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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, October 26, 2019

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Meyer Ackerman, ran chain of NYC art movie theatersAbu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS terroristPaul Barrere, guitarist and singer with Little FeatEnriqueta Basilio, Mexican runnerWillie Brown, Oakland Raiders' cornerbackAl Burton, TV producerMarya Columbia, NYC violinist who played for 9/11 respondersEric Cooper, MLB umpireThomas D'Alesandro 3rd, former Baltimore mayorRobert Evans, Hollywood producerJoseph P. Flannery, business executiveGillian Jagger, sculptor of natureRay Jenkins, Pulitzer-winning journalistLeroy Johnson, former Georgia state senatorWilliam Loren Katz, historian of US minority groupsRaymond Leppard, longtime conductor of Indianapolis SymphonyIngo Maurer, German lighting designerJoe Miller, former chef-owner of Joe's Restaurant in Venice, Calif.Norman Myers, British conservationistMaurice Nadjari, NYC prosecutorMarcelle Ninio, Egyptian Zionist caught up in '50s Suez Canal conflictSadako Ogata, Japanese UN commissiionerRolando Panerai, Italian operatic baritoneBernie Parrish, Cleveland Brown defensive back who tried to unionize NFLAquilino Pimentel Jr., Filipino lawmakerRobert Rifkind, art collector and  philanthropistNick Tosches, music writer and biographerDon Valentine,  venture capitalistChou Wen-chung, Chinese composer

Art and Literature

Gillian Jagger (88) artist guided by a connection to nature and best known for imposing sculptures and installations that often incorporated tree trunks and animal carcasses. Jagger adhered to her own instincts and vision. Although her work has affinities with feminist art, Land Art, and Post-Minimalism, she never aligned with any prevailing styles or movements. She hit upon one of her signature methods while living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the ‘60s; began capturing direct impressions of the world around her by casting unlikely forms in plaster, like a cat that had been stoned to death by children and, most famously, manhole covers. She died of respiratory difficulty in Ellenville, in upstate New York, on October 21, 2019.

Robert Rifkind (91) art collector and philanthropist. A securities attorney for 40 years, Rifkind built one of the most important known collections of German Expressionist art in the world. He donated his collection of about 5,000 works on paper and 4,000 related books to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1983. It established the museum’s Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies, which now includes about 6,000 works on paper and 10,000 volumes and has become a resource for scholars, artists, and students internationally. Works from Rifkind’s collection have been featured in over 60 exhibitions at LACMA. He died in Westwood, California on October 20, 2019.

Nick Tosches (69) started out in the late ‘60s as a music writer with a taste for rock and country, then wrote biographies of figures like Dean Martin and Sonny Liston and hard-to-classify novels. In 1977 Tosches published his first book, Country, a look at some of country music’s lesser-known figures. Unsung Heroes of Rock ’n’ Roll followed in 1984, with chapters on Ella Mae Morse, Skeets McDonald, and many more. But by then Tosches had already begun to branch out. His first biography, Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story, came out in 1982, and in ‘86 he ventured beyond music with Power on Earth: Michele Sindona’s Explosive Story, about an Italian financier involved in assorted scandals. One of his most attention-getting biographies followed in 1992. It was Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, about Dean Martin. Tosches died in New York City on October 20, 2019.

Business and Science

Joseph P. Flannery (87) corporate executive who saved the rubber company Uniroyal from financial collapse and later thwarted a hostile takeover bid. Flannery took over as chief executive of Uniroyal in February 1980, when the company, based in Middlebury, Connecticut, was in financial distress. It had lost $119.7 million the preceding year after a strike by rubber workers shut down 12 plants for 40 days. Within 18 months he had turned the company around, closing factories and selling off its tire business in Europe and Australia to focus on the domestic market. Some on Wall Street declared the company’s revival a “miracle.” Flannery died of kidney disease and lymphoma in Wellesley, Massachusetts on October 20, 2019.

Ingo Maurer (87) German lighting designer who made lamps out of broken crockery, scribbled memos, holograms, tea strainers, and incandescent bulbs with feathered wings. Maurer had a fascination with technology. His first lamp, designed in 1966, was a large crystal bulb enclosing a smaller one. Called simply “Bulb” (his product names later became more fanciful), it won praise from designer Charles Eames and in 1968 became part of the Museum of Modern Art's collection in New York. For “YaYaHo,” which he made in 1984, he fashioned a lamp in the form of parallel low-voltage wires draped with shaded halogen bulbs that dangled like jewelry. In 2001 he made an early desk lamp using LEDs (“EL.E.DEE”), then later attached LEDs to wallpaper in a pattern that resembled twinkling rosettes (“Rose, Rose on the Wall”). In 2005 he embedded waferlike organic LEDs in glass tabletops, creating starry clusters with no visible connections. In 2012 he collaborated with Moritz Waldemeyer, another German designer, to produce a narrow table lamp with 256 LEDs simulating flickering candlelight (“My New Flame”). Maurer died in Munich, Germany of complications from a surgical procedure, on October 21, 2019.

Joe Miller (60) chef-owner of the former Joe’s Restaurant in Venice, California and one of the most influential Los Angeles chefs of his generation. Miller opened Joe’s Restaurant along Abbot Kinney Boulevard in 1991, an era when the bohemian beachside neighborhood was better known for boardwalk hot dogs than dining options. With an emphasis on peak seasonal produce from the nearby Santa Monica Farmers Market, Miller’s Cal-French cooking was instrumental in defining the enclave’s growing culinary aesthetic: refined but relaxed, precise but spontaneous, balancing global flavors with a loyalty to the farm-to-table principle. Miller died of complications from a cardiac arrest that occurred during a cycling trip in mid-September, on October 23, 2019.

Norman Myers (85) British conservationist who drew public attention to mass extinction, disappearing habitats, and environmental refugees long before they became common topics in the news and causes of widespread concern. An ecological consultant, Myers lobbied politicians, companies, and organizations and wrote or helped to write nearly 20 books and hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and newspapers that proposed groundbreaking ideas, many of which were later supported by further research. Many of his books and articles were based on examinations of published work rather than on field work of his own. That perspective allowed him to ask questions and make inferences that other researchers might have missed, but it also opened him to criticism that his conclusions were based on insufficient evidence. He died of Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease in Oxford, England on October 20, 2019.

Don Valentine (87) venture capitalist who founded Sequoia Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that helped to cement the area’s rise as a technology hub. Valentine’s career spanned 40 years and included roles at the chip maker Fairchild Semiconductor, regarded as Silicon Valley’s original start-up, and National Semiconductor, which was spun out of Fairchild. He died in Woodside, California on October 25, 2019.


William Loren Katz (92) historian who inherited his father’s lust for learning and political consciousness. Before he was 10, Bill Katz marched in a May Day rally to support the Scottsboro Boys, nine young blacks falsely charged with rape in the early ‘30s. His empathy for black Americans only grew. As a high school teacher and in some 40 books written under the name William Loren Katz, he awakened his readers to the integral roles that blacks—from rebellious slaves to cowboys who tamed the West—had played in their nation’s history. He popularized their contributions in nonfiction narratives for young adults, helping to refashion social studies curriculums across the country. Rather than isolating racial or ethnic studies in separate classes or departments, Katz favored incorporating the contributions of overlooked women and members of minority groups into regular American history courses. He died of heart disease in New York City on October 25, 2019.


Maurice Nadjari (95) prosecutor of corruption in New York's criminal justice system in the ‘70s whose indictments and convictions were defended by New Yorkers as the work of a zealous crusader but often dismissed by courts that criticized his tactics. To his defenders, Nadjari was that rare honest man mounting a lonely fight against crooked police officers, corrupt judges, and powerful politicians wallowing in graft. To his detractors, many in law enforcement and among civil libertarians, he was a grand inquisitor who used illegal wiretaps, entrapment scams, unsupported allegations, and leaks to the press in a ruthless pursuit of villainy that destroyed reputations and innocent lives. For nearly four years, from September 1972 to June ‘76, Nadjari was the most feared prosecutor since Thomas E. Dewey in the ‘30s. But despite 160 investigators and an $11 million budget, his record was spotty. He obtained some 300 indictments and won about 80 convictions, but most were on minor charges against police officers and low-level civil servants. Dozens of his targets were forced to resign or retire, but no major graft was uncovered. Nadjari died in Huntington, New York on October 25, 2019.

News and Entertainment

Meyer Ackerman (96) whose movie theaters brought hard-to-find films to audiences in and around New York before home video and the Internet. Beginning in the early ‘50s Ackerman operated theaters in the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and various suburbs. Some were standard commercial theaters, but some showed foreign films, independent films, quirky films, films too controversial for the mainstream. When he presented the French film La Cage aux Folles at the 68th Street Playhouse in 1979, it ran for 19 months. He had another spectacular success with The Gods Must Be Crazy, a comedy from South Africa that became a word-of-mouth phenomenon after he opened it in July 1984. Ackerman’s art-house cinemas gradually fell by the wayside as high rents and the rise of the multiplex changed the movie presentation business. The 68th Street Playhouse closed in 1996. Ackerman died of a heart attack in White Plains, New York on October 21, 2019.

Paul Barrere (71) guitarist and singer for the rock group Little Feat. The band’s lead guitarist, singer, and main songwriter, Lowell George, died in 1979, but Barrere was a part of Little Feat’s funky, blues-inflected Southern rock. He wrote or cowrote some of the band’s best songs including “Skin It Back,” “Time Loves a Hero,” and “Old Folks Boogie.” After auditioning as a bassist, Barrere joined the band three years after its founding in 1969. The band had a danceable American sound of its own that melded blues, rockabilly, country, gospel, and funk. Barrere died in Los Angeles, California owing to side effects from an ongoing treatment for liver disease, on October 26, 2019.

Al Burton (91) TV producer whose 60-year career included an eclectic mix of beauty pageants, variety and game shows, and groundbreaking comedies including The Jeffersons and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. During his 1972–83 tenure with Tandem Productions, founded by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin, Burton helped to produce series including One Day at a Time, Fernwood 2 Night, Diff’rent Strokes, the All in the Family spinoff The Jeffersons, and the satirical soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. He started his own production company with a focus on TV programs aimed at younger viewers, including Charles in Charge and The New Lassie. He also joined with actor-writer Ben Stein, a longtime friend, to produce Win Ben Stein’s Money, which won four Daytime Emmy Awards and launched the career of Jimmy Kimmel. Burton died in San Mateo, California on October 22, 2019.

Marya Columbia (63) violinist, possibly the first musician to qualify as a 9/11 responder. On September 11, 2001, Columbia was asked to join a string quartet to play for rescue workers at St. Paul’s Chapel, which had become an informal respite station where they could nap, grab a bite, wash up, or get a massage. The chapel was two blocks from where the World Trade Center towers had stood. The quartet, called the Music Givers, was among musical groups that for nine months performed seven days a week at the chapel. The quartet performed three times a day (Columbia played on Monday mornings), and, like the other groups, the musicians played without masks or other protection from the dust and noxious fumes. In mid-2018, Columbia developed a persistent cold; X-rays disclosed a tumor in her lung. Doctors suggested that the lung tumor, which metastasized to her brain, may have been related to toxins she inhaled near the World Trade Center site. Columbia died of lung cancer in Yonkers, New York on October 23, 2019.

Robert Evans (89) Hollywood producer and former Paramount Pictures production chief who backed such ‘70s films as Chinatown, The Godfather, and Harold & Maude. Evans’ career was a story of comebacks and reinventions. He was visiting Los Angeles when actress Norma Shearer saw him sunbathing by the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel. She persuaded producers to hire the handsome 26-year-old to play her late husband, movie mogul Irving Thalberg, in Man of a Thousand Faces, a 1957 film about horror movie star Lon Chaney. After acting roles faded, Evans reemerged at Paramount and quickly converted the studio from a maker of mediocre films to the biggest hit machine in Hollywood, home to The Godfather and Love Story, among others. For decades, and with many flops in between, Evans was one of Hollywood’s most outsized and flamboyant personalities, encapsulating the romance of a now bygone movie era where film ideas were approved more on instinct than market research. He was married and divorced seven times and was the model for Dustin Hoffman’s Hollywood producer in the 1997 satire Wag the Dog. Evans died in Beverly Hills, California on October 26, 2019.

Ray Jenkins (89) Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who worked as a special assistant for press affairs in President Jimmy Carter’s administration. Jenkins was part of the reporting team at Georgia’s Columbus Ledger that won the 1955 Pulitzer in public service journalism for covering corruption in nearby Phenix City, Alabama. He was an editor of the Montgomery Advertiser and the Alabama Journal and covered Southern politics and the civil rights movement before joining Carter’s administration in 1979. He retired after being editorial page editor of the Baltimore Evening Sun from 1981–91. He died of congestive heart failure in Baltimore, Maryland on October 24, 2019.

Raymond Leppard (92) conductor who resuscitated moribund 17th-century operas in helping to nurture a major revival of interest in Baroque music and enjoyed a wider career as a guest conductor of major orchestras and longtime music director of the Indianapolis Symphony. After making his mark with early music, British-born Leppard chafed at being pigeonholed and sought to recast himself as a versatile conductor of concert works and operas from across the centuries. A prolific recording artist, he made more than 200 records, many of them with the English Chamber Orchestra, which he conducted starting in the early ‘60s. Leppard was a composer as well. He wrote the scores for the movies Lord of the Flies (1963) and Alfred the Great (1969) and arranged and conducted the score for The Hotel New Hampshire (1984). He was part of a generation of musicians who, aided by the burgeoning recording industry, helped to revive Baroque music in concert halls after World War II. Leppard died in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 22, 2019.

Rolando Panerai (95) Italian baritone who sang more than 150 roles at leading international opera houses, made many classic recordings, and appeared frequently with celebrated soprano Maria Callas in her prime. Panerai was widely admired throughout his 65-year operatic career for his full-bodied sound and the elegance of his singing. Steeped in the Italian vocal heritage, he sang with supple phrasing and evenness through his entire vocal range. If not the most charismatic presence onstage, he readily conveyed authority and dramatic depth and brought a light comedic touch to the title roles of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, among many other characters. Panerai died in the hillside town of Settignano, outside Florence, Italy, on October 22, 2019.

Chou Wen-chung (96) composer, teacher, and cultural diplomat who taught celebrated and award-winning Chinese composers and preserved the legacy of Edgard Varèse, a leader of American modernism. Chou left a relatively small body of compositions. He wrote mostly for Western instruments but made them accommodate the microtonal flexibility of Chinese music. In “Yu Ko” (1965), for mixed ensemble, he drew sounds from brass instruments that create a sense of melancholy. In the Larghetto of his String Quartet No. 1 (“Clouds”), a cello solo evokes the sounds of the Chinese bowed erhu, woven into a modernist score. Chou died in New York City on October 25, 2019.

Politics and Military

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (48) leader of the Islamic State who transformed a flagging insurgency into a global terrorist network that drew tens of thousands of recruits from 100 countries. Born in the Iraqi district of Samarra, al-Baghdadi harnessed religious fervor, hatred of nonbelievers, and the power of the Internet to catapult himself onto the global stage. He commanded an organization that, at its peak, controlled a territory the size of Britain from which it directed and inspired acts of terror in more than three dozen countries. al-Baghdadi was the world’s most-wanted terrorist chieftain, the target of a $25 million bounty from the American government. His death followed a years-long international manhunt that consumed the intelligence services of multiple countries and spanned two American presidential administrations. al-Baghdadi evaded capture for nearly 10 years. His death was announced by US President Donald Trump, who said al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest during a raid in northwestern Syria by US Special Forces on October 26, 2019.

Thomas D'Alesandro 3rd (90) former Baltimore mayor and brother of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. D’Alesandro was Baltimore City Council president, then mayor from 1967–71, a position his father, prominent Maryland politician Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., also held. The elder D’Alesandro also was a state delegate and US congressman. The younger D’Alesandro didn’t seek reelection as mayor and went into private law practice. He died in Baltimore, Maryland of complications from a stroke, on October 20, 2019.

Leroy Johnson (91) former Georgia state senator, first black lawmaker elected to the upper chamber after Reconstruction. Johnson was elected as a Democrat in 1962, three years before the Voting Rights Act was signed and in the same freshman class as President Jimmy Carter. Johnson served until 1975. He was credited with several civil rights advances, including helping to desegregate Georgia capitol facilities. In 1970 he helped to restart boxer Muhammad Ali’s career after Ali was penalized for evading the draft. Johnson worked to secure a location for Ali’s Atlanta comeback match. He graduated from Morehouse, then studied law in North Carolina because the University of Georgia didn’t yet accept black students. He held a Georgia State Bar lifetime achievement award. Johnson died in Atlanta, Georgia on October 24, 2019.

Marcelle Ninio (89) Egyptian-born Zionist who was imprisoned for her role in an Israeli spy operation in 1954 that planted bombs at British and American civilian sites in Egypt in a bungled attempt to persuade Britain to keep its troops stationed at the Suez Canal. Ninio was working as a secretary in Cairo when she was recruited in 1951 by an Israeli intelligence agent to the secret Unit 131. She was the only woman in a group of about a dozen Egyptians. The outfit was largely dormant until 1954, when Gamal Abdel Nasser seized authority in Egypt after leading the coup that overthrew the monarchy of King Farouk in ’56. Israel was concerned that Nasser would nationalize the Suez Canal and block access to that critical shipping route. Unit 131’s mission was to detonate bombs in an operation designed to convince British and American leaders that Nasser could not protect their property or their people. But Operation Susannah, as the mission was called, did nothing to disrupt Western policy toward Egypt. Released from prison in 1968, Ninio died in Ramat Gan, Israel, near Tel Aviv, on October 23, 2019.

Sadako Ogata (92) first woman to be named United Nations high commissioner for refugees and first Japanese national to hold that position. Ogata was appointed to lead the refugees commission at age 63 in 1991, as the Cold War was coming to an end. As high commissioner, she oversaw refugee operations during a time of ravaging conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, East Timor, and other regions and the return of refugees to their homes after wars in Cambodia and Ethiopia. She died in Tokyo, Japan on October 22, 2019.

Aquilino Pimentel Jr. (85) Filipino lawmaker who helped to orchestrate the 1986 People Power Revolution that overturned more than 10 years of martial law and ended the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Pimentel was a human rights lawyer who in a long political career was mayor of the southern city of Cagayan de Oro, founded a political party, and spent decades in the Senate, where he, too, rose to the rank of president. His became a household name in the Philippines when he organized opposition to the Marcos regime. Marcos, who governed the Philippines from 1965–86, declared martial law in ‘72, ushering in one-man rule for the next 14 years. The regime was marked by corruption, brutality, and the excesses of his wife, Imelda Marcos, famous for her shoe collection. Pimentel was imprisoned three times for expressing his opposition to the president and martial law. In 1982 he, along with Benigno Aquino, founded the opposition party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan, more commonly known as PDP–Laban. The assassination of Aquino by Marcos forces in 1983 sparked the popular uprising that became known as the People Power Revolution. Pimentel died of lymphoma in Manila, Philippines on October 20, 2019.


Enriqueta Basilio (71) Mexican sprinter who at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City became the first woman to light the Olympic flame. The 1968 Olympic Games were memorable for several reasons, starting with Basilio’s appearance in the opening ceremonies. A 20-year-old member of the Mexican track and field team, she created a stir in the international press after she was selected to light the Olympic caldron. She was quoted as saying, through a translator, that she thought she may have been selected because Mexican men and women had “the same rights,” and that her country hoped to demonstrate that equality to the world. In 2004 Basilio carried the Olympic torch once again, that time as it passed through Mexico City on the way to the Summer Games in Athens. She died in Mexico City, Mexico on October 26, 2019.

Willie Brown (78) established the bump-and-run style of defense the Oakland Raiders used for decades, provided the iconic play in Oakland’s first Super Bowl title, and impacted nearly every player who suited up for the team over the past 50 years. Brown was the consummate Raider. The Hall of Fame cornerback helped to fuel the Raiders’ success during 12 years on the field before becoming an integral part of the franchise during his post-playing career. Al Davis acquired Brown for the Raiders in a trade from Denver in 1967 in one of the best moves he made during his Hall of Fame career running the Raiders. Brown later had a brilliant career with Oakland, highlighted by his 75-yard interception return for a touchdown against Minnesota that helped the Raiders to win their first Super Bowl after the 1976 season. Brown was one of the game’s best lockdown cornerbacks and fit perfectly in Davis's preferred bump-and-run style of defense on the Raiders. He intercepted 54 passes, was a first-team All-Pro five times in the AFL and the NFL, and made the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1984. He died of cancer in Tracy, California on October 21, 2019.

Eric Cooper (52) Major League Baseball umpire who worked the American League Division Series just two weeks ago. Cooper made his debut in the majors in 1996 as a minor league fill-in and joined the big league staff in ’99. His most recent assignment came in the playoffs this month when he worked the New York Yankees’ sweep of Minnesota in the ALDS. He was at second base on Oct. 7 for the clinching Game 3 at Target Field. Cooper worked the 2014 World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants. He drew that post helped by his success rate on replay challenges—MLB took those numbers into account in picking the crew, and Cooper had only three calls reversed all season. He umpired in 10 division series, four League Championship Series, and the 2005 All-Star Game, along with two World Baseball Classics. He also was behind the plate for three no-hitters—two by Mark Buehrle, including a perfect game, and another by Hideo Nomo. Cooper had knee surgery earlier in the week and was recuperating at his father’s home in Iowa when he died of a blood clot on October 20, 2019.

Bernie Parrish (83) All-Pro defensive back for the Cleveland Browns in the ‘60s who in retirement tried to organize NFL players into a Teamsters-backed union and wrote a book critical of the league. The Browns were one of the best teams in the NFL when Parrish signed in 1959. A defensive leader, he had 29 interceptions in seven full seasons with the Browns. On the field, he called the defensive signals when he and his fellow cornerback Walter Beach throttled the Baltimore Colts’ passing attack in the Browns' 27-0 victory in the 1964 NFL championship game. But through most of his career, Parrish felt that the league exploited its players physically and financially and that most of them were too intoxicated by the NFL’s aura to rebel. He was not. His union activity, Parrish said, led to his being forced out of Cleveland. The Browns waived him early in the 1966 season. When no other NFL team signed him, he joined the Houston Oilers of the rival AFL and played in 11 games. He retired in early 1967, then turned to organizing a Teamsters effort to lure NFL players into a proposed union for all major sports. He died of metastatic prostate cancer in Springfield, Missouri on October 23, 2019.

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