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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, March 30, 2019

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Jerome Ackerman, half of artistic husband-and-wife teamMichel Bacos, French pilot from 'raid on Entebbe'Jonathan Baumbach, experimental authorJoe Bellino, first Navy football player to win Heisman Trophy'Ranking Roger' Charlery, musician and singer with English Beat bandRalp Fertig, retired federal administrative law judge and USC professorKenneth A. Gibson, four-term mayor of Newark, New JerseyWilliam Carven ('Bill') Isles 2nd, founding member of O'Jays R&B vocal groupMichael Lynne, New Line Cinema executiveFred Malek, Republican fund-raiser and corporate executiveAndrew Marshall, Pentagon strategistCal Ramsey, NYU basketball starLarwrence Rhodes, ballet dancerVictoria Ruvolo, woman who forgave teen for throwing frozen turkey through her windshieldRonald K. Siegel, authority on psychoactive substancesSydel Silverman, anthropologistHenry J. Stern, former NYC parks and rec commissionerRobert W. Sweet, former NYC deputy mayor and federal judgeTejshree Thapa, human rights lawyerKitty Tucker, lawyer and antinuclear activistLyle Tuttle, tattoo artistAgnes Varda, French New Wave filmmakerEd Westcott, only photographer allowed in early '40s Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Art and Literature

Jerome Ackerman (99) designer-craftsman whose artistic collaboration with his wife, Evelyn Ackerman, was at the heart of California’s mid-20th-century Modernism movement. The couple moved from their native Detroit to Los Angeles in 1952, when a postwar housing boom offered opportunities to create functional and decorative works in tune with the “California look.” The new lifestyle called for indoor-outdoor spaces enhanced by modern furnishings. With a goal of making affordable objects, Ackerman—known as Jerry—began as a potter but increasingly focused on the business, expanding production with the help of fabricators from Mexico, Japan, Italy, and Greece and developing the market for their wares. Evelyn, who died in 2012, became a versatile artist who added a playful spirit to the purity of the Modernist aesthetic. Operating under the name ERA Industries, the couple worked in a wide range of media: woven and hooked tapestries and rugs, carved wood panels, enamels, aluminum sculptures for architectural settings, cabinet hardware, and mosaic plaques and tables. Jerome Ackerman died of pneumonia in Culver City, California on March 30, 2019.

Jonathan Baumbach (85) author who up-ended traditional ideas of narration, linear progression, and more in his novels and short stories and helped to found a collective that gave experimental writers the ability to publish their own works. Baumbach had already published two of his 12 novels when he and Peter Spielberg created the Fiction Collective, a publishing house run by authors, in an effort to give avant-garde works a clearer path to publication. His novel Reruns, about a man reinventing his life through real and imagined past events, was among the first three the collective published. The father of filmmaker Noah Baumbach, Jonathan Baumbach died in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on March 28, 2019.

Business and Science

Fred Malek (82) major Republican fund-raiser and adviser to several presidents who also had a business career that included a stint as president of Marriott Hotels. Malek built up a wide-ranging political, corporate, and philanthropic portfolio that included running Northwest Airlines, serving as a power broker for the Republican Party, and becoming a major benefactor to his alma mater, the US Military Academy at West Point. He was friendly with several Republican presidents and served in the administrations of Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. Malek was an owner of the Texas Rangers with George W. Bush and others before Bush became president. He did not work for Donald J. Trump, but President Trump appointed him chairman of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a research group. Malek died in Virginia from an infection after hip surgery, on March 24, 2019.

Ronald K. Siegel (76) leading authority on psychoactive substances who believed the war on drugs was futile because the pursuit of intoxication—drugs, alcohol, psychotropic plants—is permanently and deeply embedded in the psyche of every human being. Through the ages and across the planet, humans have chased after mind-altering plants, alcohol, and other mind-altering substances with such persistence that the desire to get high was a basic human drive, right up there with hunger, thirst, and sex, Siegel came to believe. A research professor with the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at UCLA for more than 20 years, he died of Alzheimer’s disease in Los Angeles, California on March 24, 2019.

Sydel Silverman (85) anthropologist who championed her profession as a scholar, teacher, historian, and preservationist. Silverman taught at Queens College in New York from 1962–75. She was chairwoman of the anthropology department from 1970–73 and executive officer of the doctoral program in anthropology at City University of New York Graduate Center from ‘75–86. In 1976, during the city’s fiscal crisis, when CU officials threatened to eliminate what they deemed nonessential majors like anthropology at some of the senior colleges, Silverman mounted a strong defense. She pointed out that while only about 600 CU students were majoring in anthropology, as many as 30,000 others were enrolled in anthropology courses. Silverman died of cancer in New York City on March 25, 2019.

Lyle Tuttle (87) tattoo artist who found international fame by catering to celebrities while helping to move tattooing, as he put it, from the “back alley” into mainstream acceptability. These days tattoos are commonplace, inspiring clothing lines and museum shows and adorning people from all walks of life, most publicly actors, athletes, and musicians. But when Tuttle first took up the needle in the late ‘40s, tattoos were practically unheard-of in polite society, more associated with sailors, criminals, and sideshow freaks. Tuttle had been a tattoo enthusiast—both as an artist and as a recipient—since he was a teenager. He was mentored in the ‘50s by storied tattooists like Bert Grimm, and he worked in the trade in California and Alaska before he opened his own shop in San Francisco in 1960. Tuttle, whose upper torso was covered with tattoos, died in Ukiah, California two weeks after an inoperable growth was discovered in his throat, on March 26, 2019.

Ed Westcott (97) photographer who documented life in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the secret city where uranium was enriched as part of the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb during World War II. Not then on any maps, Oak Ridge during the war was a huge company town of 59,000 acres about 25 miles west of Knoxville. Ringed by barbed wire, it had factories dedicated to bomb production, homes for tens of thousands of workers and their families, a 300-mile network of roads, and schools, stores, restaurants, theaters, parks, and a library. Those who left town were searched for firearms on their return. People who talked openly about their classified work faced fines or prison. Within that hush-hush world, Westcott took his camera wherever he could, chronicling the construction of its many plants (which had names like K-25 and Y-12), technicians at their stations, workers leaving their shifts, and even guards searching a Santa Claus at a gate. Westcott was the only person authorized to use a camera in Oak Ridge. He had a stroke in 2005 that limited his ability to speak. He died in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on March 29, 2019.


Ralph Fertig (89) ‘60s Freedom Rider who became one of the US's most ardent defenders of the marginalized, the misunderstood, and the neglected—from Selma, Alabama to Los Angeles's Skid Row. Fertig fought for equal rights in the Deep South, advocated for the homeless in LA, and took on the Patriot Act—fighting all the way to the Supreme Court—on behalf of the Kurds, whom he saw as perhaps the most marginalized people in the world. A founder of the Humanitarian Law Project in LA, Fertig was a federal administrative law judge and, for years, a University of Southern California professor of social work, inspiring students to embrace pacifism and battle for human rights. He retired in 2016. Nearly 80 when his fight to advise the Kurds ended in front of the Supreme Court, Fertig acknowledged that the ruling put him at risk of being jailed even for something as benign as urging a terror group to be peaceful—in that case the Kurdistan Workers Party. He died in Westwood, California on March 28, 2019.

Robert W. Sweet (96) Mayor John V. Lindsay’s top deputy, who worked to end some of the most rancorous conflicts in ‘60s New York and as a longtime federal judge struck down a state ban on begging on the streets. At his death Sweet was a senior federal judge in the Southern District of New York. Sweet was Lindsay’s chief deputy mayor (and had been his former Yale Law School roommate) from late 1966–69, representing the mayor in tense labor disputes, including a teachers’ strike in ‘67 that kept most of the city’s one million public school students out of school for 18 days, and a nine-day sanitation workers’ strike in ‘68 that left garbage piled up throughout the city. Those fights, largely over wages and working conditions, were nothing new in New York's long history of labor relations; but three later strikes by the teachers in the fall term of 1968 proved far more intractable, because they revolved around who would control the schools. Sweet died in Ketchum, Idaho on March 24, 2019.

Tejshree Thapa (52) Nepal-born human rights lawyer who helped to expose the scope of mass rapes in the war-torn Balkans and South Asia and to build legal arguments for the prosecution of those rapes as crimes against humanity. Thapa had spent the last 15 years as a senior researcher with the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch. In 2017 she was among the first human rights workers to travel to the Bangladesh-Myanmar border and document the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims. She made her mark in the ‘90s as an investigator with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, heading a unit that investigated mass rape and sexual enslavement in Bosnia and Herzegovina and helping to win the landmark Foca cases, named for the Bosnian town where sexual crimes were committed against Muslim women in 1992–93. Thapa's work resulted in the convictions and imprisonment of eight Serb paramilitary leaders and their supporters. The Foca convictions upheld a precedent set in 1998 by a similar tribunal after the Rwandan genocide, which established rape as a crime against humanity, and expanded the definition of crimes against humanity to include “sexual enslavement.” Thapa died of multiple organ failure in New York City on March 26, 2019.

Kitty Tucker (75) public interest lawyer and antinuclear activist who helped to raise national awareness of the case of nuclear power whistle-blower Karen Silkwood. Tucker was a first-year law student in 1974 when she read that Silkwood, a technician at a Kerr-McGee plutonium plant in Oklahoma and a union activist, had been killed in a mysterious car crash on her way to meet with a reporter. Silkwood had radioactive plutonium in her lungs. Kerr-McGee said she had deliberately contaminated herself to make the company look bad. Silkwood had intended to show the reporter evidence that the plant had numerous safety violations and was endangering the lives of its employees, although no such evidence was found in her car. The plant closed the year after Silkwood’s death, which became a rallying cry for antinuclear activists and helped to sow doubts about the nuclear energy industry. In 1983 her story was made into a popular movie, Silkwood, starring Meryl Streep in the title role and Cher as a coworker. As an activist for the National Organization of Women, Tucker pushed for a legal case to be made against Kerr-McGee. She and Sara Nelson, a NOW official, started the group Supporters of Silkwood, from which they sent out newsletters to raise money and heighten national awareness of the case. Tucker died in Silver Spring, Maryland of complications from a urinary tract infection on March 30, 2019.

News and Entertainment

'Ranking Roger' Charlery (56) musician and singer with ska band The English Beat. Formed in 1978, The Beat—rebranded The English Beat in North America—was a key player in Britain's “two-tone” ska movement. The band’s early ‘80s hits included “Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Tears of a Clown,” and “Stand Down Margaret,” a political anthem directed at then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Charlery later formed the band General Public and recorded and performed with Sting. Charlery suffered a stroke in 2018 and had recently been diagnosed with two brain tumors and lung cancer. He died in London, England on March 26, 2019.

William Carven ('Bill') Isles 2nd (78) original member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame-inducted rhythm-and-blues vocal group the O’Jays. Isles formed a singing group called the Mascots in 1958 with some childhood friends when they were attending McKinley High School. In 1960 the group changed its name to the Triumphs and released its first single, “Miracles,” in '61. It came out on King Records, a Cincinnati label whose roster of artists also included James Brown. In 1963 top Cleveland deejay Eddie O’Jay suggested another name change, and the Triumphs became the O’Jays. Isles was featured on such notable songs by the O’Jays as “Lonely Drifter” in 1963 and “Lipstick Traces” in ’65 but quit the group soon thereafter. He worked as the O’Jays’ tour manager from 1971–74, a time that saw the group score such hits as “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train,” and “For the Love of Money.” He died of cancer in Oceanside, California on March 25, 2019.

Michael Lynne (77) helped to engineer a bold expansion of the once tiny studio New Line Cinema that culminated in its release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one of the most successful movie franchises in history. Lynne was an entertainment lawyer in the early ‘80s when he began advising his old Columbia Law School classmate Robert Shaye, who had founded New Line in 1967. Lynne became the studio’s general counsel in 1984, the same year it released one of its biggest early successes, the horror movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, which cost less than $2 million to make and brought in more than $25 million at the box office. He also joined the New Line board, and in 1986 he played a crucial role in taking the company public. In 1990 Shaye made Lynne president and chief operating officer. That year also brought another huge hit for the studio, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, made for $13.5 million, which earned 10 times that just in the US. Lynne died of cancer in New York City on March 25, 2019.

Lawrence Rhodes (79) one of American ballet’s greatest male dancers who won high praise in the ‘60s and '70s in both classical showpieces and dramatic dance studies of modern angst. Often described as a dancer’s dancer by critics and fellow dancers because of the excellence of his classical technique, Rhodes was also an outstanding and internationally known teacher who headed the dance divisions at the Juilliard School and New York University. He died of heart failure in New York City on March 27, 2019

Agnes Varda (90) French New Wave pioneer who for decades challenged and charmed moviegoers with films that inspired generations of other filmmakers. Belgian-born Varda was a diminutive figure who towered over more than 50 years of moviemaking. Her first film, made at age 27, La Pointe Courte, earned her the nickname Grandmother of the New Wave, even though she—sole woman among the movement—was a contemporary of its participants, including Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Demy, whom she later married. Varda’s films fluctuated between fiction and documentary, often blurring the line in between. In 2015 Varda was given an honorary Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival; in 2017 she was given an honorary Oscar. She died of cancer in Paris, France on March 29, 2019.

Politics and Military

Michel Bacos (94) French pilot forced by terrorists to fly his jetliner to Entebbe, Uganda in 1976 but then refused to abandon Jewish passengers before an audacious rescue by Israeli commandos. Celebrated in films and books, the swashbuckling rescue by Israelis disguised as Ugandan soldiers ended a harrowing week in which hijackers from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Germany’s Baader-Meinhof Gang seized control of Air France Flight 139 less than 8 minutes after it lifted off from Athens on June 27, 1976. The plane had stopped there on its way from Tel Aviv to Paris. Carrying more than 240 passengers and a crew of 12, the plane was diverted to Libya to refuel, then directed to fly more than 3,500 miles to Entebbe, where it landed with only 20 minutes of fuel remaining. Three days later, the hijackers freed the 148 passengers who were neither Jewish nor Israeli. They threatened to kill the rest unless 53 prisoners being held in Israel and other countries on terrorism charges were released. Bacos died in Nice, France on March 26, 2019.

Kenneth A. Gibson (86) first black mayor of a major Northeastern city when Newark voters, still recovering from racial rioting in 1967, elected Gibson in ‘70 to the first of four terms. In taking City Hall in that historic 1970 election, he won a bitterly fought, racially divisive contest inflamed by the memory of nearly a week of rioting by black people three years earlier that took 26 lives and left extensive destruction. Campaigning to oust a two-term white incumbent and fellow Democrat, Hugh J. Addonizio—who was on trial on corruption charges during the last weeks of the campaign and later convicted—in that nonpartisan election, Gibson, a structural engineer for the city who had been active with civil rights groups, outlined his vision to make Newark a model city. He died in West Orange, New Jersey on March 29, 2019.

Andrew Marshall (97) Pentagon strategist who helped to shape American military thinking on the Soviet Union, China, and other global competitors for more than 40 years. As director of the Office of Net Assessment, Marshall was the secretive futurist of the Pentagon, a long-range thinker who both prodded and inspired secretaries of defense and high-level policymakers. Virtually unknown among the wider public, he came to be revered inside the Defense Department as a mysterious figure who embodied an exceptionally long institutional memory. In the early 2000s, at a time when the Pentagon was focused on counterinsurgency and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Marshall urged officials to focus on the challenge of China—a view that many considered outdated. But today national security officials are increasingly adopting Marshall’s view of China as a potential strategic adversary, an idea now at the heart of national defense strategy. Marshall died in Alexandria, Virginia on March 26, 2019.

Henry J. Stern (83) former New York commissioner of parks and recreation for 15 years under two mayors, outdoing all but Robert Moses in tenure and enhancements to the city’s greenswards and playgrounds. A combative grandstander who clowned in costumes, kissed catfish, and crawled through the seal house in Central Park to get publicity, Stern was commissioner under Edward I. Koch from 1983–90 and under Rudolph W. Giuliani from ‘94–2002. He was also a councilman at large for Manhattan for eight years and held other municipal posts in a 40-year career. His eccentricities sometimes overshadowed his accomplishments, and in his last year in office a lawsuit accused him of discriminating against thousands of black and Hispanic employees—a case the city settled years later for $20 million and sweeping changes in the parks department’s salary and promotion practices. Stern died in New York City of advanced Parkinson’s disease on March 28, 2019.

Society and Religion

Victoria Ruvolo (59) New Yorker who urged leniency for the teenager who nearly killed her in 2004 by throwing a frozen turkey through her car windshield. Every bone in Ruvolo’s face was shattered and the steering wheel bent when the teenager threw the 20-pound turkey at her car. She endured reconstructive surgery and months of rehabilitation. Because of her advocacy, the youth got six months in jail instead of a potential 25-year prison sentence. Ruvolo became an author and motivational speaker. She died in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York on March 25, 2019.


Joe Bellino (81) Heisman Trophy winner. The Navy halfback was nicknamed the “Winchester Rifle” after his suburban Boston hometown. In 1960 Bellino became the first Navy player to win the Heisman. He served 28 years in the Navy and Naval Reserves and reached the rank of captain before retiring. He was drafted by Washington of the NFL and the Boston Patriots of the AFL. After serving his military commitment, Bellino played three seasons with the Patriots, mostly as a kick returner. He was also offered a contract by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school. Bellino died of stomach cancer in Lincoln, Massachusetts on March 27, 2019.

Cal Ramsey (81) basketball player who starred at New York University in the ‘50s and later played and broadcast for the New York Knicks. After his playing career, Ramsey worked for the organization as a color analyst and later in community relations. He was a Knicks ambassador for the last 28 years and had remained on NYU’s basketball staff since 1983. Ramsey graduated from NYU in 1959 after averaging 20.2 points and a school-record 17.5 rebounds. His 34 rebounds against Boston College remain an NYU record. He had been an assistant coach with the team since it returned as a Division III program in 1983–84, helping the Violets to a 615-341 record and 25 postseason appearances. He also played in the NBA for the St. Louis Hawks and the Syracuse Nationals. He died of cardiac arrest in New York City on March 25, 2019.

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