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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, August 8, 2020

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Dr. Hawa Abdi, Somali physician and activistFrances Allen, computer scientist and researcherBernard Bailyn, US historianEric Bentley, author, playwright, and theater criticDoris Buffett, philanthropist sister of multibillionaire Warren BuffettBrent Carver, Tony-winning Canadian stage actor and singerHorace Clarke, Yankees second basemanRon Deaton, former LA City. Council legislative analystLeon Fleisher, US pianist who lost, then regained use of right handWayne Fontana, '60s singer with MindbendersJulio Gosdinski, co-owner of LA's Griffith Park carouselShirley Ann Grau, Pulitzer-winning novelistPete Hamill, newspaper columnist and authorJohn Hume, Irish politicianRichard Lapointe, whose murder conviction was overturnedVicky Lindsey, antiviolence advocateBrent Scowcroft, US national security adviser to two presidentsLorenzo Soria, president of Golden Globes groupRabbi Adin Steinsaltz, translator of Talmud

Art and Literature

Shirley Ann Grau (91) Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer whose stories and novels told of both the dark secrets and the beauty of the Deep South. Grau won the 1965 Pulitzer for her fourth book, The Keepers of the House. The book drew critical praise but also threatening phone calls for its depiction of a long romance between a wealthy white man and his black housekeeper in rural Alabama. Grau said Ku Klux Klansmen, angry over the book amid the heat of the civil rights movement, tried to burn a cross on her yard in Metairie, a New Orleans suburb. They apparently forgot to bring a shovel and couldn’t drive the cross into the ground, so set it on fire flat on the lawn. Grau died of a stroke near New Orleans, Louisiana on August 3, 2020.

Business and Science

Dr. Hawa Abdi (73) physician and human rights activist who treated and safeguarded the lives of tens of thousands of Somalis during turbulent years defined by war, famine, and displacement. Abdi rose to prominence in the mid-‘90s after the outbreak of civil war in Somalia, which wreaked havoc across the country and caused extensive damage to its economy and infrastructure. At the time Abdi was running a small clinic that she had opened on her family’s land in 1983, assisting women with birth and promoting health care for children. She died in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on August 5, 2020.

Frances Allen (88) computer scientist and researcher who helped to create the fundamental ideas that allow practically anyone to build fast, efficient, and useful software for computers, smartphones, and websites. Allen died of Alzheimer’s disease on her 88th birthday in Schenectady, New York on August 4, 2020.

Doris Buffett (92) retail philanthropist who once declared that her billionaire younger brother, Warren Buffett, “loves to make money, and I love to give it away.” Doris Buffett had been a benefactor in her own right when her brother, one of the world’s most successful investors, announced his intention in 2006 to donate nearly his entire fortune before he died, opening the gates to a flood of supplicants. At the time his wealth was estimated at $44 billion. Doris Buffet died in Rockport, Maine on August 4, 2020.

Julio Gosdinski (49) for decades children have come from all over to ride the Griffith Park carousel in Los Angeles. What often kept them coming back was the friendly man with the big smile who operated the nearly 100-year-old merry-go-round. A native of Peru who began working at the attraction as a teenager, Gosdinski became so devoted to it that the owner eventually made him co-owner. He died in his sleep in Los Angeles, California on August 7, 2020.


Bernard Bailyn (97) whose award-winning books on early American history reshaped the study of the origins of the American Revolution. Although his name may not ring a bell with the legions of readers who devour best-selling books on the founding of America, few historians since World War II have left an imprint on that field of study that rivals Bailyn’s. From the beginning his work was innovative. He was among the first historians to mine statistics from historical records with a computer, and his insights and interpretations, notably in his classic 1967 work, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, could be groundbreaking. Bailyn died of heart failure in Belmont, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, on August 7, 2020.


Richard Lapointe (74) whose conviction in the killing of his wife’s grandmother was overturned after he spent nearly 26 years in prison. Lapointe, whose lawyers said he had Dandy-Walker syndrome, a congenital brain malformation, was freed from prison in 2015 after the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling, overturned his conviction, and ordered a new trial in the 1987 stabbing, rape, and strangulation of 88-year-old Bernice Martin in Manchester. Lapointe was convicted in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release, with key evidence including confessions he made during a nearly 10-hour interrogation by Manchester police. His lawyers argued his mental disability made him vulnerable to giving false confessions. The Supreme Court ruled 4-2 in 2015 that Lapointe was deprived of a fair trial because prosecutors failed to disclose notes by a police officer that may have supported an alibi defense. Later that same year, prosecutors said new DNA testing did not implicate Lapointe, and all the charges were dropped. He died in East Hartford, Connecticut after having battled the coronavirus, on August 4, 2020.

News and Entertainment

Eric Bentley (103) author, playwright, and theater critic, an unsparing antagonist of Broadway. Bentley was among that select breed of scholar who moves easily between academic and public spheres. His criticism found its way into classroom syllabuses and general-interest magazines. Also a playwright, he was an early champion of modern European drama in the ‘40s but had little use for American plays. He died in New York City on August 5, 2020.

Brent Carver (68) sensitive, soft-spoken yet emotional Canadian actor and singer who won a Tony Award for his starring role in the 1993 musical Kiss of the Spider Woman. In his review of the show, New York Times critic Frank Rich praised Carver's portrayal of Molina, a gay window dresser who escapes the psychological horrors of a Latin American prison through movie-musical fantasies (performed by Chita Rivera), and “arrives at his own heroic definition of masculinity.” Carver, Rich wrote, was “riveting.” The actor died in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada on August 4, 2020.

Leon Fleisher (92) leading American pianist in the ‘50s and early ’60s who was forced by an injury to his right hand to channel his career into conducting, teaching, and mastering the left-hand repertoire, such as Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. Years later, Fleisher made a triumphant two-handed comeback. He was still teaching and conducting master classes online as recently as last week. He died in Baltimore, Maryland on August 2, 2020.

Wayne Fontana (74) British Invasion-era singer best known for his 1965 hit song “Game of Love.” Fontana, who made a name performing as Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders, found brief success with the band when “Game of Love” hit No. 1 on the US Billboard chart the week of April 24, 1965. He died of cancer in Stockport, England on August 6, 2020.

Pete Hamill (85) newspaper columnist whose love affair with New York inspired his journalistic career and produced several books of fiction and nonfiction. A columnist for the New York Daily News, the New York Post, Newsday, the Village Voice, New York magazine, and Esquire, Hamill wrote screenplays, several novels, and a best-selling memoir. He was one of the city’s last crusading columnists and links to journalism’s days of clattering typewriters and smoked-filled banter, an Irish-American who related to the underdog and mingled with the elite. He was at ease quoting poetry and Ernest Hemingway, dating Jacqueline Onassis, or enjoying a drink and a cigarette at the old Lion’s Head tavern in Greenwich Village. His topics ranged from baseball, politics, murders, boxing, and riots to wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Ireland. But he would always look back to the New York he grew up in, a predigital age best remembered through black and white photography—a New York of egg creams and five-cent subway rides, stickball games and wide-brimmed hats, when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn and there were more daily papers than you could count on one hand. Hamill died of heart and kidney failure in Brooklyn, New York on August 5, 2020.

Lorenzo Soria (68) Hollywood Foreign Press Association president who oversaw the organization that puts on the annual Golden Globe Awards. In June 2019 Soria was elected president of the HFPA, a group of roughly 90 international journalists based in Los Angeles who cover the entertainment business for various publications around the world. Despite its relatively small size, the group, founded in 1943, holds considerable sway during awards season. Soria, who was reelected in June 2020, had previously been president of the organization from 2003–05 and from ‘15–17. Born in Argentina and raised in Italy, Soria moved to LA in 1982, where he covered Hollywood, politics, technology, and other fields for the Italian publications L’Espresso and La Stampa. The HFPA recently drew some fire for the lack of any female nominees among this year’s picks in the best director category. Soria said the group votes for accomplishment, not gender. He died in Los Angeles, California on August 7, 2020.

Politics and Military

Ron Deaton (77) behind-the-scenes player, advising and influencing the Los Angeles City Council on its most urgent issues while staying out of the public eye. Deaton, the city’s chief legislative analyst from 1993–2004, offered his expertise as the council responded to the ‘94 Northridge earthquake, dealt with the aftermath of major civil unrest, and battled a years-long campaign to break up the city. When the mayor and the council were at odds, or council members weren’t speaking to one another, Deaton was a valuable go-between. He died in Ensenada, Mexico on August 4, 2020.

John Hume (83) Irish politician who won a Nobel Peace Prize for coming up with the agreement that ended violence in his native Northern Ireland. As Catholic leader of the moderate Social Democratic & Labour Party, Hume was seen as the principal architect of Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace agreement. He shared the prize later that year with the Protestant leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble, for their efforts to end the sectarian violence that plagued the region for 30 years and left more than 3,500 people dead. Hume died in Derry, Ireland on August 3, 2020.

Brent Scowcroft (95) played a prominent role in American foreign policy as national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush and was a Republican voice against the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Scowcroft was the only person to serve as national security adviser to two different administrations. His appointment by Ford in 1975 came as Scowcroft retired from the US Air Force with the rank of lieutenant general. He advised Bush, by then a close friend, during the four years of the Bush administration, 1989–93. In a study of Scowcroft’s career, historian David F. Schmitz noted that he had been at the center of numerous post-Vietnam War discussions of American foreign policy. He was part of the presidential administrations that grappled with US responses to the collapse of communism in Europe, the crackdown in China after the Tiananmen Square protests, and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War. Scowcroft died in Falls Church, Virginia on August 6, 2020.

Society and Religion

Vicky Lindsey (62) had a saying: get involved by choice, not by force. Lindsey lived by her own mantra. Even before her 19-year-old son, Lionel E. L. Whiteside Jr., was killed in November 1995 after attending a high school football game, she was involved in antiviolence efforts in her Compton, California neighborhood. Over the years Lindsey could be seen at candlelight vigils, crime scenes, or huddled with support groups, offering solace to bereaved mothers of homicide victims. She also became a respected advocate for survivors of violence, often working to connect families to resources while educating the community about the toll a homicide can take on a mother. She had contracted COVID-19 but died of breast cancer in Torrance, California on August 2, 2020.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (83) scholar of the bedrock Jewish texts who spent 45 years writing a 45-volume translation of and commentary on the Babylonian Talmud and made it accessible to hundreds of thousands of readers. Steinsaltz died of acute pneumonia in Jerusalem, Israel on August 7, 2020.


Horace Clarke (82) light-hitting second baseman for the New York Yankees who became associated with the team’s lean years in the ‘60s and ’70s—what some labeled “the Horace Clarke era.” Clarke was a solid, dependable player, but he had the misfortune of joining the Yankees just as the team was about to tumble from the heights of greatness. He died of Alzheimer’s disease in Laurel, Maryland on August 5, 2020.

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