2015 Obits – Those we lost in 2015 – July thru September

© Palmer Cecil killer

© James Breeden/Splash News

July 1: Cecil, 13: Zimbabwean protected lion, was murdered by Walter James Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota who paid approximately $55,000 to kill the much-loved animal with a bow and arrow. Palmer boasted he also wanted to kill an elephant but couldn’t find one “big enough.” Cecil was in Hwange National Park, one of Zimbabwe’s national parks when he was killed.


July 3: Steven Benson, 63: convicted murderer who killed his mother and brother in an attempt to receive the family’s $10 million tobacco fortune died in prison after nearly three decades behind bars. At age 63, he was the same age as the mother he killed by a pipe bomb he planted in her Chevy Suburban in the family’s North Naples driveway in 1985. Also in the car were her two children, 21-year-old Scott, who died and 41-year-old Carol Lynn who was injured but survived. When Benson died he had $30 in his commissary fund.


Diana Douglas

July 3: Diana Douglas, 92: actress, ex-wife of Kirk and mother of Michael, died of cancer at the Motion Picture and Television Home in Woodland Hills according to her husband of 15 years, Donald Webster. In the 2003 film It Runs in the Family (about a dysfunctional New York clan) Diana played devoted matriarch Evelyn Gromberg opposite ex-husband Kirk; her son Michael (who also produced) and Cameron Douglas (Michael’s son with Diandra Douglas) as her grandson. Diana’s other son with Kirk (Joel) served as the associate producer. Her resume includes 22 other films, live TV dramas, Broadway and her memoir, which included the revelation she dated Errol Flynn.

July 3: Phyllis Amanda Peterson, 43: American actress.

July 4: Scot Breithaupt, 57: ‘Godfather of BMX’ was found dead in a tent in a vacant lot in Indio, Calif. at the SW corner of Las Palmas Road & Monroe Street. Apparently he had been dead for an unknown amount of time before someone noticed and called police.

July 5: Burt Shavitz, 80: beekeeper, businessman and co-founder of Burt’s Bees passed away in Bangor, Maine from respiratory problems. The Durham-based natural personal care company was started in 1984 after Shavitz, who ran a roadside honey stand in Maine, picked up artist Roxanne Quimby, a hitchhiker. Quimby made candles out of unused wax from Shavitz’ beehives and together they made $20,000 the first year. From there they started making lip balm, soaps, faces washes, lotions and other personal care products that can now be found in 40 countries. Burt’s Bees relocated to North Carolina in 1994. Clorox Co. bought the company in 2007 for $925 million.

July 6: Jerry Weintraub, 77: film producer, chairman and CEO of United Artists, died of a heart attack brought on by a bowel rupture (obstruction). Shortly after attending a July 4 BBQ, he started feeling ill. Thinking he had contracted food poisoning, his partner, Susie called 911 at 3am. Weintraub was in the hospital for 30 hours, yet doctors were not able to identify the problem, even after the CT scan diagnosed the bowel obstruction. Just after 6am on Monday, Weintraub had a heart attack; a second CT scan revealed he had suffered a bowel rupture. When the rupture occurred, it sent poison throughout his body. Weintraub was taken to ICU, where he suffered a second heart attack, and died. Weintraub is known for such films as Ocean’s Eleven, Diner, The Karate Kid (old and new), The Specialist, Oh, God! and many more.

July 8: Muhsin al-Fadhli, 34: Kuwaiti militant, Khorasan Group Leader, believed dead in Syria airstrike. At 20, he was a top al Qaeda leader. His rise in the group was based on his ability to network and raise funds for the terrorist group. He was brought up in the oil rich nation of Kuwait. His involvement in terrorist circles brought him from Kuwait to Afghanistan to Russia to Iran and Syria, where US officials said he may have met his death in an airstrike; although no confirmation that he was killed. At the time of his death, there was a $7 million bounty on his head from the US State Department.

July 8: Irwin Keyes, 63: an actor with credits from The Jeffersons to House of 1000 Corpses died from acromegaly, a pituitary gland disorder. He is survived by his wife Tracy Fontaine, whom he married in 2008.

July 8: Ken Stabler, 69: football player with the Oakland Raiders, and former University of Alabama quarterback, died listening to his favorite songs, like Sweet Home Alabama, as a result of complications associated with colon cancer.

July 9: Michael Masser: 74: songwriter (Saving All My Love For You, Theme from Mahogany) complications from a stroke.

July 11: Satoru Iwata, 55: Japanese game programmer, president and CEO of Ninetendo (since 2002), bile duct cancer.

July 12: D’Army Bailey, 73: American civil rights campaigner, judge, actor; founder of the National Civil Rights Museum, cancer.

July 12: JaJuan Dawson, 37: American football player (Cleveland Browns). Divers recovered Dawson body two days after he fell out of a rented boat on Lavon Lake near Wylie during a family outing in Dallas. Dawson was not wearing a life jacket and likely could not swim when he fell overboard as his two daughters, wife and three friends looked on in horror.

July 14: Marlene Sanders, 84: the first woman to anchor a prime-time network newscast for ABC, in 1964, when she filled-in for Ron Cochran who had lost his voice that night, was also the first network TV female journalist to report for Vietnam in 1966 and the first female vice-president of a news division in 1976. She won 3 Emmy Awards. Her son, CNN legal analyst and New Yorker staff writer, Jeffrey Toobin announced her death on his Facebook page. She died at the Calvary Hospital Hospice. She is also survived by two grandchildren.

July 16: Alan Kupperberg, 62: comic book artist (The Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man) thymus cancer.

July 17: Jules Bianchi, 25: French Formula One drive, head injuries sustained in a race collision.


Neal Falls

July 18: Neal Falls, 45: an Oregon man who was killed this month by an escort he’d met online, is now being investigated in connection with the deaths and disappearances of sex workers in at least  9 states from coast-to-coast, authorities told NBC News. Authorities said they are convinced that the woman stopped a cold-blooded serial killer when she shot and killed Falls with his own gun in her Charleston, West Virginia, apartment. They described the scene has “textbook case” right out of Law Enforcement 101. Information abut Neal Falls has been shared with other detectives in 8 other states including Nevada, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Texas, Oregon and California. No links have been found, but in all of the other states, detectives are reviewing cases in which prostitutes or escorts disappeared or were found dismembered about the same time that Falls, 45, is known to have been living in the vicinity.

July 19: Val Alexander, 100: American big band leader, songwriter-arranger (A-Tisket, A-Tasket), film and TV composer (I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Donna Reed Show), died of heart failure.

July 19: Douglas S. Cook, 56: screenwriter (The Rock, Double Jeopardy, Criminal). He was surrounded by his family when he passed away.

July 19: Josh Greenberg, 28: technology executive, co-founder of Grooveshark, was discovered dead in his Florida home. No evidence suggests that his death was a result of foul play or suicide, police say. Greenberg’s girlfriend had just returned from a trip to Orlando that evening when she reportedly found him deceased.

July 20: Tom Moore, 86: American cartoonist (Archie), throat cancer.

July 22: Iringa, 46: North America’s oldest African Elephant, who was living at the PAWS sanctuary, was euthanized following a long history of degenerative joint and foot disease. Her favorite time of day was her therapy pool sessions, where she would float, taking the weight off her feet and joints. Her caregivers would feed her special treats. After the session she would immediately go and cover herself in mud, like an elephant would do naturally in the wild. Iringa was born in Mozambique, Africa in 1969 and was captured before she was two years old and sent to the Toronto Zoo in 1974. She was one of seven elephants shipped to the zoo from Mozambique that year; Iringa was the longest-lived elephant from that group. Together with two other elephants named Toka and Thika, who were born at the zoo, Iringa arrived at PAWS in October of 2013 after the Toronto City Council voted to relocate the elephants following the Zoo’s decision to end its elephant program. Toka is 45 and still lives at PAWS,

July 24: Joe McMahon: 24 American television associate producer (Deadliest Catch), shot.

July 25: Scott Sims, 59: veterinarian and TV personality (Aloha Vet) who turned his love of animals into a reality show on Nat Geo WILD died after a two-month fight with bladder cancer. He was in talks for a second season when he was diagnosed.

Bobbi Kristina Brown

Bobbi Kristina Brown

July 26: Bobbi Kristina Brown, 22: media personality, singer, daughter of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, died after spending nearly six months in a comatose state. She was found face down and unresponsive in a bathtub at her home in January. The initial autopsy found no significant injuries and the final autopsy did not show any “obvious underlying cause of death.”

July 26: Michael Lutz, 44: whistleblower (John Doe Wisconsin investigation of Scott Walker, et al.) died of an apparent gunshot wound while in the presence of Menomonee Falls tactical officers after a brief tactical situation. He had recently finished fourth in a primary of the 11th Aldermanic District to fill the Common Counil seat left vacant by the death of Joe Dudzik. He had received 426 votes out of 4,155 ballots cast. He retired from the Milwaukee Police Department after 17 years, receiving disability pay for PTSD. He later became a criminal defense attorney and was the anonymous source for a series of stories last year critical of Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. Lutz suggested that Chisholm (a Democrat) had a political agenda in overseeing a John Doe investigation of aids and associates of Reppublican Gov. Scott Walker during his time as Milw. County Executive and in initiating a separate probe of Walker’s campaign. Scott Walker has recently announced his bid to run for President in 2016.

Ann Rule

Ann Rule

July 26: Ann Rule, 83: true crime author (The Stranger Beside Me), who worked with Ted Bundy at a crisis center, died in Seattle of heart failure. Her book about Bundy eventually became a TV movie. She went on to write 35 additional books, 28 of which were USA Today best sellers. In 1969 she began writing for True Detective magazine under a male pseudonym, “Andy Stack.” As a female crime writer, Rule focused on the victim, who was often female. By doing so, she reinvented the true-crime genre and earned the trust of millions of readers.

July 28: Shawn Robinson, 41: stunt performer (Guardians of the Galaxy, Transformers, Hook), had been working on the Lionsgate movie Deepwater Horizon when he was found dead in his hotel room in New Orleans, Louisiana after he failed to report for work. He was the son of legendary Hollywood stuntman Dar Robinson. His brother Troy is Vin Diesel’s stunt double. A cause of death is still unknown.

July 29: Sean Malone, 54: actor (The Fighter, Gone Baby Gone, The Forger) died in Boston after being in a coma for 9 days following a drowning accident. He went out too far while swimming at a South Boston beach and though off-duty firefighters and others had raced to rescue him, Malone was already underwater by the time they had reached him.

Lynn Anderson

Lynn Anderson

July 30: Lynn Anderson, 67: (photo: Jimmy Ellis) best known for her classic recording (I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden, died of a heart attack at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  In addition to her country music career, she was also a horse breeder and an award-winning, lifelong equestrian who became involved in therapeutic horse riding programs for disabled and troubled children. She is survived by her father, 3 children, 4 grandchildren and her partner (Mentor Williams).

Oscars 2012 - PRESS ROOM

Uggie. ©Leonard Ortiz/The Orange Co. Register/ ZUMAPRESS.com

August 7: Uggie, 13: canine actor (The Artist, Water for Elephants). His role in The Artist earned him a Golden Collar Award and the Palm Dog Award at Cannes. He also nipped at Harvey Levin (good Dog!) during a visit to TMS Live. He cashed in on all that success to become Ninetendo’s first ever spokes dog. But Uggie, at 13, was sadly euthanized due to a prostate tumor, that he had been suffering with. RIP Uggie.

August 8: Tony Lara, 50: fishing captain (FV Cornelia Marie) and reality show personality (Deadliest Catch) died in Sturgis, South Dakota during the famous motorcycle rally, confirmed by Sturgis authorities. Lara died at a private home in his sleep according to the Meade County Sheriff. Lara worked on the Cornelia Marie for 10 years in the 1990s and was a close friend of Phil Harris, the captain of the Cornelia Marie who died in 2010.

August 9: Frank Gifford: 84: American Hall of Fame football player (New York Giants), broadcaster (Monday Night Football) and Pro Football Hall of Famer, died suddenly at his Connecticut home of natural causes.

August 15: Julian Bond, 75: civil rights activist and politician, chairman of the NAACP (1998-2010), complications of vascular disease.

August 16: E’Dena Hines, 33: actress, Morgan Freeman’s granddaughter and a young woman with talent and promise was stabbed in front of her apartment building on West 162nd Street by her boyfriend, Lamar Davenport, who was taken into custody.

August 17: Yvonne Craig: 78: As a trained dancer, she did her own stunts, and she originated the role of Batgirl in the 1960s Batman television series. She died after a two-year battle with breast cancer at her home in Pacific Palisades; but it “didn’t dampen her sense of humor or her spirit,” her family said in a statement. She leaves behind her husband, her sister and two nephews.

August 18: Karolyn Ali, 70: Ali died of natural causes at her home in Los Angeles. She was devoted to her community and was an Oscar-nominated producer. She collaborated on projects ranging from film, documentaries, music videos and commercials for more than three decades. In 1984 she founded Renge Films along with Bill Parker and Peter Allen and together they produced commercials for Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. She also produced music videos (with Renge) including Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover.” Her clients included Sinbad, Steele Pulse, Ziggy Marley, Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach. In 1994 she produced Kla$h starring Jasmine Guy and Giancarlo Esposito. She joined Tupac Shakur’s Amaru Entertainment company in 2000 as senior production executive and with Lauren Lazin, were Oscar nominated for the 2004 documentary feature, Tupac: Resurrection. She was a founding member and board chair of Theatre of Hearts/Youth First Artists-in-Residence, a Los-Angeles-based nonprofit and the recipient of numerous honors including the Lillian Gish Award for Women in Film and the NAACP/Legal Defense Fund’s Entrepreneur of the Year award.

August 19: Russell Poole, 58: the retired LAPD police officer who publicly contended that the Los Angeles Police Department was involved in the death of rapper Biggie Smalls a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. (Christopher Wallace) died suddenly from a suspected heart attack. Sherriff’s investigators performed CPR and Poole was rushed to a local hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later.


Toby Sheldon ©Inside Edition

August 21: Toby Sheldon, 35: reality television star (Botched, My Strange Addiction) and Justin Bieber lookalike was found in a Motel 6 room in Los Angeles three days after he was reported missing. On My Strange Addiction he discussed the numerous surgical procedures he had including hair transplants, lip surgery and a chin reduction all to look like Justin Bieber. He spent well over $100,000 on over 12 surgeries. Like Bieber, Sheldon wrote and recorded his own music. In a July 2014 episode of Botched, he was shown in the recording studio “the gift of writing music is not something you can learn” he said at that time.


Dust Lady Marcy Borders

Marcy Borders “Dust Lady”

August 24: Marcy Borders, 42: 911 survivor, subject of “Dust Lady” photograph. The mother of two, a native and lifelong resident of Bayonne, NJ, Marcy Borders was diagnosed with cancer last August and had been undergoing treatments. She was working as a legal assistant for Bank of America on Sept. 11, 2001. Her office was on the 81st Floor of 1 World Trade Center when it was attacked by terrorists. Then 28, Borders found her way down the stairwell and stepped onto the sidewalk just as the south tower began to fall. A stranger pulled her into the lobby of a nearby building as the other tower began to tumble and photographer Stan Honda snapped the photograph known as Dust Lady, on of the most vivid images of the terrible tragedy of 911. Borders has died of stomach cancer, according to her family, at age 42.

August 26: Alison Parker, 24: news reporter at WDBJ, shot by Vester Flanagan/Bryce Williams.

August 26: Adam Ward, 27: news cameraman and photojournalist at WDBJ, shot by Vester Flanagan/Bryce Williams.

August 27: Darryl Dawkins, 58: Known as Chocolate Thunder and for shattering backboards in the NBA, died of a sudden heart attack. He made history in 1975 when he became the first player ever drafted directly from high school to the NBA. The Orlando native played 15 seasons in the NBA, playing with the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Nets. If you ever heard of Darryl Dawkins, then you probably have a story about  him … here’s mine. I saw him once when he was in town with the the 76ers. He was at the Tangiers, a club known for having the best chicken wings in town. He was with a couple of other players and they were enjoying wings. Their first order was 15 orders of 10 wings each. That’s 150 wings. These were actual wings, not just pieces. They then ordered another 15 orders, and then another 15 orders. By the time they were finished, you could hardly see them behind the mountain of bones from the wings. A chicken wing looked like a pencil in the huge hands of Darryl Dawkins. He leaves behind a wife and four children.

wayne dyer

Wayne Dyer

August 29: Wayne Dyer, 75: Self-help author and motivational speaker, died after battling leukemia. A statement read, “Wayne has left his body, passing away through the night. He always said he couldn’t wait for this next adventure to begin and had no fear of dying. Our hearts are broken, but we smile to think of how much our scurvy elephant will enjoy the other side. We love your forever Da/Wayne.”

August 29: Kyle Jean-Baptiste, 21: theatre actor (Les Misérables), died after he fell off a fire escape at his mother’s home in Brooklyn. He died at Woodhull Hospital. He was the youngest actor to play Jean Valjean on the Great White Way. Police believe his death was accidental.

'Good Will Hunting' Premiere

Wes Craven Credit: Terry Lilly/ ZUMAPRESS.com

August 30: Wes Craven, 76: film director, writer, producer, Horror Maestro died after a battle with brain cancer. He wrote horror, directed it and guided Meryl Streep to an Oscar nom for Music of the Heart. He wrote and directed the first Nightmare on Elm Street and claims he got the idea from living next to a cemetery on a street of that name in the suburbs of Cleveland. The five Nightmare on Elm Street movies were released from 1984-89. Craven’s Scream series was a box-office sensation, which began in 1996 and grossed more than $100 million domestically, as did Scream 2 (1997) and he recently executive produced a Scream series for MTV. The season finale of the series will pay tribute to Craven, an MTV spokesperson has said. Craven is survived by  his wife, producer and former Disney Studios VP, Iya Labunka.

Dean Jones_

Dean Jones

September 1: Dean Jones, 84: star of The Love Bug and That Darn Cat, died of Parkinson’s disease. He had a long association with The Walt Disney Co., which began with an unexpected phone call from Walt Disney himself, who praised his work on the TV show “Ensign O’Toole.” Two years later, Disney called again to offer him a role in That Darn Cat opposite Hayley Mills. It would be the first of ten Disney films Jones would make. He returned to Broadway as well, debuting with Jane Fond in There Was a Little Girl, playing Fonda’s boyfriend in a short-lived drama about the rape of a young woman. He eventually returned to film and TV, hosting a variety show, What’s It All About, World? in 1969. He is survived by Lory, his wife of 42 years; 3 children; 8 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

September 3: Leon Gorman, 80: Head of L.L. Bean died of cancer at his home in Yarmouth, Maine.

September 3: Carter Lay, 44: businessman and philanthropist, heir to Frito-Lay and leukemia survivor was found dead in his home, but no foul play was involved. Lay was the grandson of Frito-Lay founder, Herman Lay. The Frito-Lay empire is worth more than $13 billion, according to Forbes.

Candida Royalle

Candida Royalle ©Deborah Feingold/Corbis

September 7: Candice Vadala, 64: former porn star, who spent years searching for the mother who abandoned her when she was only 18 months old, died of ovarian cancer, her friends said. Vadala, whose professional name was Candida Royalle, was raised in New York by her father and step mom. Though she eventually located her mother with the help of a private detective, only to discover that the woman had died of the same disease.

September 8: Tyler Sash: 27: football player (New York Giants), former Giants safety, was found dead in his Iowa home of an accidental drug overdose, as confirmed by an autopsy. Sash overdosed on two pain medications: methadone and hydrocodone. He had endured a recent shoulder dislocation and had a history of chronic shoulder pain – “significant conditions,” according to the medical examiner. The autopsy found “accidental mixed drug toxicity” was the cause of death. Further tests would be done to determine if he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease found in many former NFL players.

September 11: Alan Purwin, 53: helicopter pilot and aerial film operator for such blockbusters films as Transforms, Star Trek and more recently, Jurassic World, was one of several men who died in a plane crash while filming the Tom Cruise picture “Mena” in Columbia.

September 13: Moses Malone, 60: Twelve time NBA All-Star and Hall of Fame basketball player, who had a career with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Houston Rockets passed away in a hotel room in Norfolk, Va. at the age of 60. Malone was in Norfolk to participate in the Still Hope Celebrity Golf Weekend Extravaganza, a non-profit that helps Hampton Roads mothers get to a point beyond self-sustaining. The 6-foot-10-inch player was among the most dominant centers every to play the game.

September 13: Gary Richrath, 65: lead guitarist and songwriter of REO Speedwagon. News of his death was confirmed by his former REO Speedwagon bandmate Kevin Cronin.

September 16: Peggy Jones, 75: guitarist, known as Lady Bo, Mother of Rock ‘n Roll, who was an original part of Bo Diddley’s sound from 1957 to 1962 and influential in her own songwriting and musical endeavors thereafter. Her husband, Wally Malone, wrote on his Facebook page, “Today is one of the saddest days of my life. My wife and partner of 47 Years has been called up to that great rock & roll band in the heavens to be reunited with Bo Diddley, Jerome Green and Clifton James.”

September 22: Yogi Berra, 90: died of natural causes in his sleep in West Caldwell, New Jersey, 69 years to the day after his MLB debut. If you don’t know the career of Yogi Berra … Google him.


Joseph Coffey

September 27: Joseph Coffey, 77: a NYC detective sergeant who took Son of Sam’s confession, arrested John Gotti three times, trailed a mobster from Little Italy to Germany in a case that eventually implicated the Vatican Bank and even danced with Nancy Reagan at the Waldorf one night (he was assigned to guard her) died at his home in Levittown, NY from complications of a heart condition.

September 30: Kelly Gissendaner, 47: Convicted malice murderer, executed by lethal injection.