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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 criticSalome Bey, 'Canada's first lady of the blues'Doris Buffett, philanthropist sister of multibillionaire Warren BuffettBarbara Caplan, psychologistBrent Carver, Tony-winning Canadian stage actor and singerHorace Clarke, Yankees second basemanDeidre Davis Butler, advocate for disability rightsRon Deaton, former LA City. Council legislative analystLeon Fleisher, US pianist who lost, then regained use of right handWayne Fontana, '60s singer with MindbendersBilly Goldenberg, Emmy-winninng composer of TV themesJulio Gosdinski, co-owner of LA's Griffith Park carouselShirley Ann Grau, Pulitzer-winning novelistPete Hamill, newspaper columnist and authorMatt Herron, photojournalist and glider pilotLane Hirabayashi, historian of WWII Japanese-American prison campsJohn Hume, Irish politicianChristine Jahnke, communications coachRichard Lapointe, whose murder conviction was overturnedDouglas A. J. Latchford, collector of Cambodian artifactsVicky Lindsey, antiviolence advocateLe Kha Phieu, ousted Vietnamese leaderJames ('Tootie') Robbins, offensive lineman with Cardinals, PackersRobert Ryland, first black pro tennis playerBrent Scowcroft, US national security adviser to two presidentsLorenzo Soria, president of Golden Globes groupKonrad Steffen, Arctic scientistRabbi Adin Steinsaltz, translator of TalmudConstance Weldon, first woman tubist in major US symphony orchestra

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.

Douglas A. J. Latchford (88) collector of Cambodian antiquities who earned praise for his scholarly works on Khmer Empire art, only to be indicted in 2019 by American prosecutors for illicitly trafficking in the self-same objects. Latchford was known for 50 years as a cultured accumulator of museum-quality Khmer sculptures and jewels. In 2008 the Cambodian government granted him the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Monisaraphon, the equivalent of a knighthood, for donating money and exhibits to its state museums. But Latchford had ardent detractors, among them archaeologists and antiquities trackers. Some accused him of acquiring treasures he knew to have been stolen from remote, thousand-year-old Khmer temples and of operating on the margins of the Southeast Asian antiquities trade. In November 2019 federal prosecutors in New York accused him of trafficking in looted Cambodian relics and falsifying documents. in the end he was indicted not for looting but for wire fraud, smuggling, and filing false customs documents. The same Cambodian officials who had feted him for his donations of Khmer rarities quietly aided the prosecutors. Latchford died in Bangkok, Thailand of organ failure brought on by Parkinson’s disease, on August 2, 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.

Barbara Caplan (93) was trained as a psychologist and built a career by predicting what consumers would want, when, and why. Caplan was also a trend-setter herself among women in the workplace. After raising five children, she enrolled in graduate school, earned a master’s degree, taught child psychology at Pace University in Manhattan, and was drawn to the marketing research firm established in 1958 by public opinion analyst Daniel Yankelovich. There she advised major companies and organizations—including American Express, Avon, General Mills, and the American Association of Retired Persons—about how best to tailor their promotional and advertising strategies to reflect and anticipate changes in how Americans spent their time and money. As a vice president, associate director, and partner in the firm, based in Westport, Connecticut, Caplan offered the kind of homespun advice that she had learned on her own. She joined the firm in the mid-‘70s and retired in 2005. She died in Dedham, Massachusetts, outside Boston, on August 7, 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.

Christine Jahnke (57) communications coach who prepared Democrat women to run for office and helped others, including Michelle Obama early in her White House years, to become comfortable with public speaking. Jahnke spent 30 years helping women to find their voices, whether in speeches, interviews, or debates, and whether they were seeking office themselves or campaigning on behalf of others. Besides advising senators, governors, members of Congress, and candidates for local office, she consulted for groups like Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood, and Amnesty International and events like the Million Mom March for gun control laws in 2000 and the Women’s March on Washington in ’17. Jahnke was a backstage fixture at the previous five Democrat National Conventions as speakers rehearsed their remarks, guiding them on how to work with the teleprompter, read the audience, and sharpen their message. She died of colon cancer in Washington, DC on her 57th birthday, August 4, 2020.

Konrad Steffen (68) Arctic scientist whose work showed that climate change is melting Greenland’s vast ice sheet with increasing speed. Steffen was killed in an accident near a research station he created there 30 years ago. He fell into a crevasse in the ice and drowned in the deep water below, on August 8, 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.

Lane Hirabayashi (67) one of the US’s leading scholars on the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II who spent decades trying to keep memories of the prison camps from being swept to the back pages of history. The son of concentration camp survivors, Hirabayashi plowed through field notes from the camps, interviewed photographers tasked with making the forced confinements seem like a pleasurable experience to the rest of the US, and dove into the back story of his own uncle, Gordon Hirabayashi, who was imprisoned when he protested the roundup of Japanese-Americans after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Gordon Hirabayashi’s legal fight reached the US Supreme Court, and although the court ruled against him, his case was cited again and again as President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which blamed the wartime imprisonment of Japanese-Americans on racial prejudice and failed political leadership. Lane Hirabayashi died of cancer in Santa Monica, California on August 8, 2020.


Deidre Davis Butler (64) when she was a girl growing up in New Jersey, Deidre Davis was an unlikely sight on the tennis court. A spinal tumor had impaired her mobility—later in life she was in a wheelchair—but her father had taught her how to play the net in her own particular way. That determination carried her through law school and into a career shaping laws and policies that affect people with disabilities, both in government and in the private sector. She was an important figure during the development of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which she helped to draft, and in the years immediately after its passage, when attention turned to carrying out its guarantees. Beginning in the mid-‘90s Davis Butler was a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department representing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a job that had her traveling the globe making sure that American embassies and other government entities were meeting civil rights and disability rights guidelines. She died in Rogers, Arkansas 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.

Salome Bey (86) in 1978 Bey gathered black actors and musicians together for a rehearsal of Indigo, a musical revue she wrote and starred in about the evolution of the blues. The show was considered a watershed moment in Toronto’s small musical community. Largely an all-black production, Indigo got rave reviews, played for more than a year to sold-out crowds, and won two Dora Mavor Moore Awards, the city’s theater award, the first year they were given. Bey became an institution in Canada for her soulful singing, which earned her the title “Canada’s first lady of the blues.” But she was much more: was an actress, a playwright, and a director of musicals who broke ground in Canada by creating theater opportunities for black people. Bey had suffered from dementia for 16 years. She died in Toronto, Canada on August 8, 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.

Billy Goldenberg (84) Emmy-winning composer who worked with Barbra Streisand and Elvis Presley, scored Steven Spielberg’s early work, and wrote the theme music for more than a dozen TV series, including Rhoda and Kojak. Goldenberg won an Emmy for the score of the 1975 TV musical, Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, which made it to Broadway in '78 as Ballroom. New York Fire Department personnel found his body at his home after he had failed to answer his door for a delivery. Goldenberg died of heart failure overnight in New York City on August 3–4, 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.

Matt Herron (89) photojournalist who memorialized the most promising moments from the front lines of the ‘60s civil rights movement in the Deep South. Herron was a longtime political and social activist and photographer whose spirit of adventure took him all over the world. He embarked on an 18-month sailing voyage to Africa with his family, got in the way of whalers trying to harpoon their prey, and was chased by police during the civil rights struggle of the '60s. In July 2014, a then-82-year-old Herron spent a week gliding over the Nevada desert with his son. Herron was flying his new self-launching glider (had learned to fly at 70) when it crashed about 125 miles northwest of Sacramento, California after taking off from Lampson Field in Lakeport, on Clear Lake. He died at the scene, on August 7, 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.

Constance Weldon (88) first woman tubist to earn a position in a major American symphony orchestra, first with the Boston Pops in 1955, then with the North Carolina Symphony; the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, Netherlands; the Kansas City Philharmonic; and the Miami Philharmonic. Weldon retired in 1991 as assistant dean for undergraduate studies at the University of Miami’s School of Music, now the Frost School of Music. She died in Southport, North Carolina 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.

Le Kha Phieu (88) career military man whose tenure as a hardline leader of Vietnam ended in 2001 when he was removed from office amid unusually public in-fighting. The Central Committee for the Protection & Health Care of Officials said he died “after a period of illness,” which it attributed to “his old age and weak strength.” Le died in Hanoi, Vietnam on August 7, 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.

James ('Tootie') Robbins (62) offensive linemen are football’s unsung heroes. They sacrifice their large bodies to protect quarterbacks and make way for running backs. Their jobs are essential, yet their success is reflective. Robbins, known as Tootie, was one of those strong, silent types during his 12 years with the Cardinals and the Packers. Drafted in 1982, he made the NFL all-rookie team and helped the Cardinals, then in St. Louis, to make the playoffs that season. Many losing seasons followed as the team moved to Arizona, and he finished his career with two years in Green Bay. Year after year Tootie was there at right tackle, despite a long list of injuries. He died in Chandler, Arizona of Covid-19-related pneumonia on August 2, 2020.

Robert Ryland (100) first black professional tennis player and for many years a well-regarded coach of younger players and celebrities. Ryland's health had been declining for some time. His wife, Nancy Ingersoll, said they had left their home in Manhattan in March because of the pandemic, so that her son, Raymond Ingersoll, could help with his care. Ryland died of aspiration pneumonia at his stepson’s home in Provincetown, Massachusetts on August 2, 2020.

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