A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending Dec.1.
Jim Nabors, 87, a comic actor who found fame in the role of the amiable bumpkin Gomer Pyle in two hit television shows of the 1960s — “The Andy Griffith Show” and the spinoff “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” — while pursuing a second career as a popular singer with a booming baritone voice, died Thursday at his home in Honolulu. His health had declined for the past year, said his husband, Stan Cadwallader. The couple married in early 2013 in Washington state
Surin Pitsuwan, 68, the former Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretary-General, Surin Pitsuwan has died Thursday in Bangkok, Thailand, of a sudden heart attack.
The lawmaker served as Thailand’s foreign minister in the late 1990s, but he is best known for his time at the head of the 10-member ASEAN from 2008 until 2012. His name was also mentioned as a possible candidate for United Nations secretary-general.
Jerry A. Fodor, 82, one of the world’s foremost philosophers of mind, who brought the workings of 20th-century computer technology to bear on ancient questions about the structure of human cognition, died Wednesday at his home in Manhattan. The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease and a recent stroke.
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Fodor’s work, begun in the 1960s and dovetailing with linguistics, logic, semiotics, psychology, anthropology, computer science, artificial intelligence and other fields, is widely credited with having helped seed the emerging discipline of cognitive science. “He basically created the field of philosophy of psychology,” Ernie Lepore, a philosopher and colleague at Rutgers and a frequent collaborator.
Fodor argued that the human mind, rather than being a unitary system as was often supposed, comprises a set of inborn, compartmentalized, purpose-built subsystems: a faculty for language, another for musical ability, still another for mathematics, and so on. These faculties, he explained, operate by means of abstract algorithms, much as computers do.
In setting forth this model, Fodor married developments from the midcentury revolution in linguistics ushered in by Noam Chomsky to the computer science of the English mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing.
Charles E. Merrill, Jr., 97, the American philanthropist and educator, died Wednesday at his home in southern Poland. A Harvard graduate, Merrill served in the army during World War II and then devoted his life to founding schools and supporting the education of the underprivileged in the U.S., Poland and the Czech Republic.
In 2002, Poland’s government awarded him the Officers’ Cross of the Order of Merit.
Belmiro de Azevedo, 79, one of Portugal’s most successful businessmen who built his company Sonae into an international conglomerate, died Wednesday.
Azevedo, the eldest of eight children born to a carpenter father and seamstress mother, took over Sonae manufacturing company, specializing in timber products, in 1967. Over the next 30 years, he built it into the largest non-financial Portuguese company, with operations in Europe, Africa and Latin America. Sonae grew to have interests in telecommunications, media, retail distribution, real estate and tourism.
Shadia, 86, an Egyptian actress and singer who captivated millions for decades with memorable singles and iconic film roles, died Tuesday of complications from a stroke. Born Fatimah Shaker in 1931, her death drew hundreds of mourners Wednesday for her funeral at a historic mosque in Cairo’s middle-class Sayedah Nafeesa district, with some carrying poster portraits of her.
Bud Moore, 92, the NASCAR Hall of Famer and World War II veteran awarded five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars, died Tuesday. No details were available.
Walter Moore Jr. won the NASCAR title in 1957 as crew chief for Buck Baker and car owner titles in 1962 and 1963 with Joe Weatherly. He was the oldest living member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2011.
“Many choose the word ‘hero’ when describing athletes who accomplish otherworldly sporting feats. Oftentimes, it’s an exaggeration. But when detailing the life of the great Bud Moore, it’s a description that fits perfectly,” NASCAR Chairman Brian France said in a statement. “Moore, a decorated veteran of World War II, served our country before dominating our sport as both a crew chief and, later, an owner …”
Robert Edward Lee Oswald, 83, whose brother Lee Harvey Oswald killed President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, died Monday in Wichita Falls. Oswald often said he believed the findings of most experts that his brother acted alone in killing the president on Nov. 22, 1963. Late in life, he said he still didn’t understand why.
W. Marvin Watson, 93, a World War II combat veteran who ran Lyndon B. Johnson’s White House with the protective instincts of a loyalist, the privileged power of a confidant and the efficiency of a drill sergeant, died last Sunday at his home in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. Lyndon Johnson did not want to give any staff member the title of chief of staff, but he eventually made Watson his in all but name.
Armando Hart, 87, who as Fidel Castro’s confidant and first education minister redeemed the Cuban revolution’s vow of universal literacy, died last Sunday in Havana. The cause was respiratory failure. Hart, a lawyer whose grandfather was born in the United States and immigrated to Cuba, was also, later, his country’s first culture minister.
Anthony Senerchia Jr., 46, who served as the inspiration behind the viral Ice Bucket Challenge, died on Nov. 25 according to Time. He had been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for 14 years. The Ice Bucket Challenge went on to raise about $115 million over the course of two months in 2014.
Harry Pregerson, 94, judge who sat on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for nearly 40 years and championed the underprivileged on the bench and off, died Nov. 25 at his L.A.-area home. He had suffered from respiratory ailments.
In private life, Pregerson worked to establish several homeless shelters, where he volunteered. His daughter-in-law says Pregerson got up every morning to help people.
Carol Neblett, 71, a red-haired, fiery-voiced opera singer who performed with Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo, became a star soprano of the Metropolitan Opera in the 1980s and appeared in the buff for a headline-grabbing staging of “Thaïs,” was found dead Nov. 24 at her home in Los Angeles.
Colonel Wesley L. Fox, 86, a Medal of Honor recipient, passed away, Nov. 24, in Blacksburg, Virginia.
He enlisted in the Marines when he was 19, during the Korean War and served two tours of duty. Fox was company commander and First Lieutenant of Company A, 9th Marines, when his company was attacked by a large force of North Vietnamese troops. Although wounded himself, Fox continued to direct his men and air support throughout the assault. He personally moved forward through intense fire to eliminate a sniper position, and refused medical treatment for his wounds while coordinating the medical evacuation of casualties.
He was presented his Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon in 1971. Colonel Fox retired in 1993 after 43 years of service — holding every enlisted rank except Sergeant Major and every officer rank except General.
Joseph L. White, 84, a psychologist, social activist and teacher who helped pioneer the field of black psychology to counter what he saw as rampant ignorance and prejudice in the profession, died of a heart attack on Nov. 21 near Chicago during a flight to St. Louis to see his daughter for Thanksgiving.
White argued, for instance, that Eurocentric psychology misunderstood African-American spirituality, views of time and emphasis on collective behavior. He called for blacks to found a psychological field of their own. He popularized his ideas in a 1970 article in Ebony magazine and became known among colleagues as the “father of black psychology.”
Vera Shlakman, 108, an influential economics professor who was fired by Queens College after she refused to tell Senate investigators whether she had ever been a card-carrying Communist — a punishment that brought an apology three decades later — died Nov. 5 at her home in Manhattan. She was 108.
Her death, which was not widely reported at the time, was confirmed by her friend Ellen J. Holahan.
Shlakman was the last survivor among more than a dozen teachers at New York City’s public colleges who were ousted by the Board of Higher Education during the early stages of the Red Scare wrought by Sens. Pat McCarran and Joseph R. McCarthy.
A 42-year-old assistant professor when she was fired in 1952, Shlakman neither taught economics again nor wrote a sequel to her groundbreaking 1935 book on female factory workers.
Thirty years later, 10 of the fired professors, including Shlakman, were indemnified with pension settlements after receiving an apology from college officials.