Back to Life In Legacy Main Page Pages for Previous Weeks Celebrity Deaths Message Board
Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, February 16, 2019

Hold pointer over photo for person's name. Click on photo to go to brief obit.
Click on name to return to picture.

Betty Ballantine, pioneer of paperback booksGordon Banks, British soccer goalkeeperDon Bragg, US champion pole vaulterPatrick Caddeli, political pollsterDavid Forden, Cold War CIA agentBruno Ganz, Swiss actorWalter B. Jones Jr., US congressmanLyndon LaRouche, US extremist presidential candidateAndrea Levy, prize-winning novelistGene Littler, champion golferRoderick MacFarquhar, Harvard scholar of Communist ChinaPedro Morales, champion wrestlerLuis M. Neco, high-ranking Puerto Rican official in NYPDRaymond K. Price Jr., Nixon speechwriterLee Radziwill, younger sister of Jackie Kennedy OnassisLi Rui, Chinese Communist historianJoe Sirola, actor and TV pitchman

Art and Literature

Betty Ballantine (99) pioneer of the modern paperback. Ballantine and her husband, Ian (died 1995), were a publishing team who vastly expanded the range and availability of paperbacks and released budget-priced editions of such blockbusters as The Hobbit and Fahrenheit 451. The Ballantines published everything from reprints of Mark Twain novels to paperbacks of contemporary best-sellers. They helped to establish the paperback market for science fiction, Westerns, and other genres. They started out as importers of Penguin paperbacks from England and founded two lasting imprints: Bantam Books and Ballantine Books. Betty Ballantine died in Bearsville, New York on February 12, 2019.

Andrea Levy (62) prize-winning novelist who chronicled the hopes and horrors experienced by the post-World War II generation of Jamaican immigrants in Britain. One of the first black British authors to achieve both critical and commercial success, Levy was best known for her novel Small Island, which tells the story of two couples, one English and one Jamaican, whose lives intertwine in London after the war. The saga of war and racism won several major literary prizes: the Orange Prize for women's fiction, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and the Whitbread Book of the Year award. Levy died of cancer in London, England on February 14, 2019.


Roderick MacFarquhar (88) scholar of Communist China whose writing on Mao’s power politics influenced how people around the world understood China. MacFarquhar specialized in the origins of the Cultural Revolution, the 10 years of turmoil that terrorized China beginning in 1966. His three-volume work, The Origins of the Cultural Revolution, came to be considered a classic. The research for those books, based on official texts, public speeches, and Mao’s own words, opened a world hidden to the West and illuminated an era of China’s past that still seems almost unfathomable. At Harvard MacFarquhar taught history and political science and was known for his wit and informality. He died of heart failure in Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 10, 2019.


Luis M. Neco (87) became the highest-ranking Puerto Rican official the New York police had ever appointed when he was named a deputy commissioner in 1968. Born in Puerto Rico and brought to the Bronx with his family when he was 3, Neco was an assistant corporation counsel during the Lindsay administration when Police Commissioner Howard R. Leary recruited him to be a deputy commissioner, in charge of the department’s license division. The division oversaw the granting of gun permits, which it continues to do, and the accrediting of cab drivers, which has since been delegated to a separate commission. Neco died in West Palm Beach, Florida on February 10, 2019.

News and Entertainment

Bruno Ganz (77) Swiss actor who played Adolf Hitler cooped up in his Berlin bunker in Downfall (2004) and an angel in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (1987). A prominent figure in the German-language theater world, Ganz shifted into movies in the ‘70s, appearing in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu and Wenders’ The American Friend, among others. In one of his more recent appearances, he starred as Sigmund Freund in The Tobacconist (2018). Ganz died in Zürich, Switzerland on February 15, 2019.

Pedro Morales (76) Hall of Fame professional wrestler who in the ‘70s and ‘80s became the first to win all three of what were then wrestling’s premier championships. Morales, who wrestled professionally for nearly 30 years, became a star in the early ‘70s. He was known as a vigorous puncher and a master of the Boston crab, a debilitating hold in which he grabbed his opponent’s legs, turned him face-down to the mat, and pulled the legs back toward his opponent’s head. Morales tangled with wrestlers like Mr. Fuji, Bruno Sammartino, and Ivan Koloff, whom he beat in Madison Square Garden to win the World Wide Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) title in 1970. He died of Parkinson’s disease in Perth Amboy, New Jersey on February 12, 2019.

Joe Sirola (89) actor who had a solid career playing secondary roles on TV and the stage and an even better one as an anonymous voice pitching gasoline, meat, rental cars, and countless other products in hundreds of TV commercials. Sirola was a show-business jack-of-all-trades, acting on Broadway, in small theaters, on TV soap operas and dramas, and in the occasional movie. Along the way he befriended fellow showbiz personalities large and small. When he’d tell stories about, say, his drinking buddy Richard Burton, he’d do it with a pretty good Burton impression. That vocal flexibility made him far richer than a journeyman actor could ever hope to be. In the ‘60s he began doing voiceover work and soon found himself in high demand. A 1971 article about him said he could be heard in 40 different commercials at that time and speculated that Americans who listened to the radio or watched TV probably heard his voice every single day. Sirola died of respiratory failure in New York City on February 10, 2019.

Politics and Military

Patrick Caddell (68) political pollster who helped to send an obscure peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter to the White House, later became disillusioned with fellow Democrats, and finally advised supporters of Donald J. Trump. While Caddell was considered instrumental in Carter’s victory, he also shared the credit for limiting him to a single term. He helped to persuade the president to deliver a speech that was intended to inspire the nation during an energy crisis and economic slump but instead tarred Carter as a weakling to a nation fed up with endless lines at gas stations, inflation, and joblessness. Instead, in 1980 voters chose Ronald Reagan, a Republican who promised a rosier vision that he described during his successful reelection campaign as “morning again in America.” Caddell died of a stroke in Charleston, South Carolina on February 16, 2019.

David Forden (88) American intelligence officer who helped a highly placed Polish colonel to deliver vital secrets for eight years during the Cold War, including advance warnings that may have helped to prevent a Soviet invasion of Poland. Forden was a Polish-speaking former Warsaw station chief for the Central Intelligence Agency who had returned to the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia when, from 1973–81, he oversaw the flow of Warsaw Pact military secrets from Ryszard Kuklinski, a colonel on the Polish Army’s general staff and a liaison with Moscow. Kuklinski gave Washington a heads-up that the Soviets were poised to invade Poland, as they had invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, if the Poles failed to squelch growing dissent. President Jimmy Carter publicly warned them not to and mustered diplomatic pressure. In December 1981, Kuklinski warned the US that the Polish government was about to impose martial law to crush Solidarity, the grass-roots dissident movement. The warning enabled Washington to better assess the implications of military maneuvers in and around Poland. Forden died of Alzheimer’s disease in Alexandria, Virginia on February 12, 2019.

Walter B. Jones Jr. (76) Republican US congressman from North Carolina, a once-fervent supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq who later became an equally outspoken critic of the war. Jones was a political maverick unafraid to buck his own party. He was one of the first Republicans to reverse direction on the war in Iraq, even as his home district included the sprawling Marine installation Camp Lejeune. His ultimate opposition to the Iraq war came with the irony that he had instigated a symbolic slap against the French when their country early on opposed US military action. Jones was among the House members who led a campaign that resulted in the chamber’s cafeteria offering “freedom fries” and “freedom toast”—instead of French fries and French toast. Jones said he introduced legislation that would have required President George W. Bush’s administration to begin withdrawing troops in 2006 because the reason given for invading Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, had proved false. He died in Greenville, North Carolina on his 76th birthday, February 10, 2019.

Lyndon LaRouche (96) political extremist who ran for president in every election from 1976–2004, including a campaign waged from federal prison after a 1988 conviction for mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by defaulting on more than $30 million in loans from campaign supporters. The cultlike figure, who espoused a wide range of conspiracy theories and advocated for an overhaul of the world’s economic and financial systems, ran first as a US Labor Party candidate and later, after an apparent shift to the right, as a Democrat or independent. In 1986 LaRouche described himself as being in the tradition of the American Whig party, a forerunner of the Republican Party in the first half of the 19th century. In 1990 he ran unsuccessfully to represent Virginia in Congress. His views evolved throughout his life, but a central tenet of his platform warned of an inevitable global downward slide into crisis. He died on February 12, 2019.

Raymond K. Price Jr. (88) pipe-smoking speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon who helped to write the first and last words of his presidency, his two Inaugural Addresses and his resignation speech. Price was editorial page editor of the New York Herald Tribune when it closed in 1966, and when he joined Nixon’s nascent second presidential campaign in ‘67, he brought with him the moderate Republicanism that had characterized that newspaper’s opinion pages. His loyalty to Nixon was never-bending, even though he later admitted that he had been “deceived” by the president on aspects of the Watergate cover-up at the time it happened. Price died of a stroke in New York City on February 13, 2019.

Li Rui (101) over nearly 40 years Li went from being one of Mao Zedong’s personal secretaries in the ‘50s to a Communist Party critic, revisionist historian, and standard-bearer for liberal values in China. His perseverance and longevity made him one of the most influential government critics in the 70-year history of the People’s Republic of China. His work also helped to reshape historians’ understanding of key moments in modern Chinese history—especially Mao’s responsibility for the catastrophic Great Leap Forward, in which famine killed more than 35 million people—while his political connections allowed him to protect moderate critics and make open appeals for free speech and constitutional government. But Li was no dissident. He was a Communist Party member to the end, enjoying the privileges that came from having joined the party in 1937, earlier than almost anyone else alive in China. Li died in Beijing, China of organ failure brought on by a lung inflammation and cancer of the digestive tract, on February 16, 2019.

Society and Religion

Lee Radziwill (85) former princess who shared the qualities of wealth, social status, and ambition with her older sister, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (died 1994), but struggled as an actor, decorator, and writer to share her sister’s success. Living in the shadow of one of the world’s most famous women, the wife of President John F. Kennedy, Radziwill was hardly immune to competitive instincts. Jackie Kennedy had helped to create the mystique of the thousand days of Camelot—a woman who had made her new home a place of elegance and culture, who had brought babies into the White House for the first time in the 20th century. Radziwill, wife of a Polish émigré nobleman, Prince Stanislas Radziwill, was an international socialite and fashion icon who for years was on lists of the world’s best-dressed women. Like Jackie, she had cultivated passion for painting, music, dance, and poetry. She made several attempts for professional recognition but achieved only pale reflections of the spotlight on her sister. Radziwill died in New York City on February 15, 2019.


Gordon Banks (81) British goalkeeper known for blocking a header from Pele that many consider the greatest save in soccer history. Banks became one of English soccer’s most revered players after helping England to win the 1966 World Cup on home soil. He conceded only one goal in five games before England beat West Germany, 4-2, in the final at Wembley Stadium. At the next World Cup, playing against Brazil in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1970, Banks scurried across his line and dived to his right to stop a downward header from Pele. Banks died in Stoke-on-Trent, England on February 12, 2019.

Don Bragg (83) was denied his dream of playing Tarzan in the movies but parlayed his imposing physique into a gold medal in the pole vault at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Competing in the era of relatively rigid aluminum poles, which required superior upper-body strength, Bragg dominated the pole vault in the late ‘50s. Already the holder of world indoor and outdoor records, he vaulted 15 feet 5 inches at the Rome Games—exceeding by almost 6 inches the Olympic record set by Bob Richards in 1956—despite having injured a leg muscle a few weeks earlier. Bragg dueled for over six hours with his teammate Ron Morris, who won the silver medal, then climbed the victory stand and let out a Tarzan yell. He had been in failing health since suffering a stroke in 2009. He died in Oakley, California, near San Francisco, on February 16, 2019.

Gene Littler (88) golfer whose fluid swing carried him to 29 victories on the Professional Golfers Association Tour and a US Open title at Oakland Hills. Littler held his own among the golfing greats to emerge from San Diego with a tempo to his swing that made the game look easy. He was known as “Gene the Machine,” and he won the first of his tour titles in the 1954 San Diego Open while still an amateur. He won the 1955 Los Angeles Open for his first pro victory and later won three more times that year. A testament to the quality of his swing was that Littler had a malignant tumor removed from the lymph glands under his left arm in 1972 when he was 42, and he won four more times. He won three times at age 45 in 1975. Littler had neuropathy in his legs and had had several falls. He died in San Diego, California on February 15, 2019.

Previous Week
Next Week

Return to Main Page
Return to Top