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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, January 9, 2021

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Tommy Lasorda, former manager of LA DodgersMichael Apted, British director of 'Up' filmsLee Breuer, avant-garde theater directorEric Jerome Dickey, prolific novelistSandra Hutchens, trailblazing Orange County sheriffWilliam H. Kobin, former president and CEO of public TV station KCETTom LaBonge, LA city councilmanGerry Marsden & the Pacemakers, '60s British vocal quartetVed Mehta, longtime writer for 'New Yorker' and autobiographerJohn Muckler, former coach of Edmonton Oilers champion hockey teamGeorge Regas, longtime rector of All Saints Church in PasadenaTanya Roberts, TV and film actressAlbert Roux, second of two brothers, both celebrated French chefsDonald ('Dee') Rowe, men's basketball coach at UConnSandra Scully, wife of Dodgers broadcaster Vin ScullyGordon Stewart, founder of Sandals Resorts

Art and Literature

Eric Jerome Dickey (59) best-selling author of Milk in My Coffee, Friends & Lovers, and several other influential works. Throughout his career, Dickey wrote dozens of novels, including his final project, The Son of Mr. Suleman, which hits shelves on April 20. After his short story “Thirteen” was published in the 1994 collection River Crossings: Voices of the Diaspora: An Anthology on the International Black Experience, Dickey wrote a host of works centering on the experiences of contemporary black characters. His 29 novels entertained millions of readers with quick pacing, a conversational style, and fluency in genres ranging from crime to romance. He died in Los Angeles, California after battling cancer, on January 3, 2021.

Ved Mehta (86) longtime writer for the New Yorker whose best-known work, spanning a dozen volumes, explored the history of modern India through his own autobiography. Associated with the magazine for more than 30 years—much of his magnum opus began as articles in its pages—Mehta was widely considered the 20th-century writer most responsible for introducing American readers to India. Besides his multivolume memoir, published in book form between 1972–2004, his more than two dozen books included volumes on India, among them Walking the Indian Streets (1960), Portrait of India (1970), and Mahatma Gandhi & His Apostles (1977), besides explorations of philosophy, theology, and linguistics. Mehta died of Parkinson’s disease in New York City on January 9, 2021.


Business and Science

Albert Roux (85) French-born chef whose London restaurant Le Gavroche was the first in Britain to earn three Michelin stars. Roux and his brother, Michel, who died in 2020, brought fine dining to a new level in London with the opening of Le Gavroche in 1967 on Lower Sloane Street in Chelsea. It was named after a character in Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables, a young boy whose name has become synonymous with the word “urchin.” Le Gavroche was the only restaurant to offer classic French cooking in London at the time. It was also the first restaurant in Britain to be awarded one, two, then three Michelin stars, and it was the first Michelin-rated restaurant to offer a set-price lunch. It was awarded its third Michelin star in 1982. Albert Roux died in London, England on January 4, 2021.

Gordon Stewart (79) bought a rundown beachfront hotel in his native Jamaica and built it into a chain of all-inclusive resorts as founder of Sandals Resorts International. Stewart began his resorts business in 1981, when he took the money he had made selling air-conditioning units in Jamaica and invested it in developing a hotel on the island’s North Coast. Named Sandals Montego Bay, it became the flagship resort of a chain of luxury vacation destinations. Sandals now operates 15 resorts, including six in Jamaica. Stewart established Sandals Resorts International with a couples-oriented focus before branching out with the more family-oriented Beaches Resorts. That business was in the process of expanding in St. Vincent and on the Dutch island of Curaçao at his death in Miami, Florida on January 4, 2021.


Law

Sandra Hutchens (65) rose through the ranks of law enforcement when it was considered a “boys club” and was Orange County sheriff for 10 years. Hutchens had battled breast cancer for part of her Orange County tenure and used her health crisis to help educate the public. She squeezed in treatments between meetings, donned a wig, and pledged that the disease would not affect her work. Hutchens was considered a trailblazer for women in police management and a role model to many, although her tenure as sheriff was not without controversy and several high-profile scandals. Among them were serious allegations of abuse in the jails and improper handling of jailhouse informants. Hutchens died of breast cancer in Temecula, California on January 4, 2021.


News and Entertainment

Michael Apted (79) British director of the Up documentary series and films as diverse as the Loretta Lynn biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter and the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. Apted’s legacy is perhaps best defined by the nine Up films, which followed the lives of 14 economically diverse British children from ages 7 to 63. The project started in 1964 with Seven Up!, the brainchild of the late Canadian filmmaker Paul Almond. Apted was a researcher on the first film and took over as director seven years later, continuing to check in with the subjects every seven years. He credited the late film critic Roger Ebert for bringing the series to the attention of American audiences. The ambitious project earned him an Institutional Peabody Award in 2012 and had the honor of being satirized by The Simpsons in a 2007 episode. The last film, 63 Up, came out in 2019. Apted died in Los Angeles, California on January 7, 2021.

Lee Breuer (83) stage director who over 50 years on New York's downtown theater scene mixed genres in experimental productions, often with Mabou Mines, the avant-garde troupe he helped to found. An outsider who refused his only Tony Award nomination—for his biggest hit and only Broadway show, the Sophocles adaptation The Gospel at Colonus—Breuer flourished in the scrappier realm of Off-Off-Broadway even as the scale of his works and ambitions took him to larger stages, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, and the Comédie-Française in Paris. He died in Brooklyn Heights, New York of advanced kidney disease and metastatic lung cancer, on January 3, 2021.

William H. Kobin (91) broadcast journalism pioneer who was president and chief executive of KCET during its glory days by turning the debt-ridden public TV station into an essential educational and cultural institution in southern California. Kobin, who worked in public TV for 50 years, was KCET’s president from 1983–96 and made important contributions to the local station during his tenure. He was credited with “discovering” broadcast legend Bill Moyers—his proudest accomplishment—and putting Tennessee native Huell Howser and the Loud family of Santa Barbara on the small screen in California’s Gold and the reality TV series An American Family, respectively. Other notable programs he helped to launch included Puzzle Place, Storytime, The Astronomers, and the public-affairs program Life & Times, all enabled by major commitments and large production grants from local companies and charities. When he joined KCET-TV Channel 28 in 1983, he turned a poorly managed station with a $3.6 million debt into one of the country’s largest public TV stations. Kobin died of Parkinson’s disease in Brentwood, California on January 8, 2021.

Gerry Marsden (78) lead singer of the ‘60s British group Gerry & the Pacemakers that had such hits as “Ferry Cross the Mersey” and the song that became the anthem of the Liverpool Football Club, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Marsden was lead singer of the band that found fame on the Merseybeat scene in the ‘60s. Although another Liverpool band—The Beatles—reached superstardom, Marsden was best known for his band’s rendition of the song from Carousel, a 1945 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical that became a feature film in ’56. The Pacemakers’ cover version was released in October 1963 and became the band’s third No. 1 hit on the British singles chart. It was adopted by fans of the soccer club Liverpool and is sung with passion before each home game of the 19-time English champion—before coronavirus restrictions meant many matches being played in empty stadiums. Marsden died after a short illness related to a heart infection but in no way connected with COVID-19, on January 3, 2021.

Tanya Roberts (65) actress known for roles on That ‘70s Show, Charlie’s Angels, and the James Bond franchise. In 1985 Roberts starred as geologist and Bond girl Stacey Sutton opposite Roger Moore in A View to a Kill before a new generation recognized her as Midge Pinciotti—mother of Laura Prepon’s Donna—on the hit sitcom That ’70s Show. Roberts' other credits included adventure flicks The Beastmaster and Hearts & Armour and the hit TV series Charlie’s Angels, on which she replaced Shelley Hack as Angel Julie Rogers alongside Jaclyn Smith’s Kelly Garrett and Cheryl Ladd’s Kris Munroe. In 1984 Roberts played the title character in John Guillermin’s Sheena, a female take on the Tarzan myth adapted from comic books of the same title. After falsely reporting that Roberts had died earlier on January 4, her longtime representative, Mike Pingel, corrected the mistake, confirming to the Associated Press that she was alive and in “dire” condition. Roberts died of a urinary tract infection that spread to her kidneys, gallbladder, liver, and finally her bloodstream, on January 4, 2021.


Politics and Military

Tom LaBonge (67) former Los Angeles city councilman who adored LA. The 39-year veteran of City Hall regularly asked Angelenos to name their favorite LA buildings. He handed out calendars featuring his photographs of the city and loaves of pumpkin bread baked by local nuns. He was a champion of Griffith Park, hiking there every day, and worked to expand its size by hundreds of acres. When voters considered breaking up the city into two or three pieces, LaBonge made clear he was opposed. He served on the City Council from 2001–15. He was well known for his love of the city’s history, its landmarks, its public spaces, and its people—and his eagerness to celebrate all those things. He frequented Pink’s Hot Dogs on La Brea Avenue and Philippe’s in Chinatown and had a bottomless wealth of city trivia. For much of his time in office, he could be seen driving around the city in his Ford Crown Victoria, climbing out to regale constituents and tourists alike. He died in Silver Lake, California on January 7, 2021.


Society and Religion

George Regas (90) longtime rector of All Saints Church in Pasadena and pioneering crusader for progressive causes who opposed the Vietnam War and embraced gay marriage. When Regas, a native of Tennessee who was raised in the Greek Orthodox church, arrived in Pasadena in 1967, All Saints was a far cry from the liberal bastion it later became. Regas was 37 when he took the helm at All Saints and was not afraid to cause a stir. After he preached an anti-Vietnam War sermon in 1971, some parishioners launched a failed attempt to oust him. Years later, as rector emeritus, his pacifist beliefs again attracted attention, that time from the Internal Revenue Service. In a 2004 sermon that imagined Jesus debating presidential candidates George W. Bush and John Kerry, Regas toed the line between expressing his religious values and political campaigning, an act that would jeopardize the church’s tax-exempt status. He died in Pasadena, California from an infection not related to the coronavirus, on January 9, 2021.


Sports

Tommy Lasorda (93) former manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the oldest living baseball Hall of Famer. Lasorda spent 71 years in the Dodgers organization, starting as a player when the team was still based in Brooklyn. He later coached, then became its best-known manager for 21 years in LA, leading the franchise to two World Series championships. After stepping down in 1996, he became an ambassador for the sport he loved. He had just returned home two days earlier after being hospitalized since November 8 with heart issues. He died after suffering a heart attack in Fullerton, California on January 7, 2021.

John Muckler (86) joined with Glen Sather as architects of the Edmonton Oilers’ five Stanley Cup championships from 1984–90 and held coaching or senior executive posts with four other National Hockey League teams. Muckler joined the Oilers in 1982 as an assistant coach under Sather, who was also the team’s general manager. Muckler was later cohead coach with Sather and was promoted to sole head coach for the 1989–90 season, when Sather concentrated on general manager duties and Edmonton captured its fifth Stanley Cup. Wayne Gretzky played on the first four Oiler teams to take the Stanley Cup before he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in August 1988. The Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1984, ‘85, ‘87, ’88. and ’90. Muckler was known for his keen sense of strategy, essentially the hockey equivalent of football’s Xs and Os. He taught his players how to get into the best possible spots on the ice and diagnosed opponents’ weaknesses. Muckler had recently had a heart attack and subsequent surgery and had then been treated for Covid-19. He died in Buffalo, New York on January 4, 2021.

Donald ('Dee') Rowe (91) revered figure at the University of Connecticut for 50 years as men’s basketball coach and athletics department fundraiser. Rowe coached the Huskies for eight seasons, compiling a 120-88 record as he guided the team twice to the National Invitational Tournament and once to the NCAA men’s tournament, in 1976. After defeating Hofstra in the first round of that tournament, Connecticut lost, 93-79, to Rutgers. After the 1976–77 season, when he led the Huskies to a 17-10 record, Rowe retired because of pancreatitis. Within a year he started as the athletics department’s fundraiser. He died of Covid-19 in Storrs, Connecticut on January 9, 2021 but had also received a diagnosis of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Sandra Scully (76) wife of legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully. Sandra Hunt married Scully in November 1973. Scully retired from broadcasting in 2016 at age 88 after calling Dodgers games for 67 seasons. Sandra frequently accompanied her husband for games at Dodger Stadium and was in the booth for his final home game in September 2016. Vin and Sandra exchanged a high-five after Charlie Culberson hit a walkoff home run to give the Dodgers the win. Sandra had been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a progressive nervous system disease that causes loss of muscle control, for several years. She died in Los Angeles, California on January 3, 2021.


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