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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, March 28, 2020

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Soledad ('Chole') Alatorre, Mexican immigrant who changed California politicsLiyna Anwar, LA Times journalistLaneeka ('Nikki') Barksdale, Detroit ballroom dancerBob Barth, Sealab aquanautMaurice Berger, writer and art curatorMark Blum, film and stage actorLucia Bosé, '50s Italian actressCarole L. Brookins, global economistJohn Callahan, actor on 'All My Children' and other soapsFloyd Cardoz, Indian-American chefDr. Ricardo Castaneda, psychiatrist and illustratorHilda Churchill, England's oldest coronavirus victimDr. Tom Coburn, former US senator from OklahomaRomi Cohn, saved Czech Jews from NazisJohn G. Davies, Olympic swimming gold medalist and US federal judgeManu Dibango, dance music saxophonistDet. Cedric Dixon of NYPDApril Dunn, Louisiana advocate for disabledDave Edwards, Texas A&M basketball standoutDario Gabbai, Holocaust survivorHarriet Glickman, suggested black character in 'Peanuts'Stuart Gordon, film and theater director known for horror classicsLee Green, basketball standoutSatish Gujral, Indian artistRachmil ('Ralph') Hakman, Holocaust survivor who revisited death campsWilliam B. Helmreich, sociologistMichel Hidalgo, French soccer coachEdward Howard, LA activist for homelessJan Howard, country singer and songwriterNora Illi, Swiss convert to IslamPaul Kasmin, British-born NYC art dealerKious Kelly, NYC assistant nurse managerMike Longo, jazz pianist and composerRev. Joseph E. Lowery, civil rights leaderZororo Makamba, Zimbabwean radio and TV commentatorRichard Marek, book editor and publisherMichael McKinnell, architect of Boston City HallTerrence McNally, US playwrightDr. John F. Murray, pulmonary physician and expert on lung diseaseFred ('Curly') Neal, former Harlem Globetrotters starArnold Obey, NYC school principal and marathon runnerAlan T. Ortiz, Philippine foreign policy expertJenny Polanco, Dominican fashion designerRichard Reeves, author and columnistSuellen Rocca, artistDez-Ann Romain, Brooklyn school principalMary Roman, world-class senior athleteJohn P. Sears, political strategistRichard Sobol, civil rights lawyerMichael Sorkin, architect and criticStanley Sporkin, SEC legal watchdogMike Stratton, Buffalo Bills linebackerEdward Tarr, classical trumpeter and musicologistAlbert Uderzo, cocreator of 'Asterix,' French comic book characterIdelle Weber, pop artistEric Weissberg, banjoist best known for recording 'Dueling Banjos'Nashom Wooden, drag performerJimmy Wynn, Houston slugger

Art and Literature

Maurice Berger (63) writer and curator whose work on the nature of art, race, and image helped to set a framework for social discourse. Berger was known for his explorations of race in the book White Lies: Race & the Myths of Whiteness (2000) and the 2003 exhibition “White: Whiteness & Race in Contemporary Art,” which debuted at the Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture before traveling to the Institute of Contemporary Photography in New York. They not only explored the inequities of the Black and Latino experience, but they also examined the privileged position of whiteness—a consideration of the issue before such discussions began circulating in the culture at large. Berger died from complications related to COVID-19 in Craryville, New York on March 22, 2020.

Satish Gujral (94) one of India’s best-known artists. Gujral was always game to try something new. His early paintings reflected the violence and displacement that accompanied the partitioning of India in 1947 into the countries of India and Pakistan. He later switched to murals and sculpture, painted some portraits, and, although not formally trained as an architect, designed notable buildings, most famously the Belgian Embassy in New Delhi. In 1998, when he was in his 70s, Gujral went to Australia to receive a cochlear implant so that he might hear again, something he had not experienced since a childhood illness left him deaf. But two years later he had it removed, saying the sounds distracted him from his art. Gujral, whose art-making spanned nearly 70 years, died in New Delhi, India on March 26, 2020.

Paul Kasmin (60) British-born art dealer who established a small gallery empire in New York that was both loyal to an eclectic cohort of living artists and dedicated to presenting a distinctive range of historical material. Kasmin was known for his independent eye, his genial optimism, and his penchant for a spare British precision of speech. Over 30 years he built his own version of a mega-gallery, a cluster of exhibition spaces in Manhattan around the intersection of 10th Avenue and West 27th Street. Kasmin died of cancer in Millbrook, New York on March 23, 2020.

Richard Marek (86) when Marek was a young editor at Scribner’s in Manhattan in the early ‘60s, he was entrusted with one of the literary world’s most important manuscripts, A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway’s portrait of his life as an unknown writer in Paris in the 1920s. Hemingway had scrawled his edits in the margins of the manuscript. Marek planned to go over it at home and slipped the pages into an envelope before getting on the subway near his Midtown office. But once he arrived home, on the Upper West Side, he didn’t have the envelope and realized he had left it on the subway. Panic ensued; he sobbed all night and told himself, “My career is over.” The next morning he went to the subway’s lost and found and discovered that someone had turned in the envelope. His career was far from over. Marek was one of New York's most prominent editors and publishers. Over the years he worked at a half-dozen publishing houses and was responsible for shepherding more than 300 books into print. He died of esophageal cancer in Westport, Connecticut on March 22, 2020.

Michael McKinnell (84) architect whose sculptural and open design for Boston City Hall inspired the city’s urban revival in the late ‘60s and embodied the era’s idealism and civic activism. In 1962 British-born McKinnell was a 26-year-old graduate student in architecture at Columbia University, working as a teaching assistant to German-born architect Gerhard Kallmann (died 2012), when, almost on a lark, the two entered a competition to design a new Boston City Hall. Vying with 255 other submissions, they won. Neither had ever built anything. Except for fellow architects, few Americans had seen anything quite like the winning proposal. It wasn’t the proper government structure of Boston’s staid red-brick tradition; rather, it was a monumental building that now commands the vast plaza of the new Government Center complex with authority. McKinnell died of the coronavirus in Beverly, Massachusetts on March 27, 2020.

Suellen Rocca (76) founding member of the short-lived ‘60s Chicago art group the Hairy Who and an original artist whose work poked a finger in the eye of late-20th-century modernist purities. At a time when the consumer imagery of Pop Art was giving way to the restraint of Minimalism and Conceptualism, Rocca and five former classmates from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago came together under the sway of influences as disparate as Dubuffet, Native American art, hand-painted store signs, the Sears catalogue, and the natural-history displays at the Field Museum to create a form of painting and sculpture that hit hard against prevailing orthodoxies. Rocca died of pancreatic cancer in Naperville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, on March 26, 2020.

Michael Sorkin (71) one of architecture’s most outspoken public intellectuals, a polymath whose output of essays, lectures, and designs, all promoting social justice, established him as the political conscience in the field. In lectures and in years of teaching, Sorkin inspired audiences and students to use architecture to change lives, resist the status quo, and help achieve social equity. His motivational writings and projects helped to reset the field’s moral compass. Shown above is his Greenfill House as Garden, a finalist in New York's 2019 “Big Ideas for Small Lots” design competition. Sorkin died of the coronavirus in New York City on March 26, 2020.

Albert Uderzo (92) one of the two creators of the beloved comic book character, Asterix, who captured the spirit of the French of the ‘60s and grew a reputation worldwide. Asterix, portrayed as a short man with a droopy mustache always wearing a helmet with wings, was created in the early ‘60s by Uderzo and Rene Goscinny (died 1977). The character lived in a village in Gaul, present-day France, resisting Roman conquerors, along with his inseparable big-bellied friend, Obelix. A magic potion gave the hero and his fellow villagers temporary superhuman strength. Uderzo died of a heart attack in his sleep in Neuilly, France on March 24, 2020.

Idelle Weber (88) artist who cast a critical eye on mid-20th century American consumerism with Pop art silhouettes of corporate workers and photorealist paintings of trash. A painter who experimented with sculpture and collage, Weber was one of the few women involved in the Pop movement of the ‘50s and ’60s. She used brightly colored and patterned backdrops to highlight her anonymous, black-and-white figures of businessmen and brides, politicians and TV-show characters, all appearing in arrested motion. Her work fit into the Pop category, but her subject matter was different from Andy Warhol’s soup cans or Roy Lichtenstein’s blown-up comics. Weber was interested in how consumer culture defined social roles. She died in Los Angeles, California on March 23, 2020.


Business and Science

Carole L. Brookins (76) one of the few women working in finance in the ‘70s. Brookins was also a lover of history and was particularly fascinated by World War II. For her 70th birthday in 2013, she invited nearly 40 friends from around the world to join her for a two-day exploration of the beaches of Normandy, where they delved into the history of D-Day. Brookins was known for her expertise on the global political economy and its effect on agricultural and food markets and was executive director of the World Bank from 2001–05. She died in Palm Beach, Florida on March 23, 2020.

Floyd Cardoz (59) chef who competed on Top Chef, won Top Chef Masters, and operated successful restaurants in both India and New York. Cardoz began his hospitality training in his native Mumbai, India. He later moved to Switzerland, where he honed his skills in French, Italian, and Indian cuisine before moving on to the kitchens of New York. He was a partner in Bombay Sweet Shop, O Pedro, and The Bombay Canteen in India at his death. The Indian-American partnered with famed restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group to open Tabla in 1997. In 2011 Cardoz competed in and won Season 3 of Top Chef Masters. He had traveled from Mumbai to New York through Frankfurt, Germany on March 8, then was hospitalized in Montclair, New Jersey with a fever and later tested positive for Covid-19; he died on March 24, 2020.

Dr. Ricardo Castaneda (64) in his day job, Castaneda was director of inpatient psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan from 1992–2009 before entering private practice as a clinical psychiatrist on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was also a caricaturist who could often be found at New York Philharmonic concerts or the Metropolitan Opera—in the front row, when possible—scribbling away at sketches of the performers. He illustrated beginner's books on psychiatry and addiction and tried his hand at writing screenplays and composing opera. He was a man of many talents who transferred his faith in human accomplishment to his patients. As the coronavirus pandemic progressed, Castaneda continued to treat patients through teleconferencing. He died of the coronavirus in New York City on March 25, 2020.

Kious Kelly (48) back in early January, before the first coronavirus case turned up in the US, Kelly, an assistant nurse manager at Mount Sinai West in Manhattan, was singled out in the hospital’s blog—not for helping to make someone well but for helping a family to deal with a patient’s death. Just a few weeks later, it was Kelly’s family members and friends who needed empathy and compassion. His death was reported all over the country and beyond, and friends and colleagues used it to highlight the shortage of protective gear for medical personnel. Kelly may have been the first nurse in New York City to succumb to the coronavirus. He died about a week after being placed on a ventilator, in New York on March 24, 2020.

Dr. John F. Murray (92) leading figure in the field of pulmonary medicine and an expert on lung disease. Murray led the Pulmonary & Critical Care Division at UC San Francisco for 23 years. As a researcher, professor, and physician, he dedicated his career to pulmonary medicine and helped to establish the study of the lung and lung diseases as a distinct field, separate from cardiology. He cowrote Murray & Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine, now in its 6th edition, edited the American Review of Respiratory Disease, and helped to develop the standards for training pulmonary specialists. Murray and a team of researchers also developed a scoring system to expand the definition and help to measure the severity of acute respiratory distress syndrome, the condition from which, complicated by the coronavirus, he ultimately died, in Paris, France on March 24, 2020.

Jenny Polanco (62) Dominican designer of clothing, jewelry, and accessories. Polanco designed women’s fashions from childhood, creating costumes for her Barbie dolls and making her own clothes for college. She worked for more than 40 years in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Paris, and New York and was well regarded by colleagues and fashion critics. She returned from Madrid on March 4 and, after complaining of symptoms of the coronavirus on March 9, was quarantined after her test results were positive for Covid-19. She was hospitalized on March 18 because she had difficulty breathing and died in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on March 24, 2020.


Education

Harriet Glickman (93) in 1968 Glickman persuaded Charles M. Schulz (died 2000), creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip, to add a black character to his roster of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang. Glickman was a former schoolteacher in California when Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, shocking the nation and increasing her concern about what she saw as toxic racism that permeated society. She began thinking of ways the mass media shaped the unconscious biases of America’s children. She wrote to several cartoonists, including Schulz, urging them to add black characters to their strips. At the time “Peanuts,” which debuted in 1950, was syndicated in about 1,000 newspapers and reached tens of millions of readers. Glickman recognized that loyal “Peanuts” readers might be annoyed by a new character. She wrote a letter to Schulz in April 1968, shortly after King’s assassination, that made a reasonable case for adding a black character while acknowledging the risks involved. On July 31, 1968, Franklin Armstrong appeared in “Peanuts” for the first time, returning a beach ball Charlie Brown had lost in the ocean, then helping him to build a sand castle. Glickman died of myelodysplastic syndrome in Sherman Oaks, California on March 27, 2020.

William B. Helmreich (74) when Helmreich was 9 years old, his father, a Polish-Jewish refugee from the Nazis who was curious about his latest haven, New York, started taking him on weekend outings that he called “Last Stop.” Father and son would choose a subway line at random, take it to the end, and spend a few hours exploring the novelties of neighborhoods they had never seen before. Those adventures took up several years of the ‘50s for young William and were in part the germ of two of the 18 books he wrote or edited as a longtime professor of sociology and scholar of Judaism. The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City (2013) chronicled Helmreich’s experiences over four years, walking virtually every city block, all 121,000, totaling 6,163 miles. He died of the coronavirus in Great Neck, New York on March 28, 2020.

Arnold Obey (73) retired Staten Island school principal who ran his first New York City Marathon in 1980, then ran it 37 more times in a row, even after suffering a stroke and even if it took him nearly eight hours to complete the last one, in 2018. Obey's best marathon time was in 1982, when he finished in 3 hours and 31 minutes. He went back to running after a stroke in 2012, the year Hurricane Sandy caused the marathon to be canceled. His NYC Marathon streak is shared by just 17 others. Obey, who had a heart condition, was on vacation with his wife and sister-in-law when he began feeling seriously ill. He died four days later in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 22, 2020.

Dez-Ann Romain (36) teacher and principal who set an example for her students by her perseverance. Romain was principal of the Brooklyn Democracy Academy, an innovative high school with small classes in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Designed by New Visions for Public Schools, a public-private partnership, the academy enrolls about 200 students 16 and older who foundered at more traditional schools. On March 18 Romain was hospitalized for what doctors said was pneumonia. On March 19 academy officials notified teachers, parents, and students that an unidentified member of the school community had self-reported a case of Covid-19. Romain became the first employee of the New York City public schools known to have died from complications of the coronavirus, on March 23, 2020.


Law

John G. Davies (90) Olympic swimming gold medalist and US federal judge who helped to prevent more riots in Los Angeles when he presided over the second trial of four officers in the Rodney King police brutality case. A world record-setter at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki when he was 20, Australian-born Davies presided over the 1993 federal civil rights trial of the officers accused of beating King, a motorist they had seized after a 117-mile-an-hour chase that began when he was driving erratically on March 3, '91. When the four were first acquitted by an all-white state jury in 1992 despite an amateur videotape that confirmed their violent beating of King, a black construction worker, LA erupted in rampages that left scores dead and a billion dollars in property damage. The officers were tried again before Davies on civil rights charges in Federal District Court in LA before a racially mixed jury. Two of the officers were acquitted. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the two others faced up to 10 years in prison. But Davies said the evidence demonstrated that King had provoked the violence by fleeing from the police and resisting arrest while intoxicated. He defied the federal guidelines and sentenced the officers to 30 months in prison. Davies died of cancer in Pasadena, California on March 24, 2020.

Det. Cedric Dixon (48) when playing his favorite game as a youngster, cops and robbers, Cedric Dixon always insisted on being the one wearing the badge. Detective Dixon had served in the New York Police Department for 23 years, working primarily in the Bronx. Promoted to detective just a year ago, he was assigned to the 32nd precinct, covering Harlem. His colleagues described him as such an adroit interrogator that it was not uncommon to find him shaking hands with a suspect after extracting a confession. Dixon died in the Bronx, New York of the new coronavirus on March 28, 2020. He was believed to be the first sworn officer in the NYPD whose death was caused by the virus.

Richard Sobol (82) civil rights lawyer who won a landmark decision before the US Supreme Court. In 1968 the court established the right to a jury trial in state criminal cases. The ruling was a major victory for the civil rights movement and for Sobol, who was 29 at the time and just beginning his legal career. Over the next 50 years, he filed scores of challenges involving racial and sexual discrimination in employment, education, voting, and housing, becoming one of the nation’s busiest and most successful—if unsung—champions of civil rights. Sobol died of aspiration pneumonia in Sebastopol, California on March 24, 2020.

Stanley Sporkin (88) legal crusader who, as chief enforcement officer at the Securities & Exchange Commission, held American corporations accountable for making illicit campaign contributions in the US and for bribing public officials abroad. In the ‘70s, at a newly vitalized SEC, Sporkin investigated illegal corporate slush funds, pressured American companies to comply with the commission’s cease-and-desist orders, and sued the firms if they failed to do so. He also successfully lobbied Congress to pass the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. Sporkin’s investigations led to admissions by leading corporations—including Gulf Oil, Exxon, Mobil Oil, Lockheed Aircraft, R. J. Reynolds Industries, and 3M—that they had made millions of dollars in secret payoffs to scores of politicians. The disclosures of bribery by American corporations operating abroad caused political scandals in Honduras, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, and other countries. Sporkin died of congestive heart failure in Rockville, Maryland on March 23, 2020.


News and Entertainment

Liyna Anwar (30) rising journalist who helped the Los Angeles Times to expand its digital footprint and waged a public fight to save her own life. An Indian-American, in 2018 Anwar was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive cancer. She began receiving treatment and started the search for a stem cell transplant that could save her life. In many cases, matches are found between donors and patients who share the same ethnic background. But of the 19 million donors in the Be the Match bone marrow registry, only a very small number—less than 2 per cent—are of South Asian descent. Anwar died of AML in Duarte, California on March 26, 2020.

Laneeka ('Nikki') Barksdale (47) expert ballroom dancer, known for her gliding. Barksdale, known as Nikki, worked as a bartender for many years, most recently at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel, and was currently driving for Lyft by day. A popular virtuoso on the dance floor by night, she had mastered bop, stepping, hustles, and other difficult ballroom steps to rhythm and blues and hip-hop. She died of the coronavirus in Detroit, Michigan on March 23, 2020.

Mark Blum (69) actor known for roles in Crocodile Dundee and Desperately Seeking Susan. Blum was well known in New York's theater community, having appeared in several Broadway productions throughout his career, including Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers and Gore Vidal’s The Best Man. He won an Obie Award in 1989 for his performance in Gus & Al, the Playwrights Horizons’ production of Albert Innaurato’s play. Blum’s screen credits included a recurring role as Union Bob in Mozart in the Jungle, and he recently starred in several episodes of Netflix’s You. He landed a role alongside Madonna and Rosanna Arquette in the 1985 comedy-drama Desperately Seeking Susan as Arquette’s husband. In 1986 he played a newspaper editor in the adventure flick Crocodile Dundee. Blum, who had asthma, was one of several older luminaries to die from complications of the disease caused by the coronavirus, in New York City on March 25, 2020.

Lucia Bosé (89) Italian actress in neorealist films of the ‘50s who walked away from her career to marry Spanish bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín, only to return to acting after they separated. After she won the Miss Italy beauty pageant in 1947, Bosé traveled to Rome and drew the attention of directors Michelangelo Antonioni and Giuseppe De Santis. In 1950 she appeared in De Santis’s Under the Olive Tree and Antonioni’s first feature film, Story of a Love Affair. One of her most prominent parts was as Clara, a would-be actress who marries a film producer played by Gino Cervi in Antonioni’s The Lady Without Camelias. (1953). Bosé died of pneumonia in Segovia, Spain on March 23, 2020.

John Callahan (66) actor known for playing Edmund Grey on All My Children and starring on other soaps including Days of Our Lives, Santa Barbara, and Falcon Crest. Callahan’s ex-wife and former All My Children costar Eva LaRue announced his death on her social media account. The two, who played a married couple on the show, shared a daughter, Kaya. Callahan starred on All My Children from 1992–2005. He died in Rancho Mirage, California on March 28, 2020.

Manu Dibango (86) saxophonist who fused African rhythms with funk to become one of the most influential musicians in world dance music. Dibango's 1972 song “Soul Makossa” was one of the earliest hits on the world music scene, including a catchy hook copied by some of the world’s biggest pop stars. In 2009 he filed a lawsuit against Michael Jackson and Rihanna, claiming they had stolen his music in “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” and “Don’t Stop the Music,” respectively. Jackson settled out of court. Dibango was hospitalized with an illness “linked to COVID-19.” The Cameroon-born saxophonist died in the Paris, France region on March 24, 2020.

Stuart Gordon (72) film and theater director best known for his cult horror classics Re-Animator, Castle Freak, and From Beyond. Gordon made his film debut with Re-Animator (1985), a horror comedy cult classic starring Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Herbert West, a medical student obsessed with raising the dead. Gordon was also a veteran stage director with a background in experimental theater, and a cocreator, with collaborators Brian Yuzna and Ed Naha, of the 1989 Disney family hit Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Gordon’s films spanned horror, sci-fi, comedy, and drama genres that probed dark human curiosities. He frequently adapted H. P. Lovecraft, turning the author’s stories into Castle Freak (1995) and Dagon (2001). He adapted another Lovecraft mad-science tale, From Beyond, about researchers whose experiments turn interdimensional, with horrific results. Gordon died of multiple organ failure in Van Nuys, California on March 24, 2020.

Jan Howard (91) singer-songwriter who had a No. 1 country hit, “For Loving You,” with Bill Anderson and wrote hits for others like Kitty Wells’s “It’s All Over But the Crying.” Howard had her first hit in 1960 with “The One You Slip Around With” and had a string of others including “Evil on Your Mind” and “Bad Seed.” But she had her biggest success as a duo with Anderson, including “I Know You’re Married,” “Someday We’ll Be Together,” and ”For Loving You,” which spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard country chart in 1967. She also wrote for others, including Connie Smith’s hit “I Never Once Stopped Loving You.” Her most personal song was perhaps “My Son,” which she wrote as a plea for her son Jimmy’s safe return from the Vietnam war. Jimmy was killed two weeks after its release in 1968; another son later killed himself. Howard documented her triumphs and struggles in the 1987 autobiography Sunshine & Shadow. The Grand Ole Opry, of which she was a member for nearly 50 years, announced her death in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 27, 2020.

Mike Longo (83) jazz pianist, composer, and educator best known for his long association with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. As an educator, Longo wrote 10 books and produced four DVDs, outlining concepts he had refined while working with Gillespie. He also advocated for other artists, engaging them for concerts and releasing their recordings on CAP (Consolidated Artists Productions), which he had established as a publishing company in 1970 and a record label in ‘81. Longo died in New York City from the coronavirus, three days after his 83rd birthday, on March 22, 2020.

Zororo Makamba (30) radio and TV commentator and scion of one of Zimbabwe’s wealthiest families. Makamba, best known for his online commentary and his appearances on talk shows and current affairs programs, arrived in New York for a visit on February 29 and returned to Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, on March 9. He reported flulike symptoms three days later. Because his immune system had been compromised by myasthenia gravis, a chronic neuromuscular disease, and by surgery last fall to remove a tumor, his doctor recommended that Makamba isolate himself and, after he developed a fever, that he undergo tests at the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare. Nurses in Zimbabwean state hospitals walked off their jobs earlier in March because they lacked protective equipment, and the United Nations warned that Wilkins, the main infectious-diseases hospital in Harare, lacked intensive-care beds. Makamba died on March 23, 2020, two days after testing positive for the virus. His was the first recorded death from the virus in Zimbabwe, South Africa

Terrence McNally (81) one of America’s great playwrights whose career included winning Tony Awards for the plays Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class and the musicals Ragtime and Kiss of the Spider Woman. McNally’s plays and musicals explored how people connect—or fail to. With wit and thoughtfulness, he tackled the strains in families, war, and relationships and probed the spark and costs of creativity. He was an openly gay writer who wrote about homophobia, love, and AIDS. McNally was a lung cancer survivor who lived with chronic inflammatory lung disease. He died of the coronavirus in Sarasota, Florida on March 24, 2020.

Richard Reeves (83) author and syndicated columnist who wrote about politics for more than 50 years and published books on Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, and other American presidents. Reeves worked as a journalist for much of the ‘60s and released his first book, on then-President Gerald Ford, in 1975. In 1979 he began a weekly column that was syndicated for decades. He became a frequent commentator on PBS and even appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Reeves had been in failing health and had been treated for cancer. He died of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, California on March 25, 2020.

Edward Tarr (83) trumpeter and musicologist who became one of the world’s eminent authorities on the instrument, resuscitating long-forgotten repertory and leading the way in historically informed performances of baroque and romantic brass music. Tarr left his mark on every aspect of the trumpet world. As a player he set new standards of lyricism on an instrument long associated with the military. As a scholar he hunted for rarities in European archives and created performance editions of hundreds of newly discovered works. He advised instrument makers, curated a trumpet museum, wrote seminal books, edited historical treatises, and taught players who later became leading concert artists. Tarr died of complications from heart surgery near Rhinefelden, Germany, on March 24, 2020.

Eric Weissberg (80) multi-instrumentalist whose banjo work on the 1973 hit single “Dueling Banjos” helped to bring bluegrass music into the cultural mainstream. Although the theme songs from the film Bonnie & Clyde (1967) and the CBS sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, both recorded by Flatt & Scruggs, preceded “Dueling Banjos” in exposing wide audiences to bluegrass, neither made it to the pop Top 40. “Dueling Banjos,” which appeared on the soundtrack from the 1972 movie Deliverance, fared far better, rising to No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart. The soundtrack from Deliverance was also certified gold, for sales of more than 500,000 copies. But Weissberg—who also played fiddle, mandolin, and guitar—produced much more than a one-hit wonder. More than 10 years before “Dueling Banjos,” he had distinguished himself as a member of two popular folk groups, the Greenbriar Boys and the Tarriers, and as an in-demand session musician in New York. He died of Alzheimer’s disease near Detroit, Michigan on March 22, 2020.

Nashom Wooden (50) drag performer, a regular on New York's gay bar and club scene. Wooden performed in heels as Mona Foot. He appeared with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robert DeNiro in the 1999 movie Flawless. He cowrote and performed a song that became a top 10 hit all around Europe. He bartended at the Cock, a long-time gay dive in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood, and showed up at countless movie premieres and fashion shows, usually in his fitted Maison Margiela leather jacket, dark jeans, and Rick Owens boots. Wooden died in New York City after a short illness that he had suspected but not confirmed was Covid-19. He was found dead at his home on March 23, 2020.


Politics and Military

Soledad ('Chole') Alatorre (94) Mexican immigrant who arrived in Los Angeles in the ‘50s with a mission: to help her exploited countrymen in the North. Alatorre joined a company that relied on low-paid immigrants illegally in the US and quickly got promoted to supervisor, then secretly taught workers about their rights and urged them to agitate for better pay. Management found out, then fired her. The employees walked out. A union usually followed, and Alatorre moved on to the next challenge. In labor and activist circles across California, she preached a message—undocumented immigrants deserve rights, too, and can be mobilized into a force. That message went from heresy to the mainstream and forever altered politics in California and beyond. Alatorre died in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí, where she was born, on March 25, 2020.

Bob Barth (89) US Navy veteran aquanaut who participated in all four stages of naval exploration involving the Sealab underwater habitat in the '60s. The dangerous experiments Barth took part in paved the way for exploits of deepwater espionage, undersea construction, and demolition projects around the world and greatly increased the depths at which humans could safely live and work. Barth died of Parkinson’s disease in Panama City, Florida on March 26, 2020.

Dr. Tom Coburn (72) former US senator, an Oklahoma family doctor who earned a reputation as a conservative political maverick as he railed against federal earmarks and subsidies for the rich. Coburn also delivered more than 4,000 babies while an obstetrician in Muskogee, where he treated patients for free while in the Senate. Known for bluntly speaking his mind, Coburn, a Republican, frequently criticized the growth of the federal deficit and what he said was excessive government spending endorsed by politicians from both political parties. He died in Tulsa, Oklahoma two weeks after his 72nd birthday, on March 28, 2020.

Dario Gabbai (97) of all the jobs that Jewish slave laborers had to perform at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland, none perhaps was more despised than that of Sonderkommand—a member of the “special unit” that instructed men, women, and children to undress for the gas chambers and dragged their bodies to the crematories. For almost three years, 2,000 Sonderkommandos did such work under threat of execution while often incurring the contempt of fellow prisoners. Some even had to dispose of the corpses of their relatives and neighbors. Because the Germans replaced Sonderkommandos every six months, only 100 or so survived the war. They were eye-witnesses to the exterminations that Holocaust deniers challenge. The man who may have been the last of the Sonderkommandos and was certainly one of the most prominent, was Dario Gabbai, a Greek Jew who settled in California after the war and described the grim work he did in a handful of Holocaust documentaries—including The Last Days, which won an Oscar for best documentary in 1999. Gabbai was haunted by his work in Auschwitz for the rest of his life. He died in Los Angeles, California on March 25, 2020.

Alan T. Ortiz (66) leading foreign policy expert who held prominent positions in the Philippine government and in business, including assistant director-general of the National Security Council under former President Corazon Aquino and later as president and chief operating officer of the power company SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. In 1981 Ortiz placed first in the Philippine Foreign Service Officer examinations. He had also been president of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations. He traveled to Paris in March to attend an international security conference but never made it home. He became infected with the coronavirus during his trip and died in Paris, France on March 23, 2020.

John P. Sears (79) Republican political strategist who worked for Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan and was fired by both. Frequently referred to in the news media as a modern-day Machiavelli or Rasputin, Sears was only 28 in 1968 when he was deputy director of field operations for Nixon and helped him to secure the Republican presidential nomination. He then worked briefly as deputy counsel in the White House but was perceived as overly ambitious and not deferential enough to the Nixon crowd. The administration even had his phone tapped; within a year he was fired. The firing was actually a blessing because it removed Sears from the Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon’s resignation as president. Watergate claimed so many of Sears’s rivals inside the Nixon camp that for a time he was presumed to be “Deep Throat,” the secret source who helped the Washington Post to unravel the scandal. But in 2005, Mark Felt, a former deputy FBI director, revealed himself to have been the secret source. Sears died of a heart attack in Miami, Florida on March 26, 2020.


Society and Religion

Hilda Churchill (108) survived the Great War, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that claimed her baby sister, and World War II, but eight days before her 109th birthday Churchill became Britain’s oldest recorded victim of the coronavirus. A retired seamstress, she never smoked or drank much. She had recently been in protective isolation for several days but began showing symptoms of the virus four days before she died. She tested positive for the virus only the night before. Churchill was born in 1911 in Crewe, south of Manchester, England, where seven years later the flu struck every member of her family except her and her mother. Her father collapsed in the street; her year-old sister, Beryl May, died. Churchill died near Salford in Greater Manchester, England on March 28, 2020.

Romi Cohn (91) was just 15 when he joined the underground resisting the Nazis in what was then Czechoslovakia. But Romi was resourceful enough to supply Jewish refugees with housing and false Christian identifications, stamping them with German seals provided by a cooperative Gestapo source. In all, he saved 56 families. After the war he made his way to the US and became wealthy developing thousands of single-family homes on Staten Island. He also turned himself into an expert mohel, performing thousands of circumcisions and writing scholarly articles. He even set up an operating theater in his Staten Island home to circumcise adult Russian Jews who had not been able to undergo the ritual as infants because of Soviet strictures. Cohn died of respiratory distress caused by pneumonia and the coronavirus, in Brooklyn, New York, two weeks after his 91st birthday, on March 24, 2020.

April Dunn (33) advocate for people with disabilities who worked for the governor of Louisiana. Dunn was a visible presence in the State Capitol. As chair of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, she gave frequent testimony and urged lawmakers to enact laws that could bring the marginalized into life’s mainstream. She was unable to take standardized tests and so never earned a high school diploma but helped to pass a law that provided alternative paths to a degree. Dunn died of complications of the coronavirus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 28, 2020.

Rachmil ('Ralph') Hakman (95) Holocaust survivor who in January made his fourth return to the Auschwitz-Birkenau prison camps where he labored as a teen. Hakman connected to his past by telling his story. Each month he would talk with college students or tour groups visiting the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. His last public testimony was on January 26 in Krakow, Poland during a World Jewish Congress observation of the 75th anniversary of the death camps' liberation. He died in Beverly Hills, California on March 22, 2020.

Edward Howard (63) was student body president at his junior college in Detroit and a civil rights leader who revered Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and brought radical feminist activist and academic Angela Davis to the campus. In the ‘80s Howard moved to Los Angeles for job opportunities and ended up managing a perfume and cosmetics counter at a Macy’s department store. Later he was a caregiver for developmentally disabled people before falling into drug addiction and landing on skid row. With his recovery at the LA Mission, Howard emerged once again as a community leader, pressing fights with the city over providing homeless people with jobs, self-determination, bathrooms, and hygiene resources. The COVID-19 pandemic lent new urgency to the community leader. For Howard, bathrooms were always a civil rights issue and a matter of treating people with respect and dignity. He died in Los Angeles, California after battling congestive heart disease, on March 24, 2020.

Nora Illi (35):Swiss convert to Islam who believed Muslim women should have the right to wear full-body veils and publicly challenged bans against them. In 2009, Illi and her husband, Abdel Azziz Qaasim Illi, helped to found the Swiss Central Islamic Council as Switzerland was debating a proposal to ban minarets, the prayer towers on mosques. The organization sought to promote knowledge of Islam in Switzerland and gained several thousand followers, many of them Swiss converts to Islam. But it was also criticized by centrist Muslims for its radical interpretations of the religion, and it came under the scrutiny of Swiss authorities because of its links to known Salafist preachers, who promote a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. Nora Illi’s own actions also drew the attention of the authorities. In July 2016, the day a ban on full-face coverings went into effect in the canton of Ticino, she appeared on the streets of Locarno pushing a baby stroller and wearing a blue niqab, a full-length body veil with only a slit for her to see through. Nora Illi died of breast cancer in Bern, Switzerland on March 23, 2020.

Rev. Joseph E. Lowery (98) veteran civil rights leader who helped Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and fought against racial discrimination. A fiery preacher, Lowery led the SCLC for 20 years—restoring the organization’s financial stability and pressuring businesses not to trade with South Africa’s apartheid-era regime—before retiring in 1997. Considered the dean of civil rights veterans, he lived to celebrate a November 2008 milestone that few of his movement colleagues thought they would ever witness—the election of a black American president. In 2009 President Barack Obama awarded Lowery the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US's highest civilian honor. Lowery died in Atlanta, Georgia from natural causes unrelated to the coronavirus outbreak, on March 27, 2020.


Sports

Dave Edwards (48) former Texas A&M basketball player whose single-season school record for assists has stood for more than 25 years. Edwards, who was from New York, played three seasons for the Aggies from 1991–94 after transferring from Georgetown, where he played 31 games in 1989–90, averaging 5.4 points and 4.8 assists in 20 minutes per game before transferring and sitting out a year. He was second to Alex Caruso on Texas A&M’s career list in assists (602) and steals (228), averaging 13.5 points per game. Texas A&M reached the NIT when Edwards was a senior, losing in the first round to New Orleans. He finished third nationally in assists in 1993-94 with a school-record 265. Edwards died of complications from the new coronavirus in Queens, New York on March 23, 2020.

Lee Green (49) defensive standout who played on two NCAA Tournament teams for St. John’s University. A New York native, Green played for St. John’s from 1991–94, playing his first season under Lou Carnesecca and his final two for Brian Mahoney. He averaged 2.3 points per game. Green’s death in New York City on March 24, 2020 was reportedly related to the coronavirus.

Michel Hidalgo (87) soccer coach who led France to the 1984 European Championship title and the ‘82 World Cup semifinals with a commitment to an attacking style of play. With Michel Platini pulling the strings in a midfield known as the “Magic Four,” Hidalgo brought France back to the top of international football in the ‘80s after years of underachievement. He died in Paris, France on March 26, 2020.

Fred ('Curly') Neal (77) dribbling wizard who entertained millions with the Harlem Globetrotters for parts of 30 years. Neal played for the Globetrotters from 1963–85, appearing in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries for the exhibition team known for its combination of comedy and athleticism. He became one of five Globetrotters to have his jersey retired when his No. 22 was lifted to the rafters during a special ceremony at Madison Square Garden in 2008. Neal was a crowd favorite with his trademark shaved head, infectious smile, and ability to dribble circles around would-be defenders. He was a key player during the Globetrotters’ most popular era in the ’70s and ’80s, appearing on TV shows and specials like The Ed Sullivan Show, Love Boat, and Gilligan’s Island. Neal and the Globetrotters also appeared in numerous TV commercials and episodes of Scooby-Doo and had their own cartoon series. He died outside Houston, Texas on March 26, 2020.

Mary Roman (83) world-class senior athlete who held numerous national age records in track and field. A childhood polio survivor, Roman began competing in senior track events in 1989 and won hundreds of medals, mostly in the throwing disciplines. At various times she held the American record in the shot put in the women’s 65–69, 70–74, and 75–79 age groups. She also was once the nation’s top-ranked thrower and ranked eighth in the world in the weight throw in the 75–79 age group. In 2016 she was named Connecticut Masters Games Athlete of the Year. Roman, who for 20 years was Norwalk’s city clerk, died of the coronavirus in Norwalk, Connecticut on March 23, 2020.

Mike Stratton (78) former Buffalo Bills star linebacker, a key member of the franchise’s American Football League championship teams in the mid-‘60s. Stratton was a hard-hitting player best known for what became known as “the hit heard around the world.” It happened in the 1964 AFL championship game against San Diego, played in Buffalo. With the Bills trailing 7-0, Stratton tackled Chargers running Keith Lincoln so hard, the hit broke the player’s ribs. Buffalo went on to a 20-7 win for its first title. Stratton died in his native Tennessee from heart complications related to a recent fall, on March 25, 2020.

Jimmy Wynn (78) Houston slugger whose home runs in the ‘60s and ’70s earned him the nickname “The Toy Cannon.” Wynn hit more than 30 homers twice with Houston, including a career-high 37 in 1967 at the pitcher-friendly Astrodome. Two became particularly famous. The first came on June 10, 1967, when he knocked one out of Cincinnati’s Crosley Field, over the scoreboard in left-center and onto the highway outside the stadium. Almost three years later, on April 12, 1970, he became the first player to hit a home run into the upper deck of the cavernous Astrodome when he sent a pitch from Phil Niekro more than 500 feet down the left field line. Wynn died in Houston, Texas two weeks after his 78th birthday, on March 26, 2020.


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