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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, June 6, 2020

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Ralph Caplan, design consultant and writerJimmy Capps, 'Grand Ole Opry' guitaristPat Dye, Auburn football coachBruce Jay Friedman, screenwriter, playwright, and novelistMary Pat Gleason, TV and film character actressRupert Hine, British recording producerAlan Hurwitz, teacher turned bank robberChristo Javacheff, with his 'London Mastaba,' comprised of more than 7,500 oil barrelsDr. Tomisaku Kawasaki, Japanese pediatricianRabbi Norman Lamm, led Yeshiva UniversityKristin Linklater, vocal coachCharles Lippincott, publicity man for 'Star Wars'Johnny Majors, standout football player and coachRoberto Faraone Mennella, right, Italian jewelry designer, with partner Amedeo ScognamiglioRobert Northern, French horn player and radio jazz hostDulce Nunes, Brazilian singerTyrone Proctor, dancer and choreographerPete Rademacher, Olympic gold medalist boxerHéctor Suárez, Mexican comedianKurt Thomas, champion US gymnastChris Trousdale, former singer with Dream StreetWes Unseld, basketball starVicki Wood, fastest woman in racingShigeru Yokota, aggrieved Japanese fatherFloyd Zaiger, California fruit breeder

Art and Literature

Ralph Caplan (95) American design consultant, writer, and public speaker. Caplan disliked windy sentences and pompous clichés and was always ready to poke fun at orthodoxies. He said he wasn’t sure he saw the point of a chair, because human beings could sit on pretty much anything except a cactus. To Caplan, design was about making things right, which is why to him the most emblematic and successful design of the 20th century was the sit-in—civil disobedience as perfected by the young civil rights activists at lunch counters in Montgomery, Alabama and elsewhere in the South. He was the author of The Design of Herman Miller and was a consultant to that Michigan furniture manufacturer for more than 20 years. He died of heart failure in New York City on June 4, 2020.

Christo Javacheff (84) artist known for massive public arts projects. Working with his late wife Jeanne-Claude (died 2009), the artists’ careers were defined by their ambitious art projects that quickly disappeared soon after they were erected and often involved wrapping large structures in fabric. In 2005 they installed more than 7,500 saffron-colored vinyl gates in New York's Central Park. They wrapped the Reichstag in Berlin in fabric with an aluminum sheen in 1995. Their $26 million Umbrellas project erected 1,340 blue umbrellas installed in Japan and 1,760 blue umbrellas in southern California in 1991. They also wrapped the Pont Neuf in Paris; the Kunsthalle in Bern, Switzerland; and a Roman wall in Italy. Javacheff's last project, L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, is slated to appear in September in Paris as planned. Javacheff died in New York City on May 31, 2020.

Business and Science

Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki (95) in 1967 Japanese pediatrician Kawasaki first identified a disease in children that remains mysterious today and that has recently been in the news in relation to Covid-19. The illness, which produces inflammation around the heart and can be fatal, became known as Kawasaki disease. The Kawasaki Disease Foundation, which promotes education and research, posted news of Kawasaki’s death on its websites. He died in Tokyo, Japan on June 5, 2020.

Roberto Faraone Mennella (48) Italian jewelry designer, creator of that sexy gold earring known as the Stella. Mennella cofounded the Italian jewelry firm Faraone Mennella by RFMAS with lifelong friend and fellow designer Amedeo Scognamiglio. The young designers launched their brand in 2001 with the mission of breathing new life into fine jewelry. One night out in New York, they met Sex & the City costumer Patricia Field, and the trio became frequent collaborators. Pieces from the pair regularly popped up on the popular TV show. Mennella died in Torre del Greco, near Naples, Italy, after roughly a year-long battle with cancer, on June 4, 2020.

Floyd Zaiger (94) fruit breeders, who make crosses, plant experimental seedlings, and evaluate them, generally labor in obscurity. But Zaiger, the most prolific and arguably the world’s greatest fruit breeder, was a high-profile exception. Over 60 years he and his family developed 420 fruit and nut varieties patented in the US—by far the greatest number of any fruit breeder—and introduced Pluots, firm but sweet white-fleshed peaches and nectarines, and fruit crosses such as Peacotums previously thought to be impossible. Zaiger had been having trouble breathing and was under hospice care when he likely had a heart attack or stroke and died five days later, in Modesto, California on June 2, 2020.


Kristin Linklater (84) vocal coach renowned for helping actors to free their inner voices. For more than 50 years Linklater taught vocal technique to A-list stars like Patrick Stewart, Donald Sutherland, and Sigourney Weaver; to students at New York and Columbia Universities and Emerson College; and to people far removed from the performing arts who simply wanted to be less timid vocally. Her methods went beyond mere diction and emphasized getting the whole body (and inner self) involved in speaking the words. The mother of actor Hamish Linklater, Kristin Linklater died of a heart attack in the Orkney Islands of Scotland on June 5, 2020.


Alan Hurwitz (79) during the early decades of his adult life, Hurwitz was an educator in Detroit with a passion for social justice. But in 1992 he became known as the Zombie Bandit. Over nine weeks that year, Hurwitz robbed 18 banks in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. His blank expression when he demanded cash from tellers led the FBI to give him his nickname. After the TV series America’s Most Wanted aired video of Hurwitz's heists, tips led the FBI to arrest him in Fowlerville, Michigan, northwest of Detroit. He pleaded guilty to 13 of the robberies and spent 12 years in prison. But Hurwitz was not finished. In late 2008 he pulled another string of armed robberies, one in Medford, Oregon and three in northern California, while living in Orleans, Calif. with his daughter Laura Hurwitz. He was captured in Wyoming and sentenced to over 17 years in prison. On May 20 he was granted a compassionate release from the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, North Carolina, where Covid-19 was spreading rapidly among inmates. Eight prisoners there had died of the disease by the time Hurwitz was freed. He flew to Chicago and became ill after a second flight to Denver en route to Orleans and died of the coronavirus on June 6, 2020.

News and Entertainment

Jimmy Capps (81) country music legend. Capps performed as a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 50 years—longer than any other musician. He played with music royalty, including Elvis Presley, and was a guitarist on famous Kenny Rogers songs like “The Gambler,” George Jones's “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and George Strait's “Amarillo by Morning.” Capps began playing guitar in North Carolina when he was 12. He auditioned for the Louvin Brothers' band in 1958, which kicked off his country music career. He died in Nashville, Tennessee on June 1, 2020.

Bruce Jay Friedman (90) Oscar-nominated screenwriter, playwright, and author known for the wry comedy and subtle pathos of such novels as Stern and About Harry Towns and for his scripts for Splash and Stir Crazy. Friedman’s stories of modern angst appealed to fans and critics of plays, films, and books. His successes on stage included Scuba Duba and Steambath, while fiction readers enjoyed Stern, about an urban Jew’s unhappy transition to suburban life; and About Harry Towns, the sex and drug adventures of a screenwriter not quite able to enjoy his freedom. The author of more than a dozen books, Friedman was a favorite Hollywood wordsmith, whether for his work on Splash, for which he shared an Oscar nomination, or as the author of a comic take on bachelorhood that became the Steve Martin comedy The Lonely Guy. Friedman died in New York City on June 3, 2020.

Mary Pat Gleason (70) prolific character actress with nearly 200 TV and film credits whose most surprising role may have been as herself in a one-woman play she wrote about her bipolar disorder. Gleason most recently had a recurring role on the CBS comedy Mom. Over her lengthy career, she appeared in episodes of TV series including Friends, Will & Grace, and American Housewife. She won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1986 as part of the writing team for the soap opera The Guiding Light. Some of her film credits include Basic Instinct, The Crucible, and Intolerable Cruelty. Gleason died of uterine cancer on June 2, 2020.

Rupert Hine (72) British recording producer and songwriter who thrived in the synth-pop heyday of the ‘80s making hits with Tina Turner and other recording artists. Hine was behind Turner’s “Better Be Good to Me” and hits by the Fixx and Howard Jones. He also made a dozen albums of his own songs. He had quadruple bypass surgery in 2010 and learned he had renal cancer in ’11. He died in Wiltshire, England on June 4, 2020.

Charles Lippincott (80) without Lippincott’s groundbreaking approach to publicity, there is a good chance that far fewer people would have flocked to a film set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” That film, of course, was Star Wars, George Lucas’s 1977 space opera starring Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford, which not only became a box-office smash but also grew into one of the most successful franchises of all time. But before it was released, no one knew if there would be much of an audience for it. Lippincott joined Lucasfilm in 1975 as vice president of advertising, publicity, promotion, and merchandising. He was credited with organizing extensive promotion of the first Star Wars movie before its release with a grass-roots campaign aimed at sci-fi fans and younger moviegoers. He died in Vermont on June 2, 2020 after being hospitalized for a heart attack.

Robert Northern (86) French horn player who performed both jazz and classical music before embarking on a solo career. Northern was perhaps best known as a session musician, working extensively in the ‘50s and ‘60s with Donald Byrd, John Coltrane, Gil Evans, Sun Ra, McCoy Tyner, Roland Kirk, and the Jazz Composers Orchestra. He also worked with Don Cherry, Thelonious Monk, Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Eric Dolphy, Charlie Haden, and John Lewis. Northern also branched into percussion and flute performance later in his career. He hosted a weekly jazz-oriented radio program, The Jazz Collectors, on station WPFW in Washington. He died of a respiratory illness in Washington, DC on May 31, 2020.

Dulce Nunes (90) seemed poised to become a movie star, with her face plastered on the covers of national magazines and a high-profile marriage to one of Brazilian cinema’s leading men. But instead Nunes took a detour into singing, releasing a trio of albums in the ‘60s that capitalized on the surging popularity of bossa nova. She was best known for the 1964 album Poor Little Rich Girl. She died of Covid-19 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 4, 2020.

Tyrone Proctor (66) one of the original Soul Train dancers who popularized the ‘70s Los Angeles dance craze, waacking, which grew from local underground gay clubs into a mainstream, global dance phenomenon. Proctor was a choreographer and teacher until the coronavirus lockdowns. He died of a heart attack in New York City on June 5, 2020.

Héctor Suárez (81) Mexican comic whose decades-long career celebrated the common man and satirized the rich, corrupt, and arrogant. Suárez started delivering biting social commentary on poverty, corruption, and decaying values in the ‘70s and ‘80s before it was popular or easy to do so under Mexico’s authoritarian governments. He played a desperate, ragged proletarian in the 1983 movie El mil usos and lampooned officials and shopkeepers on the TV program ¿Qué nos pasa? or What’s Happening to Us? Unafraid to swear, he had a rough, scratchy voice that often portrayed the harder side of life for Mexico’s poor, but he could perfectly modulate his words to imitate the vacuous pronouncements of politicians. Suárez had a career as a director and actor on screen and in the theater. He died on June 2, 2020.

Chris Trousdale (34) during the heyday of boy bands, Dream Street was created to become the next Backstreet Boys or ‘N Sync. Its five teenage members, who sported baggy pants and frosted hair tips, bathed in the attention of their young fans for three years before breaking up in 2002. Each member had an image. Trousdale, who began his career in Broadway musicals at age 8, was considered the fashion plate of the group. In Dream Street, formed in 1999, he sang alongside Jesse McCartney, Greg Raposo, Matt Ballinger, and Frankie Galasso. The band’s first album went gold, and Dream Street spent the beginning of 2002 opening for Aaron Carter on tour. But they broke up in 2002 after the parents of some of the members filed a lawsuit against its producers, claiming that they were exposing minors to alcohol, sex, and pornography. Trousdale was ultimately the only member to support the producers. He died of the coronavirus in Burbank, California on June 2, 2020.

Politics and Military

Shigeru Yokota (87) face of the Japanese effort to rescue those abducted by North Korea in the '70s and ‘80s after his 13-year-old daughter Megumi was taken by the North in 1977. Since the formation in 1997 of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, Yokota was at the forefront of Japan’s efforts to rescue the abductees. As a symbol of the abductees’ families, he appealed to public opinion and the Japanese government for a solution to the abduction issue for many years. He died outside Tokyo, Japan on June 5, 2020.

Society and Religion

Rabbi Norman Lamm (92) longtime leader of Yeshiva University who nurtured it as a centrist Orthodox Jewish institution that encouraged engagement with the secular world and in doing so rescued the school from the brink of bankruptcy. Yeshiva, occupying a sprawling campus in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan with satellites in midtown, has been the wellspring of the modern Orthodox movement, and Rabbi Lamm was associated with it for the better part of almost 70 years—an otherwise distinguished career that ended under the cloud of a sex-abuse scandal involving two rabbis whom he oversaw. Lamm died at his daughter’s home in Englewood, New Jersey on May 31, 2020.


Pat Dye (80) College Football Hall of Famer who took over a downtrodden Auburn football program in 1981 and turned it into a Southeastern Conference power. When Dye came to Auburn, he inherited a program that was deeply divided after only three winning seasons in the preceding six years. In 12 years he had a 99-39-4 record, Auburn won or shared four conference titles, and the Tigers were ranked in the Associated Press's Top 10 five times. Dye’s overall coaching record was 153-62-5 in 17 years at Auburn, Wyoming, and East Carolina. He tested positive for COVID-19 after being hospitalizd for renal problems but was asymptomatic. He died of kidney and liver failure in Auburn, Alabama on June 1, 2020.

Johnny Majors (85) coach of Pittsburgh’s 1976 national championship team and a former coach and star player at Tennessee. Majors compiled a 185-137-10 record in 29 seasons as head coach at Iowa State (1968–72), Pitt (1973–76, ‘93–96), and Tennessee (1977–92). That followed a standout playing career at Tennessee during which he finished second to Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung in the 1956 Heisman Trophy balloting. Majors starred for the Volunteers from 1954–56 as a single-wing tailback and punter and twice was named Southeastern Conference player of the year. He had his greatest coaching year in 1976, when he led Pittsburgh to a national championship with a team featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett. Majors died in Knoxville, Tennessee on June 3, 2020.

Pete Rademacher (91) won a boxing gold medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and fought Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight title in his first professional bout. Rademacher won gold in Australia by knocking out Russian Lev Mukhim in the title match, then set out to win the heavyweight belt as a pro and persuaded Patterson to fight him. He knocked down Patterson in the second round but then took a pummeling and was eventually counted out in the sixth round after being dropped seven times. He was the only boxer to fight for the heavyweight title in his pro debut. Rademacher was intensely proud of his Olympic title and carried his gold medal to events, where he shared it with crowds. He had dementia for years before he died in Sandusky, Ohio on June 4, 2020.

Kurt Thomas (64) first US male gymnast to win a world championship gold medal. After competing in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Thomas won the floor exercise in the 1978 world championships in Strasbourg, France for the first US men’s title. In the 1979 worlds in Fort Worth, Texas, he successfully defended the floor exercise title and won the horizontal bar while adding silver in the all-around, pommel horse, and parallel bars. Thomas. who also captured the American Cup three times, lost a chance for Olympic gold when the US boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games. He had a stroke May 24, caused by a tear of the basilar artery in the brain stem. He died on June 5, 2020.

Wes Unseld (74) undersized (6 feet 7 inches) basketball center who led Washington to its only NBA championship and was chosen one of the 50 greatest players in league history. Unseld spent his entire 13-season playing career with the Bullets-Wizards franchise, then was its coach and general manager. The team was based in Baltimore when he was drafted. Unseld instantly made the team then known as the Baltimore Bullets into a winner after he was taken with the No. 2 overall pick—behind future teammate Elvin Hayes—in the 1968 draft. He was MVP of the 1978 NBA Finals as the Bullets beat the Seattle SuperSonics in a seven-game series. He took a leave of absence from the Wizards for health reasons in 2003, ending 35 years of continuous service to the franchise, and had both knees replaced. Unseld died after lengthy health battles, most recently with pneumonia, on June 2, 2020.

Vicki Wood (101) called “the fastest woman in racing,” Wood’s blistering speed on the hard-packed sands of Daytona Beach, Florida in 1960, topping 150 miles per hour, earned her a place in the record books. A trailblazer in the macho world of auto racing, Wood was among the first women to compete in NASCAR events. She broke the gender barrier in 1957 in Michigan and in ‘59 at the Daytona International Speedway, which had just opened that year. She died of heart-related causes in Troy, Michigan on June 5, 2020.

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