A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending May 11.
David Goodall, 104, Australian biologist who drew international attention to his right-to-die case, ended his life in Liestal, Switzerland, on Thursday. The scientist traveled to Switzerland to take advantage of its aid-in-dying laws. He took his life with an intravenous drip of pentobarbital; a doctor put a small tube in his arm, and Mr. Goodall turned a wheel to allow the solution to flow. His last words before losing consciousness were, “This is taking an awfully long time.”
Delphine Gibson, 114, a Pennsylvania woman who was the oldest person in the United States, died Wednesday. Gibson, who had been living at a Huntingdon nursing home since 2004, when she was 100, attributed her long life to good food, her faith in God and her church.
Lessie Brown, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 113, is now believed to be the oldest American, according to the Gerontology Research Group in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
Anne V. Coates, 92, an English surgical nurse who forsook her calling to perform surgery on some of the best-known motion pictures of the 20th century, earning an Academy Award for film editing of “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1963, died Tuesday in Woodland Hills, California.
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In a six-decade career that took her from England to Hollywood, Coates worked with some of the best-known directors of her time, including David Lean, Michael Powell, Milos Forman and Sidney Lumet, receiving four more Oscar nominations along the way.
The film editor’s craft is often called “the invisible art,” but it is one of the most vital ingredients in filmmaking, transforming the director’s raw footage into a cohesive motion picture. It was an alchemy long performed in darkened rooms, where white-gloved editors could be seen peering at strips of celluloid held to a light before the frames were sliced and rejoined by hand. To the editor falls the responsibility of creating the film’s flow and dance, through the painstaking selection of shots, camera angles, cuts, superimpositions and dissolves.
George Deukmejian, 89, the former two-term California governor who spent three decades in state politics as an assemblyman, senator, and state attorney general died Tuesdayat his home in Long Beach.
As California’s 35th governor, he resisted spending increases, ran a law-and-order administration from 1983 to 1991, expanded the state prison system, brought the left-leaning California Supreme Court to the center and supported tough, anti-crime legislation.
Charlie Russell, 76, a Canadian naturalist who researched grizzly bears by living among them and argued for a view of the animals based on coexistence rather than fear, died Monday in Calgary, Alberta. The cause was complications after surgery.
Russell was outspoken in his belief that the view most people held of the bear was wrong. “I believe that it’s an intelligent, social animal that is completely misunderstood,” he said in a PBS “Nature” documentary about his work. To prove the point, he and his partner at the time, Maureen Enns, a photographer and artist, spent months each year for a decade living among bears in a remote part of eastern Russia.
Stanley Falkow, 84, a much-honored Stanford professor who discovered how antibiotic resistance spreads among bacteria and how bacteria cause disease, died on May 5 at his home in Portola Valley, California. The cause was complications of myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare disorder in which the bone marrow fails to generate blood cells properly.
Over his long career Falkow won just about every major award in science, including the National Medal of Science in 2014. In 2007, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in Britain, whose fellows include Newton, Darwin and Einstein.
Edwin G. Burrows, 74, a Brooklyn College professor who shared the Pulitzer Prize for the magisterial narrative “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898,” died May 4 at his home in Huntington, New York, on Long Island. The cause was Parkinson’s disease.
In 1999, Burrows and Mike Wallace, a fellow professor at the City University of New York, won the Pulitzer Prize for history for their 1,424-page doorstop, which was instantly acclaimed a definitive, populist and novelistic account of the city’s first three centuries.
Burrows, who taught at Brooklyn College for 41 years, was the author of two other books, both delving into neglected chapters of the city’s history: “Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War” (2008) and “The Finest Building in America: The New York Crystal Palace, 1853-1858” (2018).
Art Shay, 96, a noted photographer who chronicled the famous and powerful, including nine presidents, as well as the everyday life of mid-20th-century Americans, died on April 28 at his home in Deerfield, Illinois. The cause was heart failure.
In more than 1,500 assignments for Life, Time, Look, Sports Illustrated and Fortune magazines, Shay photographed famous Americans like Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali, Jimmy Hoffa, Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy and President John F. Kennedy. He also passionately documented the streets of his adopted hometown, Chicago.
Shay was a prolific writer as well, with more than 60 books, including many nonfiction children’s books, and five plays to his credit. Two of the plays — “A Clock for Nikita” in 1963 and “Where Have You Gone, Jimmy Stewart?” in 2002 — were performed in the Chicago area.
Robert N. Hall, 96, a prolific inventor who left his fingerprints far and wide died Nov. 7, 2016. His death gained little notice at the time, but the physicist who spent his entire career at what is now GE Global Research, a General Electric research laboratory, left an incredible body of work, with more than 40 patents registered in the United States.
His legacy can be found at almost every checkout counter — that little red blinking laser scanner that reads bar codes on milk cartons, boxes of light bulbs, price tags dangling from a new jacket and just about everything else that can be bought in a store. A product of his inventive labor can also be found in most kitchens nowadays: the microwave oven.