A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending Nov. 30
George H.W. Bush, 94, the 41st president of the United States and the father of the 43rd, who was a steadfast and masterful force on the international stage and who approached the changing world with a pragmatic view, died Friday. Mr. Bush had a form of Parkinson’s disease that forced him to use a wheelchair or motorized scooter in recent years. His death, which was announced by his office, came less than eight months after that of his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush.
The last veteran of World War II to serve as president, he came to be seen as a consummate public servant and a statesman who helped guide the nation and the world out of a four-decade Cold War. Yet his lack of sure-footedness in the face of a faltering U.S. economy produced a turnaround in his soaring political fortunes after the triumph of the Persian Gulf War — when the U.S. and allies came together to defend Kuwait against an Iraq i invasion. He lost his bid for a second term as president.
Turner Cockrell, 21, the Vanderbilt tight end, died Thursday at home in Acworth, Georgia, after battling cancer for more than a year. Cockrell noticed two lumps on the right side of his neck last fall and was diagnosed with melanoma in November. Surgery and treatment were ineffective and doctors announced in July that his cancer had spread.
Robert Morris, 87, one of the most controversial American sculptors of the post-World War II era as a founder of minimalism, a style of radical simplification that emerged in the 1960s and influences artists to this day, died Wednesday in Kingston, New York. The cause was pneumonia.
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Morris was one of a generation of artists who embraced the minimalist credo, along with Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin and others. But while they continued to work within the genre’s austere limits, Morris went on to explore an astonishing variety of stylistic approaches, from scatter art, performance and earthworks to paintings and sculptures symbolizing nuclear holocaust.
Stephen Hillenburg, 57, a former marine biology teacher who created a children’s show that ballooned into an unlikely cultural phenomenon, “SpongeBob SquarePants,” died Monday at his home in Southern California. Hillenburg announced last year that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the neurodegenerative condition known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“SpongeBob” started in Nickelodeon on May 1999 and proved irresistible to the 12-and-under crowd, and eventually to many much-older fans as well. The show spawned two movies, in 2004 and 2015, and, last year, a Broadway musical, which was nominated for 12 Tony Awards. (It won one, for scenic design.) It closed in September after 327 performances.
Lady Trumpington, 96, who worked on the top-secret Bletchley Park code-breaking operation during World War II and later embarked on a political career that made her a celebrity in Britain in her 90s, died Monday. No other details were available.
Lady Trumpington — as Jean Alys Campbell-Harris — worked as a cipher clerk, typing intercepted messages from the German navy, at Bletchley Park, the wartime British decoding facility where Alan Turing helped crack Germany’s Enigma code. This month, she was among a group of Bletchley Park veterans awarded the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor, for their contributions to the liberation of France.
She was appointed to the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the British Parliament, in 1980. She held a series of government positions from 1985 to 1997, leaving her last ministerial post at age 75.
Bernardo Bertolucci, 77, an Italian filmmaker who won Oscars with “The Last Emperor” and whose erotic drama “Last Tango in Paris” enthralled and shocked the world, died Monday in Rome.
An award-winning poet in his early 20s, Bertolucci traded literature for cinema after working as an assistant director under Pier Paolo Pasolini, a fellow poet turned filmmaker. He went on to become one of the world’s most renowned directors, alternately spurned and celebrated for films that starred leading actors such as Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro while featuring sexually provocative, politically charged subject matter.
Patricia Quintana, 72, the chef and author whose work exalted the range and sophistication of Mexican cuisine, died Monday at her home in Mexico City. She was 72. Quintana was given a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2013. She closed her popular restaurant, Izote, where she spearheaded the alta cocina Mexicana movement, on the same year.
Beginning with her first cookbook, “La Cocina Es un Juego” (“The Kitchen Is a Game”), in 1979, Quintana’s work pushed back against the stereotypes of Mexican cuisine with persistence and finesse, deepening the collective appreciation for regional flavors in her country and abroad. Over several decades she wrote more than 28 books on Mexican food as well as long-running columns for Vogue México and national newspapers.
Randolph L. Braham, 95, who as the foremost American scholar of the Holocaust in Hungary, his homeland, rejected that country’s highest award to protest what he denounced as a whitewash of its collusion in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews during World War II, died last Sunday at his home in Forest Hills, Queens. The cause was heart failure.
Gloria Katz, 76, the “American Graffiti” screenwriter and longtime collaborator and spouse of writer and director Willard Huyck, died last Sunday, on their 49th wedding anniversary, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after battling ovarian cancer.
Ricky Jay, 72, the master-showman magician, special-effects consultant and author who was called “the most gifted sleight-of-hand artist alive” by writers for the most prestigious publications of his time, and actor who appeared in “Boogie Nights” died of natural causes in Los Angeles on Nov. 24. Katz is also credited in shaping Carrie Fisher’s Leia into someone who “can take command,” not “just a beautiful woman that schlepped along to be saved.”
Gerald S. Berenson, 96, a cardiologist who found that detecting and reducing elevated weight, blood pressure and cholesterol in young children could help prevent heart disease when they became adults, died Nov. 22 in Houston, while visiting his daughter. He died of a heart attack in his sleep.
Vernita Lee, 83, Oprah Winfrey’s mother, died at her Milwaukee home on Nov. 22. She was 18, working as a maid and unmarried, when Winfrey was born in rural Mississippi in 1954. Winfrey was reportedly raised by her grandmother until age 6, when she reunited with Lee and moved to Milwaukee.
Willie Naulls, 84, the former UCLA star who was a four-time All-Star with the New York Knicks and won three NBA championships with the Boston Celtics, died on Thanksgiving at his home in Laguna Niguel, south of Los Angeles. The cause was respiratory failure resulting from Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare condition that can restrict blood flow to vital organs and tissues.
There was a moment of silence for Naulls before UCLA’s basketball game Wednesday night.
Olivia Hooker, 103, one of the last survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race riots and among the first black women in the U.S. Coast Guard, died Nov. 21 at home in White Plains, New York. She was 6 when one of the worst race riots in U.S. history erupted and destroyed much of a Tulsa neighborhood known as “Black Wall Street.” She hid under a table as a torch-carrying mob destroyed her family’s home, she told National Public Radio in an interview this year. The number of deaths was never confirmed, but estimates vary from about three dozen to 300 or more. The violence began after a black man allegedly assaulted a white woman in an elevator in Tulsa.
Igor Korobov, 62, head of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, who oversaw the hacking of the Democratic Party’s computers during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, died Nov. 21 in Moscow after a long illness. The Defense Ministry said Thursday that he died of “a lengthy and grave illness,” a Russian euphemism for cancer. Under his watch, the GRU also was implicated in this year’s poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent in Britain.
Mujahid Farid, 69, a former prisoner who became a prominent advocate for the timely release of elderly inmates, died Nov. 20 at his home in the Bronx. The cause was pancreatic cancer.
Farid was a founder and a lead organizer of the organization Release Aging People in Prison, known as RAPP. The graying of the prison population is a national phenomenon, with people over 50 becoming the fastest-growing segment. In the next decade, they are expected to make up one-third of inmates nationwide.
Lucho Gatica, 90, Chilean singer whose lush, brooding croon earned him renown throughout the Spanish-speaking world as “the king of bolero,” died Nov. 13 in Mexico City, where he had lived for more than 50 years. He helped enshrine bolero as a midcentury pop craze, becoming a heartthrob who dominated pop radio stations throughout the 1950s and ’60s and a leading man in the thriving Mexican film industry.
Phyllis Hagmoe Lamphere, 96, was a Seattle City Council member from 1967-78. Her time on the City Council was part of a decades-long commitment to civic service in Seattle and beyond that included leading the push for the Washington State Convention Center and other major projects. In 1977, she was named president of the National League of Cities, becoming the first woman and nonmayor to hold the title.