Derek Sparks, a former Washington State tailback and football coach who inspired many with his motivational personality, died Tuesday after battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer for several months.
In 2018, Sparks founded Cleats vs. Cancer, a high school football showcase in Seattle dedicated to raising funds for children battling cancer, after his daughter, Ze’Lee, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She is now cancer-free.
Sparks was a standout running back for the Cougars in the early 1990s, helping WSU to wins in the 1992 Copper Bowl and the 1994 Alamo Bowl. He was the MVP of the 1994 Apple Cup and was a Doak Walker Award nominee in 1995 before a short stint in the NFL.
Chun Doo-hwan, 90, the former South Korean president and army major general who seized control in a 1979 coup and whose name will forever be associated with a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators the next year, one of the darkest moments in the country’s postwar history, died Tuesday at his home in Seoul. The cause was a heart attack.
Hundreds of pro-democracy protesters were killed in a civil uprising in the southern city of Gwangju and tens of thousands were imprisoned during Chun’s presidency in the 1980s. Under pressure he allowed some liberalization after years of authoritarian rule and allowed the first direct and free election in the nation’s history.
Sylvia Weinstock, 91, whose ornate, multitiered confections led Bon Appétit magazine to call her “the Leonardo da Vinci of wedding cakes,” died Monday at home in Manhattan.
A former Long Island schoolteacher who became a full-time baker after surviving breast cancer at age 50, she was a cake baker to the stars, known for making custom cakes that were as good to eat as they were to look at. She specialized in decorating her cakes with botanically correct sugar flowers — roses, violets, calla lilies and poppies, each petal made by hand — but was also a master at trompe l’oeil design, making cakes that looked just like cars, ties, deer, snakeskin shoes and a box of cigars. Weinstock came out of retirement last month to design one last wedding cake: a white, six-tiered showstopper for the wedding of Jennifer Gates, the oldest child of Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, and equestrian Nayel Nassar.
Peter Aykroyd, 66, an Emmy-nominated actor and writer on “Saturday Night Live” for the 1979-80 season who later worked with his older brother, Dan, on everything from a TV show about the paranormal to such films as “Dragnet” and “Coneheads,” has died. Dan Aykroyd on Monday cited the medical examiner in Spokane, and said that his brother “succumbed to septicemia from an internal infection precipitated by an untreated abdominal hernia.”
Robert Bly, 94, a towering man of letters who distilled the passions of the anti-war movement into poetry — his verses were hailed as literary touchstones of the Vietnam era — and whose later bestselling book “Iron John” awakened a movement of men in search of deeper masculinity, died Nov. 21 at his home in Minneapolis. He had dementia, said his daughter, Mary Bly.
In a literary career that spanned more than a half-century, Bly produced hundreds if not thousands of poems, elevated the works of other poets through his masterly translations and emerged as a prominent public intellectual with prose works examining contemporary society.
Retired Army Maj. Ian Fishback, 42, a U.S. Military Academy graduate and combat veteran whose condemnation of torture by U.S. soldiers in Iraq produced groundbreaking legislation in the early years of that war, died Nov. 19 at an adult foster care facility in Bangor, Michigan. His father, John Fishback, said the cause had not been determined but that Fishback, who served in the military until 2015, had been racked by paranoid and delusional thoughts for months. He speculated that his son’s experiences in combat may have caused a neurological degeneration that contributed to his erratic behavior.
In 2005, as an Army captain, Ian Fishback revealed that fellow members of the 82nd Airborne Division had systematically abused detainees in Iraq. His allegations led to the passage of far-reaching anti-torture legislation championed by Sen. John McCain. Fishback, who served four combat tours in Iraq, later earned a doctorate and taught at West Point.
Jim Knapp, 82, the band leader, composer, trumpet player and longtime faculty member at Cornish College of the Arts, who is considered the primary architect of Seattle’s modern jazz scene, died of congestive heart failure and complications from diabetes Nov. 13 at a senior care facility in Kirkland.
In 1971, Knapp started teaching at Cornish College of the Arts, where he created the school’s first four-year accredited jazz degree program in 1977. Knapp hired first-rate Seattleites but also recruited stellar faculty from around the country, starting with bassist Gary Peacock, followed by trombonist Julian Priester, drummer Jerry Granelli, vocalist Jay Clayton, pianist Art Lande, and saxophonists Carter Jefferson and Hadley Caliman, all of whom had a profound influence on Seattle jazz.
During this period, Knapp also led the Composers and Improvisors Orchestra, a 14-piece chamber jazz group that collaborated with a dazzling succession of guest artists, including Carla Bley, Anthony Braxton, Bob Brookmeyer, Gil Evans, Dave Holland, Sam Rivers and Cedar Walton.
Dave Hickey, 82, an art critic known for biting opinions and stirring commentary on the creative scene, died of heart disease Nov. 12 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Hickey collected several prestigious honors for his musings, including a Peabody Award, a MacArthur Fellowship and the Frank Jewett Mather award for art criticism. He was also a professor at Harvard, Yale and the University of New Mexico, where he most recently taught art criticism. In 1997, Hickey released his seminal book “Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy.” Other standout Hickey titles include “The Invisible Dragon,” “Pirates and Farmers,” “Wasted Words” and “Dust Bunnies.” Hickey’s criticism has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Art News, Art in America, Artforum and Vanity Fair. Hickey sometimes came under fire for divisive opinions, such as his late-career rebuke of “identity politics,” which he blamed in 2014 for ruining the art underground.
Jay Last, 92, a physicist who helped create the silicon chips that power the world’s computers, and who was among the eight entrepreneurs whose transistor company Fairchild Semiconductor laid the technical, financial and cultural foundation for Silicon Valley, died Nov. 11 in Los Angeles.
Last had originally been hired in 1956 by William Shockley to join a new effort to commercialize a silicon transistor at a lab near Palo Alto, California. (Shockley would share a Nobel Prize that same year for the invention of the transistor, the tiny electrical device that became the essential building block for the world’s computer chips.)
Bettina Plevan, 75, a top litigator who made her name defending employers in sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases and who helped pave the way for women to advance in the legal profession after shattering glass ceilings herself, died Oct. 29 of acute myeloma leukemia at a hospital in Manhattan.
She was also president of the New York City Bar Association, the second woman to hold that position. Over the years, she made multiple lists of the best lawyers in America. She spent an early part of her career in Seattle after her husband, an Air Force lawyer, was posted in the area, and she joined the law firm Bogle & Gates as its first female lawyer.