Robert Mugabe, 95, the former leader of Zimbabwe forced to resign in 2017 after a 37-year rule whose early promise was eroded by economic turmoil, disputed elections and human rights violations, has died. His successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa confirmed Mugabe’s death in a tweet Friday, mourning him as an “icon of liberation.” He did not provide details.
Mugabe, who took power after white minority rule ended in 1980, blamed Zimbabwe’s economic problems on international sanctions and once said he wanted to rule for life. But growing discontent about the southern African country’s fractured leadership and other problems prompted a military intervention, impeachment proceedings by the parliament and large street demonstrations for his removal. His 2017 resignation, after he initially ignored escalating calls to quit triggered, wild celebrations in the streets of the capital, Harare.
James Atlas, 70, a leading figure in New York literary circles as an editor and publisher and as a writer whose books included well-regarded biographies of Saul Bellow and the poet Delmore Schwartz, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. His death was caused by the escalation of a chronic lung condition.
Biography was Atlas’ forte. He wrote his first, “Delmore Schwartz: The Life of an American Poet,” when he was in his 20s. Forty years later he detailed his “obsession with biography,” as he put it, in “The Shadow in the Garden: A Biographer’s Tale” (2017).
He further spread the gospel of biography as the founder of the Penguin Lives book series, a joint venture of Penguin and Lipper Books where he paired well-known writers and biographical subjects, with the books to be 150 pages or so, short for the genre. What emerged was an eclectic and much admired series. Jimmy Breslin wrote on Branch Rickey, the baseball executive. Mary Gordon wrote on Joan of Arc. Larry McMurtry wrote on Crazy Horse.
Through it all, Atlas was also doing his own writing. “Bellow: A Biography,” clocking almost 700 pages, came out in 2000. Atlas followed that in 2005 with “My Life in the Middle Ages: A Survivor’s Tale,” a personal take about the pressures and angst of his generation, or at least of the New York-dwelling, literary-leaning part of it.
LaShawn Daniels, 41,a Grammy Award-winning songwriter who penned songs for Beyoncé, Whitney Houston and Lady Gaga, died in a car accident Tuesday in South Carolina. He earned a Grammy in 2001 for his songwriting work on Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.”
Daniels co-wrote several Grammy-nominated songs including Tamar Braxton’s “Love and War,” Toni Braxton’s “He Wasn’t Man Enough” and “The Boy is Mine,” a track featuring Brandy and Monica. He also contributed on Beyoncé’s “Telephone,” Jennifer Lopez’s “If You Had My Love” and Michael Jackson’s “You Rock My World.”
Diet (DEET) Eman, 99, a western Michigan woman born in the Netherlands who authored a book chronicling her efforts that helped save hundreds of Jews inher home country during the Nazi occupation of World War II, died Tuesday in Grand Rapids.
Eman was part of an underground resistance following Nazi Germany’s 1940 invasion of the northern European nation. Her 1994 memoirs, “Things We Couldn’t Say,” detailed how Eman provided forged identification cards and shelter for Jews, and how she helped allied pilots shot down by the German military. She was eventually caught by the Gestapo and later moved to a concentration camp before it was liberated. In a 2015 visit to Grand Rapids, Dutch King Willem-Alexander called Eman one of his country’s “national heroes,” according to MLive.com.
Tom Collins, 88, an exuberant promoter whose star-studded Champions on Ice tours capitalized on surging interest in figure skating in the 1980s, died Sept. 1 at his home in Edina, Minnesota. The cause was complications of a stroke. From 1969 to 2007, Collins’ troupes, which included Olympic and world-class amateur and professional skaters like Michelle Kwan, Brian Boitano, Kristi Yamaguchi, Nancy Kerrigan and Johnny Weir, toured the United States.
Collins was renowned for his generosity to skaters and their families; for his constructive critiques of his performers’ music, routines and costumes; and for giving breaks to promising young skaters.
Valerie Harper, 80, who won three consecutive Emmys (1971-73) as supporting actress on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” plus another for outstanding lead actress for “Rhoda,” which ran from 1974-78, died August 30 in Los Angeles days after bithday. The cause was cancer. She was immortalized — and typecast — for playing one of television’s most beloved characters, who as Mary’s best friend was the equal of Ethel Mertz and Ed Norton in TV’s sidekick pantheon.
Harper was a chorus dancer on Broadway as a teen before moving into comedy and improv when, in 1970, she auditioned for the part of a Bronx-born Jewish girl who would be a neighbor and pal of Minneapolis news gal Mary Richards on a new sitcom for CBS. Rhoda — and Harper — stole viewers’ hearts.
Rhoda was lovely and adorable but she had relatable issues with her weight and took refuge in self-deprecating jokes. Rhoda was for everyone, and she would made Harper a breakout star.
Marita Lorenz, 80, who became pregnant after an affair with Fidel Castro, but who balked at poisoning the Cuban dictator in a U.S.-linked plot by counter-revolutionaries, died Aug. 31 in Oberhausen, Germany. The cause was cardiac failure.
The daughter of an American actress with whom she was interned as a child in a concentration camp and a father who commanded a U-boat fleet, Lorenz led a swashbuckling life so implausible that separating the morsels of reality from fables was, at times, virtually impossible. However, her romance with Castro and another with Marcos Pérez Jiménez, the Venezuelan generalissimo who fathered their daughter, both appear to have been confirmed.
Terrance Dicks, 84, who beginning in 1964 edited, wrote or co-wrote scores of episodes of the long-running British science-fiction series “Doctor Who” and helped establish some of its core elements, died Aug. 29 in London. The cause was not given. Dicks was not only a pivotal part of the TV series; he also wrote more than 60 novelizations based on its scripts, aimed at younger readers.
Martin L. Weitzman, 77, a maverick economist who studied climate change, pollution control, profit-sharing and Soviet society, and who raised the alarm on the threat of environmental catastrophe while encouraging his peers to embrace uncertainty, died Aug. 27 near his home in Newton, Mass.
The Massachusetts medical examiner’s office concluded that Dr. Weitzman died as a result of suicide by hanging, according to spokesman Felix Browne.
Dr. Weitzman was a longtime economics professor at Harvard University before retiring last fall, soon after being passed over for a Nobel Prize in economics that he was widely expected to win or share. Instead, the honor went to Paul M. Romer and William D. Nordhaus, a climate change specialist who later called Dr. Weitzman “a radically innovative spirit in economics.”
Dawda Jawara, 95, a veterinarian-turned-politician who led Gambia to independence from the British and then presided over the country as it became one of Africa’s longest-running democracies, died Aug. 27 at his home in Fajara, a coastal suburb of Banjul, the capital.
Jawara was long hailed for promoting tolerance, human rights and the rule of law at a time when sub-Saharan Africa was dominated by authoritarianism and military regimes. A bespectacled man of modest bearing, he negotiated independence in 1965, part of a wave of liberation movements that reshaped the continent in the 1960s. He was elected Gambia’s first president in 1970.
He was president of his small West African nation until 1994, when, in a bloodless coup, it fell into the hands of Yahya Jammeh, a young officer who embarked on a brutal 22-year rule.
Sally Floyd, 69, a computer scientist whose work in the early 1990s on controlling congestion on the internet continues to play a vital role in its stability, died Aug. 25 at her home in Berkeley, California. Her wife, Carole Leita, said the cause was metastatic gall bladder cancer.
Floyd was best known as one of the inventors of Random Early Detection, or RED, an algorithm widely used in the internet. Although not readily visible to internet users, it helps traffic on the network flow smoothly during periods of overload.
Bobby Dillon, 89, the Green Bay Packers’ career leader in interceptions who lost his left eye following two childhood accidents, died Aug. 22 in Temple, Texas. The cause was complications of dementia.
Dillon played safety for Green Bay from 1952 to 1959, setting the franchise record for interceptions with 52, including four against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day in 1953. He returned five interceptions for touchdowns and led the league in interception return yards in 1956 with 244.
Dillon led the Packers in interceptions in seven of his eight seasons, including three years with nine: 1953, ‘55 and ‘57. Irv Comp set Green Bay’s single-season record for interceptions with 10 in 1943. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1974 but missed out on selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.