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updated: 6/14/2014 6:56 PM

Notable deaths last week

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  • Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll glances toward the scoreboard clock during the closing seconds of AFC championship game against the Houston Oilers in Pittsburgh.

      Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll glances toward the scoreboard clock during the closing seconds of AFC championship game against the Houston Oilers in Pittsburgh.
    AssociateD Press/Jan. 6, 1980

  • Jazz legend Jimmy Scott

      Jazz legend Jimmy Scott
    AssociateD Press/2004

  • Actress Ruby Dee

      Actress Ruby Dee
    AssociateD Press/2008

  • Children's author Eric Hill

      Children's author Eric Hill
    AssociateD Press

  • British comedian and actor Rik Mayall with his wife Barbara.

      British comedian and actor Rik Mayall with his wife Barbara.
    AssociateD Press

  • Oakland Athletics' Bob Welch, left, Los Angeles Dodgers' Mike Scioscia, center, and New York Yankees' Steve Sax, all former Dodgers teammates, enjoy a moment together before the start of the 61st annual All-Star game in Chicago.

      Oakland Athletics' Bob Welch, left, Los Angeles Dodgers' Mike Scioscia, center, and New York Yankees' Steve Sax, all former Dodgers teammates, enjoy a moment together before the start of the 61st annual All-Star game in Chicago.
    AssociateD Press/1990

  • Junie Donlavey makes a point during an interview at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

      Junie Donlavey makes a point during an interview at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
    AssociateD Press/2004

 
Associated Press

• Chuck Noll, the Hall of Fame coach who won a record four Super Bowl titles with the Pittsburgh Steelers, died Friday night at his home. He was 82.

Noll transformed the Steelers from a long-standing joke into one of the NFL's pre-eminent powers, becoming the only coach to win four Super Bowls. He was a demanding figure who did not make close friends with his players, yet was a successful and motivating leader.

The Steelers won the four Super Bowls over six seasons (1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979), an unprecedented run that made Pittsburgh one of the NFL's marquee franchises, one that breathed life into a struggling, blue-collar city.

"He was one of the great coaches of the game," Steelers owner Dan Rooney once said. "He ranks up there with (George) Halas, (Tom) Landry and (Curly) Lambeau."

Noll's 16-8 record in postseason play remains one of the best in league history. He retired in 1991 with a 209-156-1 record in 23 seasons, after inheriting a team that had never won a postseason game. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.

• For Ruby Dee, acting and activism weren't contradictory things. They were inseparable, and they were intertwined.

The African-American actress, who earned lead roles in movies and on Broadway, also spent her life fighting against injustice, even emceeing the 1963 March on Washington and protesting apartheid in South Africa.

"We are image makers. Why can't we image makers become peacemakers, too?" she asked after she and her husband, Ossie Davis, accepted the Screen Actors Guild Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2000.

That legacy of entertaining and pushing for change -- in addition to the epic love affair with Davis -- made Dee, who died at age 91 in her New Rochelle home on Wednesday night, a beloved figure in America and beyond. Broadway theaters were to dim their lights in her honor Friday night.

• Rik Mayall, one of a generation of performers that injected post-punk energy into British comedy, has died. He was 56.

In the 1980s Mayall was part of the Comic Strip, a hugely influential group of alternative young comics that included Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Mayall's writing and performing partner, Adrian Edmondson.

He was best known for co-writing and performing in "The Young Ones," a sitcom about slovenly students that was much loved by those it satirized.

• Former NASCAR car owner Junie Donlavey has died at the age of 90.

According to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame website, the Richmond native fielded his No. 90 cars for drivers including Joe Weatherly, Tiny Lund and Dick Brooks.

Bill Dennis, Jody Ridley and Ken Schrader won NASCAR Cup series rookie of the year honors for Donlavey. Ridley recorded Donlavey's only Cup win in a 1981 race in Dover, Delaware.

Sixty different drivers drove for Donlavey before he closed his shop in 2005. He had more than 860 starts as a car owner during his 50-plus years in the sport.

• Bob Welch, the 1990 AL Cy Young Award winner with the Oakland Athletics and the last major leaguer to win at least 25 games in a season, has died. He was 57.

Welch died at his Southern California home in Seal Beach, the team said. Police said officers responded to a call for medical aid and found Welch dead in the bathroom area.

Authorities have not released the cause of death. The coroner was awaiting toxicology test results, which can take eight to 12 weeks, said Lt. Jeffrey Hallock, spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Welch was known best for his famous battles with Reggie Jackson in the World Series and alcohol addiction.

• Lee Hyla, a Northwestern University professor and contemporary music composer, has died in Chicago at age 62.

Hyla composed for artists such as the Kronos Quartet, Midori and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. His music has been recorded on labels including Nonesuch, New World, Avant, Tzadik and CRI.

At Northwestern, he held the Wyatt Chair in Music Theory and Composition.

• Rafael Fruehbeck de Burgos, one of Spain's most prestigious conductors who performed with dozens of orchestras around the world, has died. He was 80.

During his career he performed with dozens of orchestras in Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan and Israel.

• Martha Hyer, an Oscar-nominated actress who starred alongside the likes of Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart, has died at 89.

As a star of the 1950s, she once turned down a date request from a young Sen. John F. Kennedy. She was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actress for her role in 1958's "Some Came Running," starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine.

• Jay Holcomb, who led bird-rescue efforts at some of the world's biggest oil spills during his leadership at International Bird Rescue, has died in California. He was 63.

Holcomb's career in bird rescue began in 1971 after two tankers collided in San Francisco Bay, releasing more than 800,000 gallons of oil and leading to the founding of the organization that he would later lead. He became executive director of International Bird Rescue in 1986, and spearheaded or assisted efforts to care for pelicans, gannets and other birds in dozens of oil-spill emergencies, including the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska and the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

"For decades, Jay was a singular force in saving wild birds everywhere, giving a voice to the animals who need it most," said Susan Kaveggia, board chairwoman of International Bird Rescue. "We can never replace him. But we can follow in his footsteps and continue to inspire others to care for wildlife in his memory."

• Eric Hill, whose effort to entertain his young son with a simple drawing of a mischievous dog named Spot blossomed into a popular series of children's books that have sold more than 60 million copies, has died at his home in central California. He was 86.

His first book, "Where's Spot?" -- with its clean design, whimsical characters, and bold, bright colors -- was an instant success with preschool children when it hit store shelves in 1980. It told the gentle tale of Spot's mother, Sally, as she goes on a search for him around the house -- but finds a hippo, a lion and other creatures along the way.

• Jimmy Scott, a jazzman with an ethereal man-child voice who found success late in life with the Grammy-nominated album "All the Way," has died. He was 88.

His 1992 comeback album "All the Way" sold only 49,000 copies in the U.S. but earned him cult-like popularity in Europe and Asia, particularly Japan, where he often sold out performances.

Eventually, he performed with the likes of Elton John, Lou Reed, Michael Stipe and Sting. He also appeared in the series finale of "Twin Peaks," singing the song "Sycamore Trees," co-written by the TV show's creator David Lynch.

His first claim to fame came in 1949 when he recorded the vocals as "Little Jimmy Scott" for the Lionel Hampton Band's "Everybody's Somebody's Fool." His name never appeared on the record, and he never received royalties from the jukebox hit.

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