Brad Gobright, 31, an acclaimed Californian free solo climber, died Wednesday after falling nearly 1,000 feet while rappelling from a rock known as El Sendero Luminoso, or the Shining Path, in the Potrero Chico national park in northern Mexico, the Mexican civil defense authorities said in a statement Thursday.
Gobright was hailed as one of the world’s best free solo climbers, a technique that uses no ropes. He set a speed record in 2017 of 2 hours, 19 minutes, 44 seconds at the popular climbing route called the Nose on El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park. It has since been surpassed. On Wednesday, he was not free soloing when he fell but was rappelling using a rope with a climbing partner, Aidan Jacobson. Jacobson survived the fall but sustained several injuries.
William Ruckelshaus, 87, a pragmatic and resolute government official who shaped the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as its first administrator and cemented his reputation for unshakable integrity when, as deputy attorney general, he defied President Richard Nixon’s order to fire the special prosecutor in the Watergate break-in, died Wednesday at his home in Medina.
In a long career in government and private industry, Mr. Ruckelshaus was widely promoted as “Mr. Clean” as much for his uprightness as for his role with the EPA. A longtime Washington resident, Mr. Ruckelshaus, who had moved his family to the Seattle area in 1975 to take a senior vice president’s job at timber giant Weyerhaeuser, became a leading Northwest voice and elder statesman for the environment who helped shape salmon-preservation and Puget Sound cleanup efforts.
Agnes Baker Pilgrim, 95, the oldest member of Oregon’s Takelma tribe and a vocal advocate for clean water and Native American rights, died Wednesday in Grants Pass as doctors tried to repair a brain aneurysm, her alma mater, Southern Oregon University, said.
Pilgrim, the granddaughter of a tribal chief and better known as “Grandma Aggie,” traveled the world well into her 80s advocating for environmental, animal and indigenous rights, including a trip to Rome to lobby Pope Benedict XVI to repeal a centuries-old Roman Catholic edict that many Native Americans say provided the legal justification for European encroachment on Native American land in what is now the United States. She also met with the Dali Lama.
Pilgrim also fought to bring forgotten tribal rituals back to her home community, including a sacred salmon ceremony that is now performed each year on the Applegate River in southern Oregon. She referred to her work as being a “voice for the voiceless.”
Sir Jonathan Miller, 85, he British theater and opera director known for his radical restagings of classic works, died Wednesday at his home in London. He had Alzheimer’s disease.
Although he was best known as a director, he was a man of many talents. He first achieved fame as an actor in the anti-establishment revue “Beyond the Fringe,” a hit in both London and New York. He went on to win acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic for his productions of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikado” and other works. He also produced and hosted television shows.
Most unusually, he was a medical doctor, with a special interest in neurology, who periodically left the world of theater to practice medicine. But his absences — as, for instance, a research fellow in neuropsychology at the University of Sussex in 1983 — never lasted long.
Garth C. Reeves, 100, publisher emeritus of The Miami Times, the city’s most influential black newspaper, which he used to advance the cause of civil rights, died Monday in Aventura, Florida.
Reeves, whose Bahamian immigrant father founded The Miami Times, a weekly, in 1923, embraced his roles as newspaperman, business owner and activist. In columns (some by Reeves) and editorials, The Times wrote with forceful clarity about racial issues and championed — and challenged — local politicians over their promises to black voters. His efforts helped desegregate Miami’s public golf courses and beaches.
“I’d like to see our news continue to fight for the rights of the people in our community and never to become complacent and feel that the struggle is over,” Reeves said in an interview published by his newspaper in 2007, some 14 years after he had handed over the reins to his daughter, Rachael J. Reeves.
Clive James, 80, a transplanted Australian whose wit and aphoristic style made him a fixture in Britain as a literary critic of unusually wide range, a longtime television writer for The Observer and a reliable comic presence on numerous television shows, notably “Clive James on Television,” died Nov. 24 in Cambridge, England. In 2010, James learned he had leukemia, kidney failure and emphysema.
His gift for one liners and lightining quick mind were legendary. He once dismissed a tedious public affairs program as “the mental equivalent of navel fluff.” He described William Shatner’s acting technique in “Star Trek” as “picked up from someone who once worked with somebody who knew Lee Strasberg’s sister.”
John Simon, 94, one of the nation’s most erudite, vitriolic and vilified culture critics, who illuminated and savaged a remarkable range of plays, films, literature and art works and their creators for more than a half-century in New York magazine, The Hudson Review, The New York Times, Esquire, National Review, The New Leader and other publications, died on Nov. 24 in Valhalla, N.Y.
Born in Yugoslavia and educated at Harvard, Mr. Simon was an imperious arbiter who regarded television as trash and most Hollywood films as superficial. Although Simon liked the plays of August Wilson, John Patrick Shanley and Beth Henley, he likened Liza Minnelli’s face to a beagle’s and said Barbra Streisand’s nose “cleaves the giant screen from east to west, bisects it from north to south.”
Goo Hara, 28, a singer and former member of the wildly popular K-pop girl group Kara, was found dead Nov. 24 in her Seoul, South Korea, home in what police were calling a suicide. Investigators found a handwritten memo in which Goo expressed her despair.
The K-pop phenomenon, that now commands huge global followings, gets disseminated largely through YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and other social media channels, where its stars are exposed to both a flood of fan letters and hateful comments and cyberbullying on everything from their looks to their singing skills to their private lives. The pressure has driven several young stars to suicide.
Barbara Hillary, 88, the first black woman on record to reach the North Pole, which she did at the age of 75, and the first to reach the South Pole, at the age of 79, died Nov. 23 in a hospital in Queens, New York. She had retired from a nursing career and survived separate occurrences of breast and lung cancer when she took on the challenge of making it to the Poles after learning no black woman was on record as having done so.
Rabbi Henry Sobel, 75, a Brazilian human rights activist who led Latin America’s largest liberal Jewish congregation and who drew wide attention for defying his country’s dictatorship in the aftermath of a notorious political killing, died Friday in Miami. The cause was lung cancer.
He came to prominence in Brazil in 1975, after Vladimir Herzog, the news director of a São Paulo television station, was murdered in prison by his military torturers a few hours after he was arrested, accused of being part of a communist network. The murder shocked Brazilians and was denounced by Archbishop Paulo Evaristo Arns of São Paulo, another champion of human rights.
The dictatorship falsely claimed that Herzog had committed suicide; it made public a photograph, later proved to have been staged, that purported to show Herzog hanging from a belt in his cell. Sobel chose to inter Herzog at the center of the cemetery, with full rites and days later, he led an interfaith service in honor of the journalist. Thousands turned out for the service and stood in silent protest in a rare display of defiance against the military leaders.
Michael J. Pollard, 80, who rose to fame in the hit film “Bonnie and Clyde” as C.W. Moss, the dimwitted gas station attendant who became a criminal accomplice, and went on to a long career as a Hollywood character actor, died Nov. 20 at a Los Angeles hospital. With a broad, cherubic face, dimpled chin, unruly hair and a charismatic presence described as “gnomelike,” Mr. Pollard excelled at playing imps, half-wits and outright weirdos.
Gary Regan, 68, British-born bartender who helped propel the “craft cocktail” movement of the past quarter century with his convivial and densely researched “The Joy of Mixology” and other books and articles about liquors, mixed drinks and life behind the bar, died Nov. 15 at a hospital in Newburgh, New York, of pneumonia and complications from cancer.
Tom Spurgeon, 50, reporter and editor who gained prominence in the world of comic books and graphic novels, covering it in books, blogs and a magazine, died Nov. 13 at home in Columbus, Ohio.