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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, March 23, 2019

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Mona Lee Brock, crisis counselor to farmersGeraldyn M. Cobb, first US female astronaut candidateLarry Cohen, director of cult horror filmsRafi Eitan, Israeli spy who led capture of Nazi Adolf EichmanMike Greco, Bronx's 'salami king'Linda Gregg, romantic poetNorman Hollyn, USC film and music editorRandy Jackson, last Brooklyn Dodger to hit home runJanet Lieberman, educational innovatorRoger D. Moore, computer scientistGenevieve Oswald, founder and curator of New York Public Library's dance collectionBob Slade, NYC black radio commentatorRalph Solecki, archaeologistScott Walker, singer, songwriter, and recording producerMary Warnock, British philosopherAndre Williams, '50s R&B singerJames A. Winn, flutist and English professor

Art and Literature

Linda Gregg (76) poet who explored beauty, loss, struggle, and desire in award-winning verse that was spare but intense and evocative. Gregg found poems in nature, in urban settings like a shelter for homeless women, and in broken relationships. Her last collection was All of It Singing: New & Selected Poems (2008). Over the years Gregg, who had lived in Manhattan since 2006, taught poetry at Columbia, the University of Iowa, Princeton, and other institutions. She died of cancer in New York City on March 20, 2019.


Business and Science

Mike Greco (89) known to connoisseurs of Italian cuisine as “the Salami King” and “the Mayor of Arthur Avenue,” whose salumeria has catered to old neighbors, visiting politicians, and Bronx expatriates for more than 60 years. A Calabrian immigrant, Greco and his 17-year-old twin brother, Joe, arrived in New York in 1947, each sporting a new suit and carrying $50. Mike went to work in a Bronx butcher shop, married the boss’s daughter, and, in the early ‘50s, opened a delicatessen nearby in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, a building housing an array of merchants. His brother became chef and owner of Joe Nina’s restaurant in the borough’s Pelham Bay section. Greco started work at 6 a.m. seven days a week and made Mike’s Deli a place of pilgrimage in the heart of the Bronx’s Little Italy. He became a fixture in a Bronx enclave that stubbornly resisted change in the second half of the 20th century, when much of the borough, especially to the south, was plagued by crime, white flight, housing abandonment, and arson. Mike Greco died in White Plains, New York on March 20, 2019.

Roger D. Moore (79) computer scientist, one of three 1973 recipients of the Grace Murray Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) “for their work in the design and implementation of APL360, setting new standards in simplicity, efficiency, reliability, and response time for interactive systems.” Moore was a cofounder of I. P. Sharp Associates and held a senior position in the company for many years. Before that he contributed to the SUBALGOL compiler at Stanford University and wrote the ALGOL 60compiler for the Ferranti-Packard 6000 and the ICT 1900. Along with his work on the programming language APL, he was also instrumental in the development of IPSANET, a private packet switching data network. He died in Toronto, Canada on March 21, 2019.

Ralph Solecki (101) archaeologist whose research helped to debunk the view of Neanderthals as heartless and brutish halfwits and inspired a popular series of novels about prehistoric life. Starting in the mid-‘50s, leading teams from Columbia University, Solecki discovered the fossilized skeletons of eight adult and two infant Neanderthals who had lived tens of thousands of years ago in what is now northern Iraq. Also a Smithsonian Institution anthropologist at the time, Solecki said physical evidence at Shanidar Cave, where the skeletons were found, suggested that Neanderthals tended to the weak and wounded and that they buried their dead with flowers, which were placed ornamentally and possibly selected for their therapeutic benefits. The exhumed bones of a man, named Shanidar 3, who was blind in one eye and missing his right arm but survived for years after he was hurt, indicated that fellow Neanderthals had helped to provide him with sustenance and other support. Solecki died of pneumonia in Livingston, New Jersey on March 20, 2019.


Education

Janet Lieberman (97) educational innovator who made college education more accessible to struggling high school students and recent immigrants as the guiding spirit of LaGuardia Community College in Queens. Lieberman was present at the creation when Community College No. 9, as it was originally known, was named for Fiorello H. La Guardia, New York mayor from 1934–45. The college, part of the Community University of New York, opened in 1971 in Long Island City in a refurbished plant where White Motor Co. once made auto parts and Ford Instrument once manufactured range finders for naval weapons during World War II. Lieberman not only helped to shape the mission of LaGuardia, a two-year college that now enrolls some 45,000 students from 150 countries. She also established collaborations with other educational institutions to attract high school students who had struggled academically or had to hold down jobs while taking classes or could not afford a four-year college. She died of pneumonia in San Francisco, California on March 19, 2019.

James A. Winn (71) English professor whose scholarly writings on Queen Anne, John Dryden, and other subjects showed the influence of his side interest as a professional-caliber flutist. Winn, who taught most recently at Boston University, was interested in a wide range of topics. His book subjects also included Alexander Pope’s letters and the poetry of war. He wrote essays on Bach and on the Beatles. In all that work he sought to expand the often narrow scope of academic inquiry. His 2014 biography, Queen Anne: Patroness of Arts, for instance, examined that British monarch’s often discounted reign (1702–14) through the lens of the cultural offerings of the period. Winn died of pancreatic cancer in Brattleboro, Vermont on March 21, 2019.


News and Entertainment

Larry Cohen (77) B-movie director of the cult horror films It’s Alive and God Told Me To. Cohen’s films were schlocky, low-budget productions that developed cult followings, spawned sequels, and gained esteem for their reflections of contemporary social issues. His It’s Alive (1974), about a murderous mutant baby, dealt with the treatment of children. Cohen's New York-set 1976 satire God Told Me To depicted a series of shootings and murders carried out in religious fervor. Andy Kaufman played a policeman who goes on a shooting spree during the St. Patrick's Day parade. There were also aliens. In Cohen’s 1985 film The Stuff, he skewered consumerism with a story inspired by the rise of junk food. It’s about a sweet yogurtlike substance that’s found oozing out of the ground and is then bottled and marketed like an ice cream alternative without the calories. The “stuff” turns out to be a parasite that turns consumers of it into zombies. Cohen died in Los Angeles, California on March 23, 2019.

Norman Hollyn (66) film and music editor who worked on such movies as Sophie’s Choice, The Cotton Club, and Heathers. Beyond his work in Hollywood both in film and TV, Hollyn was a professor at the University of Southern California's film school, where he had led the editing department for more than 10 years before recently stepping down. He also helped the university to strengthen relationships with a diverse stable of companies, including Apple and Fox Searchlight Pictures. Hollyn was a prolific writer as well and a public speaker who traveled the world to work with cinema students and aspiring filmmakers. He died of cardiac arrest while in Yokohama, Japan, where he was lecturing cinema students, on March 17, 2019.

Genevieve Oswald (97) founder and, for its first 43 years, curator and champion of the dance collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Among its treasures: the ballet slippers of early-20th-century ballerina Anna Pavlova, a silk flower garland that adorned modern-dance pioneer Isadora Duncan, and countless other items in a vast repository of materials on dance. Seeing those artifacts or peering at a wealth of historical dance footage is now a natural extension of the city’s vast cultural offerings. Just as important, the materials help to preserve a fragile art form’s legacy. Oswald died in Santa Clarita, California on March 19, 2019.

Bob Slade (70) prominent voice on black radio in New York as a creator and longtime host of the call-in commentary program Open Line. Slade’s voice was recognizable to radio audiences in the tri-state area, where he spent more than 30 years as a disc jockey, radio reporter, host, and commentator. His longest tenure was at 98.7-FM, then a rhythm-and-blues station known by the call letters WRKS and more colloquially as Kiss-FM, where he worked from the mid-‘70s until WBLS and WRKS merged in 2012. It was at Kiss, in 1989, that Slade helped to create Open Line, which now airs on Sundays from 8–9 a.m. on WBLS. Open Line provided an important forum for the black community, which many say has long lacked sufficient representation in the mainstream media. For many years Slade hosted the program with Bob Pickett, who still hosts it, and musician and activist James Mtume, who left the show in 2013. They discussed the news with callers and guests like Mayor David N. Dinkins and Rev. Al Sharpton, who also has a program on WBLS. Slade died in New York City of kidney disease, which he’d had since the ‘90s, on March 23, 2019.

Scott Walker (76) singer, songwriter, and producer whose hits with the Walker Brothers in the ‘60s included “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.” The Walker Brothers enjoyed a string of hits that also included “Make It Easy on Yourself.” Scott Walker later produced numerous songs, movie scores, and several solo albums. Ohio-born Noel Scott Engel began his career as a session bass player, changed his name when he joined the Walker Brothers, and relocated to London. The Walker Brothers were hugely popular in Britain at a time when the music scene was dominated by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. They also enjoyed hits in the US. Scott left the band to pursue a solo career when they were near their commercial peak. As a solo artist, he released several well-received albums and joined the group for a final album together in the ‘80s. He also produced numerous albums for other artists and was seen as an influential figure in the music world. He died in London, England on March 22, 2019.

Andre Williams (82) carved out a place on the ‘50s rhythm-and-blues scene with earthy songs, then fell on hard times as a result of addiction before enjoying a late-career resurgence. In a decade when mainstream white audiences were watching Father Knows Best on TV, Williams was recording provocative songs like “Jail Bait” (1957), a warning to men inclined to date teenage girls. His best-known song was probably “Shake a Tail Feather,” written with Otha Hayes and Verlie Rice, which was first recorded in 1963 by the Five Du-Tones (a version heard in the 1988 John Waters movie Hairspray) and turned up in the ‘80 film The Blues Brothers performed by Ray Charles. Williams died of cancer in Chicago, Illinois on March 17, 2019.


Politics and Military

Geraldyn M. Cobb (88) America's first female astronaut candidate, who pushed for equality in space but never reached its heights. In 1961 Cobb became the first woman to pass NASA’s astronaut screening process. Altogether, 13 women passed the arduous physical testing regimen and became known as the Mercury 13. But NASA already had its Mercury 7 astronauts, all jet test pilots and all military men, and none of the Mercury 13 ever reached space, which left Cobb bitter. Instead of making her an astronaut, NASA tapped her as a consultant to promote the space program. But she was dismissed after commenting: “I'm the most unconsulted consultant in any government agency.” Cobb served for decades as a pilot delivering humanitarian aid in the Amazon jungle. The Soviet Union launched the first woman into space in 1963: Valentina Tereshkova. NASA didn't send a woman into orbit until 1983, when Sally Ride flew in the space shuttle. Cobb died in Florida on March 18, 2019.

Rafi Eitan (92) legendary Israeli Mossad spy who led the capture of Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann. Eitan was one of the founders of Israel’s intelligence community and among its most prominent figures in Israel and abroad. The 1960 operation to capture Eichmann in Argentina and bring him to trial in Jerusalem was the Mossad’s most historic mission and remains one of the defining episodes in Israel’s history. His trial brought to life the horrors of the Nazi “Final Solution,” which followed Eichmann’s blueprint for liquidating the entire Jewish population of Europe. Eichmann was convicted in 1961 of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was hanged in 1962—the only time Israel has carried out a death sentence. Eitan died in Tel Aviv, Israel on March 23, 2019.


Society and Religion

Mona Lee Brock (87) when the farm crisis of the ‘80s swept across US fields and plains, when bankruptcies and foreclosures soared and crop prices fell, and when many farmers, who saw no way out, took their own lives, Brock, an Oklahoma farm wife, assigned herself the job of emergency counselor to farmers. As someone who had grown up on farms and had lost her own family farm, she was sympathetic to their plight. She took thousands of calls around the clock, talking despondent farmers down from the ledge and devising strategies to try to save their farms. Sometimes, while she tried to coax a farmer into staying alive for his family’s sake, she would hear the cylinder of a revolver turning or shells being slipped into a shotgun. Sometimes she heard a gunshot; rushing to the scene, she was often the first to find the body. But she also talked many into not giving up, averting perhaps hundreds of suicides. Word of her work spread, and it coincided with the beginning of Farm Aid, in 1985, the first year of the annual concerts that continue to raise money for farmers. Brock died of congestive heart failure in Durant, Oklahoma on March 19, 2019.

Mary Warnock (94) Oxford-educated philosopher who helped to provide an ethical pathway for Britain to govern its fledgling infertility treatment and research industry after the first so-called test-tube baby was born. The birth in England in 1978 of Louise Brown, who was conceived using in vitro fertilization, raised moral and religious questions, including how to regulate the creation of human life in laboratories. There was not yet any oversight of embryological research and infertility treatments, nor was there any consensus about the acceptability of IVF. a technique pioneered in Britain. By the time she was asked by the government to serve as chairwoman of the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilization & Embryology in 1982, Warnock had taught philosophy at Oxford, written books on metaphysics and existentialism, served on government panels that examined special education and laboratory experimentation using animals, and become a well-known guest on TV and radio talk shows. She died after a fall, in Wiltshire, England on March 20, 2019.


Sports

Randy Jackson (93) the Brooklyn Dodgers acquired Chicago Cubs All-Star Jackson in December 1955, hoping he would become their regular third baseman. Injuries limited his playing time over the next two seasons, but on September 28, 1957, when he delivered a three-run homer against the Phillies in Philadelphia, Jackson became a footnote in the history of a storied franchise. He was the last Brooklyn Dodger to hit a home run before the team became the Los Angeles Dodgers. They were playing their next-to-last game when Jackson’s drive landed in the upper left-field stands at Connie Mack Stadium off a pitch from right-hander Don Cardwell, propelling Brooklyn to an 8-4 victory in a series that followed the Dodgers’ final home games at Ebbets Field. Jackson was an unlikely candidate for that melancholy achievement. He had hit only one other home run that season, and he played in just 48 games while hobbled by a leg injury. That home run seemed nothing special to him when the third-place Dodgers closed out their history the next day with a 2-1 loss to the Phillies, the last Brooklyn pitch delivered by an unproven left-hander named Sandy Koufax. Jackson died of pneumonia in Athens, Georgia on March 20, 2019.


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