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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, July 18, 2020

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John Lewis, US congressman from GeorgiaBrigid Berlin, left, with Candy Darling and Andy WarholLouis ('The Coin') Colavecchio, counterfeiterJoanna Cole, author of 'Magic School Bus' booksChristopher Dickey, foreign correspondent and authorJudy Dyble, British singer and songwriterTony Elliott, founder of 'Time Out' city guidesPaul Fusco, magazine photographerMason Gaffney, economistKatherine Hoffman, former Florida State dean of womenGrant Imahara, former host of 'MythBusters'Zizi Jeanmaire, French ballerinaDavid Kaiser, scion of Rockefeller familyDr. Niels H. Lauersen, fertility doctor convicted of insurance fraudHee-sook Lee, founder of BCD Tofu House chainDavid Lewis, football player and coachZindzi Mandela, daughter of South African antiapartheid leadersJuan Marsé, Spanish novelistIan McRae, former South African utility headDolores Robledo, cofounder of Roberto's Taco Shop chainPhyllis Somerville, film, TV, and stage actressKeith Sonnier, Post-Minimalist artistVictor Victor, Dominican singer and songwriterRev. C. T. Vivian, civil rights veteran

Art and Literature

Brigid Berlin (80) former socialite who became one of Andy Warhol’s closest friends. Born into privilege, Berlin rejected her upbringing to become a fixture on the New York underground art scene of the ‘60s and ’70s. Her father, Richard E. Berlin, was president of the Hearst publishing empire for 30 years. Brigid Berlin died of cardiac arrest induced by a pulmonary embolism, in New York City on July 17, 2020.

Joanna Cole (75) author whose Magic School Bus books transported millions of young people on educational adventures. With Ms. Frizzle, based in part on a fifth-grade teacher of Cole’s, leading her students on journeys that explored everything from the solar system to underwater, Magic School Bus books have sold tens of millions of copies and were the basis for a popular animated TV series and a Netflix series. Plans for a live-action movie, with Elizabeth Banks as Ms. Frizzle, were announced in June. Cole died of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in Sioux City, Iowa on July 12, 2020.

Paul Fusco (89) photographer whose eye for the human impact of earth-shaking events was perhaps never more evident than in the pictures he took of trackside mourners while riding Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral train in 1968. In a long career behind the camera, Fusco worked for Look magazine and the Magnum photo agency and pursued self-financed projects, including a photo series documenting the aftermath of the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. He died of dementia in San Anselmo, California on July 15, 2020.

Juan Marsé (87) Spanish novelist. Marsé was one of Spain’s most respected novelists over the past few decades and winner of the 2008 Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s top literary award. His most important novel was Úlitmas tardes on Teresa (Last Afternoons with Teresa), published in 1965. It chronicles the misadventure of a working-class adolescent who tries to win over a girl from the upscale side of Barcelona. Marsé, a native of that city, followed that success with several other novels that form a portrait of the social transformation of Spain during the latter part of the 20th century. He died in Barcelona, Spain on July 18, 2020.

Keith Sonnier (78) artist who infused functional materials like sailcloth, foam rubber, steel rebar, and neon with a sense of poetry and play that tweaked the solemnity of Post-Minimal art in the late ‘60s and made him one of the movement’s more unconventional standard-bearers. Sonnier died of colon cancer in Southampton, New York on July 18, 2020.

Business and Science

Louis ('The Coin') Colavecchio (78) former jewelry maker whose nickname was “The Coin.” Colavecchio crafted fakes so good that even officials had a hard time telling his coins from legitimate ones under a microscope. A colorful character whom authorities cast as an old-time mobster and counterfeiter of some repute, he was released May 26 from Butner federal prison in North Carolina, days after US District Court Chief Judge John J. McConnell Jr. agreed to free him on time served. Colavecchio suffered from dementia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, and other ailments. Just weeks after being granted compassionate release from federal prison, the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest counterfeiter” died in Cranston, Rhode Island on July 13, 2020.

Tony Elliott (73) founder of the Time Out city guide publishing brand. Elliott founded Time Out as an entertainment and listings magazine for London during a university summer vacation in 1968, when he was 21. It went weekly in 1971 and became essential reading for fans of food, music, theater, movies, and art. Time Out New York was launched in 1995, followed by similar publications in cities around the world, besides a series of travel guides. Time Out says its content, now largely online, covers 328 cities in 58 countries. Time Out continues to publish a weekly print magazine in London, although it has been suspended during the coronavirus pandemic. Elliott had been suffering from lung cancer and died in London, England on July 16, 2020.

David Kaiser (50) scion of the Rockefeller family who steered one of its philanthropies into a pitched confrontation with the company that provided the family’s prodigious wealth. A great-great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, Kaiser steered one of his family’s philanthropies to a feisty stance on the oil giant’s role in climate change. As president of the Rockefeller Family Fund and as an official of Just Detention International, a group dedicated to fighting sexual abuse in prisons, Kaiser pursued twin passions: combating climate change and reforming the criminal justice system. He died at a family home on Mount Desert Island, Maine of glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer of the brain, on July 15, 2020.

Dr. Niels H. Lauersen (84) at Lauersen’s first trial for insurance fraud, in Manhattan, the courtroom was filled to overflowing with women and their babies, although they were soon thrown out—the judge didn’t want babies in his courtroom. Soon the women returned alone, many brandishing photos of their children. Those unable to secure a seat were left to crowd the halls. The women were there to support “the Dyno Gyno,” as Geraldo Rivera had christened Lauersen, the handsome fertility doctor and tabloid star who had gained fame writing books about women’s health, appearing on TV, and treating celebrities like Celine Dion, Foxy Brown, and Liv Ullman in a suite of offices in an exclusive Park Avenue co-op before he was undone by malpractice suits and a prison sentence for insurance fraud. Lauersen died in New York City of heart disease on July 14, 2020.

Hee-sook Lee (61) had tenacity and a secret recipe. That was enough for her to build a tofu empire. Lee founded the popular BCD Tofu House restaurant chain and helped to raise the global profile of Korean cuisine. She opened the first BCD Tofu House on Vermont Avenue in Koreatown in 1996 with limited restaurant experience but plenty of confidence and a singular focus on a singular dish: soon-dubu jjigae, hunks of tofu in a spicy broth. The restaurant’s name was short for Buk Chang Dong, a neighborhood in Seoul where her in-laws once ran a restaurant. Lee cooked up a plan and a secret recipe for a soup base that she refused to share with anyone, including her husband. She died of ovarian cancer in Los Angeles, California on July 18, 2020.

Dolores Robledo (90) with her husband Roberto (died 1999), Dolores cofounded Roberto's, one of the first US taco shop chains with its signature fried rolled tacos and “poor man’s” bean burritos. She worked in the family’s 77-store chain for more than 30 years to provide a better future for their 13 children. Dolores Robledo, who lived in Escondido, California, died on July 14, 2020.


Mason Gaffney (96) academic economist who for decades led the Georgist movement, which promotes taxing only land as the most effective, efficient, and environmentally sound way to finance government. Gaffney and other Georgists maintained that taxing land, not buildings, would encourage property owners to erect high-quality buildings and improve existing ones. The property-tax system in place at present imposes extra taxes when a room is added to a house or when a business is spruced up. Land-value taxes, Gaffney maintained, discourage landowners from leaving plots vacant in city areas and discourage city sprawl. Gaffney, who taught economics at the University of California/Riverside for 37 years, died in Riverside, California on July 16, 2020.

Katherine Hoffman (105) former dean of women at Florida State University in the late ‘60s. Hoffman said her biggest accomplishment was abolishing her own position. From the ‘30s to the 2010s, as a student, professor, and distinguished alumna, she was a model citizen in support of the school. She died of Covid-19 in Tallahassee, Florida on July 18, 2020.

News and Entertainment

Christopher Dickey (68) veteran foreign correspondent and author, a Paris-based editor for the Daily Beast. The son of novelist James Dickey, Christopher Dickey also worked for the Washington Post and Newsweek in a globe-trotting reporting career that took him through Central America, the Middle East, and Europe. His work also appeared in Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and The New Republic. Dickey was the author of Saving the City, about the New York Police Department's counterterrorism unit, and Our Man in Charleston: Britain’s Secret Agent in the Civil War South (2015). He died unexpectedly in Paris, France on July 16, 2020.

Judy Dyble (71) singer and songwriter in the first recorded lineup of the British folk-rock institution Fairport Convention before going on to an extensive, although interrupted, recording career. Dyble’s crystalline soprano drew on folk tradition, but she also embraced psychedelia and progressive rock. She learned she had lung cancer last year. She died in Oxfordshire, England on July 12, 2020.

Grant Imahara (49) electrical engineer and longtime TV host of Discovery’s MythBusters. Imahara joined the hit science show in 2005 as the “geek” of the squad, operating electronics and building robots until he left the program along with cohosts Kari Byron and Tory Belleci in ’14. The trio later reunited to host Netflix’s investigative series White Rabbit Project. Imahara was one of the few trained operators for the famed R2-D2 droid from the Star Wars franchise and engineered the Energizer Bunny’s popular rhythmic beat. He also put his electronics expertise into numerous film projects, working as a visual effects artist in the Star Wars, Matrix, Terminator, and Jurassic Park franchises, among other films. He died in Los Angeles, California after suffering a brain aneurysm on July 13, 2020.

Zizi Jeanmaire (96) French ballerina, cabaret singer, and actress whose gamine haircut, corseted costume, and charismatic, erotic performance made an indelible impression in the 1949 ballet Carmen. In 1952 she appeared in the film Hans Christian Andersen with Danny Kaye. Over the course of a 60-year career, Jeanmaire reinvented herself continuously, beginning as a classical dancer whose greatest roles were choreographed by her husband, Roland Petit. She danced with Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, among other illustrious names. Jeanmaire was celebrated for her artistic range, androgynous sexiness, and husky-voiced charm. She died in Tolochenaz, Switzerland, overlooking Lake Geneva, on July 17, 2020.

Phyllis Somerville (76) actress with a lengthy career of roles in film, on TV, and in Broadway productions. A native of Iowa, Somerville moved to New York in the ‘70s. Most recently she appeared onstage in the Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird. On TV she appeared on The Big C and NYPD Blue. She was in films like Arthur and was among The Curious Case of Benjamin Button cast members nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. Her last film credit was Poms, in which she appeared alongside Diane Keaton and Pam Grier in a comedy about older women who form a cheer-leading squad. On The Big C, Somerville played the foul-mouthed neighbor to Laura Linney’s character, a strait-laced history teacher who is given a grim cancer prognosis. Somerville died in New York City on July 16, 2020.

Victor Victor (71) as a university student in the Dominican Republic, Víctor had plans to become a psychologist. But then he found music. A singer, songwriter, and producer, he also worked to bring theater, music, and dance lessons to underprivileged communities. He died of Covid-19 in Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, on July 16, 2020.

Politics and Military

John Lewis (80) US congressman (D-Ga.), son of sharecroppers and an apostle of nonviolence who was bloodied at Selma and across the Jim Crow South in the historic struggle for racial equality, then carried a mantle of moral authority into Congress. Images of Lewis's beating at Selma shocked the nation and led to swift passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. He was later called the conscience of the Congress. Lewis announced on December 29, 2019 that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and vowed to fight it with the same passion with which he had battled racial injustice. He died in Atlanta, Georgia on July 17, 2020.

Zindzi Mandela (59) daughter of South African antiapartheid leaders Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Zindzi Mandela had been South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark since 2015. She came to international prominence in 1985 when the white minority government offered to release her father from prison if he denounced violence perpetrated by his movement, the Africa National Congress, against apartheid, the brutal system of racial discrimination enforced in South Africa at that time. His daughter read his letter rejecting the offer at a packed public meeting that was broadcast around the world. In 2019 she stirred controversy by calling for the return of the white-owned land to South Africa’s dispossessed black majority. She died in Johannesburg, South Africa on July 13, 2020.

Ian McRae (90) head of South Africa's state-owned electrical utility during that country's struggle against apartheid. McRae, a white South African, flouted the country’s racial laws to deliver power to the underserved townships to which black people were consigned. In 1947 he went to work as a mechanical apprentice at South Africa’s Electricity Supply Commission, which became known as Eskom. He worked his way up to chief executive and chairman, positions he held from 1985 until he retired in ‘94, the year all-race elections ended apartheid and delivered the presidency to Nelson Mandela. Ten years before the election, McRae and Eskom flouted the nation’s apartheid policy and contributed to the country’s social transformation. They provided electrical power to the segregated urban areas reserved for nonwhites; upgraded the utility distribution systems in Angola, Lesotho, and Mozambique with the intention of integrating them into a subcontinental power grid; and hired and trained black workers to manage and maintain new power plants as demand for electricity grew. McRae died of the coronavirus in Bedfordview, a suburb of metropolitan Johannesburg, South Africa, on July 12, 2020.

Society and Religion

Rev. C. T. Vivian (95) civil rights veteran who worked alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and later led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Vivian’s civil rights work stretched back more than 60 years to his first sit-in demonstrations in the ‘40s in Peoria, Illinois. He met King soon after the budding civil rights leader’s victory in the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott. Vivian helped to organize the Freedom Rides to integrate buses across the South and trained waves of activists in nonviolent protest. It was his bold challenge to a segregationist sheriff while trying to register black voters in Selma, Alabama that sparked hundreds, then thousands, to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965. Vivian died in Atlanta, Georgia on July 17, 2020.


David Lewis (65) key member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 1979 team that reached the National Football Conference title game, capping the franchise’s “worst to first” transformation. Lewis was a second-round pick at outside linebacker by the Buccaneers in 1977 and played for them until ‘81, including an appearance in the ‘80 Pro Bowl. The Bucs won 10 games in 1979 after having won just seven in the franchise’s previous three seasons. Lewis also played for the San Diego Chargers in 1982 and the Los Angeles Rams in ’83. After leaving the NFL, he began a long prep coaching career. He coached at Tampa Catholic High School from 1986–90, compiling a 33-19 record and winning a district title. He died in Tampa, Florida on July 14, 2020.

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