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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, March 14, 2020

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Molly Brodak, poet and memoiristAnton Coppola, opera conductor and elder of Coppola familyDoriot Anthony Dwyer, retired Boston Symphony flutistDaniel S. Greenberg, science journalistRt. Rev. Barbara Harris, first US female Episcopal bishopJ. Seward Johnson Jr., sculptor of lifelike public artTonie Marshall, French-American film directorEli Miller, among the last of NYC seltzer menGenesis Breyer P-Orridge, transgender musicianMichel Roux, French chef who revolutionized British diningMal Sharpe, 'man-on-the-street' comedian, and partner Jim CoyleDel Shofner, NFL wide receiverDarius L. Swann, whose lawsuit helped to start school busingEric Taylor, Texas singer-songwriterDanny Ray Thompson, saxophonist with Sun Ra's ArkestraMax von Sydow, Swedish actorTracy Wood, journalist and editorCharles Wuorinen, Pulitzer-winning composerBoris Yaro, LA Times photographerDana Zatopkova, Olympic javelin champion

Art and Literature

Molly Brodak (39) poet who chronicled the trauma she experienced as the child of a compulsive liar and bank robber in a critically acclaimed memoir. Before Brodak published Bandit: A Daughter’s Memoir in 2016, her poems appeared in publications like Granta, Guernica, and Poetry and in a book, A Little Middle of the Night (2010), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize. Bandit, her first published nonfiction work, was an account of her dysfunctional childhood with her father, Joseph Brodak, a tool and die worker who began robbing banks in the summer of 1994 to pay off his gambling debts. At the time Molly was barely a teenager. Brodak robbed 11 banks in and around Detroit that summer. He would hand a teller a note demanding cash and gesture that he had a gun in his jacket pocket (he didn’t). He was caught, spent seven years in prison, and was released in 2001, then served another prison sentence for robbing more banks in ’09. His daughter delivered the details of the robberies before taking a personal look at what it was like to come of age in the environment her father had created. Molly Brodak, who had a history of depression from childhood on, committed suicide in Atlanta, Georgia on March 8, 2020.

J. Seward Johnson Jr. (89) member of the family that founded Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical and consumer products giant, and a sculptor known for his many lifelike creations in public places—a businessman in downtown Manhattan, surfers at a Florida beach, a student eating a sandwich on a curb in Princeton, New Jersey. One sculpture in particular became something more than a curiosity. It was a work Johnson called “Double Check”: a seated businessman reviewing the contents of his briefcase. The sculpture was in Liberty Park near the World Trade Center when the attacks of September 11, 2001 left the area in ruins. Many other artworks in the buildings and outside were destroyed that day, but the man with the briefcase, although knocked off his perch, survived, covered in debris. It became a makeshift memorial—a symbol of endurance to some, a reminder of the bodies never recovered to others. In 2006 it was installed in the newly named Zuccotti Park, not far from its original spot. Johnson died of cancer in Key West, Florida on March 10, 2020.


Business and Science

Daniel S. Greenberg (88) writer and editor who broke ground in science journalism by reporting on research not with reverence but with journalistic rigor. Greenberg, who spent most of his professional life in Washington, became a science journalist at a time when many practitioners seemed to view their job as advancing the cause of research—a consideration that many researchers expected. As an author, newspaper reporter, and magazine editor and as founding editor and publisher of Science & Government Report, a newsletter he ran for almost 30 years, Greenberg took a different view. From his vantage point in the capital, he tracked scientific rivalries and battles over the government’s science priorities, describing research not as a uniquely worthy activity but rather as one of many enterprises competing for federal funding. Greenberg had been in ill health since a fall on December 26, 2019. He died in Washington, DC on March 9, 2020.

Eli Miller (86) long before sparkling water with brand names like Polar, Perrier, and La Croix crowded refrigerators and apartment dwellers used household carbonators to bottle bubbling beverages themselves, New Yorkers relied on seltzer men to deliver refreshment in glass bottles. One of the last of the old-fashioned seltzer men, Miller covered a route in Brooklyn from 1960 until he retired in 2017. When he started his business, hundreds of seltzer men plied the streets; when he retired, there were only a handful. Through all the intervening decades, he appeared at his customers’ doors bearing a box of bottles filled with authentic seltzer. He died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Brooklyn, New York on March 12, 2020.

Michel Roux (78) French-born chef who had a profound influence on elevating Britain’s dining habits. Roux and his brother, Albert, are widely credited with revolutionizing Britain’s old-fashioned culinary scene, notably with their opening of Le Gavroche in London in 1967. When the Roux brothers arrived in Britain, they brought their classical skills, particularly in pastry-making. Le Gavroche was frequented by a loyal clientele that included many of the icons of the Swinging Sixties in London. In 1982 Le Gavroche became the first British restaurant to be awarded three Michelin Stars. Michel Roux died of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a lung condition, in Bray-on-Thames, England, on March 11, 2020.


Education

Darius L. Swann (95) whose challenge to segregated North Carolina public schools helped to spark the use of busing to integrate schools across the US. On September 2, 1964, Swann wrote a letter to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board, asking that his son James be allowed to attend Seversville School, two blocks from his home, rather than the all-black Biddleville School, which was more than twice as far away. Swann was allowed to argue his case at a meeting of the school board, which suggested that the Swanns enroll James in Biddleville, then request a transfer. The Swanns said no thanks. Swann sued the school system in January 1965. While they pursued their legal fight, the Swanns enrolled James and his younger sister, Edith, in a private Lutheran school. After one year there, they moved their children to Eastover, a public school in the predominantly white Myers Park neighborhood. The lawsuit continued even after the family moved to New York, and later to Hawaii before moving to India, where Darius Swann researched Asian theater. In 1971 the US Supreme Court upheld court-ordered busing in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, clearing the way for the use of busing as a means of desegregation. Swann died of pneumonia in Virginia on March 8, 2020.


News and Entertainment

Anton Coppola (102) opera conductor who had one of the longest careers as a maestro in modern times. Coppola was a member of the children’s chorus in the 1926 American premiere of Puccini’s uncompleted Turandot and conducted his own ending to the work some 90 years later. He was the elder statesman of the Coppola movie clan, which includes Francis Ford Coppola (nephew), Talia Shire (niece), Nicolas Cage (grandnephew), and Sofia Coppola (grandniece). Anton's brother Carmine, who died in 1991, wrote music for his own son Francis Ford’s three Godfather movies and for Apocalypse Now (1979). Anton, too, had a role in the family film business, appearing as conductor of the opera Cavalleria Rusticana in a scene from Godfather III (1990) and conducting the score to Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Anton Coppola died in New York City on March 9, 2020.

Doriot Anthony Dwyer (98) longtime Boston Symphony Orchestra flutist and musical trailblazer, a grandniece of famed suffragist Susan B. Anthony. Dwyer was the Boston Symphony’s principal flutist for nearly 40 years, first studying with her mother before attending the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. She joined the BSO in 1952, becoming only the second woman to serve as a principal in a prominent orchestra after Helen Kotas, who became principal horn of the Chicago Symphony in ’41. Dwyer was an important force in enlarging the flute repertoire. She was the first orchestra player ever awarded Yale University's Sanford Fellowship, and she recorded numerous works before retiring from the BSO in 1990. After her retirement, she performed as a soloist with orchestras and quartets around the US and taught extensively. Dwyer died in Lawrence, Kansas eight days after her 98th birthday, on March 14, 2020.

Tonie Marshall (68):French-American filmmaker and actress, the only female director ever to win a Cesar award—France’s equivalent of the Oscars. Marshall won the top directing prize at the Cesars in 2000 for her movie Venus Beauty Institute, a romantic comedy that recounts the quest for fulfillment of three female employees in a Parisian beauty parlor. After that she became a prominent figure in the fight against sexism in the French film industry. Marshall’s father was American actor William Marshall, and her mother was French actress Micheline Presle. Tonie Marshall died in Paris, France on March 12, 2020.

Keith Olsen (74) record producer whose many hits included the first Fleetwood Mac album with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, whom he helped to bring into the band. Olsen worked with a roster of successful artists that ran rock’s gamut, including the Grateful Dead, Santana, Pat Benatar, Whitesnake, and Scorpions. Early in his career he produced Buckingham Nicks (1973), a folk-rock album by then little-known Nicks and Buckingham. The album, on which Nicks sang and Buckingham sang and played guitar, flopped, but, as many accounts have it, Olsen played one of the songs for Mick Fleetwood, Fleetwood Mac’s drummer. Fleetwood Mac, which began in the late ‘60s in England as a psychedelic blues-rock combo, had undergone many lineup changes in the years since their guitarist and frontman Peter Green left in 1970. After Bob Welch left the band in 1974, Fleetwood was looking for a new guitarist and knew he had found him after hearing Buckingham Nicks. Olsen died of cardiac arrest in Genoa, Nevada on March 9, 2020.

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (70) transgender musician, born Neil Megson, best known as part of the industrial band Throbbing Gristle and the experimental pop group Psychic TV. P-Orridge was long a critic of gender norms and preferred gender-neutral pronouns. He began undergoing gender reassignment surgery in the mid-2000s. S/he first got attention as founder of Throbbing Gristle, which originated in 1975 and became known for using white noise and abrasive sounds in its compositions. The follow-up, Psychic TV, known for its use of video, debuted in 1982. P-Orridge died of leukemia in New York City on March 9, 2020.

Mal Sharpe (83) pioneer in the field of “man on the street” comedy with his former partner, Jim Coyle (died 1993). Sharpe was well known in the San Francisco Bay Area for his wacky street interviews and as a jazz trombonist. He first met Coyle in 1959. Coyle asked Sharpe what he did for a living, and Sharpe said he specialized in animal-to-human brain transplants and was himself waiting to receive a flamingo brain. Coyle, in turn, gave Sharpe his biography: although he looked 23, he said, he was 80 and had a pension from serving in the Spanish-American War. The two would stop hapless pedestrians with questions about nonsensical situations. After releasing a 1963 record album of skits, The Absurd Imposters, they had a two-year run on radio with Coyle & Sharpe on the Loose. In the mid-‘60s Coyle abandoned the partnership, but Sharpe kept doing on-the-street interviews, working in radio and advertising, and releasing two albums on his own. In the early ‘70s he had a nationally syndicated TV show, Street People. He worked for several radio stations doing street interviews, and for years he was a host of Back on Basin Street, a jazz program on KCSM in the Bay Area. He died in Berkeley, California on March 10, 2020.

Eric Taylor (70) relatively unknown Texas singer-songwriter revered by his more celebrated peers for his lyrics and finger-style guitar playing. Steeped in the country blues of Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mississippi Fred McDowell, the poetry of the Beat Generation, and the Southern Gothic of Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers, Taylor’s songs fused brooding melodies with stream-of-consciousness narration, to hypnotic effect. In the song “Comanche,” from his album Resurrect (1998), he juxtaposes a series of seemingly unrelated declarations to form a seamless whole. Taylor died of liver disease in Austin, Texas on March 9, 2020.

Danny Ray Thompson (72) spent the better part of 50 years as baritone saxophonist and linchpin of Sun Ra’s Arkestra, one of the most idiosyncratic and influential ensembles in jazz. Thompson was barely 20 when saxophonist Marshall Allen, current leader of the Arkestra, introduced him to Sun Ra in New York in 1967. His first assignment was to watch the band’s house on the Lower East Side every Monday night while the Arkestra played its weekly gig at Slugs’ Saloon nearby. Eventually he was promoted to band driver before finally joining the ensemble as a saxophonist and flutist. He served for many years as the Arkestra’s manager, responsible for everything from distributing its self-released albums to organizing tours. Thompson died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 12, 2020.

Max von Sydow (90) actor known to art house audiences through his work with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman and later to moviegoers everywhere when he played the priest in the horror classic The Exorcist. From his 1949 screen debut in the Swedish film Only a Mother, Von Sydow starred in close to 200 film and TV productions, remaining active well into his 80s. He received two Oscar nominations—for best actor in 1988 for his portrayal of an impoverished farmer in Pelle the Conqueror, and best supporting actor in 2012 for his role as a mute in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. More recently he received an Emmy nomination for his work as the Three-Eyed Raven in HBO’s Game of Thrones. The Swede was a mainstay of nearly a dozen classic films by Bergman, including Wild Strawberries, Shame, and the 1957 release The Seventh Seal, in which he was the medieval knight who plays a game of chess against the grim reaper. Von Sydow died in Provence, France on March 8, 2020.

Tracy Wood (76) reporter who broke through the male-dominated press corps to cover the Vietnam War and later helped the Los Angeles Times to win a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the LA riots. A wartime correspondent, a hardened investigative reporter, and a nurturing editor later in life, Wood had a long career as a journalist, from her first stint as a reporter at City News Service in LA to her pioneering efforts as a founding member of the editorial staff at the Voice of OC, a nonprofit digital news startup. In between she covered conflict abroad and racial tensions in intercity LA and looked into suspect politicians and corrupt career bureaucrats. She died of cancer in Fullerton, California on March 12, 2020.

Charles Wuorinen (81) winner of the 1970 Pulitzer Prize in Music and composer of the operas Brokeback Mountain and Haroun & the Sea of Stories. Known for much of his career as an admirer of the 12-tone system of composition, Wuorinen was 32 when he won the Pulitzer for “Time’s Encomium,” a four-channel work for synthesized sound that became the first electronic composition to earn the honor. He died in New York City from injuries sustained in a fall last September, on March 11, 2020.

Boris Yaro (81) as Robert F. Kennedy was leaving the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968, after his victory in that year’s California Democrat Presidential primary, Yaro, a part-time Los Angeles Times photographer working on his own time, followed. In the pandemonium of the hotel’s pantry after Kennedy’s shooting by Sirhan B. Sirhan, as the crowd parted from the fallen candidate, he snapped the enduring black-and-white image of a distraught busboy trying to console a mortally wounded candidate. Yaro shot news photos for the Times for more than 40 years and along the way tutored actor Daryl Anderson, who played Animal, the news photographer on the TV series Lou Grant. He died in Northridge, California on March 11, 2020.


Society and Religion

Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris (89) first woman to be ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church of the US—indeed, in its parent body, the worldwide Anglican Communion—an election that caused a furor among conservatives. Harris was suffragan, or assistant, bishop of the Massachusetts diocese from 1989 until her retirement in 2002, and in some ways she was an unlikely candidate for the role. She had neither a bachelor’s nor a seminary degree and was divorced—a profile that some critics said made her unfit for election, regardless of gender. Others feared that she was too progressive for the church. She challenged the Episcopal hierarchy to open its doors wider to women and to black and gay people. Her election in 1988 caused turmoil both in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion, an international family of 46 autonomous churches that includes the Church of England. Some Episcopalians, objecting to her political views and theological stances, declared that they would not recognize her position and campaigned against her. Harris died in Lincoln, Massachusetts, outside Boston on March 13, 2020.


Sports

Del Shofner (85) wide receiver who joined Hall of Fame quarterback Y. A. Tittle to give the New York Giants one of the NFL’s biggest passing threats in the early ‘60s. Shofner was the Los Angeles Rams’ first-round draft pick, 11th overall, in the 1957 draft. After spending his rookie season on defense, he was switched to wide receiver the next season and led the league with 1,097 yards receiving. Shofner was traded to the Giants after the 1960 season. The next season he had 1,125 yards and became the first player in NFL history to have two seasons of 1,000 yards receiving and ultimately had 1,000 yards receiving in three consecutive seasons (1961-63). He played 11 seasons in the NFL and retired after the 1967 season. The five-time Pro Bowl receiver died in Los Angeles, California on March 11, 2020.

Dana Zatopkova (97) Olympic javelin champion and widow of running great Emil Zatopek (died in 2000). Zatopkova was born on the same day as her husband, and they formed one of the best -known sports couples in the world. At the 1952 Helsinki Games, Zatopkova won the javelin with an Olympic record throw of 50.47 meters only minutes after Zatopek had won the 5,000 meters. Zatopek later retained his title in the 10,000 and won the marathon in his first attempt at the distance, making history as the only man to win all three races at the Olympics. Zatopkova later set a world record in the javelin in 1958 with a throw of 55.73 meters and won the silver medal at the ‘60 Rome Olympics before she retired and continued as a coach. Between 1960–72 she served on the International Association of Athletics Federation's women’s committee, working to promote women’s causes in athletics. She died in Prague, Czechoslovakia on March 12, 2020.


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