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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, January 30, 2021

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Cloris Leachman, Oscar- and multiple Emmy-winning actressCicely Tyson, pioneering black actressGeorge Armstrong, Toronto Maple Leafs star playerAllan Burns, cowriter of TV sitcoms like 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'John Chaney, Temple University basketball coachEva Cortaz, CEO of Harmonia Mundi, classical record labelPaul Crutzen, Nobel-winning Dutch scientistRichard L. Feigen, art gallerist, dealer, and collectorSonny Fox, host of 'Wonderama'Ross Graham, NYC legislative aideJonas Gwangwa, South African trombonist, vocalist, and composerReggie Jones, longest-serving lifeguard at Jones BeachDr. David Katzenstein, HIV researcherLubomir Kavalek, chess grandmasterSobongile Khumalo, South African singerRosalyn Koo, fundraiser for San Francisco's ChinatownOtto Dov Kulka, Auschwitz survivorBarry Le Va, post-minimalist sculptorCorky Lee, Asian American photojournalistGunnel Lindblom, Swedish actressEugenio Martinez, last surviving Watergate burglarElias Rahbani, Lebanese composer and lyricistFrank Shankwitz, former Arizona state trooper and cofounder of Make-a-WishSekou Smith, sports multimedia reporter and analystMargaret C. Snyder, UN worker who directed global development aid toward womenDr. Joseph Sonnabend, medical researcher who helped to fight AIDSHilton Valentine, guitarist with British rock band AnimalsSheila Washington, helped to create Scottsboro Boys Museum & Cultural Center and won posthumous pardons for defendantsMarc Wilmore, TV writer and producerDaniel Wolf, leading figure in collecting photography as artSophie Xeon, Grammy-nominated Scottish deejay, producer, and recording artist

Art and Literature

Richard L. Feigen (90) art gallerist, dealer, and collector whose influence in the New York art world and beyond included brokering top-dollar deals of all sorts for museums and magnates while championing both old masters and new talent. Feigen had a hand in numerous headline-making art sales during his more than 60 years in the business. At his galleries in Manhattan, Chicago, and elsewhere, he hosted countless exhibitions, including early ones by emerging figures like Pop artist Gerald Laing and sculptor Enrique Castro-Cid. For years Feigen represented elusive collagist Ray Johnson, and he was a big booster of assemblagist Joseph Cornell, painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet, and painter and printmaker Max Beckmann, all of whom received shows at his galleries. At various points he advanced Surrealism, German Expressionism, Italian art from the 13th century to the Baroque period, and, especially, anything involving old masters. Feigen died of Covid-19 in Mount Kisco, New York on January 29, 2021.

Barry Le Va (79) sculptor who never bowed to the conventions of his medium, opting instead for temporary arrangements of ephemeral materials like felt and flour spread across the floor and for works made by hurling meat cleavers, bricks, and even his own body at walls. Le Va was a member of the Post-Minimalist generation that emerged in the late ‘60s. Partly in reaction to Minimalism’s sleek metals, the Post-Minimalists played down or completely abandoned finished art objects, branching out instead into performance, earthwork, video, and process art. Le Va worked in the process art mode, along with artists Richard Serra, Keith Sonnier, Lynda Benglis, Alan Saret, and Dorothea Rockburne. They began their careers working with temporary installations that were executed anew each time they were exhibited. That was Le Va’s practice for his entire career. He died of congestive heart failure in the Bronx, New York on January 24, 2021.

Sheila Washington (61) was cleaning her parents’ room at their home in Scottsboro, Alabama in the ‘70s when she discovered a paperback book hidden in a pillowcase. The book, Scottsboro Boy (1950), was a harrowing memoir by Haywood Patterson, written with journalist Earl Conrad, about Patterson’s experience as one of nine black youths who were falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931 in a notorious miscarriage of justice in the Jim Crow South, one that set off an international outcry at the time. Sheila, then 17, started to read the book, but her stepfather, who owned it, took it away, saying it was too horrific for children. In time she did read it, and the story seared her soul, she said. She vowed to do something about it. She became the catalyst behind the creation of the Scottsboro Boys Museum & Cultural Center, then won posthumous pardons for the defendants and full exonerations for the history books. Washington saw that the story of the Scottsboro Boys had helped to fuel the civil rights movement decades later, and she was determined that it be recognized. She died of a heart attack in Huntsville, Alabama on January 29, 2021.

Daniel Wolf (65) pulled off what may have been the greatest legal art caper of all time: Over the course of two years in the early ‘80s, he quietly amassed some 25,000 classic and contemporary photographs, buying them from the world’s most renowned collectors on behalf of his client, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Wolf was so secretive that none of the sellers knew about the others, or about their buyer—a stealthi-ness that allowed him, and the Getty, to pay about $17 million, less than the price of a moderately good Cezanne still life. When the collection was announced in July 1984, it transformed the museum, until then best known for its antiquities holdings, into a leading center for photography—and it signaled that the medium, often overlooked by the art market, would be given equal standing alongside painting and sculpture. Wolf was only 27 when he began his quest, but he was already one of the leading figures in the photography market. He died of a heart attack in Ridgway, Colorado on January 25, 2021.

Business and Science

Eva Cortaz (77) in more than 40 years at the highly respected classical record label Harmonia Mundi, Coutaz shaped musicians’ careers, rehabilitated forgotten composers, and expanded the tastes of record collectors. She joined the label in 1972 at the invitation of its founder, Bernard Coutaz, whom she later married. Her first job was to oversee publicity and to organize concerts to promote the label’s artists, but she quickly proved her business acumen and artistic sensibility. She nurtured long-term relationships with a stable of musicians that included some of the leading figures in early music, among them countertenor Alfred Deller and performer-conductors René Jacobs, William Christie, and Philippe Herreweghe. Later she brought in another generation of recording stars, including violinist Isabelle Faust, pianist Alexandre Tharaud, and baritone Matthias Goerne. Cortaz built a catalogue of more than 800 recordings as head of production starting in 1975. On the death of her husband in 2010 she became chief executive and remained in that post until ‘15, when she sold the label. Eva Cortaz died of renal failure in Arles, France on January 26, 2021.

Paul Crutzen (87) Dutch scientist who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work understanding the ozone hole and was credited with coining the term Anthropocene to describe the geological era shaped by mankind. Crutzen’s work helped to lay the basis for the worldwide ban on ozone-depleting substances, a rare example of fundamental scientific research leading to a global political decision within just a few years. Thanks to concerted international efforts, the ozone hole over Antarctica has been shrinking steadily. Crutzen died in Mainz, Germany, where he was director of atmospheric chemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry until his retirement in 2000, on January 28, 2021.

Dr. David Katzenstein (69) virologist and clinician who helped to advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV and AIDS. Katzenstein also made those techniques available to middle- and low-income patients in sub-Saharan Africa. He was professor emeritus of infectious diseases and global health at Stanford Medicine in California. Katzenstein taught at UC Davis and the University of Minnesota until 1986. While at UC, he established a relationship with the medical microbiology department at the University of Zimbabwe’s medical school and became one of the first US-based HIV researchers to commit to working in that region of the world. From 1987–89 Katzenstein worked as a senior research fellow at the Federal Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research. In 1989 he joined the Stanford faculty as a clinical assistant professor of infectious diseases and was named associate medical director of Stanford’s AIDS Clinical Trial Unit, which conducted research into antiretroviral drugs that extended the lives of people with HIV. He died of Covid-19 in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he had moved after retiring in 2016, on January 25, 2021.

Rosalyn Koo (94) fundraiser for the Chinese community in the San Francisco area and for schoolgirls in China. Koo had led a successful career as chief financial officer and a partner of MBT Associates, a large architectural firm based in San Francisco, when in 1988 she retired, at age 62, to devote herself to good works. She became the kind of funding angel of whom nonprofits dream. She was a force behind the 70-unit Lady Shaw Senior Center, serving the Chinatown and North Beach neighborhoods, which faced considerable community opposition and took seven years to build. Koo died of chronic kidney failure in San Mateo, California on January 30, 2021.

Dr. Joseph Sonnabend (88) when he was growing up in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in the ‘30s and ’40s, Joseph Sonnabend watched his mother, a physician, make house calls in the middle of the night and talk with patients on the phone at all hours. He didn’t want to follow that path, but he did study medicine and became a medical researcher, working alongside Nobel laureates in England on virology and immunology. When he arrived in New York in 1969, he continued that research. But as a gay man, he was drawn into volunteering at the Gay Men’s Health Project in Greenwich Village and saw a need for doctors who would treat that population. He opened his own practice in the West Village in 1978. Sonnabend became one of the most important figures in the fight against AIDS, if also one of the most unheralded. Both a clinician and a researcher, he described himself as the total package. Sonnabend died of a heart attack in London, England, where he had lived since 2005, on January 24, 2021.


Otto Dov Kulka (87) at 31, Kulka was the youngest survivor of Auschwitz to testify in 1964 when 20 years of German failure to reckon with the Holocaust ended with the trial in Frankfurt of nearly two dozen former SS officers who had served at that extermination camp. Kulka delivered a moving account of how Jewish inmates had sung Hebrew hymns before being loaded onto trucks that would convey them to the gas chambers, how at 9 years old he escaped the mass execution of his mother and all the friends who had been deported with him from Czechoslovakia because he had been ill and was quarantined in the camp’s medical block. But for nearly the next 50 years, as a historian of the Holocaust at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he resisted letting his personal experiences color his scholarship. Only in 2013 did he finally reveal them, in a haunting memoir titled Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death: Reflections on Memory & Imagination. Kulka, who retired in 1999, died in Jerusalem, Israel on January 29, 2021.


Frank Shankwitz (77) cofounder of the Make-a-Wish charity and a former Arizona state trooper. Make-a-Wish is known for granting the wishes of children dealing with critical illnesses.“Wishes” range from trips to day-long experiences. The organization was created in 1980 after Shankwitz and five others helped a 7-year-old Phoenix boy battling leukemia to be a highway patrol officer for a day. Shankwitz also initially was president and chief executive. The charity estimates it has helped to realize the wishes of more than 500,000 children. It has grown to 60 chapters nationwide. Shankwitz was a patrol officer with the Arizona Department of Public Safety from 1972 until his retirement in ’96. He remained a reserve detective but also worked for the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division’s Office of Special Investigations. In all, he worked 42 years in law enforcement. He died of esophageal cancer in Prescott, Arizona on January 24, 2021.

News and Entertainment

Allan Burns (85) leading TV writer in the ‘70s and ’80s who helped to create the ground-breaking hit sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its dramatic spinoff, Lou Grant In 1969 Burns and James L. Brooks, his partner in creating Moore’s series, were working on Room 222, a comedy-drama series set in a Los Angeles high school, when Grant Tinker, Moore’s husband, asked them to create a series for her. Their first concept was that she play a divorced woman who worked as a reporter for a gossip columnist. But during a meeting Burns and Brooks attended at CBS headquarters in Manhattan, a research executive told them there were four things American audiences “won't tolerate”: New Yorkers, Jews, divorced people, and men with mustaches. Burns and Brooks quickly turned the series’ setting into a TV newsroom and Moore’s character, Mary Richards, into a woman who had never been married and had just ended a long-term relationship. The Mary Tyler Moore Show—set largely at WJM-TV in Minneapolis and in Mary Richards’ apartment—was praised for Moore’s portrayal of a single working woman and for its writing. The series ran from 1970–77 and won 29 Emmy Awards. Burns shared in five of them. He died of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia in Los Angeles, California on January 30, 2021.

Sonny Fox (95) host of the children’s TV show Wonderama who presided over a four-hour combination of fun and learning on Sunday mornings from 1959–67. Fox was a veteran of TV when he was hired for Wonderama by the New York station WNEW-TV (now WNYW). He had hosted a live local educational program in St. Louis and Let’s Take a Trip on CBS, on which he took two youngsters on a field trip each week. In 1956 CBS named Fox emcee of The $64,000 Challenge, but he was fired a few months after accidentally giving a contestant an answer. He was not embroiled in the scandal that emerged two years later when it was discovered that several quiz shows, including Challenge, had been rigged by their producers. On Wonderama, Fox’s mission was to tack away from the silly show it had become under previous hosts. But he was too serious at first, focusing on subjects like space exploration. Ratings began to fall. The show, taped before an audience of about 50 youngsters, soon found its footing. It became a dazzling mixture of cartoons, spelling bees, games like “Simon Says,” joke-telling (by the children), contests, dramatizations of Shakespeare plays, and magic. Fox died of Covid pneumonia in Encino, California on January 24, 2021.

Jonas Gwangwa (83) South African trombonist, vocalist, and composer who became a leading artistic ambassador for the antiapartheid resistance. Gwangwa’s trombone playing was marked by its tightly slurred notes and peppery rhythm. By his early 20s he had become known as the leading trombonist on the Johannesburg jazz scene. He was in the ensemble of the smash hit musical King Kong, South Africa’s first jazz opera, composed by musician and writer Todd Matshikiza and based on the life of a boxing champion. And with trumpeter Hugh Masekela, Gwangwa helped to found the Jazz Epistles, a sextet of young all-stars whose 1959 LP, Jazz Epistle: Verse 1, signaled a turning point in modern South African jazz. Gwangwa left the country in 1961, on tour with King Kong, and remained in exile for 30 years. But he stayed closely involved with the antiapartheid struggle being led by the African National Congress. In 1980, at the request of the ANC’s leaders, he assembled the Amandla Cultural Ensemble, the party’s official artistic group, which toured the world, helping to build support for the movement. Gwangwa died on January 24, 2021, exactly three years to the day after the death of Masekela.

Sobongile Khumalo (63) vocalist whose versatility among opera, jazz, and South African popular music made her a symbol of that country’s new social order after the end of apartheid. Khumalo’s voice had the power of an operatic mezzo-soprano and the directness of a pop singer. After making her debut in the title role in a production of Carmen in Durban, she earned wide acclaim for her roles in South African operas and plays. She was equally known for her catchy original compositions and her renditions of South African jazz standards like the anthem “Yakhal’ Inkomo,” written by saxophonist Winston Ngozi, which became a calling card. When the apartheid government fell and Nelson Mandela became the country’s first democratically elected president in 1994, Khumalo performed at his inauguration. She died of a stroke on January 28, 2021.

Cloris Leachman ((94) Oscar-winner for her portrayal of a lonely housewife in The Last Picture Show and a comedic delight as the fearsome Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein and self-absorbed neighbor Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. A character actor of extraordinary range, Leachman defied typecasting. In her early TV career, she appeared as Timmy’s mother on the Lassie series and played a frontier prostitute in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and a crime spree family member in Crazy Mama. In 1989 she toured in Grandma Moses, a play in which she aged from 45 to 101. In the 1993 movie version of The Beverly Hillbillies, she assumed the Irene Ryan role as Granny Clampett. Her Emmy haul over the years totaled eight, including two trophies for Moore’s sitcom, tying her with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the top Emmy winners among performers. In 2008 Leachman joined the ranks of contestants on Dancing with the Stars, not lasting long in the competition but pleasing the crowds with her sparkly dance costumes, perching herself on judges’ laps, and cussing during the live broadcast. She started out as Miss Chicago in the 1946 Miss America Pageant and willingly accepted unglamorous screen roles. Leachman died in her sleep in Encinitas, California on January 27, 2021.

Corky Lee (73) photojournalist who spent 50 years spotlighting the often ignored Asian and Pacific Islander American communities. Lee was present at many seminal moments impacting Asian-America over a 50-year career. He was born in New York to Chinese immigrant parents and was the first person in his family to go to college. A self-taught free-lance photographer, Lee aimed his camera lens on a slew of subjects from anti-Vietnam war protests to police brutality. Over the years his photos appeared in the New York Times, Time magazine, the New York Post, New York Daily News, the Associated Press, and Asian-American outlets. Most recently, he was documenting anti-Asian racism brought on by the pandemic. Lee died of Covid-19 in Queens, New York on January 27, 2021.

Gunnel Lindblom (89): Swedish actress who worked with Ingmar Bergman (died 2007) in his early classic films and on decades of stage productions. In The Seventh Seal (1957), Bergman’s portrait of a knight (played by Max von Sydow) returning from the Cruades to find his village devastated by plague, Lindblom was an unnamed mute girl. At the film’s end, her character finally speaks, announcing biblically, “It is finished.” In Wild Strawberries (1957), about an elderly professor reflecting on life and loneliness, she was the man’s beautiful and kind sister in turn-of-the-century flashbacks. Lindblom died in Brottby, Sweden, a small community north of Stockholm, on January 24, 2021

Elias Rahbani (82) Lebanese composer and lyricist who wrote the music for some of the Arab world’s top performers, including Lebanon’s diva Fairouz. Elias was the younger brother of Mansour and Assi Rahbani, the Arab world’s iconic musical duo known as the Rahbani Brothers, who wrote music and plays for Fairouz and other celebrities. Assi Rahbani, who was married to Fairouz, died in 1985, while Mansour died in 2009. The three brothers were pioneers of a Lebanese golden age of music and culture, before the country was plunged into a lengthy civil war in the mid-‘70s. Many Lebanese still start their day listening to their songs and see them as uniting figures, beloved across the country’s divided political spectrum. Elias Rahbani was hospitalized last week suffering low oxygen after he contracted the coronavirus, and succumbed to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, on January 25, 2021.

Cicely Tyson (96) versatile actress in film and on TV. Tyson worked less often than she could have because of her insistence that roles for black women reflect a sense of power and grace. One thing she was not shy about was her long string of acting achievements. In 1972 she was nominated for an Oscar for Sounder, playing a sharecropper whose husband is convicted for stealing a piece of meat. With her performance two years later in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, a story that culminates with Pittman, a 110-year-old ex-slave, defiantly drinking from an all-white water fountain, she cemented her reputation as one of America’s preeminent black actresses. Tyson performed on dozens of TV programs, in films and stage plays, and in 2013 received a Tony Award for her lead performance in The Trip to Bountiful. She was a Kennedy Center honoree in 2015. The next year, then-President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the US. She died on January 28, 2021.

Hilton Valentine (77) founding guitarist of the English rock band the Animals who was credited with coming up with one of the most famous opening riffs of the ‘60s. Hilton took up the guitar at 13 in his hometown of North Shields in northeast England, subsequently getting involved in the skiffle craze—a kind of fusion of American folk, country, jazz, and blues—that was sweeping the UK. His skiffle band the Heppers evolved into the Wildcats, a rock band that became popular across the north of England, partly because of Valentine’s habit of rolling on the floor while playing his guitar. Having learned his craft, he formed the Animals in 1963 alongside singer Eric Burdon, bassist Chas Chandler, organist Alan Price, and drummer John Steel. The band’s most famous hit came in 1964 when their rock-infused take on the American folk song “The House of the Rising Sun” topped the charts in the UK and the US. in recent years, Valentine had been living in Connecticut, returning to skiffle music with the formation of his band Skiffledog. He died on January 29, 2021.

Marc Wilmore (57) TV writer and producer known for his work on In Living Color, F Is for Family, and The Simpsons. Wilmore started his career in entertainment as a stand-up comedian and got his first break as a writer for In Living Color in 1990. In Season 5 he joined the show’s cast. Some of his most memorable comic impressions were of writer Maya Angelou; actress Isabel Sanford’s character on All in the Family, Weezy Jefferson; and Bob Hope as a black man. Wilmore later wrote for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno before landing at The PJs, an animated show created by his brother Larry and Eddie Murphy. He was also a voice actor on the show. Marc Wilmore died in Pomona, California little more than a week after he was found to have Covid-19, on January 30, 202

Sophie Xeon (34) Sophie, Grammy-nominated Scottish deejay, producer, and recording artist who had worked with the likes of Madonna and Charli XCX. Sophie began releasing music in 2013 and was best known in the early part of her career for being one of the writers of Madonna’s 2015 single “Bitch I’m Madonna.” She first used her own image and vocals for the October 2017 single “It’s Okay to Cry.” The recording paved the way for Sophie’s debut album, Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides. Released in June 2018, it received a Grammy nomination for best dance/electronic album. Sophie was transgender and widely considered one of the most pioneering artists in the music industry. The musician, whose full name was Sophie Xeon, died in Athens, Greece when she slipped and fell from the balcony of an apartment where she was staying, on January 30, 2021.

Politics and Military

Ross Graham (93) exponent of Manhattan’s West Side and a pioneering legislative aide whose legacy involves the Hudson River Park, the preservation of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, and the legalization of abortion in New York State. Graham was hired as a legislative aide in 1964 by State Sen. Manfred Ohrenstein, a Manhattan Democrat who became minority leader in 1975. She became his chief of staff and was at one point described as the highest-paid woman on the state payroll in Albany. In 1970, three years before the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe vs. Wade,. Graham was a leader in the legislative fight to decriminalize abortion in New York (hung the historic roll call tally on her wall), accomplished by a one-vote margin. After she retired from Ohrenstein’s staff in 1985, she was appointed to Community Board 4 on Manhattan’s West Side, serving from 1986–97, including two years as chairwoman. Graham died on January 28, 2021 from the coronavirus in Manhattan, which she contracted after being hospitalized for a broken hip.

Eugenio Martinez (98) last surviving Watergate burglar and the only figure in the scandal besides Richard M. Nixon to be granted a presidential pardon. Brigade 2506 was a veterans group of Martínez’s fellow anti-Communist Cuban exiles. Their abortive invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 to overthrow the government headed by Fidel Castro was covertly supported by the Central Intelligence Agency. Martínez was indelibly linked to a crime that set in motion the downfall of a president. He was said to have infiltrated Cuba hundreds of times on CIA missions to plant anti-Castro agents there or extract vulnerable Cubans. He was one of four operatives recruited in 1972 to burglarize the headquarters of the Democrat National Committee at the Watergate complex in Washington. Martinez said he had been enlisted by E. Howard Hunt, a White House operative and another Bay of Pigs veteran CIA alumnus. By Martínez’s account, the burglars were instructed to search for proof that Castro was subsidizing the campaign of Nixon’s Democrat rival for reelection, Sen. George S. McGovern. Martinez died in Minneola, Florida on January 30, 2021.

Margaret C. Snyder (91) whose liberal Catholic upbringing inspired a pioneering career at the United Nations, where she refocused the mechanisms of global development aid to include millions of women in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Snyder had already spent years working on women’s development issues in Tanzania when she joined the UN Economic Commission for Africa in 1971. At the time the overwhelming male staff directed most of its resources to helping men become better farmers and entrepreneurs, even while women were doing much of the growing and selling. During her nearly 20 years at the UN and more than 30 years afterward as an informal adviser to the organization, Snyder created and ran a series of programs that brought millions of dollars in training, loans, and equipment to women around the world—for instance, supplying mills to women in Burkina Faso to process shea butter and helping Kenyan women to counter soil erosion by planting trees. Snyder died of cardiac arrest in Syracuse, New York on January 26, 2021.


George Armstrong (90) captained the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the ‘60s. Armstrong had 296 goals and 417 assists over 21 seasons for the Leafs, including 12 seasons as team captain, and remains the franchise’s leader in games played, variously listed at 1,187 or 1,188. The right wing had 26 goals and 34 assists in 110 playoff games. Known as the “Chief,” Armstrong was one of the first players of Indigenous descent to play professional hockey. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975. Some 41 years later, he was voted No. 12 on the franchise’s list of 100 greatest Maple Leafs in its centennial season. He became one of a few Leafs honored with a banner at Scotiabank Arena, and his number was retired in October 2016 at the team’s centennial anniversary home opener. In 2015 Armstrong was added to the Leafs’ Legends Row. He died of heart complications on January 24, 2021.

John Chaney (89) Temple University basketball coach whose booming voice drowned out the gym when he scolded players. His voice was loudest when it came to picking unpopular fights, lashing out at NCAA policies he said discriminated against black athletes, and it could be profane when Chaney let his own sense of justice get the better of him with confrontations that threatened to undermine his role as father figure to scores of his underprivileged players. Complicated, cranky, quick with a quip, Chaney was an imposing presence on the court and a court jester off it, all while building the Owls perched in rugged North Philadelphia into one of the toughest basketball teams in the US. Chaney led Temple to 17 NCAA tournament appearances over 24 seasons, including five NCAA regional finals. He had 741 wins as a college coach, was twice named national coach of the year, and his teams at Temple won six Atlantic 10 conference titles. Just eight days after he turned 89, Chaney died after a short, unspecified illness, on January. 29, 2021.

Reggie Jones (93) whose 64-year tenure made him the longest-serving lifeguard at Jones Beach State Park on Long Island. Jones, a World War II Navy veteran, began his lifeguard career at Jones Beach as a teenager in 1944 and worked every summer—including several years at other state beaches on Long Island—until 2009, making more than 1,000 ocean rescues. Even well into his 70s, Jones continued to astound his fellow lifeguards by passing the beach’s demanding recertification test each spring. He would show up in his old woolen one-piece tank-top lifeguard suit and pass the strenuous pool sprint. He last passed the test in 2008, when he was 80. But the next year he missed the 100-yard swim’s required time of 80 seconds—by two seconds—forcing the seemingly ageless lifesaver into retirement. While it was only coincidence that Jones’s last name was also that of the famous beach he protected, it did seem to further cement his status as its best-known employee. He died in Rockville Centre, New York on January 30, 2021.

Lubomir Kavalek (77) chess grandmaster who fled Czechoslovakia after the 1968 Soviet invasion and, after moving to the US, became a three-time national champion. From the mid-‘60s until about 1980, Kavalek was consistently among the best chess players in the world, winning more than a dozen major international tournaments. His world ranking peaked at No. 10 in 1974. He was also one of the first and most elite players to flee the Soviet bloc for the West. He died of cancer in Reston, Virginia on January 25, 2021.

Sekou Smith (48) multimedia reporter and analyst for NBA TV and In 2009 Smith was hired by Turner Sports, which hosts NBA TV, as a senior on-air analyst and as a writer for He wrote a weekly column, “The MVP Ladder,” and began the NBA “Hang Time” blog and podcast, on which he interviewed players, reporters, and coaches. He had a knack for thought-provoking commentary. Smith died of the coronavirus in Marietta, Georgia on January 26, 2021.

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