It is impossible to look back at this year and reflect on those who have passed without thinking of the 20 little children and the five staff members of Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14. They will be remembered.
With 2012 drawing to a close, we remember those who have passed.
Etta James (b. 1938)
Inducted into both the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Etta James sang blues, jazz vocals and pop in a powerful voice steeped in reserves of emotion. As she said in a 1992 interview, “When I’m singing blues, I’m singing life. People that can’t stand to listen to the blues, they’ve got to be phonies.”
Photo by comunicom.es/Flickr
Joe Paterno (b. 1926)
The career of Penn State University’s “winningest coach” in college football history was shattered with the revelation that his longtime assistant, Jerry Sandusky, had sexually abused several children during the glory days of Joe Paterno’s tenure and often in in the Nittany Lions’s own athletic facilities. Paterno was fired shortly after the allegations surfaced and implicated in the scandal. An independent report found that he had advised that Sandusky’s crimes not be reported to authorities.
Photo by FSonne-pennstate73/Flickr
Carlos Fuentes (b. 1928)
Mexican writer and public intellectual Carlos Fuentes was at the forefront of the rise of Latin American literature in the 1960s and 1970s. His expansive novels, as well as his plays, short stories and political nonfiction, explored the complicated history of his country. Fuentes also used his pen to champion human rights and leftist causes, leading to him to be denied visas to the U.S. in the early 1960s and to say that “The real bombs are my books, not me.”
Sally Ride (b. 1951)
The first American woman in space, Sally Ride, noted that “the woman’s movement had already paved the way, I think, for my coming.” After flying to missions on the space shuttle Challenger, she devoted herself to “make science and engineering cool again” through her Sally Ride Science company. Ride had become an astronaut, she said, because all she had ever wanted to do was to fly.
Helen Gurley Brown (b. 1922)
The author of the 1962 book “Sex and the Single Girl” and long-time editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, Helen Gurley Brown shocked early 1960s America by saying that unmarried women had sex and (gasp) enjoyed it. Though she described herself as a feminist, many have debated whether the views of the woman who also wrote the 1982 book “Having It All” were progressive or rather, retrogressive.
Photo by epiclectic/Flickr
Neil Armstrong (b. 1930)
An engineer and test pilot who had flown combat missions in the Korean War, Neil Armstrong‘s name has become impossible to separate from the famous words he said as he the first human being ever to stand on the moon: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Photo by Recuerdos de Pandora/Flickr
George McGovern (b. 1922)
The self-described “good old South Dakota boy who grew up … on the prairie,” George McGovern, an opponent of the Vietnam War and proponent of liberal causes, won the Democratic nomination for president in 1972, only to be thoroughly trounced by Richard Nixon. The three-term Senator maintained his progressive and anti-war positions, writing in his final book “What It Means to Be a Democrat,” “We are the party that believes we can’t let the strong kick aside the weak.”
Photo by majunznk/Flickr
Russell Means (b. 1939)
For five decades, the controversial Russell Means alerted Americans to the U.S.’s long history of injustice towards Native Americans. He often used guerrilla tactics from seizing a replica of the Mayflower II in Plymouth, Massachusetts, on Thanksgiving in 1970 to occupying Wounded Knee, South Dakota, where 350 Lakota men, women and children were massacred in 1890.
Photo by Carolmooredc/Wikimedia Commons
N. Joseph Woodland (c. 1921)
After leaving mechanical engineering graduate school, Woodland invented the bar code, thanks to his knowledge of Morse Code (learned from being in the Boy Scouts) and chancing to draw four fingers through the sand and thinking what if they were “wide lines and narrow lines instead of dots and dashes.” These are the printed wide and narrow lines that can now be found on billions of items the world over.
Photo by Hey Paul Studios/Flickr
Ravi Shankar (b. 1920)
To call Ravi Shankar a virtuoso is an understatement. Trained by an Indian court musician to play the flowing ragas of classical Indian music, Shankar introduced the sitar and Eastern music to the West, playing with the Beatles, violinist Yehudi Menuhin and many others, efforts that led to a lasting interest in world music from all corners of the world.
Photo by PeterTea/Flickr
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