A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending Nov. 3.
Joan Tisch, 90, a hands-on philanthropist whose causes ranged from people with AIDS to the Museum of Modern Art and the 92nd Street Y, and who was the matriarch of the family that owns a 50 percent stake in the New York football Giants, died Thursday at her home in Manhattan.
Fred Beckey, 94, a fabled mountaineer and author who was the first to take hundreds of routes to the summits of North America’s tallest peaks in Alaska, the Canadian Rockies and the Pacific Northwest in an audacious seven-decade climbing career, died Monday afternoon in Seattle. The cause was congestive heart failure.
Rawboned and tenacious, Beckey made as many as a thousand ascents that no one was known to have taken before, and wrote a dozen books on mountaineering, many of them considered definitive guides to the terrain of the continent’s best-known and least accessible peaks.
Friends called him a cantankerous cuss who hated talk about himself. He sped long distances in his old pink Thunderbird, screaming to stay awake all night, and howled at tourists who gawked at his camps. On a mountain, he amazed fellow climbers with his uphill speed and stamina, even in his 80s.
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Dennis J. Banks, 80, the militant Chippewa who founded the American Indian Movement in 1968 and led often-violent insurrections to protest the treatment of Native Americans and the nation’s history of injustices against its indigenous peoples, died last Sunday in Rochester, Minnesota. The cause was complications of pneumonia after successful open-heart surgery a week before.
To admirers, Banks was a broad-chested champion of native pride. With dark, piercing eyes, high cheekbones, a jutting chin and long raven hair, he was a paladin who defied authority and, in an era crowded with civil-rights protests, spoke for the nation’s oldest minority.To his critics, including many American Indians, Mr. Banks was a self-promoter, grabbing headlines and becoming a darling of politically liberal Hollywood stars like Jane Fonda and Marlon Brando.
Banks, whose early life of poverty, alcoholism and alienation mirrored the fates of countless ancestors, never stopped demanding that the powerful take notice of American Indian concerns. Last year he was at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota to protest against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
Muhal Richard Abrams, 87, the autodidactic pianist, composer and educator who was known both for his diverse, unclassifiable compositions and improvisations and for his helping to found a long-running Chicago-based musicians’ collective, died last Sunday at his home in New York.
Abrams, who was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2010 and was the first recipient of Denmark’s generous Jazzpar Award in 1990, was critically acclaimed for the breadth, depth and originality of his music.