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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, May 11, 2019

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Max Azria, fashion designerFleming Begaye Sr., WWII Navajo Code TalkerBert Cooper, first pro boxer to knock down Evander HolyfieldGiovanni de Michelis, Italian politicianSergei Dorenko, Russian journalistJim Fowler, sidekick to Martin Perkins on 'Wild Kingdom'Cesar Cuauhtemoc Gonzalez Barron, Mexican wrestler known as 'Silver King'Larry J. Hanley, union leaderAndrei Kramarevsky, Russian ballet dancer and teacherLenora Lapidus, ACLU lawyer who fought for gender equalityHarold Lederman, boxing judgePeggy Lipton, star of 'Mod Squad'John Lukacs, Hungarian-born historianRobert Maxwell, oldest living Medal of Honor recipientNorma Miller and the Lindy HoppersThomas Nozkowski, abstract painterWarren H. Phillips, former 'Wall Street Journal' executiveBobbie Raymond, integration activistAlfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, former deputy prime minister of SpainAlvin Sargent, Oscar-winning Hollywood screenwriterThomas Silverstein, prisoner longest held in isolationJean Vanier, Canadian religious figureJenna Welch, mother of former first lady Laura BushNancy Wigginton, first woman to read news on BBC-TVSol Yaged, jazz clarinetist inspired by Benny GoodmanVirginia Zabriskie, art dealerDr. Arthur Zitrin, NYU bioethicist

Art and Literature

Thomas Nozkowski (75) artist whose abstractions reversed the scale of postwar New York art and helped to push painting in a more personal direction. In the early ‘70s, after several years of making large abstract paintings, then more modest Post-Minimal sculpture, Nozkowski found himself put off by the macho scale of both Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism and by what he considered their “imperialist” implications. He decided to work small, and on the easel—at first painting on 16-by-22-inch pieces of art-store canvas board and later on somewhat larger rectangles of linen stretched over wood panels. He died of pancreatic cancer in Rhinebeck, New York on May 9, 2019.

Virginia Zabriskie (91) art dealer whose New York and Paris galleries specialized in modern and contemporary American works and helped to establish photography as a fine art. Zabriskie's New York gallery was in operation, mostly on 57th Street in Midtown, from 1954–2010. When she started, there were fewer than 20 commercial art galleries in uptown Manhattan. By the end of her career, there were several hundred. She died in New York City on May 7, 2019.

Business and Science

Max Azria (70) fashion designer whose BCBG Max Azria line became a global powerhouse by offering chic apparel for considerably less than many of his competitors. Azria created BCBG Max Azria in Los Angeles in 1989 as a practical alternative to the expensive styles that proliferated during the conspicuous consumption of the ‘80s. He later said that one of his goals was to democratize runway-quality fashion. Azria also designed for celebrities like Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Halle Berry, and Viola Davis. But the bulk of his business was aimed at ordinary consumers, who sought his ready-to-wear pieces even if some critics were lukewarm about them. At its peak, BCBG Max Azria Group operated more than 550 stores around the world and was said to generate more than $1 billion a year in retail sales. But in recent years the company suffered as online ordering threatened retail. BCBG Max Azria filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017 and closed 120 stores. Azria died of lung cancer in Houston, Texas on May 6, 2019.

Dr. Arthur Zitrin (101) leading bioethicist who sought to discipline doctors who administered lethal injections to condemned prisoners. In 2005, after a state board dismissed his complaint against a doctor who had performed an execution, Zitrin filed a lawsuit demanding that the Georgia Composite State Board of Medical Examiners punish any doctors who help to carry out capital punishment. The Georgia courts dismissed his lawsuit, arguing in 2007 that Zitrin was not an aggrieved plaintiff. But the issue, which developed only when states sought more humane methods of applying the death penalty, percolated. Zitrin was a mainstay of bioethics education at New York University Medical Center for 40 years and director of psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital Center. He weighed in on a wide range of social and moral issues that changing social standards and technology had thrust into the public arena. He died of chronic lung disease complicated by a stroke, in Great Neck, New York on May 11, 2019.


John Lukacs (95) historian, author, and self-professed reactionary whose views on politics, populism, and pop culture departed from those of liberals and conservatives alike. Lukacs was a chronicler of modern Europe, a commentator on semantics and current events, and a romantic who lamented the vanished charm of the bourgeoisie. He lionized Winston Churchill (about whom he wrote an acclaimed study), and, while he loathed Stalin and Hitler, he said that the Führer “may have been the most popular revolutionary leader in the history of the modern world.” A Hungarian refugee from nazism and Soviet communism, Lukacs found refuge at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia and taught there for 47 years. He died of heart failure in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania on May 6, 2019.


Lenora Lapidus 55) lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who expanded the organization’s fight for gender equality beyond the concerns of middle-class white women to include domestic workers, women in combat, and others. For nearly 20 years Lapidus led the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, cofounded in 1972 by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now an associate justice of the Supreme Court. It became the major legal arm of the growing movement for gender equality and a powerful force in urging the courts to see women’s rights as civil rights, with the same constitutional protections. Lapidus started as a summer intern for the Women’s Rights Project in 1988 and had been director of the project since 2001. At that time the project was not engaged in active litigation, but that quickly changed under her leadership as she pursued a broad range of cases. She fought sex trafficking of domestic workers and gender-based violence, not traditionally viewed as civil rights issues. She died of breast cancer in Brooklyn, New York on May 5, 2019.

Thomas Silverstein (67) violent white supremacist believed to have been held in isolation longer than any other American inmate in a federal prison. Silverstein personified a campaign against solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment. He was serving three consecutive life terms for the killing of two fellow prisoners and a guard while behind bars. He had been incarcerated continuously since 1975, originally on an armed robbery conviction. He was said to have joined the Aryan Brotherhood, the white nationalist prison gang, while serving time at Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas. He was in solitary confinement for 36 years, more than half his life. The American Civil Liberties Union has cited his case in its campaign against long-term solitary confinement. Silverstein died in a hospital in Lakewood, Colorado of complications from heart surgery on May 11, 2019.

News and Entertainment

Sergei Dorenko (59) Russian journalist whose TV reports changed from acclaiming President Vladimir Putin to scathing criticism. Often referred to as “TV killer” for his ability to take down the most popular politicians, Dorenko was one of the central figures behind Putin’s rise to power. The TV reporter rose to prominence in the late ‘90s with his muck-raking TV show against then-Moscow mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, and former Prime Miinister Yevgeny Primakov. Both were considered strong contenders for Russian prime minister less than six months before Boris Yeltsin stepped down. A political novice who was lagging far behind Luzhkov and Primakov in polls, Putin faced an uphill battle in the March 2000 elections. Dorenko’s weekly show on Channel One criticized Luzhkov and Primakov and backed Putin. In a 2018 interview for the popular Russian YouTube show Dud, Dorenko admitted that his show was about “destroying” Putin's two rivals. He died of internal bleeding after an aorta rupture in Moscow, Russia on May 9, 2019.

Jim Fowler (89) with zoologist Marlin Perkins (died 1986), Fowler introduced generations of TV viewers to wild animals filmed in their natural habitats on the long-running documentary series Wild Kingdom. Fowler was a key part of the show (also known as Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom), which had its premiere on NBC in January 1963, when seeing elephants, cougars, and other exotic beasts on TV was still a novelty. Mutual of Omaha, the insurance company, had advertised on a previous show featuring Perkins called Zoo Parade, and it agreed to underwrite a new show that ventured into the wild. Fowler, a naturalist, had been working with birds of prey, and Perkins had seen him on the Today show exhibiting a harpy eagle, a bird native to the Central and South American rain forests, and invited him to join Wild Kingdom. Perkins, 25 years older than Fowler, was the host, and Fowler was his sidekick. Fowler died of heart ailments in Norwalk, Connecticut on May 8, 2019.

Cesar Cuauhtemoc Gonzalez Barron (51) well-known Mexican wrestler who costarred in the film comedy Nacho Libre. Gonzalez Barron, who wrestled under the ring name Silver King, was one of the featured wrestlers of “The Greatest Show of Lucha Libre.” He appeared as a champion wrestler and comic villain in the 2006 movie, which starred Jack Black as a monk who wants to be a masked luchador. Lucha libre is a popular form of wrestling in Mexico that features colorful masks, elaborate costumes, and acrobatic techniques. Gonzalez made his professional debut in the mid-‘80s and worked for promoters in Mexico and Japan. In 1994 he won the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre world heavyweight title. He competed in World Championship Wrestling between 1997–2000 and during ‘01–06 used the ring name Black Tiger III. He went back to being Silver King after he was unmasked during a 2006 match. He died in London, England after he collapsed during a match on May 11, 2019.

Andrei Kramarevsky (90) Russian ballet dancer who, after a successful dance career in the Soviet Union, left for the West in 1975 and became a much admired teacher at the School of American Ballet in New York, influencing generations of future stars. Many who enjoyed Kramarevsky as Drosselmeyer in New York City Ballet’s seasonal productions of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, a role he performed until he was 85, may not have realized that he had also once danced for Joseph Stalin. His influence extended well beyond his own performances. Kramarevsky died in New York City on May 8, 2019.

Peggy Lipton (72) star of the groundbreaking late ‘60s TV show The Mod Squad and the ‘90s show Twin Peaks. Lipton played one of a trio of Los Angeles undercover “hippie cops” on The Mod Squad, which aired on ABC. It was one of pop culture’s first efforts to reckon seriously with the counterculture and one of the first TV shows to feature an interracial cast. Lipton was nominated for Emmys and won a Golden Globe in 1971 for her performance. The show addressed issues such as the Vietnam War, drugs, and domestic violence. Lipton married music producer Quincy Jones in 1974, and they had two daughters; the couple divorced in 1989. Lipton died of cancer in Los Angeles, California on May 11, 2019.

Norma Miller (99) danced the Lindy Hop on Harlem sidewalks as a child and as a teenager dazzled crowds on international tours in the ‘30s and early '40s doing the same kicks, spins, and drops that had made it a Jazz Age jitterbug craze. Among the cultural prodigies who arose after aviator Charles A. Lindbergh’s “hop” from New York to Paris in 1927—hence the dance’s name—Miller, known as the “Queen of Swing,” was the youngest recruit and last survivor of the original Lindy Hoppers, the all-black Herbert White troupe that broke in at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom and popularized the Lindy Hop in Broadway shows, on tours of Europe and Latin America, and in Hollywood films. In the movies, she danced and sang in memorable black-cast numbers in the Marx Brothers’ A Day at the Races (1937) and in the madcap Olsen & Johnson comedy Hellzapoppin’ (1941). Miller later thrived as a choreographer, comedian, TV actor, and author and was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003 as a conservator of the Lindy Hop. She died in Fort Myers, Florida on May 5, 2019.

Warren H. Phillips (92) started at the Wall Street Journal as a $40-a-week proofreader, then vaulted through the ranks to become its publisher and chief executive of its parent, Dow Jones & Co. Phillips presided over a vast expansion of the influence and reach of the Journal, which had been a thin financially focused paper with a circulation of about 100,000 when he joined it in 1947. It rode a wave of postwar prosperity to become the nation’s largest newspaper, covering national, international, and cultural news and business and economic affairs. By the time Phillips retired in 1991, the Journal had not only moved well past its days of strict association with big business; it had also begun opening up with respect to women and minorities on its work force. During Phillips’s tenure, profits soared, Asian and European editions were introduced, and Dow Jones book publishing and cable TV ventures were launched. He died in Bridgehampton, New York on May 10, 2019.

Alvin Sargent (92) veteran Hollywood screenwriter who won an Oscar for his portrayal of breakdowns lurking under the surface of a guilt-ridden family in Robert Redford’s 1980 film Ordinary People. Sargent also won an Oscar for his script for Julia, Fred Zinnemann’s 1977 film, with Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave, based on a chapter in Lillian Hellman’s memoir Pentimento. One of Hollywood’s most versatile writers, Sargent, who adapted screenplays from books and stories, wrote or collaborated on scores of TV and film scripts over 60 years: comedies, dramas, westerns, romances, even Spider-Man adventures. But he was best known for Ordinary People, his treatment of Judith Guest’s 1976 novel about a family whose idolized older son has drowned in a boating accident. The younger brother of Herbert Sargent (died 2005), a TV writer and a producer of NBC’s Tonight Show with Steve Allen and Johnny Carson and Saturday Night Live, Alvin Sargent died in Seatle, Washington on May 9, 2019.

Nancy Wigginton (93) first woman to read the national news on BBC-TV. Wigginton had worked on the BBC’s flagship investigative program Panorama before she was hired, on a trial basis, to read evening news bulletins in the summer of 1960. At the time women were largely held to be unsuited for the job. Managers had thought women “were too frivolous to be the bearers of grave news.” But BBC executives agreed to the experiment partly in response to the example set by the rival British commercial network ITV, which had made Barbara Mandell its first regular reader of TV news in 1955. Wigginton’s tenure at the public broadcaster was short-lived; three months later BBC managers decided to remove her. Research had found that viewers thought a woman reading the late news was “not acceptable.” The British news media had called her “Newsgirl Nan” and ran disparaging headlines. Wigginton moved to ITV and worked there as a TV and radio reporter until her retirement. She died in Dorset, England after a fall, on May 11, 2019.

Sol Yaged (96) Yaged was 12 and living in Coney Island when he first heard Benny Goodman and his band on the radio in 1935. It was an experience that guided him for more than 80 years. He never held any job but clarinetist and was so fixated on Goodman and his artistry—as a teenager, Sol started building a friendship with the bandleader by attending many of his performances and talking to him outside stage doors—that he could easily imitate his mentor’s lyricism and elegant tone. Yaged died in Coconut Creek, Florida on May 11, 2019.

Politics and Military

Fleming Begaye Sr. (97) World War II-era Navajo Code Talker. Begaye was among hundreds of Navajos who served in the Marine Corps, using a code based on their native language to outsmart the Japanese. He was a Code Talker from 1943–45 and fought in the Battles of Tarawa and Tinia. He spent a year in a naval hospital after being wounded and later ran a general store in Chinle, Ariz. President Donald Trump honored Begaye and two other Navajo Code Talkers at the White House in November 2017. Begaye died in Chinle, Arizona on May 10, 2019.

Giovanni de Michelis (78) flamboyant Italian Socialist and power broker in Rome who was caught up in Italy’s sweeping corruption scandal of the ‘90s. De Michelis joined the Socialist Party as a university student in 1960 and later occupied several cabinet posts, including foreign affairs minister, in Italy’s frequently changing governments. In the late ‘80s and early ’90s he was right-hand man to Prime Minister Bettino Craxi. As foreign minister, De Michelis signed the Maastricht Treaty, which in 1992 established the European Union, on behalf of Italy. A colorful politician with long hair who liked to dance the night away in discothèques, De Michelis was an emblem of Italy’s swagger in the ‘80s. But by the early ’90s he had been swept up in the widespread “mani pulite” (clean hands) investigation into political corruption, including bribery, kickbacks, and illegal party financing; the investigation implicated hundreds of politicians and business figures and helped to bring about the downfall of Italy’s dominant political parties. De Michelis was subjected to 35 different legal proceedings. He had been ill for some time with a neurodegenerative disease and died in Venice, Italy on May 11, 2019.

Larry J. Hanley (62) transit workers leader who championed union democracy and denounced organized crime’s infiltration of the labor movement. A former bus driver in Brooklyn and Staten Island and labor militant, Hanley won the presidency of the 200,000-member Amalgamated Transit Union in 2010 after challenging the incumbent's lax oversight of its largest New York local, which represented 15,000 school bus drivers. He died of pulmonary disease in Columbia, Maryland on May 7, 2019.

Robert Maxwell (98) early on September 7, 1944, Maxwell, an Army communications specialist, made a split-second decision that was virtually certain to bring his death. He and a few other GIs were on observation duty outside their battalion headquarters near the city of Besançon in eastern France when German soldiers got within yards of their outpost and opened fire. The Germans blasted away with automatic weapons and even antiaircraft guns, seeking to destroy the stone house where the battalion commanders were stationed. The GIs on sentry duty were armed only with .45-caliber automatic pistols, but they fired back. Then a grenade was hurled over the fence in front of the house’s courtyard and landed beside Maxwell. Using an Army blanket for protection, he fell on the grenade. The grenade exploded, knocking him unconscious, tearing away part of one foot and peppering his head and left arm with shrapnel. World War II was over for Maxwell, but he received the Medal of Honor. When he died in Bend, Oregon on May 11, 2019, he was the oldest of four surviving recipients of the medal, the military’s highest award for valor.

Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba (67) former deputy prime minister of Spain who played a key role in ending the militant group ETA’s violent 60-year campaign for Basque independence. Rubalcaba was Spain’s minister of education and science in the early ‘90s. After José Rodríguez Zapatero became head of government, Rubalcaba was responsible for state security as Spain’s interior minister from 2006–11. He guided efforts to stop attacks by the ETA, the Basque acronym for Basque Homeland & Freedom. Some ETA leaders were captured. The group’s last killing was in 2010. In 2011 Rubalcaba was Socialist candidate for prime minister, but his party lost that year’s general election. He died in Majadahonda, Spain two days after he suffered a stroke, on May 10, 2019.

Jenna Welch (99) mother of former first lady Laura Bush. Born in 1919 in Little Rock, Arkansas, Welch was raised near El Paso, Texas. With her husband, Harold Welch, she moved to Midland, Texas in 1946 after he returned from serving in World War II. Harold Welch died in 1995. Jenna Welch died in Midland, Texas on May 10, 2019.

Society and Religion

Bobbie Raymond (80) activist whose strategy for curbing white flight from her suburban Chicago village was embraced as a national model for racial integration in housing. Raymond was a young woman with an academic background in sociology in the ‘60s when residents of her village, nearly all-white Oak Park, Illinois, could see resegregation going on right before their eyes—across the boulevard that divided the village from Austin, an increasingly blighted community on Chicago’s west side. Austin was undergoing virtually overnight transformation—from predominantly white to 95 per cent black and Hispanic. Oak Park, home to about 50,000 people at the time, had also begun to change in the ‘50s, when research chemist Percy Lavon Julian and his family were the first black people to move there. Their house was firebombed several times. Inspired by her research for a master’s thesis on how the racial transformation of a neighborhood can be hastened by unscrupulous real estate agents and frightened homeowners, Raymond lobbied village trustees to pass a fair housing law, among the first in the country, in 1968. She died of congestive heart failure in Chicago, Illinois on May 7, 2019.

Jean Vanier (90) Canadian religious figure whose charity work helped to improve conditions for the developmentally disabled throughout the world over the past 50 years. Vanier worked as a Canadian navy officer and professor before turning to charity work. A visit to a psychiatric hospital prompted him to found L'Arche in 1964 as an alternative living environment where those with developmental disabilities could be full-fledged participants in the community instead of patients. The charity now has communities in 38 countries that are home to thousands of people both with and without disabilities. Its facilities in the US are located in Orange County. California. Vanier died in Paris, France after battling thyroid cancer, on May 7, 2019.


Bert Cooper (53) first professional boxer to knock down Evander Holyfield—although he later lost their heavyweight championship bout. Cooper was not supposed to face Holyfield, the reigning champ. Holyfield’s intended opponent, Mike Tyson, dropped out when he injured his rib cage. Francesco Damiani, Tyson’s replacement, then withdrew after injuring an ankle. Cooper, who had recently won four consecutive fights, signed up with about a week’s notice. What then happened, on November 23, 1991 at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, had the makings of one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. In the third round Cooper stunned Holyfield with a vicious overhand right. Holyfield went limp, and after another right and a shove he fell into the ropes. The referee declared a knockdown because the ropes were all that had kept the dazed Holyfield on his feet. But Holyfield recovered while still absorbing punishment from a tiring Cooper. In the seventh round, after pummeling Cooper with a barrage of punches, Holyfield retained his title by a technical knockout. Cooper died of pancreatic cancer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 10, 2019.

Harold Lederman (79) judged fights for more than 50 years and was a mainstay of HBO’s boxing telecasts. A pharmacist by trade, Lederman became widely known as unofficial scorer for HBO on some of the biggest fights of the times. He was a member of the broadcast team for HBO from 1986 until recently when the cable network stopped showing the sport. Before joining HBO, Lederman was a ringside judge in the New York and New Jersey area, scoring major fights like Muhammad Ali-Ken Norton and Michael Spinks-Gerry Cooney. He was later known on HBO for explaining his scoring to viewers as fights progressed and his signature voice in responding “Okay, Jim” to play-by-play announcer Jim Lampley. He died of cancer on May 11, 2019.

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