Notable deaths last week

  • Ray Dolby

    Ray Dolby

  • Robert R. Taylor created Softsoap, the first mass-marketed liquid soap pumped from a plastic bottle.

    Robert R. Taylor created Softsoap, the first mass-marketed liquid soap pumped from a plastic bottle.

  • Saul Landau

    Saul Landau

  • Patti Webster, who represented stars including Usher, Janet Jackson, Chris Paul and Alicia Keys, died Friday.

    Patti Webster, who represented stars including Usher, Janet Jackson, Chris Paul and Alicia Keys, died Friday.

From Daily Herald wire reports
Posted9/14/2013 6:58 PM

Ray Dolby, an American inventor and audio pioneer who founded Dolby Laboratories, has died at the age of 80.

Dolby founded his namesake company in 1965 and grew it into an industry leader in audio technology. His work in noise reduction and surround sound led to the creation of a number of technologies that are still used in music, movies and entertainment today. The innovations also turned Dolby into a rich man with an estimated fortune of $2.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine.


Dolby held 50 U.S. patents and won a number of notable awards for his life's work, including several Emmys, two Oscars and a Grammy.

He was awarded the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the U.S. and the Royal Academy of Engineers in the U.K., among other honors. In 2012, the theater that serves as home to the Academy Awards was renamed the Dolby Theatre and the Ray Dolby Ballroom was named in his honor.

His family described Dolby as generous, patient, curious and fair.

"Though he was an engineer at heart, my father's achievements in technology grew out of a love of music and the arts," said Tom Dolby, son, filmmaker and novelist.

Don Wade, a longtime Chicago morning radio personality who made the transition from rock 'n' roll deejay to talk radio host, has died of brain cancer. He was 72.

WLS-AM announced his death last Sunday on its website.

Chicagoans woke up to their husband-and-wife show, "Don Wade and Roma," for more than two decades on WLS. The team interviewed politicians and turned the microphone over to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who served as a guest host after his impeachment.

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In December, the couple gave up their radio show to focus on Wade's health.

Robert R. Taylor knew he had a phenomenal product on his hands the day he invented it, one that would revolutionize the way people wash their hands.

If a big company started putting soap in a bottle, figured Taylor, who died last month at age 77, he'd have to make sure they couldn't get it out -- at least not conveniently.

Leveraging his company for $12 million, every penny it was worth, he ordered 100 million little bottle hand-pumps from the only two U.S. manufacturers that made them. That created a back order so huge the companies couldn't make pumps for anybody else for more than a year, giving Taylor's brand time to become established.

The risky gamble paid off handsomely. In six months, Taylor had sold $25 million worth of SoftSoap.

Sheldon Hackney, an educator and historian who served as president of Tulane and the University of Pennsylvania before becoming chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has died. He was 79.


Patti Webster, a longtime publicist who represented stars including Usher, Janet Jackson, Chris Paul and Alicia Keys, has died at age 49.

Webster was suffering from brain cancer.

She founded W&W Public Relations in 1991 and represented celebrities in almost every field, including Halle Berry, Dwight Howard and Steve Harvey, and organizations including Creflo Dollar Ministries.

Anyone expecting a sweet remembrance of the life and times of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick was in for a surprise if they opened the obituary pages this week in the local newspaper.

"On behalf of her children who she abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty and shame that she delivered on her children," the scathing obituary begins.

Now circling the globe on the Internet, the obit was written by Johnson-Reddick's adult children, whose horror stories prompted Nevada to become one of the first states to allow children to sever parental ties back in the 1980s.

Johnson-Reddickdied at a Reno nursing home Aug. 30 at the age of 79.

Prince Jazzbo, a rap reggae performer and producer whose career spanned 40 years, has died in his native Jamaica. He was 62.

Frank Tripucka was the first quarterback for the Broncos and the original No. 18 in Denver.

His number was retired until 2012 when he gladly and graciously allowed Peyton Manning to wear it.

Tripucka died last week at his home in Woodland Park, N.J., at age 85.

He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles with the ninth overall selection in 1949.

Marshall Berman, an author, philosopher and educator whose optimistic, humanist writings on economics, art and culture were shaped by his early and lasting immersion in the works of Karl Marx, has died. He was 72.

Berman wrote several books, notably the 1982 publication "All That is Solid Melts Into Air"; served on the editorial board for the leftist magazine Dissent; contributed essays to The New York Times, The Nation and other publications, and taught politics at the City University of New York and the City College of New York.

Godfrey Sperling Jr., a journalist who hosted weekly newsmaker breakfasts in Washington for decades, has died. He was 97.

Sperling was born in Long Beach, Calif., and grew up in Cody, Wyo., and Urbana, Ill. He studied journalism at the University of Illinois and law at University of Oklahoma and served as an officer in the Air Force during World War II.

Sperling started at the Christian Science Monitor in 1946 and retired in 2005, covering presidential candidates from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton.

Former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, a long-time veteran of Congress who helped then-President Bill Clinton achieve his goal of ending "welfare as we know it," has died following a lengthy battle with lung cancer. He was 74.

Shaw spent 26 years in Washington and was among the first in a line of Republicans who helped transform Florida from a state dominated by just one political party into the battleground state that it is today.

Saul Landau, a prolific, award-winning documentary filmmaker who traveled the world profiling political leaders like Cuba's Fidel Castro and Chile's Salvador Allende and used his camera to draw attention to war, poverty and racism, has died. He was 77.

The director, producer and writer of more than 40 documentaries had continued to work almost until his death. He regularly submitted essays to the Huffington Post and elsewhere, sometimes writing from his hospital bed, according to his son, Greg. He was also working on a documentary on homophobia in Cuba.

Landau authored 14 books. While most covered issues like radical politics, consumer culture and globalization, one of them, "My Dad Was Not Hamlet," was a collection of poetry.

His documentaries tackled a variety of issues, but each contained one underlying theme: reporting on a subject that was otherwise going largely unnoticed at the time, whether it was American ghetto life, the destruction of an indigenous Mexican culture or the inner workings of the CIA.

Although he made more than three dozen films, Landau said he never set out to be a filmmaker.

"I didn't set out to be anything," he said in July. "I just fell into it."

Landau graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and after moving to San Francisco he was at various times a film distributor, author, playwright and member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

Joseph Granville, a newsletter writer and technical analyst who moved stock markets with bearish calls in the 1970s and '80s, has died. He was 90.

Eric T. Miller, the longtime chief strategist for Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette who called the stock- market bottom in 1982 and became a go-to analyst of the bull market that followed, has died. He was 85.

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