Robert Asprin (61) novelist and pioneer of humorous fantasy literature. Asprin published his first novel, The Cold Cash War, in 1977, and the first installment of his "MythAdventures" series in '79. An award-winning writer, he made the New York Times best-seller list with his 1990 novel, Phule's Company, and with Phule's Paradise (1992). His novel Dragons Wild, set in New Orleans, came out earlier in the year. A sequel was set for release in April 2009. He was found dead at his home in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 22, 2008.
Thelma ("Mommy") Keane (82) inspiration for the Mommy character in the long-running "Family Circus" comic strip created by her husband, Bil Keane. "Family Circus," which Bil Keane began drawing in 1960, depicts the good-humored life of two parents and their four children; it is now featured in about 1,500 newspapers. Thelma Keane died of complications from Alzheimer's disease in Phoenix, Arizona on May 23, 2008.
Martin Levin (89) longtime (1958-85) book critic for the New York Times's "Book Review," who routinely read and reviewed at least five books a week. Besides his stand-alone reviews, Levin wrote a long-running weekly column, first called "Reader's Report" when it started in 1961, in which he reviewed as many as a half-dozen books at once. He died in New York City on May 21, 2008.
Jan Hird Pokorny (83) Czech-born architect whose New York firm became known for restoring and adapting historic buildings for reuse. Among the historic buildings restored and redesigned or modernized under Pokorny's supervision are Lewisohn Hall at Columbia University, the Schermerhorn Row block at the South Street Seaport, the Brooklyn Historical Society building, the National Lighthouse Museum on Staten Island, and the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan. He died in New York City on May 20, 2008.
John Weber (75) New York art dealer known for his early advocacy of Conceptual Art, Post-Minimalist sculpture, and Italian Arte Povera. Weber operated his own gallery, the first in SoHo, for nearly 30 years (1971-2000). He died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Hudson, New York on May 23, 2008.
Gareth Gilson Wells (63) architect who supervised the renovation of President Richard M. Nixon's Western White House in San Clemente, California. Wells died of a heart attack while playing golf in Maryland on May 24, 2008.
Jeanne Viner Bell (85) publicist who helped an advocacy group for California winemakers to get its products served on the diplomatic social circuit in Washington, DC. In the mid-'60s, French varietals still dominated state dinners at the White House and functions at US embassies. Bell persuaded the White House and State Department to serve and promote California wine. She died of complications from Alzheimer's disease, in Los Angeles, California on May 21, 2008.
Dr. Charles Brenner (94) psychoanalyst who for nearly 50 years was dean of American psychoanalysis, working to clarify, refine, and defend its core principles. Brenner's death followed an emergency medical procedure to relieve internal bleeding, in New York City on May 19, 2008.
Walter R. Davis (88) Texas oil tycoon and philanthropist. Davis developed Permian Oil Co., which merged with Occidental Petroleum, one of the nation's largest oil-related businesses. As Occidental chief executive, he took part in oil marketing projects in half a dozen foreign countries. He later left Occidental and started over, creating Basin Inc., providing services to the oil industry. He died in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on May 19, 2008.
Dr. Jesse E. Edwards (96) leading cardiac pathologist who amassed a huge collection of human hearts to allow doctors to study coronary disease, congenital defects, and trauma. In the late '50s, while a professor of pathology at the Mayo Clinic, Edwards began to collect hearts and other tissue specimens removed during autopsies. The collection now includes 22,000 specimens of hearts, heart valves, lungs, and blood vessels, many preserved in formalin in plastic bags. Edwards died of heart failure in Rochester, Minnesota on May 18, 2008.
Dr. Erwin Hirsch (72) renowned trauma surgeon and chief of Boston Medical Center's trauma surgery unit for more than 25 years. helping to treat victims of car crashes, gunshot wounds, and accidents. Hirsch drowned in a boating accident after the dinghy he was in capsized in 48-degree waters off the Maine coast in Rockport Harbor. He was unconscious when he was pulled from the water and was later pronounced dead at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Penobscot, Maine on May 23, 2008.
Dritan Hoxha (39) Albanian businessman who founded and operated Albania's largest media company Top Media, parent company of Top Channel TV, the digital platform Digitalb. Hoxha had spent the last two years clashing with the center-right government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha over mobile satellite broadcasting rights, but also faced allegations of tax evasion, which he denied. He was killed in a car accident in Tirana, Albania on May 23, 2008.
Dr. Martin Kelly (42) one of Britain's leading plastic surgeons and husband of British actress Natascha McElhone. Dubbed the "king of rhinoplasty," Kelly recronstructed the nose of socialite Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, after it was damaged by cocaine abuse, in the first full-face transplant performed in British medical history. He was found slumped in the doorway of his home, dead of an apparent heart attack, in London, England on May 20, 2008.
Stuart Moldaw (81) founder of the Ross Dress for Less retail clothing chain and a leading philanthropist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Moldaw saw a niche in the affordable clothing market and started Ross, now one of the country's leading "off-price" retailers, in the early '80s. The chain began with six stores in the Bay Area and now has more than 900 locations in 27 states. He died of cancer in Atherton, California on May 24, 2008.
Dr. George E. Moore (88) cancer researcher, among the first to link chewing tobacco to mouth cancer and built the Roswell Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo, New York into a major cancer research center. Moore died of bladder cancer in Conifer, Colorado on May 19, 2008.
Dr. Oscar D. Ratnoff (91) physician whose research into how the blood coagulates helped to reveal the "waterfall" biochemical response involved in the body's reaction to wounds and trauma that leads to effective clotting. Ratnoff died of respiratory failure in Cleveland, Ohio on May 20, 2008.
Jeheskel ("Hezy") Shoshani (65) former Wayne State University professor and noted elephant authority who became interested in elephants after reading Burma Boy by Willis Lindquist. Shoshani devoted years to researching the animals' evolutionary behavior, along with their anatomy and physiology. During nearly 25 years of teaching biology at Wayne State, Shoshani had contributed a skeleton of a famous circus elephant to the school and one of a mastodon to Oakland Community College, where he established the Elephant Research Foundation in 1977. He published about 200 scientific articles and books on elephants and edited the publication Elephant. He was among several people killed in an explosion in a public minibus in downtown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 20, 2008.
Dr. Ted Votteler (80) pediatric surgeon whose pioneering career made him the third Texas surgeon to specialize in performing operations on children. Votteler became one of the first surgeons in the nation to separate conjoined twins while doing his general surgical residency in Dallas during the '50s. Over his long career, he performed an estimated 20,000 surgeries, including successfully separating seven sets of conjoined twins. He died of complications from surgery in Dallas, Texas on May 23, 2008.
Margaret Wetzel (83) philanthropist and leader in the arts community in Los Angeles and Sonoma County who, with her husband, Harry, helped to establish the Alexander Valley Vineyard. Wetzel joined the board of directors of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1979. She died of complications from Alzheimer's disease in Healdsburg, California on May 22, 2008.
Sophie B. Altman (95) Washington lawyer and mother of four who in 1961 started a TV quiz show for precocious high school students, later added pep bands and cheerleaders, and was as surprised as anybody when It's Academic became the world's longest-running TV quiz show. It still appears in about a half-dozen cities besides Washington. Altman died in Washington, DC on May 24, 2008.
Joseph N. Feinstein (74) champion of the idea that education should address young people's hearts and their intellect. Feinstein developed the first class in Los Angeles city schools designed to help students deal with death and other forms of loss. In the '80s, he was host of an award-winning TV talk show, Teen Talk, that allowed teenagers to tackle tough social and family issues. He died of heart failure in Panorama City, California on May 24, 2008.
Zelma Henderson (88) last surviving plaintiff in Topeka's Brown v. Board of Education case, which led to the historic 1954 US Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation in public schools. Henderson died of pancreatic cancer in Topeka, Kansas on May 20, 2008.
Cornell Capa (90) founder of the International Center of Photography in New York after a long and distinguished career as a globe-trotting photojournalist, first on the staff of Life magazine, then as a member of Magnum Photos. Capa was the younger brother of legendary photojournalist Robert Capa, killed on assignment in Indochina in 1954. Cornell Capa died in New York City on May 23, 2008.
Maria Sue Chapman (5) youngest adopted daughter of Grammy-winning contemporary Christian gospel music singer Steven Curtis Chapman. The Chapman family did missionary work at Chinese orphanages (2006-07) and promoted international adoption. They have three daughters from China, including Maria. The experience led them to create Shaohannah's Hope, a foundation and ministry to financially assist thousands of couples in adoption. Maria was accidentally struck and killed by her teenage brother as he was backing his SUV down the family's driveway in Nashville, Tennessee on May 21, 2008. No charges were expected.
Gloria Jean Gibbons (72) mother of TV personality Leeza Gibbons who inspired her daughter to create a nonprofit organization that supports patients with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. The Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation was set up by the younger Gibbons in 2002, about three years after her mother's illness was diagnosed. Gloria Jean Gibbons died of complications from Alzheimer's disease in White Rock, South Carolina on May 22, 2008.
Robert Knox (18) actor who worked as a film extra and was set to appear in a credited role as Ravenclaw student Marcus Belby in the upcoming Harry Potter film, The Half-Blood Prince (2008), to be released in November. Knox was stabbed and killed during a pub brawl after intervening on behalf of his younger brother when threatened by two men in Kent, England on May 24, 2008.
Dick Martin (86) half of the comedy team whose Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In took TV by storm in the late '60s, making stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin and creating such national catch-phrases as "Sock it to me!" The show ended in 1973, and Dan Rowan (center above; d. 1987) and Martin split in '77. After a second career directing TV sitcoms like The Bob Newhart Show, Archie Bunker's Place, and Family Ties, Martin died of respiratory failure in Santa Monica, California on May 24, 2008.
Jimmy McGriff (72) acclaimed blues organist who scored his first hit in the '60s with an instrumental arrangement of "I've Got a Woman," then continued to record hard-swinging grooves that appealed to audiences across musical boundaries. McGriff was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis many years ago. He died of what was believed to be heart failure in New Jersey on May 24, 2008.
Michelle Meldrum (39) cofounder and former lead guitarist of the all-female heavy metal band Phantom Blue. While her career flourished, Meldrum married European guitarist John Norum and moved to Sweden to form her own multinational hard rock band Meldrum. She had just completed writing and recording their soon-to-be-released third album with drummer Gene Hoglan. She fell into coma on May 18 as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage but was later declared brain dead owing to a cystic growth on her brain that had restricted oxygen and blood flow, in Burbank, California on May 21, 2008.
Donald Murphy (90) stage and screen actor best remembered for his role as Dr. Oliver Frank(enstein) in the cult classic Frankenstein's Daughter (1958). Murphy also made various film and TV appearances during the '60s and '70s. He died in Santa Fe, New Mexico on May 19, 2008.
Siegmund Nissel (86) second violinist of the Amadeus Quartet, an internationally renowned ensemble that had its roots in the internment camps of wartime Britain. One of the most highly regarded string quartets of the 20th century, the Amadeus performed widely and made about 200 recordings. It was also known for its longevity, performing for 40 years (1948-87) without a single personnel change. Nissel fled his native Germany as a child to escape Nazi persecution of Jews. He died in London, England on May 21, 2008.
Sonny Okosuns (61) Nigerian singer and musician who achieved international stature by aiming his music—a catchy, rock-inflected mix of funk, reggae, Afrobeat, and more—at human-rights abuses. Okosuns died of colon cancer in Washington, DC on May 24, 2008.
Joseph Pevney (96) film and TV director who directed some of the most popular episodes of the original Star Trek TV series in the late '60s, including "The Trouble with Tribbles." Pevney was a former Broadway actor who played supporting roles in several notable films noir in the late '40s before directing movies such as Man of a Thousand Faces and Tammy & the Bachelor (both 1957). Focusing on TV from the early '60s to the mid-'80s, when he retired, Pevney directed episodes of numerous series such as Wagon Train, The Munsters, The Fugitive, Bonanza, 12 O'Clock High, The Virginian, Adam-12, Marcus Welby MD, Emergency, The Incredible Hulk, Fantasy Island, Medical Center, and Trapper John MD. He died in Palm Desert, California on May 18, 2008.
Bruce Phillips (73) Grammy-nominated folk singer known for his extensive touring over nearly 40 years and strong support of peace groups and labor unions in his works. Also known professionally as U. Utah Phillips, he died of congestive heart failure in Nevada City, California, a small town in the Sierra Nevada mountains about 60 miles north of Sacramento, on May 23, 2008.
Gellért Raksányi (83) Hungarian actor, a member of the Hungarian National Theatre for 53 years and its most popular character actor. Raksányi also appeared in more than 50 films, including Rákóczi hadnagya (1954; Rákóczi's Lieutenant), Körhinta (1956; Merry-Go-Round), and a 1983 TV movie version of Phantom of the Opera starring Maximillian Schell in the title role. On TV, among other shows, he was a regular on the legendary family series Szomszédok (1987-99; Neighbors). He died in Budapest, Hungary on May 20, 2008.
Lawrence Roman (86) screenwriter best known for writing the hit Broadway play Under the Yum-Yum Tree and for adapting the farce into the 1963 movie version starring Jack Lemmon. In a career that spanned 50 years, Roman wrote more than 20 movies and teleplays, including a 1968 film adaptation of George Plimpton's Paper Lion and the original screenplay for McQ, a '74 movie starring John Wayne. Roman died of a stroke complicated by kidney failure, 12 days before his 87th birthday, in Woodland Hills, California on May 18, 2008.
Irving Rosenthal (95) professor of journalism at City College of New York for 40 years who supplied the newsrooms and broadcast studios of America with thousands of journeymen reporters and editors and a few of the nation's most prominent journalists. Rosenthal's students included A. M. Rosenthal (no relation), the late executive editor of the New York Times; Daniel Schorr of National Public Radio and formerly CBS; and Marvin Kalb of CBS and NBC News. Rosenthal died in Great Neck, New York on May 18, 2008.
Vijay Tendulkar (80) leading Indian playwright whose award-winning Marathi-language theatrical plays were inspired by real-life incidents or social upheavals. Tendulkar was best known for his highly influential dramatic works Ghashiram Kotwal and Shakharam Binder (both 1972). He died of complications from myasthenia gravis in Pune, India on May 19, 2008.
Randy Acord (89) aviation historian who helped to found an air museum and worked to improve relations with the Russians during World War II. In 1943 as a test pilot, Acord flew planes with the Cold Weather Testing Station at what is now Fort Wainwright, Alaska, trying out new heating systems and the effectiveness of landing planes with skis. He was known for his vast knowledge of aeronautics, which he could rattle off with ease to visitors of the Alaska Air Pioneer Museum, which he helped to establish in 1992. He died of pneumonia in Fairbanks, Alaska on May 19, 2008.
Crispin Beltran (75) left-wing Philippine lawmaker and veteran labor leader. Beltran led the country's largest left-wing labor federation, the May One Movement, and was arrested in 1982 under late dictator Ferdinand Marcos but escaped two years later and joined the underground anti-Marcos movement. He had been a congressman since 2001 and was a sharp critic of current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He slipped and fell to his death while climbing a ladder to fix his roof in Manila, Philippines on May 20, 2008.
R. C. ("Chappy") Czapiewski (79) former high school science teacher who founded the Burbank Aviation Museum. Fascinated by the history of Skunk Works, the Lockheed Martin Corp. site that once employed as many as 90,000 people in Burbank and developed a host of famous, high-tech military planes such as the U-2 spy plane and the F-117 stealth fighter, Czapiewski sought out others interested in honoring and preserving aviation history in the San Fernando Valley. He died in Toluca Lake, California on May 20, 2008.
Walter H. Diamond (95) expert on international taxation, trade, and economics who advised world leaders and wrote more than 80 books. Diamond had a wide-ranging career in academia, the private sector, and government, becoming involved in international affairs as early as World War II. He died of kidney failure in White Plains, New York on May 23, 2008.
Joseph P. Hoey (95) former US attorney for the Eastern District of New York for most of the '60s after handling high-profile cases for the Brooklyn district attorney in the '40s and '50s, including the conviction of illegal gambling kingpin Harry Gross. Hoey died of heart failure in Mineola, New York on May 22, 2008.
Hamilton Jordan (63) political strategist from south Georgia who helped to propel Jimmy Carter to the White House and was his chief of staff. Jordan died of cancer in Atlanta,
Georgia on May 20, 2008.
Brian Keenan (66) leading figure during the Irish Republican Army's long march from war to peace. Keenan built up the IRA's weapons arsenal in the '70s, directed its bombing campaign in England, and served on its ruling "army council" for 10 years—casting votes to break and call cease-fires in the '90s. He died of cancer in Dublin, Ireland on May 21, 2008.
Byron Klute (76) former Richmond, Ind. mayor who helped to oversee a rebuilding effort after a 1968 natural gas explosion destroyed much of the city's downtown. A Democrat, Klute was a history and government teacher at Richmond High School when he was elected mayor in 1967, taking office just months before the April 6, 1968 explosion that killed 41 people and injured more than 100 others. He died of cancer in Richmond, Indiana on May 21, 2008.
Jack Mildren (58) former Oklahoma lieutenant governor in the '90s and first quarterback in the University of Oklahoma's high-powered wishbone offense in 1971, when the Sooners set an NCAA record that still stands by averaging 472.4 rushing yards. Mildren ran for governor in 1994 as Democrat Party nominee but lost to Republican Frank Keating. He died of cancer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 22, 2008.
Barbara Sears (Bobo) Rockefeller (91) former wife of Winthrop Rockefeller (d. 1971) before he was governor of Arkansas in the '60s and '70s and mother of the late former Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller (d. 2006). A Pennsylvania coal miner's daughter, Barbara Sears married Rockefeller in 1948 and divorced him in '54, walking away with a $5.5 million settlement. She died in Little Rock, Arkansas on May 19, 2008.
Dakin Williams (89) former federal prosecutor and brother of A Streetcar Named Desire playwright Tennessee Williams (d. 1983). Dakin Williams had been an assistant US attorney before entering private practice and ran unsuccessfully for the Democrat nomination for Illinois governor and a US Senate seat decades ago. He died in Belleville, Illinois on May 20, 2008.
Daniel Garcia-Guzman (111) oldest validated person in Colombia and one of the 10th longest-lived people in the world, the only verified South American supercentenatian ever. Garcia-Guzman died in Villahermosa, Colombia on May 21, 2008.
Robert Hale (67) man who called himself "Papa Pilgrim" and in 1988 led his wife and 15 children on a spiritual quest to Alaska wilderness. Hale was originally from Texas and in 1958 eloped with Kathleen Connally (16), daughter of former Gov. John Connally. The young woman died suspiciously, and Hale said he began his quest as a "pilgrim" after that. In 2007 he was sentenced to 14 years in prison after pleading no contest to family charges of rape, assault, and incest. He had been treated for advanced cirrhosis, diabetes, and blood clots and was in hospice care in prison when he died, in Anchorage, Alaska on May 24, 2008.
Huntington Hartford 2nd (97) heir to the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) who inherited a fortune and lost most of it chasing his dreams as an entrepreneur, arts patron, and man of leisure. Hartford inherited an estimated $90 million and lost an estimated $80 million of it on ventures that either bombed or fizzled, among them an automated parking garage in Manhattan, a handwriting institute, a modeling agency, and his own disastrous stage adaptation of Jane Eyre. Married and divorced four times, he died in Lyford Cay in the Bahamas on May 19, 2008.
Harold L. Johnson (66) former police chief who made Alabama history in 1990 when he became Mobile's first and only black police chief until '96. Johnson retired because of heart problems. He died in Mobile, Alabama on May 22, 2008.
Adam Laing (41) eldest son of leading controversial Scottish family pyschiatrist Dr. Ronald David ("RD") Laing (d. 1989). Adam Laing was recently reported to have separated from his wife six months ago and had been working on a Mediterranean island as a general handyman. His badly decomposed body was found almost 40 days later in a tent beside an empty vodka bottle on private land in Formentera, near Ibiza, Spain on May 20, 2008.
Jill Swift (79) former teacher and hiking enthusiast whose love of the outdoors led her to play a central role in the creation of a national park in the Santa Monica Mountains. Swift was one of three women widely acknowledged as the prime force behind the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Along with activists Sue Nelson and Margot Feuer, Swift helped to lead the effort that won federal approval in 1978 of what is now the world's largest urban national park. She died of multiple myeloma in Tarzana, California on May 19, 2008.
Herbert H. Hash (97) oldest surviving former Red Sox pitcher. Hash played two major league seasons, both with Boston, and compiled an 8-7 record with a 4.98 ERA in 38 appearances, including 12 starts. He was 7-7 with a 4.95 ERA in 1940 and 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in four games, all in relief, in '41. He died of a stroke in Culpeper, Virginia on May 20, 2008.
Lloyd Moore (95) NASCAR winner in 1950 and oldest former driver. Moore won his lone NASCAR title in Winchester, Ind. and finished fourth in the 1950 standings. He died in his sleep in Frewsburg, New York on May 18, 2008.