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updated: 12/22/2012 5:19 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada stand Friday as the casket is brought in at the funeral service for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye at the Washington National Cathedral.

    President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada stand Friday as the casket is brought in at the funeral service for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye at the Washington National Cathedral.
    Associated Press

From Daily Herald news wire reports

On Dec. 7, 1941, high school senior Daniel Inouye knew he and other Japanese-Americans would face trouble when he saw Japanese dive bombers, torpedo planes and fighters on their way to bomb Pearl Harbor and other Oahu military bases.

He and other Japanese-Americans had wanted desperately to be accepted, he said, and that meant going to war.

"I felt that there was a need for us to demonstrate that we're just as good as anybody else," Inouye, who eventually went on to serve 50 years as a U.S. senator from Hawaii, once said. "The price was bloody and expensive, but I felt we succeeded."

Inouye, 88, died of respiratory complications at a Washington-area hospital. As a senator, he became one of the most influential politicians in the country, playing key roles in congressional investigations of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals. He was the longest serving current senator and by far the most important for his home state of Hawaii.

Robert H. Bork, who stepped in to fire the Watergate prosecutor at Richard Nixon's behest and whose failed 1987 nomination to the Supreme Court helped draw the modern boundaries of cultural fights over abortion, civil rights and other issues, has died. He was 85.

Bork's drubbing during his Senate nomination hearings made him a hero to the right and a rallying cry for younger conservatives.

His 1996 book, "Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline," was an acid indictment of what Bork viewed as the crumbling ethics of modern society and the morally bankrupt politics of the left.

Coroner's officials say Lee Dorman, 70, bass guitarist for the 1960s psychedelic rock band Iron Butterfly, died of natural causes in Southern California.

He was found dead in his car Friday at his home in the coastal town of Laguna Niguel.

Iron Butterfly rose to prominence in the late 1960s. According to the band's website, its second album, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," sold more than 30 million copies.

Brian Baker, whose Chicago-based investment advisory firm, Vestor Capital Partners LLC, was acquired two months ago by Focus Financial Partners LLC, has died. He was 58.

He died of injuries sustained in an apparent accident at his home in Wilmette, police said.

Emergency responders found him "bleeding severely after falling backwards on a glass coffee table," according to a press release from the Wilmette Police Department. Fire department personnel took him to Evanston Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:47 a.m.

Focus, based in New York City, describes itself as the largest partnership of independent wealth-management firms, with more than $52 billion in combined assets. It announced on Oct. 11 that it had acquired Vestor, which had client assets of more than $500 million. No price was disclosed.

Larry L. King, a writer and playwright whose magazine article about a campaign to close down a popular bordello became a hit Tony Award-nominated musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and a movie starring Burt Reynolds, has died at 83.

King was one of a group of journalists who spent 1969-70 at Harvard University and his 8,000-word account of the year, "Blowing My Mind at Harvard," appeared in Harper's magazine. He also wrote for The Texas Observer, Life and Texas Monthly, among others, and penned a biography of former Harper's editor Willie Morris in 2006.

In the late 1980s, King had some success with his play "The Night Hank Williams Died," a pungent yet poignant tale of lost loves, missed opportunities, unfulfilled expectations and fatal mistakes that made it off-Broadway. It was set in 1952 at a bar and Williams' music wails from the jukebox as a colorful group of characters try to find meaning with coarse Texas humor.

Elwood Jensen, an award-winning University of Cincinnati professor nominated for the Nobel Prize for medicine for work that opened the door to advances in fighting cancer, has died of pneumonia. He was 92.

AIDS activist Spencer Cox, who helped form an organization to boost treatment research and recently appeared in a documentary about an AIDS coalition, has died at 44.

Eagle Keys, the Canadian Football Hall of Famer who played in the 1954 Grey Cup on a broken leg and coached Saskatchewan to its first CFL title, has died at 89.

Jesse Hill Jr., a civil rights leader and businessman who later became the first black president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, has died at 86.

Hill had a close relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and helped make sure his legacy would be remembered, according to Steve Klein, a spokesman for the King Center, where Hill served as chairman of the board of directors from 1979 to 1993.

Whether it was allowing visitors to disfigure his portrait or holding fundraising sleepovers in his southwestern Illinois jail, longtime St. Clair County Sheriff Mearl J. Justus was known for his dry humor and savvy yet sometimes unconventional politics.

He considered his career-appropriate name -- Sheriff Justus -- a badge of honor and earned a reputation for creativity and charity during his nearly six decades in law enforcement, including 30 years as sheriff.

Justus was 81 when died Tuesday evening at a hospital -- exactly a week after stepping down as sheriff, concluding a law-enforcement career that was just months from spanning 60 years.

Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, a former Israeli military chief who later became a Cabinet minister, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 68.

In the early 1950s, the virtuosic jazz pianist Hal Schaefer was working behind the scenes at the 20th Century Fox studio in Hollywood as a musician, musical arranger and vocal coach. He tutored many film stars in the finer points of singing, but none more glamorous than Marilyn Monroe.

The two became lovers, which is how the little-known Schaefer became embroiled in a Hollywood scandal involving three of the biggest celebrities of the time: Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Frank Sinatra.

Schaefer, who was 87 when he died at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., worked with musical greats as a young man. He performed in nightclubs alongside Duke Ellington, who once introduced Schaefer by saying, "And now you're going to hear a real piano player." In his teens, Schaefer held the piano chair in groups led by trumpeter Harry James, saxophonist Benny Carter and progressive bandleader Boyd Raeburn.

Frank Pastore, the former major league baseball pitcher who became a popular Christian radio show host, has died. He was 55.

Southern California radio station KKLA, which aired Pastore's show, said on its website that he died nearly a month after he was critically injured in a motorcycle accident.

Pastore pitched for the Cincinnati Reds from 1979 until 1985 and for the Minnesota Twins in 1986.

Jack Hanlon, who had roles in the 1926 silent classic "The General" and in two 1927 "Our Gang" comedies, has died in Las Vegas at age 96.

After a small role with Buster Keaton in "The General," he played mischievous kids in two of Hal Roach's "Our Gang/Little Rascals" films: "The Glorious Fourth" and "Olympic Games."

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