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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, November 9, 2019

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Gert Boyle, business executiveWilliam B. Branch, playwright and TV writerGay Byrne, Irish TV presenter and radio hostRichard Cerutti, San Diego archaeologistStephen Dixon, novelist and short-story writerWerner Doehner, last survivor of 'Hindenburg' disasterLouis Eppolito, 'Mafia Cop'Robert Freeman, photographer of Beatles' album coversErnest J. Gaines, Louisiana novelistLaurel Griggs, child actressPerry Hoffman, psychiatric social workerNoel Ignatiev, steelworker turned historianFred Krinke, owner of LA's Fountain Pen ShopJan Errik Krongshaug, Norwegian recording engineerWinston Lawson, far left, Secret Service agent on Kennedy trip to DallasKehinde Lijadu, half of singing Lijadu SistersRobert Norris, one of several 'Marlboro Men'Maria Perego, Italian puppeteer who created Topo GigioDr. Janette Sherman, exposed health hazards of auto industryThich Tri Quang, Vietnamese Buddhist monkU Tun Lwin, Myanmar meteorologist

Art and Literature

Stephen Dixon (83) author whose realistic novels and short stories reflected his fascination with personal loss, sex, heartbreak, disaster, marriage, and old age. Working on a portable typewriter, Dixon published 18 novels and about 600 stories. His final story—about a man who was 80, like him, and had a cat like his cat—was published in Heavy Feather Review in October while he was in hospice. He never found fame or big sales, but his quirky storytelling drew praise. He tinkered with syntax and diction and used an array of narrative tricks that made his fiction compelling but sometimes challenging; his paragraphs could seem to run forever. Dixon died of Parkinson’s disease and pneumonia in Towson, Maryland on November 6, 2019.

Robert Freeman (82) British photographer who helped to define the image of The Beatles with some of the band’s best-known album covers. Freeman began his career as a photojournalist for London’s Sunday Times and captured portraits of leading jazz musicians before working with The Beatles. He shot the black-and-white cover for the 1963 album With the Beatles, picturing the Fab Four’s faces in part-shadow. It became a defining image of the group and was used for the 1964 US album Meet the Beatles! Freeman died of pneumonia in London, England on November 6, 2019.

Ernest J. Gaines (86) novelist whose poor childhood on a small Louisiana plantation inspired stories of black struggles. A Lesson Before Dying (1993) was an acclaimed classic. Gaines was awarded a “genius grant” that year by the MacArthur Foundation, receiving $335,000. Both The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1971) and A Gathering of Old Men (1984) became TV movies. The author of eight books, Gaines died in his sleep of cardiac arrest at his home in Oscar, Louisiana on November 5, 2019.

Business and Science

Gert Boyle (95) colorful chairwoman of Oregon-based Columbia Sportswear Co. who starred in ads proclaiming her as “One Tough Mother.” Boyle took over the small outdoor clothing company in 1970 after her husband died from a heart attack. At the time she was a 46-year-old housewife and mother of three with no real business experience. But she helped to build the struggling company into a national brand and retailer. She died in Portland, Oregon on November 3, 2019.

Richard Cerutti (78) archaeologist whose name was attached to perhaps the most contentious discovery in North America when in 1992 he found in a highway-widening project the tusk of a mastodon. The discovery, linking man to the site, became controversial when preliminary dating of the specimens challenged the conventional assumption that man arrived in North America no earlier than 14,000 years ago. Cerutti belonged to a generation of postwar scientists drawn to the coastal valleys of San Diego County for their wealth of fossil deposits. He died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma on November 3, 2019.

Fred Krinke (91) third-generation proprietor of the Fountain Pen Shop in Los Angeles, which from its beginning supplied the writing instruments and bottles of midnight-black ink that lawyers, judges, note takers, letter writers, and shopkeepers required in bustling downtown LA. By the time Fred Krinke took over the shop, the ballpoint pen was bearing down, and eventually the keyboard and touch screen threatened to do in the fountain pen altogether. But Krinke weathered the cultural storms and became the go-to source in LA when someone needed a fresh nib, an ink cartridge, or a pricey made-to-order Montblanc. The Fountain Pen Shop was a museum, repair shop, and retail outlet squeezed into one room, its glass cases filled with curiosities that attracted collectors, investors, and those who preferred the free flow of ink. Krinke died in Los Angeles, California on November 3, 2019. The fate of his store, said to be the oldest pen shop in the US operated continuously by the same family, is uncertain.

Robert Norris (90) rancher who took the role of the Marlboro Man in TV commercials for the cigarette brand but abandoned the campaign because, as a nonsmoker, he felt he was setting a bad example for his children. Norris was featured as the Marlboro Man, a rugged, solitary cowboy figure at home in the vast American West, in commercials that ran for about 14 years in the US and Europe. in 1964 US Surgeon General Luther Terry declared smoking a health hazard. Pressured by lawsuits, regulators, and Congress, Philip Morris, the nation’s largest manufacturer of cigarettes, including Marlboro, acknowledged decades later that smoking causes lung cancer. Tall and lanky, Norris was one of several men who depicted the Marlboro Man. The campaign began in 1955 after Philip Morris and the advertising agency Leo Burnett Worldwide had begun ravamping the Marlboro brand. Founded as a women’s cigarette, it was being repositioned as a rugged masculine product. Norris died in Colorado Springs, Colorado on November 3, 2019,

Dr. Janette Sherman (89) when Sherman was practicing internal medicine in suburban Detroit in the ‘70s, she noticed that several of her patients were reporting similar symptoms and that they all worked in automobile factories. She soon realized that they were all being exposed to the same hazardous chemicals, including arsenic, and shared her findings with consumer activist Ralph Nader’s Health Research Group. In 1973 they issued a report on the health of 489 Detroit autoworkers. their jobs, the report said, were “associated with increased amounts of chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive lung disease, or other disabling and killing diseases.” Sherman testified on behalf of thousands of those autoworkers as they sought compensation for their illnesses while pressing for cleaner work environments, labeling of the hazardous materials they were working with, and regular monitoring of their health. She died of dementia and Addison’s disease in Alexandria, Virginia on November 7, 2019.

U Tun Lwin (71) Myanmar’s top weather official who, in the spring of 2008, noticed that a tropical cyclone was barreling toward the country from the Indian Ocean. But the generals who ruled the country were unable—critics say unwilling—to take preventive action before the storm, Cyclone Nargis, which ended up killing at least 140,000 people. It proved to be among the deadliest storms in recorded history. Tun Lwin, an American-educated meteorologist widely known in his country as the “people’s weatherman,” spent his last years sounding the alarm about climate change. He had suffered from diabetes and heart and kidney ailments for about 10 years when he died of a heart attack in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, on November 4, 2019.


Perry Hoffman (75) former elementary schoolteacher and mother of three with a degree in social work. Hoffman was working part-time in a psychiatric ward when she became fascinated by borderline personality disorder, a condition characterized by extreme neediness and dark emotion. Her interest led her to research the condition, which usually strikes in the teenage years or earlier and takes a toll on family members. She later cofounded and directed a family network that provided education about borderline personality and how to manage it, encouraging parents to teach parents. The program, which became available throughout the world, is seen as a model across psychiatry. Psychiatric researchers had done years of painstaking work to understand how the patterns of communication within families influence the development and course of mental disorders. By the mid-‘80s they had linked certain family environments—those that are hypercritical or overprotective—to worse outcomes for people with schizophrenia and depression. Hoffman died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a neurodegenerative disorder, in Mamaroneck, New York on November 3, 2019.

Noel Ignatiev (78) former steelworker who became a historian known for his work on race and class and his call to abolish “whiteness.” Ignatiev’s best-known book, How the Irish Became White (1995) touched off a firestorm of debate. In time his view that whiteness is a social and political construction—not a phenomenon with a biological basis—has become mainstream. The resurgence of white identity politics and white nationalism in recent years made Ignatiev’s arguments relevant to a new generation of readers who argued that race is more about power and privilege than about ancestry, or even identity. The book detailed how the Irish, who had first come to North America as indentured servants and were reviled by the more settled populations of English and Dutch Americans, became, by the mid-19th century, accepted as white. Sadly, Ignatiev argued, the Irish became incorporated into whiteness just before the Civil War through support for slavery and violence against free blacks. To become white, Ignatiev wrote, did not mean to be middle class, much less rich, but rather to be accepted as equal citizens and to have access to the same neighborhoods, schools, and jobs as others. He died of an intestinal infarction in Tucson, Arizona on November. 9, 2019.


Louis Eppolito (71) was practically born into the Mafia. His father was a Gambino family soldier known as Fat the Gangster. An uncle known as Jimmy the Clam, a grandfather, and a cousin were made men too. By age 10, Louis was joining his father on his bookmaking rounds. A life in organized crime seemed preordained, but Louis’s interest faded after several relatives were killed by rival gangsters. So after graduating from high school, he joined the New York Police Department. It was an unlikely career that earned him many medals and headlines. But Eppolito ended up at the center of one of the biggest scandals in department history. In 2006 he and a fellow detective, Stephen Caracappa, were convicted of moonlighting as mob assassins, involved in eight gangland slayings while on the payroll of Anthony Casso, a Luchese crime family underboss known as Gaspipe. After their arrest, Eppolito and Caracappa (died in 2017) became widely known as the “Mafia Cops.” Eppolito died in Tucson, Arizona while serving a life sentence at the high-security US penitentiary there, on November 3, 2019.

Winston Lawson (91) had been a Secret Service agent for four years when, on November 22, 1963, he was in an unmarked police car in Dallas just ahead of President John F. Kennedy’s open limousine. Within an hour or so, Kennedy was dead, leaving Lawson to wonder for the next 50 years whether he had done everything possible to keep the president safe. Lawson had not only been guarding Kennedy in Dallas; he had been advance agent for the presidential trip to Texas. Known for his attention to detail, he had planned security and travel routes for the trip, as he had for Kennedy in other cities in both the US and Europe. In Dallas he worked with the local police to choose the route the motorcade would take from Love Field, where Kennedy had landed that morning from Fort Worth, through downtown Dallas and on to the Dallas Trade Mart, where Kennedy was to speak. Lawson died of coronary artery disease in Norfolk, Virginia on November 7, 2019.

News and Entertainment

William B. Branch (92) playwright, TV writer, producer, and actor who explored black life and challenged its stereotypes. As a playwright Branch portrayed the black experience, both in the 20th century and earlier, in Off-Broadway plays like A Medal for Willie, about the bitterness felt when a black World War II veteran who had been mistreated in the service is decorated posthumously; A Wreath for Udomo, with its theme of colonial oppression in South Africa; and In Splendid Error, about the tangled relationship between abolitionists Frederick Douglass and John Brown. Branch also wrote for TV. In one instance he was commissioned by husband-and-wife actors and producers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee to write A Letter from Booker T, a historical drama, for public TV. On radio he directed The Jackie Robinson Show on NBC in the late ‘50s. For two years he was also the ghostwriter for Robinson’s nationally syndicated column for the New York Post. Branch died of metastatic cancer in Hawthorne, New York on November 3, 2019.

Gay Byrne (85) former TV presenter and radio host who became a fixture in Irish households and used his celebrity to shine a light on the shadier aspects of Irish society. A staple of Irish households, Byrne did a decades-long stint as host of The Late Late Show and hosted other radio and TV programs for Ireland’s national broadcaster. Known affectionately as Uncle Gaybo, he championed social causes and used his celebrity to illuminate the darker corners of Ireland. Byrne died in Dublin, Ireland after undergoing treatment for cancer, on November 4, 2019.

Laurel Griggs (13) child actress who found early success in the 2013 Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and in the musical adaptation of the Irish film Once. Laurel made a few appearances on Saturday Night Live as an uncredited cast member. She also appeared in the film Café Society, a romantic comedy starring Steve Carell that Amazon released in 2016, and did voice work for the animated series Bubble Guppies. Laurel wrote and directed a short film about a school shooting called This Is Not a Drill, screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018. She died of a massive asthma attack in New York City on November 5, 2019.

Jan Erik Krongshaug (75) recording engineer who helped to create the rich sound of ECM Records, an influential label that has produced timeless jazz and contemporary classical recordings. Kongshaug’s wide-ranging career included work with some of Norway’s best-known pop musicians. A guitarist since childhood, he also recorded two jazz albums of his own. But his most lasting contributions came with ECM, where he engineered or mastered hundreds of albums from 1970. Although he played a more inconspicuous role than Manfred Eicher, the label’s founder and main producer, Kongshaug was arguably just as crucial to defining the famous “ECM sound,” which relied on precision and fidelity and used reverberation to create a feeling of both magnitude and intimacy. Krongshaug died of a chronic lung ailment in Oslo, Norway on November 5, 2019.

Kehinde Lijadu (71) singer and songwriter who formed the Lijadu Sisters with her identical twin, Taiwo, a duo that had a string of hits in Nigeria in the ‘70s and later found an international audience. The Lijadu Sisters flourished in a Nigerian pop scene dominated by men. On the five albums they made in the ‘70s, they sang—in English, Yoruba, and Ibo—about corruption, poverty, urban violence, and perseverance alongside songs about love and dancing. As they gained popularity in Nigeria, they were outspoken about equality for women. Kehinde Lijadu died of metastatic breast cancer at the apartment she shared with her sister in New York City on November 9, 2019.

Maria Perego (95) Italian puppeteer and creator of Topo Gigio, the lovable mouse who became famous to American audiences as a frequent guest on The Ed Sullivan Show in the ‘60s and early ’70s and was known worldwide. Perego came up with the 10-inch-tall Topo Gigio in the late ‘50s, a sort of cross between a puppet and a marionette; three puppeteers, hidden in a black background, moved its body parts with rods. Sullivan (died 1974) saw a tape of the puppet from Italian TV and booked Topo Gigio for a series of appearances on his popular Sunday-night CBS variety show. The first was on April 14, 1963. Perego and two other puppeteers were there to make the movements, and a fourth provided Topo Gigio’s voice—but Sullivan had not realized that someone would also have to be the puppet’s straight man. Famously wooden on camera, he stepped into that role for the first appearance, figuring he would arrange for a professional comic to take over for later ones if the bit caught on. But the chemistry between man and puppet revealed a warmer Ed Sullivan, and he remained in the role of sidekick for some 50 appearances by Topo Gigio over the years. Perego died in Milan, Italy on November 7, 2019.

Society and Religion

Werner Doehner (90) last remaining survivor of the Hindenburg disaster. Doehner was the only person left of the 62 passengers and crew who survived the May 6, 1937 fire that killed his father, sister, and 34 others. Werner was 8 at the time. As the 80th anniversary approached in 2017, Doehner said that he, his parents, and older brother and sister were returning from a vacation in Germany on the 804-foot-long zeppelin to Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. His father headed to his cabin after using his movie camera to shoot some scenes of the station from the airship’s dining room. That was the last time Werner saw him. As the Hindenburg arrived, flames began to flicker on top of the airship. Doehner said his mother threw him and his brother out of the ship before she left too. They suffered burns. Werner remained in a local hospital for three months before going to New York for skin grafts. The US Commerce Department determined the accident was caused by a leak of the hydrogen that kept the airship aloft. It mixed with air, causing a fire. Doehner died in Laconia, New Hampshire on November 8, 2019.

Thich Tri Quang (95) Buddhist monk who helped to bring down US-backed governments in South Vietnam during the war-torn ‘60s and pushed for a democratic nation with freedom of religion. Tri Quang was a powerful orator who galvanized Buddhists to demand a greater role in public affairs at a time when Roman Catholics dominated the South Vietnamese government. For decades he was seen as a threat by whoever held power. He was arrested by the French colonial government in the ‘50s and by South Vietnamese governments in the ‘60s. Seen as the mastermind of the Buddhist protest movement, he took refuge for more than two months in the US Embassy in Saigon in 1963 as South Vietnamese forces raided temples and arrested Buddhist leaders. At times he was accused of being a spy for the CIA. At other times he was accused of secretly working for the Communist north. But colleagues and supporters said that neither was true. Rather, they said, he was an ardent nationalist and Buddhist. Tri Quang died in the city of Hue, Vietnam, on November 8, 2019.

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