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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, October 31, 2020

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Sean Connery, first actor to play secret agent James BondHerb Adderley, Hall of Fame cornerbackRance Allen. gospel singer and songwriterBobby Ball, right, British TV comedian and actor, with comedy partner Tommy CannonJoan Bingham, editor of Grove AtlanticRosanna Carteri, Italian operatic sopranoCecila Chiang, brought real Chinese cuisine to USPearl Chin, founder of NYC's Knitty City yarn shopDiane di Prima, Beat Generation feminist poetSindika Dokolo, Congolese art collectorDavid Easton, architect and interior designerEddie Johnson, fallen basketball starLee Kun-hee, South Korean chairman of SamsungDr. Philip R. Lee, physician who established Medicare for President Lyndon JohnsonDaniel Menaker, editor in chief at Random House publishersRobert Murray, board chairman of US coal companyJan Myrdal, Swedish writerJmmy Orr, Baltimore Colts' receiverTravis Roy, motivational speakerPaul Shanley, disgraced priestBilly Joe Shaver, country songwriter and singerArchie Spigner, longtime NYC city councilmanJuan R. Torruella, US federal judge who helped to overturn death sentence of Boston Marathon bomberAlexander Vedernikov, Russian conductor

Art and Literature

Joan Bingham (85) played a key role in a merger that created the Grove Atlantic publishing house, then served almost 30 years as its executive editor, acquiring and producing numerous titles, including Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss and collections by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Kay Ryan. Bingham helped to found Grove Atlantic in 1993 by the merger of Grove Weidenfeld and the Atlantic Monthly Press. She had married into the wealthy Bingham family, whose media holdings included the Kentucky newspapers the Louisville Times and the Courier-Journal. Her husband, Robert Worth Bingham 3rd, was thought to be destined for a prominent role in the family business, but he was killed in a freak accident in 1966. Joan Bingham made her own mark. In 1984 she was founding publisher of the Washington Weekly, a short-lived publication that covered politics and culture in Washington. She died of pneumonia in New York City on October 31, 2020.

Diane di Prima (86) feminist poet and Beat Generation cohort of Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac. Di Prima published more than 40 poetry collections, novels, and memoirs; championed other feminist authors; was arrested for obscenity; read a fiery one-line poem titled “Get Yer Cut Throat off My Knife” at the Band’s final concert; once lived at Timothy Leary’s psychedelic commune in upstate New York; and in 2009 was named San Francisco's poet laureate by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom. She died of Parkinson's disease in San Francisco, California on October 25, 2020.

Sindika Dokolo (48) wealthy Congolese art collector who crusaded for the return of African art removed during the colonial era by Western museums, art dealers, and auction houses. Dokolo became embroiled this year in investigations into how his Angolan wife had acquired her riches. The owner of a 5,000-piece collection of contemporary African art, he established a foundation in 2013 that uses a network of dealers, researchers, and lawyers working in Brussels and London to monitor the art market and scour archives for African art that might be repatriated. His foundation has so far located 17 artworks and returned 12 to their rightful places. Dokolo was killed in a diving accident off the coast of Dubai on October 29, 2020.

David Easton (83) architect and interior designer who created English-style palaces for an American aristocracy. In 1981 Easton was already an established architect and decorator when Alistair Stair of Stair & Co., an antiques dealer, suggested to Patricia Kluge, who had just married John Kluge, the much older billionaire head of MetroMedia, that Easton was the man to design the estate the couple wanted to build in Charlottesville, Virginia. Easton and Mrs. Kluge met at the Carlyle hotel in Manhattan, and on a cocktail napkin he sketched his design for a 45-room brick manor that the Kluges would call Albemarle House. There were formal English gardens, five lakes carved into the estate’s 6,000 acres, a carriage house and stables, a grotto, a helicopter landing pad, an 850-acre game preserve, and a chapel, for which Easton also designed the vestments of the clergy who would preside there and the crypt below. The house itself was more than 23,000 square feet, and Easton filled it with European and English antiques. Even for its time, at the height of the go-go Reagan years, Albemarle House was considered over the top. Easton died of dementia in Tulsa, Oklahoma on October 29, 2020.

Daniel Menaker (79) nurtured literary celebrities as executive editor in chief of Random House and as a senior fiction editor at the New Yorker. Menaker became a critically praised author himself. Mentored at the New Yorker by storied editors William Shawn and William Maxwell, he oversaw mostly fiction at the magazine and edited reviews by film critic Pauline Kael. As a book editor, he helped to polish the poetry and prose of Noah Baumbach, Michael Chabon, Billy Collins, Ted Conover, Mavis Gallant, Jonathan Kellerman, Colum McCann, Alice Munro, V. S. Pritchett, Salman Rushdie, Gary Shteyngart, Daniel Silva, and Elizabeth Strout. He also edited Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, the best-selling 1996 roman à clef inspired by Bill Clinton’s ‘92 presidential campaign. Its author, columnist Joe Klein, was billed on the cover as “Anonymous” and was unknown even to Menaker and other Random House executives until after the book was published. Menaker died of pancreatic cancer in New Marlborough, Massachusetts on October 26, 2020.

Jan Myrdal (93) Swedish writer who spurned the liberal politics of his famous Nobel-winning parents and embraced communism, Marxism, and Maoism. Myrdal traveled and wrote widely, specializing in Asia. He depicted life in a small Chinese village during the Chinese Revolution, and his writings extolled the virtues of authoritarians. He abhorred the damaging effects of Western imperialism on developing countries. But perhaps nothing in his career got him as much attention as the books he wrote expressing his distaste for his parents, Gunnar and Alva Myrdal. They died in the mid-'80s. Gunnar Myrdal was an economist and sociologist who shared the 1974 Nobel in economic science with Friedrich A. von Hayek and wrote An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem & Modern Democracy (1944), a pioneering study of race. A cabinet minister and Sweden’s ambassador to India, Alva Myrdal shared the 1982 Nobel Peace Prize for her work promoting nuclear disarmament. But to Jan, his parents were cold, cruel, and contemptuous. Jan Myrdal died in Varberg, Sweden on October 30, 2020.


Business and Science

Cecilia Chiang (100) whose San Francisco restaurant, the Mandarin, introduced American diners in the ‘60s to authentic Chinese cuisine. Chiang came to the US from China as a daughter of wealth who had fled the Japanese during World War II, traveling nearly 700 miles on foot. Once in San Francisco, she brought Chinese cuisine from the chop suey and chow mein era into the more refined one of today, enticing diners with the dishes she ate growing up in her family’s converted Ming-era palace in Beijing. The Mandarin, which opened in 1962 as a 65-seat restaurant on Polk Street in the Russian Hill section and later operated on Ghirardelli Square, near Fisherman’s Wharf, offered patrons unheard-of specialties at the time, like potstickers, Chongqing-style spicy dry-shredded beef, peppery Sichuan eggplant, moo shu pork, sizzling rice soup, and glacéed bananas. That was traditional Mandarin cooking, a catch-all term for the dining style of the well-to-do in Beijing, where family chefs prepared local dishes and regional specialties from Sichuan, Shang-hai, and Canton. Chiang died in San Francisco, California on October 28, 2020.

Pearl Chin (71) founder of Knitty City, a yarn shop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that became a sanctuary for urban knitters—even offering a men’s night—and a hub for social activism through the craft arts. When Chin opened her shop, on 79th Street near Amsterdam Avenue in 2006, she had hoped to make it more than a supply stop for yarn. She envisioned it becoming a cozy haven for New York knitters, a place where they could escape the city’s bustle and devote themselves to creation involving only a needle and a ball of thread; and that’s what it became. Chin died of lung cancer in New York City on October 27, 2020.

Lee Kun-hee (78) ailing Samsung Electronics chairman who transformed the small TV maker into a global giant of consumer electronics but whose leadership was also marred by corruption convictions. Lee inherited control of the company from his father, and, during his nearly 30 years of leadership, Samsung Electronics Co. became a global brand and the world’s largest maker of smartphones, TVs, and memory chips. Samsung sells Galaxy phones while also making the screens and microchips that power its major rivals—Apple’s iPhones and Google Android phones. Its businesses encompass ship building, life insurance, construction, hotels, amusement parks, and more. Samsung Electronics alone accounts for 20 per cent of the market capital on South Korea’s main stock exchange. Lee left behind immense wealth, with Forbes estimating his fortune at $16 billion as of January 2017. He had been hospitalized since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack, and his son, Lee Jae-yong, has been running Samsung. Lee Kun-hee died in Seoul, South Korea on October 25, 2020.

Dr. Philip R. Lee (96) as a leading federal health official and fighter for social justice under President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lee wielded government Medicare money as a cudgel to desegregate the nation’s hospitals in the ‘60s. From his office at the Department of Health, Education & Welfare, as assistant secretary for health and scientific affairs from 1965–69, Lee engineered the introduction of Medicare, which was established for older Americans in ‘65, one year after Johnson had bulldozed his landmark civil-rights bill through Congress. He died of heart arrhythmia in New York City on October 27, 2020.

Robert Murray (80) board chairman of American Consolidated Natural Resource Holdings Inc., based in St. Clairsville, Ohio, the largest privately owned US coal operator. The company has active mines in Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Utah. Murray, who long fought federal regulations to reduce black lung disease, was founder, president, and chief executive of the company’s predecessor, Murray Energy, launched in 1988. The company recently emerged from federal bankruptcy protection, with its Chapter 11 plan becoming effective in September. Murray died in St. Clairsville less than a week after announcing his retirement, on October 25, 2020.


Law

Juan R. Torruella (87) Hispanic federal judge in New England who championed the rights of his fellow Puerto Ricans and, in a recent case, joined a decision to overturn the death penalty imposed on a Boston Marathon bomber. Appointed to the federal appeals court by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, Torruella was the first and only Puerto Rican to serve on the First Circuit, which covers Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico. He was elevated to chief judge of the circuit in 1994 and remained in that post until 2001. He had continued to hear cases for the court until his death. In July, Torruella was part of a three-judge panel that unanimously threw out the death penalty imposed on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted Boston Marathon bomber. The panel found that the trial judge had not met the standard of fairness because he had not sufficiently scrutinized sitting jurors for bias. The decision remanded the case to the district court for a new penalty hearing. Torruella died in San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 26, 2020.


News and Entertainment

Bobby Ball (76) had a look that fit his slapstick humor. Ball was a slightly stocky 5-feet-3, with a head of dark, bushy hair, a similarly impressive mustache, a gap-toothed grin, and a habit of snapping his red suspenders. Ball and Tommy Cannon were among Britain’s biggest TV stars in the ‘80s. Cannon & Ball, which ran from 1979–88, drew as many as 20 million viewers on a Saturday night. The show alternated between goofy comedy bits—about things like unpredictably reclining airline seats, obsessive-compulsive bartenders, and a gang encounter involving a very old man—and earnest musical numbers. Between skits, Ball and Cannon would put on tuxedos and sincerely sing well-known songs, often romantic ballads, like “Send in the Clowns” or “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.” Later a sitcom actor, Ball was hospitalized because of breathing problems and tested positive for Covid-19. He died in London, England on October 28, 2020.

Rosanna Carteri (89) Italian soprano whose career came to an early end when she chose to retire in her mid-30s at the height of her artistry. While other divas who rose during the mid-20th century remain alive—among them Virginia Zeani (now 95), Leontyne Price (93), and Renata Scotto (86)—Carteri’s death is a marker on the slow winding-down of an era. She embodied the Italian lyric soprano vocal type. She had the combination of lightness and fullness of sound that was ideally suited to the suffering young heroines of Puccini and Verdi. While celebrated for her sympathetic portrayals of those roles, in operas like La Traviata and La Bohème, her repertory ranged widely during her 17 years onstage. It included works by Poulenc, Handel, Prokofiev, Rossini, and many more, and she sang in many premieres. But the most intriguing aspect of her career may have been her decision to step away from it, in 1966, to care for her young family. She was then at an age when many singers are just gaining steam, and her voice had not lost its vibrancy. Carteri died in Monte Carlo, Monaco on October 25, 2020

Sean Connery (90) Scottish actor who rose to international superstardom as suave secret agent James Bond, then abandoned the role to carve out an Oscar-winning career in other rugged roles. Connery was a commanding screen presence for some 40 years. He was in his early 30s—and little known—when he starred in the first Bond thriller, Dr. No (1962), based on the Ian Fleming novel. Condemned as immoral by the Vatican and the Kremlin but screened at the White House for Bond fan John F. Kennedy, Dr. No was a box office hit and launched a franchise that long outlasted its Cold War origins. United Artists couldn’t wait to make more films about the British secret agent, with ever more elaborate stunts and gadgets, along with more exotic locales and more prominent costars. Connery won his Oscar for supporting actor in 1987 for his portrayal of a tough Chicago cop who joins Elliot Ness’s crime-fighters in The Untouchables. He died in his sleep in the Bahamas on October 30–31, 2020.

Billy Joe Shaver (81) pivotal figure in the outlaw country movement of the ‘70s. Allthough he regularly played gigs through his final years, Shaver’s greatest success came as a songwriter. He wrote a few hits as a Nashville staff writer in the ‘60s but bristled against the confines of the Music City, so headed back to his native Texas, where he wound up at the epicenter of the burgeoning progressive country movement. His reputation was made when Waylon Jennings devoted the bulk of his 1973 album Honky Tonk Heroes to Shaver compositions, including “Black Rose” and “Old Five & Dimers (Like Me).” Shaver died of a stroke in Waco, Texas on October 28, 2020.

Alexander Vedernikov (56) the appointment in 2001 of Russian conductor Vedernikov, then 37, as music director of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow drew international attention. The legendary opera and ballet company had been demoralized for years by infighting, bureaucratic upheavals, hostile reviews, and a decrepit main building. Conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky, the Bolshoi’s artistic director, had just quit in fury over his treatment. Vedernikov promised to shake the institution out of its torpor. Eight years later, in 2009, it was Vedernikov who had had enough. Complaining that the theater “was putting bureaucratic interests before artistic ones,” he resigned on the opening day of the Bolshoi’s summer tour of Italy. He was widely credited with stabilizing artistic standards at the Bolshoi, enhancing the orchestra’s profile as a concert ensemble, and broadening the repertory. He also helped to activate long-delayed plans for a reconstruction of the theater, although it was not completed until 2011. Vedernikov died of Covid-19 in Moscow, Russia on October 29, 2020.


Politics and Military

Archie Spigner (92) New York City councilman, a political kingmaker in southeast Queens for 50 years, helping fellow black politicians to climb the ladder and coaxing jobs and construction projects into his district. Spigner represented his home base on the City Council from 1974–2001, the last 15 of those years as deputy to majority leader Peter F. Vallone. But in his district he was nobody’s second in command. For 50 years—from 1970 until his death—Spigner ran the United Democrat Club of Queens and was a district leader, positions that gave him power to help shape the Democrat Party’s local leadership. In an area that reliably voted Democrat, a nod from Spigner all but ensured election. He died of cancer in Queens, New York on October 29, 2020.


Society and Religion

Rance Allen (71) gospel star whose Rance Allen Group drew upon contemporary sounds for such ‘70s hits as “Ain’t No Need of Crying” and “I Belong to You” and anticipated such crossover gospel artists as the Winans and Amy Grant. Allen was most recently bishop for Church of God in Christ for the Michigan Northwestern Harvest Jurisdiction. He was a singer, songwriter, and musician who formed his group with his brothers Tom and Steve. Another sibling, Esau, occasionally joined them. A promotion man for Stax Records heard them at a Detroit talent contest, and they eventually signed with the label’s Gospel Truth imprint. Lke the Winans and others later on, the Allens inverted the formula of soul performers like Ray Charles who used gospel sounds for secular themes. On “Just My Salvation,” the Allen Group reworked the Temptations melancholy love song “Just My Imagination” into an up-tempo hymn. Rance Allen was nominated for a Grammy in 2009 for best gospel performance for “I Understand,” which featured Mariah Carey and BeBe Winans among others. He died while recovering from a “medical procedure” in Sylvania, Ohio on October 31, 2020.

Paul Shanley (89) former Roman Catholic street priest who played a pivotal role in the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Boston. Shanley was a notorious figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal that exploded in Boston in 2002 after the Boston Globe revealed that dozens of priests had molested and raped children for decades while church supervisors covered it up and shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish. The Vatican defrocked Shanley in 2004 after dozens of men came forward and reported being sexually abused by him. In 2005 he was convicted of raping a boy at a Newton church in the ‘80s and sentenced to 12 years in prison. His release in 2017 triggered a firestorm of protests from some of his victims, who alleged he sexually abused them as children. Internal church records that were made public during the scandal contained documents indicating Shanley had attended a forum with others who later formed the North American Man-Boy Love Association, or NAMBLA, a pedophile advocacy organization. The Boston archdiocese, the fourth-largest in the US with more than 1.8 million Catholics, has called Shanley’s crimes against children “reprehensible.” He died of heart failure in Ware, Massachusetts on October 28, 2020.


Sports

Herb Adderley (81) Hall of Fame cornerback who joined the NFL as a running back and became part of a record six championship teams with the Packers and the Cowboys. Adderley played in four of the first six Super Bowls and won five NFL championships with Green Bay and one with Dallas during his 12-year career. Along with former teammates Fuzzy Thurston and Forrest Gregg, he was one of four players in pro football history to play on six championship teams. Tom Brady is the other. Adderley was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980. He died on October 30, 2020.

Eddie Johnson (65) fell from NBA stardom into drug abuse and a life of crime that resulted in a life sentence for sexually assaulting a young girl. Nicknamed “Fast Eddie” for his explosive first step, Johnson began to use cocaine in college and continued using it during his NBA career. During his professional playing days, he was charged with cocaine possession, writing bad checks, and car theft. He was hospitalized at least twice for treatment of manic-depressive disorder and successfully fled two men shooting at him in a motel parking lot after what the police said was a drug deal gone wrong. When there were no games left to play, Johnson’s life unraveled. By his own count, he was arrested at least 100 times. Between 1987–2001 he was convicted of burglary, battery, drug sale and possession, violently resisting arrest, and grand theft. He committed his most serious crime in 2006. He was convicted of sexual battery and molestation and received a mandatory life sentence. He died in a state prison in Milton, Florida on October 25, 2020.

Jimmy Orr (85) Baltimore Colts’ receiver who teamed with quarterback Johnny Unitas in one of the NFL’s leading passing combinations of the ‘60s. The patch of the end zone at the closed part of Memorial Stadium, the Colts’ home in Orr’s day, became known as Orrsville or Orr’s Corner. Orr gave the Colts a deep threat that complemented the pass catching of Raymond Berry, his fellow wide receiver; John Mackey, the tight end; and Lenny Moore coming out of the backfield. All three were future Hall of Famers, as was Unitas. Orr led the NFL in average yards per catch (27.6) in his rookie season with the 1958 Pittsburgh Steelers, and again in ‘64 and ‘68 with the Colts, who got him in a trade after he played three seasons in Pittsburgh. He caught 66 touchdown passes and had 400 receptions over all. Orr died in Brunswick, Georgia on October 27, 2020.

Travis Roy (45) Boston University hockey player who was paralyzed 11 seconds into his first college game and later became an advocate for spinal cord injury survivors both in- and outside the sports world. Roy was a 20-year-old freshman making his debut for the reigning NCAA champions in the 1995–96 season opener when he crashed head-first into the boards after checking a North Dakota opponent. The accident left him a quadriplegic. From his wheelchair, Roy gave as many as 40 motivational speeches a year; the message he shared: Do the best with what you have and don’t dwell on your misfortune. He died outside Burlington, Vermont of complications from surgery he needed after 25 years in a wheelchair, on October 29, 2020.


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