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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, February 20, 2021

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U-Roy, Jamaican deejayFlorence Birdwell, vocal coach flanked by two former students, Broadway musical stars Kelli O'Hara and Kristin ChenowethPriscilla Read Chenoweth, civil rights activist and lawyerPrince Markie Dee, member of Fat Boys trioArturo Di Modica, Sicilian sculptor of Wall Street's 'Charging Bull'Fred Figa, pharmacist who saved babies' livesHenry.Goldrich, owner of Manny's Music in NYCLawrence Otis Graham, lawyer and journalistFernando Hidalgo, Cuban entertainer in FloridaCharles Hill, Scotland Yard detective who specialized in recovering stolen artVincent Jackson, former NFL wide receiverDerek Khan, fashion stylistRush Limbaugh, Conservative talk radio pioneerDr. Bernard Lown, cardiologist who invented heart defibrillatorEdward C. Luck, US foreign policy advisor to UNJessica McClintock, fashion designer of Gunne SaxCarlos Menem. former president of ArgentinaBruce Meyers, designer and builder of dune buggySister Dianna Ortiz, tortured in GuatemalaLt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, Romanian intellgence official and Cold War defectorJohnny Pacheco, 'father of salsa'Naomi Rosenblum, author of books on hstory of photographyKristofer Schipper, Dutch scholar of Chinese history and cultureJack Schwartz, longtime newspaper 'deskman'Arne Sorenson, Marriott CEODouglas Turner Ward, cofounder of Negro Ensemble Co.Stan Williams, All-Star pitcherBill Wright, first black USGA winner

Art and Literature

Arturo Di Modica (80) artist who sculpted “Charging Bull,” the bronze statue in New York that became a symbol of Wall Street. The sculptor lived in New York for more than 40 years. He arrived in 1973 and opened an art studio in the city’s SoHo neighborhood. With the help of a truck and a crane, Di Modica installed the bronze bull sculpture in New York's financial district without permission on the night of December 16, 1989. He reportedly spent $350,000 of his own money to create the 3.5-ton bronze beast that came to symbolize the resilience of the US economy after a 1987 stock market crash. Di Modica died in his hometown of Vittoria, Sicily, Italy on February 19, 2021.

Naomi Rosenblum (96) wrote about the history of photography and helped to elevate it as an art form. Rosenblum was the author of seminal works that helped to bring scholarship and recognition to photography as a creative art form after practitioners, notably Alfred Stieglitz, had revolutionized the field by defying the conventions of subject matter and composition—creating images in the rain and snow, for example, or of a pattern that the sea cut in the sand. Histories of photography traditionally focused on England, France, and the US. But Rosenblum’s major contribution, A World History of Photography (1984), provided a true global perspective. The book was translated into several languages and remains a standard text in the field. Her other major work, A History of Women Photographers (1994), traced their accomplishments from the mid-1800s through he late 20th century. As she wrote, women’s participation in photography accelerated after George Eastman introduced the easier-to-use Kodak camera in 1888. Rosenblum died of congestive heart failure in Long Island City, Queens, New York on February 19, 2021.


Business and Science

Fred Figa (65) in late 1983, a staff member in the neonatal ward of Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia had a question for Figa, a young pharmacist who belonged to the hospital unit that investigated the safety of new medicines. A pharmaceutical company was pitching a new vitamin E injection, marketed under the brand name E-Ferol, as a nutritional supplement for premature babies. Should they buy it? Figa made a flurry of phone calls and discovered that the injection had in fact not been reviewed by the Federal Drug Administration. No, he replied; hold off. Then he alerted federal investigators. His diligence saved an untold number of babies’ lives. Figa and the investigators had stumbled onto a deadly product safety crisis, and a scandal. Officials, aided by Figa’s dogged research, later found that the FDA had failed to enact safeguards pertaining to E-Ferol’s side effects in low-weight newborns—side effects that resulted in the deaths of 38 infants from organ failure in hospitals around the country. Figa became a star witness at congressional hearings that forced E-Ferol’s distributor, O’Neal, Jones & Feldman Pharmaceuticals, to pull it from the market in mid-1984. Fred Figa died in Morristown, New Jersey on February 16, 2021.

Henry Goldrich (88) longtime owner of Manny’s Music in Manhattan, where he supplied instruments and other performance equipment to a generation of rock stars. But even though Goldrich did not play an instrument himself, he played an important role in rock by connecting famous musicians with cutting-edge equipment. Manny’s, which closed in 2009 after 74 years in business, was long the largest and best-known of the cluster of music shops on the West 48th Street block known as Music Row. It was opened in 1935 by Goldrich’s father, Manny, and it was a second home for Henry since he was an infant, when the shop’s clientele of swing stars doted on him. By 1968, when his father died at 62, Henry Goldrich had largely taken over operations and had turned the shop into an equipment mecca and hangout for world-renowned artists by expanding its inventory of the latest gear and by solidifying connections with suppliers that helped him to stock high-level instruments and new products. He died in Boca Raton, Florida on February 16, 2021.

Dr. Bernard Lown (99) Massachusetts cardiologist who invented the first reliable heart defibrillator and later cofounded an antinuclear war group that was awarded the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. A professor at Harvard University and a physician at Brigham & Women’s Hosital in Boston, Lown had been among the first doctors to emphasize the importance of diet and exercise in treating heart disease and introduced the drug lidocaine as a treatment for arrhythmia. In 1962 he invented the direct-current defibrillator, or cardioverter, which uses electric shocks to get hearts to resume beating. He was also an outspoken social activist, founding Physicians for Social Responsibility in 1960 and later cofounding International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in the '80s. The international antiwar group called for a moratorium on testing and building nuclear weapons; it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness about the consequences of nuclear war during the height of Cold War tensions between the US and the Soviet Union. At its peak, the group had more than 200,000 members and chapters in more than 60 countries. Lown died of congestive heart failure in the Boston, Massachusetts area on February 16, 2021.

Jessica McClintock (90) fashion designer whose romantic, lacy confections dressed generations of women for their weddings and proms. In 1969 McClintock was a newly divorced mother and had been teaching science and music to sixth graders in Cupertino, California when she invested $5,000 in a San Francisco dress business called Gunne Sax. Soon after, McClintock became the sole owner, designer, and saleswoman. She had no design training, but she could sew. Inspired by San Francisco's “flower children,” she began making calico, lace, and beribboned granny dresses. It was a style—a little bit Victorian, a little bit prairie—that hippies in the Haight-Ashbury section had popularized by putting together the wares of vintage clothing stores. Gunnes, as McClintock’s dresses were known, became a cult item, and Gunne Sax became a wildly successful business. By the mid-‘70s, the dresses could be found in department stores across the country. For just over $50 (the equivalent of about $250 today), you might find an ankle-length, cinched-bodice Victorian number at your local mall. McClintock died of congestive heart failure in San Francisco, California on February 16, 2021.

Bruce Meyers (94) built the first “dune buggy,” fashioned out of lightweight fiberglass mounted on four oversized tires with two bug-eyed headlights and a bright paint job. The result became both an overnight automotive sensation and part of the California surf culture, especially when he created a space in the back to accommodate a surfboard. Meyers called the vehicle the Meyers Manx, and it made him into a revered figure among off-roaders, surfers, and car enthusiasts of all types. He built thousands of dune buggies, designed boats and surfboards, worked as a commercial artist and a lifeguard, traveled the world surfing and sailing, built a trading post in Tahiti, and even survived a World War II Japanese kamikaze attack on his Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Bunker Hill. Meyers died in the San Diego, California area on February 19, 2021.

Arne Sorenson (62) Marriott chief executive who grew the company into the world’s largest hotel chain and steered it through a global pandemic that has been catastrophic for the travel industry. Sorenson loved every aspect of the hotel business and relished traveling and meeting employees around the world. Marriott has 30 hotel brands, including Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, and Westin, and more than 7,000 properties worldwide. Sorenson was the first Marriott CEO whose name was not Marriott and only the third to lead the company in its 93-year history. He joined the Bethesda, Maryland company in 1996, leaving behind a partnership in a Washington law firm where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions. He rose to president and chief operating officer before he was named CEO in 2012. After becoming Marriott’s top executive, he oversaw the $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels in 2016 and pushed the international chain to become more sustainable while also trying to combat human trafficking. He died of pancreatic cancer in Washington, DC on February 15, 2021.


Law

Priscilla Read Chenoweth (90) civil rights activist and lawyer who spent seven years and tens of thousands of dollars of her own money to exonerate a stranger wrongly convicted of second-degree murder. Chenoweth was an editor for a legal journal in 1991 when when she learned about an 18-year-old son of Colombian immigrants named Luis Kevin Rojas, convicted and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for murder in a fight between two teen groups in New York. After talking to people who knew Rojas, who lived in Union City, New Jersey, Chenoweth doubted his guilt. She eventually spent about $60,000 ($100,000 today) on his defense—and that’s not accounting for the thousands of pro bono hours that she and other lawyers put into it. In 1995 Chenoweth and her team got the original conviction overturned, thanks in large part to the testimony of a transit police officer, who said he saw Rojas and a friend at a train station half a mile from where the incident took place at exactly the same time the shooting occurred. Chenoweth died after a series of strokes in Silver Spring, Maryland on February 16, 2021.

Charles Hill (73) Scotland Yard detective Hill stood inside a house in Norway and beheld the artistic treasure he had been searching for: “The Scream,” Edvard Munch’s 1893 masterpiece. It was May 1994, three months after two thieves had propped a ladder against the National Gallery in Oslo and stolen the painting. The Norwegian police asked for help from Scotland Yard’s art and antiques unit, which assigned Hill, a leading specialist in recovering stolen art. He posed as “Christopher Roberts,” a representative of the J. Paul Getty Museum (which was in on the ruse), willing to pay steeply for “The Scream.” Working with other detectives from the art and antiques unit, Hill tracked down an art dealer who had connections to the thieves, met with him and one of the crooks in a hotel in Oslo, and agreed to pay $530,000 (nearly a million in today’s dollars) for the painting. Then he drove south with the dealer to his summer house in Asgardstrand, where he had hidden “The Scream” in the basement. Hill died of a torn aorta in London, England on February 20, 2021.


News and Entertainment

Ewart ('U-Roy') Beckford (78) helped to transform Jamaican music by expanding the role of deejay into someone who didn’t just introduce records but added a layer of vocal and verbal improvisation to them, a performance known as toasting and that anticipated rap. U-Roy, born Ewart Beckford, wasn’t the first toaster, but he expanded the possibilities of the form with his lyricism and sense of rhythm. Just as important, he took it from the open-air street parties, where it was born, into the recording studio. U-Roy died in Kingston, Jamaica on February 17, 2021.

Florence Birdwell (96) voice teacher whose many students included Tony Award-winning Broadway musical stars Kelli O’Hara and Kristin Chenoweth. Birdwell taught voice from 1946–2013 at Oklahoma City University, establishing herself as a dramatic, no-nonsense mentor. She helped aspiring musical theater and opera singers to unlock the mysteries of captivating an audience, but she could also make her students weep with her candid feedback on their progress. During a visit to Manhattan in 2015 to see their Tony-nominated performances in revivals of two classic musicals, O’Hara in The King & I and Chenoweth in On the 20th Century—O’Hara won (Chenoweth had already won a Tony in 1999 for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown)—Birdwell conducted a master class for about a dozen former students. She died in Yukon, Oklahoma on February 15, 2021.

Prince Markie Dee (52) as a member of the trio the Fat Boys, Dee released some of hip-hop’s most commercially successful albums of the ‘80s and helped to speed the genre’s absorption into pop culture. In the mid-‘80s the Fat Boys were among hip-hop’s best-known groups. Their 1987 album Crushin’ went platinum and featured a collaboration with the Beach Boys, “Wipeout,” that was their biggest hit, reaching No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. That year the group starred in a full-length comedy, Disorderlies. Hip-hop was just beginning to be accepted into the mainstream of American pop culture, and the group’s light-hearted rhymes, accessible dance routines, and winning comedic approach made them effective ambassadors on hits including “Jailhouse Rap,” “Stick ’Em,” and “Can You Feel It.” Some of their songs were about food and played on their image as harmless heavyweights. Born Mark Anthony Morales, Prince Markie Dee died in Miami, Florida, one day before his 53rd birthday, on February 18, 2021.

Lawrence Otis Graham (59) Ivy League-trained lawyer whose explorations of class identity and divisions among blacks made him one of the most widely read, and debated, black writers of the ‘90s. Graham had already made partner at a Manhattan law firm and written 11 books when, in 1992, he deleted his Princeton and Harvard degrees from his résumé and took a job in the restaurant at the Greenwich Country Club in Connecticut, an experience he then recounted in a cover article for New York magazine. He described the racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism he encountered while clearing tables for white club members. But he also admitted that he had a desire to be seated alongside them. The article, “Invisible Man,” became one of the most-talked-about pieces of journalism that year. Graham sold the film rights to Warner Bros. for $300,000 (the equivalent of about $560,000 today), and Denzel Washington was slated to play him, but the project fizzled. Graham never went back to his law firm, choosing instead to be a full-time writer. He died in Chappaqua, New York on February 19, 2021.

Fernando Hidalgo (78) every weeknight for 14 years, Hidalgo burst into the living rooms of Spanish-speaking households across the US to a Cuban fanfare, as dancers in colorful costumes shimmied to bongos and trumpets and a theme song bearing his name. Broadcasting from a studio in Hialeah Gardens, Florida, just ouside Miami, Hidalgo filled his show with interviews, monologues, skits with winking double entendres, scantily clad dancers who shocked abuelas (grandmothers),and a generous helping of live Cuban music for nostalgic abuelos (grandfathers). At 7 p.m. or 11 p.m., El Show de Fernando Hidalgo, which aired on América TeVé and later on MegaTV, was appointment viewing in Latino households, particularly in south Florida, New York, and Puerto Rico. Hidalgo died of Covid-19 in Coral Gables, Florida on February 15, 2021.

Derek Khan (63) fashion stylist to hip-hop and rhythm and blues stars like Salt-N-Pepa, Pink, and Lauryn Hill who later fell far from those glittering heights. A creator of the over-the-top look known as “ghetto fabulous,” he persuaded rap stars to shed the street wear they were known for and to let him dress them in Fendi, Chanel, and Dolce & Gabbana and jewels from Harry Winston, Piaget, and Van Cleef & Arpels. But when the bottom fell out of the music business, he developed a dangerous habit: He borrowed jewels from Harry Winston and others, as he had long done, but instead of adorning his clients, he pawned the baubles for cash. His world came crashing down in 2003, when he was sent to prison for two years. When he was released in 2005, he was immediately deported to his native Trinidad. Khan remade himself two years later in Dubai, where he died of Covid-19 on February 15, 2021.

Rush Limbaugh (70) Conservative talk radio pioneer. During his more than 30 years on air, Limbaugh ripped into liberals, foretold the rise of Donald Trump, and flouted political correctness, making him one of the most powerful voices in politics. He announced in February 2020 that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. New York AM radio station WABC carried his program beginning in 1988 and served as his national broadcasting flagship for years. The program later aired on New York’s WOR. Former President Donald Trump last year awarded the broadcaster the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Limbaugh died in Palm Beach, Florida on February 17, 2021.

Johnny Pacheco (83) salsa idol, a cofounder of Fania Records, Eddie Palmieri’s bandmate, and backer of music stars like Rubén Bladés, Willie Colón, and Celia Cruz. Pacheco was born in 1935 in the Dominican Republic into a family of musicians. In the ‘40s the family moved to New York, where Johnny taught himself to play accordion, violin, saxophone, and clarinet and studied percussion at Juilliard. In 1954 he formed the Chuchulecos Boys with Palmieri on piano, Barry Rogers on trombone, and other musicians who gained renown on the salsa scene, such as Al Santiago, Mike Collazo, and Ray Santos. But the life-changing moment came in 1963 when Pacheco partnered with attorney Jerry Masucci to found Fania Records. Pacheco was music director, composer, arranger, and producer, overseeing the label’s genre of music that came to be known as salsa—a mixture of Cuban mambo, guaracha, and chachachá, Puerto Rican rhythms, and Dominican meringue. He received the Latin Recording Academy Music Excellence Award in 2005 and was nominated for multiple Grammys and Latin Grammys. He had been hospitalized in New York a few days earlier for pneumonia and died on February 15, 2021.

Jack Schwartz (82) lifelong newspaperman who knew early that he was best suited to the kinds of jobs that are valued in a newsroom but largely invisible to the reading public. In the fall of 1959 Schwartz landed a job out of college as a reporter for the Long Island Press, based in Queens, New York, and a few months later found himself covering his first big story, a hotel fire on Atlantic Beach, on the South Shore. But Schwartz never actually went to the scene. Instead he pieced the story together from telephone interviews and wire service copy. It was in those types of behind-the-scenes jobs that Schwartz became a familiar and mentoring figure to several generations of New York journalists, primarily through his long stints at Newsday and the New York Times. He died of Covid-19 in the Bronx, New York on February 16, 2021.

Douglas Turner Ward (90) actor, playwright, and director who cofounded the Negro Ensemble Co., a New York theater group that supported black writers and actors at a time when there were few opportunities for them. The company produced critically acclaimed productions, among them Joseph A. Walker’s The River Niger (1972), which won the Tony Award for best play in 1974 and was adapted for film in ’76. Ward not only directed the play but also acted in it, earning a Tony nomination for best featured actor in a play. Other notable productions by the company included Samm-Art Williams’ Home (1979) and Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama A Soldier’s Play (1981), about a black officer investigating the murder of a black sergeant at a Louisiana Army base during World War II when the armed forces were segregated. The cast included Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. The Negro Ensemble Co. became—and continues to be—a training ground for black actors, playwrights, directors, designers, and technicians. Many of the troupe’s actors over the years became stars, among them, besides Washington and Jackson, Angela Bassett, Louis Gossett Jr., and Phylicia Rashad. Ward died in New York City on February 20, 2021.


Politics and Military

Edward C. Luck (72) foreign policy adviser regarded as a conscience of the diplomatic community for devising strategies to prevent genocide and other mass atrocities. As a special adviser at the United Nations to Secretary-General Ban Kimoon, Luck was instrumental in codifying when and how that world body and its member nations were obliged to intervene to prevent genocide and fulfill their “responsibility to protect” (a principle later known by the “Star Wars”-infused nom de paix, R2P). That responsibility was endorsed in principle at a UN World Summit in 2005 in the wake of atrocities committed in the Balkans and in Rwanda that the world community had failed to prevent, and after NATO’s military intervention in Kosovo, which some nations criticized as violating existing rules against the use of force. Operating at the level of assistant secretary-general from 2008–12, Luck amplified on the vague diplomatic jargon adopted in ‘05 and synthesized it into a practical strategy. He died of lung cancer in Briarcliff Manor, New York on February 16, 2021.

Carlos Menem (90) former Argentine president who delivered short-lived economic stability and forged close ties with the US in the ‘90s even as he navigated scandal and enjoyed an often flamboyant lifestyle. The dapper lawyer from one of Argentina’s poorest provinces, dismissed by critics as a playboy, steered Argentina toward a free-market model that was, at one point, envied by neighbors and favored by investors. But Menem’s accomplishments coincided with growing unemployment, economic inequality, and foreign debt. He was also flexible as a politician, beginning his career as a self-styled disciple of Gen. Juan Domingo Peron, who founded the populist movement that bears his name and placed the economy largely under state control. Menem, who served two terms as president between 1989–99, transformed the country—but not in a good direction. He was hospitalized in December with kidney failure and had been put in a medically induced coma. He died in Buenos Aires, Argentina on February 14, 2021.

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa (92) senior Romanian intelligence official and an adviser to his country’s president, Nicolae Ceaucescu, who arrived in Bonn, West Germany, one day in June 1978 on a diplomatic mission. Ceaucescu had given him a message for the German chancellor—and orders to devise a plan to assassinate an American journalist who covered Romania. An engineer who specialized in industrial espionage, Pacepa had no interest in murder. He entered the US Embassy and announced his intention to defect. When he landed at Andrews Air Force Base a few days later, he became one of the highest-ranking officials to flee the Soviet bloc during the Cold War. Ceaucescu offered a $2 million reward for his death and reportedly hired Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, a Venezuelan terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, to find him. Pacepa spent the rest of his life living under an assumed name in the US. In his 1987 book Red Horizons: Chronicles of a Communist Spy Chief, he exposed the corruption and cruelty of the Ceaucescu regime at a time when the Romanian leader was courting the West as a moderate, pragmatic Communist leader. after the regime fell, excerpts were read at the trial of Ceaucescu and his wife, Elena; they were both executed. Pacepa died on February 14, 2021.


Society and Religion

Sister Dianna Ortiz (62) American Roman Catholic nun whose rape and torture in Guatemala in 1989 helped to lead to the release of documents showing American involvement in human rights abuses in that country. While serving as a missionary and teaching Indigenous children in the western highlands of Guatemala, Sister Ortiz was abducted, gang-raped, and tortured by a Guatemalan security force. Her story became even more explosive when she said that someone she believed to be an American had acted in concert with her abductors. Only after years of extensive therapy at the Marjorie Kovler Center in Chicago for survivors of torture did Sister Ortiz start to recover, at which point she began to hunt down information about her case. She became a global champion for people subjected to torture, and her case helped to compel the release of classified documents showing decades of US complicity in human rights abuses in Guatemala during its 36-year civil war, in which 200,000 civilians were killed. It was never clear why she and many other Americans were targeted. She died of cancer in Washington, DC on February 19, 2021.

Kristofer Schipper (86) Dutch sinologist whose work helped to usher in a fundamental shift in how people think of Chinese religion and society. Schipper had made Taoism his life’s work, helping to elevate it from a widely disregarded faith to a religious tradition that is regularly included in global discussions of current issues like climate change. More important, his ideas contributed to an understanding of how Chinese society has been organized through its history—by local autonomous groups often centered on temples rather than the emperor and his bureaucracy, as historians have traditionally tended to depict it. An ordained Taoist priest, Schipper combined first-hand knowledge of rural religious life with deep textual study of classical Chinese. He died in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, after developing a blood clot in his stomach, on February 18, 2021.


Sports

Vincent Jackson (38) former NFL wide receiver. Jackson played for the San Diego Chargers for seven seasons before becoming a free agent because of a contract dispute, then played five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making his last appearance in 2016. He recorded 57 receiving touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl three times. The son of military parents, he founded the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation, a nonprofit to support military families. The Chargers are now based in Los Angeles. Jackson's family initially reported him missing on February 10. He was found dead in a Florida hotel room five days after authorities spoke with him as part of a welfare check. A housekeeper at the Homewood Suites in Brandon, Florida, near Tampa, discovered his body at around 11:30 a.m. on February 15, 2021. There were no signs of trauma.

Stan Williams (84) All-Star pitcher who helped the Dodgers to win the 1959 World Series. Williams also won a World Series title in 1990 as pitching coach with the Cincinnati Reds. The two-time All-Star right-hander was part of a powerhouse Los Angeles rotation that included Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Johnny Podres from 1960–62. Williams, known as the “Big Hurt” because of his penchant for pitching inside, had a record of 109-94 and a 3.48 earned run average during his 14-year career in the majors. He was signed as a free agent by the Dodgers and made the big-league club when the team moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958. He was with them until 1962. He pitched three scoreless innings in the second game of the National League tie-breaker series against the Milwaukee Braves to send the Dodgers into the 1959 World Series. Williams was winning pitcher in the 6-5 victory in 12 innings. The Dodgers and the Braves tied for the NL championship at the end of the regular season. Williams was hospitalized on February 11 and died of cardiopulmonary illness in Laughlin, Nevada on February 20, 2021.

Bill Wright (84) first black competitor to win a US Golf Association event in an era when blacks were not welcome either in segregated country clubs or in the top amateur and professional ranks. Wright was attending Western Washington College of Education (now Western Washington University) in 1959 when he won the USGA Amateur Public Links Championship in Denver. After barely qualifying for match play, he had little trouble in the tournament. His skill on the greens led the Spokane Spokesman-Review to call him a “slender putting wizard.” Wright’s victory was a singular moment for black golfers at a time when the Professional Golfers Association of America’s bylaws still had a “Caucasians-only” clause (abolished in 1961). Wright had a stroke in 2017 and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease when he died in Los Angeles, California on February 19, 2021.


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