A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending May 20.
Tony Gable, 64, a percussionist and graphic designer whose band gave saxophonist Kenny G his start and who designed the logo for King County, died May 12. Mr. Gable had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for four years, said his wife, Gina. A self-taught musician, Gable got a degree in graphic design at Seattle Central College, working first for Boeing then starting Gable Design Group, in 1985. His 23-year-old son, Trey, got his music gene and is known as Seattle rapper Mackned.
Barbara Frederick, 85, who helped build a wide-reaching support network for cancer patients in Seattle and beyond, died May 6 of a heart attack. Frederick was the executive director of Cancer Lifeline for 23 years until 2005, growing the organization to serve thousands each year and providing a welcoming environment for patients and their families who might feel isolated while fighting the disease. Even though she retired from the nonprofit more than a decade ago, Frederick continued advising Cancer Lifeline in recent years.
Morley Safer, 84, a CBS television correspondent who brought the horrors of the Vietnam War into the living rooms of America in the 1960s and was a mainstay of the network’s news magazine “60 Minutes” for nearly 50 years, died Thursday in New York.
Safer was one of television’s most celebrated journalists, familiar to millions on “60 Minutes,” the Sunday-night staple. By the time CBS announced his retirement May 11, he had broadcast 919 “60 Minutes” reports, profiling international heroes and villains, exposing scams and corruption, giving voice to whistle-blowers and chronicling the trends of an ever-changing America.
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But to an earlier generation of Americans, and to many colleagues and competitors, he was regarded as the best television journalist of the Vietnam era.
John Berry, 52, a founding member of the Beastie Boys who left the group before it found major label success, ied Thursday morning at a hospice in Danvers, Massachusetts, following a long battle with frontotemporal dementia. Berry and schoolmate Michael Diamond founded the Beastie Boys as a punk outfit in 1981 along with Adam Yauch and Kate Schellenbach. As the band became a more professional outfit, Berry “wasn’t up for that rigor,” according to his father, John Berry III. “He was not amenable to authority,” he said.
Guy Clark, 74, who along with Townes Van Zandt, Jerry Jeff Walker and others patented the rugged, imagistic brand of narrative-rich songwriting that became associated with the Texas troubadour movement of the 1970s and ’80s, died Tuesday in Nashville after a 10-year struggle with lymphoma. Clark’s recordings never received much airplay on mainstream radio, but his treasury of songs were FM radio favorites, including “L.A. Freeway,” recorded in 1973 by Walker.
Emilio Navaira, 53, a Grammy-winning musician, known for his mix of traditional Mexican music and accordion-based polka known as Tejano, has died at his home in Texas. Navaira, whose fans knew him simply as Emilio, was found unresponsive by his family Monday night at his home in New Braunfels, a city just northeast of his native San Antonio. The local police believe he died of natural causes.
Darwyn Cooke, 53, an award-winning comic-book writer, artist and animator whose work was known for its bold retro style and singular character, page and cover designs, died on May 14 at his home in western Florida. The cause was lung cancer. Among Cooke’s most celebrated works was DC: The New Frontier, a six-issue series published in 2004 that chronicled the experiences of superheroes including Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, in the 1950s. His adaptations, beginning in 2009, of four hard-boiled novels by Richard Stark, a pseudonym used by Donald E. Westlake, featuring the coldblooded con man Parker, also won praise.
Bill Backer, 89, an ad man with Backer Spielvogel Bates who wrote the lyrics for the 1971 Coca-Cola jingle “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony),” and whose team immortalized the jingles and slogans “Things go better with Coke” and defined the soft drink as “the real thing,” died May 13 in Warrenton, Va.
Julius La Rosa, 86, a pop singer known for hits including “Eh, Cumpari,” whose firing live on the air by Arthur Godfrey in 1953 overshadowed his successes that followed, died May 12 in Crivitz, Wisc.
Marco Pannella, 86, a maverick radical politician who was crucial to Italian postwar campaigns to legalize abortion, divorce and other social change, died Thursday. Pannella, who was known for his hunger strikes, sit-ins, and recourse to political referenda to push his liberal, oftentimes anti-church agenda, had been hospitalized at a Rome clinic in recent days.
Woldemeskel Kostre, 69, the Ethiopian distance running coach who trained greats like Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele and was renowned for his strict disciplinarian approach, died early Monday in Addis Ababa. The cause of death was not announced.
Tony Barrow, 80, the British publicist who coined the phrase “Fab Four” to describe the early Beatles, died in a Lancaster hospital on May 14 after a lengthy illness, his son Mike Barrow said Tuesday.
Madeleine LeBeau, 92, the French actress best known for her small but significant role in “Casablanca” as Yvonne the cabaret singer at Rick’s saloon who passionately sings “La Marseillaise” to quiet a rowdy group of occupying Nazi soldiers, died May 1 in Spain, after suffering a thighbone fracture.