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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, January 2, 2021

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Mary Catherine Bateson, anthropologist, and her mother, Margaret MeadDr. John Bentson, designer of Bentson guidewireClaude Bolling, jazz pianist and composerPierre Cardin, French fashion designerMaxine Cheshire, former 'Washington Post' society reporterJoe Clark, high school principal who inspired 'Lean on Me'Carrie Dann, Native American land rights activistDr. Lawrence Dorr, pioneering orthopedic surgeonMike Fenton, Hollywood casting directorDr. H. Jack Geiger, physician and civil rights activistNorman Golb, scholar of Dead Sea ScrollsFrank Kimbrough, jazz pianistSunil Kothari, Indian dance critic and scholarMelvis Kwok, Hong Kong Elvis imitatorVic Lepisto, '60s UCLA defensive end outrun by O. J. SimpsonWilliam Link, cocreator of 'Columbo,' 'Murder, She Wrote' with actor Peter FalkFloyd Little, football running backArmando Manzanero, Mexican singer and composerPhyllis McGuire, last of singing McGuire Sisters, at center with sisters Christine and DorothyMarshall McKay, northern California tribal leaderAdolfo ('Shabba Doo') Quiñones, hip-hop dancer and choreographerPaige Rense, former editor of 'Architectural Digest'Arianna Wright Rosenbluth, physicist who helped to develop Metropolis algorithm, then left fieldHarold J. Rubenstein, NYC public relations manRudy Salas, R&B guitaristNeil Sheehan, Pulitzer-winning Vietnam War correspondentIsaac Shoshan, Israeli undercover agentJoan Micklin Silver, pioneering female film directorRichard Thornburgh, former Pennsylvania governor who coped with nuclear meltdownFou Ts'ong, Chinese classical pianistBrian Urquhart, British diplomat, early UN leaderThomas Verdillo, owner of Brooklyn's Tommaso restaurantDawn Wells, played Mary Ann on 'Gilligan's Island'Paul Westphal, basketball Hall of Famer, player and coachLoretta Whitfield, codesigner of Baby Whitney, among first realistic black dollsGeorge Whitmore, rock climber and conservationistEugene Wright, far right, bassist with Dave Brubeck Quartet

Business and Science

Mary Catherine Bateson (81) cultural anthropologist, author of groundbreaking books on women’s lives—who as the only child of anthropologist Margaret Mead (died 1978) had once been one of the most famous babies in America. Bateson’s parents, Mead and Gregory Bateson, an Englishman, were celebrated anthropologists who met in New Guinea while both were studying the cultures there. They treated their daughter’s arrival in 1939 as field work, documenting her birth on film and recording her early childhood. Dr. Benjamin Spock was her pediatrician, and his books on child care drew from lessons learned by Mead. But it wasn’t her babyhood, her lineage, or her scholarship—she became an expert on classical Arabic poetry—that brought Bateson renown. It was her 1989 book Composing a Life, an examination of women’s lives and their adaptive responses. In the book, Bateson used her own history and those of four friends as examples. All five had experienced loss, motherhood, sexism, racism, career setbacks, and betrayals. In Bateson’s case, she had been ousted as dean of faculty at Amherst College in Massachusetts in an apparent backroom deal orchestrated by male colleagues. She suffered a fall earlier in the week and experienced brain damage. She died in Dartmouth, New Hampshire on January 2, 2021.

Dr. John Bentson (83) in the early ‘70s the field of neuroradiology was still in its formative years, and among its early practitioners was Bentson at UCLA Medical Center. As he helped patients with the aid of new technology like the CT scan and computer imaging, he saw an opportunity for innovation. A subspecialty of radiology, neuroradiology involves diagnosing and treating ailments in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. One tool used in treatment is the combination of an angiographic guidewire and catheter, essentially a slender wire and tube. Inserted through the leg, it can aid with the injection of contrast dye for diagnostic brain imaging and the treatment of aneurysms. But at the time, guidewires were rigid and at worst could injure a blood vessel. Bentson decided to design a better type. He conceived of a more supple guidewire that also featured a flexible tip, and after UCLA built an early prototype for him, other neuroradiologists started using his model. Cook Medical began manufacturing the device in 1973, and it’s still in use today, commonly known as a Bentson guidewire. He died of Covid-19 in Los Angeles, California on December 28, 2020.

Pierre Cardin (98) French fashion designer with an inventive artistic sensibility tempered by a stiff dose of business sense. Cardin had no problem acknowledging that he earned more from a pair of stockings than from a haute-couture gown with a six-figure price tag. He was the ultimate entrepreneurial designer. He understood the role his exclusive haute couture shows played in stoking consumer desire and became an early pioneer of licensing. His name is on hundreds of products, from accessories to home goods. Cardin died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, just outside Paris, on December 29, 2020.

Dr. Lawrence Dorr (79) surgeon who led early developments in joint replacement surgery and helped to make Los Angeles an international destination for the repair of ailing hips and knees. Dorr also started the nonprofit Operation Walk to provide free joint replacement surgery for people in underserved countries such as Cuba, Nepal, and Guatemala. It has grown into an international charity. Dorr retired from Keck Hospital at the University of Southern California in 2020 after a career spanning more than 50 years. He was one of the pioneers of installing prosthetic joints that don’t require cement. He designed one of the first such joints on a napkin at a New Orleans hotel in 1982 while dining with his mentor, orthopedist Chitranjan Ranawat, and the chief executive of an implant company. To make his hip replacement design, which has become an industry standard, Dorr used knowledge he gained early in his career at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey. He died of bacterial pneumonia in Los Angeles, California on December 28, 2020.

Dr. H. Jack Geiger (95) ran away to Harlem as a teenager and emerged a lifelong civil rights activist, helping to bring medical care and services to impoverished regions and to start two antiwar doctors groups that shared in Nobel Peace Prizes. Geiger was a leading proponent of “social medicine,” the idea that doctors should use their expertise and moral authority not just to treat illness but also to change the conditions that made people sick in the first place: poverty, hunger, discrimination, joblessness, and lack of education. In the ‘60s Geiger was a cofounder, with Dr. Count Gibson, of community health centers in south Boston and in Mound Bayou, in the Mississippi Delta. They provided desperately needed health care but also food, sanitation, education, jobs, and social services—what Geiger called “a road out” of poverty. The centers inspired a national network of clinics that now number more than 1,300 and serve about 28 million low-income patients at more than 9,000 sites. Geiger died in Brooklyn, New York on December 28, 2020.

Marshall McKay (68) northern California Indigenous leader of Pomo-Wintun heritage who helped to secure economic independence for the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation near Sacramento and whose deep support of cultural causes led to his becoming the first Indigenous chairman on the board of the Autry Museum of the American West. McKay, first in his tribe to go to college, was involved in tribal governance for a 30-year period starting in the ‘80s and helped the Yocha Dehe to expand its land holdings in its ancestral territories in what is now Yolo County. He also helped the tribe to achieve economic independence through a casino development—the Cache Creek Casino Resort, about an hour’s drive west of Sacramento. Six years ago, with his involvement, the tribe expanded into agricultural production, which included the development of Séka Hills, a brand of artisanal olive oil. McKay died in Los Angeles, California after contracting the coronavirus, on December 29, 2020.

Paige Rense (91) editor of Architectural Digest who transformed it from a local Los Angeles trade journal into a renowned design publication with global reach. Over almost 40 years as “the archduchess of decorating,” as she was once called, Rense made Architectural Digest the most popular publication in the shelter market, focusing on the work of interior designers and architects—often making stars out of them—and highlighting the homes of movie stars, world leaders, and international power brokers. With colorful prose and striking photography, the magazine displayed the lavish homes of celebrities like Katharine Hepburn, Elton John, Julia Child, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Barbra Streisand, King Hussein of Jordan, and countless others. Celebrities clamored to be featured in the magazine. An exclusive spread on a visit to the private White House quarters of President Ronald and Nancy Reagan in 1981 set the tone for Rense’s efforts to extend the magazine’s reach and influence. She died of a heart-related issue in West Palm Beach, Florida on January 1, 2021.

Arianna Wright Rosenbluth (93) the Metropolis algorithm, a technique for generating random samplings, started out as a way to understand a fundamental problem: How atoms rearrange themselves as solids melt. Over the decades, the Metropolis algorithm and its subsequent variations have been put to a vast number of uses and now serve as an underpinning to understanding critical challenges of our age, including making sense of huge volumes of data, predicting election outcomes, and understand-ng Covid-19’s spread. Rosenbluth was a physicist who played an important role in developing that algorithm and thus shaping the science of simulation. Despite her extraordinary work and despite earning her Ph.D. from Harvard at 21, she left the field in her mid-20s and rarely talked about her scientific achievement afterward. She died of Covid-19 in Pasadena, California on December 28, 2020.

Harold J. Rubenstein (88) New York public relations veteran who softened life’s blows and polished the tarnished images of the rich, famous, and flawed for more than 65 years. Rubenstein, founding chairman and president of Rubenstein Associates, was sometimes called a spin doctor, a charlatan, or worse. But with a little help from his friends in the news media, he publicized the triumphs of many achievers, and when crises struck celebrities, politicians, corporations, or cultural institutions, he was a fixer of choice, called in at a moment’s notice to control the damage and restore reputations. His hundreds of clients were among the best-known names in town: Donald J. Trump, Rupert Murdoch, Yankees owner George M. Steinbrenner 3rd, Columbia University, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, Wall Street tycoons, entertainers, and civic and religious leaders. Rubenstein died in New York City on December 29, 2020.

Thomas Verdillo (77) Tommaso at first seemed like a classic red-sauce restaurant when it opened in 1971 in south Brooklyn. But it quickly became a critically admired dining spot frequented by foodies, neighborhood people, Manhattanites, and mobsters alike. Almost as much of a draw was the warmth of its owner, Verdillo, who loved opera and over the decades liked to serenade his customers with arias. Verdillo was ahead of the renaissance of Italian-American restaurants in New York, adding more sophisticated fare and regional dishes to his standard menu in the ‘70s and building a resplendent wine cellar. When Verdillo opened Tommaso, he had one important customer lined up: Paul Castellano, future boss of the Gambino organized crime family and already a frequent patron of a small catering business that Verdillo was running. Castellano soon opened a “social club” next door to Tommaso, and his associates became regular customers. But Verdillo worried that someone might get assassinated in the restaurant. Castellano was gunned down at 70 outside a Manhattan steakhouse in 1985. Verdillo died of Covid-19 in Brooklyn, New York on December 27, 2020.

Loretta Whitfield (79) in the early ‘80s, Melvin Whitfield was working for a health nonprofit in West Africa when he came to a realization: Few of the children he encountered had dolls, and the dolls he did see were modeled after white European faces and bodies. Whitfield, who was black, returned to Washington in 1983, around the time his girlfriend, Loretta Thomas, was experiencing her own doll-inspired despair after trying to find a toy for her niece. It was the height of the Cabbage Patch Kids craze, and toy stores were filled with their cherubic white faces. The few black dolls scattered among them were made with the same shape and features but used brown fabric. The Whitfields, who married in 1984, designed an alternative to the Cabbage Patch Kids. After three years of development and experimentation, they released Baby Whitney, one of the first realistic mass-produced black dolls. Loretta Whitfield died of Alzheimer’s disease in Washington, DC on December 27, 2020.


Joe Clark (82) baseball bat and bullhorn-wielding high school principal whose commitment to his students and disciplinary methods inspired the 1989 film Lean on Me. At crime- and drug-ridden Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey, Clark expelled 300 students in a single day for fighting, vandalism, abusing teachers, and drug possession. That lifted the expectations of those who remained, continually challenging them to perform better. Clark’s unorthodox methods, which included roaming the hallways with a bullhorn and a baseball bat, won him both admirers and critics nationwide. President Ronald Reagan offered Clark a White House policy adviser position after his success at the high school. Morgan Freeman starred as Clark in the film that was loosely based on Clark’s tenure at Eastside. He died in Gainesville, Florida on December 29, 2020.

News and Entertainment

Claude Bolling (90) jazz pianist and composer with crossover appeal whose 1975 album, Suite for Flute & Jazz Piano, spent more than 10 years on the Billboard classical album chart. Bolling played and composed in a variety of styles—the Claude Bolling Big Band played regularly for years at the Méridien Etoile hotel in Paris—and wrote the scores for dozens of movies and TV shows in both France and Hollywood. But Suite for Flute & Jazz Piano, written for and recorded with famed classical flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, elevated him to a new level of fame. Although the record drew criticism from both classical and jazz purists, the listening public loved it. Bolling died in Garches, France, a suburb of Paris, on December 29, 2020.

Maxine Cheshire (90) society reporter at the Washington Post during the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations who wrote a series about Jackie Kennedy’s redecorating of the White House, which noted that its budget was enormous and that some of the antiques were fakes. Cheshire was no kid-glove-wearing party hack. She had cut her teeth on the police beat at a paper in Tennessee, and her training made her reporting required reading across the Beltway and beyond. She often broke international scandals—influence peddling among South Korean operatives, or the Nixon family’s attempts to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewels, given them by the Shah of Iran and others, in the middle of the Watergate scandal—through her work on the so-called women’s pages that were the Post’s Style section. Cheshire, scourge of first ladies, philandering politicians, and Frank Sinatra, whom she challenged about his mob connections, died of heart disease in McAllen, Texas on December 31, 2020.

Mike Fenton (85) casting director who in a more than 40-year-career worked on projects rangng from The Andy Griffith Show to movies including The Godfather Part II, and E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Steven Spielberg worked with Fenton on numerous projects dating back to Spielberg’s first theatrical feature, The Sugarland Express, in 1974. A native of Los Angeles, Fenton had hundreds of credits and worked on dozens and dozens of films that came to be regarded as contemporary classics, including Chinatown, American Graffiti, Blade Runner, Breaking Away, Norma Rae, Footloose, A Christmas Story, The Bad News Bears, Shampoo, Young Frankenstein, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Slap Shot, Poltergeist, Aliens, Beaches, Total Recall, Raiders of the Lost Ark and two sequels, and the Back to the Future trilogy. In 1982 he cofounded the American Society of Casting Directors, which became the Casting Society of America. He was an 11-time nominee for the CSA’s Artios awards, winning twice. He died in Los Angeles, California on December 30, 2020.

Frank Kimbrough (64) jazz pianist known for his work with the Maria Schneider Orchestra and other prominent groups and as leader of his own small ensembles. Kimbrough had an understated style that could nonetheless hold the spotlight in trio settings or fit into Schneider’s 18-piece big band. In many ways, his playing reflected the Romantic, floating manner of his first jazz influence, Bill Evans. But his off-kilter style as both a player and a composer also called back to two of his more rugged bebop-era influences: Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk, both of whom he eventually paid tribute to on record. In 2018 Kimbrough recorded Monk’s Dreams: The Complete Compositions of Thelonious Sphere Monk, the most ambitious recording of his career, a six-disc collection on Sunnyside Records spanning Monk’s entire known songbook. Kimbrough released well over a dozen albums as a leader. He died of a heart attack in Queens, New York on December 30, 2020.

Sunil Kothari (87) few critics or historians have been so central to the performing arts as Kothari was to the world of Indian traditional dance. As a critic, scholar, and teacher, he explored India’s rich dance spectrum in at least a dozen books, with choreographers and dancers all over India coming to know him as both an authority and a friend. Kothari, who frequently lectured in the US, studied the traditions and techniques of dance forms, interviewing hundreds of gurus, many of whom, in a country that remains largely ethnocentric, dismissed his efforts because he did not speak their local dialects. For over 30 years he was dance critic for the Times of India. Kothari had announced that he was ill from Covid-19 but was recovering. Soon after, he suffered cardiac arrest and died in Delhi, India on December 27, 2020.

Melvis Kwok (68) for nearly 30 years Kwok spent his evenings dressed as Elvis Presley, playing guitar on the sidewalks of Hong Kong as neon signs reflected off his sequined jumpsuits. In a banking hub full of office workers, Kwok was a rare figure: a full-time busker with a rockabilly pompadour. He played through rain and blistering heat for years, both before and after Britain returned the territory to Chinese rule in 1997. He was hardly the first singer in Asia to imitate Elvis, who died in 1977, but he may have been the most committed. Kwok liked to say that he had not missed a day of busking in 28 years. He also impersonated Elvis even when he was not performing, saying that his goal was to bring the American rock ’n’ roll legend back to life. Kwok died of kidney failure in Hong Kong on December 29, 2020.

Tom Lankford (85) as a reporter for the Birmingham News, Lankford took some of the most memorable photos of the civil rights era even as he worked hand in glove with the city’s police department and the FBI, sometimes landing scoops in exchange for things like wiretapping members of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s family. As a young reporter and photographer assigned to the police beat at the News, Lankford was seemingly everywhere during the early ‘60s, including in 1961, when members of the Ku Klux Klan attacked Freedom Riders in Birmingham, and in ‘65, when John Lewis led hundreds of marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, only to be assaulted by state troopers in what became known as Bloody Sunday. His photos of those and other events have become landmark images of the struggle against Jim Crow laws. But all along Lankford was also developing a close relationship with Birmingham’s police department under Eugene Connor, known as Bull, the racist public safety commissioner. As he later recounted to historians, Lankford would ride shotgun on police raids, taking photographs that painted officers in a positive light while incriminating Connor’s enemies, black and white. In exchange he was given access to scoops that other reporters could only dream of landing. Lankford died of Covid-19 in Gadsden, Alabama, about 50 miles northeast of Birmingham, on December 31, 2020.

William Link (87) cocreated the hit series Columbo and Murder, She Wrote and made ‘70s and ’80s TV movies about social issues then largely shunned by TV. Columbo featured a brilliant but slovenly police detective that Link and his longtime writing-producing partner, Richard Levinson (died 1987), originally created for a 1960 TV anthology episode. The pair earned a writing Emmy for the series, with four acting trophies going to star Peter Falk (died 2011), who played the role in the 1971–78 Columbo run on NBC and when the crime drama moved to ABC from 1989–2003 in TV movies. Murder, She Wrote, with film and stage star Angela Lansbury as an amateur sleuth, was a 12-season success for CBS, airing from 1984–96. Link died of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles, California on December 27, 2020.

Armando Manzanero (85) Mexican ballad singer and composer, a crooner best known for songs such as “Somos Novios,” which, with lyrics translated into English, became the ‘70s hit “It’s Impossible” for Perry Como. In a 2020 interview with the Associated Press, Manzanero expressed pride at how other artists continued to sing songs he wrote decades ago. He was hospitalized in recent weeks with COVID-19 and at one point was on a ventilator. But he died ifrom a kidney problem in Mexico City, Mexico on December 28, 2020.

Phyllis McGuire (89) last surviving and youngest member of the three singing McGuire Sisters who topped the charts with several hits in the ‘50s. Known for their sweet harmonies and identical outfits and hairdos, the McGuire Sisters earned six gold records for hits including “Sincerely” (1954) and “Sugartime” (1957). The group were featured on The Arthur Godfrey Show and performed for five US presidents and Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. Phyllis also was known for her relationship with ‘60s mobster Sam Giancana. Mary Louise-Parker played Phyllis in the 1995 HBO film Sugartime, which depicted the singer's love affair with Giancana. Dorothy died in 2012 and Christine in '18. Phyllis McGuire died in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 29, 2020.

Adolfp ('Shabba Doo') Quiñones (65) hip-hop dancing pioneer who once had a message for dance aficionados who felt that break-dancing was merely a trend, one less legitimate as an art form than classical dance. Known as “Shabba-Doo,” Quinones had a colorful career as a dancer, choreographer, and actor. Besides his starring roles in the popular Breakin’ and its sequel Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, he choreographed for and worked with many top singers, including Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Lionel Richie, and Chaka Khan. He was also a founding member of the Original Lockers street dancing group and one of the Soul Train Gang dancers on the landmark rhythm and blues music series. Quiñones thought he had a cold and underwent a COVID-19 test that came out negative. But he died in Los Angeles, California on December 29, 2020.

Rudy Salas (71) founding guitarist of the Chicano rhythm and blues band Tierra and pioneer of Los Angeles's soulful Eastside sound. Rudy learned his first guitar chords from Art Brambila, his maternal uncle. As the Salas Brothers, Rudy and his brother, singer and percussionist Steve Salas, got practice performing mariachi songs at local parties. It was during the late '60s that teenage Rudy and Steve, swept up in the excitement of the city’s burgeoning civil rights movement, took part in the historic student walkouts protesting unequal educational opportunities. In 1970 they demonstrated against the Vietnam War in the Chicano Moratorium—which devolved into violent clashes between protesters and LA County sheriff’s deputies, resulting in the tragic death of journalist Ruben Salazar, who was hit by a tear gas canister. Shaken by the upheaval of the times, Rudy and Steve joined the ranks of Bobby Espinosa’s radical Latin rock outfit, El Chicano, which also shared the scene with Long Beach funk band War. Salas died in his sleep on December 29, 2020. The cause of his death is yet to be determined, but the Salas family said it was unrelated to COVID-19.

Neil Sheehan (84) reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who broke the story of the Pentagon Papers for the New York Times and chronicled the deception at the heart of the Vietnam War in his epic book about the conflict. Sheehan’s account of the Vietnam War, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann & America in Vietnam took him 15 years to write. The 1988 book won the Pulitzer for nonfiction. Sheehan was a war correspondent for United Press International, then the Times in the early days of US involvement in the Vietnam War in the ‘60s. He died of Parkinson’s disease in Washington, DC on December 31, 2020.

Joan Micklin Silver (85) forged a path for female directors and independent filmmakers with movies including Hester Street and Crossing Delancey. Silver used a combination of talent, fortitude, and luck to create Hester Street (1975), her first feature, released when she was 40 years old. A black-and-white period piece partly in Yiddish about a family of Jewish immigrants attempting to assimilate in New York, the film became an unlikely triumph after Silver fought to make it. She eventually moved on to directing studio films in a strained relationship with Hollywood. Her biggest commercial success came with Crossing Delancey, a 1988 romantic comedy starring Amy Irving as a New York bookstore employee torn between two men. It was set nearly a century later than Hester Street but took place in the same neighborhood and explored similar themes of Judaism and romance amid shifting cultures. Silver died of vascular dementia in New York City on December 31, 2020.

Fou Ts'ong (86) Chinese-born pianist known for his interpretations of Chopin, Debussy, and Mozart and whose letters from his father, a noted translator and writer, influenced a generation of Chinese readers. Fou became one of the first Chinese pianists to achieve global prominence when he took third place in the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1955. Almost overnight he became a national hero. Chinese reporters flocked to interview Fou, while many others sought out his father, Fu Lei, a translator of French literature. Two years later, Mao Zedong started the Anti-Rightist Campaign, in which hundreds of thousands of Chinese intellectuals, including Fu, were persecuted. Many were tortured and banished to labor camps. Fou, then studying at the Warsaw Conservatory in Poland, was forced to return to China to undergo “rectification” for several months. Not long after going back to Warsaw, he knew that if he returned to China upon graduation—as the government expected him to do—he would be forced to denounce his father. So in December 1958, Fou fled Communist Poland for London, where he requested political asylum. Fou died of the coronavirus in London, England, where he had lived for many years, on December 28, 2020.

Dawn Wells 82) actress who played the wholesome Mary Ann among a misfit band of shipwrecked castaways on the ‘60s sitcom Gilligan’s Island. Besides TV, film, and stage acting credits, Wells’s other real-life roles included teacher, motivational speaker, and conservationist. Tina Louise (86), who played Ginger the movie star, is the last surviving member of a cast that included Bob Denver as the title character; Alan Hale Jr. as the Skipper; Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer as wealthy passengers Thurston and Lovey Howell; and Russell Johnson, known as the Professor. Wells represented Nevada in the 1959 Miss America pageant and quickly pivoted to an acting career. Her early TV roles were on shows including 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, and Bonanza. Then came Gilligan’s Island, a goofy, good-natured comedy that aired from 1964–67 and became an unlikely but indelible part of popular culture. Wells died in Los Angeles, California of causes related to COVID-19, on December 30, 2020.

Eugene Wright (97) bass player who toured the world and recorded some 30 albums, including the landmark Time Out, in his 10 years with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Wright, a solidly swinging timekeeper best known for his work with the Count Basie Orchestra in the late ‘40s, might not in 1958 have seemed the ideal choice for the complex modern jazz compositions that formed the bulk of Brubeck’s repertoire. Time Out, the group’s best-known and most successful album, was unusual in that most of the pieces on it were in unusual time signatures. “Take Five,” a track from that album in 5/4 time, was released as a single and reached No. 25 on the Billboard pop chart, a rare achievement for a jazz record. The quartet was one of the few racially mixed jazz groups during the early years of the civil rights movement. That led to showdowns between Brubeck (died 2012), who was staunchly opposed to segregation, and some concert promoters and college officials. Wright died in Los Angeles, California on December 30, 2020.

Politics and Military

Carrie Dann (88) Native American land rights activist, Nevada rancher, and longtime leader of the Western Shoshone Nation. Dann and her younger sister Mary Dann, who died in 2005, fought with the federal government for decades over ownership of their ancestral lands in central Nevada. Carrie Dann cofounded the Western Shoshone Defense Project in 1991. She helped to lead efforts to block several northern Nevada mining projects, was a staunch opponent of shipping nuclear waste to the Yucca Mountain site in southern Nevada, and sought relief for tribal residents affected by nuclear weapons testing. She was among dozens of peace activists arrested along with actor Martin Sheen during a 2011 antinuclear protest at the Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas. She died on January 2, 2021.

Isaac Shoshan (96) Syrian-born Israeli undercover operative who posed as an Arab early in his career, participating in bombings and an assassination attempt, before making major contributions to the country’s espionage methods. Shoshan was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1924 to an Arabic-speaking Jewish family. He studied at a French-language school, learned Hebrew at Orthodox Jewish schools, and as a youth belonged to the Zionist Hebrew Scouts. At 18, motivated by his Zionism, he traveled to what was then British-ruled Palestine and within two years was recruited by the Palmach, the Jewish underground fighting force. During his training, he was posted to a secret unit known as the Arab Platoon. Made up of Jews who could pass as Arabs, it was charged with gathering intelligence and carrying out sabotage and targeted killings. Shoshan retired in 1982 but was mobilized from time to time by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad to train agents and sometimes participate in operations himself. He died of a stroke in Tel Aviv, Israel on December 28, 2020.

Richard Thornburgh (88) two-term Republican governor of Pennsylvania who coped with America’s worst nuclear power meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 and later was US attorney general under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. To millions of voters who elected him, to five presidents he worked for in the Justice Department, and to hundreds of organized-crime figures, white-collar criminals, and corrupt public officials he prosecuted, Thornburgh was an ambitious man with a formula for success: clean house, restore order, and move on to higher office. It worked for more than 20 years. He was Richard M. Nixon’s federal prosecutor in Pittsburgh (1969–75) and Gerald R. Ford’s and Jimmy Carter’s assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division (1975–77). He was the only Republican to serve two successive terms as Pennsylvania governor (1979–87). But there was no formula for dealing with a nuclear meltdown at the Three Mile Island power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on March 28, 1979. It happened 10 weeks after Thornburgh became governor and 12 days after the release of The China Syndrome, a Jane Fonda-Jack Lemmon film about a runaway nuclear accident. Thornburgh died in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, outside Pittsburgh, on December 31, 2020.

Brian Urquhart (101) British diplomat, an early United Nations leader who played a central role in developing the UN practice of peacekeeping. Urquhart served in British military and intelligence during World War II before becoming the second official hired by the UN after its formation in 1945. He became a principal adviser to the first five UN secretary-generals. Urquhart worked for the commission that set up the UN Secretariat in 1945, arranged the General Assembly’s first meeting in London, and settled on New York as the organization's permanent home. But he was best known for creating and directing UN peacekeeping operations in war zones around the world. Before he retired in 1986, he had directed 13 peacekeeping operations, recruited a force of 10,000 troops from 23 countries, and established peacekeeping as one of the UN’s most visible and politically popular functions. Urquhart died in Tyringham, Massachusetts on January 2, 2021.

Society and Religion

Norman Golb (92) in 1947 a Bedouin shepherd stumbled across a cave one mile from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea and discovered seven weathered parchment scrolls, some containing biblical texts in Hebrew, that dated as far back as 300 years before the birth of Jesus. That find, and subsequent excavations over the next 10 years in other area caves—yielding more than 800 scrolls in total—were regarded as among the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. But they also resulted in rancorous debate. The first scholars to examine the Dead Sea Scrolls theorized that they were the work of the Essenes, a small ascetic Jewish sect living in the nearby settlement of Qumran who probably exerted a strong influence on another breakaway group, the early Christians. But Golb, a professor at the University of Chicago, took issue with that thesis. He argued that the scrolls encompassed the thinking of diverse communities of Jews in the Holy Land, not just a fringe sect, and that they had originally been moved from libraries in Jerusalem to the caves near Qumran to safeguard them from the anticipated Roman siege of the city in AD 70. The scrolls, he said, suggested that Christianity arose out of a dynamic and rapidly evolving Jewish culture rather than from a single narrow offshoot. Golb died of Alzheimer’s disease in Chicago, Illinois on December 29, 2020.


Vic Lepisto (75) captain of the 1967 UCLA football team that was ranked No. 1 in the country before a legendary run by USC’s O. J. Simpson vaulted the Trojans over their rivals. An undersized defensive end at 5 feet 11 and 188 pounds, Lepisto came to symbolize the Bruins' spirit. After sitting out the 1965 season because of a broken wrist sustained in a motor scooter accident, Lepisto was part of teams that went a combined 16-3-1 in 1966 and ’67. The Bruins were the nation’s top-ranked team in November 1967 when they faced the third-ranked Trojans at the Coliseum. UCLA was leading 20-14 with 10½ minutes left in the game when USC lined up at its own 36-yard line on third and seven. Simpson took the handoff and cut back to the left through a hole, beginning one of the most memorable runs in college football history. Lepisto, who had brought down Simpson in the first half on a similar play, figured he was going to make another tackle before colliding with teammate Andy Herrera. Lepisto died of COVID-19 in Woodland Hills, California on December 28, 2020. He had contracted the illness three weeks earlier while at a memory care facility where he was being treated for dementia.

Floyd Little (78) running back who starred at Syracuse and for the Denver Broncos. Little was a three-time All-American at Syracuse, where he wore No. 44 like Jim Brown and Ernie Davis before him. From 1964–66 he ran for 2,704 yards and 46 touchdowns. He was the sixth overall pick in the 1967 AFL-NFL draft. He played nine seasons in Denver, where he earned the nickname “The Franchise” because his signing was credited with keeping the team from relocating and helped to persuade voters to approve funds for the old Mile High Stadium, which has since been replaced by Empower Field at Mile High. A five-time Pro Bowler, Little led the NFL in rushing in 1971 with 1,133 yards and in touchdown runs in ‘73 with 12. He also was one of the league’s best kick returners, leading the AFL in punt returns as a rookie in 1967. He died in Henderson, Nevada after a long bout with cancer, on January 1, 2020.

Paul Westphal (70) Basketball Hall of Fame guard who played for the Boston Celtics’ 1974 NBA champions, became a four-time All-Star with the Phoenix Suns, and coached them to the league playoff final in 1993. Westphal was an outstanding shooter with both hands and a fine playmaker and defensive player. He played in the NBA for 12 seasons, also with the Seattle SuperSonics and the Knicks. He was a head coach for all or part of 10 seasons, with the Suns, Seattle, and the Sacramento Kings, and an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks and the Brooklyn Nets. He died of brain cancer on January 2, 2021.

George Whitmore (89) member of the first team of climbers to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and a conservationist who devoted his life to protecting the Sierra Nevada. Whitmore was a legend in the world of rock climbing and the last surviving member of the trio that was the first to reach the top of El Capitan on November 12, 1958. Ascending the 3,000-foot (914-meter) sheer granite rock wall that now attracts climbers from around the world was, at the time, a feat considered out of human reach. In 2008 Whitmore gathered with climbers from around the world at Yosemite to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ascent with Wayne Merry (died 2019) and Warren Harding (died 2002). Whitmore, then 77, said they didn’t realize at the the time “how special” their climb of the sheer rock formation would be. It took them 47 days over 16 months to complete the climb. They set fixed lines and rappelled down, then used the ropes to return to the same point later. Whitmore, a cancer survivor, tested positive for COVID-19 on December 13 after developing a rattling but occasional cough and subsequent fever. He died in Fresno, California from damage to his lungs, on January 1, 2021.

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