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2012 Departures

Some January-November deaths

Neil Armstrong NASA/Reuters/Landov

2012 Departures
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Patience Abbe

87, March 17 | Best-selling child author at age 11 (Around the World in Eleven Years) and as a teen.

Ian Abercrombie

77, Jan. 26 | Actor who played Mr. Pitt (Elaine’s boss) on Seinfeld, and had many other roles.

Irving Adler

99, Sept. 22 | Teacher and author of more than 85 books who made the wonders and complexities of science understandable for children.

Neil Armstrong

82, Aug. 25 | Apollo astronaut whose “giant leap for mankind” made him the first human to set foot on the moon.

Stuart Barton Babbage

96, Nov. 16 | British and Australian educator who, in a 10-year sojourn in America that began in 1963, served first as president of Conwell School of Theology at Temple University in Philadelphia, then played a key role in merging it in 1969 with Gordon Divinity School in Boston.

John F. Baker Jr.

66, Jan. 20 | Army sergeant and Vietnam War hero awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing wounded soldiers in a 1966 ambush and leading a counter-assault against 3,000 enemy troops.

Letitia Baldrige

86, Oct. 29 | Arbiter of good manners who wrote etiquette books, including the Complete Guide to Executive Manners and an updated version of The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette. She was Jackie Kennedy’s social secretary and a consultant to Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Nancy Reagan.

Jacques Barzun

104, Oct. 25 | Columbia University historian and administrator and author of many books on the shaping of culture, including at age 92 his masterwork, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life. In his 1954 book, God’s Country and Mine, he coined the often-quoted aphorism: “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”

Dick Beals

85, May 29 | Boyish-sounding voice-over actor for hundreds of animated characters, including Speedy in the Alka-Seltzer TV commercials, Gumby in The Gumby Show, Davey on Davey and Goliath, and Beals was the unforgettable voice singing, “Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener.”

Anthony J. Bevilacqua

88, Jan. 31 | Retired Catholic cardinal and archbishop of Philadelphia whose final years were clouded by allegations that he and his predecessor had covered up sexual abuse by priests.

Jan Berenstain

88, Feb. 24 | Beloved author of mega-seller children’s books who with her late husband created the Berenstain Bears series of hundreds of picture books that helped guide millions of young readers along the pathways of childhood.

Maeve Binchy

72, July 30 | Irish author who wrote stories set in Ireland that appealed to readers everywhere—her books have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and been translated in 37 languages. Two of her novels, Circle of Friends and Tara Road, were made into movies.

Anthony “Tony” Blankley

63, Jan. 7 | Conservative author, columnist, political commentator, former White House aide in the Reagan administration, press secretary for House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and editorial director of The Washington Times who started out as a child actor on Lassie, Make Room for Daddy, and other TV shows.

Roger Boisjoly

73, Jan. 6 | Whistleblowing Morton Thiokol engineer who warned months in advance that cold temperatures could cause its huge rocket boosters for the space shuttle Challenger to fail, and who, when Florida temperatures fell below freezing on the day before the Jan. 28, 1986, launch, frantically urged company officials to delay it. Under pressure from NASA, they didn’t, and 73 seconds into lift-off, Challenger exploded, killing its seven crew members.

Ernest Borgnine

95, July 8 | Burly, gruff-voiced actor with a gap-toothed smile often cast in bad-guy roles but winner of an Academy Award for his portrayal of a gentle Bronx butcher in the 1955 film Marty, who also starred in the ABC sitcom McHale’s Navy in the 1960s, and in later life did the voice of hero Mermaid Man in the animated series SpongeBob SquarePants.

Ray Bradbury

91, June 5 | Influential, imaginative master of science fiction and fantasy whose books sold more than 8 million copies in 36 languages.

Peter Breck

82, Feb. 6 | Actor who starred as Barbara Stanwyck’s temperamental son Nick Barkley in ABC’s popular 1960s Western series The Big Valley.

Andrew Breitbart

43, March 1 | Conservative writer, activist, and website operator who was behind investigations that brought down the liberal social action coalition ACORN and uncovered the sexting scandal involving former Rep. Anthony Weiner.

Helen Gurley Brown

90, Aug. 13 | Best-selling author (Sex and the Single Girl, 1962), and long-time editor of Cosmopolitan magazine (1965-1997) who shaped the leading edge of the sexual revolution for countless women. She emphasized looking good and feeling good while virtually ignoring moral boundaries, and offered confusing contradictions in her approach to women’s social roles.

Lesley Brown

64, June 6 | English working-class woman who at age 30 on July 25, 1978, gave birth to the first baby (a girl) conceived outside the womb by in-vitro fertilization (with her husband’s sperm).

Keith Campbell

58, Oct. 5 | British cell biologist who along with colleague Ian Wilmut in 1996 cloned the first mammal from a reprogrammed adult cell, a sheep they named Dolly.

Dick Clark

82, April 18 | Boyish-looking TV producer who projected a clean-cut image, best known as long-time host of American Bandstand, the hit song and dance show that influenced generations of teenagers and decisively shaped pop culture. For more than three decades, he also helped ring in the New Year with his Dec. 31 Rockin’ Eve program aired from Times Square in New York.

Charles Colson

80, April 21 | One of the evangelical movement’s most respected and influential figures, the former presidential adviser rose rapidly to prominence following his conversion and a brief federal prison term for obstruction of justice during the Watergate era. His bestsellers (beginning with Born Again in 1976), other writings, and speeches explained the Christian faith and its implications for believers. He founded Prison Fellowship to support ex-convicts and press for reform. A Southern Baptist who liked Calvinist theologians, he was a bridge builder who also promoted evangelical-Catholic dialogue. His was a Christian worldview “with shoes on.”

Lynn D. Compton

90, Feb. 25 | A World War II first lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division whose military heroics were memorialized in the 2001 HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. After the war, as a deputy district attorney, he led the team that prosecuted Sirhan Sirhan for Robert Kennedy’s assassination.

Don Cornelius

75, Feb. 1 | Creator and host of Soul Train, a music and TV dance show that introduced generations of Americans to emerging trends in black pop culture; an apparent suicide.

Stephen Covey

79, July 16 | Motivational self-help speaker and author of the 1989 best-selling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (more than 25 million copies sold worldwide).

Frank Moore Cross

91, Oct. 16 | Harvard biblical scholar and expert in Semitic languages. His overall work established the amazingly meticulous faithfulness of medieval Hebrew copies of Old Testament Scriptures to the text of those from the first two centuries A.D.

Frederick W. Danker

91, Feb. 2 | Lutheran New Testament scholar who in 2009 published his widely hailed crowning achievement, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.

Hal David

92, Sept. 1 | Renowned pop music composer who with songwriting partner Burt Bacharach produced a trove of memorable hits in the 1960s and early ’70s, including “Walk on By,” “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” and the Oscar-winning “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.”

Richard Dawson

79, June 2 | Actor and game show host who gained fame in the 1960s as RAF corporal Peter Newkirk on the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, and as witty host of the super-popular game show Family Feud during the 1970s and 1980s.

Phyllis Diller

95, Aug. 20 | Zany late-blooming comedian whose frenzied hairdo, outlandish wardrobe, self-deprecating jokes, and loud laughs made her a standout in comedy clubs, Bob Hope movies, and late-night TV.

Cleve Duncan

78, Nov. 7 | A one-hit tenor singing wonder with the Penguins, a doo-wop group of the 1950s and early 1960s, but what a hit! Dreamy, romantic “Earth Angel” sold millions of copies and climbed to No. 1 on the rhythm and blues charts.

Elward Ellis

63, May 12 | Pioneer of black campus ministry and racial reconciliation with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Nora Ephron

71, June 26 | Prolific romantic comedy writer whose articles, books, plays, and movies (Sleepless in Seattle, Julie & Julia) were hits with a broad audience and whose popularity never waned. She had two movies in development as well as a play with frequent collaborator Tom Hanks when she died.

Dan Evins

76, Jan. 14 | Entrepreneur who in 1969 opened a restaurant in his hometown Lebanon, Tenn., and grew it into the popular highway chain of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store eateries at 620 locations in 42 states.

Horst Faas

79, May 10 | Pulitzer Prize–winning AP combat photographer, best known for covering the Vietnam War, and for recruiting, training, and equipping an “army” of locals whose photos kept the images of the horrific war on America’s front pages.

Paul “Hermano Pablo” Finkenbinder

90, Jan. 27 | Assemblies of God missionary whose far-flung “Message to the Conscience” broadcast ministry, now aired daily in 33 countries, made “Brother Paul” Latin America’s best-known preacher for decades.

Ben Gazzara

83, Feb. 3 | Brooding tough-guy type in many films (Anatomy of a Murder), television dramas (Run for Your Life), and stage productions (he was Brick in the original Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway).

Eugene Genovese

82, Sept. 26 | Prize-winning historian (Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made) whose journey from Communism to Catholicism and social conservatism led him to cast the South in a new, more positive light.

Robin Gibb

62, May 20 | One of the three brothers who formed the Bee Gees and rocketed to fame in the 1970s with a string of hits (“Stayin’ Alive”) and the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, which defined the disco era.

Peter Gillquist

73, July 1 | Former Campus Crusade for Christ leader who in 1979 cofounded the Evangelical Orthodox Church, but with a desire to observe apostolic succession in 1987 led 17 EOC churches and some 2,000 members into the Antiochian Orthodox branch of Eastern Orthodoxy, which he served as a North American archpriest. He also was an author (Love Is Now) and former senior editor at the Thomas Nelson publishing firm.

Dorothy Gilman

88, Feb. 2 | Author of popular espionage novels whose main heroine, grandmotherly widow Mrs. Polifax, joined the CIA and became a globe-trotting secret agent during the Cold War.

Peter Goodwin

83, March 11 | A family doctor and medical school professor, considered the father of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act who, with a fatal brain disease, ended his life under terms of the law.

Don Grady

68, June 27 | Former Mouseketeer, My Three Sons star as Robbie, the elder son of Fred MacMurray’s widower character, and a composer and songwriter who created the theme song for Phil Donahue’s talk show.

Nellie Gray

86, Aug. 13 | Long-time federal employee who left her job to launch the annual March for Life in 1974, following the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that had forced states to legalize abortion in 1973. She took part in every march, which attracts thousands of pro-life advocates to Washington every January.

Andy Griffith

86, July 3 | America’s favorite sheriff (as widower Andy Taylor in fictional Mayberry, N.C.) on The Andy Griffith Show, a series about family values that became one of the most popular and durable shows in television history. He found later success in playing folksy Atlanta lawyer Ben Matlock—his favorite role. His wife Cindi said Andy “was a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called home to his Lord.”

Larry Hagman

81, Nov. 23 | Actor who achieved worldwide fame portraying TV’s most reprehensible scoundrel, J.R. Ewing, in the long-running nighttime CBS soap Dallas.

William Hamilton

87, Feb. 28 | Theologian at Colgate-Rochester who was catapulted to notoriety when Time magazine featured his ideas in a 1966 story with just three words on the cover: “Is God Dead?”

Marvin Hamlisch

68, Aug. 6 | Former child prodigy who became one of the most award-winningest American stage and film composers, famous for scores such as “The Way We Were,” “The Sting,” and “A Chorus Line,” and for his piano performances, pops orchestra conducting, and winsome joshing as an emcee at public gatherings.

Gerre Hancock

77, Jan. 21 | Internationally acclaimed concert organist who spent more than 30 years as organist and choir master at St. Thomas [Episcopal] Church in Manhattan, where the annual Handel’s Messiah he led each December repeatedly won critical reviews.

B. Sam Hart

80, Jan. 19 | Harlem-born Plymouth Brethren minister, church planter, evangelist, and Philadelphia-based founder of the Grand Old Gospel Hour broadcast.

Robert Hegyes

60, Jan. 26 | Actor who played Juan Epstein, the Brooklyn high-school “Sweathog” voted Most Likely to Take a Life, on the 1970s ABC sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.

Sherman Hemsley

74, July 24 | Actor best known for his role as George Jefferson on the CBS series All in the Family and The Jeffersons, and as Deacon Ernest Frye on NBC’s Amen series.

Celeste Holm

95, July 15 | Versatile stage, screen, and television actress who starred in the original Broadway production of the musical Oklahoma, won an Academy Award for her role in the 1947 landmark film that explored anti-Semitism, Gentlemen’s Agreement, played beside Bette Davis in Best Picture winner All About Eve, and attracted an Emmy nomination for her role as first lady Florence Harding in the 1979 NBC miniseries Backstairs at the White House.

Whitney Houston

48, Feb. 11 | Pop music mega-star who started out in a famed gospel music family and became one of her generation’s most awesome R&B voices (her albums sold in the tens of millions), only to start falling apart from drug abuse and a troubled marriage. She died from accidental drowning in a Los Angeles hotel bathtub while on cocaine and a mixture of other drugs.

Jim Huber

67, Jan. 2 | Emmy-winning sports commentator and co-anchor during nearly 30 years at CNN.

Sterling Huston

76, June 29 | Former Kodak engineer and Youth For Christ director in Rochester, N.Y., who was tapped by evangelist Billy Graham in 1966 to coordinate and later direct Graham’s many North American crusades. He literally wrote the detailed book on how to organize a crusade. He also chaired the boards of several ministries, including Evangelism Explosion.

Andrew Huxley

94, May 30 | British physiologist awarded a 1963 Nobel Prize for his and a collaborator’s discovery and explanation of how nerve cells generate and transmit the electrical signals that control bodily movement. That work “did for the cell biology of neurons what the structure of DNA did for the rest of biology,” said 2000 Nobel laureate Eric Kandel.

Etta James

73, Jan. 20 | Much-acclaimed Grammy-winning pop singer (signature hit: “At Last”) who also served up soul, gospel, and jazz, and who was ranked No. 22 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

Arthur Jensen

89, Oct. 22 | U.C.-Berkeley educational psychology professor who published research implicating genetics as the reason blacks averaged 15 point lower IQs than whites, provoking a backlash that never fully quieted, although peers defended him, and his black students said he never exhibited any signs of racism.

Davy Jones

66, Feb. 29 | Heart-throb singer in the made-for-TV pop band The Monkees, a group that surprisingly outsold both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in 1967 (with over 65 million albums sold to date).

Alex Karras

77, Oct. 10 | Ferocious, cagy All-Pro lineman for the Detroit Lions named to four Pro Bowls and member of the 1960s NFL’s All-Decade Team who went on to become a popular actor (Blazing Saddles, Victor/Victoria), making guest appearances on the Tonight Show and starring in his own popular TV series Webster with his wife Susan.

Rodney King

47, June 17 | Battered subject whose beating by Los Angeles police was caught on video and helped ignite the city’s 1992 riots. Overwhelmed by what he saw happening, he went on television, begged the rioters to “stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids,” and issued the memorable plea: “Can we all get along?”

Thomas Kinkade

54, April 6 | Popular traditionalist artist whose adult conversion to Christ inspired him to become a “Painter of Light,” mass producing paintings with Christian and sentimental themes to reflect, he said, the values of those who chose to display them.

William S. Knowles

95, June 13 | Nobel Prize–winning chemist whose groundbreaking research brought about a dramatic drop in the cost of producing the Parkinson’s tremors-lessening drug L-dopa.

Paul Kurtz

86, Oct. 20 | Influential philosophy professor dedicated to evangelizing the culture for secular humanism, debunking “religious myths,” and developing a god-free moral standard for people seeking to do good.

Robert J. Lamont

92, March 26 | Prominent evangelical leader, pastor of Pittsburgh’s First Presbyterian Church for two decades, and for 25 years president and CEO of the Presbyterian Ministers’ Fund, a leading insurance company serving clergy and families of various denominations.

George Lindsey

83, May 6 | Actor who played the gas station attendant Goober Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show and later as beanie-wearing Goober in Mayberry R.F.D. Lindsey spent another 20 years as “George” on Hee Haw.

Eric Lomax

93, Oct. 8 | British WWII POW forced to help build the Burma Railway who wrote the book Railway Man—soon to be released as a film—recounting his experiences meeting and ultimately forgiving his deeply repentant Japanese tormentor.

Tony Martin

98, July 27 | Popular singer-actor in Hollywood musicals who appeared in more than 30 films (Ziegfeld Girl, Casbah) and continued to delight live audiences with what he called his “heartfelt” singing style well into his 90s.

George McGovern

90, Oct. 21 | U.S. senator from South Dakota, decorated WWII bomber pilot, advocate of social liberalism, critic of the Vietnam War, and Democratic candidate opposing Richard Nixon in the 1972 election.

Ralph McQuarrie

82, March 3 | Masterful artist whose ability to create compelling visuals for movie producer George Lucas’ concepts, such as Darth Vader’s helmet and raspy breathing apparatus, made the Star Wars films so memorable.

Russell Means

72, Oct. 22 | Controversial, combative American Indian rights activist, known for leading a bloody 1973 protest at Wounded Knee, S.D., who had a flair for drama that not only drew attention to Native American causes but also earned him acting roles in more than 30 movies and TV productions, including The Last of the Mohicans and Pathfinder.

Calvin Miller

75, Aug. 19 | Gifted writer and author of more than 40 books, beloved long-time Omaha pastor, and respected seminary professor, best known for his 1975 book, The Singer, with sales of more than 1 million copies.

Marvin Miller

94, Nov. 27 | Baseball union head who successfully negotiated and litigated free agency, arbitration rights, and other advantages for baseball players, starting a revolution that changed the relationship between all professional sports teams and their athletes.

Else Holmelund Minarik

91, July 12 | Author who launched the Little Bear picture-book series for children in 1957 when she became dissatisfied with the reading options for her first-grade students. The series has now sold more than 6 million copies worldwide and been adapted for television.

Art Modell

87, Sept. 6 | Innovative owner of the Cleveland Browns and then the Baltimore Ravens who changed the face of professional football with ideas like merging the AFL and NFL into competing NFL conferences and made the sport more popular than baseball.

Howard Moody

91, Sept. 12 | Self-proclaimed “Christian agnostic” minister at historic Judson Memorial Church in New York’s Greenwich Village who abandoned his traditional Baptist roots and turned his church into a center for liberal social issues and causes, such as establishing a network of clergy and rabbis to help women get abortions in the years prior to the passage of Roe v. Wade.

Sun Myung Moon

92, Sept. 2 | Self-professed Korean messiah (he said Jesus had appeared to him and told him to finish the work He had begun on earth 2,000 years earlier) and founder of the controversial Unification Church in Seoul in 1954.

James Morehead

95, March 11 | Highly decorated “Wildman” WWII flying ace who terrorized Japanese pilots using shooting skills developed to help feed his family during the Depression, and who became a global big game hunter in later life.

Jhan Moskowitz

64, Sept. 5 | Jews for Jesus co-founder and JFJ North American director who in 1971 first met his Messiah. He later met JFJ founder Moishe Rosen within San Francisco’s hippie subculture, and the two of them spent the rest of their lives helping fellow Jews recognize and follow Jesus as their Messiah.

Elinor Ostrom

78, June 12 | Indiana University scholar who was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics, awarded for her international field research showing that communities often can manage their common resources, such as forests, irrigation, and fisheries, as well as, or better than, business or government.

Mel Parnell

89, March 20 | Pitching ace who won more games for the Boston Red Sox from 1947 to 1956 than any other left-handed pitcher, nicknamed the “Yankee killer” by fans for his ability to prevent their rivals from scoring at Fenway Park during the era when the Yankees were at their most dominant.

Joe Paterno

85, Jan. 22 | Longtime Penn State football coach whose unsurpassed winning record over 46 years, his taking the Nittany Lions to 37 bowl games, and winning two national championships was besmirched last year by revelations of failure to protect boys being sexually abused by a former assistant coach.

Clarence Pope

81, Jan. 8 | Traditionalist Episcopal bishop who struggled to maintain orthodox practice in his denomination.

William Raspberry

76, July 17 | Sometimes moderate Washington Post journalist for 39 years whose Pulitzer Prize–winning column appeared in more than 200 newspapers and who Time once called “the most respected black voice on any white U.S. newspaper.”

Sally Ride

61, July 23 | Physicist and astrophysicist who became the first American woman and youngest American to fly in space, and sat on panels investigating the Challenger explosion and the Columbia crash.

Darrell Royal

88, Nov. 7 | College Football Hall of Fame coach who transformed the losing University of Texas Longhorns into a football powerhouse with 11 Southwest Conference championships and 16 bowl appearances during his 20-year tenure.

Ann Rutherford

94, June 11 | Actress who played Mickey Rooney’s teenage girlfriend in the popular Andy Hardy movies but achieved her greatest fame for the role of Scarlett’s younger sister in Gone with the Wind.

Vidal Sassoon

84, May 9 | Trend-setting hair-care bigwig who popularized a simpler, less-time-consuming wash-and-go approach to women’s hairstyling, and parlayed his ideas and skills into a global brand of hair products and salons.

R.W. Schambach

85, Jan. 17 | Fiery faith-healing Pentecostal evangelist who held forth on TV, in tents and halls in many American cities over 60 years, and in crusades in some 200 countries.

Earl Scruggs

88, March 28 | Banjo virtuoso and Bluegrass legend whose three-finger picking style revolutionized banjo playing and elevated the instrument’s reputation. He and guitarist Lester Flatt in 1948 formed the “Foggy Mountain Boys,” best known for their rendition of The Beverly Hillbillies theme song, “The Ballad of Jed Clampett.”

Junior Seau

43, May 2 | Football great who spent 20 seasons as a linebacker in the NFL, most notably with the San Diego Chargers (including on its only Super Bowl team in 1994). A 10-time All-Pro and 12-time Pro Bowl selection, he was a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. An apparent suicide.

Maurice Sendak

83, May 8 | Children’s book author and illustrator, best known for his award-winning book, Where the Wild Things Are. The darker themes in his books, reflecting his struggles with life’s meaning, appealed to generations of children dealing with their own fears.

Anthony Shadid

43, Feb. 16 | U.S.-born foreign correspondent who spent most of his career covering the Middle East, first for The Associated Press, then The Boston Globe, The Washington Post (where his reporting won two Pulitzer Prizes), and The New York Times. His astute grasp of the region, including getting kidnapped, beaten, and shot, helped Americans and the world better understand each successive iteration of the “Arab Spring” that started in Tunisia in 2010 and was in its “most bloody” stage in Syria, where he died from an apparent asthma attack.

Yitzhak Shamir

96, June 30 | Hardliner Israeli prime minister in 1983-84 and again from 1986-92 who resisted land-for-peace compromises with the Palestinians and led Israel during the first intifada, the 1991 Gulf War, and the airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

Shenouda III

88, March 17 | Pope of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church for 41 years, who led the church to grow amid escalating tensions with Muslims as he advocated for Christian interests while offering support to former President Hosni Mubarak.

Robert Sherman

86, March 5 | The older brother of a fraternal song-writing team who wrote songs for many films and won Best Song and Best Score awards for “Mary Poppins.” They also wrote the world’s most listened to song, “It’s a Small World After All,” for Walt Disney and a successful “UNICEF Salutes the Children of the World” fundraiser at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

Doris Singleton

92, June 26 | Busy TV actress with roles in dozens of shows during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s but is best remembered for her I Love Lucy role as Lucy’s friend and rival Caroline Appleby who engaged in unremitting competition with Lucy (Lucille Ball) over their respective sons.

Arlen Specter

82, Oct. 14 | Pennsylvania’s longest-serving senator, a moderate who lost his bid for a sixth term when he suddenly withdrew from the GOP and failed to win the Democratic Party primary.

J. Christopher Stevens

52, Sept. 11 | U.S. ambassador to Libya slain in a terrorist attack at the American consulate in Benghazi.

Bob Stewart

91, May 4 | Television producer who created such popular game shows as To Tell the Truth, The $10,000 Pyramid, and the enduring daytime hit The Price Is Right.

Arthur O. “Punch” Sulzberger

86, Sept. 29 | Publisher who took the helm of his family’s New York Times business at age 37. His determination to publish the Pentagon Papers (a secret government history of the Vietnam war) against the advice of the newspaper’s lawyers, and his persistence in the face of Nixon administration demands to back off, resulted in a landmark Supreme Court ruling on press freedom and earned him wide respect among journalists.

E. Donnall Thomas

92, Oct. 20 | Medical researcher awarded a Nobel Prize in 1990 for decades of work to perfect the bone marrow transplant, a complex procedure that has saved tens of thousands of patients with leukemia and other diseases of the blood.

Richard Threlkeld

74, Jan. 13 | Award-winning television news correspondent whose 33 years with ABC and CBS saw him on site covering the Vietnam War (he was on one of the last helicopters to lift off from the roof of the American embassy in Saigon in 1975), in Beijing during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, in Moscow as the Soviet Union imploded in the 1990s, and at many other major happenings and events.

Roman Totenberg

101, May 8 | World famous violin prodigy who made his concert debut in Poland at age 11, migrated to America in the 1930s, and continued to earn rave reviews for performances well into his 90s.

Jack Tramiel

83, April 8 | Hard-charging competitive tech pioneer whose inexpensive, popular Commodore computers, introduced in 1977, helped the personal computer industry take off. His 1982 Commodore 64 offered more memory (64K) and other features at half the price of the Apple II, becoming the best-selling single personal computer model of all time.

Steve Van Buren

91, Aug. 23 | One of the greatest running backs in NFL history, a Philadelphia Eagles player from 1944 to 1951. He led the Eagles to two NFL championships, made the All-Pro list five times, led the NFL in rushing four times, and held the NFL record for career rushing yards (5,860) and career rushing touchdowns (69) when he retired. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.

Gore Vidal

86, July 31 | Prolific writer with a sour attitude and self-anointed judge of American politics and culture who wrote for television, film, and theater, and published two dozen novels and volumes of essays.

Mike Wallace

93, April 7 | Veteran broadcast journalist whose often hard-hitting interviews were a hallmark of his career spanning 38 years with television’s first newsmagazine show, CBS News’ 60 Minutes, which debuted in 1968.

Doc Watson

89, May 29 | Internationally celebrated blind folk singer, songwriter, and guitarist from North Carolina whose Grammy-winning Southern musical storytelling survives in more than 50 record albums.

Kitty Wells

92, July 16 | Country Music Hall of Fame singer who achieved notoriety and fame with songs about life and love from a woman’s point of view. She had the first No. 1 country song ever recorded by a female artist and is revered as the groundbreaking pioneer for every successful female country singer who came after her.

Andy Williams

84, Sept. 25 | Popular handsome “nice-guy” singer and host of the NBC easy-listening musical-variety TV show bearing his name from 1962 to 1971. Known for his signature song, “Moon River” (also the name he gave his theater in Branson, Mo.), he got his start singing with his three older brothers in their church choir at the age of 6; they sang as The Williams Brothers until they disbanded in 1952.

Eddie Yost

86, Oct. 16 | Popular third baseman for the hapless Washington Senators in the 1950s whose uncanny ability to size up blazing pitches, avoid swinging at bad ones, and draw walks (and score runs) earned him the title “The Walking Man.” His career batting average was just .254, but his on-base percentage of .394 was higher than that of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, and Derek Jeter.

Zig Ziglar

86, Nov. 28 | One of America’s most famous motivational speakers (“be the best you can be”) and authors (See You at the Top) whose career took off after his Christian conversion at age 42. In wide demand even in later life, he always made it home to teach his Sunday school class in suburban Dallas.

Read more "2012 Departures."

Listen to a report on notable deaths of 2012 on WORLD’s radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

Photo credits: ARMSTRONG: NASA/Reuters/Landov; CLARK: Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images; GRIFFITH: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; KINKADE: Rick E. Martin/MCT/Landov; PATERNO: Ronald C. Modra /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images; SEAU: Matt A. Brown/Icon SMI/Corbis/AP; WELLS: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Edward E. Plowman

Ed (1931–2018) was a WORLD reporter. Read Marvin Olasky's tribute.


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