Dick Hoyt, 80, who inspired thousands of runners, fathers and disabled athletes by pushing his son Rick in a wheelchair in dozens of Boston Marathons and hundreds of other races, died at his Holland, Massachusetts, home March 17. He reportedly suffered from a heart condition.
In 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a benefit run for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed. They finished next to last, but that was just the start. Dick Hoyt first pushed his son — who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy — in a Boston Marathon in 1980. Dick and Rick, in a specialized wheelchair, completed 32 Boston Marathons together.
Sabine Schmitz, 51, the first and only female race car driver to win the annual 24-hour race on the famed Nürburgring circuit and a renowned TV personality, died March 16. Schmitz had been ill with cancer since 2017 but continued racing until 2019.
Schmitz moved through lower-level racing categories before winning the 24-hour race in 1996 and 1997 as part of a team driving a BMW M3. She also won the VLN championship of endurance races at the Nürburgring in 1998.
In 2004, Schmitz was featured for the first time on the British motoring TV show “Top Gear” in a segment about the Nordschleife (the north loop of the Nürburgring circuit). She soon became a regular guest star and fan favorite, and from 2016 was part of the show’s regular team. In one notable appearance, she posted a competitive time on the Nordschleife behind the wheel of a van.
John Magufuli, 61, president of Tanzania and prominent coronavirus skeptic, died March 17 at a hospital in Dar es Salaam. Vice President Samia Suluhu said heart failure was the cause. There had been earlier unconfirmed reports from opposition leaders, denied by the government, that Magufuli had been hospitalized in Nairobi, Kenya, for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. He was last seen in public Feb. 27. Magufuli said last year that Tanzania had eradicated the coronavirus through three days of national prayer.
Yaphet Kotto, 81, versatile actor whose many roles included the wisecracking engineer in the hit science fiction film “Alien,” the villainous adversary in the James Bond movie “Live and Let Die” and a police lieutenant on the long-running television series “Homicide: Life on the Street,” died March 15 near Manila, in the Philippines. A cause was not given.
Kotto, who received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of President Idi Amin, the murderous Ugandan strongman, in the 1976 TV movie “Raid on Entebbe,” also starred as an ex-convict in the 1978 film “Blue Collar” and a prison guard in “Brubaker,” a 1980 movie about a prison farm.
Stephen Bechtel Jr., 95, who took over his family’s global engineering and construction company, elevating its already formidable reputation and transforming what had been a hidebound, top-down hierarchy into a modern, if secretive, corporation, died March 15 at home in San Francisco.
Under Bechtel, sales swelled 11-fold at the Bechtel Group, the company founded by his grandfather that built scores of power plants, transit systems and other infrastructure projects on six continents, often pioneering new technologies. He widened the company’s global footprint with work on the Channel Tunnel, construction of Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid International Airport and Jubail Industrial City.
Ronald DeFeo, 69, the man convicted of slaughtering his parents and four siblings in a home that inspired “The Amityville Horror” book and movies, died March 12 at Albany Medical Center, where he was taken Feb. 2 from a prison in New York’s Catskill Mountains, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Services said. The cause of his death wasn’t known. DeFeo was serving a sentence of 25 years to life in the 1974 killings in Amityville, on suburban Long Island.
Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, 72, the king of South Africa’s Zulu nation, who shepherded his people from the apartheid era into a modern democratic society, died March 12 in the eastern coastal city of Durban. He died at Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospital, where he was admitted last month to be treated for diabetes.
James Levine, 77, the guiding maestro of the Metropolitan Opera for more than 40 years and one of the world’s most influential and admired conductors until allegations of sexual abuse and harassment ended his career, died March 9 in Palm Springs, California. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Levine made his Met debut in 1971 and became one of the signature artists in the company’s century-plus history, conducting 2,552 performances and ruling over its repertoire, orchestra and singers as music or artistic director from 1976 until 2016, when he was forced out by general manager Peter Gelb due to Parkinson’s disease.
Levine became music director emeritus and remained head of its young artists program but was suspended on Dec. 3, 2017, the day after conducting a Verdi “Requiem” in what turned out to be his final performance, after accounts in the New York Post and The New York Times of sexual misconduct dating to the 1960s. After investigating accounts of sexual improprieties by Levine with younger men stretching over decades, the Met then fired him in 2018, a precipitous fall from grace at the age of 74. Levine fought back with a defamation lawsuit.
Michael Dederer, 88, a man raised on the water and in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, who delved into its entrepreneurial spirit as one of the founders of the Rockey Group public relations firm and of the Crystal Mountain ski resort, died March 7 at Kindred Healthcare in Seattle from complications resulting from a fall.
Jessica McClintock, 90, a fashion designer who outfitted generations of young women for their homecoming dances and proms, supplied their bridesmaid dresses and bridal gowns and evoked for many a lace-draped aura of nostalgia, died Feb. 16 at her home in San Francisco. She had congestive heart failure, said her half sister, Mary Santoro.
For more than half a century, ever since she struck out in California as a divorced mother with an untrained but keen eye for fashion, McClintock was one of the most popular designers of affordable formal wear for young women. Perhaps the most famous bride to don a Jessica McClintock frock was Hillary Rodham when she married a Yale Law School classmate, Bill Clinton, in 1975.