Final goodbye, part 2: Recalling influential people who died in 2021
Here is a roll call of some influential figures who died in 2021.
The Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, 78. He came to the United States as a childhood refugee from war-torn Poland and later became a leader in cross-church cooperation and the first Eastern Orthodox president of the National Council of Churches. Aug. 3. Heart attack.
Richard Trumka, 72. The powerful president of the AFL-CIO who rose from the coal mines of Pennsylvania to preside over one of the largest labor organizations in the world. Aug. 5.
Donald Kagan, 89. A prominent classical scholar, contentious defender of traditional education and architect of neo-conservative foreign policy. Aug. 6.
Markie Post, 70. She played the public defender in the 1980s sitcom "Night Court" and was a regular presence on television for four decades. Aug. 7.
Dennis "Dee Tee" Thomas, 70. A founding member of the long-running soul-funk band Kool & the Gang known for such hits as "Celebration" and "Get Down On It." Aug. 7.
Bobby Bowden, 91. The folksy Hall of Fame coach who built Florida State into an unprecedented college football dynasty. Aug. 8.
Walter Yetnikoff, 87. The rampaging head of CBS Records who presided over blockbuster releases by Michael Jackson, Billy Joel and many others and otherwise devoted his life to a self-catered feast of "schmoozing, shmingling and bingling." Aug. 9.
Maki Kaji, 69. The creator of the popular numbers puzzle Sudoku whose life’s work was spreading the joy of puzzles. Aug. 10.
Gino Strada, 73. An Italian surgeon who co-founded the humanitarian group Emergency to provide medical care for civilian victims of war and poverty in many countries, and was a fierce critic of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Aug. 13.
Nanci Griffith, 68. The Grammy-winning folk singer-songwriter from Texas whose literary songs like "Love at the Five and Dime" celebrated the South. Aug. 13.
James Hormel, 88. The first openly gay U.S. ambassador and a philanthropist who funded organizations to fight AIDS and promote human rights. Aug. 13.
Sonny Chiba, 82. The Japanese actor who wowed the world with his martial arts skills in more than 100 films. Aug. 19.
James W. Loewen, 79. His million-selling "Lies My Teacher Told Me" books challenged traditional ideas and knowledge on everything from Thanksgiving to the Iraq War. Aug. 19.
Tom T. Hall, 85. The singer-songwriter who composed "Harper Valley P.T.A." and sang about life’s simple joys as country music’s consummate blue collar bard. Aug. 20.
Don Everly, 84. He was one-half of the pioneering Everly Brothers whose harmonizing country rock hits affected a generation of rock ‘n’ roll music. Aug. 21.
Charlie Watts, 80. The self-effacing Rolling Stones drummer who helped anchor one of rock’s greatest rhythm sections and used his "day job" to support his enduring love of jazz. Aug. 24.
Hissene Habre, 79. Chad’s former dictator, he was the first former head of state to be convicted of crimes against humanity by an African court after his government was accused of killing 40,000 people. Aug. 24.
Akis Tsochadzopoulos, 82. A once prominent Greek socialist politician who held nearly a dozen ministerial positions over two decades but later fell from grace, was convicted and imprisoned in one of Greece’s highest profile corruption trials. Aug. 27.
Ed Asner, 91. The burly and prolific character actor who became a star in middle age as the gruff but lovable newsman Lou Grant, first in the hit comedy "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and later in the drama "Lou Grant." Aug. 29.
Michael Constantine, 94. An Emmy Award-winning character actor who reached worldwide fame playing the Windex bottle-toting father of the bride in the 2002 film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Aug. 31.
Syed Ali Geelani, 91. An icon of disputed Kashmir’s resistance against Indian rule and a top separatist leader who became the emblem of the region’s defiance against New Delhi. Sept. 1.
Mikis Theodorakis, 96. The beloved Greek composer whose rousing music and life of political defiance won acclaim abroad and inspired millions at home. Sept. 2.
George M. Strickler Jr., 80. A civil rights attorney who fought to desegregate Southern schools in the 1960s and was pushed out of his University of Mississippi teaching job amid uproar over his work on behalf of Black clients. Sept. 2.
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Saeed al-Hakim, 85. One of Iraq’s most senior and influential Muslim Shiite clerics. Sept. 3.
Willard Scott, 87. The beloved weatherman who charmed viewers of NBC’s "Today" show with his self-deprecating humor and cheerful personality. Sept. 4.
Jean-Paul Belmondo, 88. Star of the iconic French New Wave film "Breathless," whose crooked boxer’s nose and rakish grin went on to make him one of the country’s most recognizable leading men. Sept. 6.
Sunil Perera, 68. A singer and musician who entertained generations of Sri Lankans with captivating songs, but won their minds and hearts with his outspoken comments against social injustice, corruption, racism and suppression of democracy. Sept. 6. Complications from COVID—19.
Elizabeth Ireland McCann, 90. A Tony Award-winning producer who helped mount an astounding array of hits on Broadway and in London, including "The Elephant Man," "Morning’s at Seven," "Amadeus," "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby" and "Copenhagen." Sept. 9. Cancer.
Abimael Guzmán, 86. The leader of the brutal Shining Path insurgency in Peru who was captured in 1992. Sept. 11.
The Rev. Cho Yong-gi, 85. His founding of South Korea’s biggest church was a symbol of the postwar growth of Christianity in the country before that achievement was tainted by corruption and other scandals. Sept. 14.
Norm Macdonald, 61. A comedian and former "Saturday Night Live" writer and performer who was "Weekend Update" host when Bill Clinton and O.J. Simpson provided comic fodder during the 1990s. Sept. 14.
Jane Powell, 92. The bright-eyed, operatic-voiced star of Hollywood’s golden age musicals who sang with Howard Keel in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and danced with Fred Astaire in "Royal Wedding." Sept. 16.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 84. A former Algerian president who fought for independence from France, reconciled his conflict-ravaged nation and was then ousted amid pro-democracy protests in 2019 after two decades in power. Sept. 17.
George Holliday, 61. The Los Angeles plumber who shot grainy video of four white police officers beating Black motorist Rodney King in 1991. Sept. 19. Complications of COVID-19.
Hussein Tantawi, 85. The Egyptian general who took charge of the country when longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down amid the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Sept. 21.
Melvin Van Peebles, 89. The groundbreaking filmmaker, playwright and musician whose work ushered in the "blaxploitation" wave of the 1970s and influenced filmmakers long after. Sept. 21.
Theoneste Bagosora, 80. A former Rwandan army colonel regarded as the architect of the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and Hutus who tried to protect them were killed. Sept. 25.
George Frayne, 77. As leader of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, he enjoyed a cult following in the 1970s with such party and concert favorites as "Hot Rod Lincoln" and "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)." Sept. 26.
Bobby Zarem, 84. A tireless, relentless entertainment publicist, with a client list that read like a Who’s Who of a certain era: Cher, Diana Ross, Dustin Hoffman, ??Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Ann-Margret, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and more. Sept. 26.
Michael Renzi, 80. During a storied musical career, he worked with Peggy Lee, Mel Tormé, Lena Horne and some of the other biggest names in jazz and pop, and for years was also the musical director of "Sesame Street." Sept. 29.
Umar Sharif, 66. One of Pakistan’s most beloved comedians. Oct. 2.
Todd Akin, 74. A conservative Missouri Republican whose comment that women’s bodies have a way of avoiding pregnancies in cases of "legitimate rape" sunk his bid for the U.S. Senate and became a cautionary tale for other GOP candidates. Oct. 3.
Bernard Tapie, 78. A flamboyant businessman who was beloved by sports fans for leading French soccer club Marseille to glory but also dogged by legal battles and corruption investigations. Oct. 3.
Lars Vilks, 75. A Swedish artist who had lived under police protection since making a sketch of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body in 2007. Oct. 3. Killed in a car crash along with two police bodyguards.
Alan Kalter, 78. The quirky, red-headed announcer for David Letterman for two decades who frequently appeared in the show’s comedy bits. Oct. 4.
Abolhassan Banisadr, 88. Iran’s first president after the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution who fled Tehran after being impeached for challenging the growing power of clerics as the nation became a theocracy. Oct. 9.
Abdul Qadeer Khan, 85. A controversial figure known as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb. Oct. 10.
Megan Rice, 91. A nun and Catholic peace activist who spent two years in federal prison while in her 80s after breaking into a government security complex to protest nuclear weapons. Oct. 10.
Eddie Jaku, 101. A Holocaust survivor who published his best-selling memoir, "The Happiest Man on Earth." Oct. 12.
Hubert Germain, 101. The last of an elite group of decorated French Resistance fighters who helped liberate France from Nazi control in World War II. Oct. 12.
Ronnie Tutt, 83. A legendary drummer who spent years playing alongside Elvis Presley and teamed up with other superstars ranging from Johnny Cash to Stevie Nicks. Oct. 16.
Betty Lynn, 95. The film and television actor who was best known for her role as Barney Fife’s sweetheart Thelma Lou on "The Andy Griffith Show." Oct. 16.
Colin Powell, 84. The trailblazing soldier and diplomat whose sterling reputation of service to Republican and Democratic presidents was stained by his faulty claims to justify the 2003 U.S. war in Iraq. Oct. 18.
Jerry Pinkney, 81. A prize-winning children’s book illustrator known for his richly textured images of Black life, fables and fairy tales in works ranging from "The Lion and the Mouse" to "The Sunday Outing." Oct. 20.
Peter Scolari, 66. A versatile character actor whose television roles included a yuppie producer on "Newhart" and a closeted dad on "Girls" and who was on Broadway with longtime friend Tom Hanks in "Lucky Guy." Oct. 22.
Sunao Tsuboi, 96. A survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing who made opposing nuclear weapons the message of his life, including in a meeting with President Barack Obama in 2016. Oct. 24.
Roh Tae-woo, 88. The former South Korean president was a major player in a 1979 coup who later became president in a landmark democratic election before ending his tumultuous political career in prison. Oct. 26.
Mort Sahl, 94. A satirist who helped revolutionize stand-up comedy during the Cold War with his running commentary on politicians and current events and became a favorite of a new, restive generation of Americans. Oct. 26.
A. Linwood Holton Jr., 98. Virginia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction and a crusader against racial discrimination. Oct. 28.
Aaron T. Beck, 100. A groundbreaking psychotherapist regarded as the father of cognitive therapy. Nov. 1.
Sabah Fakhri, 88. One of the Arab world’s most famous singers, he entertained generations with traditional songs and preserved nearly extinct forms of Arabic music. Nov. 2.
Ruth Ann Minner, 86. A sharecropper’s daughter who became the only woman to serve as Delaware’s governor. Nov. 4.
Marília Mendonça, 26. She was one of Brazil’s most popular singers and a Latin Grammy winner. Nov. 5. Airplane crash.
Dean Stockwell, 85. A top Hollywood child actor who gained new success in middle age in the sci-fi series "Quantum Leap" and in a string of indelible performances in film, including David Lynch’s "Blue Velvet," Wim Wenders’ "Paris, Texas" and Jonathan Demme’s "Married to the Mob." Nov. 7.
Max Cleland, 79. He lost three limbs to a hand grenade in Vietnam and later became a groundbreaking Veterans Administration chief and U.S. senator from Georgia until an attack ad questioning his patriotism derailed his reelection. Nov. 9. Congestive heart failure.
Jakucho Setouchi, 99. A Buddhist nun and one of Japan’s best-known authors famous for novels depicting passionate women and her translation of "The Tale of Genji," a 1,000-year-old classic, into modern language. Nov. 9.
Jerry Douglas, 88. He played handsome family patriarch John Abbott on "The Young and the Restless" for more than 30 years. Nov. 9.
F.W. de Klerk, 85. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela and as South Africa’s last apartheid president oversaw the end of the country’s white minority rule. Nov. 11.
William Sterling Cary, 94. A pioneering minister and civil rights activist who was the first Black person in prominent church leadership roles, including president of the National Council of Churches. Nov. 14.
Ardeshir Zahedi, 93. Iran’s flamboyant ambassador to the United States during the rule of the shah who charmed both Hollywood stars and politicians with his lavish parties until the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Nov. 18.
Chun Doo-hwan, 90. A former South Korean military strongman who seized power in a 1979 coup and brutally crushed pro-democracy protests before going to prison for misdeeds while in office. Nov. 23.
Stephen Sondheim, 91. The songwriter who reshaped the American musical theater in the second half of the 20th century with his intelligent, intricately rhymed lyrics, his use of evocative melodies and his willingness to tackle unusual subjects. Nov. 26.
Phil Saviano, 69. A clergy sex abuse survivor and whistleblower who played a pivotal role in exposing decades of predatory assaults by Roman Catholic priests in the United States. Nov. 28.
Lee Elder, 87. He broke down racial barriers as the first Black golfer to play in the Masters and paved the way for Tiger Woods and others to follow. Nov. 28.
Virgil Abloh, 41. A leading designer whose groundbreaking fusions of streetwear and high couture made him one of the most celebrated tastemakers in fashion and beyond. Nov. 28. Cancer.
David Gulpilil, 68. Australia’s most acclaimed Indigenous actor. Nov. 29.
Arlene Dahl, 96. The actor whose charm and striking red hair shone in such Technicolor movies of the 1950s as "Journey to the Center of the Earth" and "Three Little Words." Nov. 29.
Antony Sher, 72. One of the most acclaimed Shakespearean actors of his generation. Dec. 2.
Bob Dole, 98. He overcame disabling war wounds to become a sharp-tongued Senate leader, a Republican presidential candidate and then a symbol of his dwindling generation of World War II veterans. Dec. 5.
Lina Wertmueller, 93. Italy’s provocative filmmaker whose mix of sex and politics in "Swept Away" and "Seven Beauties" made her the first woman nominated for an Academy Award for directing. Dec. 9.
Al Unser, 82. One of only four drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 a record four times. Dec. 9.
Michael Nesmith, 78. The singer-songwriter, author, actor-director and entrepreneur who will likely be best remembered as the wool-hatted, guitar-strumming member of the made-for-television rock band The Monkees. Dec. 10.
Anne Rice, 80. The novelist whose lush, best-selling gothic tales, including "Interview With the Vampire," reinvented the blood-drinking immortals as tragic antiheroes. Dec. 11.
Vicente Fernández, 81. An iconic and beloved singer of regional Mexican music who was awarded three Grammys and nine Latin Grammys and inspired a new generation of performers, including his son, Alejandro Fernández. Dec. 12.
bell hooks, 69. The groundbreaking author, educator and activist whose explorations of how race, gender, economics and politics intertwined helped shape academic and popular debates over the past 40 years. Dec. 15.
Eve Babitz, 78. The Hollywood bard, muse and reveler who with warmth and candor chronicled the excesses of her native world in the 1960s and 1970s and became a cult figure to generations of readers. Dec. 17. Complications from Huntington’s disease.
Johnny Isakson, 76. An affable Georgia Republican politician who rose from the ranks of the state legislature to become a U.S. senator known as an effective behind-the-scenes consensus builder. Dec. 19.
Joan Didion, 87. The revered author and essayist whose social and personal commentary in such classics as "The White Album" and "The Year of Magical Thinking" made her a clear-eyed critic of turbulent times. Dec. 23.
Desmond Tutu, 90. South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning icon, an uncompromising foe of apartheid and a modern-day activist for racial justice and LGBT rights. Dec. 26.
Sarah Weddington, 76. A Texas lawyer who as a 26-year-old successfully argued the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade before the U.S. Supreme Court. Dec. 26.
Edward O. Wilson, 92. The pioneering Harvard biologist who advanced the provocative theory that human behavior such as war and altruism has a genetic basis and warned against the decline of ecosystems. Dec. 26.
John Madden, 85. The Hall of Fame coach turned broadcaster whose exuberant calls combined with simple explanations provided a weekly soundtrack to NFL games for three decades. Dec. 28.
Harry Reid, 82. The former U.S. Senate majority leader from Nevada, widely acknowledged as one of toughest dealmakers in Congress. Dec. 28. Pancreatic cancer.
Betty White, 99. Her saucy, up-for-anything charm made her a television mainstay for more than 60 years, whether as a man-crazy TV host on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” or the loopy housemate on “The Golden Girls.” Dec. 31.