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Members of an Islamic State affiliate walk (and later behead) captured Ethiopian Christians along a beach in Libya.

Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz

90 / Jan. 22 / Sixth and most reform-minded king of Saudi Arabia so far, a U.S. Sunni ally who cracked down on extremism and encouraged interfaith tolerance by example but kept the lid on religious freedom and maintained the royal family’s power and strict political control.

Brad Anderson

91 / Aug. 30 / Cartoonist who in 1954 created “Marmaduke,” a mischievous but lovable Great Dane, seen in up to 600 newspapers in 20 countries.

Lynn Anderson

67 / July 30 / Lawrence Welk Show regular in the 1960s and popular country singer best known for her classic 1970 recording “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.”

Tariq Aziz

79 / June 5 / Chaldean Christian by birth in Mosul, Iraq, native Aramaic speaker, and former journalist, he was the silver-haired, cigar-smoking foreign minister and international spokesman on behalf of Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein for 20 years.

Bill Badger

78 / March 11 / Retired Army colonel and hero who ended the 2011 shooting rampage that killed six and wounded 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, in Tucson, Ariz. Suffering a gunshot graze wound to the head himself, he tackled and helped subdue assailant Jared Loughner.

Ernie Banks

83 / Jan. 23 / Two-time National League baseball MVP as shortstop and slugger with the Chicago Cubs. He hit 512 home runs during his 1953-1971 career. The team’s first African-American player, he was known and loved by fans as “Mr. Cub” for his consistently cheery and upbeat attitude despite the team’s disappointing also-ran records.

Chuck Bednarik

89 / March 21 / Rough-and-tough football great; two-time All-American at the University of Pennsylvania, where he played center; and Hall of Fame center and linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles (1949-1962), one of the last NFL players to play on both offense and defense.

Walter Berns

95 / Jan. 10 / Distinguished constitutional scholar, political scientist, author, and university professor whose insistence that a democracy depends on the character of its people (“the purpose of law is and must be to promote virtue”) thrust him to the forefront of America’s 20th-century conservative movement.

Yogi Berra

90 / Sept. 22 / Eighth-grade dropout, a WWII Navy combat veteran, a wit whose humorous “Yogi-isms” often turned meanings on end but endearingly so for many, and one of baseball’s greats as catcher and a power batter for the New York Yankees (1946-1963). The 15-time All-Star hit 358 home runs, drove in 1,430 runs, and won 10 World Series with the Yankees.

James Best

88 / April 6 / Actor with 83 movies and 600 TV shows to his credit, but remembered best for his role as Rosco P. Coltrane, the bumbling sheriff of Hazzard County, in The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985).

Theodore Bikel

91 / July 21 / Versatile singer, stage and screen character actor, and sometimes social activist who toured on stage for decades as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and created the role of Baron von Trapp in the original Broadway production of The Sound of Music.

Julian Bond

75 / Aug. 15 / Articulate civil rights advocate for more than 50 years as a Georgia legislator, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, chairman of the NAACP, and university professor.

Khan Bonfils

42 / Jan. 5 / Actor known for his roles in James Bond and Star Wars films, especially as Jedi master Saesee Tiin in Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace.

Arnaud de Borchgrave

88 / Feb. 15 / Flamboyant, well-connected journalist was chief foreign correspondent for Newsweek for 25 years, editor in chief of The Washington Times (1984-1991), and CEO of United Press International.

Marcus Borg

72 / Jan. 21 / Prominent Lutheran-raised liberal theologian, religion professor at Oregon State University (1979-2007), author (Jesus: A New Vision), and a leading scholar in the Jesus Seminar.

Malcolm Boyd

91 / Feb. 27 / Episcopal priest, known for his civil rights activism and anti-war protests in the 1960s and ’70s, his writings (of his 28 books, his 1965 Are You Running With Me, Jesus? was a bestseller), and his mid-1970s public declaration that he was gay—one of the earliest clergy notables to do so.

Edward Brooke

95 / Jan. 3 / Liberal Republican politician from Massachusetts who was the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate.

Jim Ed Brown

81 / June 11 / Country music regular at the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years, with many solo and group hits with his sisters Maxine and Bonnie. The trio’s 1959 recording of “The Three Bells” (ringing from a chapel for birth, marriage, and death) led the Billboard country chart for 10 weeks and crossed over as the No. 1 pop song for a month.

Marcia Brown

86 / April 28 / Award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books, including Cinderella, Once a Mouse, and Shadow.

Vincent Bugliosi

80 / June 6 / Prosecutor in the Charles Manson trial who went on to write the best-selling true-crime book about the murder case, Helter Skelter.

Eva Burrows

85 / March 20 / Australia-born top elected “General” (1986-1993) of the Salvation Army denomination, founded in 1865 and headquartered in London. She rekindled evangelism as the group’s primary founding goal. During communism’s collapse in Eastern Europe and Russia (1989-1991), she quickly arranged for re-entry of the faith group into the countries that had banned it.

David Canary

77 / Nov. 16 / Actor who played the good-and-evil twins Adam and Stuart Chandler on ABC’s daytime soap All My Children for nearly 30 years, beginning in 1984, with five Emmy wins for Outstanding Lead Actor.

Wayne Carson

72 / July 20 / Award-winning songwriter of many chart-topping country-pop hits in the 1960s and ’70s, including “Always on My Mind,” “The Letter,” and “Somebody Like Me.”

Billy Casper

83 / Feb. 7 / Under-famed golfing great, a brilliant putter who took up the sport in 1955, won 51 PGA tournaments, two U.S. Opens, and a Masters.

Owen Chadwick

99 / July 17 / Eminent British historian of Christianity, longtime Cambridge professor, and prolific author whose topics ranged from biographies to portrayals of rural church life and incisive church history (from his 1964 The Reformation to his 1993 The Christian Church in the Cold War). He helped to oversee the 16-volume The Oxford History of the Christian Church, contributing three of the volumes himself.

Stéphane Charbonnier

47 / Jan. 7 / French cartoonist and editor of the Paris-based Charlie Hebdo magazine known most for his satire of Islam and Muhammad. Muslim terrorists murdered him and 11 others in Paris.

Ornette Coleman

85 / June 11 / Composer, saxophonist, a leading innovator of the free jazz movement of the 1950s and ’60s, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2007.

Jackie Collins

77 / Sept. 19 / Writer with a troubled past whose explicitly sensuous novels sold tens of millions of copies worldwide, including her 1983 opus, Hollywood Wives (more than 15 million sold).

John P. Connell

91 / Sept. 10 / Actor best known for his starring role in TV’s live soap opera Young Dr. Malone (1958-1963).

Catherine Coulson

71 / Sept. 28 / Actress known for her early 1990s TV role in Twin Peaks as Margaret Lanterman, aka “the log lady,” an eccentric woodsman’s widow who claimed her chunk of ponderosa pine knew the town’s secrets.

Yvonne Craig

78 / Aug. 17 / Actress who starred as Batgirl in the 1960s ABC series Batman.

Andraé Crouch

72 / Jan. 8 / One of gospel music’s all-time greats (seven Grammy awards, six Dove awards), a singer, songwriter, and arranger whose soulful, rhythmic, remarkably singable creations (like “Soon And Very Soon” and “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power”—written in his midteens) bridged racial and generational divides.

Suzanne Crough

52 / April 27 / Actress who played Tracy, the redheaded youngest daughter on ABC’s 1970-1974 TV series The Partridge Family.

Mario Cuomo

82 / Jan. 1 / Three-term governor of New York and liberal beacon for the Democratic party during the Ronald Reagan era.

Gary Ross Dahl

78 / March 23 / Marketing executive who created the “Pet Rock,” a wildly popular 1970s fad, and wrote Advertising for Dummies.

Jean Darling

93 / Sept. 4 / One of the last surviving characters from Hal Roach’s silent-film Our Gang series (renamed The Little Rascals in the sound and TV eras).

Bruce Dayton

97 / Nov. 13 / Father of Minnesota’s governor and last of the five brothers who turned their family’s regional Hudson-Dayton department store business into the national retail discount giant Target Corp., with about 1,800 U.S. stores and more than $70 billion in annual sales.

“Little Jimmy” Dickens

94 / Jan. 2 / Diminutive country singer-songwriter with a big sense of humor and the oldest active cast member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Donna Douglas

81 / Jan. 1 / Actress known for her role as the buxom tomboy Elly May Clampett in the 1960s TV sitcom series The Beverly Hillbillies.

Richard Dysart

86 / April 5 / Veteran stage and screen actor who played senior partner Leland McKenzie in the long-running TV courtroom drama L.A. Law.

Anita Ekberg

83 / Jan. 11 / Blond former Miss Sweden who became Hollywood’s sensuous symbol of beauty in the 1950s, best known for her role in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.

Elisabeth Elliot

88 / June 15 / Best-selling Christian author (Through Gates of Splendor), speaker, and former missionary with her husband Jim Elliot, one of five missionaries martyred in Ecuador in 1956.

M. Stanton Evans

80 / March 3 / Guiding force in modern conservatism, he was a journalist who worked for conservative intellectual giant William Buckley at National Review, editor of the Indianapolis News (1959-1974), primary author in 1960 of the founding document of principles of the Young Americans for Freedom, tactician for Ronald Reagan, columnist, author of many books, and founder-director in 1977 of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., offering journalism training and internship placements to hundreds of students.

Michele Ferrero

89 / Feb. 14 / Italian candymaker who brought Nutella chocolate and hazelnut spread, Tic Tac mints, and namesake Ferrero Rocher chocolates to the world.

Mervin Field

94 / June 8 / Protégé of George Gallup and public opinion researcher who in 1947 launched the California Poll, a one-man endeavor to track the state’s political winds, later enlarged and renamed the Field Poll, the standard for nonpartisan polling in the state.

Stan Freberg

88 / April 7 / Wacky, versatile humorist who made hit comedy records, voiced many cartoon characters, hosted radio and TV specials (including outrageously amusing put-downs of liberal American foibles), and reached his zenith as Advertising Age’s “father of the funny commercial” (as in “Today the pits; tomorrow the wrinkles. Sunsweet marches on!” and Contadina’s “Who put eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can?”).

Francis George

78 / April 17 / Vatican cardinal and retired archbishop of Chicago who in 2002 during the clergy sexual abuse scandal urged the church to bar any priest from serving who faced credible allegations. He later led the U.S. bishops’ fight against Obamacare on religious liberty grounds—opposing its contraception mandate and closing the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities foster care arm when the state tried to force the group to place children with same-sex couples.

Frank Gifford

84 / Aug. 9 / NFL Hall of Fame running back, receiver, and defensive back for the New York Giants (1952-1964) who became a sports commentator for CBS and went on to announce NFL games for ABC’s Monday Night Football (1971-1997). An autopsy revealed Gifford had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition common among football players.

Martin Gilbert

78 / Feb. 3 / Preeminent British historian, the official biographer of Winston Churchill, and author of more than 80 books chronicling World War II, the Holocaust, the founding of the state of Israel, and other important events of his era.

Ronnie Gilbert

88 / June 6 / Audacious alto folk singer, the female member of the trendsetting, post-WWII leftist-minded quartet “The Weavers” (with Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Fred Hellerman), known for folk standards like “This Land Is Your Land,” “On Top of Old Smoky,” and “Goodnight, Irene.”

Melvin Gordon

95 / Jan. 20 / Business leader who for more than 50 years headed the secretive candymaker Tootsie Roll Industries (dating from 1896, when a New York confectioner started making the chewy chocolate rolls, naming them for his daughter).

Lesley Gore

68 / Feb. 16 / Pop music singer who as a teenager zoomed to stardom with hit songs about heartbreak and jilted romances (“It’s My Party”) that segued later into feminist themes (“You Don’t Own Me”).

Lari Goss

69 / Jan. 10 / Gifted gospel music legend with multiple awards as a producer, arranger, recording artist, and songwriter (“Cornerstone”).

Steve Hayner

66 / Jan. 31 / Presbyterian minister, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (1988-2001), professor of evangelism and church growth at Columbia Seminary (2003-2009), and the seminary’s president (2009-2014).

Marques Haynes

89 / May 22 / Basketball wizard, often dubbed the “world’s greatest dribbler,” who dazzled opponents and millions of spectators for more than 50 years with his ball-handling skills for the Harlem Globetrotters and other barnstorming teams.

Billy Ray Hearn

85 / April 15 / Pioneer of contemporary Christian music who began as a Baylor-trained Southern Baptist music minister, became an executive at Word Inc., signed up many of the best-known Christian recording artists, and went on to create record labels (Myrrh, Sparrow) and international music companies.

LaBreeska Hemphill

75 / Dec. 9 / Forceful-voiced matriarch of the gospel singing family The Hemphills that received eight GMA Dove awards, best known for their 1981 hit, “He’s Still Working on Me.”

Theodore Hesburgh

97 / Feb. 26 / Influential Holy Cross Catholic priest who was president of Notre Dame University (1952-1987) and achieved his goals of enlarging the school, changing its status to coeducational and its governance to independent and making it as well known and respected for its academic standing as it was for its reputation in football.

Dean Jones

84 / Sept. 1 / Genial screen and stage star best known for his roles in Disney films, including those where his co-star was a cat (That Darn Cat), a dog (The Ugly Dachshund), and a Volkswagen Beetle race car (The Love Bug). On Broadway, he was the original lead in Stephen Sondheim’s 1970 musical Company. He professed faith in Christ in the early 1970s and became involved in Christian projects.

Louis Jourdan

93 / Feb. 14 / Handsome French actor who appeared in films and on television in Europe and America for more than 50 years, including as a romantic hero in the acclaimed award-winning movie Gigi (1958) and a charming villain in the James Bond movie Octopussy (1983).

Mary Doyle Keefe

92 / April 21 / Petite Vermont model for Norman Rockwell’s 1943 faux muscular “Rosie the Riveter” cover image for The Saturday Evening Post, symbolizing the women who worked in American industry while millions of men were at war.

B.B. King

89 / May 14 / Singer-guitarist known as “The King of the Blues,” with hits such as “My Lucille,” “Sweet Little Angel,” and “Rock Me Baby.”

Ben E. King

76 / April 30 / Soulful baritone who led The Drifters with hits in the late 1950s and early ’60s and scored big with his classic solo singles “Spanish Harlem” and “Stand By Me.”

Christopher Lee

93 / June 7 / English actor whose visage became the face of evil in his film roles as villains Dracula and Frankenstein, as Count Dooku in Star Wars, as the wizard Saruman in Lord of the Rings, and others.

Joan Leslie

90 / Oct. 12 / One of the most popular actresses in Hollywood’s Golden Age of the 1930s and ’40s, she played opposite Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino in High Sierra, Gary Cooper in Sergeant York, Fred Astaire in The Sky’s the Limit, James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Ronald Reagan in WWII’s This Is the Army.

Monica Lewis

93 / June 12 / Singer and performer known to millions as the spirited voice for Chiquita Bananas in a 1947 commercial aired repeatedly on many broadcast outlets for 14 years.

Earl Lloyd

86 / Feb. 26 / First black player in NBA history, a 6-foot-6-inch forward who made his debut with the Washington Capitols in 1950, played on the 1955 championship Syracuse Nationals team, and in 1971 became head coach of the Detroit Pistons.

Moses Malone

60 / Sept. 13 / One of pro basketball’s most renowned players, a three-time NBA MVP and 13-time All-Star, a 6-foot-10-inch center and dominant rebounder with a career scoring total of 27,409 points and more than 15,000 rebounds. He spent 21 years in pro basketball, five of them with the Philadelphia 76ers, whom he led to the 1983 NBA championship in his first season with the team.

Geraldine McEwan

82 / Jan. 30 / British stage, film, and television actress, known best for her 2004-2007 TV series role on BBC and PBS as Agatha Christie’s amateur detective Miss Marple.

Colleen McCullough

77 / Jan. 29 / Australian-American fiction writer whose second novel, The Thorn Birds (1977), sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and in 1983 was made into TV’s second-most-popular miniseries (after Roots).

Ann McGovern

85 / Aug. 8 / Adventuresome, widely traveled author of 55 children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction, with artwork by top picture-book illustrators and collective sales exceeding 30 million copies. Titles include her 1968 bestseller Stone Soup and 1967’s Too Much Noise.

Jayne Meadows

95 / April 26 / Stage, screen, and television actress best known for her work (1952-1959) as a panelist on TV’s high-rated game show I’ve Got a Secret—and wife of comedian Steve Allen as well as sister of actress Audrey Meadows.

Martin Milner

83 / Sept. 6 / Television actor who traversed America in a Corvette with a buddy for four years on TV’s Route 66 (1960-1963) and played veteran LAPD police officer Pete Malloy in NBC’s Adam-12 (1968-1975).

Minnie Minoso

89 / March 1 / Major League Baseball’s first black player from Latin America and an All-Star outfielder for the Chicago White Sox.

Samuel H. Moffett

98 / Feb. 9 / Missionary, teacher, author, and church historian whose two-volume A History of Christianity in Asia is a standard in the field. He served as a missionary and seminary professor in China (1947-1951) and later taught at South Korea’s main Presbyterian seminary (1959-1981) and at Princeton until retirement in 1986.

Al Molinaro

96 / Oct. 30 / TV character actor who played Murray the cop on The Odd Couple in the early 1970s and diner owner Al Delvecchio on Happy Days (1974-1984).

Dickie Moore

89 / Sept. 7 / Child actor who played in dozens of movie features and shorts before age 12. At age 6 he played the title role in Hollywood’s first sound adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. At 16, in Miss Annie Rooney, he kissed Shirley Temple on the cheek—a kiss he avowed was his “first ever—on or off the screen!”

Vernon B. Mountcastle

96 / Jan. 11 / Johns Hopkins medical researcher and recipient of nearly every major award in science for his discoveries about how the brain perceives information and organizes it in vertical columns connected to deeper regions of the cerebral cortex.

John F. Nash

86 / May 23 / Princeton scholar and mathematician who shared a Nobel Prize in 1994 for work that furthered the reach and power of modern economic theory. The 2001 film A Beautiful Mind portrayed his decades-long descent into severe mental illness and eventual recovery.

Jean Nidetch

91 / April 29 / Compulsive-snacking, 214-pound New York housewife with a 44-inch waist who decided to do something about it, shrank to 142 pounds (and was still there into her late 80s), co-founded Weight Watchers in 1963, and became the franchise chain’s public face for decades.

Leonard Nimoy

83 / Feb. 27 / Actor who garnered fame as the gaunt-faced, pointy-eared starship Enterprise officer Mr. Spock in NBC’s Star Trek TV series (1966-1969) and the popular Star Trek film reprises beginning in 1979.

Menes Abdul Noor

85 / Sept. 14 / Top evangelical leader, author, teacher, broadcaster, and force for evangelism in Egypt. Of Coptic heritage, he was pastor of Kasr el-Dobara Evangelical Church in Cairo (1976-2007), a Presbyterian congregation he helped to grow to more than 8,000 congregants, the largest Protestant church in the Middle East.

Maureen O’Hara

95 / Oct. 24 / Feisty, redheaded, Irish-born beauty with green eyes whose acting in great movies helped to make her era known as Hollywood’s Golden Age. Her more than 50 films included How Green Was My Valley (1941), the Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street (1947), and The Quiet Man (1952)—one of five films in which she starred opposite John Wayne.

Gary Owens

80 / Feb. 12 / Deep-voiced, witty LA radio disc jockey and cartoon voice-over actor who shot to fame as the zany between-bits, hand-over-ear announcer in the TV hit comedy series Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1968-1973).

Boyd Packer

90 / July 3 / High-ranking leader of the Mormon church, next in line to be its president, and an outspoken defender of the church’s teachings on morality and family in an era of social change.

Betsy Palmer

88 / May 29 / Multitalented performer—actress in TV drama series in the early 1950s, regular on the Today show alongside host Dave Garroway, and panelist for 10 years on I’ve Got a Secret—but probably known best among later generations as the slashing murderess Mrs. Voorhees in the 1980 horror film Friday the 13th.

Leanne Payne

82 / Feb. 18 / Evangelical author, speaker, counselor, and founder in the 1980s of Pastoral Care Ministries, a Wheaton, Ill.–based organization that sponsored “inner healing” conferences and training until 2008.

Calvin Peete

71 / April 29 / Most successful African-American golfer to play on the PGA Tour (with 12 wins) prior to Tiger Woods. Remarkably, Peete did not begin playing golf until he was in his 20s, and joined the tour at age 31.

Maya Plisetskaya

89 / May 2 / Russian ballerina internationally regarded as one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century. With Moscow’s Bolshoi troupe from 1943 at age 18 to 1990, she was still performing at 61.

Terry Pratchett

66 / March 12 / Award-winning British author of more than 70 books (with sales of over 85 million worldwide), including 40 titles in his acclaimed Discworld comic fantasy series.

Paul Prudhomme

75 / Oct. 8 / New Orleans chef whose blackened redfish and other fixings at his K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen restaurant in the 1980s sparked a nationwide craze for Creole and Cajun cooking and awakened new interest in American cuisine.

Rochunga Pudaite

87 / Oct. 10 / Second-generation Christian from northeast India who translated the Bible into his native Hmar language and founded Bibles For The World, a Colorado Springs–based partnership ministry dedicated to Bible distribution in India and to establishing Christian schools there. He and his wife also founded the Evangelical Free Church of India, a denomination that now has 350 churches in northeast India.

Jethro Pugh

70 / Jan. 7 / Tall and fast lineman who was part of the Dallas Cowboys’ famed “Doomsday Defense,” led the team in quarterback sacks (1965-1972), and helped the Cowboys win two Super Bowls.

Jean Ritchie

92 / June 1 / Red-haired soprano folk singer who brought into the folk music boom of the 1950s and ’60s hundreds of old ballads she had grown up with in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains, accompanying herself on the guitar, autoharp, or the almost-extinct stringed mountain dulcimer.

Alex Rocco

79 / July 18 / Emmy-winning character actor best remembered for his 1972 role as Moe Greene, a Las Vegas casino owner shot through the eye in The Godfather.

Tibor Rubin

86 / Dec. 5 / Hungarian-born Jew who as a teenager endured a Nazi concentration camp and later as a U.S. soldier in Korea in 1950 single-handedly held off an enemy advance on his retreating regiment—earning him belatedly the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for valor.

Ann Rule

83 / July 26 / Prolific true-story crime writer for detective magazines and author of over 30 books, including her 1980 bestseller, The Stranger Beside Me—about serial killer Ted Bundy.

Lyle Schaller

91 / March 18 / Former urban planner for cities in Wisconsin and Ohio who became a Methodist minister and an analyst of American church culture in the last half of the 20th century.

Robert Schuller

88 / April 2 / Celebrated Reformed Church in America television pastor and motivational speaker. He famously grew his Garden Grove (Calif.) Community Church from a drive-in theater in 1955 to the spacious, upscale, glass-walled Crystal Cathedral in 1980. He launched the weekly Hour of Power telecast in 1970 and hosted it until 2010.

Stuart Scott

49 / Jan. 4 / ESPN anchor known for his passion behind the microphone, his hip-hop style, the catchphrases he created, and a positive outlook about the cancer that claimed his life: “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live.”

Omar Sharif

83 / July 10 / Egyptian actor who started his climb to international acclaim in the 1962 film classic Lawrence of Arabia for his portrayal of the Arab warrior who led fellow Arab fighters to team up with British adventurer T.E. Lawrence in battles against Turkish occupiers. It was his first English-language film. Others followed with him in leading roles, including Genghis Khan and Dr. Zhivago.

Bob Simon

73 / Feb. 11 / Longtime CBS reporter who spent nearly 50 years covering world events from Vietnam to Iraq, where he spent 40 days in captivity under Saddam Hussein’s rule; killed in a taxi crash in Manhattan.

Dean Smith

83 / Feb. 7 / Widely recognized as one of the greatest coaches in college basketball, who in his 36 seasons with North Carolina’s Tar Heels won two national championships and the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament 13 times and was America’s fourth-all-time-winningest coach, with 879 victories.

Joel Spira

88 / April 8 / New York physicist who in the late 1950s invented the solid state light dimmer switch for homes and apartments, founded the Lutron company in Pennsylvania in 1961, added new innovative energy-saving devices and designs to the product line, and grew it into one of the largest lighting controls companies in the world.

Gardner C. Taylor

96 / April 5 / Baptist minister often dubbed by peers as the “prince of black preachers,” pastor of Brooklyn’s large Concord Baptist Church of Christ (1948-1990), a confidant of fellow Baptist minister and civil rights champion Martin Luther King Jr., and a leader of the faction in the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. denomination that split off in 1960 to form the more activist-oriented Progressive National Baptist Convention.

Ken Taylor

81 / Oct. 15 / Canada’s ambassador to Iran who hid Americans at his residence for three months during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, then facilitated their escape by arranging for plane tickets and fake Canadian passports.

Rod Taylor

84 / Jan. 7 / Handsome Australian-born movie and TV actor who starred in The Time Machine (1960), Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller The Birds, and Hotel (1967).

John Templeton

75 / May 16 / Prominent Philadelphia pediatric surgeon who retired in 1995 to run his late billionaire father’s Templeton Foundation, a philanthropy whose grants and awards include its annual faith-related Templeton Prize. He was an evangelical Presbyterian who also supported conservative causes.

Fred Thompson

73 / Nov. 1 / Former U.S. senator from Tennessee, short-lived GOP presidential hopeful, Watergate attorney, and actor who appeared in some prominent films (Marie, The Hunt for Red October, and others) and television series, including as District Attorney Arthur Branch on NBC’s Law and Order (2002-2007).

Phyllis Tickle

81 / Sept. 22 / Author and founding religion editor at Publishers Weekly who promoted the rapidly expanding Christian book publishing industry in the 1990s. Known for her controversial 2008 book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why, in which she envisioned a future syncretistic religion that jettisons the orthodoxies of the past.

Paul E. Toms

90 / Feb. 7 / Pastor of the historic, influential, missions-focused Park Street Church in Boston (1969-1989) and a leader in America’s evangelical movement, serving as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and chairman of its World Relief affiliate along the way.

Dick Van Patten

86 / June 23 / Actor known best for his role as loving father Tom Bradford in the 1977-1981 TV series Eight Is Enough.

Tony Verna

81 / Jan. 18 / CBS sports producer and director who trucked a refrigerator-sized videotape machine to the 1963 Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, marking the first use of technology given a name by sportscaster Pat Summerall a month later at the Cotton Bowl game in Dallas: “instant replay.”

Jenny Wallenda

87 / April 4 / High-flying matriarch of the five-generation family of Wallendas with circus culture in their DNA. The daughter of high-wire superstar Karl Wallenda of Ringling Bros. circus fame, she was a famed aerialist who anchored her father’s historic seven-person chair pyramid, among other nerve-jangling roles.

Colin Welland

81 / Nov. 2 / British actor and writer who won an Oscar for best original screenplay for Chariots of Fire. The film won four Oscars, including best picture and best music.

John Willke

89 / Feb. 20 / Cincinnati obstetrician for 40 years and Catholic pioneer in the pro-life movement who co-authored with his late wife their landmark 1971 Handbook on Abortion and served as president of the National Right to Life Committee for 10 years.

David K. Winter

84 / August 15 / Influential evangelical educator, president of California’s Westmont College (1976-2001), and co-founder and former board chair of the D.C.-based Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

Jim Wright

92/ May 6 / Texas Democrat known for his oratorical skills who was elected to Congress in 1954, became House speaker in 1987, but resigned in 1989 under pressure for breaking ethics rules on finances. Among his high marks: helping President Jimmy Carter fashion the 1978 Camp David peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

December deaths

A list of prominent deaths from December 2015 that occurred after WORLD Magazine’s 2015 News of the Year issue went to press.

Vonette Bright

89 / Dec. 23 / Co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) in 1951 with her late husband Bill Bright.

Natalie Cole

65 / Dec. 31 / Grammy Award–winning singer and daughter of legendary smooth jazz baritone Nat King Cole, with whom she recorded a duet posthumously of his hit “Unforgettable,” a smash hit that won the Grammy for 1991 Song of the Year.

Ed Dobson

65 / Dec. 26 / Michigan megachurch pastor and a leader of the Moral Majority during the late 1970s and early ’80s.

Meadowlark Lemon

83 / Dec. 27 / Known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” for the Harlem Globetrotters who barnstormed around the world and in later life was active in Christian outreach.

Ian Howard Marshall

81 / Dec. 12 / University of Aberdeen scholar who taught and mentored many U.S. evangelical professors.

Kurt Masur

88 / Dec. 19 / German maestro who took over the New York Philharmonic from 1991 to 2002 and led it to prominence in a revival era of classical music.

Wayne Rogers

82 / Dec. 31 / TV actor in many roles, including "Trapper John" on M*A*S*H.

Robert Spitzer

83 / Dec. 25 / Influential psychiatrist who had a key role in revising psychiatry’s agreed-upon standards to describe mental disorders (known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and removing homosexuality from the list in 1973.


Edward E. Plowman Ed (1931-2018) was a WORLD reporter. Read Marvin Olasky's tribute.

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