Happy New Year
December 31, 2011 10 Comments
It’s 31 December again and time to greet the god Janus, you know the one that looks both forward and back.
We seem to have made it through 2011 relatively unscathed, we are still here, still vocal and still (reasonably) free. We’ve won some and lost some and that aint bad.
So here we go into what may well be the most important election year since 1860, so buck up and carry on.
Like everybody else I usually reflect on who we lost in the last year, so here is my list. Excepted from AP’s via the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. In no particular order, mostly chronological, though.
Maj. Richard “Dick” Winters, 92. The man who fought in several major battles in World War II and whose quiet leadership was chronicled in the book and television miniseries “Band of Brothers.” Jan. 2.
Vang Pao, 81. A revered former general in the Royal Army of Laos, who led thousands of Hmong guerrillas in a CIA-backed secret army in the Vietnam war. Jan. 6.
Margaret Whiting, 86. A sweet-voiced performer known for sentimental ballads who sold millions of records in the 1940s and 1950s. Jan. 10.
Susannah York, 72. One of the leading stars of British and Hollywood films in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Jan. 15. Cancer.
R. Sargent Shriver, 95. First Peace Corps director, ambassador and leader of the War on Poverty in the U.S. but best known as a Kennedy in-law. Jan. 18.
Ed Mauser, 94. The oldest living member of a 101st Airborne Division company that became known as the “Band of Brothers” and fought some of the fiercest battles of World War II but kept his Army service secret even from his family. Jan. 21. Pancreatic cancer.
Christian J. Lambertson, 93. A scientist and doctor who invented a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus used by the military in World War II and later coined the term “scuba,” an acronym by which such systems are widely known. Feb. 11.
Frank Buckles, 110. The last surviving American veteran of World War I who also survived being a civilian prisoner of war in the Philippines in World War II. Feb. 27.
Jane Russell, 89. The voluptuous actress who starred in the controversial film “The Outlaw” and who, as a pin-up girl, set GIs’ hearts to pounding during World War II. Feb. 28.
Elizabeth Taylor, 79. The violet-eyed American film goddess whose sultry screen persona, stormy personal life and enduring fame and glamour made her one of the last of the classic movie stars and a template for the modern celebrity. March 23.
Warren M. Christopher, 85. The attorney-turned-envoy who tirelessly traveled to Bosnia and the Middle East on peace missions as U.S. secretary of state in the Clinton administration. March 25. Complications from bladder and kidney cancer.
Geraldine Ferraro, 75. A relatively obscure Democratic congresswoman who became the first woman on a major U.S. party ticket when she ran for vice president in 1984 and emboldened American women to seek office. March 26. Complications from blood cancer.
Harry Wesley Coover Jr., 94. Known as the inventor of the popular adhesive Super Glue. March 26.
Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg, 85. He shared the Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery of the hepatitis vaccine. April 5.
Hubert “Hub” Schlafly, 91. A key member of a team that invented the teleprompter and rescued soap opera actors, newscasters and politicians from stumbling over their words on live television. April 20.
Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, 86. The outspoken beauty who served as South Vietnam’s unofficial first lady early in the Vietnam war and earned the nickname “Dragon Lady” for her harsh criticism of protesting Buddhists and communist sympathizers. April 25.
Henry Cooper, 76. One of Britain’s most popular sportsmen who was best known for knocking down Muhammad Ali when he was still known as Cassius Clay. May 1.
Osama bin Laden, 54. Terrorist leader whose money and preaching inspired the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. May 2. Killed during a raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan.
Claude Stanley Coules, 110. The last known combat veteran of World War I who had a 41-year-military career that extended into World War II. May 5.
Harmon Killebrew, 74. The baseball slugger for the Minnesota Twins and for many years the face of the team. May 17. Esophageal cancer.
Garret FitzGerald, 85. A beloved figure who as Ireland’s prime minister in the 1980s was an early architect of peace in Northern Ireland. May 19.
James Arness, 88. An actor who towered over the American television landscape for two decades as righteous Dodge City lawman Matt Dillon in “Gunsmoke.” June 3.
Lawrence Eagleburger, 80. The only career U.S. foreign service officer to rise to secretary of state and whose exuberant style masked a hard-driving commitment to solving tangled foreign policy problems. June 4.
Yelena Bonner, 88. A Russian rights activist and widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov. June 18.
Peter Falk, 83. The American stage and screen actor who became identified as the rumpled detective title character on “Colombo,” which spanned 30 years in primetime U.S. television. June 23.
Otto Von Habsburg, 98. The oldest son of Austria’s last emperor and head of one of Europe’s most influential families. July 4.
Betty Ford, 93. The former U.S. first lady whose triumph over drug and alcohol addiction became a beacon of hope for addicts and the inspiration for her Betty Ford Center in California. July 8.
Elliot Handler, 95. With his wife, he grew Mattel Inc. from a small home-based picture-frame business into the largest U.S. toy maker and created the Hot Wheels brand. July 21.
Nguyen Cao Ky, 80. The flamboyant former air force general who ruled South Vietnam for two years with an iron fist during the Vietnam war. July 23.
John Shalikashvili, 75. A retired U.S. Army general who was the first foreign-born chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and counseled President Bill Clinton on the use of troops in Bosnia and other trouble spots. July 24
Albert “Doc” Brown, 105. A survivor of the Bataan Death March, a harrowing 65-mile (105 kilometer) trek in which 78,000 prisoners of war were forced to walk from Bataan, a province near Manila, to a Japanese prisoner camp. Aug. 21.
Cliff Robertson, 88. Actor who portrayed President John F. Kennedy in the film “PT-109” and won an Oscar for playing a mentally disabled man in “Charly.” Sept. 10.
Anwar al-Awlaki, 40. An American-born Muslim preacher and savvy Internet operator, who became a powerful al-Qaida tool for recruiting in the West. Sept. 30. Killed in what was believed to be a U.S. airstrike in Yemen.
Steve Jobs, 56. The Apple founder and former chief executive who invented and master-marketed ever sleeker gadgets that transformed everyday technology, from the personal computer to the iPod and iPhone. Oct. 5.
Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, 89. Civil rights activist who endured arrests, beatings and injuries from fire hoses while fighting for racial equality in the segregated South of the 1960s. Oct. 5.
Robert Galvin, 89. He was Motorola’s chief executive for 29 years and took it from maker of police radios and television sets to one of the world’s leading electronic companies. Oct. 11.
Tadeusz Sawicz, 97. A Polish World War II airman believed to be the last surviving Polish pilot from the Battle of Britain. Oct. 19.
Moammar Gadhafi, 69. The last of the old-style Arab strongmen who ruled Libya for nearly 42 years with an eccentric brutality. Oct. 20. Died after being captured by rebels in Libya.
Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, 80. Crown prince of Saudi Arabia who as defense minister closed multibillion-dollar deals to establish the modern Saudi armed forces. Oct. 22.
Andy Rooney, 92. The curmudgeonly commentator who spent 30 years talking about the oddities of life on American television. Nov. 4.
Joe Frazier, 67. One of the great heavyweight boxers of his era who was forever associated with three bouts he had with Mohammad Ali, including the “Thrilla in Manila.” Nov. 7.
Bil Keane, 89. Creator of the comic strip “Family Circus,” which entertained readers with a mix of humor and traditional family values for more than a half century. Nov. 8.
Patricia Dunn, 58. The former Hewlett-Packard chairwoman who authorized a board room surveillance probe that ultimately sullied her remarkable rise from investment bank typist to the corporate upper class. Dec. 4. Ovarian cancer.
Harry Morgan, 96. An actor best known for playing the fatherly Col. Sherman Potter on the TV show “M-A-S-H.” Dec. 7.
Kim Jong Il, 69. North Korea’s mercurial and enigmatic leader whose iron rule and nuclear ambitions dominated world security fears for more than a decade. Dec. 17. Heart attack.
Vaclav Havel, 75. Czech dissident playwright who led the 1989 anti-communist “Velvet Revolution” and went from prisoner to president. Dec. 18.
So that’s my list of people, important on the world stage, or not, beautiful, ugly, most good, and some evil; a microcosm of us all.