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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, September 14, 2019

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Juanita Abernathy, civil rights activistBrian Barnes, British golferMarca Bristo, advocate for disabledDiet Eman, Dutch woman who resisted Nazis in WWIIRobert Frank, documentary photographerB. J. Habibie, former president of IndonesiaDaniel Johnston, folk singer and songwriterSusan Kamil, book editor and publisherGyorgy Konrad, Hungarian writer and sociologistChris March, costume designerMardik Martin, screenwriterEddie Money, policeman turned rock starT. Boone Pickens, oil tycoonLaszlo Rajk, Hungarian architect, dissident, and production designerJohn Ralston, college and Denver Broncos coachCamilo Sesto, Spanish singer and songwriterAnne Rivers Siddons, Southern author

Art and Literature

Robert Frank (94) one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, whose raw and expressive style was pivotal in changing the course of documentary photography. Born in Switzerland, Frank went to New York at age 23 as an artistic refugee from what he considered the small-minded values of his own country. He was best known for his groundbreaking book, The Americans, a masterwork of black and white photographs drawn from his cross-country road trips in the mid-‘50s and published in 1959. The book challenged the presiding mid-20th-century formula for photojournalism, defined by sharp, well-lighted, classically composed pictures, whether of the battlefront, the homespun American heartland, or movie stars at leisure. Frank’s photographs—of individuals, teenaged couples, groups at funerals, and odd scenes of cultural life—were cinematic, immediate, off-kilter, and grainy, like early TV transmissions of the period. They secured his place in photography’s pantheon. Frank died in Inverness, on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia on September 9, 2019.

Susan Kamil (69) editor and publisher who found critical and commercial success with authors ranging from Salman Rushdie and Ta-Nehisi Coates to Elizabeth Strout and Sophie Kinsella. Kamil, who joined the industry more than 40 years ago, was most recently executive vice president and publisher of Random House and imprints such as Dial Press and One World. Some of this fall’s most prominent books were completed under her leadership, among them Rushdie’s Booker Prize-nominated novel Quichotte; Coates’s debut novel, The Water Dancer; Prince’s posthumous memoir, The Beautiful Ones; and Strout’s Olive, Again. Kamil died of lung cancer in New York City, eight days before her 70th birthday, on September 8, 2019.

Gyorgy Konrad (86) writer and sociologist, an iconic figure of Hungary’s dissident movement while the country was under Communist rule. Known internationally for books like his 1969 novel The Case Worker and his 2007 memoir A Guest in My Own Country: A Hungarian Life, Konrad was considered a steadfast advocate for individual freedoms. He was president of the writers’ association PEN International from 1990–93 and president of the Academy of Arts in Berlin in ‘97–2003. He died in Budapest, Hungary on September 13, 2019.

Laszlo Rajk (70) Hungarian architect, dissident, and film and theater production designer. As an avant-garde architect in the ‘70s, Rajk became involved in Hungary’s dissident movement. He later helped to publish and distribute underground “samizdat” publications that carried articles on taboo subjects like the 1956 anti-Soviet revolution and sociological and economic studies intended to give a clearer picture of Hungarian reality than the one appearing in state-censored newspapers and magazines. His likely best-known architectural design, if aesthetically much-criticized, is the market hall at Budapest’s Lehel Square. Rajk also worked as a production designer or art director on dozens of films and theater productions. He was production designer for the Oscar-winning Son of Saul, which won the Oscar for best foreign-language film in 2016. Rajk also worked as production designer on two films by Bela Tarr, The Man from London and The Turin Horse, and as an art director for Ridley Scott’s The Martian. He died on September 11, 2019.

Anne Rivers Siddons (83) best-selling Southern author known for the novels Heartbreak Hotel and Peachtree Road. Heartbreak Hotel was turned into the feature film Heart of Dixie in 1989. Another novel, The House Next Door, was the basis for a made-for-TV movie released in 2006. Stephen King called the book one of the best horror novels of the 20th century. Siddons published 19 novels and one collection of essays. She also worked for Atlanta magazine. She died of lung cancer in Charleston, South Carolina on September 11, 2019.

Business and Science

T. Boone Pickens (91) oil tycoon who grew even wealthier through corporate takeover attempts. Pickens followed his father into the oil and gas business. After just three years he formed his own company and built a reputation as a maverick, unafraid to compete against oil-industry giants. In the ‘80s he switched from drilling for oil to plumbing for riches on Wall Street. He led bids to take over big oil companies including Gulf, Phillips, and Unocal, castigating their executives as looking out only for themselves while ignoring the shareholders. Even when Pickens and other so-called corporate raiders failed to gain control of their targets, they scored huge payoffs by selling their shares back to the company and dropping their hostile takeover bids. Pickens suffered a series of strokes in 2017 and was hospitalized that July after what he called a “Texas-sized fall.” He died in Dallas, Texas on September 11, 2019.

News and Entertainment

Daniel Johnston (58) folk singer-songwriter and visual artist whose offbeat career and struggles with mental illness brought him a cult following and inspired a documentary film. Johnston’s struggles with manic depression formed the heart of the Oscar-nominated 2005 documentary The Devil & Daniel Johnston. His songs often contained innocent pleas for love and bore titles such as “Life in Vain,” “True Love Will Find You in the End,” and “Walking the Cow.” Johnston died in Waller, Texas, outside Houston, on September 11, 2019.

Chris March (56) fashion and costume designer whose outrageous outfits caught the eye of audiences on Bravo’s hit reality show Project Runway. March later created striking clothes for Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and other stars. His career as a designer began in earnest during 10 years with Beach Blanket Babylon, a long-running musical revue in San Francisco known for its elaborate costumes. His contributions included a towering Martha Stewart-themed headpiece complete with a pie, a lobster, a pot of sunflowers, and a copy of Martha Stewart Living. That over-the-top drag show aesthetic characterized much of March’s work. In 2018 he said in a statement to his fans that he had been put into a medically induced coma after falling and hitting his head in '17 and emerged partly paralyzed, necessitating physical therapy. He died of a heart attack in Stockton, California on September 12, 2019.

Mardik Martin (84) screenwriter who collaborated with Martin Scorsese on films like Raging Bull; New York, New York; and particularly Scorsese’s breakthrough in gritty realism, Mean Streets. Martin met Scorsese when they were both film students at New York University in the ‘60s. Obsessed with movies, they began to collaborate. Martin drew from the seedier side of New York, going to great lengths, he said, to dredge up realistic dialogue for his scripts. His interviews inspired parts of Mean Streets, a crime drama set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, that Martin wrote with Scorsese. The film, which starred Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel, was released in 1973 to critical praise and catapulted Keitel, De Niro, and Scorsese to fame. Martin died of a stroke in Los Angeles, California on September 11, 2019.

Eddie Money (70) left behind a career as a New York City police officer to become one of the top-selling rock stars of the ‘70s and ’80s, with hits like “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight.” In 1987 the blue collar performer received a best rock vocal Grammy nomination for “Take Me Home Tonight,” which featured a cameo from Ronnie Spector. The New York native grew up in a family of police officers and worked for two years on the force before he decided he’d rather be a singer. “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Baby Hold On” both reached the top 30 in the late ‘70s, and his self-titled debut album went platinum. Money announced his cancer diagnosis via a video in August from his AXS TV reality series Real Money. In the video, he said he discovered he had cancer after what he thought was a routine checkup and that the disease had spread to his liver and lymph nodes. He had numerous health problems recently, including heart valve surgery earlier this year and pneumonia after the procedure, leading to his cancellation of a planned summer tour. Money died of advanced cancer in Los Angeles, California on September 13, 2019.

Camilo Sesto (72) Spanish singer and songwriter, a popular star in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Sesto sold more than 100 million records worldwide over his 40-year career. His hits included “Algo de mí,” “Perdóname,” and “Melina.” In 1975 he starred in the Spanish version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Sesto died in Madrid, Spain after suffering two heart attacks, on September 8, 2019.

Politics and Military

B. J. Habibie (83) president of Indonesia who ushered in an era of democracy that ended the rule of Suharto, whose 32-year dictatorship is considered one of the most brutal and corrupt of the 20th century. The father of technology in Indonesia and its third president, in 1974 Habibie was working for aerospace manufacturer Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm in Germany when Suharto persuaded him to return to Indonesia and develop the country’s technology. He held several posts before Suharto named him to his cabinet as minister of research and technology in 1978. In 1998 Suharto named Habibie his vice president and successor. At the time Indonesia was struggling to recover from the Asian economic crisis, and Suharto’s government was facing mounting opposition. He stepped down barely two months later, and Habibie became president. Although he served for only 17 months, the shortest of any Indonesian president, Habibie played a crucial role in laying out the foundation for a democratic Indonesia. He called the first free elections in a generation, released political prisoners, protected freedom of the press and women’s rights, reduced the role of the military in politics, and moved to decentralize the government. He died of heart failure in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 11, 2019.

Society and Religion

Juanita Abernathy (88) widow of Rev. Ralph Abernathy (died 1990). Juanita Abernathy wrote the business plan for the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and took other influential steps in helping to build the American civil rights movement. She worked alongside her husband and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others for the right to vote. She also taught voter education classes, housed Freedom Riders, and marched on Washington, DC in 1963 seeking passage of what became the Civil Rights Act. Abernathy also was a national sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. For 16 years she served on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. She also served on the board of the Fulton County Development Authority and on the Board of Directors for Introducing Youth to American Infrastructure. She was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Civil & Human Rights Award from the National Education Association. She died of a stroke in Atlanta, Georgia on September 12, 2019.

Marca Bristo (66) when she was 23, Bristo, a nurse in Chicago, was sitting with a friend on the shore of Lake Michigan. Her friend’s dog accidentally knocked a prized pair of Bristo’s shoes into the water, and, without a second thought, she dived in to retrieve them. Striking her head, she broke her neck and was paralyzed from the chest down. In that instant, Bristo’s life changed forever. She lost her job and her health insurance, could no longer use public transportation, and had no access to many public places. But rather than dwell on her misfortune, she became a powerful advocate for people with disabilities, spending her life working to change perceptions and the rules in a world that had traditionally ignored the needs of the disabled. She was a key player in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which outlawed discrimination against the nearly 50 million Americans with disabilities. Her career as an advocate for the disabled lasted more than 40 years and influenced several presidential administrations. She died of cancer in Chicago, Illinois on September 8, 2019.

Diet Eman (99) western Michigan woman who wrote a book chronicling her efforts that helped to save hundreds of Jews in the Netherlands during the Nazi Occupation of World War II. Eman was born in the Netherlands and was part of an underground resistance after Nazi Germany’s 1940 invasion of the northern European nation. Her 1994 memoir, Things We Couldn’t Say, detailed how she provided forged identification cards and shelter for Jews and how she helped allied pilots shot down by the German military. She later immigrated to the US and died in Grand Rapids, Michigan on September 10, 2019.


Brian Barnes (74) British golfer who beat Jack Nicklaus twice in one day in Ryder Cup singles matches. A nine-time winner on the European Tour, Barnes—known for playing with a pipe in his mouth and a bottle of vodka and orange juice in his bag—was most famous for his two victories over Nicklaus at Laurel Valley, Pennsylvania in 1975 when the Ryder Cup was a contest between the US and Britain & Ireland. Barnes won in the morning singles, 4 and 2, and Nicklaus asked US captain Arnold Palmer if he could play Barnes again in the afternoon. Bernard Hunt, Europe's captain, agreed to a change in the draw, and Barnes won again, 2 and 1. He played in the Ryder Cup in six straight matches from 1969–79, when players from continental Europe were featured for the first time. He finished inside the top 10 of the European Tour’s Order of Merit every season from 1972—the first year of the tour—to ‘78. Barnes died of cancer in Virginia Water, England on September 9, 2019.

John Ralston (92) coached Stanford to two Rose Bowl victories and spent five seasons leading the Denver Broncos. Ralston spent much of a long coaching career in the Bay Area, but he first became a college head coach at Utah State in 1959. He was hired to coach rival Stanford in 1963. Ralston’s Stanford teams won consecutive Pac-8 championships and the Rose Bowl after the 1970 and ‘71 regular seasons. Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1992, Ralston coached ‘70 Heisman Trophy winner Jim Plunkett at Stanford and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman Merlin Olsen at Utah State. He left college for the NFL in 1972. With Denver, he had a 34-33-3 and later coached the Oakland Invaders of the US Football League from 1983–84 and at San Jose State from ‘93–96. Ralston died in Sunnyvale, California on September 14, 2019.

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