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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, November 28, 2020

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Lon Adams, created current formula for Slim Jim beef jerky sticksBruce Carver Boynton, civil rights pioneerOthella Dallas, one of last surviving members of Katherine Dunham Dance Co.David N. Dinkins, first black mayor of NYCPaolo Gabriele, Vatican butler who stole Pope Benedict's papersTony Hsieh, retired CEO of Zappos shoesHelen LaFrance, rural Kentucky artistEdward P. Lazear, Stanford labor economistSara Leland, principal dancer with NYC BalletJoe Luna, LA comedian known as Joe El CholoDavid Maas, half of husband-wife 'quick change' actHamish MacInnes, Scottish mountaineerDiego Maradona, Argentine soccer starDave Prowse, British actor who played Darth Vader in 'Star Wars' filmsPat Quinn, cofounder of ALS ice bucket challengeJimmy Rabbitt, LA radio disk jockey and singerFlor Silvestre, Mexican singer and actressDaniel M. Tellep, aerospace engineer and first CEO of Lockheed/Martin MariettaCamilla Wicks, violin soloistJames D. Wolfensohn, two-term president of World Bank

Art and Literature

Helen LaFrance (101) black Kentucky artist whose painted memories of rural life in Kentucky are featured in US and European museums and in the collections of well-known personalities including Oprah Winfrey. LaFrance was self-taught, and her works show people at church, family gatherings, funerals, and other aspects of small-town life in western Kentucky. One of her first known public works is a mural in the St. James AME Church in Mayfield, completed in 1947. LaFrance also worked in wood carving and quilting. She died in Mayfield, Kentucky on November 22, 2020.


Business and Science

Lon Adams (95) man who created the formula for Slim Jim beef jerky sticks. Adams was a World War II veteran who survived the Battle of the Bulge despite being shot in the head. While Slim Jims were first created in 1928, the current formula is Adams’ work. It was described in 1996 as a lengthy process that calls for processed ground beef, chicken meat, and other parts, along with a range of spices and chemicals. Adams worked on the jerky recipe for more than 20 years at GoodMark Foods in Garner, North Carolina, from 1968 until his retirement in ’91. Food processor Conagra Brands bought GoodMark Foods in 1998. Adams contracted the coronavirus as a resident of an assisted living facility in Raleigh, NC that had experienced an outbreak of cases. He tested positive for the virus and died about a week later, on November 28, 2020.

Tony Hsieh (46) retired chief executive of Las Vegas-based online shoe retailer Zappos.com who spent years working to transform the city’s downtown area. Hsieh recently retired from Zappos after 20 years. He joined the company—then called ShoeSite.com—in 1999. Zappos was sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009, but Hsieh had remained with the company until his retirement. For years he also worked to revitalize downtown Las Vegas, pledging $350 million in 2013 for redevelopment. That same year he moved Zappos’ headquarters into the former Las Vegas City Hall building. He died nine days after suffering injuries in a fire in New London, Connecticut, on November 27, 2020.

Pat Quinn (37) cofounder of the social media ALS ice bucket challenge, which has raised more than $200 million worldwide for Lou Gehrig’s disease research. Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013, a month after his 30th birthday. In 2014 he saw the ice bucket challenge on the social media feed of professional golfer Chris Kennedy, who first dared his wife’s cousin Jeanette Senerchia to take a bucket of ice water, dump it over her head, post a video on social media, and ask others to do the same or to make a donation to charity. Senerchia’s husband had ALS. Quinn and cofounder Pete Frates, along with their teams of supporters, helped to popularize the challenge. Frates, a former Boston College baseball player, died in December 2019 at age 34. When the two picked it up, the phenomenon exploded. Thousands of people participated in the viral trend, including celebrities, sports stars, and politicians. Quinn died of ALS in Yonkers, New York on November 22, 2020.

Daniel M. Tellep (89) aerospace engineer who initiated a merger between Lockheed and Martin Marietta to form the world’s largest military contractor, then became its first chief executive. Tellep was at Lockheed’s helm as the Cold War was ending. Lockheed, based in Calabasas, California, was struggling and looking at potentially diminished demand with the relaxation of global tensions, as was Martin Marietta, led at the time by Norman R. Augustine. The merger, in 1995, created a defense industry behemoth. In 2019 Lockheed Martin net sales were $59.8 billion. Tellep died in Saratoga, California on November 26, 2020.

James D. Wolfensohn (86) escaped a financially pinched Australian childhood to become a top Wall Street deal maker and a two-term president of the World Bank. Wolfensohn was a force on Wall Street for years, helping to rescue the Chrysler Corp. while working for Salomon Brothers and running his own thriving boutique firm before President Bill Clinton nominated him to lead the World Bank, the world’s largest economic development institution. But Wolfensohn also led fund-raising efforts as chairman of Carnegie Hall and headed a revival of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. An accomplished cellist under the tutelage of renowned Jacqueline du Pré (died 1987), he performed at Carnegie Hall every 10 years on his birthday, and as a university fencing champion he was part of Australia’s 1956 Olympic team, competing in Melbourne. He died in New York City on November 25, 2020.


Education

Edward P. Lazear (72) pioneering labor economist at Stanford University who advised President George W. Bush during the financial crisis. Lazear may be best remembered as the founder of a field that has come to be known as personnel economics, which seeks to understand how businesses hire, retain, and pay employees. He also founded the Journal of Labor Economics and the Society of Labor Economists. But perhaps his most critical job was as chairman of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers when the American financial system buckled in the 2000s after a housing and debt bubble had burst, forcing the federal government to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out financial institutions and rescue a sinking economy. Lazear died of pancreatic cancer on November 23, 2020.


Law

Paolo Gabriele (54) Vatican butler convicted of stealing and leaking Pope Benedict XVI’s private papers in 2012. Gabriele’s case was the first of two “Vatileaks” scandals, exposing the internal tumult and turf wars in the Holy See and allegations of corruption and wrongdoing at the highest levels of the Catholic Church. He was arrested in May 2012 after Vatican police found what they called an “enormous” stash of papal documents in his Vatican City apartment that he had stolen from the papal apartments. He told Vatican investigators he had given the documents to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi because he thought Benedict wasn’t being informed of the “evil and corruption” in the Vatican and that exposing it publicly would put the church back on the right track. Gabriele was convicted of aggravated theft by a Vatican tribunal and served a few months of his 18-month sentence in the Vatican police barracks before Benedict pardoned him at Christmas 2012. The Gabriele scandal was believed to have played at least a small part in Benedict’s decision to resign as pope two months later. Gabriele died in Rome, Italy on November 24, 2020.

Paolo Gabriele (54) Vatican butler convicted of stealing and leaking Pope Benedict XVI’s private papers in 2012. Gabriele’s case was the first of two “Vatileaks” scandals, exposing the internal tumult and turf wars in the Holy See and allegations of corruption and wrongdoing at the highest levels of the Catholic Church. He was arrested in May 2012 after Vatican police found what they called an “enormous” stash of papal documents in his Vatican City apartment that he had stolen from the papal apartments. He told Vatican investigators he had given the documents to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi because he thought Benedict wasn’t being informed of the “evil and corruption” in the Vatican and that exposing it publicly would put the church back on the right track. Gabriele was convicted of aggravated theft by a Vatican tribunal and served a few months of his 18-month sentence in the Vatican police barracks before Benedict pardoned him at Christmas 2012. The Gabriele scandal was believed to have played at least a small part in Benedict’s decision to resign as pope two months later. Gabriele died in Rome, Italy on November 24, 2020.

Paolo Gabriele (54) Vatican butler convicted of stealing and leaking Pope Benedict XVI’s private papers in 2012. Gabriele’s case was the first of two “Vatileaks” scandals, exposing the internal tumult and turf wars in the Holy See and allegations of corruption and wrongdoing at the highest levels of the Catholic Church. He was arrested in May 2012 after Vatican police found what they called an “enormous” stash of papal documents in his Vatican City apartment that he had stolen from the papal apartments. He told Vatican investigators he had given the documents to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi because he thought Benedict wasn’t being informed of the “evil and corruption” in the Vatican and that exposing it publicly would put the church back on the right track. Gabriele was convicted of aggravated theft by a Vatican tribunal and served a few months of his 18-month sentence in the Vatican police barracks before Benedict pardoned him at Christmas 2012. The Gabriele scandal was believed to have played at least a small part in Benedict’s decision to resign as pope two months later. Gabriele died in Rome, Italy on November 24, 2020.


News and Entertainment

Othella Dallas (95) one of the last surviving early members of the Katherine Dunham Dance Co., the US's first self-supporting black modern dance troupe, who taught the Afro-Caribbean-influenced Dunham technique in Europe well into her 90s. The sound of conga drums reverberated at Dallas’s studio in Basel, Switzerland for years as she gyrated to their rhythm. Her students watched, eager to learn from a woman who had learned from Dunham, the matriarch of black dance, who died in 2006. Dallas died of lung cancer in Binningen, Switzerland on November 28, 2020.

Sara Leland (79) principal dancer with New York City Ballet who was entrusted with staging George Balanchine’s ballets worldwide even during her performing career and became a beloved ballet master with the company. Leland was a young dancer with the Joffrey Ballet in New York when Balanchine, ballet master in chief of City Ballet, saw her dance in a class and invited her to join his company. In 1960, her first year with City Ballet, Leland was given a principal role in Les Biches, a new ballet by Francisco Moncion. She was promoted to soloist three years later and began to perform principal parts in a wide range of ballets, including Balanchine’s Agon, Symphony in C, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Jerome Robbins’s Interplay; and Frederick Ashton’s Illuminations. Balanchine created a role for her in the “Emeralds” section of his full-length Jewels (1967) and in the short-lived PAMTGG, based on a commercial jingle for Pan American World Airways (1971). Leland died of congestive heart failure in Westwood, New Jersey on November 28, 2020.

Joe Luna (38) Los Angeles comedian who performed under the stage name Joe El Cholo. Luna first opened up about his novel coronavirus journey in November on Instagram, revealing that he had been suffering from chest pains and pneumonia. His last video was filmed the day he died. He speculated that he had contracted the novel coronavirus at his mother-in-law’s house, adding that his partner and kids fell ill as well. Luna died from COVID-19 in Los Angeles, California, just days after being hospitalized and documenting his battle on social media, on November 23, 2020.

David Maas (57) half of a husband-wife magic act that achieved YouTube stardom, performed on some of TV’s biggest stages, and kept basketball fans nationwide nailed to their seats at halftime with their lightning-fast costume changes. In 1996 Maas married Dania Kaseeva, and the couple first performed their “Quick Change” routine that stumped audiences for decades. Garishly dressed from the outset, they would dance around, then cover each other for mere seconds before emerging in new garb, the old outfits nowhere to be found. The illusion was performed under the veil of a sheet, or even a toss of confetti. It landed the duo on programs like The Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen, and a slew of late-night shows, and as guests on Big Brother. Maas died of Covid-19 on November 22, 2020.

Dave Prowse (85) British weightlifter-turned-actor who was the body, although not the voice, of arch-villain Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Prowse was a three-time British weightlifting champion and represented England in weightlifting at the 1962 Commonwealth Games before breaking into movies with roles that emphasized his commanding size, including Frankenstein’s monster in a pair of Hammer Studios horror films. Director George Lucas saw Prowse in a small part in A Clockwork Orange and asked the 6-foot-6-inch actor to audition for the villainous Vader or the Wookie Chewbacca in Star Wars. Prowse later told the BBC he chose Darth Vader because “you always remember the bad guys.” His lines were dubbed by James Earl Jones. Prowse died in London, England on November 28, 2020.

Jimmy Rabbitt (79) pioneering freeform radio disk jockey who helped to expose outlaw country music to southern California. Rabbitt came to prominence during the late ‘60s and early ’70s, a transformational period for rock radio. His popularity in the Los Angeles market may have been greatest during his end-of-the-’60s stint at Pasadena’s KRLA, but it was while DJing at KLAC and KBBQ in the early ’70s that he began weaving country into his rock playlists. He called the blend “outlaw music,” in a phrase that echoed the term “outlaw country” coined by Nashville journalist Hazel Smith at around the same time. Rabbitt became associated with outlaw country, introducing Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings to California audiences while moonlighting as a singer with his band Renegade. His musical career peaked with a songwriting credit on David Allan Coe’s 1976 country hit “Long-haired Redneck.” Rabbitt died on November 25, 2020.

Flor Silvestre (90) Mexican singer-actress. Silvestre became a movie and singing luminary during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema before marrying ranchera icon Antonio Aguilar in 1959. The two became stars with their separate careers but transformed into a supernova when they worked together in 20 films and dozens of songs that get screened and streamed to this day. Silvestre and Aguilar created a traveling rodeo that toured across the US and Mexico for decades. Part musical revue, part horse show, part comedy act, and all about a wholesome night out for the family, their espectáculo played from small towns in the Midwest to six straight sold-out performances at Madison Square Garden to Mexicans who yearned for a taste of the motherland far from home. Silvestre died of natural causes at her family estate in Zacatecas, Mexico on November 25, 2020.

Camilla Wicks (92) concert violinist who started as a child prodigy, having made her debut with an orchestra at age 7 in Long Beach, California. By age 13 Camilla had debuted at New York's Town Hall and played Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic while in her early 20s. Wicks blossomed from prodigy into one of the finest violinists of her time, and she was among the few women in that era to achieve prominence as a violin soloist. She later became a respected teacher. She also performed in her later years with professional groups like the Detroit Symphony, and overseas, especially in Scandinavia. Wicks taught at institutions including the University of Michigan, Rice University, and the Eastman School of Music. She had contracted Covid-19 in April and had been hospitalized for 42 days but had been testing negative for the virus recently. She died in Weston, Florida on November 25, 2020.


Politics and Military

Bruce Carver Boynton (83) civil rights pioneer from Alabama who inspired the landmark “Freedom Rides” of 1961. Boynton was arrested 60 years ago for entering the white area of a racially segregated bus station in Virginia and launching a chain reaction that ultimately helped to bring about the abolition of Jim Crow laws in the South. He contested his conviction, and his appeal resulted in a US Supreme Court decision that prohibited bus station segregation and helped to inspire the “Freedom Rides.” Boynton was not as well known as other civil rights figures, yet both his parents were early civil rights activists. His mother, Amelia Boynton Robinson, was savagely beaten while demonstrating for voting rights in 1965 and was honored by President Barack Obama 50 years later. Bruce Boynton died on November 23, 2020.

David N. Dinkins (93) broke barriers as New York's first black mayor (1990–94) but was doomed to a single term by a soaring murder rate, stubborn unemployment, and his mishandling of a riot in Brooklyn. A calm and courtly figure with a penchant for tennis and formal wear, Dinkins was a dramatic shift from both his predecessor, Ed Koch, and his successor, Rudy Giuliani—two combative and often abrasive politicians in a city with a world-class reputation for impatience and rudeness. But the city he inherited had an ugly side, too. AIDS, guns, and crack cocaine killed thousands of people each year. Unemployment soared, and homelessness was rampant. The city faced a $1.5 billion budget deficit. Dinkins’ low-key, considered approach quickly came to be perceived as a flaw; critics said he was too soft and too slow. His death on November 23, 2020 came just weeks after the death of his wife, Joyce, who died in October at age 89.


Sports

Hamish MacInnes (90) Scotsman who scaled dangerous mountain peaks all over the world, invented lifesaving equipment for climbers, and wrote the definitive book on how to conduct mountain rescues. MacInnes led or took part in 20 major expeditions, including four to Mount Everest. He almost lost his life there in an avalanche in 1975, when he was deputy leader of one of the most spectacular ascents in the history of climbing: a trek up Everest’s southwest face led by British mountaineer Chris Bonington. In his many decades on mountains, MacInnes was believed to be lost or dead on at least six occasions, sometimes during attempts to rescue other people. That’s not counting the time he pressed on up the Bonatti pillar of the Dru in the French Alps with a fractured skull from a rockfall. His ability to scale sheer cliffs and to negotiate rocky terrain led Clint Eastwood and the Monty Python troupe to enlist him as a consultant on their films. MacInnes died of cancer in Glencoe, in the Scottish Highlands, on November 22, 2020.

Diego Maradona (60) Argentine soccer great who scored the “Hand of God” goal in 1986 and led his country to that year’s World Cup title before later struggling with cocaine use and obesity. One of the most famous moments in the history of the sport, the “Hand of God” goal, came when Maradona punched the ball into England’s net during the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals. England said the ball went in off Maradona’s hand, not his head. Maradona himself gave conflicting accounts of what had happened over the years, at one point attributing the goal to divine intervention, to “the hand of God.” He died of a heart attack two weeks after being released from a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina after brain surgery, on November 25, 2020.


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