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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, September 21, 2019

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Cokie Roberts, TV journalistSander Vanocur, TV newsmanRichard Abrons, investment manager turned writerZine el-Abidine Ben Ali, ousted president of TunisiaSu Beng, Taiwanese revolutionaryRobert S. Boyd, Pulitzer-winning journalistHoward ('Hopalong') Cassady, Ohio football standoutNapoleon Chagnon, cultural anthropologistJohn Cohen, founding member of New Lost City RamblersLuigi Colani, industrial designerSteve Dalachinsky, poet and jazz loverSir Michael Edwardes, British business turnaround artistJerome Facher, Boston lawyerMaurice Ferré, former mayor of MiamiSid Haig, film character actorBarron Hilton, hotelier and philanthropist son of Conrad HiltonPaul Ingrassia, Pulitzer-winning automotive reporterSigmund Jähn, first German in spaceDavid A. Jones, founder of Humana hospital chain and health insuranceDavo Karnicar, Slovenian extreme skierJohn L. Keenan, NYC chief of detectives who caught 'Son of Sam'Günter Kunert, German writerGeorge Lardner Jr., 'Washington Post' reporterPierre Le-Tan, French illustratorIra Lipman, post-9/11 security expertHarold Mabern, jazz pianist and composerAscensión Mendieta, Spanish woman who represented Franco's victimsPhyllis Newman, Tony-winning Broadway actressRic Ocasek, frontman for rock band The CarsChristopher Rouse, classical composerCarl Ruiz, TV celebrity chef and restaurateurMike Stefanik, stock car racerSol Stein, novelist, playwright, publisher, and editorDr. Shuping Wang, Chinese physicianSuzanne Whang, narrator of TV's 'House Hunters'

Art and Literature

Richard Abrons (92) his destitute, widowed grandmother was rescued by social reformer Lillian Wald. Decades later Abrons returned the favor by becoming a major benefactor of Wald’s Henry Street Settlement, a social services agency on the Lower East Side. An investment manager who later turned to writing short stories and plays, Abrons and his family underwrote Henry Street’s arts classes and college scholarships; expanded its social services, including those for the homeless; helped the settlement to acquire what became known as the Boys & Girls Republic community center; and transformed vacant lots adjacent to the settlement's original building into Martin Luther King Jr. Community Park. Abrons was said to have been the only person to have known every one of Henry Street’s executive directors since the settlement was founded. He died of kidney failure in New York City on September 16, 2019.

Luigi Colani (91) German industrial designer. Colani’s designs, which included cars, furniture, glasses, TVs, cameras, and clothes, were famous for their organic shapes. His career spanned several decades and continents. He worked in Germany, Italy, Mexico, the US, and Russia, besides China and Japan, where he was well respected. Colani’s design of the Canon T90 camera was one of his biggest successes and strongly influenced the Japanese brand’s designs. The designer himself said he had more than 4,000 design ideas that he put down on paper. Colani died in the southwestern town of Karlsruhe, Gemany after a severe illness, on September 16, 2019.

Steve Dalachinsky (72) avant-garde poet and jazz aficionado who wrote several books of poetry, won poetry awards, and read his work aloud, often accompanied by jazz musicians, in the avant-garde clubs of New York and its environs. Musicians enlisted him to write liner notes for their albums. Music critics said that if you saw him in the audience at a club, you knew you were about to hear some good music. Dalachinsky could also be called a collagist, whose artwork turned up in exhibitions, and an omnipresent figure on the avant-garde scene, known in and around SoHo, where he lived, both for carrying forward the sensibility of the Beat generation and for nurturing new jazz talent. He was in his element on September 14 at the Islip Art Museum on Long Island, where he gave a reading after having attended a concert by the Sun Ra Arkestra that afternoon in Manhattan. Not long after the reading, he had a stroke and a cerebral hemorrhage. He died in Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, on September 16, 2019.

Günter Kunert (90) German writer who rose to prominence in the ‘60s with satirical and increasingly critical works about the repressive Communist government in East Germany before fleeing to the West. Kunert settled in Kaisborstel in 1979, drawn by the peace and privacy he had craved during his final years in East Germany. His satirical voice was rooted in the deprivations he suffered as a half-Jewish child under the Nazis and came into its own in Erich Honecker’s repressive East Germany in the ‘70s. Considered one of modern Germany’s most profound and prolific writers, Kunert examined the complexities and contradictions of his country’s post-World War II history through two novels and many poems, short stories, and essays. After his emigration, and even after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, he continued to explore the differences between the two countries that had opposed each other during the Cold War. He died of pneumonia in the village of Kaisborstel, in northern Germany, on September 21, 2019.

Pierre Le-Tan (69) one of Paris’s preeminent illustrators who made 18 covers for the New Yorker during a long career. Le-Tan's work, often whimsical, melancholy, or nostalgic, was shown in art galleries and museums, and he illustrated and wrote books and collaborated with major fashion brands. His drawings, usually rendered with meticulous crosshatching in ink and watercolor, frequently depict interiors populated by interesting objects, sometimes accompanied by static human figures. Almost all his work invites a closer look, even when the subject matter at first appears mundane. He died of cancer in Villejuif, France on September 17, 2019.

Sol Stein (92) novelist and playwright, publisher and editor who helped to fashion a collection of essays by James Baldwin, a former high school classmate, into a literary classic, Notes of a Native Son. A Chicago-born transplant to the Bronx, Stein had in the ‘50s been a fiercely anti-Communist scriptwriter for the Voice of America, Washington’s Cold War propaganda radio network, and a leading defender of civil liberties. But he made his most lasting mark in publishing. In 1962 Stein and his wife at the time, Patricia Day, founded the publishing house Stein & Day, which had immediate success that year with director Elia Kazan’s debut book, the novel America, America. The story of a Greek youth who makes his way to the US, the book sold 3 million copies, and Kazan turned it into a movie, released in 1963. Stein was Stein & Day’s editor in chief. He died of dementia in Tarrytown, New York on September 19, 2019.

Business and Science

Napoleon Chagnon (81) cultural anthropologist whose studies of the indigenous Yanomami people of the Amazon rain forest made them famous but whose methods provoked disputes among other anthropologists. Chagnon proved controversial over his use of genetics and evolutionary theory to explain the behavior of the Yanomami, whose ways Westerners found exotic. In his paper “Life Histories, Blood Revenge, & Warfare in a Tribal Population,” published in the journal Science in 1988, Chagnon asserted that tribal societies were not typically peaceful, challenging a widespread view. Anthropologists go wrong, he wrote, when they ignore evidence that aggression among men in tribal societies is so highly rewarded that it becomes an inherited trait. Yanomami life was one of “incessant warfare,” he wrote. His data, collected over decades, showed that 44 per cent of Yanomami men over 25 had participated in killing someone, that 25 per cent of Yanomami men were killed by other Yanomami men, and that men who killed were more highly esteemed and had more wives and children than men who did not. He dismissed as “Marxist” the widespread anthropological belief that warfare in tribal life was usually provoked by disputes over access to scarce resources. He died in Traverse City, Michigan on September 21, 2019.

Sir Michael Edwardes (88) turnaround artist in Britain who rescued the Jaguar, Mini, and Land Rover automotive brands in the late ‘70s while becoming a union scourge. Edwardes was the Lee A. Iacocca of Britain. At roughly the same time that Iacocca (who died in July) was saving Chrysler, in part by persuading the US government to provide an inflation-adjusted $5 billion in loan guarantees, Edwardes was trying to jump-start British Leyland, a government-owned car giant whose brands included Austin, Morris, Mini, Jaguar, MG, Land Rover, and Triumph. Both men personified corporate boldness, reputations they burnished by writing best-selling business memoirs. Edwardes took over as British Leyland’s chairman in 1977. It was a last-gasp rescue effort: The British government had assumed control of the company in a 1975 bailout, and the company was almost bankrupt again. Turnaround plans had gone nowhere, a result of near-constant worker walkouts, shoddy craftsmanship, disaffected managers, and a convoluted corporate structure. Edwardes died of Parkinson’s disease outside London, England on September 15, 2019.

Barron Hilton (91) hotelier and philanthropist who succeeded his father, Conrad Hilton, as chairman, president, and chief executive of Hilton Hotels Corp. in 1966 and dramatically expanded his domestic hotel empire. Barron Hilton was also founding owner of the Chargers of the American Football League and helped to forge the merger with the NFL that created the Super Bowl. Hunting, fishing, and flying were his favorite pastimes, and he often shared those passions and interests with notable business leaders, aviators, and astronauts. With his business acumen, the younger Hilton helped to grow his father’s 1979 bequest of $160 million in Hilton stock into an endowment of more than $2.9 billion to support the philanthropic work of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. He died in Los Angeles, California on September 19, 2019.

Sigmund Jähn (82) whose distinction as the first German to travel into space made him a Cold War symbol of socialist unity at a time when East and West Germany competed for national achievements. On August 26, 1978, Jähn and Russian cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky left Earth aboard the Soyuz 31 and spent seven days, 20 hours, and 49 minutes in space, most of it aboard the Salyut 6 space station. Their mission was to dock and resupply the Salyut 6 and run biological and medical experiments alongside the station’s long-duration crew, Vladimir Kovalyonok and Aleksandr Ivanchenkov. Jähn and Bykovsky returned to Earth on the Soyuz 29, the spacecraft the other crew had come up on. Jähn died in Strausberg, Germany, outside Berlin, on September 21, 2019.

David A. Jones (88) built Humana from a single nursing home into a health insurance behemoth. In Louisville, a city known mostly for thoroughbred horses and bourbon, Jones and Wendell Cherry, a friend and fellow lawyer, brought health care assertively into the foreground. In the ‘60s they built the nation’s largest nursing-home chain. After selling the homes in the early ’70s, they created Humana, one of the biggest hospital chains in the US. And in the ‘90s, after Cherry's death, Humana spun off the hospitals as Jones led the company’s drive into health insurance. It is now the fourth-ranked company in the industry. Over more than 40 years at Humana, Jones became an influential business and civic leader and a confidant to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Jones and his family were strong supporters of McConnell’s political career, and McConnell, a Republican, secured millions in funding for a 4,000-acre park in Louisville, Parklands, championed by Jones. He died of multiple myeloma in Louisville, Kentucky on September 18, 2019.

Ira Lipman (78) founder of one of the first major private security companies who, long before 9/11, gave advice on safeguarding airport passengers from terrorists. As president and chairman of Guardsmark, Lipman commanded a security force that at its peak numbered more than 19,000 people and generated $500 million in revenue annually. On an even broader scale, 10 years or more before terrorists weaponized three commercial jets on September 11, 2001, he pressed the federal government to do more to protect people at airports. In congressional testimony and opinion articles, he was among the first security experts to urge that metal detectors be installed at every airport to screen passengers, that carry-on luggage be scrutinized fully, and that frequent fliers be given special identification cards to speed them through security checkpoints so that guards could focus on more potentially problematic travelers. Lipman died of lymphoma in New York City on September 16, 2019.

Carl Ruiz (44) TV celebrity chef and restaurateur. An Institute of Culinary Education graduate, Ruiz made frequent appearances on The Food Network channel as a competitive chef and judge. He also opened a slew of restaurants around the world. La Cubana, his most recent restaurant, opened in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood in June and features the cuisine of his Cuban heritage. Ruiz died in New York City on September 21, 2019.

Dr. Shuping Wang (59) Chinese doctor who braved the loss of her job and ostracism, assault, and the destruction of her first marriage to expose the spread of AIDS in rural China. Wang worked for nearly 20 years in relative quiet as a medical researcher in her adopted homeland, most recently at the University of Utah. Colleagues, she said, sometimes did not know of her dramatic past. In the ‘90s she stood up to Chinese officials who had tried to conceal an AIDS epidemic in rural China. There, the spread of HIV, the virus that causes the blood-borne disease, had been attributed to shoddy facilities that bought blood from poor farmers. Wang was one of a group of Chinese doctors, researchers, activists, and journalists who took great risks to spread information about the hidden epidemic in Henan Province and other regions. She was the whistle-blower who marshaled evidence of it. Wang died of a heart attack in Salt Lake City, Utah while hiking in a canyon with her husband on September 21, 2019.


Jerome Facher (93) Boston lawyer who successfully defended a tannery accused of water pollution that plaintiffs linked to a cluster of childhood leukemia deaths—a case that became the basis for a best-selling book and a Hollywood movie. The case, recounted in Jonathan Harr’s book A Civil Action (1995) and in a 1998 film by the same title, centered on a liability suit filed in ‘82 by eight families in Woburn, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb. The families accused the tannery’s parent company, the Chicago conglomerate Beatrice Foods, and the chemical company W. R. Grace, which had a manufacturing plant nearby, of dumping toxic chemicals that from the ‘50s to the ’70s had seeped into the neighborhood’s groundwater. Facher was on retainer to Beatrice, his biggest corporate client, which had recruited him because of his reputation as a ferocious litigator. By the early ‘80s he had tried some 60 cases and lost very few. But Facher feared that Beatrice would be doomed in the Woburn litigation if the families testified in court about their agonizing struggles with the cancer and other ailments that afflicted as many as a dozen neighborhood children, who had been exposed to water from two contaminated city wells. The wells were finally shut down in 1979. Facher died in Arlington, Massachusetts on September 19, 2019.

John L. Keenan (99) New York Police Department's chief of detectives who oversaw the manhunt leading to the August 1977 arrest of David Berkowitz, “Son of Sam” serial killer. Berkowitz had terrified the city in a year-long string of nighttime shootings. Keenan obtained his confession hours after he was captured without a struggle outside his apartment building in Yonkers. A 24-year-old postal worker without a criminal record, Berkowitz had wielded a .44 caliber handgun to kill six young people, all but one of them women, and wound seven others. He came upon his victims, usually a couple sitting in a car, on darkened streets and secluded areas in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. In rambling letters to Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin, he taunted the police and signed his notes “Son of Sam,” a reference to his belief that he was commanded to kill by a demon lurking in a dog owned by a Yonkers man named Sam Carr. Keenan expanded his force to 75 detectives and 225 other members of the department. At his trial, Berkowitz pleaded guilty to six murders and was sentenced to 25 years to life for each of them in June 1978. He remains in prison. Keenan died of congestive heart failure in Mineola, Long Island, New York on September 19, 2019.

News and Entertainment

Robert S. Boyd (91) journalist who shared a 1973 Pulitzer Prize with colleague Clark Hoyt for coverage of Democrat vice presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton’s exit from the campaign owing to mental health issues. Boyd spent 20 years as Washington bureau chief of Knight Ridder, once the US's second-largest newspaper chain with properties like the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Miami Herald. He witnessed the secret US bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War and received a tour of the Bay of Pigs from Cuban leader Fidel Castro. At 65, Boyd became a science writer and traveled with a scientific expedition to the South Pole. He died of congestive heart failure in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 20, 2019.

John Cohen (87) founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers, the New York-based string band at the forefront of the old-time music revival of the ‘50s and ’60s. Although best known as a performer, Cohen was also an accomplished photographer, filmmaker, and musicologist. But virtually all his artistic pursuits were centered on a single goal: revitalizing the traditional music of the rural American South and building a movement around it. Established in 1958, the Ramblers consisted of Cohen on banjo, guitar, and vocals; folklorist Mike Seeger, also on vocals, fiddle, and other instruments; and Tom Paley, who left the trio in '62, on banjo, guitar, and vocals. Together the three men introduced a generation of young urbanites to the work of Depression-era rural performers like Dock Boggs, Elizabeth Cotton, and Blind Alfred Reed. Cohen died of cancer in Putnam Valley, New York on September 16, 2019.

Sid Haig (80) bearded character actor best known as Captain Spaulding in the House of 1,000 Corpses trilogy. Haig had appeared recently as Spaulding in director Rob Zombie’s 3 from Hell. The actor’s other credits ranged from George Lucas’s THX 1138 to the Quentin Tarantino movies Jackie Brown and Kill Bill, Vol. 2. He also appeared in the ‘70s blaxploitation classic Foxy Brown. Haig played drums for the ‘50s group the T-Birds before working in film. He died after a recent fall at his home in Fresno, California on September 21, 2019.

Paul Ingrassia (69) author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who took readers to the boardrooms and executive suites of the nation’s automotive industry and put many of its leaders under scrutiny. Ingrassia was Detroit bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal when he and his deputy, Joseph B. White, shared the 1993 Pulitzer for beat reporting for their coverage of the upheaval in the executive ranks of General Motors. Their coverage also earned them a Gerald Loeb Award, administered by UCLA, for distinguished business and financial reporting. Ingrassia was bureau chief in Detroit from 1985–95 in a 30-year career with the Journal, where he was also an editor and executive. He was later managing editor of Reuters. Ingrassia and White followed up their prize-winning reporting with a well-received book, Comeback: The Fall & Rise of the American Automobile Industry (1995). Ingrassia died of cancer in Naples, Florida on September 16, 2019.

George Lardner Jr. (85) Washington Post reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his account of his months-long investigation into the murder of his 21-year-old daughter by a former boyfriend. By the time Kristin Lardner was shot dead in 1992, George Lardner had distinguished himself over nearly 30 years at the Post, writing about assassinations, civil rights, savings-and-loan scandals, politics, and national security. But investigating his daughter’s death became his most important assignment—and one that the Post believed he was well suited to handle despite his personal connection to the subject. Ring Lardner, the sports columnist and short-story writer who died in 1933, was George's great-uncle. George Lardner Jr. died after a series of strokes in Aldie, Virginia on September 21, 2019.

Harold Mabern (83) pianist, composer, recording artist, and teacher whose harmonic, soul-inflected style made him a sought-after bandmate for some of jazz’s premier musicians. Starting in the ‘60s, Mabern recorded more than two dozen albums as a bandleader but contributed to far more in bands led by luminaries like trumpet player Lee Morgan, guitarist Wes Montgomery, and vocalist Betty Carter. His employers leaned on him not only for his lush playing—often rendered in two-handed block chords so that harmony, melody, and rhythm came all at once—but also for his compositions. Tunes like “The Beehive” and “Richie’s Dilemma” were built from Mabern’s signature composite of harmonic sophistication, blues feeling, and sharply punctuated swing rhythm. He died of a heart attack in New Jersey on September 17, 2019.

Phyllis Newman (86) Tony Award-winning Broadway veteran who became the first woman to guest-host The Tonight Show before turning her attention to fight for women’s health. Newman won the 1962 Tony for best-supporting actress in the musical Subways Are for Sleeping, where her costume consisted of a bath towel and which had lyrics cowritten by her late husband, lyricist Adolph Green (died 2002). She earned a second Tony Award nomination in 1987 for her performance in the Neil Simon play Broadway Bound, in which she played Aunt Blanche, then began a brief role in the ABC soap opera One Life to Live. She died of a lung disorder in New York City on September 15, 2019.

Ric Ocasek (75) The Cars frontman whose deadpan vocal delivery and lanky, sunglassed look defined a rock era with chart-topping hits like “Just What I Needed.” Ocasek’s death came a year after The Cars were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, followed by an announcement by model Paulina Porizkova on social media that she and Ocasek had separated after 28 years of marriage. The pair first met while filming the music video for “Drive,” another Cars hit. Ocasek, who sang, played guitar, and wrote most of the band’s songs, and Benjamin Orr, who played bass and sang, were ex-hippie buddies who formed The Cars in Boston in 1976. They were 10 years older than many of their modern-rock compatriots but became one of the most essential American bands of the late ‘70s and ‘80s with their fusion of new wave, ‘60s pop, and ’70s glam. Ocasek’s minimalist, half-spoken deadpan vocals made the band’s sound, and his long, lanky appearance formed their lasting image. He was found dead at his home in New York City on September 15, 2019.

Cokie Roberts (75) daughter of politicians and a pioneering journalist who chronicled Washington from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump for National Public Radio and ABC News. Roberts devoted most of her attention to covering Congress, where her father Hale Boggs was a House majority leader who died in 1972 when his plane went missing over Alaska. Her mother, Lindy Boggs, took over his Louisiana congressional seat and served until 1990, later becoming ambassador to the Vatican. Roberts coanchored the ABC Sunday political show This Week with Sam Donaldson from 1996–2002. She was most proud professionally of a series of books about women in Washington. We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters was about the changing roles and relationships of women. Roberts also wrote two books with her husband, Steven Roberts, about marriage and an interfaith family. She died of breast cancer in Washington, DC on September 17, 2019.

Christopher Rouse (70) Pulitzer- and Grammy-winning composer known for orchestrated works that explore extremes of expression. Rouse was one of the most commissioned composers in America, a favorite of major orchestras, which gave him extended residencies. The sheer intensity and sometimes frenetic tempos of his music, with evocatively titled pieces like “The Infernal Machine” and “Bump,” came in part from his excitement over rock as a young man, especially the band Led Zeppelin. “Bonham,” Rouse’s 1988 work for eight percussionists, was an ode to the group’s drummer, John Bonham; yet he avoided explicit references to rock in his compositions. He died of renal cancer in Towson, Maryland on September 21, 2019.

Sander Vanocur (91) TV newsman who for decades covered momentous events from political campaigns to assassinations, the Vietnam War to the civil rights movement. As national political correspondent at NBC in the ‘60s, Vanocur was a questioner at the first presidential debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960, then covered Kennedy’s administration as a White House correspondent. He was among the last people to interview Sen. Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where the senator was assassinated shortly after winning the California Democrat primary in his run for president in 1968. Vanocur was probably most familiar to TV viewers from his reporting on the floor of political conventions, including the violent 1968 Democrat convention in Chicago. He and three NBC colleagues who reported on the conventions, Frank McGee, John Chancellor, and Edwin Newman, became known as the Four Horsemen. Vanocur was the last survivor of the four. He had been dealing with dementia in recent years and died in Santa Barbara, California on September 16, 2019.

Suzanne Whang (57) whose smooth, calm voice provided the narration for HGTV’s House Hunters for years. Whang first gained fame as the on-screen host of the show, where anxious home buyers are shown trying to choose among three potential options. She later was moved to the narration role only, but her recognizable voice was as much a draw as the homes. Whang was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and in ‘11 was told she would not live a year. She beat the disease for years until it returned in October 2018. Also a comedian and actress, she included her cancer battle in stage performances. She died in Los Angeles, California on September 17, 2019.

Politics and Military

Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali (83) former Tunisian president, an autocrat who led his small North African country for 23 years before being toppled by nationwide protests that unleashed revolt across the Arab world. Ben Ali had lived in Saudi Arabia since fleeing Tunisia in 2011. His ouster on January 14, 2011, amid Tunisia’s relatively peaceful “Jasmine Revolution,” inspired what became known as the Arab Spring, a movement that saw several autocratic leaders swept from power. Ben Ali was widely detested and convicted repeatedly of corruption in Tunisia after he went into self-imposed exile. But some loyal supporters called for his return as economic and security troubles plagued the country’s new democracy. Ben Ali, who had lived in Saudi Arabia since fleeing Tunisia in 2011, died in Jeddah. He was receiving treatment for prostate cancer and was hospitalized last week. His death came four days after Tunisia held a first round of presidential elections, the second democratic elections for head of state since his ouster, and 17 days after his 83rd birthday, on September 19, 2019,

Su Beng (100) revolutionary widely known as the father of Taiwan independence for his efforts to liberate the island from colonial rule. Su’s stature as a key figure in the independence movement was cemented when he wrote Taiwan’s 400-Year History, a three-volume book published in 1962 that embraced the notion that centuries of colonization had given Taiwan’s people a distinct identity in east Asia. Su began his political life seeking to free Taiwan from the yoke of Japanese colonial rule, only to find himself, decades later, simultaneously fighting two oppressive Chinese governments—the Communists in Beijing and a nationalist regime in Taipei—each standing in the way of Taiwanese self-determination. He died of pneumonia in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, on September 20, 2019.

Maurice Ferré (84) former Miami mayor, widely regarded as the father of modern-day Miami. Ferré, whose family moved to Miami from Puerto Rico, led the city’s government from 1973–85 as Miami developed into an international hub and gateway to Latin America. He was instrumental in integrating the city’s workforce and fostering high-rise development in downtown. Earlier this year the city renamed a downtown Miami park in Ferré’s honor. He had been battling cancer for about two years and died in Coconut Grove, Florida on September 19, 2019.

Society and Religion

Ascensión Mendieta (93) was just 13 in 1939 when her father was lined up against a wall in Spain and shot by a firing squad of soldiers loyal to Gen. Francisco Franco. His body was then dumped into a mass grave. Ascensión devoted her entire life to finding her father's remains and giving them a proper burial. Only recently, at age 92, did she fulfill that ambition. After decades of agony and searching, she located him in 2017, in the cemetery at Guadalajara. She had his remains exhumed and buried him in Madrid at a ceremony attended by hundreds of mourners. She had come to personify the struggle for justice shared by the families of perhaps as many as 200,000 victims of Franco-era executions, whose bodies were tossed in unmarked graves or along the sides of roadways throughout Spain. Her simple demand for justice made Mendieta, a modest small-town woman who did not seek the spotlight, a hero to many. She died in Madrid, Spain and was buried in the same tomb as her father, on September 16, 2019.


Howard ('Hopalong') Cassady (85) 1955 Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State and running back for the Detroit Lions. Cassady also played baseball at Ohio State and was a longtime coach in the New York Yankees organization. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979. When he left Ohio State he held school records for career rushing yards, all-purpose yards, and scoring. Cassady, whose No. 40 jersey number was retired by Ohio State in 2001, didn’t need help getting recognized. He was nicknamed “Hopalong” by local sportswriters in his first game when he scored three touchdowns in a 33-13 win over Indiana and “hopped all over the field like the performing cowboy.” It was an ode to movie actor Hopalong Cassidy (played by Wiliam Boyd), cowboy star of the ‘50s. Howard Cassady died in Tampa, Florida on September 20, 2019.

Davo Karnicar (56) on October 7, 2000, Karnicar’s passion for extreme skiing brought him to the summit of Mount Everest. His goal: ski nonstop to base camp, 12,000 feet down—a feat no one had yet achieved. A skier since his childhood in Slovenia, Karnicar had long ago set his sights on Everest. He had made ski descents from several high peaks around the world. In 1995 he was the first skier to make a successful descent from the summit of Annapurna in Nepal. Over the next six years Karnicar skied down the highest peaks on six other continents: Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount Elbrus in Europe, Aconcagua in South America, Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) in North America, and Vinson Massif in Antarctica. He had planned to ski down K2, the world’s second tallest mountain, for years. Karnicar was killed in a tree-cutting accident on his property in Jezersko, Slovenia on September 16, 2019.

Mike Stefanik (61): modified stock car great. Stefanik won nine NASCAR series championships to tie Hall of Famer Richie Evans for the record, topping the Whelen Modified Tour seven times and Busch North Series twice. He also raced in what are now called the NASCAR Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck series, taking rookie of the year honors at age 41 in the truck series in 1999. Stenanik held the Whelen Modified Tour record with 74 victories from 1985–2014. A six-time nominee for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, he had 12 victories in the Busch North Series. He was killed in a single-engine plane crash in Sterling, Connecticut near the Rhode Island state line. The single-engine, single-seat Aerolite 103 took off from the Riconn Airport in Coventry, Rhode Island and was turning back toward the airfield when it crashed into a wooded area near the airport on September 15, 2019.

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