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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, August 1, 2020

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Wilford Brimley, memorable character actorHerman Cain, 2012 Republican presidential candidate and '16 Trump supporterOlivia de Havilland, actress in 'Gone with the Wind,' with sister Joan FontaineMalik B., rapper and founding member of The RootsCarol Brock, food writer who boosted women in male-dominated culinary industryTerry Cannon, baseball superfanConnie Culp, first US patient to receive face transplantWilliam K. English, computer engineerBent Fabric, Danish pianist and songwriterMike Gillespie, college baseball coachGisèle Halimi, French lawyer and feminist activistWarner Henry, LA patron of classical musicJoseph Kernan, Indiana veteran and politicianEusebio Leal Spengler, Cuban historianBill Mack, country music radio disc jockeyAdam Max, investment banker and cultural philanthropistJohn McNamara, former Boston Red Sox managerAlan Parker, eclectic film directorJudith ('Miss Mercy') Peters, rock superfanTom Pollock, Hollywood lawyer and dealmakerDiana Russell, popularized term 'femicide'Reese Schonfeld, cofounder of CNNJames Silberman, book editor at Random House and elsewhereLee Teng-hui, former president of TaiwanRobbie Waters, former police lieutenant and sheriffDr. Charles V. Wetli, forensic pathologistSharon Williams, New Orleans policewoman

Art and Literature

James Silberman (93) book editor whose meticulousness, intuition, and patience helped to propel the publishing careers of a distinguished roster of authors, including James Baldwin, Marilyn French, Hunter S. Thompson, and Alvin Toffler. Silberman died of a stroke in New York City on July 26, 2020.

Business and Science

Carol Brock (96) food writer who helped women to advance in the male-dominated culinary world by starting an organization called Les Dames d’Escoffier New York. As a veteran food journalist at the New York Daily News, Brock noticed what she referred to as a “Pyrex ceiling” limiting women within the food, beverage, and hospitality industries. So in 1976 she founded Les Dames as an offshoot of Les Amis d’Escoffier Society, a principally male gastronomic organization named after French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935). Brock's group offered scholarships and networking alternatives for women. Les Dames is now worldwide, with 45 chapters. Brock died of respiratory failure in Manhasset, New York on July 27, 2020.

Herman Cain (74) former Republican presidential candidate and chief executive of the Godfather's Pizza chain who became an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump. Cain had been ill with the coronavirus for several weeks. It’s not clear when or where he was infected, but he was hospitalized less than two weeks after attending Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20. Cain had been cochair of Black Voices for Trump. A photo taken at the rally showed him, without a mask, sitting closely to other people who also were not wearing any face coverings. He tested positive for COVID-19 on June 29 and was hospitalized July 1 because his symptoms were serious. He died of the virus in Atlanta, Georgia on July 30, 2020.

Connie Culp (57) first patient in the US to receive a face transplant. Culp was the longest-living face transplant patient in the world. She was shot by her husband, Thomas Culp, in 2004, damaging most of her face and leaving her unable to breathe or eat on her own. Her husband, with whom she had a common-law marriage, was sentenced to seven years in prison for aggravated attempted murder and released in 2011. A 23-hour operation in 2008, which replaced her damaged face with that of a recently deceased woman, was the most extensive and complicated face transplant at the time. Around 40 such surgeries have been done worldwide since Culp’s. She died of an infection unrelated to her transplant in Cleveland, Ohio on July 29, 2020.

William K. English (91) on December 9, 1968, the then-small world of computer engineering was shaken to its core by a presentation of new technologies projected onto a screen in a San Francisco hall. The attendees at the historic event saw demonstrations of video conferencing, the first public use of a computer mouse, hyperlinking in which clicking a word in a document transported the user to an entirely new document—and more. The star of the hands-on show was Douglas Engelbart, whose team at the research center SRI (Stanford Research Center) in Menlo Park, California had been developing them for years. But the man who had designed what is known now as “The Mother of All Demos” and was working behind the scenes to make sure everything worked was William K. English. A few years after that event he was recruited to join Xerox Corp.'s newly established Palo Alto Research Center, the legendary Xerox PARC, where he helped to midwife PARC’s invention of the personal computer and other innovations. English died of respiratory failure in San Rafael, California on July 26, 2020.

Adam Max (62) investment manager who became a leading patron of Brooklyn cultural institutions, notably the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where he had been board chairman since 2017. Max was a benefactor of St. Ann’s Warehouse. He and his wife Diane also helped to create a center for women’s history. He was captivated by the venerable BAM after he and Diane were given a gift subscription as a wedding present in 1985. The couple’s gifts to BAM became the largest by individual donors in its history, according to the academy (although it declined to divulge the amount). Max died of bile duct cancer in East Hampton, New York on July 27, 2020.

Dr. Charles V. Wetli (76) Long Island medical examiner thrust into the national spotlight when Trans World Airlines Flight 800 exploded in 1996 and killed all 230 people on board. Wetli was a pioneer in the field of forensic pathology, and his career dovetailed with the emerging use of scientific evidence to solve complex crimes and unexplained deaths. His expertise made him a valuable resource and expert witness for many law enforcement agencies and lawyers in cases across the country. He died of lung cancer in New York City on July 28, 2020.


Eusebio Leal Spengler (77) Cuban historian who oversaw the transformation of crumbling Old Havana to an immaculately restored colonial tourist attraction, becoming the de facto mayor of the historic city center and one of Cuba's most prominent public intellectuals. Leal Spengler and his restoration efforts became so famous along the crowded streets of Havana that it often felt as if he were holding court when he appeared in public, usually in his trademark, simple gray dress shirts and slacks. Elderly women would tell him that the water that had stopped working in their apartment was back on, thanks to him. Others would lodge complaints about their living situation or praise him for reviving Old Havana. He died of pancreatic cancer in Havana, Cuba on July 31, 2020.

Diana Rusell (81) popularized the term “femicide” to highlight the killing of women “because they are women” and to distinguish those killings from other homicides. Russell studied and explored all manner of violence against women, including rape, incest, child abuse, battering, pornography, and sexual harassment, and she was among the first to illuminate the connections between and among those acts. She died of respiratory failure in Oakland, California on July 28, 2020.


Gisèle Halimi (93) French lawyer, activist, and author who championed feminist causes and other human rights efforts for more than 70 years, playing a key role in the decriminalization of abortion in France. As a lawyer, Halimi frequently sought to redress injustices against women and to seek justice for victims of torture in countries like Tunisia and Algeria, both of which were under French control when she began practicing law in the postwar years. Her cases were often high-profile and precedent-setting and helped to shift French laws and attitudes. Halimi died in Paris, France one day after her 93rd birthday, on July 28, 2020.

Robbie Waters (84) won four terms as the only Republican on the Sacramento City Council. Waters once won 98 per cent of the vote. He was a former police lieutenant and sheriff who, in 44 years of public service, crossed paths with newspaper heiress Patty Hearst and Lynette Fromme, the Charles Manson follower generally known as Squeaky; marched in President Ronald Reagan’s inaugural parade; and was hanged in effigy by his own deputies. He also created the sheriff division’s domestic violence unit, coached Little League, ran a hardware store, and wrote an autobiography. A public library was named after him. Waters broke his hip at his Sacramento home on June 30. While he was recovering at a nursing residence, a test revealed that he had the novel coronavirus. He died in Sacramento, California on July 27, 2020.

Sharon Williams (54) in her years with the New Orleans Police Department, Williams had an unusual way of dealing with the many troubled young women she came across, some of them homeless. She “adopted” them, her sister Jashawn Berry Lucius said. The women were invited to “social gatherings, children’ birthday events, Mom and Dad’s anniversary.” Often Williams went to Walmart to purchase clothes for them. She died of the coronavirus outside New Orleans, Louisiana on July 26, 2020.

News and Entertainment

Malik Abdul Basit ('Malik B.') (47) rapper and founding member of The Roots. Malik B. was a major contributor to the group, which includes Ahmir (“Questlove”) Thompson and Tariq (“Black Thought”) Trotter. Malik B. appeared on four albums before departing the group in 1999. The group won its first Grammy in 2000. The Roots, who also perform as the house band on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, paid homage to Malik B. for his rap talents and faith. He returned as a featured guest on the group’s 2006 album Game Theory and Rising Down in ’08. As a solo artist, he released two studio albums titled Street Assault and Unpredictable. He died on July 29, 2020.

Wilford Brimley (85) worked his way up from movie stunt rider to a character actor who brought gruff charm, and sometimes menace, to a range of films that included Cocoon, The Natural, and The Firm. Brimley was a familiar face for several roles, often playing characters like his grizzled baseball manager in The Natural opposite Robert Redford’s bad-luck phenomenon. Brimley also worked with Redford in Brubaker and The Electric Horseman. His best-known work was in Cocoon, in which he was part of a group of seniors who discover an alien pod that rejuvenates them. The 1985 Ron Howard film won two Oscars, including a supporting actor honor for Don Ameche. Brimley also starred in Cocoon: The Return, a 1988 sequel. For years he was a pitchman for Quaker Oats and in recent years appeared in a series of diabetes spots that turned him at one point into a social media sensation. He was on dialysis and had several medical ailments. Brimley died in St. George, Utah on August 1, 2020.

Olivia de Havilland (104) actress beloved to millions as Melanie Wilkes of Gone with the Wind but also a two-time Oscar winner and an offscreen fighter who challenged Hollywood’s contract system. De Havilland was the sister of fellow Oscar winner Joan Fontaine (died 2013). She was among the last of the top screen performers from the studio era and the last surviving lead from Gone with the Wind. The 1939 epic, based on Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling Civil War novel and winner of 10 Oscars, is often ranked as Hollywood’s box office champion (adjusting for inflation), although it is now widely condemned for its glorified portrait of slavery and antebellum life. De Havilland was Errol Flynn’s costar in a series of dramas, Westerns, and period pieces, most memorably as Maid Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). She won an Oscar in 1946 for her performance in To Each His Own. A second Oscar came in 1949 for The Heiress. She died in Paris, France on July 26, 2020.

Bent Fabric (95) Danish pianist who composed and recorded the ubiquitous instrumental hit “Alley Cat.” A simple tune with an old-time feel, it could embed itself in the listener’s ear as if on a continuous loop. In 1962 it became a world-wide hit. Danish news outlets, citing a statement from his family, said Fabric died after a short illness on July 28, 2020.

Warner Henry (82) philanthropist who with his wife, Carol, championed classical music in Los Angeles. A central figure in the rise of classical music in the city, Henry supported numerous arts organizations including the LA Chamber Orchestra, LA Opera, the Colburn School, LA Master Chorale, Camerata Pacifica, and the LA Philharmonic.. The Henrys were key donors to LACO for more than 40 years, giving more than $3 million to the ensemble. They gave more than $10 million to LA Opera, helping to pioneer the company created in 1986. Warner Henry died in Los Angeles, California on August 1, 2020.

Bill Mack (88) longtime country music disc jockey whose “Blue” became a hit for LeAnn Rimes and won a 1996 Grammy Award for Country Music Song of the Year. Mack’s Midnight Cowboy Trucking Show overnight program on clear channel WBAP-AM in Fort Worth kept truckers entertained for decades and earned him a place in the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame. He later hosted programs on satellite radio and the syndicated Country Crossroads. He also wrote “Drinking Champagne,” a song covered by George Strait, Dean Martin. and Willie Nelson. Mack found his niche as a disc jockey working the overnight shift on country radio, speaking to long-haul truckers as they clocked mile after mile on the lonesome road. They anointed him “the midnight cowboy,” coming through on a signal out of Fort Worth that nearly reached Canada. Often the wives of truckers phoned to say that they loved and missed their husbands, and Mack would put them on the air. He died of COVID-19 in Irving, Texas on July 31, 2020.

Alan Parker (76) filmmaker whose diverse output includes Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express, and Evita. A Briton who became a Hollywood heavyweight, Parker also directed Fame, The Commitments, and Mississippi Burning. His movies won 10 Oscars and 19 British Academy of Film & Television Awards (BAFTAs). Parker began his career in advertising as a copywriter and director of commercials. He moved into TV with the critically acclaimed 1974 drama The Evacuees, which won an international Emmy Award. In 1975 he wrote and directed his first feature, Bugsy Malone, an unusual, exuberant musical pastiche of gangster films with a cast of children, including a young Jodie Foster, and followed that with the '78 feature Midnight Express, the reality-based story of an American’s incarceration in a Turkish prison for alleged drug offenses. It won two Oscars—including one for Oliver Stone’s script—and gained Parker the first of two best-director nominations. He died in London, England on July 31, 2020.

Judith ('Miss Mercy') Peters (71) rock ’n’ roll superfan who found fame as a member of Frank Zappa’s “groupie” girl-group the GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously). While they worked as a support act to Alice Cooper, the Stooges, and New York Dolls, the GTOs were less rock band than femme-positive thought experiment and art prank. Rolling Stone described them as a “sociological creation of Frank Zappa’s” in a February 1969 cover story on “rock groupies.” But, in presence and attitude, the GTOs also paved the way for the rowdy all-female groups that emerged in Los Angeles after them, like the Runaways, the Go-Gos, and L7. Judith Peters (“Miss Mercy”), born in Burbank in 1949, was a fixture on the LA music scene for over 50 years. With an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure acts and rare sides, she led a wild life in the ’60s and ’70s counterculture and became an influential figure and style icon herself. She died in Los Angeles, California on July 27, 2020.

Tom Pollock (77) Hollywood lawyer and dealmaker who steered George Lucas through his Star Wars negotiations and was chairman of Universal Studios for 10 years. Pollock also was instrumental in negotiating the Indiana Jones and Superman franchises. in 1986 he left his firm to serve as executive vice president of Music Corporation of America (now defunct) and chairman of Universal Pictures, a post he held until ’96. He oversaw the release of blockbusters including Jurassic Park, Back to the Future and its sequels, Do the Right Thing, Fried Green Tomatoes, Twins, Cape Fear, Parenthood, The Flintstones, Kindergarten Cop, Casper, Waterworld, and Casino. During his tenure, Universal released more than 200 films that grossed in excess of $10 billion worldwide and earned seven Oscar best-picture nominations, including one for 1994 winner Schindler’s List. Pollock died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California on August 1, 2020.

Reese Schonfeld (88) founded the Cable News Network with Ted Turner in the early ‘80s before developing another major cable channel, the Food Network, 10 years later. Schonfeld, who had years earlier run a service that sold nightly packages of news to local TV stations, was skeptical when Turner asked him in 1979 to help start a 24-hour news channel. Turner, the impetuous entrepreneur and yachtsman who owned the Atlanta Braves and the TBS channel, had expressed a dislike for news, Schonfeld said. He joined Turner to create CNN and oversaw its growth before being fired. Afterward he was critical of how CNN had changed. Schonfeld died of Alzheimer’s disease in New York City on July 28, 2020.

Politics and Military

Joseph Kernan (74) US naval aviator who served nearly a year as a prisoner of war after he was shot down over North Vietnam in 1972, then returned to Indiana to serve as a popular mayor, lieutenant governor, and governor. Kernan died of Covid-19 in South Bend, Indiana on July 29, 2020.

Lee Teng-hui (97) former Taiwanese president who brought direct elections and other democratic changes to the self-governed island despite missile launches and other fierce saber-rattling by China. Lee tried to create a separate, non-Chinese identity for Taiwan, angering not only China, which considers the island part of its territory, but also members of his Nationalist Party who hoped to return victorious to the mainland. Lee later openly endorsed formal independence for the island, but illness in his later years prompted him to largely withdraw from public life. Lee spanned Taiwan’s modern history and was native to the island, unlike many who arrived with Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, at the end of the Chinese civil war. At times gruff, at times personable, he left little doubt he was the man in charge in almost any setting. Lee died on July 30, 2020 in Taipei, Taiwan after suffering from infections, cardiac problems, and organ failure since being hospitalized in February.


Terry Cannon (66) created a tongue-in-cheek alternative to the Baseball Hall of Fame with artifacts like a cigar partly smoked by Babe Ruth and inductees like Dock Ellis, who claimed to have pitched a no-hitter on LSD. In the mid-'90s, Cannon turned his love of baseball into the Baseball Reliquary, a nonprofit organization that comprises a collection of unusual objects and includes the Shrine of the Eternals —individuals elected annually more for their unique personalities and achievements than for their statistics or their official place in baseball’s history. Cannon died of bile duct cancer in Pasadena, California on August 1, 2020.

Mike Gillespie (80) played on and coached College World Series title teams with the University of Southern California. Gillespie was an infielder/outfielder on USC’s 1961 CWS championship team and the ‘60 runner-up squad. He was USC’s coach from 1987–2006, leading the Trojans to five Pac-10 titles, 14 NCAA Regional appearances, four CWS berths, and the ‘98 CWS crown. He won 763 games at USC and coached 30 future major leaguers. He coached the US national team in 2000. Gillespie was one of only two men to play on and coach a CWS championship baseball team. In 2007 he managed the Staten Island Yankees in the minors’ New York-Penn League. He was UC Irvine’s coach from 2008–18, when he became the winningest baseball coach in school history with 393 victories. He led the Anteaters to five NCAA Regional appearances, including a trip to the CWS in 2014 and at least 30 wins every season. In his 31-year Division I coaching career, Gillespie won 1,156 games and was national coach of the year in 1998 and 2014. He died from recent lung issues and a stroke, on July 29, 2020.

John McNamara (88) managed the Boston Red Sox to within one strike of a World Series victory in 1986 before an unprecedented collapse on the field extended the team’s championship drought into the new millennium. A weak-hitting catcher who first signed with the St. Louis Cardinals but never made it past Triple-A, McNamara won—and lost—more than 1,000 games while managing six major league teams. He took over in Boston, his fifth, in 1985 and guided the Red Sox to the American League pennant in ’86. Trying to end a title drought dating to 1918, Boston held a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven World Series against the New York Mets. The Red Sox went ahead 5-3 in the 10th inning of Game 6 at Shea Stadium before a tumultuous series of mistakes allowed the National League champions to tie the score, then win it when Mookie Wilson’s groundball rolled through first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs. The Mets won Game 7, leaving Boston without a championship until they finally won it all in 2004. McNamara stayed with the Red Sox into the 1988 season, when he was fired at the All-Star break with a 43-42 record. He died unexpectedly in Tennessee on July 28, 2020.

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