This introduction is a repeat of Part 1’s introduction. However, the people described below are, obviously, different.
Many famous people died in 2018. Among them were: Roger Bannister, Anthony Bourdain, Barbara Bush, George H. W. Bush, Roy Clark, Vic Damone, Aretha Franklin, Billy Graham, Stephen Hawking, Stan Lee, John McCain, Burt Reynolds, Philip Roth, Neil Simon, Tom Wolfe.
However, other individuals who passed away in 2018, less well-known, made significant contributions during their lives. Their actions made the lives of others easier or more pleasant in a variety of ways. This article will give you an opportunity to appreciate their efforts and give them “a final thank you.” This article is not intended to make you sad, but to remind you there are such people. If I missed someone who you think deserves mention, I’m sorry. I’m writing a blog, not an all inclusive book. Let me and other folks know who you would include in this remembrance. Bringing attention to people who made life better for others is worth the time and effort. (Thanks to The New York Times for its coverage of these individuals.)
Ingvar Kamprad, 91 (see above)= At 17, he registered his mail-order business in household goods, calling it IKEA, formed of his initials and those of his farm, Elmtaryd, and village, Agunnard. Other the next 7 decades, he turned simply-designed, low-cost furniture into the world’s largest furniture retailer –with more than 350 stores in 29 countries. It made him the world’s eighth richest person, worth $58.7 billion. He wanted everyone to believe he was thrifty and claimed he drove an old Volvo, flew only economy class, stayed in budget hotels, ate cheap meals, shopped for bargains = Switzerland, to avoid Sweden’s high taxes, his home was a villa overlooking Lake Geneva, he had an estate in Sweden and vineyards in Provence, drove a Porsche, his flights, hotels, meals cost more than he claimed, and unlike those working for him he was not required to write on both sides of a piece of paper.
Claude Lanzmann, 92 = His film, “Shoah” (Hebrew for catastrophe), took 12 years to create. It was released in 1985 and internationally recognized as an important historical record of the Holocaust and a beautiful work of art. It was a 9 and a half hour movie without any of the footage of gas chambers or living skeletons Allied forces discovered in the German death camps. Mr. Lanzmann interviewed living witnesses: people who ran the camps; survivors of the Warsaw ghetto uprising; among others. An SS member said it was not true “as Jews said that 18,000 people a day were gassed –it was only 12-15,000.” Plus, “if things were going well,” within 2 hours of arrival, Jews died in the ovens.
John Mahoney, 77 (see above) = After obtaining 2 college degrees and finding himself dissatisfied with office work, Mahoney found acting work in Chicago. He worked with David Mamet and John Malkovich. Later, at the Lincoln Center in NYC, he worked with Stockard Channing, Christopher Walken, and Ben Stiller. Finally, he was cast as the Father of 2 psychiatrists: “Frazier” and Niles Crane. Success, and Emmy nominations followed. He portrayed a retired police officer who loved his dog and his recliner chair. When his younger son said a certain restaurant was “to die for” Martin corrected him: “Niles, your country and your family are to die for. Food is to eat.”
Jerry Maren, 98= He was the last of the 100+ Munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz” to die. Each of them had been paid $100 a week; Toto, Dorothy’s dog earned $125. Mr. Maren spent his life as a performer (many other Munchkins could not). He did stunt work for child actors like Jodie Foster and Ron Howard. He found TV work and appeared in more than 60 films. He said: “It wasn’t much, but it was steady.”
Helmut Maucher, 90 = He left his job as the head of a German frozen food company to work at Nestle. He improved it by reducing the bureaucracy anf buying the American milk producer Carnation, plus the Brtitish candy maker of the Kit Kat bar. The merger with Carnation (in 1984) was the largest in history outside the oil industry. In time, Nestle became the world’s largest food company.
Raye Montague, 83 = When she was 7, her Uncle took her to see an exhibit of a submarine. She asked someone: “What do you have to know to build one of these?” Noticing she was a black girl, the response was: “You’d have to be an engineer. You don’t have to worry about that.” Her schools and college were segregated. Later, she learned computing in night school. As a clerk-typist, “working with graduates of Yale and Harvard,” her assignment was to produce a design of a ship. Such projects usually took 2 years. She completed her design in 18 hours and 26 minutes. Like her black female counterparts in the book and film, “Hidden Figures,” her achievements continued. At the height of her career, she briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff monthly, taught at the Naval Academy, and the Navy began using her system to design all its ships.
Freddie Oversteegen, 92 = In 1940, Germany invaded her country (the Netherlands). She was 14 and became, along wither 16 year old sister, an assassin. She took part in drive-by shootings from her bicycle. German soldiers followed her into the woods and were executed by the Dutch resistance. Jews fleeing persecution were hidden in her home. In 2016, when asked how she dealt with war’s brutality, she said: “By getting married and having babies.” After the war, she and her sister were given medals by the Dutch prime minister.
Devah Pager, 46 = As a Harvard sociologist, her research revealed discrimination in the labor market and criminal justice system. She proved an employer was more likely to hire a white man, even if he had a felony conviction, than a black man with no criminal record. Her findings urged employers to eliminate the box on job applications asking if an applicant had a criminal record. In time, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed.
Joseph Polchinski, 63= He was a believer in “string theory,” an attempt to develop a “theory of everything.” He and his staff’s ideas changed thinking about space and time. They created the mathematical foundation for the idea that our universe is only one of many.
Douglas Rain, 90 = He was an English actor often seen in productions of Shkespeare. But to millions of movie goers, he is most recognized for his part in this bit of film dialogue:
Dave: “Open the pod bay doors, Hal.”
Hal: “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
Stanley Kubrick had given Mr. Rain little direction for his part as HAL 9000 (see above)in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” And, when asked his part in the film, Mr. Rain replied: “if you could have been a ghost at the recording, you would have thought it was a load of rubbish.” Mr. Rain never saw the film. However, the American Film Institute rated HAL 9000 as the 13thbest movie villain ever. So, Thank You, HAL, eh, Mr. Rain.
Dorcas Reilly, 92 (aee above) = Ms. Reilly, while working in the Campbell Soup company test kitchen, developed many recipes that were printed on cans of Campbell’s soup. Her recipe for Green Bean Bake” was her most famous creation. Of it, she said: “It’s so easy. And it’s not an expensive thing to make, too. You only need 6 ingredients.” More than 20 million American homes will use the recipe for Thanksgiving. In 2002, Campbell’s donated Ms. Reilly’s original recipe card to the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Joachim Ronneberg, 99= His WWII mission was to eliminate a “heavy water” plant, necessary for German development of an atomic bomb. It took place on February 27, 1943. It was led by 23-year old Ronneberg who took 8 men with him. It was a suicide mission: succeed and survive or fail and take your cyanide tablet. In 1942, a 35-man British commando team had been lost. Uniforms were white so they would blend in with the snow on which men skied. Hours after midnight, the 9 men moved down a hillside, grabbing tree branches to break their fall and remain silent. They moved across an ice bridge and through waist-deep snowdrifts. They cut through a fence and put a gun to a guard’s head and urged him to remain quiet. Their bombs were planted inside the German facility and when they exploded, the men began their 280-mile trek across forests and mountains into neutral Sweden. The Norwegians’ mission was successful: they had fired no shots, none of them was killed, inured, or captured, and because of their effort, London would not become Europe’s Hiroshima or Nagasaki. For their effort, they were given medals by Norway, England, France, and the United States.
William Shearer, 81 = Dr. Shearer treated “The Boy in the Bubble” –David Vetter. From birth, David was isolated in sterile plastic cocoons because he lacked a functioning immune system. His condition was called “severe combined immunodeficiency or SCID.” He could not touch another human being. He had an older brother who died because of the illness. A bone marrow transplant from his sister failed. In 1984, he was taken from his bubble for treatment which failed. He lived 15 more days. Today, infants with SCID are successfully treated within 28 days of their birth with bone-marrow and stem-cell transplants. Dr. Shearer aid: “Because of David, thousands of other children with immune-specific deficiencies ae living today. What he gave us was a powerful lesson in many areas of medicine –and just in life itself.”
Herman Shine, 95 = In WWII, his best friend would not leave him behind. A Polish civilian risked his life to aid in an escape. A young woman he met by accident helped him find a hiding place until the end of the war (1945) –and, later, became his wife. Two families hid him and his friend and risked their lives to save his. Mr. Shine (his Americanized version of his last name) said: “I am alive thanks to not one but to a dozen miracles.” He made it to America in 1947. He worked as a day laborer, until he started a roofing company.
Mitzi Shore, 87 = In 1972, she opened an LA club called the Comedy Store. She was a critic, a confidante and caretaker for many comedians who came through her club. She said: “We’re like a school, or a boxer’s gym. We help people develop their skills, and get them seen by supportive comedy crowds, as well as TV and movie people.” A list of comics who performed in the Store in the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s would include: Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Garry Shandling, Elayne Boosler, Andy Kaufman, Jim Carrey, Sandra Bernhard, George Carlin, and Sam Kinison.
Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, 93 = She was born on August 5, 1924 in Sacramento, California. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps, nearly 120,000 United States citizens of Japanese descent and legal resident Japanese nationals were evicted from their homes. Mrs. Yoshinaga discovered, in the National archives, the only remaining original version of a 1943 government report that refuted the Pentagon’s claim that the evacuation was a military necessity. Also, thereport undermined the War Department claims that there was no time to hold hearings before evacuations. The discovery helped lead to a congressional commission’s conclusion in 1983 that the wartime internment was prompted by “race prejudice, war hysteria, and the failure of political leadership.” In 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, which apologized for indiscriminately jailing Japanese-Americans during WWII without trial and awarded camp inmates $20,000 each. Mrs. Yoshinaga helped former camp inmates apply for their remuneration. And to remind her of her wartime ordeal, she kept a coil of barbed wire in her apartment.