Back to Life In Legacy Main Page Pages for Previous Weeks Celebrity Deaths Message Board
Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, May 16, 2020

Hold pointer over photo for person's name. Click on photo to go to brief obit.
Click on name to return to picture.

Jerry Stiller, with wife Anne Meara, '60s comedy duoHarry Anderson, sailboat racerLarry Aubry, LA activistGabriel Bacquier, French operatic baritoneRafael Leonardo Black, artist of pencil drawingsDr. Bertram Brown, '70s head of NIMHBeckett Cypher, son of singer Melissa EtheridgeS. David Freeman, California public utilities executivePhyllis George, former Miss America and TV sportscasterHutton Gibson, father of actor Mel GibsonRichard Gilder, billionaire philanthropistFrances Goldin, Lower East Side activistJames Harvey, film criticRolf Hochhuth, playwright who wrote 'The Deputy'Wilson Jerman, White House butler who served 11 US presidentsAstrid Kirchherr, German photographer who shot early Beatles photos. with Stuart SutcliffeAlbert J. Krieger, celebrated Miami defense attorneyPhil May, lead singer of Pretty ThingsMichael McCaskey, former chairman of Chicago BearsMichel Piccolo, French film actorCarolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & SchusterJay Riffe, sport fishing entrepreneurPepper Rodgers, UCLA football coachGene Rossides, Columbia University football star quarterbackJorge Santana, guitarist brother of Carlos SantanaSérgio Sant'Anna, Brazilian authorLynn Shelton, indie film directorBarbara Sher, motivational speakerBob Watson, baseball player and executiveFred Willard, comic character actorBetty Wright, rhythm and blues singer

Art and Literature

Rafael Leonardo Black (71) self-trained artist from Aruba who spent more than 40 years creating elaborate pictorial mythologies steeped in art history and popular culture. Black had his first New York gallery show at 64. His debut, in 2013 at Francis Naumann Fine Art in Manhattan, consisted of collagelike pencil drawings of historically diverse figures and scenes brought together under umbrella themes. The work was so minutely detailed that the gallery provided magnifying glasses to view it. The exhibition was accompanied by a multipage guide, with numbered charts of the compositions and annotations by the artist identifying the figures depicted. Black died of the coronavirus in Brooklyn, New York on May 15, 2020.

Astrid Kirchherr (81) German photographer who shot some of the earliest and most striking images of the Beatles and helped to shape their trend-setting visual style. Kirchherr was a photographer’s assistant in Hamburg and part of the local art scene in 1960 when she first saw the young British rock group, which then numbered five. She had dreamed of photographing “charismatic” men and found her ideal subjects in the Beatles, especially their bassist at the time, Stuart Sutcliffe, a gifted painter. The two quickly fell in love, even though she spoke little English and he knew little German. Their romance was brief. Sutcliffe collapsed and died of a cerebral hemorrhage in April 1962 at age 21. Kirchherr later married twice, but both marriages ended in divorce, and she long said that she never got over Sutcliffe’s death. She died in her native Hamburg, Germany eight days before her 82nd birthday, on May 12, 2020.

Carolyn Reidy (71) Simon & Schuster chief executive who presided over her company with a passion for books during a time of frequent and traumatic change. Reidy joined Simon & Schuster in 1992 and had been CEO since 2008. Simon & Schuster is one of the so-called “Big Five” New York-based publishers, with authors including Stephen King, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Bob Woodward. Reidy was known for her warm and candid manner, for sending handwritten letters to authors, and for her alertness to the bottom line. She confronted many crises and upheavals at Simon & Schuster, whether the rise of e-books, the financial crash of 2008 that happened within months of her becoming CEO, or the current coronavirus pandemic. She died of a heart attack in New York City on May 12, 2020.

Sérgio Sant'Anna (78) wrote novels and poetry but was most famous for stories that used a sardonic humor to skewer the fractures within Brazilian society. In one of Sant'Anna's last stories, a goal post narrates an imaginary soccer scrimmage. The main character in his best-known novel is tortured by the government to reveal the answers to questions on an elementary school test. Sant'Anna died of the coronavirus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 10, 2020.

Business and Science

Dr. Bertram Brown (89) psychiatrist who figured prominently in federal efforts to reenvision public programs to deal with mental health and intellectual disabilities in the ‘60s and ’70s. A Brooklyn native who was trained as a classical pianist even as he envisioned a career in medicine, Brown joined the National Institute of Mental Health in 1960 and directed the agency from ‘70–77. He died of cardiovascular disease in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania on May 14, 2020.

Jay Riffe (82) California speargun designer, entrepreneur, and pioneer of tankless hunting and diving. Riffe became a champion in sport fishing while in his 20s and founded a leading company in the manufacture of spearfishing and diving gear. He died in Dana Point, California on May 11, 2020.


Albert J. Krieger (96) defense lawyer who combined a prodigious memory, sharp interrogations, and a courtly baritone to foil hostile witnesses against his often notorious clients, including mobsters John Gotti and Joseph Bonanno and Miami’s so-called cocaine cowboys. Whoever saw Krieger in the courtroom would never forget him: the booming voice, imposing physique, and gleaming dome atop a head with a photographic memory that rattled witnesses and wowed juries. He defended New York crime family boss Teflon Don John Gotti, Miami Vice cocaine smuggler Willie Falcon, and the Lakota Sioux tribe that occupied Wounded Knee during the American Indian Movement. His cases not only made national headlines but also inspired Hollywood movies. Krieger died in Miami, Florida on May 14, 2020

News and Entertainment

Gabriel Bacquier (95) French baritone whose voice, immaculate diction, and dramatic instincts made him a welcome presence in opera houses and on concert stages worldwide. Bacquier was particularly admired as a proponent of French music, both opera and song. Among the roles with which he was most closely associated were Golaud in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, the High Priest of Dagon in Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, and the four villains in Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann. He made significant recordings of numerous French-language works, including Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, Massenet’s Thaïs, Ravel’s L’Heure Espagnole, and Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots. Bacquier died in Lestre, in Normandy, France, on May 13, 2020.

Beckett Cypher (21) son of singer Melissa Etheridge. Cypher was one of two children the 58-year-old singer had with former partner Julie Cypher, conceived with sperm from Rock & Roll Hall of Famer David Crosby. The daily Facebook Live concert Etheridge has been giving during the coronavirus outbreak was canceled. She released a statement saying opioid addiction was behind Cypher’s death. He died in Denver, Colorado on May 13, 2020.

Phyllis George (70) former Miss America 1971 who became a female sportscasting pioneer on CBS’s The NFL Today and was first lady of Kentucky. George joined Brent Musburger and Irv Cross in 1975 on The NFL Today. Jimmy (“The Greek”) Snyder later was added to the cast. George spent three seasons on the live pregame show, returned in 1980, and left in ‘83, winning praise for the warmth of her interviews with star athletes. She also covered horse racing, hosted the entertainment show People, and coanchored CBS Morning News. She was briefly married to Hollywood producer Robert Evans in the mid-‘70s and to John Y. Brown Jr. from 1979–98. Brown owned Kentucky Fried Chicken and the NBA’s Boston Celtics and was governor of Kentucky. George died of a blood disorder in Lexington, Kentucky on May 14, 2020.

James Harvey (90) film critic whose three books on silver-screen love, romantic comedy, and the mysteries of star quality, each more than 10 years in the making and meticulously written, are required reading for serious movie fans. Harvey died of a rare blood disease in New York City on May 15, 2020.

Rolf Hochhuth (89) German writer whose play indicting Pope Pius XII for his silence about Nazi crimes led to riots in theaters and an international furor but also greater transparency in the Roman Catholic Church. Hochhuth examined the moral culpability of Pius in The Deputy, which had its premiere in West Berlin in 1963. Confronted with evidence of the mass killings of Jews, the pontiff had shrunk from a public condemnation of Hitler. The Deputy energized a generation eager to confront the ethical implications of the Holocaust and forced the church onto the defensive. It also helped to establish documentary theater as an artistic form able to shape public discourse. Hochhuth died in Berlin, Germany on May 13, 2020.

Phil May (75) lead singer of the Pretty Things, a ‘60s British rock band whose members played faster, louder, and with more energy than their contemporaries. The Pretty Things took their name from a Bo Diddley song, They roughed up rhythm and blues, playing with a speed and rawness that foreshadowed punk rock. Joey Ramone called the Pretty Things “the biggest influence” on the Ramones and said they “invented garage bands.” The band’s debut single, “Rosalyn,” released in 1964, contained the main ingredients: spiky guitars, manic drumming, and May’s hoarse vocals. Their other early singles included “Don’t Bring Me Down,” a Top 10 hit in Britain, and “Midnight to Six Man,” a celebration of night prowling. Phil May died in Norfolk, England from complications after hip surgery, on May 15, 2020.

Michel Piccolo (94) French actor, a prolific screen star who appeared in landmark films by directors such as Luis Bunuel—including in his Oscar-winning The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie—and Jean-Luc Godard. Although less famous in the English-speaking world, in continental Europe and his native France, Paris-born Piccoli was a stalwart of art-house cinema. Beginning his career in the ‘40s, he made over 170 movies, working into his late 80s. His most memorable appearance came during the French New Wave—starring opposite Brigitte Bardot in Godard’s 1963 masterpiece Contempt, with his dark hat and signature bushy eyebrows. Piccoli’s performances for Europe’s most iconic directors—including for France’s Jean Renoir, Jacques Rivette, and Jean-Pierre Melville; Britain’s Alfred Hitchcock; and Spain’s Bunuel—are also memorable. He died of a stroke in Normandy, France on May 12, 2020.

Jorge Santana (68) guitarist, younger brother of Carlos Santana whose guitar riffs on the band Malo’s 1972 hit “Suavecito” transformed the song into a Chicano anthem. Born in Mexico, Jorge Santana began playing guitar, following in his brother’s footsteps. He joined a San Francisco-based band that later became Malo, which means “bad” in Spanish. Their 1972 hit “Suavecito,” a tune released during the Chicano Movement, became a staple for Mexican-American cookouts and weddings for generations throughout the American Southwest. Malo made three albums before a highly publicized breakup. Santana later played with the salsa collective Fania All-Stars and ultimately embarked on a solo career, joining his brother, Carlos, on tour in 1993. Jorge Santana died in San Rafael, California on May 14, 2020.

Lynn Shelton (54) director known for her work on independent films like Humpday and on TV series such as Mad Men and GLOW. Shelton was a pioneer in the low-budget indie film movement that came to be known as mumblecore, bringing an often improvised approach to films like We Go Way Back, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2006, and her ‘09 breakthrough Humpday, which attracted attention at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals and won the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award. A onetime aspiring actress and photographer, Shelton did not begin her filmmaking career until her mid-30s but directed eight features in 14 years alongside a busy career in TV. Although approached to direct mainstream studio fare, including the Marvel superhero film Black Widow, she stayed true to her indie roots with such small-scale films as Touchy Feely, Laggies, and her most recent film, the wry comedy Sword of Trust. Shelton died in Los Angeles, California from a previously unidentified blood disorder, on May 15, 2020.

Jerry Stiller (92) comedian and actor who for decades teamed with wife Anne Meara in a beloved comedy duo, then reached new heights in his senior years as high-strung Frank Costanza on the classic sitcom Seinfeld and the basement-dwelling father-in-law on The King of Queens. Stiller was a multitalented performer who appeared in an assortment of movies, playing Walter Matthau’s police sidekick in the thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and Divine’s husband Wilbur Turnblad in John Waters’ comedy Hairspray. Stiller also wrote an autobiography, Married to Laughter, about his 50-plus-year marriage to comedic cohort Meara, who died in 2015. Stiller's TV spots included everything from Murder, She Wrote to Law & Order—along with 36 appearances with Meara on The Ed Sullivan Show. Although a supporting player on Seinfeld, Stiller created some of the Emmy-winning show’s most enduring moments: cocreator and model for the “bro,” a brassiere for men; a Korean War cook who inflicted food poisoning on his entire unit; an ever-simmering salesman controlling his explosive temper with the shouted mantra, “Serenity now!” Jerry Stiller died in New York City on May 11, 2020.

Fred Willard (86) comedic actor whose improv style kept him relevant for more than 50 years in films like This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, and Anchorman. Willard was rarely a leading man or even a major supporting character. He specialized in small scene-stealing appearances. As an arrogantly clueless sports announcer in Best in Show, his character seemed to clearly know nothing about the dogs he’s supposed to talk about. Willard was a four-time Emmy nominee for his roles in What’s Hot, What’s Not; Everybody Loves Raymond; Modern Family; and The Bold & the Beautiful. He died in Los Angeles, California on May 15, 2020.

Betty Wright (66) singer who had a breakout hit single when she was 17, became a key player in the Miami funk sound of the ‘70s, and worked closely with music stars over the next 40 years. Wright’s 1971 hit, “Clean Up Woman,” anticipated funk music’s transition into disco, and its soulful sound found great chart success for the rest of the decade. “Clean Up Woman” peaked at No. 6 on the singles chart. Although she never again matched that mainstream success, Wright remained a mainstay on the Billboard rhythm and blues chart, and as lead singer, duet partner, or prominent background vocalist, she placed 20 different singles in the R&B Top 40. As recently as 2007 she was on the R&B and dance charts with “Baby,” a duet with next-generation soul singer Angie Stone. Wright died of cancer in Miami, Florida on May 10, 2020.

Politics and Military

Larry Aubry (86) Los Angeles black activist who witnessed white resistance to school integration and the Watts and 1992 riots. Aubry wrote more than 1,700 columns over 33 years for the Los Angeles Sentinel and served two terms on the Inglewood School Board. But it was his decades of social, political, and community activism on issues including black education, job training, police accountability, fair housing, and reparations that shaped his life. The groups he helped to found or lead spanned the early civil rights era of the ‘60s to Black Lives Matter and included Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives, which most recently fought to expand rent control, and the Black Community Clergy & Labor Alliance, which has worked on housing and charter school issues. Aubry died on May 16, 2020.

S. David Freeman (94) steered the US's largest public electric utilities with a vision and was an early advocate of renewable energy. As president of the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners, Freeman oversaw a push in the 2000s to clean up the air in the ports of LA and Long Beach. Industry executives and labor groups contested aspects of the plan, saying they would drive down profits and eliminate jobs. After leading the port commission, Freeman was then-LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s deputy mayor for energy and the environment. He was not without detractors. When Gov. Gray Davis nominated him to lead the state power authority, Republican lawmakers assailed his tenure at the LA Department of Water & Power, saying he had ripped off ratepayers during the 2000–01 energy crisis, brought on by a disastrous deregulation of the state’s power market. Electricity costs rocketed, and power outages rolled across the state as a result of the crunch. Freeman died of a heart attack in Washington, DC on May 12, 2020.

Frances Goldin (95) lifelong firebrand who won her first street brawl when she was 11 and as a grown-up never stopped fighting to safeguard her beloved Lower East Side from upscale developers. An unreconstructed socialist, Goldin was an advocate for affordable housing and a staunch defender of the poor. Her activism extended over two careers. In one, she was a civic leader in a vintage neighborhood that was being gussied up with fancy names (“as soon as they said ‘East Village,’ they tripled the rent,” she noted in 1984) and studded with asymmetrical glass buildings. In the other, from 1977, she was a literary agent who represented progressive authors, including Susan Brownmiller, Martin Duberman, Juan Gonzalez, Robert Meeropol, and Frances Fox Piven. A founder of both the Metropolitan Council on Housing and the Cooper Square Committee, Goldin was a fixture at the annual Gay Pride Parade in New York. She was also a member of her neighborhood’s Community Planning Board and the Joint Planning Council of the Lower East Side. She died in New York City on May 16, 2020.

Society and Religion

Hutton Gibson (101) Roman Catholic traditionalist and outspoken critic of the modern church who gained wide notoriety as the father of actor Mel Gibson and for his anti-Semitic views. Hutton Gibson's death was not publicized at the time. It was confirmed by a search of a California records database. Requests for information from several family members, including his son Mel, were not answered. The elder Gibson died in Thousand Oaks, California on May 11, 2020.

Richard Gilder (87) billionaire investor and benefactor who was instrumental in revitalizing two neglected exemplars of American democracy—the study of American history and Central Park. Gilder, a conservative, pro-growth Republican, formed an unlikely partnership in 1974 with George Soros, liberal philanthropist, to rehabilitate Central Park, laying the foundation for what became the Central Park Conservancy in 1980. Embraced by New York's parks commissioner at the time, Gordon J. Davis, the conservancy, a public-private partnership, restored Central Park, transforming it from a dust bowl that had been doomed by deferred maintenance during the city’s fiscal crisis of the ‘70s to the 840-acre people’s oasis that was envisioned when it opened in the 19th century. Gilder died of congestive heart failure in Charlottesville, Virginia on May 12, 2020.

Wilson Jerman (91) longtime White House butler who served under US presidents from Eisenhower through Obama. When Jerman’s wife, Gladys, was dying of lupus in 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson sent steak and lobster to their home and asked his personal physicians to help treat her. When Jerman retired in 2012, he had paintings of the White House interior signed by John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy hanging in his living room. One of four children of a farmworker, Jerman left school after seventh grade to help support his family. He eventually made his way to Washington and found work catering for families in Georgetown. In 1957 his best friend, Eugene Allen, who worked as a White House butler, asked whether he would like a job there. Eisenhower was in his second term when Jerman started working as a cleaner. When the Kennedy administration began, the first lady promoted him to the post of butler. Jerman died of the coronavirus in Woodbridge, Virginia on May 16, 2020.

Barbara Sher (84) often said she didn’t believe in self-improvement but found she had a knack for helping people make their lives better. A motivational speaker and author with a comedian’s timing, in the late ‘60s Sher was divorced and broke, living in a welfare hotel in New York with two young sons, working as a dishwasher during the day and as an encounter group leader at night. As she said in many videos and workshops, her night job involved refereeing as people yelled at one another until they felt better. And she was good at it. The author of six self-help books, Sher oversaw book clubs for four of them and a writing workshop. She led workshops all over the world and trained others to do so. She died of acute respiratory failure in Pomona, New Jersey on May 10, 2020.


Harry Anderson (98) scion of a long line of patrician lawyers (a great-grandfather was counsel to Cornelius Vanderbilt) familiar to yacht clubs, Anderson devoted his life to racing and its rules, with a hand in the America’s Cup, the Olympics, and training the young. With ancestral ties to American wealth and power going back to Aaron Burr, he learned to sail as a boy at Seawanhaka, a venerable yacht club on Long Island's North Shore. Harry spent summers at Seawanhaka immersing himself in the art and mechanics of sailing and in the gentleman’s sport of sailboat racing. One summer, at 15, he joined a race to Bermuda with one of the Roosevelts. Another summer he crewed for a Vanderbilt. Anderson died in Mystic, Connecticut on May 11, 2020.

Michael McCaskey (76) led the Chicago Bears during its '80s heyday, when it won its only Super Bowl championship, and for nearly 30 years after the death of his grandfather, George Halas. A Yale graduate and the oldest of Ed and team matriarch Virginia McCaskey’s 11 children, Michael joined the family business in 1983 as president and chief executive after the death of Halas, a founding father of the NFL and the franchise. He succeeded his father as chairman in 1999 and remained in that role until brother George McCaskey took over in 2011. Michael McCaskey died of cancer on May 16, 2020.

Pepper Rodgers (88) former UCLA football coach who mentored some of the sport’s greatest players and coaches during a career spanning 60 years. Quarterback Gary Beban was among a long list of star players that Rodgers coached that also included Heisman winner Steve Spurrier, defensive end Reggie White, and running back John Riggins. Rodgers compiled a 73-65-3 record in coaching stints at Kansas, UCLA, and Georgia Tech and mentored several coaches who later had Hall of Fame careers, including UCLA’s Terry Donahue, Ohio State’s John Cooper, and Arizona’s Dick Tomey. Rodgers liked to joke about the swift turnaround he enjoyed in his three seasons as head coach at UCLA, going from 2-7-1 in 1971 to 8-3 in ‘72 and 9-2 in ‘73. He died in Reston, Virginia on May 14, 2020.

Gene Rossides (92) former Columbia University star quarterback who engineered one of college football’s most remarkable upsets, a 21-20 victory over Army in October 1947 that broke the Cadets’ 32-game unbeaten streak, before pursuing a career in law and politics and serving in two presidential administrations. For all Columbia’s hapless football seasons, the Lions have featured a string of brilliant passers, going back to Sid Luckman, who became a Pro Football Hall of Famer popularizing the T-formation with the Chicago Bears in the early ‘40s. Rossides orchestrated another golden moment on October 25, 1947, when the Lions, 2-2 on the season, played Army, unbeaten and unscored upon in four games, although its Heisman Trophy running backs Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard had graduated. The Cadets took a 20-7 lead before a crowd of some 35,000 jamming Columbia’s old Baker Field. But Rossides twice connected with his end Bill Swiacki, who made two brilliant catches: on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, then another on a pass that put the ball on the Army 3. Running back Lou Kusserow then ran the ball in to make it a 20-20 game. Army had missed one of its three extra-point attempts, but Columbia’s Ventan Yablonski converted for a third straight time, and the Lions emerged with a stunning victory. Rossides died in Washington, DC on May 16, 2020.

Bob Watson (74) All-Star slugger who in 1996 became the first black general manager to win a World Series with the New York Yankees. Watson, nicknamed “The Bull,” made the All-Star team in 1973 and ’75, hit over .300 four times, and drove in at least 100 runs twice while hitting in the middle of the Astros’ lineup. He also held the distinction of scoring the 1 millionth run in major league history—on May 4, 1975, against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park. Watson also became a big hit off the field for his cameo, along with several Astros teammates, in the 1977 comedy film The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training. Watson also played for Boston (1979), the Yankees (1980–82), and the Atlanta Braves (1982–84), finishing with a .295 career batting average with 184 home runs, 989 runs batted in, and 1,826 runs scored while primarily playing first base and left field. He died of kidney disease in Houston, Texas on May 14, 2020.

Previous Week
Next Week

Return to Main Page
Return to Top