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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, June 13, 2020

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Eula Bingham, former director of OSHAMichael Drosnin, author of 'The Bible Code'Manuel Felguérez, Mexican artistThomas F. Freeman, Texas Southern debate professorHarry Glickman, founder of Portland Traill BlazersNemir Kirdar, Iraqi expatriate and Middle East financierMike McCormick, Giants pitcherPierre Nkurunziza, president of BurundiMurray Olderman, sports cartoonist and writerDenny O'Neil, comic-book writerMolly Neptune Parker, basket weaverBonnie Pointer, one of singing Pointer SistersLuther Price, experimental artist and filmmaker, with extract from his 'Sorry'Ken Riley, Cincinnati Bengals standoutNanci Ryder, Hollywood publicistWilliam S. Sessions, former FBI directorElly Stone, singer and actressClaudell Washington, two-time All-Star outfielderJas Waters, TV writer and journalistLonnie Wheeler, sportswriter and biographer

Art and Literature

Manuel Felguérez (91) before he became one of the most important artists in Mexico, Felguérez provided live bats to a lucha libre wrestler as props during bouts; sold ancient Mexican artifacts to pay his way to Europe; amassed a menagerie that included a tiger, a fox, lizards, a hawk, and a black widow spider; and learned taxidermy so he could preserve the animals when they died. Known best for paintings and metal sculptures that featured geometric shapes, Felguérez became part of a movement that broke from traditional Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera. He trained in France and produced abstract work that, unlike that of Rivera and his cohort, did not emphasize the Mexican Revolution or the plight of the masses. As a visiting researcher at Harvard in the ‘70s, Felguérez began using computer programming to create art. He died of the novel coronavirus in Mexico City, Mexico on June 7, 2020.

Murray Olderman (98) American sports cartoonist and writer whose artwork often accompanied the sports stories he wrote. In a career of more than 60 years, Olderman chronicled the sports world as what he called a “rare double threat,” turning out nationally syndicated cartoons while also writing features and columns. His work appeared in 750 daily newspapers for the greater part of 35 years. He recently suffered a heart attack and died in Rancho Mirage, California on June 10, 2020.

Denny O'Neil (81) leading comic-book writer who in the ‘70s acquainted readers with Batman’s tougher urban roots and injected social issues into the joint adventures of Green Lantern and Green Arrow. O’Neil not only reinvigorated Batman and unified Green Lantern and Green Arrow, he also wrote comic books featuring Spider-Man, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, and The Question in a 35-year career that included two stints at both DC Comics and Marvel Comics. He became best known for writing superhero comics that addressed social issues. He died of cardiopulmonary arrest in Nyack, New York on June 11, 2020.

Molly Neptune Parker (81) American basket weaver, president of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, and the first woman to become lieutenant governor of Indian Township, one of the two governing bodies of the Passamaquoddy Tribe. There were years when Parker worked the night shift at a wool factory after putting in a full day making baskets and still made it home in time to serve her children breakfast. When they were young, she traded baskets for their dental work. She was the matriarch of four generations of basket makers. In time she became a celebrated and collected artist whose work fetched thousands of dollars—so well known that when she traveled, people called out her name in airports. Parker died of cancer on June 12, 2020.

Luther Price (58) multimedia artist and experimental filmmaker known for his haunting, often transgressive work—and for never revealing his real name. Price explored family, sexuality, and death, using found footage, emulsion scraps, and dust bunnies as his medium. He died in Revere, Massachusetts on June 13, 2020.


Business and Science

Nemir Kirdar (83) Iraqi expatriate and Middle East financier who founded a private equity firm that once owned Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci, and other Western retail trophies. The private equity firm Kirdar founded, Investcorp, tapped into Persian Gulf oil money. Kirdar had a “longstanding struggle with dementia,” according to a statement from Investcorp, the company he founded in Bahrain in 1982. He died in Cap D’Antibes in the south of France on June 8, 2020


Education

Thomas F. Freeman (100) debatie professor whose Texan Southern University debate team rose to national prominence. Freeman trained thousands of students over his 70-year career, including Martin Luther King Jr. while King was a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta. Freeman also taught Reps. Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland and Grammy Award-winning singer Yolanda Adams. He was tapped by Oscar-winner Denzel Washington to work with young actors for the 2007 film The Great Debaters, which tells the real-life story of a ‘30s black debate squad that defeated an all-white team. Freeman, whose teams won dozens of debate championships, was still teaching at age 100 after starting his career at TSU in 1949. He died in Houston, Texas two weeks before his 101st birthday, on June 13, 2020.


Law

William S. Sessions (90) former federal judge appointed by President Ronald Reagan to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation and fired years later by President Bill Clinton. Sessions was a career Justice Department attorney and federal judge until Reagan appointed him FBI director in 1987. He modernized the bureau’s technology, overhauled the FBI’s fingerprint files, reassigned 325 counterintelligence agents after the end of the Cold War, and focused the bureau’s efforts on violent crime. His most enduring legacy may have been his commitment to affirmative action at a bureau that historically was dominated by white men. Sessions refused to fight a federal judge’s ruling that favored Hispanic agents. He settled a civil rights lawsuit brought by black agent Donald Rochon, who was harassed by white agents, and settled a threatened suit by black agents, all of which placed him at odds with some FBI traditionalists. Clinton eventually fired him in 1993. Sessions died of natural causes not related to the novel coronavirus, in San Antonio, Texas, on June 12, 2020.


News and Entertainment

Bonnie Pointer (69) in 1969 Bonnie convinced three of her church-singing siblings to form the Pointer Sisters, which became one of the biggest acts of the next 20 years. Bonnie often sang lead and was an essential member of the group through its early hits including “Yes We Can Can” and “Fairytale.” She left for a short and modest solo career in 1977 as her sisters had several megahits without her. Ruth, Anita, Bonnie, and June (died 2006), born the daughters of a minister who also had two older sons, grew up singing in his church in Oakland, California. It was Bonnie, shortly after graduating high school, who first wanted to move away from singing gospel songs into clubs to pursue a professional singing career. Bonnie Pointer died of cardiac arrest in Los Angeles, California on June 8, 2020.

Nanci Ryder (67) Hollywood publicist and cofounder of BWR Public Relations who became close to such stars as Renée Zellweger and Courteney Cox. Ryder’s clients—including Michael J. Fox, Reese Witherspoon, Viggo Mortensen, and Sarah Michelle Gellar—blossomed into close friends. Zellweger thanked Ryder in her best actress acceptance speech when she won the Oscar for Judy earlier this year. Witherspoon called her a “second mother.” Ryder, who suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, was given the 2018 ALS Hero Award, and her acceptance speech was read by one of her best friends, Don Diamont from CBS soaps The Young & the Restless and The Bold & the Beautiful, because she was unable to speak. She died in Los Angeles, California on June 11, 2020.

Elly Stone (93) was enjoying a moderately successful career as a singer and actress when she jumped to a new level of fame in 1968 as part of the wildly popular musical revue Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. Stone performed some of the most powerful songs in that show, which ran for more than four years in Greenwich Village and became a theater staple. She died of endometrial cancer in Cuenca, Ecuador on June 11, 2020.

Jas Waters (39) Los Angeles TV writer and journalist known for her work on series such as NBC’s This Is Us, Jim Carrey’s Kidding, and VH1’s The Breaks. Waters spent nine years working in film production and TV development on a variety of projects, including the Spider-Man and Barbershop franchises, Hardball, Save the Last Dance, ER, and MTV’s Real World. Her most recent gig was on the Showtime comedy Kidding as a story editor. She also lent her pen to the 2019 film What Men Want and Comedy Central’s Hood Adjacent. Outside Hollywood, Waters was a pop-culture columnist for Vibe magazine. In the music world, she collaborated on videos with Diddy, Jermaine Dupri, Bow Wow, Jagged Edge, and Common. She also starred on the VH1 reality program Gossip Game, following the lives of women in hip-hop media, and Jump Off TV’s Debate Lounge on YouTube. Waters died from suicide by hanging in Hollywood, California on June 9, 2020.


Politics and Military

Eula Bingham (90) toxicologist who energized the US Occupational Safety & Health Aministration as its director and set stringent standards to protect workers from hazardous materials. As head of OSHA under President Jimmy Carter, Bingham dispensed with “nit-picking” regulations and went after serious health and safety violations. She was nearing completion of chemotherapy treatments for cancer when she suffered a pulmonary embolism and cardiac collapse. She died in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 13, 2020.

Pierre Nkurunziza (56) Burundi’s president whose death has ended a 15-year-rule marked by deadly political violence and a historic withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. Nkurunziza’s death came weeks before president-elect ruling party candidate Evariste Ndayishimiye was expected to be sworn in after winning the May election. Nkurunziza died of a heart attack (or heart failure) in eastern Burundi on June 8, 2020.


Society and Religion

Michael Drosnin (74) American journalist and author, best known for The Bible Code, a purported set of secret messages encoded within the Old Testament. Drosnin's book claimed that references to historical and contemporary events were secretly encoded in the Old Testament. It became an international best-seller and sparked wonder, debate, criticism, and two sequels. Drosnin died of heart disease in New York City on June 8, 2020.


Sports

Harry Glickman (96) founder of the Portland Trail Blazers and general manager of the franchise’s only NBA title-winning team in 1977. Portland was granted an expansion franchise in 1970. Glickman was part of the original ownership team, along with Herman Sarkowsky, Larry Weinberg, and Robert Schmertz, that paid the league’s $3.7 million expansion fee. He was one of the shareholders who sold the club to Paul Allen in 1988. He held several positions with the team, including general manager, before he retired in 1994. Under Glickman, the Trail Blazers reached the NBA Finals three times, winning their lone title in 1977. Portland also won the Western Conference championship in 1990–92. They set an American sports record with 814 consecutive home sellouts, a feat later surpassed by the Boston Red Sox. Glickman died in Portland, Oregon on June 10, 2020.

Mike McCormick (81) longtime Giants pitcher who won the Cy Young Award in 1967. McCormick played for 16 years in the majors from 1956–71 with the Giants, Orioles, Senators, Yankees, and Royals. He had a 134-128 record with a 3.73 earned run average, and his greatest accomplishments came with the Giants. He signed with the Giants as a 17-year-old “bonus baby” in 1956 for $50,000, requiring him to forego the minors at the start of his career. He recorded 50 wins before turning 23 and was the youngest player to reach that milestone until Dwight Gooden broke that record in 1986. McCormick made his biggest impact on the franchise after the move from New York to San Francisco in 1958. He recorded at least 10 wins each year from 1958–61 and led the National League with a 2.70 ERA in 1960 when he was named an All-Star for the first of two times in his career. McCormick died of Parkinson’s disease in Cornelius, North Carolina on June 13, 2020.

Ken Riley (72) former Cincinnati Bengals standout, head coach and athletic director at alma mater Florida A&M. Riley played 15 seasons for the Bengals as a defensive back, with 65 career interceptions—fifth in NFL history—for 596 yards and five touchdowns—all franchise records. He recovered 18 fumbles. Before his NFL career, Riley was a four-year starter at quarterback for the Rattlers. He was chosen in the sixth round of the 1969 NFL draft by the Bengals, who under coach Paul Brown decided to convert him to cornerback. At the time, black starting quarterbacks in the NFL were all but unheard of. Riley retired in 1983. He spent two seasons as an assistant with the Green Bay Packers before taking over as coach at Florida A&M, where he went 48-39-2 from 1986–93. He won two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles and was a two-time MEAC coach of the year. Riley died in Bartow, Florida on June 7, 2020.

Claudell Washington (65) two-time All-Star outfielder who played 17 seasons in the majors after being called up as a teenager by the Oakland Athletics. Washington played with seven teams in his career, finishing with 1,884 hits, 164 home runs, and 312 stolen bases. He made the All-Star Game in 1975 with the As and in ‘84 with the Atlanta Braves. He had the dubious distinction of striking out more times than any player against Nolan Ryan with 39 in 90 career at-bats. The outfielder also hit the 10,000th home run in New York Yankees history, connecting off Minnesota’s Jeff Reardon in 1988. He played a part on the big screen as well. In the 1986 movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the title character catches a foul ball off the bat of Washington. The actual footage was from a game at Wrigley Field between the Chicago Cubs and the Braves in 1985. Washington died of prostate cancer in the San Francisco Bay Area on June 10, 2020.

Lonnie Wheeler (68) longtime sportswriter who wrote or collaborated on more than a dozen sports books, including Hank Aaron’s autobiography. Wheeler worked for several newspapers, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Cincinnati Post, and USA Today. He collaborated with Aaron on his autobiography titled I Had a Hammer, and on autobiographies of Bob Gibson and Mike Piazza. Wheeler’s last book was The Bona Fide Legend of Cool Papa Bell: Speed, Grace & the Negro Leagues. He received a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy many years ago but died of cardiac arrest in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 9, 2020.


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