A sharecropper’s son who rose through the seats of power to become one of the nation’s most influential voices. A Republican who went on to lead the U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal wing. A writer who brought to light stories overshadowed by prejudice. The scion of a Seattle retail family. A ’90s heartthrob. A Grammy-nominated rapper.

This year saw the deaths of people who shifted culture through prose, pragmatism and persistence. It also witnessed tragedy, in talent struck down in its prime.

Here is a roll call of some influential figures who died in 2019 (cause of death cited for younger people, if available):

Blake Nordstrom, 58. The eldest of three brothers leading the Seattle family’s namesake retail company through a tumultuous period, he was known as a humble leader who treated employees as family. Jan. 2. Lymphoma.

Daryl Dragon, 76. The cap-wearing “Captain” of Captain & Tennille who teamed with then-wife Toni Tennille on such easy-listening hits as “Love Will Keep Us Together.” Jan. 2.

Jakiw Palij, 95. A former Nazi concentration camp guard who spent decades leading an unassuming life in New York City until his past was revealed. Jan. 9.


Mary Randlett, 94. Photographer who was a fearless chronicler of Northwest artists and the Northwest landscape. Jan. 11.

Bonnie Guitar, 95. Pioneering musician, producer and label owner recorded the 1957 hit “Dark Moon” and helped found Seattle-based Dolton Records. Jan. 13.

Mel Stottlemyre, 77. Mabton native and five-time All-Star pitcher with the New York Yankees. The Mariners’ pitching coach in 2008. Jan. 13.

Carol Channing, 97. Comedy star delighted American audiences in almost 5,000 performances as the scheming Dolly Levi in “Hello, Dolly!” on Broadway and beyond. Jan. 15.

Russell Baker, 93. The sharp-witted writer won the Pulitzer Prize for his humorous columns in The New York Times and later hosted TV’s “Masterpiece Theatre.” Jan 21.

Michel Legrand, 86. Oscar-winning composer’s hits included the score for the “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” and the song “The Windmills of Your Mind.” Jan. 26.


James Ingram, 66. Grammy-winning singer launched multiple hits on the R&B and pop charts and earned two Oscar nominations for his songwriting. Jan. 29.

Frank Robinson, 83. The Hall of Famer was the first Black manager in Major League Baseball and the only player to win the MVP award in both leagues. Feb. 7.

John Dingell, 92. The longest-serving member of Congress in American history at 59 years was a master of deal-making. Feb. 7.

Albert Finney, 82. The British actor was the Academy Award-nominated star of films from “Tom Jones” to “Skyfall.” Feb. 8.

Jan-Michael Vincent, 73. The “Airwolf” television star whose sleek good looks belied a troubled personal life. Feb. 10.

Betty Ballantine, 99. She was half of a groundbreaking husband-and-wife publishing team that helped invent the modern paperback  through such blockbusters as “The Hobbit” and “Fahrenheit 451.” Feb. 12.


Lyndon LaRouche Jr., 96. The political extremist who ran for president in every election from 1976 to 2004, even while in federal prison. Feb. 12.

Lee Radziwill, 85. Stylish, jet-setting socialite sister of Jacqueline Kennedy. Feb. 15.

Karl Lagerfeld, 85. Chanel couturier’s designs and trademark ponytail, high collars and dark glasses dominated fashion for 50 years. Feb. 19.

Peter Tork, 77. Talented singer-songwriter played the goofy, lovable bass guitarist in the made-for-TV band The Monkees. Feb. 21.

Stanley Donen, 94. A giant of the Hollywood musical who directed “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The Pajama Game,” “Damn Yankees” and many others. Feb. 21.

Katherine Helmond, 89. An Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actress who played matriarchs on sitcoms “Who’s the Boss?” and “Soap.” Feb. 23.

Vikram Jandhyala, 47. Headed the University of Washington’s CoMotion innovation center and served as a conduit between UW and the tech community. Feb. 28.


Andre Previn, 89. Pianist, composer and conductor. Feb. 28.

Luke Perry, 52. He gained instant heartthrob status as wealthy rebel Dylan McKay on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” March 4. Stroke.

Birch Bayh, 91. A former U.S. senator who championed the federal law banning discrimination against women in college admissions and sports. March 14.

Dick Dale, 83. His pounding, blaringly loud power-chord instrumentals on songs like “Miserlou” and “Let’s Go Trippin’” earned him the title King of the Surf Guitar. March 16.

Jeff Higashi, aka Soul One, 48. DJ, graffiti artist and B-boy who was a pioneer in, and steward of, Seattle’s hip-hop scene. March 19.

Rafi Eitan, 92. A legendary Israeli Mossad spy who led the capture of Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann. March 23.

Agnes Varda, 90. The French New Wave pioneer who beguiled, challenged and charmed moviegoers in films that inspired generations of filmmakers. March 29.


Larry Cohen, 77. The maverick B-movie director of cult horror films “It’s Alive” and “God Told Me To.” March 23.

Nipsey Hussle, 33. A Grammy-nominated rapper. March 31. Killed in a shooting.

David H. Fukui, 79. Award-winning architect and member of AIA Seattle. In honor of his parents, he created the Mitsu and William O. Fukui Memorial Endowed Diversity Scholarship at UW. March 31.

Vonda McIntyre, 70. Nebula and Hugo Award-winning Seattle science-fiction author. April 1.

Sydney Brenner, 92. A Nobel Prize-winning biologist who helped decipher the genetic code and whose research on a roundworm sparked a new field of human disease research. April 5.

Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, 97. The silver-haired Democrat who helped shepherd South Carolina through desegregation as governor and went on to serve six terms in the U.S. Senate. April 6.

Richard “Dick” Cole, 103. The last of the 80 Doolittle Tokyo Raiders who carried out the daring U.S. attack on Japan during World War II. April 9.

Charles Van Doren, 93. The dashing academic’s meteoric rise and fall as a corrupt game show contestant in the 1950s inspired the movie “Quiz Show” and served as a cautionary tale. April 9.


Georgia Engel, 70. Played the charmingly innocent Georgette on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and amassed a string of other TV and stage credits. April 12.

Bibi Andersson, 83. The Swedish actress starred in classic films by compatriot Ingmar Bergman, including “The Seventh Seal” and “Persona.” April 14.

John Havlicek, 79. The Boston Celtics great whose steal of Hal Greer’s pass in the final seconds of the 1965 Eastern Conference final against the Philadelphia 76ers is one of the most famous plays in NBA history. April 25.

Richard Lugar, 87. A former U.S. senator and foreign policy sage known for leading efforts to help the former Soviet states dismantle and secure much of their nuclear arsenal but whose reputation for working with Democrats cost him his final campaign. April 28.

John Singleton, 51. The director made one of Hollywood’s most memorable debuts with the Oscar-nominated “Boyz N The Hood;” April 29. Stroke.

Ellen Tauscher, 67. A trailblazer for women in the world of finance who served in Congress for more than a decade before joining the Obama administration. April 29.


Peter Mayhew, 74. The towering actor donned a huge, furry costume to give life to the rugged-and-beloved “Star Wars” character of Chewbacca. April 30.

Jimmy Nixon, 61. Started Broadway Bound, the Seattle after-school and summer theater program that launched hundreds of young actors. May 10.

Peggy Lipton, 72. A star of the groundbreaking late 1960s TV show “The Mod Squad” and the 1990s show “Twin Peaks.” May 11.

Leonard Bailey, 76. The doctor who in 1984 transplanted a baboon heart into a tiny newborn dubbed “Baby Fae.” May 12.

Doris Day, 97. The sunny blond actress and singer whose frothy comedic roles opposite the likes of Rock Hudson and Cary Grant made her one of Hollywood’s biggest stars in the 1950s and ’60s and a symbol of wholesome American womanhood. May 13.

Tim Conway, 85. The impish second banana to Carol Burnett who won four Emmy Awards on her TV variety show, starred in “McHale’s Navy” and later voiced the role of Barnacle Boy for “SpongeBob SquarePants.” May 14.


I.M. Pei, 102. The versatile architect who revived the Louvre with a giant glass pyramid and captured the spirit of rebellion at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. May 16.

Niki Lauda, 70. A Formula One great who won two of his world titles after a horrific crash that left him with serious burns and went on to become a prominent figure in the aviation industry. May 20.

Murray Gell-Mann, 89. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist who brought order to the universe by helping discover and classify subatomic particles. May 24.

Claus von Bulow, 92. A Danish-born socialite who was convicted but later acquitted of trying to kill his wealthy wife in two trials that drew intense international attention in the 1980s. May 25.

Bill Buckner, 69. The star Red Sox hitter made one of the biggest blunders in baseball history when he let the Mets’ Mookie Wilson’s trickler roll between his feet in the 1986 World Series. May 27.

Patricia Bath, 76. A pioneering ophthalmologist who became the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent after she invented a more precise treatment of cataracts. May 30. Complications of cancer.


Leon Redbone, 69. The blues and jazz artist’s growly voice, Panama hat and cultivated air of mystery made him seem like a character out of the ragtime era or the Depression-era Mississippi Delta. May 30.

Frank Lucas, 88. The former Harlem drug kingpin whose life and lore inspired the 2007 film “American Gangster.” May 30.

Leah Chase, 96. A New Orleans chef and civil rights icon who created the city’s first white-tablecloth restaurant for Black patrons, broke the city’s segregation laws by seating white and Black customers, and introduced countless tourists to Southern Louisiana Creole cooking. June 1.

Dr. John, 77. New Orleans singer and piano player who blended Black and white musical styles with a hoodoo-infused stage persona and gravelly bayou drawl. June 6.

William “Bill” Bain Jr., 88. Seattle architect who spent more than 60 years at NBBJ. He designed some of Seattle’s most recognizable buildings, including Two Union Square and the Washington Mutual Tower. June 8.

Franco Zeffirelli, 96. Italian director and producer of operas, films and TV programs. June 15.


Gloria Vanderbilt, 95. The intrepid heiress, artist and jeans designer who began her extraordinary life as the “poor little rich girl” of the Great Depression. June 17.

Judith Krantz, 91. Her steamy novels “Scruples” and “Princess Daisy” engrossed readers. June 22.

Beth Chapman, 51. The wife and co-star of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” reality TV star Duane “Dog” Chapman. June 26.

Lee Iacocca, 94. The auto executive and master pitchman who put the Mustang in Ford’s lineup in the 1960s and became a corporate folk hero when he resurrected Chrysler 20 years later. July 2.

Joao Gilberto, 88. A Brazilian singer, guitarist and songwriter considered one of the fathers of the bossa nova genre that gained global popularity in the 1960s and became an iconic sound of the South American nation. July 6.

Cameron Boyce, 20. An actor best known for his role as the teenage son of Cruella de Vil in the Disney Channel franchise “Descendants.” July 6. Seizure.


Martin Charnin, 84. He made his Broadway debut playing a Jet in the “West Side Story” and won a Tony Award for the score of the eternal hit “Annie.” July 6.

Rosie Ruiz, 66. The Boston Marathon course-cutter who was stripped of her victory in the 1980 race. July 8. Cancer.

Tony Ishisaka, 75. Born in a Japanese-American internment camp, he became a University of Washington professor in the School of Social Work and founded the Asian Counseling and Referral Service. July 9.

H. Ross Perot, 89. The colorful, self-made Texas billionaire who rose from a childhood of Depression-era poverty and twice mounted outsider campaigns for president. July 9.

Rip Torn, 88. The free-spirited Texan who overcame his quirky name to become a distinguished actor in television, theater and movies, such as “Men in Black,” and win an Emmy in his 60s for “The Larry Sanders Show.” July 9.

Jim Bouton, 80. The former New York Yankees pitcher who shocked and angered the conservative baseball world with the tell-all book “Ball Four.” July 10.


Edith Irby Jones, 91. The first Black student to enroll at an all-white medical school in the South and later became the first female president of the National Medical Association. July 15.

John Paul Stevens, 99. The bow-tied Republican-nominated justice emerged as the Supreme Court’s leading liberal. July 16.

Johnny Clegg, 66. A South African musician who performed in defiance of racial barriers and celebrated its new democracy under Nelson Mandela. July 16.

Rutger Hauer, 75. A Dutch film actor who specialized in menacing roles, including a memorable turn as a murderous android in “Blade Runner.” July 19.

Robert M. Morgenthau, 99. A former Manhattan district attorney who spent more than three decades jailing criminals from mob kingpins and drug-dealing killers to a tax-dodging Harvard dean. July 21.

Li Peng, 90. Hard-line Chinese premier best known for announcing martial law during the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests that ended with a bloody crackdown by troops. July 22.


Art Neville, 81. A member of one of New Orleans’ storied musical families, the Neville Brothers, and a founding member of the funk band The Meters. July 22.

Chris Kraft, 95. The founder of NASA’s mission control. July 22.

Harold Prince, 91. A Broadway director and producer of such groundbreaking shows as “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Cabaret,” “Company” and “Sweeney Todd” and won a staggering 21 Tony Awards. July 31.

D.A. Pennebaker, 94. Oscar-winning documentary maker immortalized a young Bob Dylan in “Don’t Look Back” and captured the spin behind Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign in “The War Room.” Aug. 1.

Henri Belolo, 82. He co-founded the Village People and co-wrote their classic hits “YMCA,” “Macho Man” and “In the Navy.” Aug. 3.

Toni Morrison, 88. A pioneer of modern literature whose “Beloved” and “Song of Solomon” dramatized the pursuit of freedom within the boundaries of race. Aug. 5.

Jeffrey Epstein, 66. Financier and convicted sex offender who was connected to the rich and powerful, including President Donald Trump and Britain’s Prince Andrew. Died in jail cell awaiting federal charges of sex-trafficking minors. Aug. 10.


Peter Fonda, 79. Part of a legendary Hollywood family, he wrote and starred in “Easy Rider,” and was nominated for an Oscar for “Ulee’s Gold.” Aug. 16.

David H. Koch, 79. A billionaire industrialist who, with his older brother Charles, was both celebrated and demonized for transforming politics by pouring their riches into conservative causes. Aug. 23.

Alfred Haynes, 87. A hero to pilots everywhere for skillfully navigating a severely disabled United Airlines DC-10 after an engine exploded at 37,000 feet. The 1989 crash killed 112, but 184 survived and remained close to Haynes. Aug. 25.

Jim Leavelle, 99. The longtime Dallas lawman who was captured in one of history’s most iconic photographs escorting President John F. Kennedy’s assassin as he was fatally shot. Aug. 29.

Valerie Harper, 80. Scored guffaws, stole hearts and busted TV taboos as the self-deprecating Rhoda Morgenstern on back-to-back hit sitcoms in the 1970s. Aug. 30.

Faye Garneau, 85. The head of the Aurora Avenue Merchants Association led the effort to elect Seattle City Council members by district and hosted a campaign visit by Donald Trump. Sept. 2.

Robert Mugabe, 95. The Zim-babwean leader took power when the African country shook off white minority rule. He presided for decades while economic turmoil and human-rights violations eroded its early promise. Sept. 6.

Robert Frank, 94. Photographer whose seminal book “The Americans” captured candid moments of the 1950s and freed picture-taking from the boundaries of clean lighting and linear composition. Sept. 9.

T. Boone Pickens, 91. A brash and quotable oil tycoon who grew even wealthier through corporate takeover attempts. Sept. 11.

Eddie Money, 70. The rock star known for such hits as “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight.” Sept. 13.

Phyllis Newman, 86. A Tony Award-winning Broadway veteran who became the first woman to host “The Tonight Show” before turning her attention to fight for women’s health. Sept. 15.

Ric Ocasek, 75. The Cars singer-songwriter’s deadpan delivery and lanky look defined an era. Chart-toppers included “Good Times Roll” and “Shake It Up.” Sept. 15.

Cokie Roberts, 75. The daughter of politicians and a pioneering journalist who chronicled Washington from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump for NPR and ABC News. Sept. 17.

Robert Hunter, 78. Primary lyricist for many of the Grateful Dead’s best-known songs, including “Dark Star” and “Truckin.'” Sept. 23.

Jacques Chirac, 86. A two-term French president who was the first leader to acknowledge France’s role in the Holocaust and defiantly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Sept. 26.

Joseph Wilson, 69. The former ambassador who set off a political firestorm by disputing U.S. intelligence used to justify the 2003 Iraq invasion. Sept. 27.

Jessye Norman, 74. The renowned international opera star whose passionate soprano voice won her four Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor. Sept. 30.

Wendy Lister, 83. The grande dame of Eastside real estate, one of the nation’s top residential brokers, closed more than $1.3 billion in sales over her 43-year career — including the homes of Bill Gates and Craig McCaw. Oct. 2.

Kim Shattuck, 56. Singer-guitarist of the Coolies, Muffs and Pandora. Oct. 2. ALS.

Diahann Carroll, 84. The Oscar-nominated actress and singer won critical acclaim as the first Black woman to star in a non-servant role in a TV series as “Julia.” Oct. 4.

Ginger Baker, 80. The volatile and propulsive drummer for Cream and other bands wielded blues power and jazz finesse and helped shatter boundaries of time, tempo and style in popular music. Oct. 6.

Rip Taylor, 88. The madcap, mustaches comedian with a fondness for confetti-throwing became a television game show mainstay in the 1970s. Oct. 6.

Robert Forster, 78. The handsome and omnipresent character actor got a career resurgence and Oscar nomination for playing bail bondsman Max Cherry in “Jackie Brown.” Oct. 11.

James Stern, 55. A Black activist who took control of one of the nation’s largest neo-Nazi groups — and vowed to dismantle it. Oct. 11.

Alexei Leonov, 85. Soviet cosmonaut was the first person to walk in space. Oct. 11.

Elijah E. Cummings, 68. A sharecropper’s son who rose to become a civil-rights champion and the chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Oct. 17.

Bill Macy, 97. Character actor whose hangdog expression was a foil to Bea Arthur’s unyielding feminist on the daring 1970s sitcom “Maude.” Oct. 17.

Douglas Q. Barnett, 88. A local pioneer of African American theater, best known in Seattle for being the founder and artistic director of Black Arts/West. Oct. 22.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, about 48. Ruthless leader of the Islamic State group who brought terror to the heart of Europe. Oct. 26.

Karl Krogstad, 71. A prolific, local independent filmmaker and painter who had a strong following in Seattle and beyond. Oct. 27.

John Conyers, 90. Retired as one of the longest-serving members of Congress. His resolutely liberal stance on civil rights made him a political institution in Washington and at home in Detroit despite several scandals. Oct. 27.

Ron Fairly, 81. Mariners broadcaster from 1993-2006. Played 21 major league seasons with six teams and was a two-time All-Star and three-time World Series winner. Oct. 30.

Walter Mercado, 88. A TV astrologer whose glamorous persona made him a star and a cherished icon for gay people in the Spanish-speaking world. Nov. 2.

Gert Boyle, 95. The colorful chairwoman of Oregon-based Columbia Sportswear Co. who starred in ads proclaiming her “One Tough Mother.” Nov. 3.

Ernest J. Gaines, 86. A novelist whose poor childhood on a small Louisiana plantation germinated stories of Black struggles that grew into universal tales of grace and beauty. Nov. 5.

Werner Gustav Doehner, 90. The last remaining survivor of the Hindenburg disaster, he suffered severe burns before his mother managed to toss him and his brother from the burning airship. Nov. 8.

Judith Roche, 78. Seattle poet, and former Literary Arts director for Bumbershoot and American Book Award winner. Nov. 14.

Gahan Wilson, 89. His humorous and often macabre cartoons were a mainstay in magazines including Playboy, the New Yorker and National Lampoon. Nov. 21.

William Ruckelshaus, 87. He quit his job in the Justice Department rather than carry out President Richard Nixon’s order to fire the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal. Nov. 27.

Shelley Morrison, 83. The actress was best known for her roles as Sister Sixto on “The Flying Nun” and as Rosario on “Will & Grace.” Dec. 1

Juice WRLD, 21. A rapper who launched his career on SoundCloud before becoming a streaming juggernaut and rose to the top of the charts with the Sting-sampled hit “Lucid Dreams.” Dec. 8. Died after being given an opiate antidote in a medical emergency.

René Auberjonois, 79. A prolific actor best known for his roles on the TV shows “Benson” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and playing Father Mulcahy in the 1970 film “M.A.S.H.” Dec. 8.

Caroll Spinney, 85. He gave Big Bird his warmth and Oscar the Grouch his growl for nearly 50 years on “Sesame Street.” Dec. 8.

Paul Volcker, 92. The former Federal Reserve chairman who in the early 1980s raised interest rates to historic highs and triggered a recession as the price of quashing double-digit inflation. Dec. 8.

Boyd Grafmyre, 79. Music promoter who brought Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and other acts to Seattle in the ’60s. Dec. 9.

Pete Frates, 34. Former college baseball player whose battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease helped inspire the ALS ice bucket challenge raising more than $200 million. Dec. 9.

Marie Fredriksson, 61. The Roxette singer, known for singles such as “Listen to Your Heart” and “It Must Have Been Love,” died after a long battle with cancer. Dec. 9.

Danny Aiello, 86. His long career playing tough guys included roles in “Fort Apache, the Bronx,” “Moonstruck” and his Oscar-nominated performance as a pizza man in “Do the Right Thing.” Dec. 12.

Elizabeth Spencer, 98. A Southern writer who navigated between the Jim Crow past and open-ended present in her novels and stories, including the celebrated novella “Light In the Piazza.” Dec. 22.

Allee Willis, 72. Wrote the “Friends” theme, hits “September” and “Boogie Wonderland,” and music for Broadway’s “The Color Purple.” Dec. 24.

Jerry Herman, 88. The Tony Award-winning composer wrote the cheerful, good-natured music and lyrics for such classic shows as “Mame,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “La Cage aux Folles.” Dec. 26.

Sue Lyon, 73. Cast at 14 as Stanely Kubrick’s “Lolita.” Dec. 26.

Jack Sheldon, 88. Jazz trumpeter who was Merv Griffin’s sidekick and sang the memorable, educational Schoolhouse Rock songs “Conjunction Junction” and “I’m Just a Bill.” Dec. 27.

Don Imus, 79. Confrontational radio host. Dec. 27.

Sonny Mehta, 77. Book editor and Knopf Doubleday executive who published the work of nine Nobel literature laureates. Dec. 30.