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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, August 17, 2019

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Peter Fonda, actor son of Hollywood legend Henry FondaCedric Benson, historic running backDanny Cohen, computer scientistJim Hardy, oldest living USC and LA Rams football playerKay Ann Johnson, studied China's one-child policyBill Konyk, Ukrainian restaurateur in VancouverRosemary Kuhlmann, opera singer in original TV operaNingali Lawford-Wolf, indigenous Australian actressDr. Donald A. B. Lindberg, led National Library of Medicine into computer ageShelby Lyman, hosted PBS coverage of historic 1972 chess matchEdda Servi Machlin, Italian Jewsh cookbook authorPaule Marshall, one of few major black women fiction writersMike McGee, college football player, coach, and athletic directorTimothy Means, conservationistChristina, Princess of the NetherlandsAnna Quayle, with Gert Frobe in 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'Brunilda Ruiz, ballerinaUgo Sansonetti, businessman turned track runnerRichard Williams, Oscar-winning animator

Art and Literature

Edda Servi Machlin (93) survived the Worle War II years in Italy by hiding out with anti-Fascist partisans, then immigrated to the US and wrote a cookbook on Italian Jewish food. In 1981, when Machlin published The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews, few people were aware of the distinctive Jewish culinary traditions of that part of the world, or of the centuries-long history behind them. The book (which she followed with a Vol. 2 in 1992) did more than just offer recipes; it recounted her memories of growing up in Pitigliano, a town in Tuscany known as the little Jerusalem because—at least until WWII—it had a vibrant Jewish community and culture, one that had been there for centuries. Machlin, who recommended always making your own pasta, died of vascular dementia in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York on August 16, 2019.

Paule Marshall (90) storyteller who in fiction such as Daughters and Brown Girl, Brownstones drew upon classic and vernacular literature and her mother’s kitchen conversations to narrate the divides between blacks and whites, men and women, and modern and traditional cultures. First published in the ‘50s, Marshall was for years virtually the only major black woman fiction writer in the US, a bridge between Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison (died a week earlier), Alice Walker, and others who emerged in the ‘60s and ’70s. She had been suffering from dementia in recent years and died in Richmond, Virginia on August 12, 2019.

Richard Williams (86) Canadian-British animator whose work on the bouncing cartoon bunny in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? helped to blur the boundaries between the animated world and our own. Williams’ career straddled the “Golden Age of Animation,” which petered out between the ‘50s and ‘60s, and the rise of computer-assisted animation in the ‘90s and beyond. His best-known work may be as director of animation for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, a 1988 film that married live action cinema and cartoons from all eras, a process that involved the laborious insertion of animated characters into each individual frame and complex lighting effects. The result—a madcap and slightly dark comedy where “toons” and humans interact seamlessly against a live action film noir background—was a commercial and critical hit and helped to revitalize Disney’s flagging animation department. Williams died from cancer in Bristol, England on August 16, 2019.

Business and Science

Danny Cohen (81) computer scientist whose work in the ‘60s and ’70s on computer graphics and networks led to innovations in flight simulation, Internet telephony, cloud computing, and one of the first online dates—with him. Cohen, an Israeli immigrant who started out as a mathematician, was credited with designing the first real-time computerized flight simulation system, providing the experience of piloting a plane without having to leave the ground. When he took on the project, he told Wired magazine in 2012, the challenge was not just to master flying as a skill—he later became an accomplished pilot—but also to represent it graphically on a computer. His work in computer-network-based telephony began in the mid-‘70s, when he was on the faculty at the University of Southern California. Cohen died of Parkinson’s disease in Palo Alto, California on August 12, 2019.

Bill Konyk (88) brought Ukrainian food to Vancouver and successfully fought to maintain his company’s name, Hunky Bill’s, despite objections that it was an ethnic slur. Konyk was a sales manager for a Vancouver radio station in 1967 when he bet a friend $10 that he could get a booth at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver to sell Ukrainian food, which his family had trouble finding in the area. He succeeded, and his company has been a mainstay at the fair ever since, selling pirogies (sometimes spelled perogies), kielbasa, and cabbage rolls. Konyk eventually opened numerous restaurants and retail outlets in the Lower Mainland under the Hunky Bill’s name. He also bought the Dover Arms pub in the West End neighborhood of Vancouver. Hunky Bill was Konyk’s self-adopted nickname and the trademark for his pirogi, restaurant, and retail businesses. He died of cancer in Ladner, British Columbia, on August 13, 2019.

Dr. Donald A. B. Lindberg (85) retired director of the National Library of Medicine—the world’s largest—who computerized its vast holdings and made them accessible to researchers around the world. Lindberg was a leader in medical informatics, the science of using computer technology to improve human health and the delivery of health care services. As longtime leader of the library, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, he modernized, expanded, and transformed a trove of material, some of which dates to the 12th century. Lindberg died in Bethesda, Maryland of a cerebral hemorrhage, five days after he fell at home, on August 17, 2019.

Timothy Means (75) conservationist on the leading edge of ecotourism in the Gulf of California who helped to win permanent protection for hundreds of islands off the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. Means spent decades working to protect the fragile desert ecosystem of Baja and the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, a body of water so teeming with life that Jacques Cousteau called it “the world’s aquarium.” Inspired by environmentally conscious tourism on the Galápagos Islands, Means set up Baja Expeditions in 1974. It was one of the first major low-impact nature tourism companies in Mexico. He died of diabetes in San Diego, California on August 13, 2019.


Kay Ann Johnson (73) Asian studies scholar whose adoption of an infant girl from China led her to spend years researching the impact of the country’s one-child policy on rural families. Johnson, who taught at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, was working on an oral history of a village in north China in 1991 when she adopted a three-month-old girl, Tang Li (who became known as LiLi), from an orphanage in Wuhan, a large city in Hubei Province in central China. The country was more than 10 years into enforcing its one-child policy, a draconian effort by the Communist government to curb China's population growth. The rule required families to make painful decisions about whether to keep their children. They would pay stiff fines to keep children born “out of plan,” hide them from authorities, abandon or relinquish them, or find friends and relatives who could surreptitiously adopt them. In a culture that generally values boys over girls, those decisions were even more complicated for families when the child was a girl. Johnson died of metastatic breast cancer in Hyannis, Massachusetts on August 14, 2019.

News and Entertainment

Peter Fonda (79) actor and son of a Hollywood legend who became a movie star in his own right after both writing and starring in the counterculture classic Easy Rider (1969). Born into Hollywood royalty as Henry Fonda’s (died 1982) only son, Peter Fonda carved his own path with his nonconformist tendencies and earned an Oscar nomination for cowriting the psychedelic road trip movie. He never won that golden statuette but was later Oscar-nominated for his leading performance as a Vietnam veteran and widowed beekeeper in Ulee’s Gold (1997). The younger brother of actress Jane Fonda, Peter Fonda died of lung cancer in Los Angeles, California on August 16, 2019.

Rosemary Kuhlmann (97) mezzo-soprano, part of an early TV experiment that became a holiday classic, singing the role of Amahl’s mother in the 1951 world premiere of the opera Amahl & the Night Visitors on NBC and returning to the part for years afterward. Kuhlmann was seen by millions of TV viewers in the ‘50s and early ’60s in Amahl, a one-act work by Gian Carlo Menotti commissioned by NBC specifically for the 1951 Christmas Eve broadcast. TV was still in its infancy in the early ‘50s, which meant there was some risk-taking on the programming side, the familiar formats—half-hour sitcoms and hour-long dramas—having not yet solidified. The premiere of Amahl, the story of a shepherd boy (originally Chet Allen) who encounters the biblical three kings on their way to the manger in Bethlehem, was broadcast live from Rockefeller Center. Kuhlmann, who had only recently begun her operatic career, was 29. She died in Warren, Rhode Island on August 17, 2019.

Ningali Lawford-Wolf (52) indigenous Australian actress who brought the world of her people to the stage and, most notably, to the screen in the film Rabbit-Proof Fence. Lawford-Wolf spent more than 20 years playing Indigenous roles, enlightening audiences about the experience of Aboriginal Australians. She died from an asthma attack in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she was touring with the Sydney Theater Co., on August 11, 2019.

Anna Quayle (86) when an inventor, his flying car, and his children end up in the kingdom of Vulgaria in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), the best-dressed villain is the gaudy, child-hating Baroness Bomburst, who during her big musical number (with Gert Frobe), “Chu-Chi Face,” survives her husband’s repeated attempts to murder her. In the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967), Frau Hoffner—teacher of Mata Bond, daughter of Mata Hari and 007—is at the center of a scene that parodies German Expressionism. And on the stage, in Stop the World—I Want to Get Off, the acclaimed London and Broadway musical hit of the Kennedy era, there was something familiar about the four women in the unhappy life of Littlechap (Anthony Newley). All of them—his wife and his Russian, German, and American loves—were played by Quayle, a tall, witty, saucer-eyed British character actress, singer, and dancer. After Quayle won a 1963 Tony Award (for best featured actress in a musical) for Stop the World, she enjoyed an almost 40-year acting career. She died of Lewy body dementia on August 16, 2019.

Brunilda Ruiz (83) American ballerina who from the ‘50s to the ’70s excelled in a broad range of 20th-century choreography as a founding member of both the Robert Joffrey Ballet and the Harkness Ballet. Ruiz also showed off the perfect classical form that Joffrey, one of America’s best ballet instructors, had instilled as her teacher and, later, as company director. Her favorite role was in Joffrey’s homage to Romantic ballet, “Pas des Déesses,” which she danced with her husband, Paul Sutherland, also a member of the Harkness and Joffrey companies and the American Ballet Theater. Ruiz also danced in the ballets of George Balanchine, Alvin Ailey, Jerome Robbins, and Gerald Arpino, among others. Born in Puerto Rico, she was an important role model for future Hispanic ballet dancers. She died of cancer in Waldwick, New Jersey on August 13, 2019.

Politics and Military

Christina, Princess of the Netherlands (72) Dutch princess, youngest sister of former Queen Beatrix. Christina was the youngest of four daughters of the late Queen Juliana and her German-born husband Prince Bernhard. Publicity-shy Christina and her former husband Jorge Guillermo, son of a Cuban doctor, had three children, Bernardo, Nicolás, and Juliana. The couple divorced in 1996. Their 1975 wedding removed Christina from the line of succession to the Dutch throne and allowed her to live outside the royal court. She lived in countries including Italy, the US, and Canada. She died of bone cancer at the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, The Netherlands, on August 16, 2019.


Cedric Benson (36) former NFL running back, one of the most prolific rushers in NCAA and University of Texas history. Benson was a key player in the Longhorns’ resurgence under coach Mack Brown. He was one of the top high school recruits out of the West Texas town of Midland and was eighth on the career rushing list for Texas high schools. He led Midland Lee to three straight state championships, the only three in school history, from 1998–2000. Benson played at Texas from 2001–04, and his 5,540 yards rank second at the university and ninth in NCAA history. He scored 64 career touchdowns with the Longhorns and won the Doak Walker award, given to the nation’s top running back, in 2004. He was the only player in school history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in four seasons and was inducted into the university’s Hall of Honor in 2014. Benson was drafted No. 4 overall by the Bears in 2005 and helped Chicago to reach the playoffs the next season. He had his finest years with Cincinnati from 2008–11, taking over as featured back on a team that made the playoffs twice but lost in the first round each time. Benson was killed in a motorcycle accident in Austin, Texas on August 17, 2019.

Jim Hardy (96) oldest living University of Southern California and Los Angeles Rams football player, Most Valuable Player of the 1945 Rose Bowl. Hardy was selected eighth in the first round of the 1945 NFL draft by the Washington Redskins. The quarterback spent seven seasons in the league and was part of the 1952 Detroit Lions team that won the NFL championship. He also played for the Rams (1946–48) and the Chicago Cardinals (1949–51). Hardy threw for 5,690 yards and 54 touchdowns. He played for the Rams in their inaugural season and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1950. While with the Cardinals in 1950, he set a single-game record by throwing eight interceptions against the Philadelphia Eagles, which still stands. The next week against the Baltimore Colts, he rebounded to throw six touchdowns. He died in La Quinta, California on August 16, 2019.

Shelby Lyman (82) chess master who found short-lived fame in 1972 by hosting a surprisingy popular show on live TV as it followed the historic world championship chess match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. The Fischer-Spassky match was one of the most ballyhooed competitive events of the ‘70s, a Cold War confrontation in Reykjavik, Iceland between the two most brilliant chess players in the world, Russian grandmaster Spassky and American Fischer. It was the first professional match to offer a prize fund of $250,000—an unheard-of amount then (the equivalent of more than $1.5 million today). The match, beginning in July, was not scheduled to be televised live. But at PBS, looking to capitalize on the event—and to fill airtime during the slow summer months—producer Michael Chase conceived of a program that would follow the match, move by move, from afar, and he thought that Lyman, a top American player, would be the ideal person to host it. No one expected the show to be a hit, but it became the highest-rated program in public TV history up to then. Lyman died of cancer in Johnson City, New York on August 11, 2019.

Mike McGee (80) former USC and South Carolina athletic director (AD), a former Outland Trophy winner at Duke who hired Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier to lead Gamecocks football. McGee was the Gamecocks’ AD from 1993–2005 and was responsible for hiring several high-profile coaches at the Southeastern Conference school, including Holtz after the '98 season and Spurrier after Holtz’s retirement in 2004. He also hired current AD Ray Tanner. McGee was AD at USC from 1984 until midway through the ’92–93 season. The Trojans played in four Rose Bowls during his tenure. Before going to Los Angeles, McGee was AD at Cincinnati from 1980–84. He was head football coach at his alma mater, Duke, for eight years. His other head coaching job was at East Carolina. He was an assistant at Duke, Wisconsin, and Minnesota and an All-American offensive lineman with the Blue Devils, earning the Outland Trophy in 1959. He spent three seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals before a neck injury ended his pro career. McGee died in Montrose, Colorado on August 16, 2019.

Ugo Sansonetti (100) Italian business executive who began running track in his 70s, won numerous medals at World Masters Athletic Championship events, and broke several world records. In the early ‘60s, Sansonetti helped to establish the Italian division of the frozen food giant Findus, based in Sweden. He was its executive director and a consultant until retiring at age 76 in 1995. That was when his athletic career took off. He started running because he was bored in retirement, and by his 80s he had begun to make a name for himself in races. In all, Sansonetti won 42 gold medals at the World Masters Athletic Championships, a competition for older track and field athletes. In 2009 he broke the 800-meter indoor record for athletes ages 90–94 with a time of 4 minutes, 28.07 seconds. (Earl Fee of Canada broke that record this year at 90.) In 2010 Sansonetti surpassed the 200-meter indoor record in that age category with a 40.34 finish. He died in Rome, Italy on August 14, 2019.

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