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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, March 16, 2019

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Birch Bayh, former US senator from IndianaRichard Erdman, familiar character actorHal Blaine, studio recording session drummerGodfried, Cardinal Danneels of BelgiuymDick Dale, 'King of Surf Guitar'Okwui Enwezor, Nigerian art curatorBarbara Hammer, experimental filmmakerTom Hatten, LA TV personalityHarry R. Hughes, former Maryland governorJohnny ('Lam') Jones, football and track starAlan B. Krueger, economist who advised Clinton and ObamaW. S. Merwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning poetRalph Metzner, psychotherapistJ. H. Kwabena Nketia, Ghanaian ethnomusicologist of African musicJake Phelps, longtime editor of 'Thrasher,' skateboarding magazineWilliam C. Powers Jr., exposed Enron scandalSir John Richardson, historian and biographer of PicassoCharles Sanna, developer of Swiss MissMarjorie Weinman Sharmat, author of children's booksAl Silverman, sportswriter and author of 'Brian's Song'Anita Silvers, philosophy professorGreg Topper, Orange County rock singer and pianistDavid White, second from left, singer and songwriter for doo-wop group Danny & the JuniorsCharles Whiting, Formula One race director at FIA

Art and Literature

Okwui Enwezor (55) Nigerian curator whose large-scale exhibitions displaced European and American art from its central position as he forged a new approach to art for a global age. In ambitious exhibitions staged in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the US, Enwezor presented contemporary art against a backdrop of world history and cultural exchange. His 2002 edition of Documenta, an important exhibition staged once every five years in Kassel, Germany, stands as a major achievement in recent art history. Although earlier shows like “Magiciens de la Terre” (Paris, 1989) had begun to tell a worldwide story of art, the 2002 Documenta was a testament to how widely Enwezor was enlarging art world horizons and positioning artists of the 20th century avant-garde as just a few actors in a vast ebb and flow of world civilization. Many of his most acclaimed shows were group exhibitions and biennials. Besides Documenta, he curated the 2008 Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, the ‘12 Paris Triennale, and the ‘15 Venice Biennale. Enwezor died of cancer in Munich, Germany on March 15, 2019.

W. S. Merwin (91) master of modern poetry who evolved through a wide range of styles as he celebrated nature, condemned war and industrialism, and reached for the elusive past. A Pulitzer Prize winner and former US poet laureate, Merwin completed more than 20 books, from early works inspired by myths and legends to late meditations on age and time. He wrote rhymes and blank verse, a brief report on the month of January, and a book-length story in verse about colonialism and the birth of modern Hawaii. Merwin died in his sleep on the Hawaiian island of Maui, on March 15, 2019.

Sir John Richardson (95) historian and critic whose multivolume series on Pablo Picasso (died 1973) drew on his personal and aesthetic affinity for the Spanish painter and was widely praised as a work of art in its own right. London-born Richardson’s first Picasso book, A Life of Picasso: The Prodigy, 1881–1906 came out in 1991 and was followed by editions covering 1907–16 and 1917–32. Richardson had been well into a fourth volume, in the works for over 10 years. He died in New York City on March 12, 2019.

Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (90) author of children's books, including the popular Nate the Great detective series, which has helped generations of children to learn how to read—and how to sleuth. Sharmat turned out more than 130 books for children and young adults, many of which have been translated into multiple languages. They have regularly been Literary Guild selections and often chosen as a book of the year by the Library of Congress. Sharmat died of respiratory failure in Munster, Indiana on March 12, 2019.

Business and Science

Ralph Metzner (82) psychotherapist who began his career working with Timothy Leary (died 1996) on controversial studies at Harvard involving LSD and other drugs, then spent a lifetime exploring and writing about expanded consciousness in all sorts of cultures and settings. Metzner was a graduate student when he began working with Leary and Richard Alpert, who were clinical psychology professors and had begun exploring therapeutic and other uses for LSD, psilocybin, and similar hallucinogens. The three later collaborated on The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead (1964), one of the core texts of the emerging psychedelic movement. Leary and Alpert were both dismissed from Harvard in 1963 amid revelations that they had given hallucinogens to undergraduates as part of their research. Leary became an especially flamboyant figure in the counterculture, coining the catch-phrase. “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Metzner died of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in Sonoma, California on March 14, 2019.

Charles Sanna (101) developer, in the late '50s, of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix for his family's company, Sanna Dairy Engineers. Swiss Miss was sold in 1967 to Beatrice Foods, which was bought in '90 by ConAgra, which estimates that it sells more than 50 million boxes of the cocoa mix annually. A dozen instant drinks and puddings are now sold under the Swiss Miss brand. The mix can be incorporated into 44 recipes, ranging from chicken mole skillet to tropical ambrosia salad. Sanna died in Madison, Wisconsin on March 13, 2019.


J. H. Kwabena Nketia (97) Ghanaian ethnomusicologist and composer who became the world’s leading scholar on African musical traditions. In a career stretching back to the ‘50s and continuing into his 90s, Nketia wrote hundreds of articles and books in English and Twi, a Ghanaian language, on topics ranging from music theory to folklore, and scores of compositions. He held professorships at UCLA, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Ghana, where he helped to shape the curriculum after Ghana broke free from British rule. His 1974 book, The Music of Africa, is widely considered a definitive historical study, and Ethnomusicology & African Music, a collection of his writings published in 2005, is used in classrooms throughout Africa and across the world. As a composer, Nketia wrote music for choirs, solo voices, and instrumental groups that used both African and Western instruments. His music was particularly informed by the sounds of Ghana, but he integrated influences from across the African continent. Nketia died in Legon, a suburb of Accra, the capital of Ghana, on March 13, 2019.

Anita Silvers (78) philosophy professor at San Francisco State University, a leading voice in the interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, arguing that disability rights should be viewed the same as other civil rights, not as an accommodation or as a social safety net issue. Silvers was already a well-regarded scholar with an expertise in aesthetics in the ‘90s when she began to focus on disability law and definitions related to it. She knew about disabilities first-hand: she had polio as a child, and the disease left her with limited mobility. The Americans with Disabilities Act had been passed in 1990, and Silvers began to examine how it was being interpreted, whether philosophically, in the courts, or on her own campus. She died of pneumonia in San Francisco, California on March 14, 2019.


William C. Powers Jr. (72) long-serving president of the University of Texas who earlier produced a scathing report in 2002 on the wrongdoing that led to the collapse of the Enron Corp. Powers was president of the University of Texas at Austin, the flagship campus of the state’s sprawling university system, from 2006–15, But it was while he was a top legal scholar and dean of the University of Texas law school that he came to national prominence. In 2001 he joined Enron’s board and agreed to lead a committee to investigate the company’s financial dealings. Its findings led to one of the nation’s largest corporate scandals and the collapse of Enron, a Houston-based energy company that had started to implode in 2000. Powers’ blistering 217-page report found a culture of deception, self-dealing, and self-enrichment at Enron. Controls, it said, had failed at almost every level, and the losers were the company’s shareholders, to the tune of more than $60 billion. Powers died in Austin, Texas from complications of a fall and oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy, a rare, adult-onset muscle disorder, on March 10, 2019.

News and Entertainment

Hal Blaine {90) session drummer and virtual one-man soundtrack of the ‘60s and ’70s who played on the songs of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and the Beach Boys and laid down one of music’s most memorable opening riffs on the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” The winner of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018, Blaine’s name was known by few outside the music industry, even in his prime. But just about anyone with a turntable, radio, or TV heard his drumming on songs that included Presley’s “Return to Sender,” the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were,” the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations,” dozens of hits produced by Phil Spector, and the theme songs to Batman, The Partridge Family, and other shows. As a member of the Los Angeles-based “The Wrecking Crew,” studio musicians, Blaine played on 40 No. 1 hits, 150 top 10 songs, and eight songs that won Grammys for record of the year, including Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water.” He may have been the only drummer to back Presley, Sinatra, and John Lennon. Blaine died in Palm Desert, California on March 11, 2019.

Dick Dale (81) “King of the Surf Guitar” whose loud, power-chord instrumentals on songs like “Miserlou” and “Let’s Go Trippin’” earned him that title. Dale liked to say it was he and not the Beach Boys who invented surf music—and some critics have said he was right. An avid surfer, Dale started building a devoted Los Angeles fan base in the late ‘50s with repeated appearances at Newport Beach’s old Rendezvous Ballroom. He played “Miserlou,” “The Wedge,” “Night Rider,” and other compositions at wall-rattling volume on a custom-made Fender Stratocaster guitar. “Miserlou,” which became his signature song, had been adapted from a Middle Eastern folk tune Dale heard as a child and later transformed into a thundering surf-rock instrumental. His fingering style was so frenetic that he shredded guitar picks during songs, a technique that forced him to stash spares on his guitar’s body. Dale died of heart and kidney failure in Loba Linda, California on March 16, 2019.

Richard Erdman (93) wisecracking character actor who appeared in more than 175 film and TV productions, including as a barracks chief in Stalag 17, a time-stopping boor on The Twilight Zone, and an elderly college student on the more recent sitcom Community. For many viewers, Erdman was the consummate “that guy”—a difficult-to-identify-but-recognizable supporting player who injected wit and energy into TV shows such as Perry Mason, Cheers, Murder, She Wrote, and eventually Community, which endeared him to a younger generation when the series premiered on NBC in 2009. It moved to Yahoo’s streaming service for its sixth and final season in 2015. Erdman made his film debut as a messenger boy in Mr. Skeffington (1944), starring Bette Davis, and later appeared in dozens of crime dramas and military epics, often as the hero’s witty sidekick. He performed on radio programs with Orson Welles and Jack Benny; was featured in films alongside James Cagney (The Time of Your Life), Errol Flynn (Objective, Burma!), and Dorothy Lamour (Wild Harvest); and played a paraplegic soldier in Marlon Brando’s first movie,The Men (1950). Erdman had dementia and suffered a fall about two weeks ago. He died in Los Angeles, California on March 16, 2019.

Barbara Hammer (79) experimental filmmaker who began celebrating lesbian sexuality and history in her work in the ‘70s and in her last years turned her battle against cancer into cinematic art. Hammer’s filmmaking took a radical turn in 1970 when she came out as a lesbian. She was 30 and divorced from her husband when her first female lover helped her to rediscover herself. Her epiphany catapulted her into directing films that let her explore her life and those of other lesbians decades before the legalization of same-sex marriage and other LGBT civil rights milestones. Hammer died of endometrioid ovarian cancer in New York City on March 16, 2019.

Tom Hatten (92) longtime Los Angeles TV personality who kept generations of kids—and adults—company as host of the KTLA Family Film Festival. Hatten was a fixture on local TV since the ‘50s. He worked as an actor in small parts on TV and in movies but was best known as host of KTLA’s Popeye & His Friends show and the family film series, which ran until 1992. He also was entertainment correspondent at KNX news radio for many years. Hatten died in Los Angeles, California on March 16, 2019.

Greg Topper (73) singer and pianist who arguably played to more Orange County music fans than any other rock musician. He went simply by Topper, but for nearly 60 years he entertained audiences five, six, and sometimes seven nights a week, year in and year out, playing the early rock ’n’ roll that inspired him to a life in music, pounding out the hits of Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and other early rockers who inspired him. Starting as an entertainer in 1961 with his first engagement at the Tamasha Club in Anaheim, with his band the Crescents, Topper became a local fixture, with extended stints at the Airporter Inn (later rechristened the Atrium) in Irvine, where he was a regular for 14 years; the Sheraton Anaheim for six years; the Village Inn on Balboa Island for eight years; and most recently the Pierce Street Annex in Costa Mesa. Topper recently suffered a pair of heart attacks and died in Newport Beach, California on March 12, 2019.

David White (79) formed the doo-wop quartet Danny & the Juniors in the mid-‘50s, cowrote their No. 1 hit “At the Hop,” and composed their successful follow-up, “Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay.” Like many other teenagers in the early days of rock ’n’ roll, White and his friends Danny Rapp, Joe Terranova (also known as Joe Terry), and Frank Maffei, who called themselves the Juvenaires, harmonized in cars and school bathrooms. Their singing on a street corner in Philadelphia in 1957 attracted attention and led to their appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand. White left the group around 1961 and, in partnership with singer John Madara, wrote many songs, including the Top 10 hits “The Fly” (1961) for Chubby Checker, “You Don’t Own Me” (1963) for Lesley Gore, and “1-2-3” (1965) for Len Barry. White died of lung and throat cancer in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 16, 2019.

Politics and Military

Birch Bayh (91) former US senator from Indiana who championed the Title IX federal law banning discrimination against women in college admissions and sports. The liberal Democrat had a back-slapping, humorous campaign style that helped him to win three narrow elections to the Senate starting in 1962 at a time when Republicans won Indiana in four of the five presidential elections. Bayh’s hold on the seat ended with a loss to Dan Quayle during the 1980 Ronald Reagan-led Republican landslide. Bayh sponsored a constitutional amendment lowering the voting age to 18 amid protests over the Vietnam War and another amendment allowing the replacement of US vice presidents. But it was his work to pass the landmark Title IX law that solidified his legacy. He wrote and was lead sponsor of the 1972 law, which prohibits gender discrimination in education—known as Title IX for its section in the Higher Education Act. The law’s passage came at a time when women earned fewer than 10 per cent of all medical and law degrees and fewer than 300,000 high school girls—one in 27—played sports. Now women make up more than half of those earning bachelor’s and graduate degrees and more than 3 million high school girls—one in two—play sports. Bayh died of pneumonia in Easton, Maryland on March 14, 2019.

Harry R. Hughes (92) former Maryland governor who prided himself on restoring public faith in the political process. The two-term Democrat governor, who served from 1979–87, also spent 16 years in the General Assembly and seven as Maryland’s first transportation secretary. Hughes came to the governor’s mansion at a time when Maryland had become a national symbol for corruption. Gov. Marvin Mandel had been sentenced to prison on political corruption charges, and former Gov. Spiro T. Agnew, who left office to become vice president under Richard Nixon, had pleaded no contest to income tax evasion. Mandel’s conviction was later overturned on appeal. Hughes said in 1987 that he was most proud of restoring integrity to state government. He died in Denton, Maryland on March 13, 2019.

Alan B. Krueger (58) economist who advised two presidents and helped to lead economics toward a more scientific approach to research and policymaking. Krueger was an assistant secretary of the Treasury from 2009–10, as President Barack Obama’s administration tried to lead the US out of its worst recession since the Great Depression. Obama later named him chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, a post he held from 2011–13. He was the Labor Department’s chief economist under President Bill Clinton from 1994–95. A labor economist by training, Krueger was part of a new wave of economists who pushed the field toward a more empirical mindset, with an emphasis on data rather than theory. He applied that approach broadly: to education, health care, labor markets, and terrorism and even to more light-hearted subjects like the rising price of concert tickets. His latest book, due out in June, is on the economics of the music industry. He was found dead, apparently a suicide, at his home in Princeton, New Jersey on March 16, 2019.

Society and Religion

Godfried, Cardinal Danneels (85) liberal supporter of Pope Francis and a former Vatican adviser whose long pastoral career was damaged in a sex-abuse scandal after his retirement. Danneels was considered a progressive in Roman Catholic leadership, supporting a greater role for women in the church and a less rigid policy against contraception. He was a target of conservative critics in his 29 years as president of the Belgian Bishops’ Conference. They complained that he had not done enough to thwart growing secularization in Belgium, whose government has approved same-sex marriage, in vitro fertilization, euthanasia, and experiments on human embryos. Danneels’ reputation was badly hurt shortly after he retired in 2010, when Belgian newspapers released recordings of a secretly taped conversation in which he was heard urging a victim of serial sexual abuse by a bishop to say nothing about it for a year, until the bishop—the victim’s own uncle—could retire. Danneels died in Mechelen, Belgium, north of Brussels, on March 14, 2019.


Johnny ('Lam') Jones (60) former University of Texas wide receiver and track standout who won an Olympic relay gold medal in 1976. Jones was a two-time all-Southwest Conference football player in 1978–79 and scored eight touchdowns of 45 yards or longer in his career. The summer before his freshman year at Texas, Jones was 18 when he ran the second leg of the US men’s winning 400-relay at the Montreal Games. He also finished sixth in the 100 meters. Jones played five years in the NFL, all with the New York Jets. His best season was 1983, with 43 catches for 734 yards and four touchdowns. He died of cancer in Round Rock, Texas, north of Austin, on March 15, 2019.

Jake Phelps (56) longtime editor of skateboarding’s most revered magazine, Thrasher, a position that made him a tastemaker in a subculture known for resenting authority. Phelps was at the top of Thrasher’s masthead for half his life, a position that made him both loved and hated in the small, insular world of skateboarding. His magazine, a San Francisco-based monthly with a circulation of about 100,000 and thick with ads, is knowing but abrasive. Phelps banned skaters he didn’t like from his pages and mocked others in the annual T-Eddy Awards. In 1996 a professional skateboarder whom Phelps had labeled “Most Annoying” in the preceding year’s issue showed up at Thrasher’s offices and punched him in the face. Phelps became more or less synonymous with the magazine. He was found dead at his home in San Francisco, California on March 14, 2019.

Al Silverman (92) magazine editor and publishing executive who collaborated with Chicago Bears halfback Gale Sayers on an autobiography that was adapted into Brian’s Song, the popular 1971 TV movie about the friendship between Sayers and his dying teammate, Brian Piccolo. Silverman was well known in sports publishing. He had been a prolific free-lance writer in the ‘50s for various magazines, including Sport, a popular monthly, which hired him as its editor in chief in 1960 and where he was still working. He had also written books about, or with, sports figures like Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Frank Robinson. Silverman died in New York City on March 10, 2019.

Charles Whiting (66) Formula One race director of the International Automobile Fédération, known as the FIA. A seasoned mechanic, Whiting joined the FIA in 1988 as technical delegate. His primary role was to ensure that the cars complied with the regulations. In 1997 he was appointed race director and safety delegate, responsible for guaranteeing that all circuits and cars complied with the continual safety improvements made over the years. Whiting helped to oversee the introduction of devices into Formula One such as HANS (head and neck support), mandated from 2003, and the halo, a head-protection system that curves around the cockpit of a car. It was introduced at the start of the 2018 season. At the FIA, Whiting also became permanent starter for all grands prix and head of the Formula One technical department. He died of a pulmonary embolism in Melbourne, Australia, just three days away from the first race of the season, on March 14, 2019.

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