In Remembrance

By Sandra Sylvester | Dec 23, 2012

Knox County — Instead of giving you a Christmas letter this year, I’d like to pay tribute to some people we lost during the past year. Many of these names existed in my own personal past. I’m sure that is true with you too. They will live on in their songs; they will live on in late-night movies. We will remember their accomplishments; their contributions to our world.

Before we begin, however, I’d like to pay tribute to those special babies who lost their lives in Newtown, along with the teachers who tried to save them. The last two precious ones were buried today. They were only famous in the way they died, but who knows what those little ones may have accomplished in their lives had they lived.

I truly believe they are safe in the arms of those wonderful teachers who tried to protect them and who also died as a result. They will protect them forever now.

Recently, my great-nephew, Nicholas, who is four I believe, and who lives in Connecticut not that far from Newtown, lost his precious dog, Noah. He told his mother he was going to ask Santa to bring him back for his Christmas present this year. I suspect that Noah, who has a biblical name we all know, a man who saved the animals two by two, was waiting for these little ones at the Rainbow Bridge when they passed into heaven.

Here are some of the more well-known people who passed away this year. Among them are Senators, entertainers, a Nobel Prize winner, a sports legend, authors, a chef, a famous mother, composers, astronauts, TV show hosts, a publisher, a reverend, directors, a film critic, a former Prime Minister, a hair stylist, a mobster, a TV producer, a screenwriter.

As I read their obits I noticed that many of them died of one form of cancer or another. If there is one disease, which has many forms, we should at last conquer its cancer. So many of our favorite people are taken by this health scourge. If you contribute to just one charity this year, make it for Cancer research. As a breast cancer survivor, I thank you.

Here is my list in no particular order:

Senator Daniel Inouye, of Hawaii. One of the longest serving members of Congress. He was a much decorated WWII veteran.

Ravi Shankar, sitarist popular in the 60s. I think the Beatles were associated with him.

Jenni Rivera, Spanish singer who died in a plane crash in New Mexico just recently.

Dave Brubeck, jazz pianist. I especially remember “Take Five.” He died a day before his 92nd birthday.

Larry Hagman, of “Dallas” and “I Dream of Jeanie.” Son of Mary Martin.

Art Ginsburg, TV chef known as “Mr. Food.” He was 81.

Warren Rudman, Former senator, don’t know where, at 82.

Etta James, soul singer

Teri Shields, mother of Brooke, at 79. I believe she suffered from Alzheimer’s.

George McGovern, former senator. He took an anti-Vietnam war stance in 1972 in his presidential race against Nixon. I voted for him. He was 90.

Arlen Spector, former Senator from Pennsylvania, at 82.

Gary Collins, TV show host and also MC for Miss America pageant, at 74.

Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times for 34 years, at 86.

Johnny Lewis, actor in “Sons of Anarchy.” Found dead in a driveway. He was suspect in a murder case.

Andy Williams, crooner best known for his song from “Breakfast at Tiffany,” “Moon River.”

John Ingle, actor who played Edward Quartermaine on the soap, “General Hospital” for 430 episodes. He was 84.

Dorothy McGuire, singer in the 1950s-60s, at 85.

Michael Clark Duncan, played a death-row inmate in “The Green Mile.” He was 54.

Rev. Sun Myung Moon, controversial Unification Church minister, who had millions of followers. I remember we called these worshippers “Moonies.” I also remember that he married about 100 couples all at the same time.

Neil Armstrong, former astronaut who commanded Apollo 11 and who was the first man on the moon, at 82.

Phyllis Diller, comedian with a long career. She was 95.

Ron Palillo, actor who played Arnold Horshack on “Welcome Back Kotter,” at 68.

Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan, author of many books with a feminine slant. She helped usher in the sexual revolution. I saw her speak at a woman’s conference in Connecticut in the 60s or 70s.

Al Freeman Jr., star of the movie, “Malcolm X, at 78.

Stuart Swanlund, guitarist for the Marshall Tucker Band, at 54.

Marvin Hamlisch, composer, at 68.

Judith Crist, well-known film critic.

Gore Vidal, author, at 86.

Tony Martin, Last of the big-name singer-actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood, at 98.

Chad Everett, actor, at 75.

Sherman Hemsley, star of the spin off from “All in the Family,” the “Jeffersons,” and later the TV show “Amen.”

Sally Ride, astronaut, first woman in space, at 61.

Kitty Wells, Queen of Country Music, at 92.

Earl Scruggs, bluegrass legend/banjo pioneer, at 88.

Robin Gibb, member of the band Bee Gees, at 62.

Celeste Holm, one of my mother’s favorite actresses, who won an Oscar, at 95.

Dick Clark, our favorite TV host of “Bandstand” and a many time MC of New Year’s “Rockin’ New Years Eve.” He was 82. I did a special tribute blog to him this year.

Sage Stallone, son of Sylvester Stallone, at 36.

Maria Cole, wife of Nat King Cole, at 89.

Ernest Borgnine, actor, at 95. He and Lauren Bacall was an item.

Andy Griffith, everyone’s favorite on TV, at 86.

Alan Poindexter, two-time shuttle astronaut. He died in a jet-ski accident at 50.

Yitzhak Shamir, former Israeli Prime Minister, at 96.

Vidal Sassoon, well known hair fashion hairstylist, at 84.

Adam Yanch, of the Beastie Boys, at 49.

Henry Hill, mobster, said to belong to the Lucchese crime family, at 69.

Frank Cady, known in the recurring role of storekeeper, Sam Drucker, in “Petticoat Junction,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and “Green Acres.”

Bob Welch, was a member of Fleetwood Mac, at 66.

Ray Bradbury, one of my favorite Science-Fiction authors, at 91.

Herb Reed, last of the founding members of The Platters, at 83.

Richard Dawson, TV host actor, and comedian. He was host of “Family Feud,” on the panel of the “Match Game” and also starred in the TV show, “Hogan’s Heroes” which was based on the movie “Stalag 13,” a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany during WWII.

Donna Summer, the “Queen of Disco.” She was 63.

Whitney Houston, the diva of all divas in Pop music, at 48.

Chuck Brown, Godfather of Go Go, at 75.

Davy Jones, lead singer for the Monkees.

Nora Ephron, Academy Award nominee for screenplays for “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” at 71.

A long list to be sure and there are names I left out. I wish everyone good health in 2013.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

NOTE: I didn’t post all of the names that are given on the regular blog space. To see a complete list, go to


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