, finishing second to Mona May Karff. It was the best result of her career. She played in the next four Olympiads—in 1976, ’78, ’80, and ’82—and several other US Women’s Championships. Hospitalized a day earlier with symptoms of pneumonia, Haring died in Chico, California on November 29, 2018.


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