Morbid Curiosity: The Month in Notable Deaths

Here at Art Attack, we believe it's good to reflect on those that came before us. Whether they were artists, inventors, politicians, athletes or innovators, it seems fitting to take a moment and look back at their accomplishments.

We've already spotlighted some of these notable people here - early fitness mogul Jack LaLanne, actor Pete Postlethwaite, songwriter Gerry Rafferty, and country music legend Charlie Louvin, but here's a list of persons that passed in January you might have missed.

For us, the most stunning passing of January was probably that of Richard "Dick" Winters. Outside of the musicians & actors, Winters was arguably one of the most well known, so before the head-scratching begins, allow us to clarify. While many people wouldn't recognize his face, they'll certainly know his name - Major Dick Winters served in the 101st Airborne during World War II, leading the Easy Company troops immortalized in Tom Hanks & Steven Speilberg's Band Of Brothers miniseries. We get goosebumps every time we see a clip from the show. His Brécourt Manor Assault, shown in the clip above, is still taught at West Point - a textbook example of an assault on a fixed position.

We should also mention that Ed Mauser, a member of Easy Company, passed on the 22nd. While he wasn't featured in the miniseries, we undoubtedly owe him a salute as well.

American scientist John Oliver died on January 5th. Though his name most likely isn't in the textbooks, Oliver is the reason that kids across the nation learn about continental drift. His studies of earthquakes and plate tectonics led him to research that eventually proved the theory originally proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912.

English actress Susannah York died January 15th. York was best known for her role as a supporting actress in 1969's They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, portraying the unfortunate Alice alongside Jane Fonda's Gloria. York lost the Oscar to Goldie Hawn that year, but she went on to act in many more films and plays - including a role as Superman's mother Lara in three of the first four movies.

Beat poet and freelance journalist John Ross left us on January 17th. An early draft resister during Vietnam, Ross also traveled to Iraq in 2003 as one of the "human shields" hoping to protect Iraqi civilians. Living in Mexico, Ross wrote for a long list of San Francisco publications, covering the Zapatista movement in Mexico, political corruption in both Mexico & the United States, and he examined the effects of NAFTA on Mexico's subsistence farming. He would later cover the Iraq War as well, and he was a prolific author, churning out 10 books as well as 10 poetry chapbooks.

Founding member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Ahmed Yemeni died on January 4th at the age of 86. Yemeni's PFLP carried out numerous hijackings, bombings, and other attacks, including the simultaneous hijackings of four flights on September 6th, 1970 - an event cited as a reason for the Black September clashes between Palestinian and Jordanian forces.

David Kato, a Ugandan LGBT rights activist, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer on January 26th. Kato spoke out against Uganda's proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and in October 2010 Rolling Stone listed him among 100 Ugandan homosexuals, calling for their executions. (Not that Rolling Stone, mind you, but a Ugandan tabloid by the same name.)

Free-spirited adventurer Poppa Neutrino - born William David Pearlman - passed on January 23rd. In 1997 and 1998, Neutrino and his wife sailed a raft across the Atlantic Ocean, from North America to Europe. It was the second instance of someone sailing a raft across the pond, but the first to do so on one constructed out of rubbish. His latest voyage had been an attempt to circumnavigate the globe on another homemade raft, however it was delayed when his craft was driven onto the rocks on November 9th, 2010. The film Random Lunacy documented his unorthodox creative drive.

And finally, Eunice Sanborn of Jacksonville, Texas passed yesterday. What's so notable about her? Well, at the time of her death, the supercentarian had laid claim to the title of the oldest person on Earth. She lived to be 114 years and 192 days, although her family claims that the Census recorded her birthdate wrong, and that she was actually 115 years old.

Follow Art Attack on Facebook and on twitter ArtAttackHP

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Marc Brubaker
Contact: Marc Brubaker