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Life In Legacy - Week ending Saturday, January 12, 2019

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Shirley Boone, longtime wife of singer Pat BooneTheo Adam, German opera singerJo Andres, visual artist, with husband Steve BuscemiMoshe Arens, former Israeli defense ministerSir Michael Atiyah, British mathematicianVerna Bloom, actress who played dean's wife in 'Animal House'Lessie Brown, oldest person in USWalter Chandoha, cat photographerJosé Ramon Fernández, Cuban general, with Fidel CastroLuis Garden Acosta, Brooklyn activistJ. D. Gibbs, cofounder of Joe Gibbs RacingBonnie Guitar, first female country singer to cross over to pop chartsJoseph Jarman, avant-garde jazz musician turned Buddhist priestClydie King, backing vocalist who sang with Bob DylanBob Kuechenberg, Miami Dolphins guardLarry Langford, former mayor of Birmingham, Ala.Dr. John Mendelsohn, developed first targeted cancer therapyJohn and Mary Alyce Merow, Wall Street lawyer and his wifeJakiw Palij, former Nazi concentration camp guard deported from USFrancisco Ramirez, owner of LA's La PrincesitaLamin Sanneh, Yale professor of religion and historyBabs Simpson, former fashion editor at 'Vogue'J. Herman Sitrick, US WWII heroMark Urman, independent film distributorPatricia Wald, first woman chief justice of federal appeals court in Washington, DCLester Wunderman, advertising pioneer

Art and Literature

Walter Chandoha (98) free-lance photographer who specialized in cats. Chandoha took some 90,000 cat photos, nearly all before cats had become viral darlings of social media. Although he also photographed dogs, horses, and other animals, he was known primarily for his cat pictures, which appeared in magazines like Life and National Geographic, on the cans of myriad brands of cat food, in calendars, and in books like Walter Chandoha’s Book of Kittens & Cats (1963) and How to Photograph Cats, Dogs & Other Animals (1973). He died in Annandale, New Jersey on January 11, 2019.

Business and Science

Sir Michael Atiyah (89) British mathematician who united mathematics and physics during the ‘60s in a way not seen since the days of Isaac Newton. Atiyah, who was retired, had been an honorary professor in the School of Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh and had spent many years at Oxford and Cambridge. He revealed an unforeseen connection between mathematics and physics through a theorem he proved in collaboration with Isadore Singer, one of the most important mathematicians of the last half of the 20th century. Atiyah’s work with Singer, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led to the flowering of string theory and gauge theory as ways to understand the structure and dynamics of the universe and has provided powerful tools for both mathematicians and theoretical physicists. Atiyah died on January 11, 2019.

Dr. John Mendelsohn (82) led the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center through an era of substantial growth and, as a scientist, helped to pioneer a new type of cancer therapy. Mendelsohn was the cancer center’s third president, serving from 1996–2011, a period in which MD Anderson rose in prominence to be considered the nation’s top cancer hospital. At the same time its annual revenues quadrupled, to $3.1 billion. He made his name in the ‘80s at UC San Diego, where he developed cetuximab, the first so-called targeted cancer therapy, which blocks receptors on cancer cells to halt their growth. The drug was approved by the federal government in 2004 and is sold by Eli Lilly as Erbitux, for the treatment of colorectal, head, and neck cancers. Erbitux and other targeted therapies were seen as breakthroughs for cancer patients because, unlike older chemotherapy drugs, which typically kill all rapidly dividing cells, targeted treatments go after the proteins that help cancer cells to grow and survive. Mendelsohn died of glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, in Houston, Texas on January 7, 2019.

Francisco Ramirez (64) Los Angeles Mexican-American who, at age 18 in 1972, took over his brother's struggling tortilleria, La Princesita, and sold tortillas to restaurants. Supermarkets didn’t stock tortillas in those days, and Mexican restaurants were still 10 years away, so Ramírez at first made his money selling only from his storefront. Business remained relatively modest and local until 1985, when he installed an industrial-sized tortilla machine that allowed him to ramp up production and begin distribution. Ramirez died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California on January 12, 2019.

Lester Wunderman (98) advertising executive credited with pioneering the hugely successful modern techniques of direct marketing, with sales pitches aimed at targeted prospective customers in their homes and geared to their interests or characteristics. Chairman emeritus and cofounder of what became the world’s largest direct-marketing ad agency, Wunderman never graduated from college, had no formal training in advertising, and got into the mail-order business on a two-for-one offer: one salary split between him and his brother. Long before anyone had ever heard of Internet sales or interactive communications, Wunderman was widely credited with coining the term “direct marketing.” He died in New York City on January 9, 2019.


John and Mary Alyce Merow (85) former chairman of the Wall Street law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, who presided over its expansion as it opened offices overseas and pushed into areas like mergers and acquisitions. A lawyer whose clients included Kaiser Aluminum and affiliates of the mining company Rio Tinto, John Merow took the reins of century-old Sullivan & Cromwell in 1987, a time when Wall Street firms were broadening their services. Merow and his wife Mary Alyce died in a fire at their Manhattan apartment on January 12, 2019.

Patricia Wald (90) first woman to preside over the federal appeals court in Washington, DC. President Jimmy Carter appointed Ward to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, considered the second most influential court behind the Supreme Court. Later she was joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who became a Supreme Court justice. Wald was chief justice in the district from 1986–91. During her tenure, she wrote more than 800 opinions, most notably related to equal employment and education for women, LGBTQ individuals, and those with disabilities. She was considered a liberal jurist who viewed the law as a tool for achieving social progress. Wald died of pancreatic cancer in Washington, DC on January 12, 2019.

News and Entertainment

Theo Adam (92) German opera singer whose varied career spanned the second half of the 20th century and who made a strong impression internationally with his Wagnerian roles. A bass-baritone, Adam was a regular at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany beginning in the early ‘50s, and in February 1969 he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in one of his signature roles, Hans Sachs in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger. At a time when, for many operagoers, the singing was the only thing that mattered, Adam brought an actor’s sensibility and a fine voice to the stage. By the time he retired in 2006, he had appeared in operas and recitals all over the world. He died in Dresden, Germany, his birthplace, on January 10, 2019.

Jo Andres (64) visual artist whose experimental choreography performed at clubs in downtown Manhattan and short films were filled with fantastical and dreamlike imagery. When Andres arrived in New York from Ohio in the early ‘80s, she began to develop choreography that immersed the audience in a more sensually enriching experience than simply watching dancers, like herself, performing onstage. To achieve her goal, Andres used slides of stick figures, bones, skulls, and abstract shapes she had drawn or painted, and film on which she scratched lines that swirled around the performers in them, then projected the images onto her dancers as they moved to music and manipulated tulle. The images seemed to dance as the performers moved the tulle around the stage. Layers of different-colored tulle made the images appear to reverberate in a holographic effect. The wife of actor Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire), Andres had been treated for ovarian cancer but died in Brooklyn, New York of encapsulating peritoneal sclerosis on January 6, 2019.

Verna Bloom (80) actress who portrayed the wife of the dean in the movie Animal House. In the 1978 John Landis film, Bloom played Marion Wormer, who flirted with and had a drunken romp with fraternity president “Otter” Stratton. Bloom was Clint Eastwood’s lover in High Plains Drifter and was Mary in The Last Temptation of Christ. She was born in Lynn, Massachusetts and graduated from Boston University in 1959. Her widower is former film critic and two-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter Jay Cocks. Bloom died in Bar Harbor, Maine of complications from dementia on January 9, 2019.

Shirley Boone (84) longtime wife of singer Pat Boone and a philanthropist. Shirley and Pat Boone had been married for 65 years. During that time, Shirley helped to establish Mercy Corps, which has become an international charitable organization dedicated to addressing economic, environmental, social, and political problem. She also published writings, hosted TV shows, and recorded music. Shirley was the daughter of Red Foley, a country singer of the ‘30s and ’40s who became a star with his recording of “Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy.” Shirley and Pat Boone had been high school sweethearts, and they married when he was 19 and rising to stardom. Shirley Boone died on January 11, 2019.

Bonnie Guitar (95) had hit records as a country singer and guitarist, but her biggest achievement may have been her work as a businesswoman in the male-dominated music industry. Guitar was best known for her recording of “Dark Moon,” a Top 20 country single on the Dot label that crossed over to the pop Top 10 in 1957. The record was, along with Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight”—which reached the pop Top 40 that same year—one of the earliest records by a female country singer to cross over to the pop charts. Over 70 years Guitar did everything from engineer recordings to scout talent and run a record label, Dolton Records. She died in Soap Lake, Washington on January 12, 2019.

Joseph Jarman (81) saxophonist, flutist, woodwind player, and percussionist who helped to expand the parameters of performance in avant-garde jazz, especially as a member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Over the last 20 years Jarman was less active in music than in other pursuits, notably his ministrations as a Buddhist priest and aikido instructor. With his ex-wife, writer and scholar Thulani Davis, he founded the Brooklyn Buddhist Association in 1990. His students at the Jikishinkan Aikido Dojo, which he established in Brooklyn, typically did not enroll there because of his jazz career. But Jarman was revered for his tenure in the Art Ensemble, from its inception in the late ‘60s, through his departure in the early ‘90, and again early in the 21st century. He died in Englewood, New Jersey of cardiac arrest as a result of respiratory failure, on January 9, 2019.

Clydie King (75) whose lively but plain-spoken backing vocals helped to define hits like the Rolling Stones’s “Tumbling Dice,” Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good,” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” King joined Bob Dylan’s band in 1980, when he was in the midst of his Christian-rock phase, beginning a long association with him. Dylan had recently converted to evangelical Christianity, and the two bonded over music and faith. King became a central part of his ensemble, and they started a romantic relationship that lasted through the mid-’80s. King died in Monrovia, California of a blood infection that she had acquired during dialysis treatment, on January 7, 2019.

Babs Simpson (105) fashion editor of a bygone era whose unfailingly correct taste informed the pages of Vogue. Always wearing a strand of pearls—real ones, naturally—Mrs. Simpson, as she preferred to be known, worked with many of the titans of fashion photography over her 25 years at the magazine. She searched out Hemingway in Cuba (he had an eye for the model she brought along, Jean Patchett), dressed Marilyn Monroe for her final sitting with photographer Bert Stern, and tromped through Ireland with actress Anjelica Huston and photographer Richard Avedon. Simpson sat for Horst P. Horst and worked with Irving Penn, but even collaboration with the greats never intimidated her. She died in Rye, New York on January 7, 2019.

Mark Urman (66) distributor who championed independent films and documentaries, helping movies that might have faded into obscurity to reach audiences and win major awards. Urman was an important part of two distribution companies that focused on independent films: ThinkFilm, founded in 2001 and essentially shuttered in ‘08, and Paladin, which he founded in ’09. A distributor’s job is to market movies and place them in theaters. What distinguished Urman was his devotion to independent movies that can hardly compete with Hollywood blockbusters. He had to persuade moviegoers and theater owners to choose films with subjects that were unfamiliar and, at times, seemingly unappealing. Urman had recently learned he had bone cancer but died of respiratory failure in Newark, New Jersey on January 12, 2019.

Politics and Military

Moshe Arens (93) former Israeli defense minister, foreign minister, and an early political mentor to current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. An engineer by training, American-raised Arens was instrumental in developing Israel’s military and aircraft industries and served three stints as the country’s defense minister. He was a longtime stalwart in the hawkish Likud party. In the early ‘80s, Arens was the first to recognize the skills of a young Netanyahu, who then was running an antiterror institute and working in marketing. Arens took Netanyahu under his wing and brought him into Israeli politics. He died in his sleep in Savyon, Israel on January 7, 2019.

José Ramon Fernández (95) retired brigadier general who helped to form Cuba’s army after the revolution of 1959 and commanded Cuban defenses at the Bay of Pigs. A founding member of the Communist Party of Cuba, Fernández served for a time as a vice president on Cuba’s Council of Ministers. He was reelected to the party’s ruling Central Committee in 2011 at age 87. Fernández ran a cadet school that trained officers after revolutionary forces led by Fidel Castro overthrew the government of dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. He also played a leading role in one of the great battles of the Cold War, helping to command Cuba’s militia forces in their victory over invading exile forces at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. He died on January 6, 2019.

Larry Langford (72) former Birmingham mayor whose political career was ended by a conviction on public corruption charges. Langford was raised in poverty in a Birmingham housing project but rose to become one of the area’s most charismatic leaders. In the early ‘70s he became one of the first black TV reporters in Birmingham. He was mayor of Fairfield, president of the Jefferson County Commission, and mayor of Birmingham. He championed the creation of an amusement park called Visionland and other efforts to make Birmingham a tourism destination. His unrealized plans included bringing the Olympics to Birmingham and building a domed stadium. Langford’s political career ended in 2009 when he was convicted of taking bribes—in the form of cash, clothing, and a Rolex—as a member of the county commission in exchange for steering bond business to an investment banker. A federal judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison. Langford died of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema in Birmingham, Alabama little more than a week after being released from federal prison because of his failing health, on January 8, 2019.

Jakiw Palij (95) former Nazi concentration camp guard who lived an unassuming life in New York for decades until his past was revealed and he was deported to Germany in 2018. US Ambassador Richard Grenell, who lobbied for Germany to take Palij, said he credited US President Donald Trump with seeing through Palij’s August 2018 deportation after it had been stalled for 25 years. Palij was the last Nazi facing deportation from the US when he was taken from his Queens home on a stretcher and put on a plane to Germany. From the time American investigators first accused Palij of lying about his Nazi past, it took 25 years for his removal from the US, despite political pressure and frequent protests outside his home. He was not prosecuted in Germany and spent his last months in a nursing home in Ahlen, Germany, where he died on January 9, 2019.

J. Herman Sitrick (93) US World War II veteran who, as a young soldier, was patrolling alone when a German soldier at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium approached him and declared in German: “Don't shoot! I have three children.” Sitrick allowed the German to seek refuge in the basement of a bombed-out farmhouse. More Nazi soldiers came, and all were directed to the basement. Eventually Sitrick had single-handedly captured 21 enemy soldiers. He later had a career in broadcasting and advertising in Chicago. Among the honors eventually bestowed on him were the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and the French Legion of Honor, which is given to US soldiers who saw combat in France during World War II. Sitrick died of a subdural hematoma after a fall at his home in Morton Grove, Illinois on January 12, 2019.

Society and Religion

Lessie Brown (114) Ohio woman believed to be the oldest person in the US. Brown said in 2013 it was God’s will that she had lived so long. Others in her family attributed her long life to the fact that she ate a sweet potato nearly every day until she was well past 100. Brown was the country’s oldest person after the May 9, 2018 death of 114-year-old Delphine Gibson of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. With Brown’s death, the oldest living American is now believed to be Alelia Murphy (113) of New York state, according to the Gerontology Research Group. The world’s oldest person is believed to be 116-year-old Kane Tanaka, a Japanese woman. Brown turned 114 in September. She died in Cleveland Heights, Ohio on January 8, 2019.

Luis Garden Acosta (73) stopped just short of becoming a priest, then a doctor, and instead organized an innovative program to restore the spirit and health of his community. Garden Acosta and his wife, Frances Lucerna, founded a community organization, El Puente (the Bridge), in 1982 with the goal of combating gang violence among teenagers in Williamsburg, in northwest Brooklyn, then a mostly poverty-stricken neighborhood where Hispanic and Hasidic Jewish residents competed for scarce housing. El Puente evolved into a grass-roots model for improving local health, education, and environmental and social services and engaging residents in political, human rights, and social justice campaigns and cultural projects. Garden Acosta died of a degenerative lung disease in Brooklyn, New York on January 8, 2019.

Lamin Sanneh (76) was born into poverty in a tiny river town in Gambia and became a world-renowned scholar of Christianity and Islam, providing key insights into how each religion took hold in West Africa. Sanneh was born a Muslim but converted to Christianity as a teenager and became a practicing Roman Catholic, giving him experience in both Islam and Christianity and an unusual perspective for a scholar of religion. Even more striking, he alone of his large rural family managed to migrate across continents and attend prominent universities. He ended up as a professor at Yale University, where he taught for 30 years. He died of a stroke in New Haven, Connecticut on January 6, 2019.


J. D. Gibbs (49) eldest son of Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs. The younger Gibbs was the visionary behind the careers of several NASCAR stars. He was cofounder of the NASCAR team that bears his father’s name, and he largely ran the day-to-day operations of what is now an elite organization. J. D. Gibbs stepped away from Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015 when it was announced he was suffering from “conditions related to brain function.” He died in Huntersville, North Carolina after a long battle with a degenerative neurological disease, on January 11, 2019.

Bob Kuechenberg (71) former Miami Dolphins guard, a six-time Pro Bowl selection and member of the only NFL team to achieve a perfect season. Kuechenberg joined the Dolphins as a free agent in 1970, coach Don Shula’s first season, and played for them until ’83. He started every game for the team that went 17-0 in 1972 and started 16 games for the team that repeated as Super Bowl champions in ’73. Kuechenberg was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a member of the Dolphins’ Honor Roll. He died of a heart attack in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on January 12, 2019.

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