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Life In Legacy - Week ending January 21, 2012

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Etta James, R&B singerSaud Nasser al-Sabah, former Kuwaiti ambassador to USJohn F. Baker Jr., Vietnam War heroRoy J. Britten, Caltech biologistSarah Burke, Canadian freestyle skierLarry Butler, recording producerJimmy Castor, funk and soul saxophonistThérèse Delpech, French foreign policy analystEd Derwinski, first head of US Veterans AffairsManuel Fraga Iribarne, Spanish politicianGigi Gordon, LA criminal defense attorneyGerre Hancock, classical organistJonathan (‘Jack’) Idema, former Green BeretStuart Irby, Jackson, Miss. businessmanEiko Ishioka, Oscar-winning costume designerGustav Leonhardt, Dutch harpsichordist, organist, and conductorJohn Levy, jazz bassist turned personal managerWarren Lockhart, film producerJohn D. Lowry, restored classic filmsBill Mardo, sportswriter for ‘Daily Worker’Una Mulzac, Harlem bookstore ownerMichael Mussa, IMF economistJohnny Otis, white R&B singer and songwriterGiuseppe Quintarelli, Italian winemakerJiri Raska, champion Czech skierYuri Rasovsky, creator of radio plays and audio booksWinston Riley, reggae musician and producerRobert F. Sanchez, first US Hispanic RC archbishopRichard J. Sheirer, former NYC emergency officialHulett C. Smith, former governor of West VirginiaMarty Springstead, youngest World Series umpire crew chiefRudi van Dantzig, Dutch choreographerPhilip Vannatter, detective who led investigation in O. J. Simpson caseHomai Vyarawalla, Indian photojournalistJack Lionel Warner, California architectJacqueline Wexler, former RC nun

Art and Literature

Jack Lionel Warner (84) architect whose Montecito-based firm, the Warner Group Architects, designed the Bel-Air Country Club and a wing of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. They were named four times to Architectural Digest’s list of 100 of the world’s top designers and architects. Warner died of cancer in Sea Ranch, California on January 17, 2012.

Business and Science

Roy J. Britten (92) Caltech biologist who discovered that the mammalian genome includes large quantities of repetitive DNA sequences that do not serve as blueprints for genes. Britten, who had pancreatic cancer, died in Costa Mesa, California on January 21, 2012.

Stuart Irby (58) Mississippi businessman who, with his wife Karen, survived a 2009 two-car crash that killed two young doctors. Accused of drunk driving, Karen Irby pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Stuart Irby suffered permanent brain injury in the crash. He was found hanged at his home in Jackson, Mississippi on January 17, 2012.

John D. Lowry (79) entertainment technology innovator who founded Lowry Digital Images, the movie restoration company in Burbank that returned film classics such as Casablanca and Star Wars to their original pristine state for DVD release. Lowry died in Camarillo, California on January 21, 2012.

Una Mulzac (88) owner of Liberation Bookstore, a Harlem landmark that for 40 years specialized in materials promoting black identity and black power. Mulzac died in Queens, New York on January 21, 2012.

Giuseppe Quintarelli (84) wine producer from the Veneto region of northeastern Italy whose Valpolicellas, reciotos, and Amarones are revered by devoted followers all over the world. Quintarelli, who had Parkinson’s disease, died in Negrar, Italy on January 15, 2012.

News and Entertainment

Larry Butler (69) producer of some of Kenny Rogers’ biggest hits and the only Nashville session leader ever to win a Grammy for producer of the year, for his work on Rogers’ 1980 album Gideon. Butler died in Pensacola, Florida on January 20, 2012.

Jimmy Castor (71) New York funk and soul saxophonist, singer, and songwriter whose tune, “It’s Just Begun,” morphed over 40 years into an anthem for generations of hip-hoppers and mainstream musical acts. Castor died of apparent heart failure in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 16, 2012.

Gerre Hancock (77) renowned organist known for his skill at improvisation, an art considered all but lost among American classical organists. Hancock spent more than 30 years as organist and master of the choristers at St. Thomas Church in New York. Since 2004 he had been professor of organ and sacred music at the University of Texas/Austin. He died of coronary artery disease in Austin, Texas on January 21, 2012.

Eiko Ishioka (73) Oscar-winning artist and designer whose surreal costumes were worn by Broadway actors, Olympic athletes, Cirque du Soleil performers, and movie stars. Ishioka won the 1992 Oscar for Best Costume Design for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. She died of pancreatic cancer in Tokyo, Japan on January 21, 2012.

Etta James (73) rhythm and blues singer who recorded many hits and made the ballad “At Last” an anthem for weddings, commercials, and even President Barack Obama’s inaugural ball. James suffered from dementia and kidney problems and was battling leukemia. She died in Riverside, California on January 20, 2012.

Gustav Leonhardt (83) Dutch harpsichordist, organist, and conductor, a pioneer in the world of period instrument performance and research into Baroque performance styles. Leonhardt died in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on January 16, 2012.

John Levy (99) first prominent black personal manager in the jazz or pop music field, whose clients included Nancy Wilson and Ramsey Lewis. An accomplished bassist, Levy performed with such jazz greats as Billie Holiday and Erroll Garner in the ‘40s before joining pianist George Shearing’s original quintet. Later he formed his own management agency, John Levy Enterprises Inc., whose client roster over the years included more than 85 artists. He died in his sleep less than three months before his 100th birthday, in Altadena, California on January 20, 2012.

Warren Lockhart (71) producer who shared an Oscar for the 1977 documentary Who Are the DeBolts? (& Where Did They Get 19 Kids?), about a San Francisco Bay Area couple who adopted children considered “unadoptable” because of their physical or emotional disabilities. Lockhart died after suffering a stroke at his Culver City, California office on January 19, 2012.

Johnny Otis (90) white rhythm and blues singer, songwriter, drummer, bandleader, and disk jockey who decided as a youth that he’d rather be black. Otis wrote the 1958 hit “Willie & the Hand Jive” and helped to discover such future stars of R&B and rock as Etta James, Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, Hank Ballard, and Little Esther Phillips.

 He died in Los Angeles, California on January 17, 2012.

Yuri Rasovsky (67) leading creator of radio plays and audio books. Rasovsky was known for the historical radio series he made for the National Radio Theater, which he founded in Chicago in 1973. He died of esophageal cancer in Los Angeles, California on January 18, 2012.

Winston Riley (65) reggae musician and producer. Riley was credited with creating the stalag rhythm, which later influenced hip-hop and dancehall music. In November 2011, he was shot by an unknown assailant at his home in an upscale neighborhood in the capital of Kingston, Jamaica. He died from complications on January 19, 2012.

Rudi van Dantzig (78) choreographer whose mix of idealism and social protest gave the Dutch National Ballet an international profile when he was its artistic director until 1991. Van Dantzig died of cancer in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on January 19, 2012.

Homai Vyarawalla (98) photojournalist celebrated in India for chronicling that country’s progress toward independence and capturing images of world figures like Mohandas K. Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, and American presidents of the mid-20th century. Vyarawalla had been hospitalized for respiratory ailments when she died after falling from her bed and fracturing a thigh bone, in Vadodara, west India, on January 15, 2012.

Politics and Military

Saud Nasser al-Sabah (68) Kuwaiti ambassador to the US during Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the American-led war to oust Saddam Hussein’s forces. Sheik Saud died in Kuwait City, Kuwait on January 21, 2012.

John F. Baker Jr. (66) retired US Army Master Sergeant who received the Medal of Honor for saving eight fellow soldiers during the Vietnam War while under heavy fire. Only 5 feet, 2 inches tall, Baker first tried to join the Marines but was an inch too short. He died of a heart ailment in Columbia, South Carolina on January 20, 2012.

Thérèse Delpech (63) one of France’s leading foreign policy analysts and intellectual historians. Delpech was an adviser to foreign ministers, and from 1997 until her death she was director of strategic studies for France’s Atomic Energy Commission. She died of a stroke at her apartment in Paris, France on January 18, 2012.

Ed Derwinski (85) former US congressman who represented Chicago’s south side and adjoining suburbs for nearly 25 years before becoming the first secretary of veterans affairs (1989-92). Derwinski died of cancer in Oak Brook, Illinois on January 15, 2012.

Manuel Fraga Iribarne (89) founder of Spain’s ruling conservative party, the last surviving minister from dictator Francisco Franco’s (d. 1975) right-wing government. Fraga Iribarne died in Madrid, Spain on January 15, 2012.

Jonathan (Jack) Idema (55) former member of the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) convicted of running a private jail in Afghanistan where he tortured terrorism suspects. Idema had moved to Mexico after being released from prison in Afghanistan in 2007, when he was pardoned by President Hamid Karzai as part of a general amnesty. He died of AIDS in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo on January 21, 2012.

Michael Mussa (67) former chief economist (1991-2001) for the International Monetary Fund. Mussa died of heart failure in Washington, DC on January 15, 2012.

Richard J. Sheirer (65) former director (2000-02) of New York’s Office of Emergency Management, thrown into the limelight on Sept. 11, 2001 after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Sheirer experienced chest pains while driving in New York City and later died of fluid in his lungs, on January 19, 2012.

Hulett C. Smith (93) former West Virginia governor who signed bills in the ‘60s that abolished the state’s death penalty and implemented its first strip mining laws. Smith died in Arizona on January 15, 2012.

Society and Religion

Gigi Gordon (54) Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer who battled corrupt police and overzealous prosecutors to free dozens of prisoners wrongfully convicted. Gordon, who suffered from multiple sclerosis and depression, was found dead of an overdose of pills in the back seat of her car at a park in Brentwood, California on January 18, 2012.

Robert F. Sanchez (77) first US Hispanic archbishop who fought discrimination within the Roman Catholic Church but resigned in 1993 while facing accusations that he had had sex with several women when they were teenagers. Sanchez died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease in Albuquerque, New Mexico on January 20, 2012.

Philip Vannatter (70) former Los Angeles police detective who led the investigation of the 1994 slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Vannatter retired after O. J. Simpson’s acquittal in the case. He died of cancer in Santa Clarita, California on January 20, 2012.

Jacqueline Wexler (85) former Roman Catholic nun who fought the Vatican’s authority and won, then found herself on the other side of the barricades when she became president of Hunter College in 1970, facing student demonstrators storming her office. Wexler died in Orlando, Florida on January 19, 2012.


Sarah Burke (29) Canadian freestyle skier, the best-known athlete in her sport. Burke set the standard for skiing in the superpipe, a sister sport to the more popular snowboarding brand, and lobbied to add superpipe skiing to the Winter Olympics program starting in 2014. She was injured Jan. 10 while training at the Park City (Utah) Mountain resort and died nine days later in Salt Lake City, Utah on January 19, 2012.

Bill Mardo (88) sportswriter for the Communist Party newspaper the Daily Worker who fought major league baseball’s color barrier in the ‘40s when the mainstream American news media was largely silent on the subject. Mardo died of complications from Parkinson’s disease, in New York City on January 20, 2012.

Jiri Raska (70) 1968 Olympic ski jumping champion named the best Czech skier of the 20th century in a 2003 poll of journalists and members of the Czech Ski Association. Raska died in the eastern town of Novy Jicin, Czech Republic, on January 20, 2012.

Marty Springstead (74) baseball umpire who at age 36 in 1973 became the youngest umpire crew chief in World Series history. Springstead died of a heart attack while swimming at a club near his home in Sarasota, Florida on January 17, 2012.

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