A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending Nov. 23
Ray Chavez, 106, the oldest U.S. military survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor that plunged the United States into World War II, died in the San Diego suburb of Poway on Wednesday. In May, he had visited Washington, D.C., where he was honored by President Donald Trump during Memorial Day services.
James H. Billington, 89, the librarian of Congress for nearly three decades, who led the nation’s treasure house of knowledge into the digital age and added millions of books, films and cultural artifacts to its historic collections, including a trove of tweets, died Tuesday in Washington. The cause was complications of pneumonia.
Andrew Fitzgerald, 87, the last surviving member of a Coast Guard crew that took a lifeboat out into the Atlantic in a raging blizzard in 1952 and rescued 32 of 33 merchant seamen clinging to the remains of a tanker that had split in half off Cape Cod, died Nov. 15 in Aurora, Colorado.
Jane Maas, 86, who, though neither mad nor a man, became a trailblazer in the testosterone-driven advertising industry of the 1960s and ’70s, died Nov. 16 in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. The cause was complications of lung cancer.
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As a senior vice president at Wells Rich Greene, Maas was widely credited with shepherding one of the most successful tourism campaigns ever: “I Love New York,” which incorporated the immortal heart-shaped logo designed by Milton Glaser and music and film direction by, among others, Charlie Moss, Stan Dragoti and Steve Karmen. “Yes, all of these men are the fathers,” she noted in a 2012 memoir, “Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the ’60s and Beyond.” “But I can look you straight in the eye and tell you that I am its only mother.”
Donald McCaig, 78, who enjoyed success with historical novels, books about border collies and two authorized follow-ups to “Gone With the Wind,” died Nov. 11 at his home in Highland County, Virginia. He had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart problems.
Donald Reay, 81, who taught a generation of death examiners and homicide detectives the nuances of forensic sciences, died at his home in Oak Harbor on Nov. 10. Over more than two decades as King County chief medical examiner, Dr. Reay maintained he was “the last line,” said his son, Sean. “He thought of his responsibility as the last person who could tell somebody’s story.”
“He taught a whole generation of prosecutors and police, defense attorneys and judges what it was to be really professional and to care about science (he introduced genetic fingerprinting in King County) … to be balanced and nonbiased when you were conducting an investigation,” said Becky Roe, who worked as a senior King County prosecutor while Dr. Reay was medical examiner.
Ramona Ripston, 91, the civil liberties champion and director of the ACLU of Southern California from 1972 to 2011, died Nov. 3 in Marina del Rey. She had been in failing health for several months.
She overhauled the affiliate into a crusading organization that broadened its scope beyond civil liberties to encompass matters of racial and economic justice. “Obviously she cared about the core issues of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, but she pushed the envelope on education equality, police accountability, the rights of the homeless, of immigrants,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the national ACLU. “The Southern California office became the legal engine for many of the reforms and agendas that we would subsequently pursue for years. Her office was the pacesetter for this work.”