A roundup of notable obituaries from the week ending March 30.
Rusty Staub, 73, the outfielder who charmed baseball fans in the United States and Canada during an All-Star career that spanned 23 major-league seasons died Thursday after an illness in a hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida. Affectionately dubbed “Le Grand Orange,” for his instantly recognizable fiery orange hair and gregarious personality, Staub was a six-time All-Star and the only player in major-league history to have at least 500 hits with four teams.
A savvy, reliable slugger with left-handed power and a discerning eye, Staub played from 1963 to 1985 and finished 284 hits shy of 3,000. He had 3½ great seasons with the Detroit Tigers and batted .300 for the Texas Rangers in 1980.
Linda Brown, 75, who as a Kansas girl was at the center of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down racial segregation in schools, died last Sunday. No cause of death was released.
The landmark case was brought before the Supreme Court by the NAACP’s legal arm to challenge segregation in public schools. It began after several black families in Topeka were turned down when they tried to enroll their children in white schools near their homes. The lawsuit was joined with cases from Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
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On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that separating black and white children was unconstitutional because it denied black children the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. “In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote. “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
Deborah Carrington, 58, who broke into Hollywood by answering an ad for dwarf actors, and later performed stunt work and costume-specific roles in Hollywood blockbusters and campy horror movies, died on March 23 at her parents’ home in Pleasanton, California. The cause has not yet been determined, but she had been in poor health.
By the 1990s, Carrington began to push back against being typecast in costume-only roles. On television, she played character roles like Tiny Avenger on “In Living Color,” Tammy in “Seinfeld,” and Doreen in “The Drew Carey Show.” More recently, she played the friend Tina Marie in Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” (2016).
Nancy McFadden, 59, a lawyer and political adviser who spent years in Washington working in the Clinton administration and later became the most important aide to Gov. Jerry Brown of California, died March 22 at her home in Sacramento. The cause was ovarian cancer.
Brown called her “the best chief of staff a governor could ever ask for. She understood government and politics, she could manage, she was a diplomat, and she was fearless.”
Dick Wilmarth, 75, who won the initial Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race nearly a half century ago, died March 21. The cause was cancer.
He pocketed $12,000 for being the first musher to win the rugged race across Alaska. It took him 20 days and 49 minutes, more than twice as long as Iditarod mushers today take to make the trek across the Alaska wilderness. Conditions for the first Iditarod in 1973 were nothing like they are today.
After winning the first Iditarod, he never took part in the race again. He was once asked why he never raced again. “His response was very quick, and with a big smile, he said, ’Cause I won,’ ” Iditarod spokesman Chas St. George said.
Frank Gaylord, 93, the Vermont sculptor who designed the statues of soldiers for the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., died March 21 at his daughter’s home in Northfield.
“There aren’t enough adjectives to describe the superb excellence of what he did,” said retired Col. William Weber, chairman of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation of the 19 stainless-steel statues. “He was able to convey in the artistry of the sculptures, not only the authenticity of uniforms and equipment but also with the flowing parkas and ponchos the severity of the weather conditions under which that war was fought.”
Stéphane Audran, 85, French actress who served up one of cinema’s most sumptuous meals as the title character in the 1987 film “Babette’s Feast,” died March 20. Although “Babette’s Feast” was her best-known movie internationally — it won the Oscar for best foreign-language film in 1988 — Audran by then had been famous for decades in France, most notably for her work in the films of director Claude Chabrol, to whom she was married from 1964 to 1980. Another career high point for her was Luis Buñuel’s “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” another winner of the best foreign-language film Oscar.
Arnold R. Hirsch, 69, a historian whose landmark study of Chicago documented the role of government policy in creating highly segregated African-American ghettos during the mid-20th century, died on March 19 in Oak Park, Illinois. The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body disease.
Hirsch’s best-known book, “Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960,” published in 1983, began as an inquiry into the causes of the urban riots that wracked American cities in the late 1960s, including the disturbances that followed the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Saba Mahmood, 57, a professor, theorist and author from Pakistan whose work focused on the intersection of Islam and feminist theory, died on March 10 at her home in Berkeley, California. The cause was pancreatic cancer.
In her studies, Mahmood, a scholar of modern Egypt who specialized in sociocultural anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, also challenged entrenched notions about secularism and religion, particularly in Muslim societies.
Barbara Lewalski, 87, a renowned Renaissance scholar and expert on poet John Milton who became the first woman to be granted tenured and endowed professorships in the English departments of Brown and Harvard universities, died March 2 in Providence, Rhode Island. The cause was heart failure.
In addition to breaching the brotherhood of English professors at Brown and Harvard, Lewalski crashed another barrier: She refused to be consigned to the back door of the Brown faculty club, which was the portal reserved for professors’ wives and other women.