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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, December 8, 2018

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Lyudmila Alexeyeva, leader of Russian human rights movementLothar Baumgarten, artist who explored culture clashEvelyn Berezin, designed and built first word processorBelisario Betancur, former president of ColombiaAndrei Bitov, Russian writerPeter Boizot, founder of PizzaExpressPhilip Bosco, Tony-winning stage and movie actorJustin Cartwright, South African novelistDawn Clements, panoramic artistRosanell Eaton, lead plaintiff in voting rights lawsuitSelma Engel, survivor of Sobibor extermination campAlbert Frére, one of Belgium's richest businessmenAndrew Frierson, opera singerFred Greenstein, scholar of politics and presidentsSidney Horenstein, urban geologistHelen Klaben Kahn, survived Yukon plane crashKarre Mastanamma, oldest celebrity chef on YouTubeMonique Pillard, booking agent for supermodelsPete Shelley, singer-songwriter of punk band The BuzzcockxPaul Sherwen, racing cyclist turned commentatorCharles Weldon, stage actor and director

Art and Literature

Lothar Baumgarten (74) German-born artist who used photography, film, prints, storytelling, soundscapes, and more to explore a wide range of subjects, notably the collision of cultures threatening people like the Yanomami in the South American rainforest. In the late ‘70s, Baumgarten spent months at a time on repeated occasions living with the Yanomami in a remote region on the border of Venezuela and Brazil, immersing himself in their way of life. His experiences formed the basis of numerous exhibitions for decades afterward, including, in 1993, “America: Invention,” in which he transformed the famed spiral at the Guggenheim Museum into a study of threatened and lost cultures. Baumgarten died in Berlin, Germany on December 3, 2018.

Andrei Bitov (81) Russian writer whose work, whether travelogue or novel, was full of insights into his country’s history and literature. Bitov finished Pushkin House, his masterpiece, in 1972, and it was published in Russian, although not in Russia, in '78. The story involved a literary institute in Leningrad named Pushkin House and a philologist there, and through that character’s study of texts, Bitov invoked great Russian literature of the past and fashioned a critique of Soviet life and culture. He died of heart disease in Moscow, Russia on December 3, 2018.

Justin Cartwright (75) South African-born writer who used his homeland and Britain, where he lived for most of his life, as settings for award-winning contemporary, satirical, and historical novels. Cartwright’s novel In Every Face I Meet was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1995. His Leading the Cheers won a Whitbread Book Award in 1998, and The Promise of Happiness, his biggest seller thanks to its selection by the Richard & Judy Book Club, took home the Hawthornden Prize, Britain’s oldest major literary award, in 2005. Cartwright had been found to have dementia but died of pneumonia in London, England on December 3, 2018.

Dawn Clements (60) artist whose drawings and watercolors captured scenes from her own life and from movie melodramas, often on a panoramic scale. Clements’ drawings—generally in sumi ink or ballpoint pen—and her paintings often used multiple sheets of crinkled paper, stitched together into large, irregular shapes. She died of breast cancer in the Bronx, New York on December 4, 2018.

Business and Science

Evelyn Berezin (93) computer pioneer who freed secretaries from the typewriter nearly 50 years ago by building and marketing the first computerized word processor. In an age when computers were in their infancy, Berezin not only designed the first true word processor. In 1969 she was also a founder and president of the Redactron Corp., a tech start-up on Long Island, New York that was the first company exclusively engaged in manufacturing and selling the revolutionary machines. For secretaries, who constituted 6 per cent of the American workforce then, Redactron word processors liberated them from having to retype pages marred by bad keystrokes and the monotony of copying pages for wider distribution. The machines were bulky, slow, and noisy, but they could edit, delete, and cut and paste text. Modern word processors, which appear as programs on computers, became so efficient in offices that they killed off the need for most of the old-fashioned secretarial skills Berezin was trying to enhance. She learned that she had lymphoma several months ago but chose to forgo treatment and died in New York City on December 8, 2018.

Peter Boizot (89) British founder of the international restaurant chain PizzaExpress. Boizot first tasted pizza in 1948 in Florence, Italy, where he lived for three months while working as an au pair. In 1964 he returned to Britain and bought an ailing restaurant in Soho called PizzaExpress. He opened a second location in 1967, near the British Museum, enlisting designer Enzo Apicella. The layout of that restaurant, with an open kitchen, minimal décor, and a red counter snaking around the room, became a template as the chain expanded, spawning franchises across the country, then the world. There are now more than 600 restaurants in 13 countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Boizot turned one of them, on Dean Street in London, into a jazz club. He also bought Kettner’s Townhouse, a favorite haunt of celebrities, and started the Soho Jazz Festival, which ran for 16 years until 2002. Boizot died in Peterborough, England on December 5, 2018.

Albert Frére (92) industrialist who became one of Belgium’s richest people during more than 50 years of deal-making. Starting out in the scrap metal sector, Frére’s relentless business drive turned him into one of Europe’s most important businessmen until he retired in 2015. He was the nation’s fourth-richest person with an estimated fortune of over 6 billion euros ($7 billion). He died in Gerpinnes, Belgium on December 3, 2018.

Sidney Horenstein (82) geologist whose books, guided tours, and urban bias brought him fame as a champion of the rock that New York City is built upon (and with). A staff geologist and coordinator of environmental public programs at the American Museum of Natural History and a lecturer at Hunter College in New York, Horenstein was an expert on the tectonic upheavals that shaped what was left of the city's natural landscape. As a self-described “rockconteur,” he identified the fossils that mark the stone façades of skyscrapers and public restroom walls, and even where the stone had been quarried before it was transported to building sites in New York. He died of respiratory failure in New York City on December 5, 2018.

Monique Pillard (81) booking agent who helped to steer the careers of supermodels like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christie Brinkley. For more than 30 years, Pillard worked at two of the modeling industry’s preeminent agencies: Ford Models, which she joined in the late ‘60s, and Elite Model Management, originally based in Paris, whose founder, John Casablancas, recruited her in 1977 when he decided to open an office in New York. Pillard was known as a tough negotiator—she brokered precedent-setting deals like Paulina Porizkova’s multimillion-dollar 1988 contract to be the face of Estée Lauder. She died in New York City on December 3, 2018.


Fred Greenstein (88) scholar of political psychology who devised an approach to evaluating the leadership styles of American presidents and helped to breathe new life into the reputation of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Greenstein, who taught politics at Princeton University for nearly 30 years, first made his mark with a reconsideration of Eisenhower, who was long perceived as disengaged from the job. Greenstein’s book, The Hidden-Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader (1982), changed that view; it showed the golf-playing president as a man of action behind the scenes. Greenstein died of Parkinson’s disease in Princeton, New Jersey on December 3, 2018.


Rosanell Eaton (97) determined black woman hailed by former US President Barack Obama as a beacon of civil rights for her role as a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against a restrictive North Carolina voting law that reached the Supreme Court in 2016. Caught up as a witness to history in one of the nation’s major controversies, Eaton, a civil rights pioneer in her younger years, became a cause célèbre after Obama cited her courage in his response to a 2015 article in the New York Times magazine about growing efforts to dismantle the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A year after the president's letter, the Supreme Court, in a 4-4 vote, let stand a federal appeals court judgment upholding the lawsuit spearheaded by Eaton and other plaintiffs. The ruling struck down a state statute whose provisions “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” in what the court called an effort to depress black turnout at the polls. Eaton died in Louisburg, North Carolina on December. 8, 2018.

News and Entertainment

Philip Bosco (88) Tony Award-winning actor known for his roles in the films Working Girl and The Savages. Bosco was a Broadway veteran who won a Tony Award in 1989 for best actor for his role as head of an opera company in the comedy Lend Me a Tenor. He received nominations for his performances in The Rape of the Belt, Heartbreak House, You Never Can Tell, and Moon over Buffalo. He also starred in a 2004 production of Twelve Angry Men. Before acting, he worked in a carnival as a trailer truck driver. He died of dementia in Haworth, New Jersey on December 3, 2018.

Andrew Frierson (94) whose bass-baritone reverberated from the stages of theaters and music halls around the world as part of the first generation of black opera singers. Frierson made his New York debut at Carnegie Hall in 1948 while still a student and later performed for six seasons with the New York City Opera. He also sang at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, the occasion of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Frierson taught at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the early ‘50s, directed the Henry Street Settlement Music School in Manhattan in the ’60s, and was a professor of voice at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio in the ’70s. He died in Oberlin, Ohio on December 6, 2018.

Karre Mastanamma (107) Indian cook who got her big break at age 105. After she prepared an especially delicious eggplant curry, Mastanamma’s great-grandson suggested that he film her cooking, then post the videos on YouTube. No matter that she was more than 100 years old, suffered from cataracts, wore dentures, cooked outside on an open fire, and sometimes roasted chicken inside a steaming watermelon; That was all part of her charm. Over the next two years, Mastanamma became the star of a YouTube channel with an audience of more than 1 million subscribers. She specialized in adding flair to traditional Indian dishes, especially fish ones, but occasionally experimented with chicken pizza and chocolate cake. She died in Gudiwada, India on December 2, 2018.

Pete Shelley (63) British singer-songwriter and cofounder of the punk band the Buzzcocks, part of the punk revolution that began in England in the mid-‘70s and featured such groups as the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Like their contemporaries, the Buzzcocks scorned what they considered the pretensions and bloated style of mainstream groups and turned out brief, stripped-down songs, performed at manic speed. Shelley died of a heart attack in Talinn, Estonia, the home country of his artist wife, Greta, where he moved in 2012, on December 6, 2018.

Charles Weldon (78) actor and director who led the New York theater troupe, the Negro Ensemble Co., for the past 13 years. After a brief career as a singer, Weldon turned to acting in the late ‘60s and found quick success, landing on Broadway in 1969 in Buck White, a musical that starred Muhammad Ali as a black militant leader. That show closed after seven performances, but it started Weldon on a career in New York that included roles in a string of Negro Ensemble Co. productions. In 1973 he was part of the Broadway cast of The River Niger, an Ensemble show written by Joseph A. Walker that won the Tony Award for best play. Weldon died of lung cancer in New York City on December 7, 2018.

Politics and Military

Lyudmila Alexeyeva (91) leader of the Russian human rights movement in the Soviet Union and in the era of President Vladimir V. Putin. Although frail, Alexeyeva took part in street protests until around 2010. She had been Russia’s most prominent surviving Soviet-era dissident, coming from the same generation as physicist Andrei Sakharov and novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. She spent about 50 years in the Russian opposition, starting as a typist for a samizdat journal in the ‘60s and continuing as an observer of politicized court hearings against street protesters under Putin. She died in Moscow, Russia on December 8, 2018.

Belisario Betancur (95) former Colombian president whose efforts to reach a peace deal with leftist rebels in the ‘80s were undone by drug-fueled bloodletting and violence backed by state security forces. Betancur governed from 1982–86. Unusually in Colombia’s elite-dominated political landscape, he wasn’t the son of patriarchs but instead rose to power as the son of a poor farmer in western Antioquia state. With scholarships he earned a law degree and throughout his political career held his own as a journalist, economist, and poet. His arrival at the presidency in 1982 sparked enthusiasm that he could deliver Colombians from an armed conflict raging since the ‘60s that claimed more than 250,000 lives and drove millions from their homes. Betancur tried to negotiate a truce with guerrilla groups, defying members of his own conservative party, and began selling his plan for peace directly to Colombians. But those efforts unraveled as thousands of members of the Patriotic Union—a fledgling political movement tied to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—were gunned down by right-wing groups. Betancur died in Bogota, Colombia after suffering kidney problems, on December 7, 2018.

Society and Religion

Selma Engel (96) Dutch Jew who escaped a Nazi extermination camp after a prisoner uprising and was among the first to tell the world about the camp’s existence. Born Saartje Wijnberg, she was among 58 prisoners who escaped from the secret Sobibor extermination camp in eastern Poland and lived to see the end of World War II. Only one other former Sobibor prisoner, Semyon Rozenfeld, of Israel, is believed to be alive today. Wijnberg married a fellow escapee, Chaim Engel (died 2003), and anglicized her name when they moved to the US in 1957. The couple testified at the trials of German officers, provided written and oral accounts of their ordeal, and were interviewed for books and other publications. Selma Engel died in East Haven, Connecticut on December 4, 2018.

Helen Klaben Kahn (76) Brooklyn, New York woman who in 1963 survived seven weeks in the Yukon, Canada wilderness at below-freezing temperatures with her pilot, Ralph Flores (died 1997), after their small plane crashed in a blizzard. Kahn afterward wrote a book about her ordeal, Hey, I’m Alive (1964), which was made into a TV movie starring Sally Struthers and Ed Asner. Kahn died of histiocytic sarcoma, a rare blood cancer, in Palo Alto, California on December 2, 2018.


Paul Sherwen (62) cyclist who raced in the Tour de France, then became a longtime voice of commentary on that and other major cycling events for the English-speaking world. For 33 editions of cycling’s most famous race, starting in 1986, Sherwen teamed with Phil Liggett to provide live commentary for broadcasts in English-speaking countries, including the US. Even casual cycling fans knew who “Phil and Paul” were. With Sherwen behind the wheel, the pair would drive to the finish line of each stage of the three-week Tour de France and squeeze into a tiny booth packed with TV monitors, cameras, lights, and computers inside a two-story trailer. Sherwen died of heart failure in Kampala, Uganda on December 2, 2018.

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