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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, March 13, 2021

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Joan Walsh Anglund, children's book author and illustratorRobina Asti, transgender flight instructorKenneth Cooper, harpisthordist, pianist, and musicologistRonald DeFeo, killer whose murderous spree inspired 'The Amityville Horror'Richard H. Driehaus, Chicago investorDr. Carola Eisenberg, human rights advocateLeon Gast, documentary filmmakerSally Grossman, mystery woman on Bob Dylan album coverRicardo González Gutiérrez, Mexican clown known as Cepillin'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler, '80s middleweight boxing championWilhelmina Cole Holladay, fonder of first museum dedicated to women artistsNorton Juster, children's authorWalter LaFeber, Cornell history professorJames Levine, longtime conductor of Metropolitan Opera orchestraSister Janice McLaughlin, onetime president of Maryknoll SistersRoger Mudd, longtime network news anchorLuis Palau, Argentine evangelistBretton Sciaroni, US lawyer who became adviser to Cambodian governmentNorm Sherry, gave good advice to Sandy KoufaxStephen Spurrier, wine entrepreneurGreg Steltenpohl, built new business after deadly mistake

Art and Literature

Joan Walsh Anglund (95) when her family moved to New York from the Midwest in the mid-‘50s, Anglund felt profoundly lonely. Staring out at the Manhattan cityscape, she had the feeling that everyone was living in what she called “separate boxes of distrust.” It comforted her to imagine that behind every window was a potential friend. She jotted down her thoughts and left them in a desk drawer. Her husband found them, suggested that she include illustrations, then showed the work to a series of publishers. The first few rejected it, but when it landed on the desk of Margaret McElderry, children’s book editor at Harcourt Brace, Anglund had found a publisher. That book, A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You (1958), sold more than four million copies and was named one of the 10 best illustrated books of the year. It was the first of more than 120 children’s books that Anglund produced over the next 50 years. They have been translated into multiple languages and sold more than 50 million copies around the world. Anglund died of heart failure in Litchfield County, Connecticut on March 9, 2021.

Wilhelmina Cole Holladay (98) used her social connections, organizational acumen, and personal collection of hundreds of works by female painters to establish the country’s first museum dedicated to women in the arts, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which she opened in 1987 and continued to guide as chairwoman until recently. Holladay was a skillful Washington networker, someone who understood how to use party invitations and seats on nonprofit boards to press an agenda. But where others might have used those talents to lobby for clients or accumulate power for its own sake, she had a different goal in mind: inserting women into art history, which she believed had too long ignored their contributions. A patrician with impeccable taste and sense of decorum, she rubbed shoulders with first ladies, lunched with Mellons and Gettys, and drew on those associations and others in Washington’s cultural establishment over the six years it took to open the museum, housed in a former Masonic temple three blocks from the White House. Under Holladay’s guidance, the museum grew to include more than 5,500 works by more than 1,000 artists, with an endowment of $66 million and network of supporting committees in 13 states and 10 countries. Holladay died in Washington, DC on March 13, 2021.

Norton Juster (91) children’s author who created a world of adventure and word-play in the million-selling classic The Phantom Tollbooth (1961) and in such favorites as The Dot & the Line and Stark Naked. The Phantom Tollbooth followed the adventures of young Milo through the Kingdom of Wisdom, a land extending from The Foothills of Confusion to The Valley of Sound, populated by the princesses Rhyme and Reason and the fearsome Gorgons of Hate and Malice. Illustrations were provided by his roommate at the time, Jules Feiffer, who later collaborated with Juster on The Odious Ogre, published in 2010. Eric Carle of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame illustrated Juster’s Otter Nonsense, which came out in 1982. As Juster wrote in the introduction to a 1999 reissue of The Phantom Tollbooth, he first thought of the book when he was in his late 20s and working at an architectural firm in New York. He found himself wondering, the way a child might, about how people relate to the world around them. Juster had suffered a recent stroke and died in Northampton, Massachusetts on March 8, 2021.


Business and Science

Richard H. Driehaus (78) investor who grew his grade-school coin collection into a fortune that he wielded to champion historic preservation and classical architecture. Driehaus restored landmarks in the Chicago area and gave the city a palatial museum that celebrates the Gilded Age. He also established a $200,000 annual prize in his name for classical, traditional, and sustainable architecture as a counterbalance to the $100,000 Pritzker Prize, funded by another Chicago family, which he viewed as a validation of modern motifs that were a “homogenized” rejection of the past. He was immersed in the stock market from age 13, took gambles on risky rising stocks, and in 2000 was named one of the 25 most influential mutual fund figures of the 20th century by Barron’s. While he also won a lifetime achievement award from the American Institute of Architects in 2015 for sponsoring competitions that produced better designs, he never formally trained in that field. But he knew what he liked, and what he didn’t. Driehaus died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Chicago, Illinois on March 9, 2021.

Dr. Carola Eisenberg (103) broke gender barriers as a dean at both Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School and helped to found Physicians for Human Rights. Eisenberg's campaign against anti-personnel landmines led to a Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. A psychiatrist, she was descended from Jewish socialist refugees from Czarist Russia and was a native of Argentina. She was inspired to pursue psychiatry after visiting a mental hospital as a teenager with her father and was shocked to see hundreds of patients chained to their beds. She blazed a trail in the US both in human rights advocacy and in academia while becoming an outspoken proponent of parity for women in medicine. She was MIT’s dean of student affairs from 1972–78, the first woman to hold that position. From 1978–90 she was dean of student affairs at Harvard Medical School, again the first woman to be named to that office. Her work on behalf of human rights accelerated in the ‘80s, when she was invited to visit El Salvador, Chile, and Paraguay to document the rights abuses being committed by authoritarian governments there as they sought to wipe out leftist guerrillas. Eisenberg died in Lincoln, Massachusetts on March 11, 2021.

Allan McDonald (83) engineer who on a chilly January morning in 1986 tried to stop the launch of the Challenger space shuttle, citing the possible effect of the cold on its booster rockets, and after it broke apart on liftoff, blew the whistle when government officials tried to cover up his dissent. McDonald was a 26-year veteran at Morton Thiokol, the contractor responsible for the shuttle’s booster rockets, when he arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida a few days before January 28, when the Challenger was to take off. The mission was to be the first to carry a civilian into space, a teacher named Christa McAuliffe. President Ronald Reagan was planning to mark that milestone in his State of the Union address, coincidentally scheduled for the same day as the launch. But McDonald, who ran the company’s booster-rocket program, had strong reservations about moving ahead with the launch. The shuttle’s rockets contained a series of rubber O-ring gaskets, and he worried that low temperatures could cause them to stiffen, allowing fuel to escape and potentially causing the rocket to explode. McDonald died in Ogden, Utah from complications of a recent fall, on March 8, 2021.

Stephen Spurrier (79) the world was paying little attention on May 24, 1976, when a small wine tasting was held in Paris at the Intercontinental Hotel. But the echoes of that tasting, later called the Judgment of Paris, have resounded for decades. The instigator, Spurrier, an Englishman who owned a wine shop and wine school in Paris, had set up a blind tasting of 20 wines—10 white and 10 red—for nine French judges, including some of the top names in the French wine and food establishment. Of the whites, all made from the chardonnay grape, six were from California, four from Burgundy. The reds, all made largely or entirely from cabernet sauvignon, included six from California and four from Bordeaux. It was hardly thought to be a fair fight. As has been recounted countless times, the judges were thoroughly convinced that California wines were inferior. But when all was done, a shocking consensus revealed the favorite wines to be a 1973 chardonnay from Chateau Montelena and a ‘73 cabernet sauvignon from Stag’s Leap Cellars, both in Napa Valley. The Americans celebrated, the French shrank in consternation, and everlasting fame awaited Spurrier, who had a long career as a wine entrepreneur. He died of cancer in the village of Litton Cheney in Dorset, England on March 9, 2021.

Greg Steltenpohl (67) in 1980 Steltenpohl and his hippie friends in Santa Cruz, California bought a juicer for $250, began squeezing fresh orange juice, and sold it out of the back of a Volkswagen van to support their real passion: playing jazz. Their little start-up quickly evolved, and by 1990 Steltenpohl and his friends had become pioneers in the premium fresh juice sector with a company they called Odwalla, named for a song-poem by the Art Ensemble of Chicago. With Odwalla’s natural ingredients and catchy branding, sales had climbed to $59 million by 1996. But the company was suddenly short-circuited that year by an E. coli outbreak in its raw apple juice, which killed a toddler and sickened scores of other consumers. Much of the company’s revenue vanished almost overnight. Steltenpohl, devastated by the harm his product had caused, left the company in 1998 but regrouped. After several years of smaller hits and misses, he built another company, Califia Farms, which makes almond milk, cold-brewed coffee, and other nondairy products. Califia, with its carafe-shaped bottles, is now one of the most successful brands in the nearly $20 billion plant-based beverage industry. Steltenpohl died in Los Angeles, California on March 11, 2021 of complications from a liver transplant he had nine years earlier.


Education

Walter LaFeber (87) Cornell University history professor and author whose version of American diplomacy drew hundreds of students and spectators to his Saturday morning lectures. LaFeber’s followers influenced the nation’s foreign policy. He did not like to label himself or others but was widely considered a “moderate revisionist.” He was a disciple of the so-called Wisconsin School of diplomatic history inspired by William Appelman Williams, which challenged conventional accounts of American exceptionalism by suggesting that US foreign policy was also motivated by imperialism. LaFeber valued the roles that institutions played in shaping history but never underestimated the influence of individuals. He enlivened his books and lectures by fleshing out characters from Aaron Burr and John Quincy Adams to George W. Bush and even Michael Jordan. His book Michael Jordan & the New Global Capitalism (1999) was about basketball as a metaphor for globalization. While he could condemn without demonizing, LaFeber had no compunctions about exposing hypocrisy. He died in Ithaca, New York on March 9, 2021.


Law

Bretton Sciaroni (69) American lawyer who became a powerful business broker and an adviser to the government in Cambodia after being fired as a White House official when he became embroiled in the Iran-contra scandal. In more than 30 years in Cambodia, Sciaroni became a well-connected figure in legal and business circles there as he offered legal opinions to the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen. One served to justify the PM’s seizure of full power in a violent 1997 coup. That analysis and the controversy that followed it harked back to a legal opinion that Sciaroni had drawn up as a 35-year-old lawyer in Washington justifying a behind-the-scenes deal in which profits from arms sales to Iran were to be used to fund the Nicaraguan rebels known as the contras, despite a law severely limiting such assistance. Sciaroni said that he had failed the bar exam four times but had been hired by the White House on the assurance that he would take the exam again—which he did, passing it on his fifth try. In firing him, the White House said it had not been aware that he had failed the bar exam when he was hired. Sciaroni died on March 12, 2021, in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. No autopsy was performed to determine the cause.


News and Entertainment

Kenneth Cooper (79) harpsichordist, pianist, and musicologist acclaimed for performances of Baroque music, whose nearly 100 recordings also included performances of contemporary works and ragtime and whose collaborators included cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Cooper had a flair for improvisation and ornamentation based on his scholarly studies of early music practices. Cooper performed regularly at festivals in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Lucerne, Switzerland; and Salzburg, Austria. He also appeared with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. His recordings include well-received albums of Scarlatti sonatas and Bach’s violin sonatas. Cooper had suffered a stroke a few days before he died in New York City on March 13, 2021.

Leon Gast (84) filmmaker whose 22-year quest to make When We Were Kings, a documentary about Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s epic 1974 boxing match, involved a Liberian shell company, the Hells Angels, a drug deal gone bad, singer Wyclef Jean, and ultimately an Oscar. Gast had already directed one major documentary, about New York's Latin music scene, when he learned in 1974 of a plan by boxing promoter Don King to stage a combination music festival and boxing match in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire (today the Democratic Republic of Congo). The fight, billed as the “Rumble in the Jungle,” was to take place on September 25, 1974, preceded by the three-day music festival. But on September 17, Foreman cut his forehead while sparring. He needed 11 stitches, and the fight was pushed back six weeks. Gast had a sense of the drama unfolding: Ali was 32 years old, considered over the hill for a boxer and certainly no match for Foreman (then 25), the reigning heavyweight champion of the world, whose 40-0 record included 37 knockouts. The fight finally took place on October 30. Ali had bragged for weeks about how he was going to “dance” around the ring to avoid Foreman’s powerful fists. But instead he leaned back against the ropes, absorbing blows until Foreman wore out, after which Ali delivered a knockout punch. Gast died of Alzheimer’s disease in Woodstock, New York on March 8, 2021.

Sally Grossman (81) one of Bob Dylan’s most important early albums, Bringing It All Back Home from 1965, has the kind of cover that can strain eyes and fuel speculation. It is a photograph of Dylan, in a black jacket, sitting in a room full of bric-a-brac that may or may not mean something, staring into the camera as a woman in a red outfit lounges in the background. Fans became so fixated on deciphering it that a rumor took hold that the woman was Dylan in drag, representing the feminine side of his psyche. She wasn’t; she was Sally Grossman, wife of Dylan’s manager at the time, Albert Grossman. The photo was shot in the Grossmans' house in Woodstock, New York. The photo, staged by photographer Daniel Kramer with Dylan’s input, was an early example of what became a minitrend of loading covers with imagery that seemed to invite scrutiny for insights into the music. Sally Grossman died on March 11, 2021 in the Bearsville section of Woodstock, not far from the house where the photograph was taken.

Ricardo González Gutiérrez (75) Mexican clown known as Cepillín, who was watched by generations of children throughout Latin America. Known for his cherry-red nose and his black painted beard, Cepillín mixed physical comedy with song, dance, and ventriloquism in performances on TV and in the circus ring. His falsetto voice filled homes across Mexico, particularly to the tune of his ever-popular version of the traditional Mexican birthday song, “Las Mañanitas.” In a half-century career, Cepillín hosted TV shows broadcast from Mexico, sold millions of copies of his albums of children’s songs, and later drew millions of viewers to his videos on TikTok and YouTube. He toured Mexico and the US with circus companies, including his own and the Ringling Brothers, performing for everyone from drug cartel capos to former President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico. But by his account, it was his work ethic, not his talent that made him a household name in the Spanish-speaking world, including among Latinos in the US. Cepillin had recently learned he had cancer but died from cardiac arrest in Mexico City, Mexico on March 8, 2021.

James Levine (77) conductor who ruled over New York's Metropolitan Opera for more than 40 years before being eased aside when his health declined, then was fired for sexual improprieties. Levine made his Met debut in 1971 and became one of the signature artists in the company’s century-plus history, conducting 2,552 performances and ruling over its repertoire, orchestra, and singers as music or artistic director from 1976 until he was forced out by general manager Peter Gelb in 2016 owing to Parkinson’s disease. Levine became music director emeritus and remained head of its young artists program but was suspended on December 3, 2017, after accounts in the New York Post and the New York Times of sexual misconduct dating to the ‘60s. He was fired in March 2018 and never conducted again. He had been scheduled to make a comeback performance on January 11 in Florence, Italy, but the concert was canceled because of the pandemic. Levine died in Palm Springs, California of natural causes on March 9, 2021.

Roger Mudd (93) political correspondent and anchor, a major fixture in network TV news for over 30 years. Mudd was best known for two major stories involving the Kennedy family. He interviewed Robert F. Kennedy shortly before he was mortally wounded on June 5, 1968 by an assassin at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Kennedy had won the California Democrat presidential primary that night. In November 1979 Mudd sat down for a televised prime-time TV interview with Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy to talk about his Democrat primary challenge to then-President Jimmy Carter. Mudd directly asked Kennedy why he wanted to be president. The senator gave a hesitant and meandering answer that undermined his candidacy, and Carter won the nomination in 1980. Mudd had a sonorous voice and commanding appearance, making him an attractive candidate for an evening news anchor chair at a time when the nightly broadcasts set the agenda for the country. Mudd was a frequent substitute for Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News and anchored the weekend editions of the broadcast in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. He was considered Cronkite’s heir apparent. But Dan Rather was ultimately chosen to succeed Cronkite. Mudd died of kidney failure in McLean, Virginia on March 9, 2021.


Society and Religion

Robina Asti (99) World War II veteran and mutual-fund executive who inspired a generation of transgender people in the 2010s with her successful fight for her husband’s Social Security benefits. Just last year Asti became the world’s oldest active flight instructor. She had been living quietly as a woman for nearly 40 years when she applied for survivor benefits from the Social Security Administration in 2012, a few months after her husband died. It took a year for the agency to deny her application, on the grounds that she was not legally a woman at the time of her marriage. Although most of her government-issued documents, including her pilot’s license and even her Social Security card, recognized her as a woman, the agency’s determination of survivor benefits was based on her birth certificate, which identified her as a man. Asti was livid. She searched online for help and found Lambda Legal, a nonprofit law firm that specializes in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. She died in San Diego, California on March 12, 2021.

Ronald DeFeo Jr. (69) was convicted of killing his parents and four siblings at the family’s home in Amityville, New York in 1974—a spree that spawned a series of books and movies, including the 1979 film The Amityville Horror. DeFeo, who was serving 25 years to life in prison, had been held at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York since 1975. He was transferred to the Albany Medical Center on February 2. He was convicted in 1975 on six counts of second-degree murder after he confessed to using a rifle to shoot and kill his father, Ronald DeFeo Sr.; his mother, Louise; his sisters, Dawn and Allison; and his brothers, Mark and John Matthew. The victims were found in their beds with gunshot wounds on November 13, 1974. DeFeo, the oldest of the siblings, was 23 at the time. The DeFeos’ house in Amityville, a village on the South Shore of Long Island, has since been the setting for dozens of books and documentaries, beginning with the 1977 book The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson and a 1979 movie of the same title that inspired multiple remakes, prequels, and sequels. Ronald DeFeo died in Albany, New York on March 12, 2012.

Sister Janice McLaughlin (79) Maryknoll Sisters nun who was jailed and later deported by white minority-ruled Rhodesia for exposing human rights abuses. In a life dedicated to social justice, McLaughlin supported the African nationalist struggle that ended Rhodesia and brought Zimbabwe to independence and later contributed to the country’s education system. She worked in Africa for nearly 40 years and later became president of the Maryknoll Sisters. Born and educated in Pittsburgh, McLaughlin joined the Maryknoll order in 1961. After working elsewhere in Africa for several years, she went to the southern African country then known as Rhodesia, then embroiled in a war by black nationalists to overthrow the white minority regime headed by Prime Minister Ian Smith. Working for the Catholic Commission for Justice & Peace in Zimbabwe, McLaughlin used the church’s network across the country to uncover human rights abuses including the systematic torture of rural black residents and the forced resettlement of nearly 600,000 in what Rhodesian authorities called “protected villages.” She reported that the sites were fortified camps patrolled by Rhodesian security forces, densely populated without adequate sanitation or nutrition, and that more than twice as many people were living in the camp than the government acknowledged. McLaughlin died in New York City on March 7, 2021.

Luis Palau (86) evangelical pastor who was born in Argentina and worked with Billy Graham before establishing his own powerhouse international ministry. Born to an affluent family in Buenos Aires, Palau rose from obscurity to become one of the best-known international Christian evangelists. Over a career that spanned more than 50 years, he wrote 50 books and addressed more than 30 million people in 75 countries at evangelical “festivals” that were his modern-day take on the more traditional crusades that boosted his mentor and idol, Graham, to fame. Palau announced in January 2018 that he had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He died in Portland, Oregon on March 11, 2021.


Sports

'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler (66) ruled boxing as middleweight champion from 1980–87, defending his title 12 times until he lost to Sugar Ray Leonard in a hotly contested split decision. Hagler was one of the most formidable fighters of his era, defeating a string of challengers that included Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns, whom he knocked out in the third round of a 1985 fight that he considered the highlight of his career. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993. Hagler died unexpectedly in Bartlett, New Hampshire on March 13, 2021.

Norm Sherry (89) whose suggestion to Dodgers teammate Sandy Koufax helped the future Hall of Fame pitcher to reach his potential. Sherry played five years in the majors, hitting .215 with 18 home runs and 69 runs batted in. He was with the Dodgers from 1959–62 and finished his career with the New York Mets in ’63. But it was Sherry’s contributions without a bat that helped along the careers of Koufax and Don Sutton, another Hall of Fame pitcher for the Dodgers, who died in January. In 1961 Koufax was pitching and Sherry was catching against the Minnesota Twins in a spring training game in Florida. Koufax was struggling with his control, something that had plagued the left-hander up to that point. He walked the first three hitters, prompting Sherry to visit the mound and suggest that Koufax take some speed off his fastball to gain better control. The advice helped to contribute to Koufax’s turnaround, and he was hailed as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball. Sherry died of natural causes at an assisted living facility in San Juan Capistrano on March 8, 2021.


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