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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, July 6, 2019

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Lee Iacocca, auto executive at Ford and ChryslerArte Johnson, comic actor on 'Laugh-In'Cameron Boyce, actor on Disney ChannelMartin Charnin, lyricist for Broadway musical 'Annie'Chris Cline, coal billionaireMichael Colgrass, Pulitzer-winning composerDouglas Crimp, art scholar, curator, and writerAndrew Dibner, inventor of medical alert systemA. J. Duffy, former LA teacher and union leaderMitchell J. Feigenbaum, pioneer physicistJoão Gilberto, Brazilian 'bossa nova' guitaristElka Gilmore, San Francisco chefJohn Giumarra Jr., leading California grape growerE. Katherine Kerr, stage and screen actressDavid Koloane, South African artist and activistEva (Mozes) Kor and her twin, Miriam, Holocaust survivorsBarry Kowalski, federal lawyer who prosecuted LA police who beat Rodney King, rightGene Pingatore, Illinois's top high school boys' basketball coachMarie Ponsot, rediscovered poetSid Ramin, award-winning orchestrator, arranger, and composerAlan Rogan, British guitar technicianJerry Seltzer, heir to roller derbyTyler Skaggs, LA Angels starting pitcher

Art and Literature

Douglas Crimp (74) art scholar, curator, writer, editor, educator, and AIDS activist who challenged the field of art history by insisting on seeing it in a social context. In his writing, lectures, and curating, Crimp made it his hallmark to disrupt conventions in contemporary art criticism. As curator of the seminal “Pictures” exhibition at the Artists Space gallery in Lower Manhattan in 1977, he explored the idea that the meaning of a work of art depends on its historical and social circumstances. As editor of the arts journal October, he wrote texts that challenged the notion of the museum as a neutral power in presenting art. Crimp was an early advocate for the advances in performance art, dance, video, and photography that emerged in the ‘70s and ’80s. He died of multiple myeloma in New York City on July 5, 2019.

David Koloane (81) figure in the art of apartheid-era South Africa—as a painter, teacher, activist, and organizer of community-based black and interracial art centers. At a time when black South African artists were banned from art schools and museums and had few exhibition spaces of their own, Koloane founded or helped to found communal institutions to fill the gap. As an administrator, a curator, and a writer, he played a crucial role in shaping and advancing the careers of younger artists, and his own art was a model for combining contoversial content and abstraction. Koalane underwent chemotherapy early this year after receiving a diagnosis of lung cancer, but the disease was in remission and he had been able to attend the opening of a career retrospective in Cape Town on June 1. He died of respiratory failure in Johannesburg, South Africa on June 30, 2019.

Marie Ponsot (98) after a promising start as a published poet in the ‘50s, Ponsot put her career aside. She was a single mother in New York with seven children to raise. But she did not stop writing. She filled notebooks with her poems—then stashed much of her work in a drawer, showing it strictly to friends. It was almost 25 years before her poetry began to reemerge, and when it did, she found wide acclaim. By the end of her life, Ponsot had translated dozens of books, published seven volumes of poetry, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, taught at Queens College, and was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2010–14. She was first published in the ‘50s by Lawrence Ferlinghetti—the Yonkers-born poet who championed the Beat poets from his San Francisco bookstore, City Lights. Ponsot died in New York City on July 5, 2019.


Business and Science

Chris Cline (60) coal tycoon who worked his way out of West Virginia’s underground mines to amass a fortune and become a major Republican donor. Industry leaders, government officials, and academics described Cline as a visionary who was generous with his $1.8 billion fortune. He began working in the mines of southern West Virginia at a young age, rising through the ranks of his father’s company quickly. He formed his own energy development business, the Cline Group, which grew into one of the country’s top coal producers. When he thought mining in the Appalachian region was drying up, he started buying reserves in the Illinois Basin in what turned out to be a smart investment in high sulfur coal. Cline, his 22-year-old daughter Kameron, and five others were killed in a helicopter crash outside a string of islands he owned in the Bahamas, on July 4, 2019.

Andrew Dibner (93) psychologist who created a new segment in the health care industry when he invented a medical alert system that lets elderly and disabled people call for help when they cannot reach a telephone or knock on a neighbor’s door. Dibner was a psychology professor at Boston University with a special interest in the problems of old age in 1972 when one day he pondered what happens when a frail person, living alone, falls and cannot move. Dibner and his wife, Susan Schmidt Dibner, a sociologist, answered the question in 1974 by starting Lifeline Systems, widely recognized as the first company to sell personal emergency response systems in the US. Lifeline prompted other companies to enter the business, most famously LifeCall, whose well-known TV commercial featured an older woman lying on the floor, saying, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Dibner credited that ad with boosting his company’s sales because it brought national attention to the growing market for Lifeline and its competitors. He died of Alzheimer’s disease in Peoria, Arizona on July 6, 2019.

Mitchell J. Feigenbaum (74) pioneer in the field of mathematical physics known as chaos. Feigenbaum’s intense curiosity led him to questions far astray from the ones usually asked by theoretical physicists. How does one make the most accurate maps? What makes the moon look larger when it is closer to the horizon? What design of paper money would thwart photocopying? By following his own path, he uncovered a pattern of chaos that is universal in math and in nature. At Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico in the mid-‘70s, Feigenbaum, using a programmable calculator, found what seemed at first a mathematical curiosity. A simple equation generated a sequence of numbers that were initially trivial: the same number over and over. But the output became more varied until the patterns lost all hint of repeating. The dynamics had, in the terminology of physics, passed into the realm of deterministic chaos. Feigenbaum died of a heart attack in New York City on June 30, 2019.

Elka Gilmore (59) West Coast chef who helped to redefine fusion cuisine in the ‘90s. In 1993 Gilmore was described as “the enfant terrible of the modern California kitchen” by the New York Times Magazine. That was two years after the opening of Elka’s, her highly praised restaurant at the Miyako Hotel in the Japantown neighborhood of San Francisco. Gilmore, who often wore a baseball cap in the kitchen, welcomed new methods while holding on tightly to traditional ones. She had been in failing health for years after work injuries (one of which required spinal fusion), breast cancer, and complications of surgery. She died in San Francisco, California on July 6, 2019.

John Giumarra Jr. (78) driving force in California’s grape industry who for years battled Cesar Chavez before relenting and signing a landmark contract with the United Farm Workers. Along with his father, Giumarra was a key figure in the long-running standoff between the UFW, led by Chavez, and California’s grape growers, which sparked the Great Delano Grape Strike of 1965. Giumarra Vineyards Corp., California’s largest table grape grower, was among those boycotted both nationally and globally by the UFW in the late ‘60s. The strike motivated millions of Americans to stop eating grapes and ultimately pressured growers to negotiate a contract. In 1970, five years after the strike began, grape growers from Delano, led by the Giumarra family, signed contracts with the UFW. Giumarra died in Bakersfield, California on June 30, 2019.

Lee Iacocca (94) auto executive and master pitchman who put the Mustang in Ford’s lineup in the ‘60s and became a corporate folk hero when he resurrected Chrysler in the '80s. In his 32-year career at Ford, then Chrysler, Iacocca helped to launch some of Detroit’s best-selling and most significant vehicles, including the minivan, the Chrysler K-cars, and the Mustang. He also spoke out against what he considered unfair trade practices by Japanese automakers. The son of Italian immigrants, Iacocca reached a level of celebrity matched by few auto moguls. During the peak of his popularity in the ’80s, he was famous for his TV ads and catchy tagline: “If you can find a better car, buy it!” He died of Parkinson’s disease in Bel Air, California on July 2, 2019.

Alan Rogan (68) in the pop music world, Rogan carried a certain star power all his own. He was a much-sought-after British guitar technician who worked for some of the biggest names in rock. But of all the tasks he was hired to do, none was as unusual or as difficult as the one he had as a fixture in the entourage of the Who. For decades it was his job to repair the expensive electric guitars that the band’s leader, Pete Townshend, smashed onstage as part of his act, often attacking his amps with an anarchist’s gusto as his fans cheered. Enter Rogan to patch up the instruments. But sometimes, with all that smashing, they were beyond repair, and Rogan had to revisit some of the world’s best guitar shops and guitar makers to replace them. He died of cancer in London, England on July 3, 2019.


Education

A. J. Duffy (75) in his mid-20s, Duffy seemed unlikely to accomplish anything. Despite a comfortable upbringing, he couldn’t even read. But he painstakingly reshaped himself and became, of all things, a teacher—one determined to help underdogs like himself. He then became a union leader for much the same reason, combining a combative outer shell with an underlying desire to bring people together around the common good of learning. It was easy to mistake his style for his substance: he dressed like a ‘30s gangster and could be bombastic. Duffy was elected president of United Teachers Los Angeles in 2005 partly because he had an outsider, firebrand mojo that appealed to frustrated colleagues—he bragged about how he had chased out 12 unpopular principals as a union activist. He died of cancer in Los Angeles, California on July 3, 2019.


Law

Barry Kowalski (74) US Justice Department lawyer who won the convictions of two white Los Angeles police officers in 1993 for the beating of Rodney G. King—an episode that touched off one of the nation’s worst urban riots. Kowalski was assistant chief of the Justice Department’s criminal section in its civil rights division in 1991 when King’s car was stopped on a June night by four white police officers, who pulled him over for speeding. A man in an apartment overlooking the scene captured images of the officers beating King with their batons, kicking him, and shocking him with stun guns while he was on the ground. He sold the video to an LA TV station for $500, and it was soon seen throughout the nation. An all-white jury in state court found the officers not guilty of using excessive force. King, who had been on parole from a robbery conviction when he was arrested, did not testify. Hours after the verdicts were announced, rioting broke out in LA, resulting in more than 50 deaths and an estimated $1 billion in damages. Kowalski led an extensive investigation that indicted the four officers on federal charges that they had deprived King of his constitutional rights by beating him with criminal intent. A second trial convicted two officers, who were sentenced to 30 months in prison. Kowalski died of complications from two strokes in Arlington, Virginia on June 30, 2019.


News and Entertainment

Cameron Boyce (20) actor known for his roles in the Disney Channel franchise Descendants and the Adam Sandler Grown Ups movies. Boyce played Carlos Oscar De Vil in Descendants. He acted on TV and in film. His film credits include Mirrors and Eagle Eye. Boyce dreamed of sharing his artistic talents with the world from a young age and wanted to make a difference in peoples’ lives through humanitarian work. He died in his sleep from a seizure, the result of an ongoing medical condition, in Los Angeles, California on July 6, 2019.

Martin Charnin (84) made his Broadway debut playing a Jet in the original West Side Story and later became a Broadway director and a lyricist who won a Tony Award for the score of the eternal hit Annie. Charnin was a keeper of the Annie flame, protective of what he created with songwriter Charles Strouse and book writer Thomas Meehan. The 1977 original won the Tony as best musical and ran for 2,300 performances, inspiring tours and revivals that never went out of style. Charnin attributed the success of Annie in part to its sweet optimism and its message that things were going to get better. Charnin died in White Plains, New York days after suffering a minor heart attack, on July 6, 2019.

Michael Colgrass (87) composer of genre-crossing orchestral and chamber works who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1978 for “Déjà Vu,” a concerto for percussion quartet and orchestra. Colgrass refused to align himself exclusively with any of the postwar new-music styles but found his own path by drawing on whatever styles and techniques suited the composition on his desk. He used 12-tone and serial techniques alongside soaring lyricism. The rhythms, timbres, and energy of jazz—his earliest musical passion—are heard in several works, including “Déjà Vu,” in which jazz-tinged brass figures seem to arise from the colorful percussion writing and take on lives of their own amid slow-moving, atmospheric string scoring. Elsewhere—for example in “Folklines: A Counterpoint of Musics for String Quartet” (1988)—Colgrass borrowed from different world music styles, and in some works, like “Letter to Mozart,” he used quotations from composers of the past, transforming them with modernist techniques. He died of squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, in Toronto, Canada, on July 2, 2019.

João Gilberto (88) Brazilian singer, guitarist, and songwriter considered one of the fathers of the bossa nova genre that gained global popularity in the ‘60s and became an iconic sound of the South American nation. A fusion of samba and jazz, bossa nova emerged in the late ‘50s and gained a worldwide following in the ‘60s, pioneered by Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, who composed the iconic “The Girl from Ipanema” that was performed by Gilberto and others. Self-taught, Gilberto said he discovered music at age 14 when he held a guitar in his hands for the first time. With his unique playing style and modern jazz influences, he created the beat that defined bossa nova, helping to launch the genre with his song “Bim-Bom.” By 1961 Gilberto had finished the albums that made bossa nova known around the world: Chega de Saudade, Love, a Smile & a Flower, and João Gilberto. His 1964 album Getz/Gilberto with US saxophonist Stan Getz sold millions of copies. Gilberto died in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 6, 2019.

Arte Johnson (90) actor who won an Emmy for comedy sketch work on the TV show Laugh-In (1967–73). Johnson became known for his catch-phrase “Verrry interesting” on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. He won an Emmy in 1969 and was nominated twice more for his work on the hit show. One of his characters was Wolfgang, a cigarette-smoking German soldier who thought World War II was still going on. Johnson’s other TV appearances included Bewitched, The Partridge Family, Lost in Space, Murder, She Wrote, and The Donna Reed Show. He also had roles in films as Dracula’s sidekick in Love at First Bite and The President’s Analyst as a federal agent. He appeared on several game shows such as The Gong Show, The Match Game, and Wheel of Fortune and narrated more than 80 audiobooks and did voiceover work for The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, Justice League Unlimited, and DuckTales. He died in Los Angeles, California of heart failure after a three-year battle with bladder and prostate cancer, on July 3, 2019.

E. Katherine Kerr (82) stage and screen actress who won strong reviews for her Off-Broadway work and an Obie Award in 1982 for her performance in Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9. Kerr was probably best known for her roles in star-studded films like Mike Nichols’ Silkwood (1983), a drama about a nuclear plant whistle-blower, in which she acted alongside Meryl Streep and Cher, and the crime drama Suspect (1987), with Cher and Dennis Quaid. But the bulk of her career was onstage. In Cloud 9, a two-act satire set in both British colonial Africa and 1979 London, she played three characters—two in the first act and one in the second. The performance brought her a Drama Desk nomination and the Obie. Kerr received another Drama Desk nomination for her Off-Broadway performance in 1987 in the lead female role of Christopher Durang’s comedy Laughing Wild. She died in Sarasota, Florida three months after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, on July 1, 2019.

Sid Ramin (100) orchestrator, arranger, and composer who won both an Oscar and a Grammy for his work on the film West Side Story and whose career outlets ranged from revered Broadway musicals to perfume commercials. Ramin was one of two orchestrators—three, if you count the contributions of composer Leonard Bernstein (died 1990), a lifelong friend—on the original Broadway production of West Side Story, which opened in 1957. He worked on “Somewhere,” “Something’s Coming,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Here Come the Jets,” and “Gee, Officer Krupke.” Ramin could have put the letters EGOT after his name, as one of the small group of artists who have won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards. But the Tonys did not formally honor orchestration until 1997, four years after his last Broadway show, The Red Shoes. He died in New York City on July 1, 2019.

Jerry Seltzer (87) second-generation showman who used TV to revive enthusiasm for roller derby, the contact sport played on wheels that his father, Leo, invented in the ‘30s. When Seltzer took over the roller derby business in 1959 from his father, it was still the ferocious blue-collar game it had long been, with two teams of five helmeted players muscling, elbowing, kicking, shoving, and tossing each other while circling a banked track counterclockwise; and he kept it that way. The game had reached its peak soon after World War II, when arenas and armories filled with fans to see the brawling contests. TV viewing soared as well, on CBS and later on ABC, which carried as many as three roller derby matches a week in 1951 to fill its schedule. Seltzer shut down the business in late 1973, saying rising oil prices had made it too expensive for teams to tour and for arena owners to heat their buildings. He died of pulmonary fibrosis in Sonoma, California on July 1, 2019.


Society and Religion

Eva (Mozes) Kor (85) Holocaust survivor who championed forgiveness even for those who carried out the Holocaust atrocities. Kor was a Jewish native of Romania who was sent in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where most of her family was killed. Eva and her twin sister survived, but they were subjected to inhumane medical experiments by German doctor Josef Mengele. Eva later moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, where she lived for over 30 years. She married a fellow Holocaust survivor, raised a family, and worked in real estate. In 1985 she founded CANDLES, or Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors. Her sister Miriam Zeiger died in 1993 of cancer. Kor often gave lectures, wrote an autobiography, and appeared in documentaries, sharing her story and message of forgiveness. During annual educational trips to Poland for CANDLES, she gave tours of Auschwitz. She died in her hotel room in Krakow, Poland on July 4, 2019.


Sports

Gene Pingatore (83) winningest high school boys’ basketball coach in Illinois history who gained national attention when he appeared in the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams. Pingatore’s teams won two state championships, advanced to the state finals six times, and won 13 sectional titles. In 2017 he became the 15th boys’ basketball coach in the country to reach 1,000 wins. Pingatore coached three McDonald’s All-Americans: Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, Daryl Thomas, and Deryl Cunningham. At his death, he was preparing for his 51st season coaching at St. Joseph High School in Westchester, a suburban Chicago school. Pingatore died in Westchester, Illinois on July 3, 2019.

Tyler Skaggs (27) starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels. Skaggs would have turned 28 on July 13 and was married in December 2018. He had been a regular in the Angels’ starting rotation since late 2016. He struggled with injuries repeatedly in that time but was 7-7 with a 4.29 ERA in 15 starts this season to help an injury-plagued rotation. He was found dead in a hotel room in Southlake, Texas several hours before his team was scheduled to play the Texas Rangers, on July 1, 2019.


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