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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, January 26, 2019

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Kaye Ballard, comic actress, with Eve Arden in 'The Mothers-in-Law'Lamia al-Gailani Werr, Iraqui archaeologistFatima Ali, fan favorite of 'Top Chef' 15th seasonDiana Athill, British writer and book editorRussell Baker, NY Times columnist and 'Masterpiece Theatre' hostFlorence Knoll Bassett, designer of modern corporate officeEdwin Birdsong, keyboard player and recording  producerAlan Canter, owner of Canter's Deli in LALeonard Dinnerstein, historian of anti-SemitismAlbert J. ('Chainsaw Al') Dunlap, business executiveNoman Goodman, longtime Manhattan county clerkFrances Grill, founder of Click Model ManagementJean Guillou, French organ masterRobert Haines, captain of Scripps research vesselsStanley Hill, NYC labor leaderMaj. Charles S. Kettles, Vietnam War helicopter heroLyn Kienholz, advocate for California artistsDumisani Kumalo, South African who fought apartheidDusan Makavejev, Serbian film directorCapt. Rosemary Mariner, pioneering US Navy pilotJohn Mason, California ceramic sculptorSharon Mattes, lost custody of her son to her own motherJonas Mekas, avant-garde documentarianOliver Mtukudzi, African musicianRev. Clark B. Olsen, witnessed civil rights era murderDr. Norman Orentreich, pioneer of hair transplantationMeshulam Riklis, financier best known as husband of actress Pia ZadoraJacqueline Steiner, cowriter of 'MTA'Fred Thompson, founder and coach of track club for womenBrandon Truaxe, founder of Canadian cosmetics company DeciemAndy Vajna, Hungarian-American film producerHarris Wofford, America's 'volunteer in chief'

Art and Literature

Diana Athill (101) writer and book editor who polished the work of novelists including John Updike and Margaret Atwood before finding late-life fame as a frank memoirist. Born to a wealthy English family in London in 1917, Athill worked for the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) during World War II and after the war cofounded the Andre Deutsch publishing house, where she worked as an editor for 50 years, nurturing writers including Updike, Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, Jean Rhys, and V. S. Naipaul. One of the first successes for the fledgling enterprise was Mailer's The Naked & the Dead. Athill published a memoir, Instead of a Letter—an account of an unhappy wartime love affair—in 1963 and later produced several more volumes, recounting a long and eventful life as a woman in a male-dominated literary world. She died in London, England on January 23, 2019.

Lyn Kienholz (88) advocate for California artists and founder of the California/International Arts Foundation. Kienholz was well known within the art world for her commitment to raising the profile of California artists abroad—not to mention her lively dinner parties that connected artists, writers, politicians, and tastemakers from all over the world. She died of congestive heart failure in the Hollywood Hills, California on January 25, 2019.

John Mason (91) California sculptor known for groundbreaking, large-scale, ceramic abstractions. Mason was known for a creative vision that ignored the conventions of ceramic art. He was a central figure in a major southern California shift in the ‘50s and ’60s, when ceramics turned away from traditional craft, decorative objects, and functionality and moved toward abstraction, monumentality, and human emotion. He died in Carlsbad, California on January 20, 2019.


Business and Science

Lamia al-Gailani Werr (80) Iraqi archaeologist who helped to rebuild the Baghdad museum after it was looted following the 2003 US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein. Al-Gailani Werr was one of Iraq’s first women to excavate the country’s archaeological heritage. A devotee of her country’s heritage, she lent her expertise to restore relics stolen from the museum for its reopening in 2015. She also championed a new antiquities museum for the city of Basra, which opened in 2016. She died in Amman, Jordan on January 25, 2019.

Florence Knoll Bassett (101) pioneering designer and entrepreneur who created the modern look and feel of America’s postwar corporate office with sleek furniture, artistic textiles, and an uncluttered, free-flowing workplace environment. To connoisseurs of Modernism, the mid-20th-century designs of Florence Knoll, as she was known, were—and still are—the essence of the genre’s clean, functional forms. Transcending design fads, they are still influential, still contemporary, still common in offices, homes, and public spaces, still found in dealers’ showrooms and represented in museum collections. In the ‘40s Florence Schust married and became a business partner of German-born furniture maker Hans Knoll (killed in a 1955 car accident), and over 20 years she was instrumental in building Knoll Associates into the largest and most prestigious high-end design firm of its kind, with 35 showrooms in the US and around the world. She died in Coral Gables, Florida on January 25, 2019.

Alan Canter (82) owner of Canter’s Deli, a Los Angeles fixture for decades. Canter’s father, Ben, along with his uncles, opened the original deli in 1931 in Boyle Heights. By 1953 Canter's had moved into its current home, the old Esquire theater building at 419 North Fairfax, and became a 24-hour restaurant—one of the first in the city. Its cocktail lounge, the Kibitz Room, became a late-night postconcert watering hole for the likes of Jim Morrison, Courtney Love, and Jakob Dylan, Bob Dylan’s son. The deli remains a popular gathering place for old and young and continues to attract its share of celebrities. Alan Canter died in Los Angeles, California on January 25, 2019.

Albert J. ('Chainsaw Al') Dunlap (81) business executive whose penchant for turning around troubled companies by laying off workers and closing factories earned him the nickname “Chainsaw Al,” but whose career ended in an accounting scandal. Dunlap portrayed himself as a foe of corporate waste and a servant of the shareholders who benefited from his actions. In the ‘90s, when he ran Scott Paper, he laid off 11,200 workers. It was just one measure he took that brought him financial rewards of $100 million in salary, stock profits, and other compensation after engineering the company’s sale to Kimberly-Clark in 1995. In June 1998 Dunlap’s corporate career came to a quick end when Sunbeam’s board fired him in the wake of several quarterly earnings disappointments and regulatory filings that showed that Sunbeam had essentially applied 1998 payments—from retailers buying barbecue grills—to the previous year’s books, creating a false picture of a surge in ‘97 sales. He died of prostate cancer in Ocala, Florida on January 25, 2019.

Frances Grill (90) in 1980 Grill founded Click Model Management, a New York agency that gained wide attention for the diversity of its models in a less-inclusive era. From its inception, Click refused to be limited by any conventional standards of what a model should look like. Over the years it has represented white models (Elle Macpherson, model-actresses Isabella Rossellini and Uma Thurman), black models (Gail O’Neill and singer-actress Whitney Houston), transgender model Teri Toye, and male model Attila Von Somogyi. Grill's trademark accessory was a pair of large eyeglasses, which she began wearing in the early ‘80s to keep cigarette smoke out of her eyes. She died in New York City on January 24, 2019.

Robert Haines (92) spent most of his life at sea aboard warships, research vessels, 8-foot dinghies, and everything in between. During his 35 years with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Haines rose from deckhand to captain. While roaming the Pacific Ocean, he encountered an underwater volcano, witnessed an atomic bomb blast, and charted a course through the eye of a tropical cyclone. Retiring from Scripps in 1985, Haines devoted himself to sailing—was a Coronado Yacht Club member—golfing, and family. He died in Coronado, San Diego, California on January 26, 2019.

Dr. Norman Orentreich (96) dermatologist who, in a quest for a treatment for male baldness, pioneered the transplantation of hair from the back of the head to the scalp and discovered that the transplanted hair grew. Because of Orentreich's discovery, a multibillion-dollar global hair transplant industry now exists to provide long-term relief for receding hairlines. His breakthrough established him as a maverick in cosmetic medicine and a magnet for media coverage. He died of pneumonia in New York City on January 23, 2019.

Meshulam Riklis (95) financier who used debt to acquire companies before that tactic became commonplace—but was best known beyond business circles for his 16-year marriage to singer and actress Pia Zadora. Born in Turkey and raised in Israel, Riklis was a corporate raider who built empires out of office equipment companies; retailers like the McCrory-McLellan chain and the Lerner Shops; a variety of outfits like BVD, Playtex, Fabergé, and liquor distiller Schenley; and the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. He also financed the start-up of Carnival Cruise Line with his friend Ted Arison. Starting in the ‘50s, his guiding principle was to use debt to acquire companies—money that he borrowed that would limit his financial exposure. Riklis and Zadora, his second wife, married in 1977, when he was 53 and she was 24, and divorced in '93. He died in Tel Aviv, Israel on January 25, 2019.

Brandon Truaxe (40) founder of the Canadian cosmetics company Deciem. News of Truaxe’s death came after a year of unusual behavior from the Deciem founder, much of which was displayed on social media. In Instagram posts on the company's account, Truaxe canceled the company’s marketing plans and partnerships. Executives began to leave the company in response to his odd behavior. Then, after a relatively quiet period, Truaxe announced in October 2018 that Deciem would shut down its operations, claiming that virtually all the company’s employees had been involved in “major criminal activity.” The investors interceded, asking a judge to remove Truaxe from the company to stop him from hurting the business. After he was removed, Truaxe’s odd behavior continued, up to and including the days immediately before his death in Toronto, Canada on January 20, 2019.


Education

Leonard Dinnerstein (84) University of Arizona historian whose doctoral dissertation on the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager in Atlanta, heralded his career as one of the nation’s foremost scholars of anti-Semitism. Dinnerstein had completed postgraduate course work at Columbia University in 1963 and was gravitating toward a thesis topic on political history when, at the suggestion of a friend, he researched and wrote about Frank, who ran a pencil factory and was sentenced to death for the strangling in 1913 of Mary Phagan, a 13-year-old employee. After the governor commuted the sentence to life imprisonment, a mob kidnapped Frank and hanged him. No one was prosecuted for the lynching. As a result, and because the state had failed to protect Frank so he could pursue legal appeals, he was posthumously pardoned in 1986 by the Georgia Board of Pardons & Paroles, although not officially absolved of the crime itself. Dinnerstein’s thesis was published in 1968 by Columbia University Press, titled simply The Leo Frank Case. It has never been out of print. Dinnerstein died of kidney failure in Tucson, Arizona on January 22, 2019.


News and Entertainment

Fatima Ali (29) voted by fans of the TV show Top Chef as their favorite contestant of Season 15. While her season on the reality culinary competition show was airing, Pakistan-born Ali announced in 2017 that she had Ewing’s sarcoma, which affects bone and soft tissue. She chronicled her fight against the rare form of cancer on social media. Interspersed with pictures of food on her Instagram page were photos of her in the hospital, her head bald from chemotherapy treatments in some and dyed platinum blonde in others. She died in San Marino, California on January 25, 2019.

Russell Baker (93) writer who won Pulitzer Prizes for his humorous “Observer” columns in the New York Times and a moving autobiography of his impoverished Baltimore childhood. Baker later hosted TV’s Masterpiece Theatre (1993–2004), succeeding Alistair Cooke. He began his career as a reporter in 1947 and rose to become a national Times reporter in Washington, DC in ’54. He covered Congress, the military, and the State Department during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations before tiring, he recalled, of waiting for politicians to come out of meeting rooms and lie to him. He drew upon those experiences for his column, writing as an outsider. Baker died in Leesburg, Virginia from complications after a fall, on January 21, 2019.

Kaye Ballard (93) comedian and singer who appeared in Broadway musicals and nightclubs from New York to Las Vegas and starred with Eve Arden (of the ‘50s sitcom Our Miss Brooks; died 1990) in the ‘60s TV sitcom The Mothers-in-Law from 1967–69. It marked a high point in a career that began when Ballard was 12 and lasted into the 21st century. She made a mark in every form of show business except movies. She did appear as a secondary player in a few films, including The Girl Most Likely (1958), starring Jane Powell, and in A House Is Not a Home (1964), but her high-octane personality may have been too potent for the big screen of that era and its more restrictive portrayals of women. Ballard died of kidney cancer in Rancho Mirage, California on January 21, 2019.

Edwin Birdsong (77) keyboard player and producer whose blend of funk, jazz, and disco music from the ‘70s and '80s developed a cult following and was sampled by a later generation of artists. Birdsong released a handful of solo albums, among them What It Is (1972), Super Natural (1973), and Edwin Birdsong (1979), but they achieved only limited success and he turned to working as a session musician and producer for better-known acts. But in the late ‘80s, other producers rediscovered Birdsong’s work, notably the songs “Rapper Dapper Snapper” and “Cola Bottle Baby”: The percussion and bass line of “Rapper Dapper Snapper” were an important part of “Me, Myself & I,” the breakout hit on De La Soul’s debut album, 3 Feet High & Rising (1989). Birdsong had suffered several strokes in the past and had congestive heart failure. He died in Inglewood, California on January 21, 2019.

Jean Guillou (88) French organ master whose modern-sounding compositions, unusual transcriptions, and idiosyncratic performances challenged centuries of tradition and were preserved on more than 100 recordings. Guillou never lost the capacity to shock in a career of nearly 80 years, from his beginnings as a church organist while still a child through the half-century he spent in one of the most important organ posts in France, at the church of St. Eustache in Paris. He bucked performance traditions, transcribed music by composers who could seem an odd fit for the organ, wrote ambitious organ works in his own idiom, and helped to design new organs that challenged conceptions of how the instrument should look and sound. He died in Paris, France on January 26, 2019.

Michel Legrand (86) romantic pianist, arranger, and composer of hundreds of film scores and songs that have become pop hits and love anthems. Over a career of more than 60 years, Legrand collaborated onstage, onscreen, and in the studio with dozens of celebrated musicians of his era, from Miles Davis to Perry Como, Stéphane Grappelli to Liza Minnelli. A three-time Oscar winner and five-time Grammy winner—he was nominated for a total of 13 Oscars and 17 Grammys—Legrand made the love song his forte. Among his better-known compositions are “The Windmills of Your Mind” from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), which won the Oscar for best song; “The Summer Knows,” the theme from Summer of ’42 (1971; Legrand won an Oscar for the movie’s score); and the Oscar-nominated “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” from the film The Happy Ending (1969); all three were written with lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Legrand died in Paris, France on January 26, 2019.

Dusan Makavejev (86) Serbian director whose movies, full of politics, sex, and metaphor, were hailed on the film festival circuit in the ‘60s, ’70s, and ’80s but also sometimes reviled. Makavejev was an avant-garde leader in the early ‘70s, thanks to movies like Man Is Not a Bird (1965), Innocence Unprotected (1968), and especially WR: Mysteries of the Organism, a hodgepodge that was a darling of the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. That movie, incorporating Makavejev’s signature mashing together of documentary footage and fictional elements, invoked the ideas of psychologist Wilhelm Reich (the “WR” of the title) to examine fascism, capitalism, sexual liberation, and more. Makavejev died in Belgrade, Serbia on January 25, 2019.

Jonas Mekas (96) Lithuanian-born director, critic, patron, and poet widely regarded as the godfather of modern American avant-garde film and as a documenter of his adopted New York. Mekas survived a Nazi labor camp and years as a refugee. He was artistic director of Anthology Film Archives, the New York-based nonprofit theater, a leading avant-garde cinema and center for film preservation. Weighted by the scars of wartime Europe and energized by postwar America, Mekas was at the center of a historic era for the avant-garde and befriended such celebrities as Jacqueline Kennedy, John Lennon, and Andy Warhol. He published poetry and memoirs, made hundreds of films and videos, wrote an influential column for the Village Voice, and opened the Anthology Film Archives, where a young Martin Scorsese was a frequent attendee. Mekas died in Brooklyn, New York on January 23, 2019.

Oliver Mtukudzi (66) one of Africa’s most iconic musicians whose decades of rollicking performances won him devoted fans worldwide. With his distinctive husky voice, Mtukudzi had a career that stretched from white minority-ruled Rhodesia to majority-ruled Zimbabwe, producing a string of hits that spread his fame across Africa and eventually to an international audience. Tuku, as he was widely known, avoided political controversy. The closest he came was with his 2001 song “Bvuma,” which in the Shona language means “accept that you are old” and was taken as a message to longtime leader Robert Mugabe to retire. Mugabe, who became increasingly autocratic during his decades in power, stepped down in 2017. Mtukudzi died of diabetes in Zimbabwe on January 23, 2019.

Jacqueline Steiner (94) lyricist who, early in her singing and songwriting career and with cowriter Bess Lomax Hawes, wrote “MTA” for a Boston mayoral candidate in 1949. They expected the song to fade after the election along with their candidate, who received only 1 per cent of the vote. But in 1959 the Kingston Trio picked it up. With a slightly new spin, the trio gave it a second life, and their At Large album, with the song, “MTA” (also known as “Charlie on the MTA” as the opening track, hit No. 1 on the charts. It received a third life in 2004, when Boston officials did away with subway tokens and issued an automated fare card. They called it the CharlieCard, which is still its name. Steiner died of pneumonia in Norwalk, Connecticut on January 25, 2019.

Andy Vajna (74) Hungarian-American film producer who worked on several Rambo movies with Sylvester Stallone, Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Madonna’s Evita. Vajna also produced many other films. He was owner of the TV2 Group, a Hungarian company that owns several TV channels, including TV2, one of Hungary's two main broadcasters and politically aligned closely with Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government. Since 2011 Vajna had been a commissioner in the Orban government, in charge of developing Hungary’s film industry. Hungarian films have won several top prizes at recent international festivals. In 2016, Son of Saul, financed mostly by Hungary’s National Film Fund, won the Oscar for best foreign language film. Vajna died in Budapest, Hungary on January 20, 2019.


Politics and Military

Norman Goodman (95) for 45 years the clerk of New York County—Manhattan. Although the clerk’s office juggles many duties, from handling local business filings to operating a passport service, it was as a summoner of jurors that Goodman was most widely known. A lawyer, he was one of the city’s longest-serving public employees, an institution like the Automat and even more enduring. He held the county clerk’s post, in principle a lifetime appointment, from 1969 until his retirement on December 31, 2014, the day after his 91st birthday. Over those years he issued between 11 million and 12 million jury summonses. Goodman died of Parkinson's disease in New York City on January 24, 2019.

Stanley Hill (82) pioneering black labor leader who headed New York's largest public employee union for more than 10 years, until he was forced to step down amid revelations of overspending and mismanagement. A former welfare caseworker, Hill rose to become a major player in the intertwined worlds of local union and party politics. He was the first black executive director of District Council 37 of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, the largest public employee union in New York City. He served from 1987–99, when he retired under pressure. Heading the confederation of 56 locals, Hill helped his 120,000 members, who ranged from accountants to zookeepers, to avoid threatened layoffs. He also persuaded the New York State Legislature to sweeten pension benefits, swayed the city not to privatize municipal hospitals, and won a three-year guarantee of job security in 1995. Hill died of pneumonia in Queens, New York on January 25, 2019.

Maj. Charles S. Kettles (89) US Army helicopter commander in the Vietnam War who led an extraordinary rescue operation that saved the lives of dozens of airborne troops who had been ambushed by North Vietnamese soldiers in May 1967. Kettles was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s highest citation for valor after the Medal of Honor, in 1968. But the story of his heroism and those of his fellow helicopter crewmen remained largely unknown beyond military circles for nearly 50 years. That changed on July 18, 2016, when President Barack Obama presented Kettles with the Medal of Honor at the White House. He died in Ypsilanti, Michigan on January 21, 2019.

Dumisani Kumalo (71) was pivotal in the antiapartheid campaign to halt investment in South Africa and, after white minority rule ended in the ‘90s, spent 10 years as the country’s representative to the United Nations. Early in his career Kumalo was a reporter for various South African publications, and in the ‘70s he became increasingly involved with antiapartheid causes. He left that country to live in the US after the police wrecked his home and threatened him in 1977. Working for the American Committee on Africa and the Africa Fund, promoting divestment, he traveled the US urging pension funds, universities, cities, states, and the federal government itself to shed investments in companies doing business with South Africa. He returned there to witness the historic 1994 election that marked the end of apartheid and brought Nelson Mandela to the presidency. Kumalo died of an asthma attack in the Johannesburg suburb of Midrand, South Africa on January 20, 2019.

Capt. Rosemary Mariner (65) shattered barriers when she became one of the US Navy’s first female pilots and the first woman to command a naval aviation squadron—and later successfully fought for a congressional measure that lifted a ban on women serving in combat. When Mariner joined the Navy in 1973, she was a licensed pilot and a graduate of Purdue University where she had been the first woman to enroll in a newly created aeronautics program. Most women in the Navy of the early ‘70s were assigned to hospital posts or clerical jobs. But times were about to change. After graduating from officer candidate school in 1973, Mariner was chosen for the Navy’s first flight-training class for women. She was among six of its graduates to earn wings in 1974. In 1975 she became the first female aviator in the Navy to fly a jet attack craft, a single-seat Skyhawk. In 1990 she was named commander of a Navy tactical electronic warfare squadron at Naval Air Station Point Mugu in southern California. Mariner died of ovarian cancer in Knoxville, Tennessee on January 24, 2019.

Harris Wofford (92) former US senator from Pennsylvania whose passion for getting people involved helped to create John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps, Bill Clinton’s AmeriCorps, and other service organizations and made him America’s volunteer in chief. By the time he became a senator in May 1991, appointed after his predecessor was killed in an aircraft accident, Wofford was already 65. He had been a lawyer, an author, a professor, president of two colleges, a special assistant to President John F. Kennedy, an adviser to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., chairman of the Pennsylvania Democrat Party, the state’s secretary of labor and industry, a champion of civil rights, and a leading force in America’s national and community service movement. Wofford died in Washington, DC of complications from a fall at his apartment several days earlier, on January 21, 2019.


Society and Religion

Sharon Mattes (48) under her maiden name, Sharon Bottoms, Mattes was at the center of a much-publicized custody case in Virginia in the ‘90s in which her own mother argued that she and her same-sex partner were not suitable parents. In a decade when gay-rights issues made frequent headlines, Bottoms v. Bottoms was a flash point. The case, in which Mattes ultimately lost custody of her young son to her mother, stretched for years as various courts gave differing rulings. Mattes had shunned the spotlight for the last 20 years. She died in Richland, North Carolina on January 21, 2019.

Rev. Clark B. Olsen (85) responded to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for clergy members to come to Selma, Alabama in March 1965 and ended up as a witness to one of the most galvanizing murders of the civil rights era. Olsen had traveled to Selma to show support for voting rights and other causes two days after marchers there had been attacked in the clash known as Bloody Sunday. He was walking with two other white Unitarian ministers, Orloff W. Miller and James J. Reeb, when they were set upon by white thugs. One of them struck Reeb in the head with a club; the minister died two days later. The killing shocked the nation and helped President Lyndon B. Johnson to push through the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was signed into law that August. Olsen, who testified at a trial in which three men were acquitted by an all-white jury, told his story countless times in schools, talks, and interviews over the years. He died of heart failure on Martin Luther King Day in Asheville, North Carolina, on January 21, 2019.


Sports

Fred Thompson (85) founded a Brooklyn track club for girls and young women in 1963 and coached national and Olympic medalists as he championed the cause of female track-and-field athletes for 50 years. A lawyer and former New York State assistant attorney general, Thompson founded the Atoms Track Club of Brooklyn in a Bedford-Stuyvesant community center, mostly out of frustration with New York public schools that, for budgetary and other reasons, limited the participation of girls, but not necessarily of boys, in physical education and high school sports. Thompson was also founding organizer of the annual Colgate Women’s Games, the nation’s largest amateur track series for women. Since 1974 the games, open to girls and women from elementary school through college (and with a competitive division for women over 30), have attracted thousands of participants, mostly from East Coast states, to various venues from Boston to Virginia. Thompson died of Alzheimer's disease in Brooklyn, New York on January 22, 2019.


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