Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 - A Look Back at Those Who Have Passed

Another year is drawing to a close and I am amazed at how quickly it has gone by. It is time once again to take a look back and remember those who have passed. This year, it seems a lot of talented people left us...

January ~
The first month of the year brought the loss of two well-known women, one who helped the country raise its morale, and the other who advised us how to keep our morals.

Pauline Ester Phillips
Pauline Ester (Friedman) Phillips was better known by her pen name “Abigail Van Buren – Dear Abby.”  She was born in Sioux City Iowa to Russian Immigrants on July 4, 1918.  Her twin sister, Ester Pauline Friedman later wrote an advice column under the name Ann Landers.

Dear Abby
“Dear Abby” began writing advice columns in 1956 for the San Francisco Chronicle.  She developed her pen name from a biblical verse, from the Book of Samuel: Then David said to Abigail ... ‘Blessed is your advice and blessed are you.  The last name, Van Buren, she borrowed from the eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren.

Phillips offered advice for over forty-six years in syndicated columns throughout the country.  She retired in 2002, after the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and her daughter Jeanne took over the writing.

Pauline Phillips died January 16, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  She was 94 years old.  There is no mention of where she is buried.

Another notable January loss was Patty Andrews of the Andrews Sisters.
Patty Andrews
Born Patricia Marie Andrews on February 16, 1918, Patty and her two sisters, LaVerne and Maxene made up the wildly popular WW II singing group, The Andrew Sisters. 

The three were known for their close harmonies during the swing and boogie-woogie eras. Maxene sang soprano, Patty sang mezzo-soprano and was the lead vocalist of the group, and LaVerne sang contralto. Their first record, Bei Mir Bist Du Schon (To Me, You Are Beautiful,) was played nationally on the radio in 1937.  After that, the group became an overnight sensation and spent WW II traveling the world, performing for the troops. They were named the “Sweethearts of the Armed Forces Radio Service.”

The Andrew Sisters
The Andrew Sisters recorded over 600 songs, 47 of them with crooner Bing Crosby. Forty-six of their songs hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Chart … more than Elvis or the Beatles.  They were best known for their hit, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”  The girls also appeared in 17 Hollywood films.

Patty Andrews
The trio broke up in 1951 but reunited in 1956 and continued to sing together until LaVerne’s death in 1967.  The sisters were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.  The Andrew Sisters have been called the most popular female vocal group during the first half of the 20th century.

Patty Andrews'  Grave
Patty Andrews was the last surviving member of the Andrew Sisters.  She died on January 30, 2013 in Los Angles at the age of 94.  Andrews is buried at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angles, California.

February ~
In the month of February we lost two well-known political figures, a New York mayor, and a U.S. surgeon general.

Mayor Ed Koch
On February 1st, Edward “Ed” Koch, former mayor of New York City died. Koch was a life-long politician serving as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977. He was elected the 105th Mayor of New York City in 1977 and served from January 1, 1978 to December 31, 1989. Koch made a run for the office of Governor of New York in 1982 but lost to Mario Cuomo.

Koch and Colin Powell
During the 1990s, Koch became a partner in a New York law firm, and took to the media as a political commentator for radio, television and newspapers.

In 2004, Koch and Colin Powell headed up the U.S. delegation for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – a conference on anti-Semitism held in Berlin.

Ed Koch's Grave
Ed Koch died on February 1st of heart failure. He was 88 years old. He was buried in Trinity Church Cemetery. In 2008, after purchasing a cemetery plot there, he joking said, “I don’t want to leave Manhattan, even when I'm gone. This is my home. The thought of having to go to New Jersey was so distressing to me."

C. Everett Koop
According to the Associated Press he was “the only surgeon general to become a household name.” That was the legacy of C. Everett Koop.

Koop served under Presidents Reagan and Bush, from 1982 to 1989.  During his tenure as U.S. Surgeon General he dealt with several volatile issues.

Although an opponent of abortion, Koop did not give in to the Regan administration's pressure for a report that said abortion was psychologically harmful to a woman.  Instead, despite his personal views, Koop declared, in what came to be known as the “Koop Report”, that abortion was not a public health issue, but rather a moral one.

AIDS Policy
Koop also wrote the first official U.S. policy on AIDS.  He managed to upset gay activists by targeting gay sex as a primary risk for spreading the disease, and the religious right, by advocating the use of condoms, thereby encouraging frank discussions about sexual practices, and the need to teach sex education in schools.

Warning Label
Koop was also known for his stance on tobacco.  In 1984, Congress voted to allow health-warning labels to appear on all cigarette packages and advertising.  In 1988, Koop released a report that said nicotine had similar addictive qualities as heroine or cocaine.  He was the first to correlate a link between smoking and the effects of second hand smoke on an involuntary public.  During his time in office, smoking rates declined over 10% in this country.

Koop was also known for championing the rights of handicapped children.  He had pioneered infant surgery used to separate conjoined twins.

In the 1990s, he became an advisor to President Bill Clinton’s health care reform task force.

C Everett Koop died February 25, from kidney failure at his home in Hanover, New Hampshire.  He was 95.  Koop was cremated and his ashes given to the family.

You wouldn’t think a sitcom about a single mom raising two girls in Indianapolis, Indiana in the 1970s would have much of an effect on the country – but it did.

Bonnie Franklin
Actress Bonnie Franklin starred as working mom Ann Romano in the show One Day at a Time from 1975 to 1984. Franklin began working in television at the age of 9 when she appeared on the Colgate Comedy Hour. In 1970, she made her debut on Broadway in Applause. Franklin directed several episodes of Charles in Charge in the 1980s, and appeared in guest slots on numerous television shows.

One Day at a Time
But it was her role in the sitcom/drama show, One Day at a Time that garnered her an “Innovators Award” for the show’s down-to-earth dealings with such taboo subjects as suicide, pre-marital sex, and sexual harassment.

During the 80s and 90’s, Franklin performed in playhouses across the country. With the turn of the century she began taking part in staged readings and appeared in several theatre benefit performances.

Bonnie Franklin's Grave
Bonnie Franklin died on March 1, 2013 of pancreatic cancer. She was 69. Franklin is buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angles, California.

Another performer to die in March was English drummer, Clive Burr.
Iron Maiden
Burr was a member of the heavy metal band Iron Maiden from 1979 to 1982. Before that he had been a member of the band, Samson.

The Number of the Beast Album
Burr played on the first three Iron Maiden albums, including the break out album The Number of the Beast, before being fired from the band. He continued to play with various groups around England.

Clive Burr

Burr made a huge impact on other rock and heavy metal drummers throughout the world. In 2005, his white drum kit was donated to the Hard Rock CafĂ© in London.

Burr was diagnosed with MS and had to use a wheel chair before his death. Clive Burr died on March 12, just four days after his 56th birthday from complications related to MS.  Burr was cremated and the location of his ashes is not known.

April ~
April is the cruelest month and this year two foremost souls departed within her care.

Roger Ebert, film critic, journalist, and television host died on April 4th. Ebert and fellow journalist Gene Siskel began a show in 1975 where they reviewed movies. The program was called Coming to a Theatre Near You. In 1978, PBS picked it up and the men were headed toward film critic stardom.

Ebert & Siskel
The fact that they did not care for one another made the show even more entertaining. Siskel was always the more reserved, thoughtful critic, while Ebert was more pretentious and long-winded in his reviews.

Roger Ebert
It wasn’t until the 1990s that the men settled into a more mellowed relationship that eventually grew into a real friendship after almost 25 years of working together. Siskel died in 1999 from a brain tumor.

But the show must go on – and so it did. Ebert selected Richard Roper as Siskel’s replacement and At the Movies continued to keep fans informed and entertained.

Roger Ebert
In 2002 Ebert was operated on for thyroid cancer. By 2006 the cancer had spread and part of Ebert’s jaw had to be removed. Due to complications from the surgery, Ebert lost his voice and was unable to eat or drink. He refused to give up, and through his struggles, helped draw attention to the use of computer-generated voice.

After more than a decade of battling cancer, Roger Ebert died on April 4th in Chicago, Illinois. He was 70 years old. Roger Ebert is buried at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.

A Young Margaret Thatcher
Prime Minister
Known as the Iron Lady, she was one of the leading political figures of the 20th century.
Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s first female prime minister and served three consecutive terms in office. Thatcher began her career in politics in 1959 when she was elected Member of the Parliament. In 1970, she was appointed as Secretary of State for Education and Science. In 1975, Thatcher defeated the Conservative Party candidate to become Leader of the Opposition, and the first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom.

In Parliament
In 1979, Thatcher was elected prime minister on her platform to reverse high unemployment and end the recession. In 1983, she was reelected for her stance on the Falklands War. And in 1987, she was reelected for a third term. However, her support for a “poll tax” was unpopular and she resigned in 1990.

Margaret Thatcher
In 1992, she was given life peerage as a baroness, which allowed her to sit in the House of Lords. In 2002, she began suffering small strokes and was advised to withdraw from public life.

On April 8, Margaret Thatcher died from a stroke in London. She was 87 years old. Thatcher was cremated and her ashes were buried at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, along side her husband Denis, who died in 2003.

May ~ 
Spring brought us losses in both sports and acting ...

David McMillan
David McMillan was a professional football player. He was a defensive end for the Cleveland Browns from 2005 to 2007. He played in 28 games where he recorded 8 tackles and recovered a fumble for Cleveland. McMillan was signed by the Toronto Argonauts in 2009, but was cut at the end of training camp.

David McMillan
McMillan was shot to death in the early morning hours of May 18 in Decatur, Georgia, the victim of an apparent armed robbery attempt. He was 31 years old. David McMillan was buried at Hillcrest Memorial Park in Augusta, Georgia.

A talented actress for over 60 years, she was best remembered as Archie Bunker’s endearing “dingbat” wife. Jean Stapleton worked as an actor on the stage and in films and television from 1941 to 2001. But it was her role as Edith Bunker in the television sitcom, All in the Family that made her a household name.

Jean Stapleton & Carroll O'Connor
For eight years, Stapleton played the wife of working class bigot Archie Bunker. The show broke ground concerning the major taboo issues of the times such as racism, abortion, rape, homosexuality, menopause, breast cancer, impotence, and the Vietnam War. Stapleton won three Emmys and two Golden Globes during the show.

Jean Stapleton
In the early 80s she declined to be cast as the lead in the television show, Murder, She Wrote. Instead, she starred in a one-woman stage show called Eleanor where she portrayed First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Stapleton continued taking small parts in television shows and movies until 2001.

Jean Stapleton died on May 31st in New York City of natural causes. She was 90 years old. On June 5, 2013 the lights on Broadway were dimmed for one minute in honor of her memory.

June ~
With the onset of summer, we think of fun in the sun, sandy beaches, and swimming, a favorite pursuit of one who died this month...

Ester Williams
What began as competitive swimming ended up making her a star.  Throughout her life, Ester Williams was a swimmer first, then a model, actress, and businesswoman later in life.

She was “discovered” in a newspaper story and photo about the 1940 Olympic team’s cancelled plans to attend the games in Tokyo. Billy Rose thought she had the perfect All-American Girl good looks wrapped up in an athletic body. The nation agreed and Ester Williams was soon promoted to the star of the movie Bathing Beauties, while seasoned actor Red Skelton was demoted to supporting lead.

The Million Dollar Mermaid
This was Hollywood’s first swim movie and it captured America’s interest. Williams became a pin-up girl during the war and went on many hospital tours to raise the morale of the soldiers. Williams appeared in over 25 movies during the next 20 years.

During the 50’s, she appeared in several films including Pagan Love Song, Dangerous When Wet, Easy to Love and Million Dollar Mermaid.

Pin-Up Girl
Williams married actor Fernando Lamas and retired from making movies in the 1960’s, at his request. But she was soon out and about again with a line of retro swimwear and a series of backyard swimming pools bearing her name.

In 1966, she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.  And she was a commentator for synchronized swimming during the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Ester Williams
Ester Williams died on June 6th at her home in Los Angeles. She was 91 years old. Williams was cremated and her ashes were scattered on the Pacific Ocean; a fitting tribute for the woman who once said, "I can't remember a time when I wasn't in a swimsuit”

Jiroemon Kimura
Although you may not recognize his name, Jiroemon Kimura accomplished something no other man has – he lived to be the oldest known man in history, and was the oldest person in the world.

Kimura was born Kinjiro Miyake on April 19, 1897 in the Japanese village of Kamiukawa. He married a neighbor girl in the 1920s and took her last name because her family had no male heirs.

Eating Light
During his long life, Kimura worked in local post offices. He retired in 1962. When asked his secret to such a long life he replied that it might have something to do with the light meals he has always eaten. Kimura was the last man to have been born in the 19th century.

Jiroemon Kimura died of natural causes on June 12th in a hospital in Japan. His age was 116 year and 54 days.

“Live long and prosper,” and we’ll conclude the year with a look at those who passed from July through December next week.

~ Joy


  1. Never heard of most of them but they lead interesting lives

    1. All were big on the American scene, save the Prime minister and Mr Kimura. (But even the Prime Minister had us talking ... ; )