2013 Obits – December

Dec. 24: Jacob Wernitznig, 28 – brother of Jennifer Sebena, took his own life on the one year anniversary of his sister’s death. Jennifer Sebena was fatally shot by her husband, Benjamin Sebena, while she was patrolling in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin on Dec. 24, 2012. Jacob was Jennifer’s only sibling. Just hours before his death he posted a photo of himself with his sister as children near a Christmas tree. He is survived by his mother.

Dec. 23: Gordon Hinkley, 88 – known as the “Granddaddy of Milwaukee radio” with a show called “Ask Your Neighbor” that ran on WTMJ-AM (620) for more than 30 years, died at the Village at Manor Park in West Allis.

Dec. 23: Jeffrey Pollack, 54 – he directed Booty Call, Above the Rim, Lost & Found and served as a producer on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Pollack was found on the Greenbelt in Hermosa Beach, CA early morning by an unidentified woman who was jogging. He was dressed in jogging clothes and carrying an iPod. It’s believed he died of natural causes.

Dec. 23: Ricky Lawson, 59 – studio drummer, a collaborator with musicians including Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Al Jarreau, Bette Midler, Quincy Jones and many others died in a suburban Los Angeles hospital following a brain aneurism. He was a Detroit native.

Dec. 23: Mikhail Kalashnikov, 94 – inventor of the iconic AK-47 (aka choppa, chopper, AK, stick) assault rifle had been suffering from heart and intestinal problems and in mid-November was admitted into intensive care in Izhevsk in central Russia (where the plant that produces AK-47s is located). The official cause of death will be known following an autopsy.

Dec. 21: Bernard McGinn, 50s – Irish republican IRA member, convicted of conspiracy to murder and firearms possession, a notorious terrorist was found dead in a house in the Irish Republic.

Lord Infamous

Lord Infamous

Dec. 20: Ricky Dunigan, aka Lord Infamous, 40 – passed away during a visit to his mother’s house in Memphis from a heart attack. He was an original Three 6 Mafia Founding Member, recording albums such as “Mystic Stylez” and “When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1.” In 2006, DJ Paul, along with Juicy J (Jordan Houston) won an Oscar for best original song for the Hustle & Flow soundtrack title “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”

Dec. 19: Ned Vizzini, 32 – a successful young adult author who had found a place in Hollywood committed suicide. He is survived by his wife Sabra and their son.

Dec. 17: Bernard L. Shaw, 68 – a former San Francisco police officer who became the bodyguard and husband of Patty Hearst, died at his home in Garrison, NY after a long illness. The direct cause was not specified.

Dec. 14: Peter O’Toole, 81 – died after a long illness. He received an honorary Oscar in 2003, having initially turned it down.

Dec. 13: Daniel Escobar, 49 – best known for his role on Lizzie McGuire died of complications from diabetes at a hospital in Los Angeles.

Tom Laughlin

Tom Laughlin

Dec. 12: Tom Laughlin, 82 – star of the Billy Jack films and husband to actress Delores Taylor since 1954 died in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Dec. 9: Shane Del Rosario, 30 – Promising UFC combat sports heavyweight died after suffering cardiac arrest two weeks earlier in Newport Beach, California.

Dec. 5. Nelson Mandela, 95 – South Africa’s greatest son and one of the most beloved leaders of the 20th century died of a lung infection.

December 3: Ronald Hunter, 70, American actor (Along Came Polly, Law & Order, The Big Bang Theory) died from heart and kidney failure complications at Woodland Medical Center in Los Angeles.

December 2: Billy Beckwith, 38 – HGTV “Curb Appeal” host and Bay Area contractor was killed in a motorcycle crash in San Francisco’s Haight district.

Dec. 1: Walter Ellis, 53 – died at a Sioux Falls hospital, apparently of natural causes, after serving less than 3 years of a life sentence for strangling seven women. Ellis was arrested in 2009 and sentenced in February 2011 to 7 consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole for the killings of 7 Milwaukee women from 1986 to 2007 who ranged in age from 16-41. Ellis was being housed in South Dakota under an interstate agreement.


2013 Obit – June

June 30: Jim Kelly, 67 – the afro, street swagger and memorable one-liners of martial arts movies in the 70s in the prominent role alongside Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon died in San Diego from cancer.

June 26: Kimberly McCarthy, 52 – was the 500th death inmate to be executed by the state of Texas. She was put to death using lethal injection for the 1997 murder of her 71-year old neighbor.

June 26: Marc Rich, 78 – Commodities trader and Glencore founder who received a pardon from former President Bill Clinton on his final day in office, died in Lucerne, Switzerland from a stroke. In 1983 he was indicted on 65 criminal counts that included tax fraud and trading with Iran when it was holding American hostages.

June 26: Justin Miller, 35 – a pitcher for four teams during a major league career that spanned seven seasons was found dead but the cause of death has not been released by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

June 23: Bobby Blue Bland, 83 – a distinguished singer who blended Southern blues and soul in songs died due to complications from an ongoing illness at his Memphis, Tenn. home, surrounded by relatives. He was known as the “Sinatra of the blues” and was heavily influenced by Nat King Cole. He was a contemporary of B.B. King and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

June 23: Richard Matheson, 87 – Known as R.C., Richard Matheson’s novels, short stories, screenplays and teleplays drew the blueprints for dozens of science fiction and horror movies and television shows. He died at his home in Calabasas, CA. He had a prolific imagination for the “what if?” story and got his ideas from actual events and other stories. He wrote the short story “Due” after being tailgated by a truck drive; the story became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s first feature film.

Actor James Gandolfini at the Regency Hotel in New York, Oct. 18, 2010.  (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Actor James Gandolfini at the Regency Hotel in New York, Oct. 18, 2010. (Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

June 19: James Gandolfini, 51 – died of cardiac arrest while on vacation in Rome, leaving behind his wife Deborah and two children. An Italian-American raised in New Jersey, he was successful in television, movies and theatre.

June 19: Slim Whitman, 90 – died of heart failure at Orange Park Medical Center, Miami, Florida. He was the country singer, the high-pitched yodeler who sold millions of records through ever-present TV ads in the 1980s and 1990s and whose song saved the world in the film comedy “Mars Attacks!.”

June 18: Michael Hastings, 33 – One of the great reporters of his generation, Michael Hastings died in an early morning car accident in Los Angeles. Hastings was a BuzzFeed writer at the time. He wrote for Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times (Andi Leadership Institute – I Lost My Love in Baghdad, The Operators, Panic 2012)

June 12: Jason Leffler, 37 – died after an accident in a heat race at a dirt car event at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey.

June 8: Arturo Vega, 65 – the artist behind The Ramones’ iconic logo. A native of Mexico, Vega served as the band’s artistic director for 22 years, opened his home to Joey and Dee Dee during their formative years and later served as the band’s archivist.

Richard Ramirez

Richard Ramirez

June 7: Richard Ramirez, 53 – known as the “Night Stalker,” Ramirez claimed to be inspired by Satan when he killed 14 people and terrorized California during 1985.

June 6: Esther Williams, swimming champion-turned-movie star.

Jiah Khan

Jiah Khan

June 4: Jiah Khan, 25 – Bollywood actor hung herself in her home, allegedly ruled as suicide. Sources close to the actor said she had been depressed for some time due to personal issues.

June 3: David “Deacon” Jones, 74 – Hall of Fame defensive end, the original “sack master” and credited with terming the word sack for how he knocked down quarterbacks. The Washington Redskins said that Jones died of natural causes at his home in Southern California.

June 3: Frank R. Lautenberg, 89 – died in Manhattan due to complications of viral pneumonia. In 2010 he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He was a New Jersey Senator in his 5th Term who fought the alcohol and tobacco industries and promoted Amtrak.