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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, December 22, 2018

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Penny Marshall, left, costar of 'Laverne & Shirley'Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz, senior member of Saudi royal familyDavid Austin, British plant breeder of English rosesRicardo Barber, Cuban stage actor who made it in New YorkJean Bourgain, Belgian mathematician and problem solverOribe Canales, celebrity hairdresserAudrey Geisel, widow of Dr. SeussNorman Gimbel, award-winning lyricistEdda Goering, daughter of Hitler's sidekick, Hermann GoeringMel Hutchins, basketball All-AmericanDennis Johnson, Minimalist composer turned mathematicianDr. Lewis L. Judd, top US mental health officialColin Kroll, cofounder of HQ Trivia appJane Langton, author of mysteries and children's booksLee Leonard, first host of ESPNGalt MacDermot, composer of music for 'Hair'Peter Masterson, playwright, filmmaker, and actorPeter D. Meldrum, former CEO of Myriad GeneticsDonald Moffat, stage, screen, and TV character actorJohn Ford Noonan, playwright known for 'A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking'David M. O'Brien, political science scholar who studied US Supreme CourtBarbara Gardner Proctor, founder of Chicago ad agencyJames Rogers, former utilities CEOSimcha Rotem, among last known Jewish fighters from WWII Warsaw Ghetto uprisingDavid Shepherd, leader in improvisational theaterRoberto Suazo Córdova, former president of HondurasRaven Wilkinson, pioneering ballerina

Art and Literature

Audrey Geisel (97) widow of children’s author Theodor Geisel—better known as Dr. Seuss—and overseer of his estate and guardian of his legacy since his death in 1991. Geisel had told his wife that she would be in charge of all the creatures he had created, including the Cat in the Hat, Horton the elephant, and the Grinch. Taking care of them became Audrey Geisel’s mission. She developed and oversaw a global operation of publishing ventures, film projects, games, and celebrations that kept Dr. Seuss’s name, and his stories, in front of successive generations of children as they learned to read. She was deeply involved in the marketing and managing of all his material. Audrey Geisel died in San Diego. California on December 19, 2018.

Jane Langton (95) New England author who created a sense of place in her mysteries and children’s books and illustrated many of her works herself. Langton's home, about half an hour’s drive northwest of Boston, was adjacent to the historic town of Concord and a stone’s throw from Walden Pond. In her more than 30 books, most of them mysteries and children’s books, she frequently evoked the revolutionary past and the spirit of Emerson and Thoreau in Concord, a picture-postcard monument to Americana that Boston magazine has called “the world’s quaintest town.” The Diamond in the Window (1962) was the first in a series of eight young-adult books by Langton collectively called the Hall Family Chronicles. She died of a respiratory condition in Lincoln, Massachusetts, eight days before her 96th birthday, on December 22, 2018.

Business and Science

David Austin (92) British plant breeder who reinvented the rose to the delight of gardeners, florists, and brides around the world. In his 30s, Austin began a life’s work breeding new rose varieties that captured the romance, character, and fragrance of old garden roses immortalized in art and literature through the ages and across the globe. At the time, breeders, plant nurseries, and consumers were drawn to stiff, tightly furled, and unscented hybrid tea roses—rosebuds on a stick. In a society that after World War II was gripped by modernity, Austin might as well have been peddling silk hats and spats. Today, Austin’s creations, which he called English Roses, are the gold standard in the contemporary rose market. Multipetaled, richly hued and perfumed, they are widely celebrated for having restored the charm and character to the iconic flower. Austin died in Albrighton, Shropshire, England on December 18, 2018.

Jean Bourgain (64) Belgian mathematician who conquered difficult problems across a wide swath of fields. Bourgain’s honors included a Fields Medal in 1994, perhaps the most prestigious prize in mathematics, and the 2017 Breakthrough Prize, accompanied by $3 million. That prize, whose sponsors include Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, and Sergey Brin, a founder of Google, attempts to bring popular attention to researchers at the cutting edge of science and mathematics. Bourgain wrote or cowrote more than 500 papers, far more than most professional mathematicians. He died of pancreatic cancer in Bonheiden, Belgium on December 22, 2018.

Oribe Canales (62) celebrity hairdresser who worked, and hung out, with models like Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Linda Evangelista in the era of big hair and fat shoulder pads. In the late ‘80s and early '90s, Canales, known professionally as simply Oribe, helped to build the careers of many women who became known as supermodels, giving them a look heightened by dramatic makeup and hair to match. Canales ran several salons, starting in 1984 with one inside the Parachute clothing store in Manhattan on the Upper West Side, followed by a second one at the store’s SoHo location. In 1991 he opened a lavish salon on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, followed by another, in ‘95, in Miami Beach, at South Beach. Both are now closed. Canales, who lived in Miami, died of liver and kidney failure in a New York City hospital on December 16, 2018 after going there for cancer treatment in November.

Dennis Johnson (80) composer who in 1959 wrote a trailblazing Minimalist work, a six-hour piano meditation of repeated notes and long pauses that went unheard for 50 years before being rediscovered. Until 2009, long after Johnson had dropped composing for a career as a mathematician, his music was known only by reputation. References to it were found in the writings of composer La Monte Young, who described Johnson as one of his closest musical allies when they were students at UCLA. Young is a founder of Minimalism, a genre of composition marked by repetition, gradual development, and sometimes spare harmonies. Johnson died of dementia in Morgan Hill, California on December 20, 2018.

Dr. Lewis L. Judd (88) as the US’s top mental health official, Judd helped to put in place the so-called Decade of the Brain, an ambitious research agenda focused on brain biology as the key to understanding and treating psychiatric problems. Judd was one of a generation of prominent psychiatrists who came to believe that the work of Freud and Jung, on which they had trained, was more art than science. Biology and genetics were the way forward, they argued, and Judd was in the right place at the right time to help make that happen. In 1987, after helping to build the University of California San Diego psychiatry department into a leader in research, he was chosen to take over the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, the world’s largest source of funding for brain and behavior research. Judd died of cardiac arrest in San Diego, California on December 16, 2018.

Colin Kroll (34) cofounder and chief executive of the HQ Trivia app. Before creating HQ Trivia, which live-streams 15-minute trivia shows twice a day to tens of thousands of mobile users, Kroll was among those who founded the 6-second video app Vine, which was sold to Twitter in 2012 and closed down in ’17. Kroll worked briefly for Twitter and later acknowledged being fired for “poor management” amid allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior toward women. HQ Trivia became a viral sensation when it debuted in August 2017, and it inspired an array of copycat apps. Kroll was found dead, apparently of a drug overdose, in his Lower Manhattan apartment on December 16, 2018.

Peter D. Meldrum (71) led the biotech company Myriad Genetics for 23 years, when it was at the heart of a landmark court battle involving whether two genes associated with breast cancer could be patented. Meldrum and Mark Skolnick founded Myriad Genetics in 1991, and Meldrum became its chief executive in ‘92, taking it from a small start-up to a publicly traded company that by the time he retired in 2015 had annual revenues of more than $700 million. Its most visible product during that time was a test for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that could indicate a heightened risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The company had been granted patents on those genes, which, working with several partners, it had isolated. Those patents, which the company vigorously defended during Meldrum’s tenure, enabled Myriad to monopolize the testing for mutations in the genes. A coalition of groups challenged the patents in court. In 2013 the Supreme Court invalidated the patents, ruling 9-0 that human genes, as opposed to those created synthetically, could not be patented. Meldrum died of a head injury sustained when he fell while playing touch football with his three grandsons, on December 20, 2018.

Babara Gardner Proctor (86) first black woman in the US to found her own advertising agency, in Chicago in 1970. Proctor eventually built Proctor & Gardner (using her maiden and married names) into a multimillion-dollar company. Her career also included a small role in bringing the music of the Beatles to the US and a mention, as an example of small-business success, from President Ronald Reagan during his 1984 State of the Union address. Proctor had recently fractured a hip in a fall and had dementia. She died in Chicago, Illinois on December 19, 2018.

James Rogers (71) chairman and chief executive of Duke Energy of Charlotte, North Carolina after its 2006 merger with Cincinnati, Ohio-based Cinergy, which he had headed for 11 years. Rogers retired at the end of 2013, stepping down as part of a settlement with the North Carolina utilities regulator, ending an investigation into the company’s takeover of in-state rival Progress Energy. Rogers cochaired fund-raising campaigns to create downtown museums and had a role in helping Charlotte to host the 2012 Democrat National Convention. He died in Louisville, Kentucky on December 17, 2018.


David M. O'Brien (67) scholar and author who dissected the Supreme Court’s internal machinations and ideological dynamics, treating it as a political institution as much as a legal one. O’Brien taught politics at the University of Virginia for almost 40 years. He wrote, cowrote, or edited more than a dozen books, the best known of which was Storm Center: The Supreme Court in American Politics (1986), which won the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award and is now in its 11th printing. The book focuses on the inner workings of the court and its culture, which O’Brien said is often more chaotic than it appears. He died of lung cancer in Charlottesville, Virginia on December 20, 2018.

News and Entertainment

Ricardo Barber (81) stage actor who left Cuba after spending time in a forced-labor camp during Fidel Castro’s rule and became a core member of the Spanish-language troupe Repertorio Español in New York. Barber was establishing himself as an actor in Havana when Castro came to power in 1959 in a Communist revolution that was hostile to many things, including homosexuality. Barber was gay, and in the late ‘60s he was placed in one of Castro’s “military units to aid production,” the agricultural labor camps known by the Spanish acronym UMAP, The camps were abolished after a few years, but the experience changed Barber’s feelings toward his country. He left in the mid-‘70s, going first to Spain, then, about four years later, settling in New York, where he joined Repertorio Español and was a member of the company from 1981 until his retirement in 2014. He died in New York City on December 17, 2018.

Norman Gimbel (91) Brooklyn-born lyricist who won a Grammy Award for a blues hit, “Killing Me Softly with His Song”; an Oscar for a folk ballad, “It Goes Like It Goes” (from Norma Rae); and TV immortality for series themes, including the ones for the sitcoms Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. Gimbel was famous for the English lyrics of “The Girl from Ipanema,” the 1964 bossa nova hit originally written in Portuguese. He also wrote English lyrics for Michel Legrand’s music from Jacques Demy’s romantic 1964 French film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, notably “I Will Wait for You” (“’Til you’re here beside me, ‘til I’m touching you”), and for what became “I Will Follow Him,” a solid hit about teenage adoration sung by Little Peggy March (age 15) in 1963. Gimbel died in Montecito, California, near Santa Barbara, on December 19, 2018.

Lee Leonard (89) host of sports and entertainment programs who introduced the Entertainment & Sports Programming Network (ESPN) to a small audience on the day of its debut in 1979. Leonard was a well-regarded veteran of local and national sports studio shows when executives at ESPN, which was just getting off the ground, asked him to be a coanchor of SportsCenter, envisioned as the network’s flagship news and highlights program. It was SportsCenter’s inaugural broadcast that launched the network, with Leonard delivering its first words, on September 7, 1979, setting ESPN on its path to becoming a TV empire. Leonard died in South Orange, New Jersey on December 16, 2018.

Galt MacDemot (89) composer of the score for Hair, the tribal rock musical that shocked mainstream theatergoers as it celebrated the drug-crazed, free-love, antiwar rebellious energy of hippies in the ‘60s. In 1968, when Hair opened on Broadway, MacDermot, a Canadian, cut an unlikely figure as its composer. His hair was short, he wore a shirt and tie, he didn’t smoke marijuana or drink alcohol, and he was approaching 40—putting him on the far side of the generation gap. He died in Staten Island, New York, one day before his 90th birthday, on December 17, 2018.

Penny Marshall (75) actress who costarred in the top-rated sitcom Laverne & Shirley before becoming the trailblazing director of smash-hit big-screen comedies such as Big and A League of Their Own. On Laverne & Shirley, among TV’s biggest hits for much of its eight-season run between 1976–83, Marshall starred as Laverne DeFazio alongside Cindy Williams as a pair of blue-collar roommates toiling on the assembly line of a Milwaukee brewery. A spinoff of Happy Days, the series was the rare network hit about working-class characters, and its self-empowering opening song (“Give us any chance, we’ll take it/Read us any rule, we’ll break it”) foreshadowed Marshall’s own path as a pioneering female filmmaker in the male-dominated movie business. She died in Los Angeles, California of cardiovascular disease caused by diabetes and heart failure, on December 17, 2018.

Peter Masterson (84) playwright, filmmaker, and actor (The Stepford Wives, 1975) with a knack for farce and drama whether cowriting the 1978 Tony-winning Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas or directing the movie adaptation of The Trip to Bountiful (1986), which won an Oscar for actress Geraldine Page. Masterson was the father of actress Mary Stuart Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes, 1991). His cousin was Texas-born playwright Horton Foote, who wrote the stage version of The Trip to Bountiful. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, inspired by the real-life Chicken Ranch brothel, ran for more than three years on Broadway and was adapted into a 1982 movie starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton. Peter Masterson died of Parkinson’s disease in Kinderhook, New York on December 18, 2018.

Donald Moffat (87) character actor who played Falstaff at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Larry Slade in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh on Broadway, and a sinister president in the film Clear & Present Danger. The stage, screen, and TV actor was a naturalized, thoroughly Americanized Englishman who in the early ‘50s had been a player with the Old Vic theater company in London. Moffat had long ago lost all traces of his British accent. In a career of nearly 50 years he amassed virtually all his 220 credits in the US—roles in some 80 stage plays (directed 10 more), about 70 Hollywood and TV movies, and at least 60 TV productions, including series, miniseries, and anthologies. Moffat died in Sleepy Hollow, New York from complications of a recent stroke, on December 20, 2018.

John Ford Noonan (77) playwright who enjoyed a prolific 30-year run marked by one particularly big Off-Broadway hit, A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking. The play, a two-character script about polar-opposite women who end up bonding—a format Noonan used repeatedly—opened at the Astor Place Theater in the spring of 1980 with Eileen Brennan and Susan Sarandon. The play, a comedy, ran for more than a year, the original stars giving way to other actresses, including Louise Lasser, JoBeth Williams, Susan Tyrrell, Anne Archer, Candy Clark, and Carrie Snodgress. Works for two actresses were in short supply at the time, and A Coupla White Chicks was soon being performed all over the US, its humor striking a universal chord. Noonan died of heart failure in Englewood, New Jersey on December 16, 2018.

David Shepherd (94) played a central role in the development of modern improvisational theater as a founder of the short-lived Compass Players in Chicago but declined to join its far more famous and influential successor, the Second City. Shepherd and Paul Sills started Compass in 1955 in the rear of a bar near the University of Chicago campus. In a departure from conventional theater, there were no scripts. Performers like Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Barbara Harris, and Shelley Berman invented scenes and characters on the spot based on audience suggestions, theatrical games, and short written scenarios inspired by the European tradition of commedia dell’arte. Shepherd died in Holyoke, Massachusetts on December 17, 2018.

Raven Wilkinson (83) one of the first black dancers to perform with a major ballet company, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a high-profile company that toured the US in the ‘40s and '50s. In those days the appearance of a black dancer onstage as a Sylph or a Swan in the South could incur threats from the Ku Klux Klan. Although Wilkinson was lighter-skinned and encouraged to wear pale makeup onstage, she always refused to hide her race. In recent years she was a mentor and friend to Misty Copeland, who in 2015 became the first black ballerina to be named a principal dancer at American Ballet Theater in New York, one of America's most important companies. Wilkinson died in New York City on December 17, 2018.

Politics and Military

Prince Talal bin Abdulaziz (87) senior member of the Saudi royal family who supported women’s rights and once led a group of dissident princes. Prince Talal was an older brother of King Salman and father of billionaire businessman and investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. He was the son of the founder and first ruler of modern Saudi Arabia, the late King Abdulaziz, whose sons have ruled since his death, with the throne passing from brother to brother. Prince Talal was minister of communications in the ‘50s and minister of finance in the early ‘60s. He was credited with opening the first private hospital in Riyadh in the ‘50s and providing funds for free medical care there. In 1957 he founded the first school for girls in Riyadh, at a time when females had no access to formal education in the landlocked capital and schools were open to boys only. He died in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 22, 2018.

Edda Goering (80) only daughter of Hermann Goering, leader of the Luftwaffe and Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man and potential successor. Edda Goering was a national celebrity from the day she was born. Her early childhood resembled a fairy tale. She grew up in Carinhall, an estate in the German countryside replete with priceless works of art and a child-size play palace. Hitler was her godfather, and her birthday inspired national celebrations. Her youthful idyll ended when the Allies defeated Germany in 1945. Her father, who had been convicted of war crimes and other charges at Nuremberg, committed suicide with a cyanide capsule in his cell hours before he was to be executed in 1946. Edda was 8 at the time. She defended her father’s legacy for the rest of her life. She died in Munich, Germany on December 21, 2018.

Roberto Suazo Córdova (91) country doctor who was president of Honduras in the ‘80s as that country was becoming the main US base for proxy wars in neighboring Nicaragua and El Salvador. Suazo Córdova was the first civilian president of Honduras after nearly 10 years of military rule in a Central American country that had been dominated by the military through most of its history. But his authority was limited. The commander of the armed forces, Gen. Gustavo Álvarez Martínez, remained the most powerful figure in Honduras, inviting the US to train and arm anti-Nicaraguan government forces—known as the Contras—on Honduran soil and serving as point man for US officials as they poured tens of millions of dollars into defeating the Communists in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Suazo Córdova died in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, on December 22, 2018.

Society and Religion

Simcha Rotem (94) Israeli Holocaust survivor, among the last known Jewish fighters from the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazis. Rotem, who went by the underground nickname “Kazik,” took part in the single greatest act of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Although guaranteed to fail, the Warsaw Ghetto uprising symbolized a refusal to succumb to Nazi atrocities and inspired other resistance campaigns by Jews and non-Jews alike. Rotem helped to save the last survivors of the uprising by smuggling them out of the burning ghetto through sewage tunnels. The Jewish fighters fought for nearly a month, fortifying themselves in bunkers and managing to kill 16 Nazis and wound nearly 100. Rotem died in Jerusalem, Israel on December 22, 2018.


Mel Hutchins (90) All-American center who helped to elevate Brigham Young University to the top ranks of college basketball in 1951 and became an NBA All-Star. Hutchins was an outstanding rebounder, both at Brigham Young and as a professional. He also gained acclaim for his defensive skills and had a jump shot when that was first becoming an offensive weapon. He joined with forward Roland Minson in taking Brigham Young to the championship of the 1951 National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden, at a time when it rivaled the NCAA championship tournament in prestige. His sister was Colleen Kay Hutchins (died 2010), Miss America of 1952. Mel Hutchins had been treated for Alzheimer’s disease. He died in Encinitas, California on December 19, 2018.

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