People We Lost in 2017, January thru March

Jan. 4: Wayne Westner, 55: a former South African golfing star, Westner died in an apparent hostage drama on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. A police spokesperson confirmed that Westner died as a result of a gunshot wound to the right side of his head. He reportedly held his wife hostage before committing suicide.

Jan. 6: Audrey Grevious, 86: American civil rights activist.

Jan. 6: Les Lazarowitz, 75: American sound mixer (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Groundhog Day) cancer.

sylversterpottsJan. 6: Sylvester Potts, 78: American singer and composer from the Motown legendary group The Contours and sang on the world-famous song “Do You Love Me,” passed away at a hospital in Detroit, Mich.

TilikumJan. 6: Tilikum, 35: American-held orca, subject of Blackfish, a documentary, and the orca that killed a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010 died from a bacterial infection. He was estimated to be 36 years old and was born in waters off Iceland. Trainer Dawn Brancheau died after Tilikum dragged her underwater by her hair and repeatedly struck her, as she performed with him in front of an audience.

Jan. 6: Francine York, 80: American actress, an alluring actress of the 1960s, who was memorable as a villainess on television’s Batman and in films such as Bedtime Story and The Doll Squad died at a hospital in Van Nuys, Calif. after a battle with cancer.

Jan. 8: Mary Ann Green: American tribal leader and politician, Chairperson of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians (1988-2016) passed away after battling a long illness. She died peacefully at her home in Coachella, surrounded by her family. During her term as Tribal Chairperson, she was instrumental in protecting, maintaining and expanding the government, culture and traditions of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians on its reservations.

Jan. 8: Roy Inns, 82: American civil rights activist, Parkinson’s disease.

Iconic sequoia treeJan. 8: Pioneer Cabin Tree, c. 1,000: American giant sequoia tree, known as the “tunnel tree” was brought down by a powerful winter California storm. It was carved into a living tunnel more than a century ago. It stood in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park and saw horses and cars pass through it over the years. Most recently, only hikers were allowed to walk through the massive tree. It’s unclear exactly how old the tree was, but the LA Times reported that the trees in the state park are estimated to be more than a thousand years old. Sequoias can live for more than 3,000 years.

Jan. 8: Eli Zelkha, 66: Iranian-born American entrepreneur, inventor of ambient intelligence.

Jan. 9: Timothy Well, 55: American professional wrestler (WWF, PNW, WCW) kidney failure.

Jan. 10: Steve Fryar, 63: American rodeo performer.

Jan. 10: Steven McDonald, 59: American police detective (NYPD), heart attack.

Jan. 10: Manlio Rocchetti, 73: Oscar and Emmy winner (1989) Italian make-up artist (Driving Miss Daisy, Lonesome Dove, Gangs of New York).

Jan. 10: Tony Rosato, 62: Italian-born Canadian actor (Saturday Night Live, SCTV, Night Heat), heart attack. He endured a stint in jail and battled a mental disorder but achieved fame as a cast member of both SCTV and Saturday Night Live.

Jan. 11: Tony Booth, 83: British poster artist (The Beatles), cancer.

Jan. 11: Arthur Manuel, 66: Canadian Neskonlith chief, indigenous rights and environmental activist.

Jan. 11: Christopher Chubasco Wilkins, 48: American murderer, executed by lethal injection in Texas (the first in 2017) for a two-day killing spree in Fort Worth when he killed a man for ripping him off in a $20 drug deal and his friend because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

williampeterblattyJan. 12: William Peter Blatty, 89: novelist and screenwriter (The Exorcist, Legion, A Shot in the Dark), Oscar for best adapted screenplay (1974), multiple myeloma. William Friedkin, who directed the film adaptation of Blatty’s novel, broke the news of his death on Twitter. Myeloma is a form of blood cancer.

Jan. 16. Eugene Cernan, 82: American astronaut (Apollo 10, Apollo 17), last person to walk on the Moon.

Jan. 17: Jim Fagan, 72: American voiceover artist (NBA on NBC, NBA Live), Parkinson’s disease).

Jan. 17: Colo, 60: American-bred, western gorilla, oldest gorilla in captivity.

Jan. 17: William Margold, 73: American pornographic actor and director. He was an adult industry legend and AVN Hall of Famer. He died during the broadcast of his program on from his Los Angeles apartment.

Jan. 19: Wayne Barrett, 71: American journalist (The Village Voice), lung cancer.

miguel_ferrerJan. 19: Miguel Ferrer, 61: actor (RoboCop, Mulan, NCIS: Los Angeles), throat cancer. “Miguel made the world brighter and funnier and his passing is felt so deeply in our family that events of the day, (monumental events), pale in comparison,” cousin George Clooney said in a statement. Ferrer passed peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends. He was the son of actor Jose Ferrer and singer Rosemary Clooney, making him a cousin to George Clooney. He is survived by his wife Lori and son Lukas and Rafi and has a brother, Rafael Ferrer.

Jan. 20: Alec Devon Kreider, 25: convicted murdered, suicide by hanging. He was serving three life terms for brutally murdering Kevin Haines and his parents, Tom and Lisa Haines. Kreider hung himself at SCI Camp Hill.

Jan. 21: Karl Hendricks, 46: American singer, songwriter and guitarist (The Karl Hendricks Trio), oral cancer.

Morrison ObitJan. 21: Walter “Junie” Morrison, 62: American Hall of Fame musician (Ohio Players, Parliament-Funkadelic) and record producer, a true Funk Mastermind. He was the singer, a keyboardist, producer, a one-man studio band. His daughter, Akasha, reported his death on his Facebook page. He was living in London. But others announced his death including his recent collaborator, the musician Dam-Funk and his 1970 band, the Ohio Players. In a 2015 interview for the Red Bull Music Academy website, Mr. Morrison said, “Funk is an excellent platform for moving or removing the ills that may be present in our lives.” Amen to that.

Jan. 23: Bobby Freeman, 76: American singer and songwriter (“Do You Want to Dance”), heart attack.

Jan. 23: Kudditji Kngwarreye, 78-79: Australian Aboriginal artist. He was an Anmatyerre Elder and a custodian of many important Dreamings in Utopia. He was named one of the 50 most collectible artists in Australia in 2007. In died in Alice Spings after a long illness.

Jan. 24: Butch Trucks, 69: The Allman Brothers Band drummer shot himself in the head at his waterfront Florida condo in a horrific scene witnessed by his artist wife of 25 years. Rolling Stone magazine considered him one of the top 10 drummers in rock history.

John HurtJan. 25: Sir John Hurt, 77: the man who could move audiences to tears in The Elephant Man, terrify them in Alien and then spoof them in Spaceballs, died after battling pancreatic cancer since 2015. He was twice nominated for playing the tortured John Merrick in The Elephant Man and for his role as a heroin addict in Midnight Express. His career spanned over 50 years. His most recent role was in the biopic of President JFK (Jackie), he starred at Father Richard McSorley. He died at his home in Norfolk.

Mary Tyler MooreJan. 25: Mary Tyler Moore, 80: she helped define a new vision of American womanhood in two top-rated television shows in the 60s and 70s. But she faced more than her share of private sorrow. In 1980 she was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Ordinary People (directed by Robert Redford) when she played a frosty, resentful mother whose son accidentally dies. But it was her role as Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show that ran from 1970 to 1977 that she is best known for. Her family said she died at Greenwich, Conn. hospital from cardiopulmonary arrest after she had contracted pneumonia.

Mannix - 1967-1975Jan. 26: Mike Connors, 91: known best for playing detective Joe Mannix on the 60s-70s show Mannix died in Tarzana, Calif. from leukemia, according to his son-in-law, Mike Condon. Mannix ran for 8 eight seasons (1968-1975) and was the last series from Desilu Productions. Connors won a Golden Globe for his performance as a tough, athletic investigator. He drove a series of muscle cars, including a Dodge Dart and Chevy Camaro. Desilu president Lucille Ball convinced CBS not to cancel the show despite initial poor ratings and it caught on after being retooled. Gail Fisher was one of the few African-American actresses on TV at the time, playing Mannix’s secretary. He is survived by his wife Mary Lou, daughter Dana and a granddaughter.

Jan. 26: Barbara Hale, 94: the actress who play Della Street on Perry Mason passed away from complications of COPD at her home in Sherman Oaks, Calif at age 94. She was the matriarch of a show business family that included her late husband, actor Bill Williams and their son, William Katt, who played the title role in the early 1980s TV series The Greatest American Hero, confirmed her death.

rob-stewart-biographyJan. 31: Rob Stewart, 37: Canadian documentary filmmaker (Sharkwater) who was first reported missing after surfacing from a deep-water dive on the Queen of Nassau wreck near Alligator Reef off Islamorada has know been reported as dead. Cant. Jeffrey Janszen, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West confirmed a Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department dive team found Stewart about 300 feet from his last known position. Stewart and a small group of divers were filming the next installment of his Sharkwater series. He and a colleague resurfaced around 5pm. His colleague boarded the boat and passed out. When the crew went to retrieve Steward, he was no longer in sight.

Feb. 2: Jeff Sauer, 73: American ice hockey coach (Wisconsin Badgers) pancreatic cancer.

Feb. 3: Benny Perrin, 57: a former safety with the St. Louis Cardinals took his own life with a self-inflicted gun shot wound. He was one of 4,500 former NFL players who sued the league claiming that concussions suffered during their playing careers made life after football a struggle. Perrin revealed that he suffered from headaches and blurred vision following his retirement. He stated these problems came from the many hits he took while playing. There are many who sacrificed their bodies to play with the NFL. Another Cardinal and 4-time Pro Bowler, Dave Duerson also suffered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest in 2011. Linebacker Junior Seau also died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest in 2012 at the age of 43. He was found to have CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a neurodegenerative disease that leads to dementia, memory loss and depression.

Tim PiazzaFeb. 4: Tim Piazza, 19 (photo displayed): American student that died in a hazing episode at Pennsylvania State University’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity pledge party. Charges were handed down to eighteen Pennsylvania State students and their fraternity through a grand jury investigation. Piazza died having suffered a nonrecoverable head injury, ruptured spleen and collapsed lung.

Feb. 5: Sonny Gerace, 70: American singer (The Outsiders, Climax).

Feb. 6: Christine Dolce, 35: American model, better known as ForBiddeN on MySpace during its super early days, who had over 2.1 million friends, died from liver failure. Her family stated that she had been hospitalized since December of 2016 after battling with alcohol-related issues. She died at the hospital, surrounded by her family.

Feb. 7: Richard Hatch, 71: known as Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica television series to legions of fans, he also replaced Michael Douglas in the remake of Streets of San Francisco. But it was his starring role in Battlestar Galactica that brought him worldwide recognition as well as a Golden Globe nomination. He passed away in Los Angeles peacefully with his family and friends at his side after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

PackyFeb. 9: Packy, 54: American-born Asian elephant. The Oregon Zoo’s most famous resident, Packy had to be euthanized. He was suffering from a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis. Zoo vets said they had run out of options to treat him. He was the oldest male of his species in North America. AB’s comment: Just ONE of the reasons I hate zoos.

Feb. 10: Miles Cahn, 95: American businessman, co-founder of Coach, Inc., along with his wife, Lillian. They founded Coach in New York in 1961 and sold the company in 1985. He died at his home in Manhattan.

Feb. 11: Chavo Guerrero, Sr., 68: American professional wrestler (NWA, AWA, WWE), liver cancer.

Feb. 12: Damian Davey, 52: British high-energy singer, whose top ten UK hit in 1988, “The Time Warp” died after a 3-year battle with cancer. The song, was a cover from The Rocky Horror Show. He followed it up with a cover of The Sweet’s Wig Wam Bam.

Feb. 12: Al Jarreau, 76: American jazz and R&B singer (“Moonlighting,” “Since I Fell for You,” “We Are the World”), seven-time Grammy Award winner, died shortly after he announced retirement from touring. He had been hospitalized for exhaustion. He was surrounded by family and friends when he died in Los Angeles.

Feb. 13: Aileen Hernandez, 90: American union organizer and women’s rights activist, President of the National Organization for Women (1970-1971).

Feb. 13: Bruce Lansbury, 87: British-American television producer (Murder, She Wrote, The Wild Wild West, Knight Rider) and screenwriter, and the brother of Angela Lansbury died due to complications from Alzheimer’s.

Feb. 18: Omar Abdel-Rahman, 78: Egyptian Muslim leader and convicted terrorist, linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He was known as the “blind sheik.”

nick_dupreeFeb. 18: Nick Dupree, 34: American disability rights activist, advocate, writer, blogger and artist died at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Feb. 18: Tom Larson, 69: American politician, member of the Wisconsin State Assembly (2011-2016) lung cancer.

Feb. 18: Clyde Stubblefield, 73: American drummer (James Brown), kidney failure.

Feb. 21: Ion Croitoru, 53: Canadian pro wrestler (SMW, AWA, WWF) and convicted criminal. Natural causes succeeded where mob hit men and gangsters failed.

Feb. 22: Ronald Blackwood, 91: Jamaican-born American politician, Mayor of Mount Vernon, New York (1985-1996), first elected black mayor in New York state, Parkinson’s disease.

Feb. 22: Ed Garvey, 76: American labor attorney, NFLPA executive director and counsel (1970-1983), who was an icon among Wisconsin’s progressives died in a Verona nursing home where he had been living for two weeks. He was a grad of the University of Wisconsin and its Law School, was the NFL Players Association’s counsel and executive director from 1970-1983, leading the players through two strikes in 1974 and 1982. He then returned to Madison in 1983 as an assistant to then Attorney General Bronson La Follette.

Feb. 24: Daryl, 61: American magician, who was well-known at Los Angeles’ Magic Castle, committed suicide by hanging. Taking his own life was intentional, the coroner’s office confirmed.

Bill PaxtonFeb. 25: Bill Paxton, 61: charismatic, charming, a memorable supporting actor and genuinely talented performer who could inflect his voice or body language and get amazing results. From Weird Science to Aliens to True Lies and on to Twister and Titanic, there are way too many roles to list. He also made his mark behind the camera in 2001 when he directed Frailty. He recently co-starred in Training Day on CBS and has a role in The Circle. He apparently died from complications from surgery according to a family statement.

Feb. 26: Joseph Wapner, 97: American judge who started in the Los Angeles County Superior Court and went on to television (The People’s Court, Judge Wapner’s Animal Court). His son told the AP that his father was suffering from breathing problems and was admitted to a hospital. He returned home under the care of hospice.

Feb. 28: Ric Marlow, 91: American songwriter (A Taste of Honey) and actor (Bonanza, Magnum, PI, Hawaii Five-O).

March 3: Tommy Page, 46: Singer, songwriter, music industry executive, best known for his No. 1 single “I’ll Be Your Everything,” was found dead by several friends. Although the cause of death was unclear, several believe it was an apparent suicide.

Vince RhinoMarch 5: Vince, 4: Dutch-born rhinoceros, shot and had his horn sawed off, was killed by poachers in a wild-life zoo outside Paris. It was probably carried out by organized crime and showed the intricate planning that usually goes into art heists, said French police. Officials say it was the first crime of its kind in Europe.

March 6: Robert Osborne, 84: American film historian and television host for Turner Classic Movies died of natural causes in his sleep at home in New York, said his partner of 20 years, theater director and producer David Staller.

March 7: Ron Bass, 68: American professional wrestler (CWA, CWF, WWE) died after surgery from an apparent burst appendix.

Kim, Debbie, Joni, and Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge photographed in 1981.March 10: Joni Sledge, 60: Member of the “We Are Family” hitmakers Sister Sledge, passed away at home in Phoenix, Ariz. She was the second eldest sister of the hit pop group. She is survived by her son, and her sisters.

March 18: Chuck Berry, 90: One of the creators of rock and roll, Hall of Fame guitarist, singer and songwriter (Johnny B. Goode, Maybellene, Roll Over Beethoven) was found unresponsive at home. According to a statement on Berry’s Facebook page, he “spent his last days at home, surrounded by the love of his family and friends.” He was 90.

March 21: Chuck Barris, 87: Television producer, game show creator, television host (The Gong Show, The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game) and songwriter (Palisades Park) died of natural causes at his home in Palisades, NY. His innovative shows changed the face of reality TV, but critics nicknamed him “The King of Schlock,” “The Baron of Bad Taste” and “The Ayatollah of Trasherola.”

Francine HughesMarch 22: Francine Hughes, 69: subject of The Burning Bed, a domestic abuse symbol, died after a bout with pneumonia in Leighton, Alabama. It was 40 years ago March 9 that Hughes walked into the Ingham County Jail in Mason and confessed that, fearing for her life, she had set fire to her home in Dansville, where Hughes, by that time her ex-husband, was sleeping. It was the case that made a turning point in the growing movement against domestic violence. It inspired the bestselling book and the TV movie – The Burning Bed.

March 23: Lola Albright, 92: she starred opposite Kirk Douglas in Champion and in Peter Gunn.

March 28: Darlene Cates, 69: lovable, impressionable and oh so talented, Cates was born in Texas. When her parents divorced when she was 12, she began overeating which manifested itself into obesity. At 410 lbs she underwent gastroplasty and dropped 100 lbs but gained it back plus 140 more pounds. She was discovered by author and screenwriter Peter Hedges who proposed she play the obese mother in the 1993 film What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. She made other appearances in Picket Fences, Touched by an Angel and other shows. She died in her sleep.

March 28: Michael Sharp (United States citizen) and Zaida Catalan (Swedish national) U.N. investigators and their Congolese interpreter who were missing since March 12 were found in the Congo in an area engulfed in a violent uprising. They were part of a group of experts monitoring a sanctions regime imposed on the Congo by the U.N. Security Council when they disappeared in Kasai Central province. DNA tests and dental records were being used to confirm the identities.

March 29: Katherine Smith, 98: Defender of Navajo land who once warded off federally employed fencing crews with a shotgun during the infamous and protracted Navajo-Hopi relocation said goodbye to the land she loved and defended. “In our beliefs, when a death occurs the weather will tell you how blessed they were,” said Smith’s daughter, Marykatherine Smith. “We see rain, wind and snow as prosperity. So she was very blessed.”

March 30: Donald Harvey, 64: American serial killer, died after an assault in a Toledo prison cell. He was nicknamed the “Angel of Death” for pleading guilty to 37 murders while serving as a nurse’s aide at hospitals in Cincinnati and London, KY. Harvey said he did so to stop patients’ suffering.

March 31: Gilbert Baker, 65: Artist and gay activist, creator of the rainbow flag, died in his sleep in his apartment in Harlem. It’s believe a stroke that Baker suffered about two years ago may be related.