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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, September 7, 2019

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James Atlas, editor and biographerAl Carmichael, football player and stuntmanWilliam Yuk-On Chang, Hawaiian journalist in NYC's ChinatownRev. Alison Cheek, among first 11 women ordained as Episcopal  priestsTom Collins. promoter of figure-skating toursLaShawn Daniels, songwriter and recording producerJerry Epstein, Marina del Rey developerRoger, Cardinal Etchegaray, Vatican diplomatDorothea Benton Frank, South Carolina novelistAdela Holzer, notorious con womanJimmy Johnson, Muscle Shoals studio guitaristJoan Johnson, cofounder of Johnson black hair-care productsPeter Lindbergh, German fashion photographerCarol Lynley, child model turned film actressCiaran McKeown, Irish journalist who established '70s peace movementNeil Montanus, photographer of Kodak ColoramasKiran Nagarkar, Indian writerPeter Nichols, British playwrightFrederic Pryor. part of historic prisoner tradeJames Robertson, federal judgeLee Salem, comic strip editor and developerCharlie Silvera, Yankees' No. 2 catcherJean Edward Smith, historian and biographerFrancisco Toledo, Mexican artistChester Williams, South African rugby player

Art and Literature

James Atlas (70) author, editor, and patron of literary biographies who broke through in his 20s by writing an acclaimed book on poet Delmore Schwartz and later oversaw releases on subjects ranging from St. Augustine to Elvis Presley. Starting in 1977 with Delmore Schwartz: The Life of an American Poet, Atlas was a singular champion of biographies, those he wrote himself, the books he published through the Penguin Lives series he founded in ‘99, or the books he later edited for Harper-Collins and W. W. Norton & Co. He turned out dozens of brief works credited with reviving an art form dating back to ancient times and inspiring numerous publishers to launch similar imprints. His idea was to pair prominent contemporary writers with famous figures of the past: Irish writer Edna O’Brien on James Joyce, surgeon Sherwin Nuland on Leonardo da Vinci, Southern writer Bobbie Ann Mason on Presley, etc. Atlas had been battling a long-term lung condition that worsened in recent months. He died in New York City on September 4, 2019.

Dorothea Benton Frank (67) novelist who set such best-sellers as Sullivan’s Island in her native South Carolina. Sullivan's Island was her first book, completed when she was in her mid-40s and published in 1999. It was the story of a troubled woman confronting her past and was the first of many “Low Country” tales, among them Isle of Palms and Shem Creek. Frank’s other novels included By Invitation Only, The Last Original Wife, and All the Single Ladies. Her novel Queen Bee came out in May. For the past 30 years she had homes in Montclair, New Jersey and Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, part of Charleston County. Frank died in New York City of myelodysplastic syndrome, a group of bone marrow disorders, after a brief battle with leukemia, on September 2, 2019.

Peter Lindbergh (74) German fashion photographer who worked in the ‘80s and ‘90s with supermodels like Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Linda Evangelista. Lindbergh was renowned for his cinematic, elegant style. Born in 1944, he grew up in Germany, where he took his first steps as a photographer before moving to Paris in ‘78 to pursue his career. He died in Paris, France on Sept. 3, 2019.

Neil Montanus (92) for 40 years the Eastman Kodak Co. occupied some of the most valuable advertising real estate in America: The huge wall above the east balcony in Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. Every weekday, 650,000 commuters and visitors who jostled through the main concourse could gaze up at Kodak’s Coloramas, the giant photographs that measured 18 feet high and 60 feet wide, each backlit by a mile of cold cathode tubing, displaying idealized visions of postwar family life—not to mention the wonders of color film. Happy families in bucolic settings, scuba divers in magical waters, and skiers amid majestic mountains floated above the harried and tired office workers who slogged to and from their trains. The photographer responsible for more Coloramas than anyone else—55 of them—was Montanus, an athletic adventure-seeker. He advanced the art of underwater photography and was especially skilled at portraiture. His portrait of Walt Disney was called (by Disney executives) the best ever taken of him. Montanus died in Rochester, New York on September 6, 2019.

Kiran Nagarkar (77) Indian writer whose novels and plays addressed subjects like 16th-century Rajasthani royalty, the life of the working poor in Mumbai, and religious fundamentalism. In both English and his native language, Marathi, Nagarkar’s wordplay and the colorful characters he created left an indelible impression. His writing was bawdy, irreverent, and joyous but also held up a mirror to uncomfortable truths. Mumbai, his birthplace, often served as the backdrop for his plots, and he was known for capturing that sprawling metropolis’s never-say-die spirit. In 1974 he wrote the experimental novel Saat Sakkam Trechalis (Seven Times Six Is Forty-Three), his only book in Marathi. It followed the stream of consciousness of a young author waiting to gain recognition for his work, and today it is considered a landmark of Marathi, one of the 22 main languages of India, spoken by over 80 million people. Nagarkar died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Mumbai, India on September 5, 2019.

Lee Salem (73) developed or edited risk-taking comic strips such as “Calvin & Hobbes,” “Doonesbury,” and “The Boondocks.” Salem’s keen eye for finding talented and idiosyncratic writers and cartoonists led to the syndication of some of the best and most daring American comic strips of the last 25 years of the 20th century. In the 40 years he served at Universal Press Syndicate, now Andrews McMeel Universal, as editor or president, Salem discovered “Cathy” in the ‘70s and “The Boondocks” in the ‘90s; oversaw “Doonesbury,” “The Far Side,” and “FoxTrot”; and helped to develop “For Better or for Worse,” “Cul-de-Sac,” “La Cucaracha,” and “Calvin & Hobbes.” He died from a massive stroke in Kansas City, Missouri on September 2, 2019.

Jean Edward Smith (86) prize-winning historian known for his books on Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant. A longtime professor at the University of Toronto, Smith wrote more than a dozen books, several about American presidents. Grant (2001) was a Pulitzer Prize finalist credited with helping to improve the once-disparaged president’s reputation. Smith’s book on Roosevelt, FDR, won the Francis Parkman Prize in 2007. More recently, he condemned the presidency of George W. Bush in the 2016 publication Bush. Smith also wrote favorable biographies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Marshall, 19th century Supreme Court chief justice. Smith died of Parkinson’s disease in Huntington, West Virginia on September 1, 2019.

Francisco Toledo (79) expressionist painter well known and respected in Mexico both for his art and his activism. Toledo’s enigmatic paintings and sculptures were marked by the animals, colors, and traditions of his native Oaxaca. Insects, cats, and other animals were presented in almost mythological contexts in Toledo’s work, whose colors also evoke the brilliant palette of Oaxaca. His activism was also centered in Oaxaca, particularly for saving its historic buildings and green spaces and defending against cultural encroachment. Toledo led movements to save old convents and other colonial-era buildings from developers and helped to turn them into centers for the arts and gardens. He also led a fight in the early 2000s against the opening of a fast-food chain in downtown Oaxaca city, the state capital. Toledo died in Oaxaca, Mexico on September 5, 2019.

Business and Science

Jerry Epstein (96) last of the Marina del Rey developers who reshaped the Los Angeles coastline and ushered in an era of harbor-front living for a vast and growing city. A New York kid who found opportunity and plenty of open space in LA after the end of World War II, Epstein was also a critical force in the conception and creation of both the Ronald Reagan and Junipero Serra state buildings in downtown LA, then an aggressive opponent years later when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger threatened to sell them off in a fit of financial desperation. Epstein died in Los Angeles, California on September 2, 2019.

Joan Johnson 89) woman who, with her husband, George, founded Johnson Products, a hair-product concern that became one of the most successful black-owned businesses in the US and the first to be listed on the American Stock Exchange. At a time when few companies paid much attention to black consumers, the Johnsons made a fortune with hair-care products aimed at black customers, beginning with a hair relaxer for men that George developed while working for a cosmetics company. In 1954 the couple formed the company that became Johnson Products. In the ‘60s it had an estimated 80 per cent of the black hair-care market, and by 1970 it had annual sales of $12.6 million. In January 1971 it went public. George was generally the public face of the company, but Joan was active in running it and was treasurer. The company weathered changes in styles over the years and competition from larger companies like Revlon and Avon that finally discovered the black consumer. Joan Johnson died in Chicago, Illinois on September 6, 2019.


Frederic Pryor (86) American graduate student who was jailed in East Germany in 1961 on suspicion of espionage but later freed as part of the famous prisoner trade between the US and the Soviet Union dramatized in Steven Spielberg’s film Bridge of Spies. By the summer of 1961, Pryor had been living in West Berlin for two years. Despite worsening Cold War tensions, he crossed regularly into East Berlin to interview economists and government officials for his doctoral thesis about the Soviet bloc’s foreign trade system. While the Berlin Wall was being built, Pryor drove into East Berlin on August 25, 1961. He tried to visit an engineer who had helped him on a research project, but when he reached her apartment she was gone. The Stasi, East Germany’s secret police, which had been staking out her home, arrested Pryor for aiding in her escape to the West. After they found a copy of the thesis in his car, they charged him with being a spy. On February 10, 1962, after nearly six months in jail, Pryor was driven to Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin and released. He died in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania on September 2, 2019.


Adela Holzer (91) shipping magnate’s glamorous, self-possessed European wife who in 1975, as a fledgling stage producer, had two hits on Broadway: All Over Town, a farce by Murray Schisgal about a psychiatrist, directed by Dustin Hoffman, and The Ritz, Terrence McNally’s bathhouse comedy, which brought Rita Moreno a Tony Award. Two years later Holzer was bankrupt. Two years after that, she was in prison, convicted of seven counts of grand larceny. Over the next 30 years, she spent a total of 14 years behind bars for schemes that involved European land deals, oil wells, international car dealerships, immigration scams, and an imaginary marriage to David Rockefeller. She died in Boca Raton, Florida on September 1, 2019.

James Robertson (81) federal judge who quit an intelligence oversight panel in 2005 to protest warrantless domestic wiretapping by the George W. Bush administration. A year before leaving the intelligence board, Robertson, who sat on the US District Court in Washington, had suspended military proceedings against a man held at Guantánamo Bay as a suspected terrorist. In the early 2000s he was one of 11 judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Board, created in 1978 in response to reported excesses by law enforcement agencies that were spying on foreign agents in the US without authorization. He resigned in 2005 after it was revealed that Bush had secretly sanctioned the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without court orders in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Robertson and other critics complained that the panel, known as the FISA court (created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), had become a rubber stamp for the administration. He died of heart failure in Washington, DC on September 7, 2019.

News and Entertainment

William Yuk-On Chang (103) Hawaiian-born journalist whose English-language newspaper for the children of Chinese immigrants in New York sought to promote an American identity in them. For 17 years, starting in 1955, Chang’s monthly Chinese-American Times chronicled life, culture, and politics in the Chinese community in New York, particularly in Chinatown, although he defined the broader East Coast as his coverage area. Chang’s was one of the few English-language newspapers in operation in the ‘50s and ’60s that were aimed at a multigenerational Chinese-American readership. His stewardship of the newspaper coincided with his other endeavors in Chinatown, where his local profile and fluency in English made him a sought-after translator, a confidant to old-school Chinese familial associations, a go-between in landlord-tenant disputes, and a voice on the neighborhood’s community board. Retiring in 1972, he died in San Francisco, California on September 4, 2019.

LaShawn Daniels (41) songwriter and producer who wrote for pop megastars like Whitney Houston and Beyoncé and shared a Grammy Award in 2000 for his work on the Destiny’s Child anthem “Say My Name.” Daniels was credited as a composer on songs by Michael Jackson (“You Rock My World”), Lady Gaga (“Telephone,” which featured Beyoncé), Jennifer Lopez (“If You Had My Love”), and Houston (“It’s Not Right But It’s Okay”), among many other artists. Known in the music industry by the nickname Big Shiz, Daniels often worked with producer Rodney Jerkins; they collaborated (along with other writers) on “Say My Name” for The Writing’s on the Wall, the sophomore album by the rhythm-and-blues group Destiny’s Child, which at the time consisted of LeToya Luckett, LaTavia Roberson, Kelly Rowland, and Beyoncé, then billed as Beyoncé Knowles. Daniels was killed in a car accident in Catawba, South Carolina on September 3, 2019.

Jimmy Johnson (76) cofounder of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios and guitarist with the famed studio musicians “The Swampers.” As a studio musician, recording engineer, and record producer, Johnson played a role in iconic hits by Percy Sledge, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and others. He died in Florence, Alabama on September 4, 2019.

Carol Lynley (77) child model who later had an intense film acting career reflecting the country's transformation from the modest Eisenhower era into the sexually frank ‘60s. Lynley may be best remembered as the naïve adolescent who becomes pregnant by her equally wide-eyed boyfriend, played by Brandon De Wilde, in the 1959 film Blue Denim. It was a role she had originated on Broadway the year before, when she was 16. Lynley made at least half a dozen high-profile Hollywood movies over the next eight years, but by the time she was in her mid-20s her star had faded and she was never solidly in the public eye again. Still, she did make a notable if brief comeback in 1972 when she turned up wearing hot pants and go-go boots in the disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure, singing (or at least lip-syncing) the Oscar-winning song “The Morning After.” She died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California on September 3, 2019.

Ciaran McKeown (76) Irish reporter who abandoned newspaper work to help establish a peace movement that attracted thousands of marchers in the worst days of the so-called Troubles in Northern Ireland. McKeown came to prominence in 1976 as a founder of the Peace People, a grass-roots organization that campaigned for an end to violence among militant republicans, who were mainly Roman Catholic and seeking a united Ireland, and the police and soldiers, who were defending Northern Ireland’s union with Britain. Protestant paramilitaries also played a part in the conflict, which claimed at least 3,500 lives. McKeown was working as Northern Ireland correspondent for the Dublin-based newspaper the Irish Press when he was moved to take up the cause of peace, inspired by spontaneous protests sparked by the deaths of three children and a young Irish Republican Army militant on August 10, 1976, in West Belfast. McKeown died of cancer in Belfast, Ireland on September 1, 2019.

Peter Nichols (92) British dramatist whose first and most frequently revived play, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, startled and moved London and Broadway audiences of the ‘60s by telling the story of a brain-damaged child’s brief life in a darkly comic style that became Nichols' signature. Joe Egg was largely autobiographical, because a difficult birth had left Nichols' first daughter, Abigail, profoundly disabled. Much of his later work also derived from personal experience. One of his most popular works, Privates on Parade, drew on his military service in Malaya. Nichols wrote 17 stage plays, nearly two dozen TV plays, and one episode (“Greeks Bearing Gifts,” 1991) of the long-running Inspector Morse detective series. In 2018 he was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). Nichols died in Oxford, England on September 7, 2019.

Society and Religion

Rev. Alison Cheek (92) in 1974 Cheek was one of 11 women who defied the male hierarchy of the Episcopal Church to be ordained as priests, then later that year became the first female priest to celebrate the Eucharist in an Episcopal service. Cheek and 10 other women made history on June 29, 1974 when they were ordained at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia in a ceremony not authorized by the Episcopal Church’s leadership. The women became known as the Philadelphia 11, and the defiance they and the four male bishops who ordained them showed that day drew considerable condemnation, even at the service itself. Several male priests read statements from the chancel accusing them of breaking their vows to uphold church law and of going against God’s will. The church did in fact come around two years later, when it formally allowed the ordination of women as priests. By 1985 about 600 women had been ordained. In 1989 Barbara Harris became the first female Episcopal bishop. Cheek died of congestive heart failure in Brevard, North Carolina on September 1, 2019.

Roger, Cardinal Etchegaray (96) diplomat and troubleshooter dispatched by his friend Pope John Paul II to negotiate for the Roman Catholic Church with Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, and leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. During Etchegaray's decades of service in the Roman Curia, the bureaucracy that governs the church, he headed the Vatican’s main relief agency and its department for peace and human rights. He visited Bosnia and Rwanda during their conflicts and paved the way for John Paul II’s historic visit to Cuba in 1998. The Cardinal also led the church’s ultimately unsuccessful efforts to stop the US from invading Iraq. Etchegaray was a strong voice in the church against anti-Semitism and worked to repair Catholic relations with Jews. He died in his native Basque country on September 4, 2019.


Al Carmichael (90) running back who scored the first touchdown in the old American Football League while playing for Denver in 1960. Carmichael caught a 59-yard touchdown pass from Frank Tripucka on September 9, 1960 in the Broncos’ 13-10 win over the Boston Patriots at Nickerson Field on the Boston University Campus in the AFL’s inaugural game. A half-back, Carmichael played for Denver in 1960–61 after a six-year stint in Green Bay, which selected him in the first round (seventh overall) after he served in the US Marine Corps following his college career at the University of Southern California. Carmichael, who set an NFL record with a 106-yard kick return in 1956 and was elected to the Packers Hall of Fame in ‘74, also worked as a Hollywood stuntman and double in dozens of movies. He died in Palm Desert, California on September 7, 2019.

Tom Collins (88) promoter who presented the star-studded Champions on Ice tours for almost 40 years, capitalizing on a surging interest in figure skating in the ‘80s. Collins’ troupes, which included Olympic and world-class amateur and professional skaters like Michelle Kwan, Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi, Nancy Kerrigan, and Johnny Weir, toured the US from 1969–2007. Being asked by Collins to join his show was considered a career coup and a guarantee of a good paycheck. His tours, initially staged every two or three years, later became annual events and found a new level of popularity after the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where Boitano and Katarina Witt of East Germany won individual gold medals in men’s and women’s figure skating. A former Canadian champion skater himself, Collins died of a stroke in Edina, Minnesota on September 1, 2019.

Charlie Silvera (94) baseball catcher who caught for six World Series championship teams with the Yankees but on most game days was out of sight. Silvera was a good hitter, was capable enough behind the plate, and had a strong arm but spent most of his time crouching in the bullpen to warm up relievers, his chances of playing regularly having fallen victim to an insurmountable obstacle: Yogi Berra. Silvera was the Yankees’ seldom-used No. 2 catcher during their dynasty of the ‘50s, best known for his good fortune in cashing World Series checks. He died in Millbrae, California on September 7, 2019.

Chester Williams (49) only black player on South Africa’s famed 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning team. Williams became one of the faces of the new South Africa when the Springboks won the World Cup on home soil in front of Nelson Mandela. It was just a year after apartheid officially ended and South Africa elected Mandela as president in its first all-race elections. Williams’ presence on the Springboks team, which had been all-white for years during the apartheid regime, underlined South Africa’s transformation. He had nearly not played in the World Cup, having initially been left off the squad because of injury. He recovered in time for the quarterfinals and scored four tries in the quarterfinal win over Western Samoa. Williams died of a heart attack in Cape Town, South Africa, where he had been coaching a university team, on September 6, 2019.

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