Vernon Jordan, activist, former Clinton adviser, dies at 85
ATLANTA | Vernon Jordan, who rose from humble beginnings in the segregated South to become a champion of civil rights before reinventing himself as a Washington insider and corporate influencer, has died at the age of 85.
His niece, Ann Walker Marchant, confirmed Tuesday that he died peacefully Monday night.
Former President Bill Clinton remembered Jordan as someone who "never gave up on his friends or his country."
Jordan "brought his big brain and strong heart to everything and everybody he touched. And he made them better," Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said in the statement.
His friendship with Clinton took them both to the White House. Jordan was an unofficial aide to Clinton, drawing him into controversy during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
After serving as field secretary for the Georgia NAACP and executive director of the United Negro College Fund, Jordan headed the National Urban League, becoming the face of Black America's modern struggle for jobs and justice for more than a decade. He was nearly killed by a racist's bullet in 1980 before transitioning to business and politics.
President Joe Biden remembered Jordan as a foot soldier for civil rights. "Vernon Jordan knew the soul of America, in all of its goodness and all of its unfulfilled promise. And he knew the work was far from over," Biden said in a statement.
Former President Barack Obama said that "like so many others, Michelle and I benefited from Vernon Jordan's wise counsel and warm friendship — and deeply admired his tireless fight for civil rights."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday on Twitter that "Jordan's leadership took our nation closer to its Founding promise: all are created equal."
Jordan's death comes months after the deaths of two other civil rights icons: U.S. Rep. John Lewis and C.T. Vivian.
After growing up in the Jim Crow South and living much of his life in a segregated America, Jordan took a strategic view of race issues.
"My view on all this business about race is never to get angry, no, but to get even," Jordan said in a New York Times interview in 2000. "You don't take it out in anger; you take it out in achievement."
Jordan was the first lawyer to head the Urban League, which had traditionally been led by social workers. Under his leadership, the Urban League added 17 more chapters and its budget swelled to more than $100 million. The organization also broadened its focus to include voter registration drives and conflict resolution between Blacks and law enforcement.
He resigned from the Urban League in 1982 to become a partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld.
Jordan was a key campaign adviser to Clinton during his first presidential campaign and co-chaired Clinton's transition team.
His friendship with Clinton, which began in the 1970s, evolved into a partnership and political alliance. He met Clinton as a young politician in Arkansas, and the two connected over their Southern roots and poor upbringings.
Although Jordan held held no official role in the Clinton White House, he was highly influential and had such labels as the "first friend." He approached Colin Powell about becoming Secretary of State and encouraged Clinton to approve the NAFTA agreement in 1993. Jordan also secured a job at Revlon for Lewinsky, a White House intern whose sexual encounters with the president spawned a scandal.
Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr., was born in Atlanta on Aug. 15, 1935, the second of Vernon and Mary Belle Jordan's three sons. Until Jordan was 13, the family lived in public housing. But he was exposed to Atlanta's elite through his mother, who worked as a caterer for many of the city's affluent citizens.
Jordan went to DePauw University in Indiana, where he was the only Black student in his class and one of five at the college. Distinguishing himself through academics, oratory and athletics, he graduated in 1957 with a bachelor's degree in political science and went on to attend Howard University School of Law in Washington. While there, he married his first wife, Shirley Yarbrough.
The young couple moved to Atlanta after Jordan earned his law degree in 1960, and Jordan became a clerk for civil rights attorney Donald Hollowell, who successfully represented two Black students — Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter — attempting to integrate the University of Georgia. In an iconic photograph, Jordan — an imposing 6 feet, 4 inches — is seen holding at bay the white mob that tried to block Hunter from starting her first day of classes.
In 1961, Jordan became Georgia field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. During his two years in the role, Jordan built new chapters, coordinated demonstrations and boycotted businesses that would not employ Blacks.
Jordan moved to Arkansas in 1964 and went into private practice. He also became director of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council. During his tenure, millions of new Blacks joined the voter rolls and hundreds of Blacks were elected in the South.
Jordan considered running for Georgia's fifth congressional district seat in 1970, but was tapped that year to head the United Negro College Fund. Holding the position for just 12 months, Jordan used his fundraising skills to fill the organization's coffers with $10 million to help students at historically Black colleges and universities.
In 1971, after the death of Whitney Young Jr., Jordan was named the fifth president of the National Urban League.
The high-profile position landed him in the crosshairs of a racist in May 1980 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Jordan was shot with a hunter's rifle outside his hotel after returning from dinner.
Jordan had five surgeries and was visited by President Jimmy Carter during his 3-month recovery in the hospital.
"I'm not afraid and I won't quit," Jordan told Ebony magazine after the shooting.
Joseph Paul Franklin, an avowed white supremacist who targeted Blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980, later admitted to shooting Jordan. He was never prosecuted in Jordan's case, but was put to death in 2013 for another slaying in Missouri.
Jordan left the organization in 1981, but said his departure was unrelated to the shooting.
Jordan's first wife died in 1985. He married Ann Dibble Cook in 1986.
In 2000, Jordan joined the New York investment firm of Lazard Freres & Co. as a senior managing partner. The following year, he released an autobiography, "Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir."
He has received more than 55 honorary degrees, including ones from both of his alma maters and sat on several boards of directors.
"He became the model for boards of directors; sitting on countless boards," The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said Tuesday on Twitter. "He became a renowned international lawyer. I miss him so much already."
Walter Gretzky, father of NHL star Wayne Gretzky, dies at 82
TORONTO | Walter Gretzky, the father of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, has died. He was 82.
Wayne Gretzky said in a social media post Thursday night that his father battled Parkinson's disease and other health issues the past few years.
"It's with deep sadness that Janet and I share the news of the passing of my dad," Wayne Gretzky said. "He bravely battled Parkinson's and other health issues these last few years, but he never let it get him down.
"For me, he was the reason I fell in love with the game of hockey. He inspired me to be the best I could be not just in the game of hockey, but in life."
Walter Gretzky became a name himself, a constant in Wayne's world. As Wayne's star ascended, Walter remained a blue-collar symbol of a devoted hockey parent in a country filled with them.
The two were also often intertwined, their father-son story used in commercials from Tim Hortons to Coca-Cola. And following in the footsteps of Alexander Graham Bell, they made Brantford, Ontario, famous.
Walter was celebrated for far more than just fathering a superstar, however. His down-to-earth, no-airs approach to life and devotion to his family struck a chord with Canadians.
"Sometimes, I swear to you, I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming," Walter wrote in his 2001 autobiography "Walter Gretzky. On Family, Hockey and Healing." "Wayne says the same thing."
Walter's celebrity status increased after making a remarkable recovery from a stroke suffered in 1991. His autobiography and a 2005 made-for-TV movie told the story.
Walter Gretzky was the son of immigrants — a Polish mother and Russian father — who started a vegetable farm in 1932 in Canning, Ontario, just outside Brantford, on the Nith River, where Wayne learned to skate when he was two. They bought it for $600.
Walter played minor hockey in Paris, Ontario, then junior B for four years in Woodstock. He went on to play some senior hockey, but said he wasn't good enough to play pro.
Walter met Phyllis, his wife to be, at a wiener roast at the family farm. She was 15 at the time. Three years later, they got married. Phyllis died of lung cancer in 2005.
Wayne was the first born in 1961, followed by Kim, Keith, Glen and Brent. Keith and Brent also played professional hockey.
The same year as Wayne was born, Walter fractured his skull in a work accident as a Bell lineman. He spent some time in a coma and was off work for 18 months. Left deaf in his right ear, he was eventually transferred to another Bell department and became an installer/repairman.
The winter when Wayne was four, his father turned the backyard of their Brantford home into a rink that young Wayne called The Wally Coliseum.
Walter decided to make his own rink to avoid having to freeze standing outdoors at some outdoor rink elsewhere — or sit in his car with the engine running to get some heat — while Wayne skated. Gas was too expensive, he said.
"It truly, truly was self-preservation," he explained.
Walter fed his eldest child's obsession, recruiting bigger kids for Wayne to practice against in the backyard rink, and finding him a spot on a team of 10-year-olds when he was six.
"You knew he was good at his age at what he was doing," Walter said in a 2016 interview. "But to say that one day he'd do what he did, you couldn't say that. Nobody could."
Wayne recalled crying after that first year of organized hockey when he didn't get a trophy at the year-end banquet.
"Wayne, keep practicing and one day you're going have so many trophies we're not going to have room for them all," his dad said.
Walter drove one old blue Chevy station wagon after another — calling each the Blue Goose. He called it a "reliable car for a family of seven."
Wayne bought his father a blue Cadillac for his parents' 25th wedding anniversary.
Walter was a much sought-after speaker by groups organizing sports awards dinners, and he worked tirelessly as national spokesman for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. He was named to the Order of Canada in 2007.
In 2010, Walter carried the Olympic torch on the last day of the Olympic relay in the leadup to the opening ceremonies in Vancouver, where Wayne lit the Olympic flame.
He was 53 when he suffered his stroke, just a few months into retirement after 34 years at Bell. He wasn't expected to live through the night. But he did, and it changed his life.
He lost much of his memory and it took time to get snippets of it back.
"Those were dark times," he wrote about the early days after the stroke, "and I wouldn't want to go back there for anything in the world. It's an awful thing not to know who or where you are, to feel confused and hopeless and not know whether you are ever going to be able to do all the things your used to to."
Hockey helped his recovery as he started working with kids in the Brantford Minor Hockey Association. The four- and five-year-olds used to call him Wally.
In his remaining years, he was more outgoing and carefree. After one game when his minor hockey team was downcast, he invited everyone to his home to see Wayne's memorabilia. There were 61 of them. He also became an avid golfer.
He'd been a hyper chain-smoker before the stroke. He gave that up, while devoting more of his time to worthwhile causes.
'"I really don't like to sit still for too long," he said. "I'm most comfortable when I'm active."
Walter also is survived by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Former Florida chief justice Gerald Kogan dies at 87
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. | Former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald Kogan has died, a court spokesman said Friday. He was 87, and known as a champion of opening public access to legal proceedings.
Kogan, who died Thursday, was appointed to the high court in 1987 by then-Republican Gov. Bob Martinez. He was chief justice of the court from 1996 to 1998, after which he went into private practice of law.
Among other things, Kogan was known for an "Access Initiative" intended to use the internet to make courts more open to the public. One of Kogan's ideas was to make state Supreme Court oral arguments available over the internet.
"These are practices now standard around the nation but novel when he pioneered them," said court spokesman Craig Waters in an email.
Ex-Justice James Celebrezze dies at 83; served with brother
COLUMBUS, Ohio | A former Ohio Supreme Court justice who was part of the court's first sibling pair has died. James Patrick Celebrezze was 83.
Celebrezze started on the court in 1983, while his older brother, the late Frank D. Celebrezze, was chief justice, serving until 1985.
He said last year that the family dynamic on the court reminded him of home life with his "big brother."
"It was an experience. I had to watch my p's and q's. If not, I'd hear about it," Celebrezze told former Justice Patrick Fischer as part of an oral history project on the court.
The court said James Celebrezze died Feb. 10. According to his family, the cause was heart and kidney failure.
Born in Cleveland in 1938, Celebrezze was an Army veteran, teacher, city law director and 10-year state representative. He held degrees from Ohio State University and Cleveland-Marshall School of Law.
Besides being a justice, he served as a military judge in the Navy and on the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court and the 8th District Court of Appeals.
Celebrezze authored one of his most significant opinions in 1984. It said that gradually acquired workplace injuries, and not just "sudden mishaps," could qualify people for workers' compensation disability benefits.
Larry Wahl, spokesman for Yankees, Orange Bowl, dead at 67
MIAMI | Larry Wahl, a vice president of the Orange Bowl and a former New York Yankees media relations head under George Steinbrenner, has died. He was 67.
Wahl died Wednesday at his home in Pompano Beach, Florida, son Alexander Wahl said Thursday. He had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2018.
"Larry was truly one of the good guys," longtime Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms said. "There is a void for all of us."
A 1975 graduate of Penn with a master's degree in sports administration from Ohio University, Wahl interned for the NFL's New York Jets in 1976-77.
He worked for the Yankees from 1977-81 and was media relations director from 1979-80, following Bob Fishel (1973-74), Marty Appel (1974-76) and Mickey Morabito (1977-78) in a quick succession.
Wahl was the team's chief spokesman at the time of captain Thurman Munson's death during a 1979 crash while Munson piloted a private plane.
Wahl left the Yankees in 1981 for ABC Sports and was followed by Irv Kaze.
Wahl moved to Cablevision's SportsChannel as director of marketing in 1984. He relocated to Florida and joined the University of Miami as senior athletic director in 1988.
He joined Sportsline as director of communications and investor relations in 1998 and the Glasure Group as senior vice president in 2005. After a year as owner of Total Dock Care from 2006-07, he joined the Orange Bowl as vice president of communications in September 2007.
He pared back his work schedule in 2020 because of health issues but still was part of the transition to a new communications staff before officially retiring in January.
"He was without a doubt the greatest, and the outreach we have all received here at the Orange Bowl has been tremendous," said Mike Liotta, who succeeded Wahl as Orange Bowl communications director.
Wahl was divorced. In addition to his son, he is survived by a daughter, Mindy Darwish.
A private funeral is being planned, and burial will take place at Wildwood Cemetery in WIlliamsport, Pa.
Bunny Wailer, reggae luminary, dies in Jamaica at age 73
KINGSTON, Jamaica | Bunny Wailer, a reggae luminary who was the last surviving founding member of the legendary group The Wailers, died on Tuesday in his native Jamaica. He was 73.
Wailer, a baritone singer whose birth name is Neville Livingston, formed The Wailers in 1963 with late superstars Bob Marley and Peter Tosh when they lived in a slum in the capital of Kingston. They catapulted to international fame with the album, "Catch a Fire" and also helped popularize Rastafarian culture among better-off Jamaicans starting in the 1970s.
"Jah-B was a vanguard, always pushing the boundaries of expression, whether in song, in style or in spoken word," said Brian Paul Welsh, manager for the reggae musician known as Blvk H3ro. "There was and can only ever be one Neville Livingston."
Wailer died at Andrews Memorial Hospital in the Jamaican parish of St. Andrew of complications from a stroke in July, manager Maxine Stowe told The Associated Press.
His death was mourned worldwide as people shared music, memories and pictures of the renowned artist.
"The passing of Bunny Wailer, the last of the original Wailers, brings to a close the most vibrant period of Jamaica's musical experience," wrote Jamaica politician Peter Phillips in a Facebook post. "Bunny was a good, conscious Jamaican brethren."
Jamaica's Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, also paid tribute to Wailer, calling him "a respected elder statesman of the Jamaican music scene," in a series of tweets.
"This is a great loss for Jamaica and for Reggae, undoubtedly Bunny Wailer will always be remembered for his sterling contribution to the music industry and Jamaica's culture," he wrote.
While Wailer toured the world, he was more at home in Jamaica's mountains and he enjoyed farming while writing and recording songs on his label, Solomonic.
"I think I love the country actually a little bit more than the city," Wailer told The Associated Press in 1989. "It has more to do with life, health and strength. The city takes that away sometimes. The country is good for meditation. It has fresh food and fresh atmosphere - that keeps you going."
A year before, in 1988, he had chartered a jet and flew to Jamaica with food to help those affected by Hurricane Gilbert.
"Sometimes people pay less attention to those things (food), but they turn out to be the most important things. I am a farmer," he told the AP.
He was the third and last original Wailer. Marley died in 1981 of a brain tumor at 36 years old and Tosh was fatally shot in Jamaica in 1987 at 42 years old.
Joe Altobelli, manager who led O's to '83 WS, dies at 88
BALTIMORE | Joe Altobelli, the manager who led the Baltimore Orioles to their most recent World Series title in 1983, died Wednesday. He was 88.
The Orioles confirmed Altobelli's death Wednesday, saying in a statement that the manager was a "tremendous leader."
Altobelli was hired by the Orioles before the 1983 season — replacing future Hall of Famer Earl Weaver — and immediately found success. The team's roster included future Hall of Famers like first baseman Eddie Murray, shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. and pitcher Jim Palmer.
The balanced club won the AL East by six games over the Detroit Tigers and then dominated in the playoffs, beating the Chicago White Sox 3 games to 1 before rolling to the World Series title over the Philadelphia Phillies in five games.
"A tremendous leader, Altobelli's compassion, skill and baseball expertise contributed to the Hall of Fame careers of Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, and Cal Ripken Jr.," the Orioles said in a statement. "We send our sympathies to Altobelli's family and many friends throughout the game."
Altobelli managed the Orioles three seasons, then was fired after a 29-26 start in 1985. He also managed the San Francisco Giants from 1977-79. He led the Chicago Cubs for one game as the interim manager in 1991.
The 1978 Giants managed by Altobelli went 89-73 for their first record above .500 since 1973 — winning 42 one-run games in the process for the highest single-season total in MLB history.
"In 1978 we got off to a really good start and were in first place until sometime in August," recalled John Montefusco, a player for Altobelli then. "I thought we really had a shot at it and it was all because of Joe.
"He was a good guy. He'd talk to you, sit down with you and go over things with you. We had a lot in common. I really liked him. He brought a calm to the team and everyone liked him. He brought chemistry to the club, was a lot of fun to be around and he'd joke with us all the time."
Altobelli had a career record of 437-407. He also had a successful stretch as the Orioles' Triple-A manager from 1971-76, when the Rochester Red Wings won two International League championships.
A former infielder and outfielder, Altobelli played in three big league seasons during a span from 1955-61. He spent two of those years with Cleveland and one with Minnesota. He had a career batting average of .210 with five homers and 28 RBIs in 166 games.
"Joe Altobelli's leadership was one of the key factors for the Giants' success in 1978, which rekindled excitement for Giants baseball in the Bay Area," Giants CEO Larry Baer said.
Altobelli was born on May 26, 1932, in Detroit.
Widow of Dallas officer slain by Lee Harvey Oswald dies
DALLAS | Marie Tippit, the widow of the Dallas police officer killed by Lee Harvey Oswald about 45 minutes after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, has died. She was 92.
Tippit died Tuesday at a hospital in the East Texas city of Sulphur Springs after being diagnosed with pneumonia following a positive test for COVID-19, said her son, Curtis Tippit, 62. He said his mother also suffered from congestive heart failure.
Stephen Fagin, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which tells the story of Kennedy's assassination in downtown Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, said Tippit was "one of our last direct links to the personal pain and tragedy of the assassination."
"She was this quiet reminder that the assassination, the pain of that memory, can still be felt right up to the present day," Fagin said.
At about 1:15 p.m. that day, Officer J.D. Tippit, was on patrol in a neighborhood just southwest of downtown when he spotted a man walking down the street that met the description of the shooting suspect.
Moments later, Tippit got out of his patrol car and Oswald opened fire, killing Tippit. Oswald, who was arrested a short time later at the Texas Theatre, was killed two days later by nightclub owner Jack Ruby during a police transfer.
Marie Tippit told The Associated Press in 2013 that it was "just remarkable that I kept going" after her husband's death.
"Without God's help, I wouldn't have because I just couldn't picture how we were going to live without him," said Tippit, who was 35 when her husband was killed. "I just couldn't figure that out."
"I had three children that needed their dad, but he wasn't there anymore."
On the day he was killed, J.D. Tippit had broken from his usual routine and ate lunch at home, where his wife fried some potatoes and made a sandwich for him.
"I kissed him bye, not realizing that would be the last time I would see him, but I felt the Lord really blessed by letting him come by that one last time," she told the AP.
J.D. Tippit, 39, had been an officer for 11 years when he was killed. He and Marie, who both grew up in the same area of northeast Texas, were married Dec. 26, 1946, after he returned from World War II, where he served as paratrooper in the U.S. Army.
"He was a great family man," Marie Tippit said. "He loved his work. He felt that he was helping."
Her family said in a statement that "as much as you want to make her life a tragic story, you can't because her countenance was joyful, thankful and generous."
"She wanted to give, not be given to, she wanted to reach out and befriend, not wait to be befriended. She wanted to pray for you, not you pray for her," the family statement said.
Rick Janich, family friend and a retired Dallas police officer, said Marie Tippit helped raise funds for families of officers who had been killed, and also offered them advice.
"She would always spend time with them and just tell them: 'You're going to be OK. You're going to be OK,'" Janich said.
"She lived 57 years after losing the love of her life," Janich said. "She wanted to keep strong for her family and kept her faith in God."
Marie Tippit married twice after J.D. Tippit was killed. Her second husband died of cancer and her third marriage ended in divorce.
Her oldest son Allan, died in 2014 at the age of 64. She's survived by her son, Curtis, and daughter Brenda, 67.
In 2013, Marie Tippit spoke about a letter she received shortly after her husband's death from another young widow, Jacqueline Kennedy.
"She said that she had lit a flame for Jack and she was going to consider that it would burn for my husband, too, that it would burn forever," Tippit said.
Head of Poland's Shakespeare theater, Jerzy Limon, dies
WARSAW, Poland | Jerzy Limon, a Polish academic who was honored by Queen Elizabeth II for creating and directing a Shakespeare theater and festival in Poland, has died of COVID-19. He was 70.
Magdalena Hajdysz, a spokeswoman for the Gdansk Shakespeare Theater, said Limon died at a hospital in Gdansk in northern Poland.
Limon was a professor, a translator and writer specializing in Shakespeare and Elizabethan theater. He taught at the Gdansk University and, as visitor, at New York's Hunter College, Washington's Shakespeare Institute and at the University of Delaware and the University of Colorado.
He was the creator of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theater, a replica of an Elizabethan-era theater which opened in 2014. Britain's Prince Charles and Poland's Oscar-winning movie director Andrzej Wajda were patrons of the project, and Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, took a tour of the theater with Limon in 2017.
Actors from around the world staged Shakespeare's plays and those by his contemporaries at the theater, and an annual festival was launched in 2017.
In 2014, Limon was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Liverpool great Ian St. John dies at 82
LIVERPOOL, England | Ian St. John, a Liverpool great who scored the winning goal to give the club its first FA Cup title and was a key player in the rebuild under Bill Shankly in the 1960s, has died. He was 82.
St. John died Monday following a long illness, his family said in a statement released by Liverpool on Tuesday.
St. John, a Scotland international who later fronted the popular British TV show "Saint and Greavsie" alongside another former player, Jimmy Greaves, played 425 games for Liverpool from 1961-71 and scored 118 goals.
No goal was more important than the one the forward scored in extra time to clinch a 2-1 win for Liverpool over Leeds in the 1965 FA Cup final.
St. John joined for a club-record fee from Scottish team Motherwell while Liverpool was in the second division and, alongside Ron Yeats, was part of the spine of a team which earned promotion under Shankly then won the English league title in 1964 and '66.
Liverpool called St. John a "legend" and described his FA Cup final winner against Leeds as "one of the most iconic goals in Liverpool's history."
"One of the players along with Bill Shankly who made this club what it is today," former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher wrote on Twitter.
St. John, who also played for English clubs Coventry and Tranmere and later managed Motherwell and Portsmouth, scored nine goals in 21 appearances for Scotland's national team.
"A fantastic guy," said Steven Gerrard, a former Liverpool midfielder who currently manages Scottish club Rangers. "Really insightful in terms of his career and experience at Liverpool and trying to pass on a lot of knowledge and expertise."
Father of boy who stole show at '13 Huskers spring game dies
ATKINSON, Neb. | Andy Hoffman, father of the young cancer patient who captured the hearts of college football fans when he ran for a touchdown in Nebraska's 2013 spring game, died after a seven-month battle with brain cancer.
The Team Jack Foundation announced Andy died at home on Monday. He was 42.
Hoffman started the foundation to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research after his son, Jack, was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. More than $8.3 million has been raised.
The Hoffman family loves Nebraska football, and former running back Rex Burkhead befriended Jack in 2012. The little boy was a surprise participant in the Cornhuskers' spring game the following spring.
Wearing a miniature Burkhead uniform complete with a No. 22 jersey, Jack took a handoff from Taylor Martinez and followed a wall of blockers down the field.
Players left the sidelines to accompany him into the end zone, and they mobbed him and lifted him on their shoulders after his 69-yard touchdown.
The crowd of 60,000 cheered as Jack celebrated — a moment that left his father, Andy, misty-eyed on the sideline. The Hoffmans and Burkhead met with President Barack Obama two weeks later.
Andy was diagnosed with brain cancer last summer and underwent treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He contracted COVID-19 in February and was unable to continue chemotherapy treatments. His wife, Bri, wrote last week in a post on the Team Jack website that Andy's neurological symptoms were worsening.
Jack is now a 15-year-old high school freshman and his cancer is in remission.
St. Bonaventure president dies of COVID-19 complications
OLEAN, N.Y. | St. Bonaventure University President Dennis DePerro died Monday from complications of COVID-19, according to the university. He was 62.
DePerro was hospitalized since late December after testing positive for COVID-19 on Christmas Eve. The university said it's unknown how he contracted it. He had been on a ventilator since mid-January.
"Words simply can't convey the level of devastation our campus community feels right now," said Joseph Zimmer, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. Zimmer was named acting president of the private Franciscan university late last month in DePerro's absence.
The university flag will fly at half-staff through the end of March on the western New York campus, where the spring semester began Jan. 25 with about 85% of classes taking place in person.
DePerro became president on June 1, 2017, and implemented new strategies that increased freshmen enrollment. He launched the "A Bolder Bonaventure" capital campaign to fund the university's School of Health Professions and last year reconstituted a presidential commission to improve diversity, equity and inclusion on campus.
"What I'll miss more than anything was his uncanny ability to make you feel better even on your worst days. He had a unique gift," university spokesman Tom Missel said.
Before taking over at St. Bonaventure, DePerro, who was born in Buffalo, was the inaugural dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.
"Again, we experience how this dreaded virus has robbed us of so many dedicated, talented and cherished members of our community," Buffalo Bishop Michael Fisher said in a statement. "We hold Dr. DePerro and his family in our hearts with abiding gratitude for all that he made possible in his long and distinguished career."
DePerro is survived by his wife, Sherry, and their two sons.
Questions surround death of former NFL player Louis Nix III
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. | Louis Nix III, a standout nose guard at Notre Dame before being drafted into the NFL, has died in Florida after being missing for several days, but many questions linger about the circumstances of his death.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said the 29-year-old Nix was reported missing Wednesday. An update tweeted late Saturday said Nix had been located but didn't give any other details. An emailed request from The Associated Press for more information wasn't answered.
Nix's mother, Stephanie Wingfield, told multiple Jacksonville news outlets Sunday that authorities said her son died but haven't been able to tell her how.
Family members say his car was pulled out of a pond near his home Saturday. Video from local news stations shows crews removing a silver sedan from the water. The vehicle matches the description of the car authorities said Nix was possibly driving. It's unclear whether his body was inside.
"They said they couldn't give me any more information," Wingfield told WJXT-TV. In an interview with the Florida Times-Union, she said police said "it didn't look like foul play."
In December 2020, Nix was shot in an armed robbery while putting air in his tires at a Jacksonville gas station. He shared a video online as medics tended to him, saying that he had been shot. He later said online that he spent 10 days in the hospital before being released.
Nix received high praise during his time with the Fighting Irish and was touted as a possible first-round draft pick in 2014. He ultimately went in the third round to the Texans. He never played a game for Houston due to injuries and struggled to make an impact in the NFL before dropping out of the league in 2017.
Nicknamed "Irish Chocolate," Nix became a fan favorite while at Notre Dame. Asked about him in 2013, head coach Brian Kelly described Nix as "this big, jolly guy always hugging me and stuff."
During a news conference Monday, Kelly said the school and team was trying to piece together what happened to Nix.
"We can look back on his time here and know that there was a spirit, there was an energy," Kelly said. "There was a vibrant young man that passed through these hallways here. And that's what we choose to remember."
Kelly said he and others from the team had been in regular contact with Nix since the December shooting.
"He seemed to be in good spirits," Kelly said. "We weren't getting any negative reports in terms of where he was."
Nix's mother told WJAX-TV that his charisma carried on past his football career.
"People wanted autographs. He wasn't ever too busy, always gave an autograph. Always took time to talk to people," Wingfield said.
Funeral arrangements haven't been announced.
Irv Cross, NFL player, pioneer Black analyst, dies at 81
PHILADELPHIA | Irv Cross, the former NFL defensive back who became the first Black man to work full-time as a sports analyst on national television, died Sunday. He was 81.
The Philadelphia Eagles, the team Cross spent six of his nine NFL seasons with, said Cross' son, Matthew, confirmed his father died near his home in Roseville, Minnesota. The cause of death was not provided.
"All of us at CBS Sports are saddened by the news of Irv Cross' passing," CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said in a statement. "Irv was a pioneer who made significant contributions to the storied history and tradition of CBS Sports and, along with Phyllis George and Brent Musburger, set the standard for NFL pregame shows with `The NFL Today.' He was a true gentleman and a trail blazer in the sports television industry and will be remembered for his accomplishments and the paths he paved for those who followed."
From Hammond, Indiana, Cross starred in football and track and field at Northwestern. He was drafted in the seventh round by Philadelphia in 1961, was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 1966 and returned to the Eagles in 1969 as a player coach for his final season.
The two-time Pro Bowl cornerback had 22 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries, eight forced fumbles and a pair of defensive touchdowns. He also averaged 27.9 yards on kickoff returns and returned punts.
Cross joined CBS in 1971, becoming the first Black network sports show anchor. He left the network in 1994, and later served as athletic director at Idaho State and Macalester College in Minnesota. In 2009, he received the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award.
"Irv was one of the finest gentleman I've been with," Musburger tweeted. "We met at Northwestern where Irv played both ways for Coach (Ara) Parseghian, He later became my go-to mainstay on the NFL TODAY. No one ever had a bad thing to say about Irv. He led the way for African Americans to host NFL and other sports shows. Rest in peace my friend."
The eighth of 15 children, Cross is survived by wife Liz; children, Susan, Lisa, Matthew and Sarah; grandson Aiden; brothers Raymond, Teal and Sam; sisters Joan, Jackie, Julia, Pat, and Gwen.
Vi Ripken, mother of Cal Jr. and kidnap victim, dies at 82
ABERDEEN, Md. | Vi Ripken, matriarch of the famed Orioles family that includes Hall of Fame son Cal Ripken Jr. and once the victim of a bizarre kidnapping, has died. She was 82.
Family spokesman John Maroon said she died on Friday, a day before her birthday, in Aberdeen, where a youth stadium carries the Ripken name.
Violet and Cal Ripken Sr. married in 1957, and he spent four decades in the Baltimore system as a player, minor league coach and manager. He managed the Orioles in 1987 and early 1988, when sons Cal Jr. and Billy played infield for him.
"We want to thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of affection towards our mom and our family during this difficult time," the family said in a statement Monday.
"Mom was an incredible woman who touched so many people throughout her lifetime. The void that she leaves in our lives cannot be filled but what she gave us has shaped who we are today and our memories of her will last the rest of our lives," it said.
In 2012, police said she was kidnapped at gunpoint at her home in Aberdeen and driven around blindfolded by her abductor. She was found bound and unharmed about 24 hours later in her car near her home. The case was never solved.
Orioles great Jim Palmer called Vi Ripken "my Mom away from home" while playing for Cal Sr. in 1964.
"Always so supportive to all of us. A huge part of the Oriole family," the Hall of Fame pitcher posted on Twitter.
Vi Ripken was involved for many years in local and charitable organizations in the Maryland area.
"We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Vi Ripken," the Baltimore Ravens said in a statement. "The Ripkens are engrained in the fabric of the greater Baltimore community, and Vi played a significant role in helping establish their family's strong legacy. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her children and grandchildren during this sorrowful time."
She is survived by sons Cal Jr., Billy and Fred and daughter Elly. Grandson Ryan Ripken, a minor leaguer in the Baltimore system, played Sunday in the Orioles' exhibition game against Pittsburgh.
"The Orioles mourn the passing of Vi Ripken, beloved matriarch of the Ripken family. We send our condolences to Cal, Billy, Ryan, and their entire family during this incredibly difficult time," the team said in a statement.
Cal Sr. died in 1999.
Zlatko Kranjcar, former Croatia national team coach, dies
ZAGREB, Croatia | Zlatko Kranjcar, a former Croatia national team coach who led his team to the 2006 World Cup and also played internationally for Yugoslavia before the country's breakup, has died. He was 64.
The Croatian soccer association said Monday that Kranjcar died in a Zagreb hospital after a short and serious illness. Croatian media reported that Kranjcar died early Monday after he was hospitalized last month.
Kranjcar launched his career at Dinamo Zagreb in the 1970s, playing as a center forward. He later moved to Austrian club Rapid Vienna, where his career peaked.
Kranjcar also played for the Yugoslav national team and later served as the first captain for an unofficial Croatian national team in 1990. Croatia became independent in 1991 and played its first official match since the breakup in 1992.
Kranjcar coached the Croatian team from 2004-06, leading his country to the World Cup in Germany. Croatia finished third in its group behind Brazil and Australia and was eliminated.
Croatia's state HRT television described Kranjcar as "one of the best players in the history of Dinamo."
"Thank you for everything, for the memories, trophies, for creating Dinamo's great history, for soccer romance and most of all friendship and good spirit and warmth that you spread among all of us," Dinamo Zagreb wrote on its website.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in a message of condolences to the family that Kranjcar was "one of true greats of the Croatian soccer."
"The Croatian sports family has lost a true soccer icon," Plenkovic said.
Kranjcar has also coached a number of international clubs and foreign national teams.
Glenn Roeder, ex-Newcastle and West Ham manager, dies at 65
LONDON | Glenn Roeder, a former West Ham, Newcastle, Norwich and Watford manager, has died. He was 65.
Roeder, who also worked as a coach under England manager Glenn Hoddle at the 1998 World Cup, died after a long battle with a brain tumor, the League Managers' Association said Sunday.
"A cultured defender as a player, he managed with a studious style and was always generous with his time and ideas," LMA chairman Howard Wilkinson said.
"Glenn was such an unassuming, kind gentleman who demonstrated lifelong dedication to the game. Not one to court headlines, his commitment and application to his work at all levels warrants special mention."
Roeder played for Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle.
While in charge at West Ham in April 2003, Roeder, who had led the club to a seventh-place finish the season before in the Premier League, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
He had to undergo surgery and a period of recovery before returning to work in July of the same year.
"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our former manager Glenn Roeder," West Ham said. "The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Glenn's family and friends." Other clubs paid tributes to Roeder.
Former England striker Gary Lineker described Roeder as "a real football man who had a great career both on the field and in the dugout."
Roeder's last role in the game was as a managerial advisor at Stevenage in 2016.
As a player Roeder captained QPR in the 1982 FA Cup final against Tottenham, which QPR lost following a replay, and to the second-tier title in 1983.
At Newcastle he made 219 senior appearances in five years and also led the club to promotion from the second tier in 1984.
"He was one of the first footballing center-halves," Chris Waddle, a teammate of Roeder at Newcastle, told BBC Radio 5 Live. "He didn't just stand in defense heading it away and kicking it away, he wanted to play."
North Carolina-based mystery writer Maron dies at 82
RALEIGH, N.C. | Margaret Maron, a prolific North Carolina-based mystery writer whose book series won her major awards and plaudits in the genre, has died at age 82, a family member said on Sunday.
Maron died on Tuesday at a hospice center in Raleigh from stroke-related complications, according to her son, John Maron.
Maron is best known for the Sigrid Harald series of books, which focused on a New York police lieutenant, and the Knott series, which was about a North Carolina judge.
Her first Deborah Knott books won the four major mystery-writing awards, including the Edgar and Agatha, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. She received the North Carolina Award, the state's highest civilian honor, in 2008, and was later inducted into the N.C. Literary Hall of Fame.
Born in central North Carolina, Maron met her future husband while they both worked at the Penatgon. Joe Maron was a naval officer. They ultimately moved to Italy and to Brooklyn.
It was in New York that she learned how to write, according to the formal obituary she penned before she died. Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine published her first story in 1968, the obituary said.
The Marons moved to Johnston County, just outside of Raleigh, in the early 1970s. They have built a vacation home carved out on the farm of her mother's family.
In addition to her husband and son, Maron's survivors include a sister and two granddaughters. Funeral arrangements are private.
'Coronation Street' actor Johnny Briggs dies at age 85
LONDON | Johnny Briggs, a British actor best known for his role as businessman Mike Baldwin in the long-running TV soap opera "Coronation Street," has died. He was 85.
A family statement said Briggs died peacefully Sunday morning after a long illness.
Briggs was a fixture on "Coronation Street," playing his role for 30 years. Baldwin, a Cockney clothing factory boss, became one of the most memorable characters in the show's fictional town of Weatherfield. John Whiston, managing director of the drama, said Briggs brought a charisma to his role which made it "very hard to look at anyone else" when he was on screen.
"He truly was one of the most iconic characters the Street has ever known. We wish Johnny's family all our condolences," Whiston said in a statement.
Briggs made his debut on the show as Baldwin in 1976, and remained until 2006. In the early 1980s, his character's affair with married Deidre Barlow, played by Anne Kirkbride, gripped the nation and was one of the show's most popular storylines. Around 12 million viewers tuned in when his character died of a heart attack.
Briggs was appointed an MBE, or a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year Honors in 2006.
Finnish rally legend 'Flying Finn' Hannu Mikkola dies at 78
HELSINKI | Hannu Mikkola, the 1983 rally world champion and one of Finland's rally greats who earned the nickname the "Flying Finn" and international renown in a driving career spanning more than 30 years, has died. He was 78.
Mikkola's son Vesa Mikkola, a former rally driver, tweeted Saturday that "we lost my father Hannu to cancer this weekend. Most knew him as a rallying great who ushered in the golden years of the sport. To me he was dad."
Mikkola started his driving career in Volvo cars in the early 1960s but made his reputation driving a series of Ford Escorts in world rally events in the 1970s, including a win in the East African Safari Rally in Kenya in 1972 and a British Rally Championship in 1978.
On his home turf, he won Finland's 1,000 Lakes Rally on seven occasions among other achievements.
Mikkola was at the forefront of the four-wheel drive revolution in world rallying and claimed the 1983 title in an Audi Quattro, the first for an all-wheel drive car in FIA World Rally Championship history.
He later teamed up with the Mazda team before retiring from professional motor sports in the early 1990s.
Mikkola made 123 WRC starts — with a total of 18 wins — and continued to compete as a guest driver at a variety of events until 2017, WRC said in a statement following his death.
News of Mikkola's death prompted several homages from his former colleagues and fans around the world and in Finland, a motor sports powerhouse that has produced several Formula One and rally champions.
The organizers of the WRC Arctic Rally that took place over the weekend in Rovaniemi in Finland's Lapland region, observed a one-minute's silence at the podium in tribute to Mikkola.
In addition, the Finnish Air Force's F-18 Hornet fighter jets conducted a memorial flyover at the venue in honor of one of the Nordic country's most famous rally drivers.
FIA President Jean Todt, a former rally driver, attended the event and in a tweet called Mikkola "a legendary driver and a lifelong friend."
Long-time mayor of Croatian capital of Zagreb dies at 65
ZAGREB, Croatia | Milan Bandic, the controversial long-serving mayor of Croatia's capital of Zagreb, has died from a heart attack, his office said Sunday. He was 65.
Bandic felt unwell around midnight Saturday and was swiftly taken to a hospital but nothing could be done, the state HRT television reported.
The populist Bandic was one of Croatia's best-known politicians, running Zagreb for the past 21 years amid a series of corruption scandals.
Croatia's anti-graft authorities have launched several investigations against Bandic, who was detained in 2014 but was still later re-elected to the post.
Mourning his death, some citizens lit candles Sunday outside Bandic's Zagreb home.
Bandic "lived for his city and its citizens, who always came first, and for his job, which he did with energy and love, and to which he gave the whole of himself," Bandic's office said.
Bandic has had previous health problems.
Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced. Bandic left behind a wife and a daughter.
Fred Segal, LA celebrity fashion retailer, dead at 87
LOS ANGELES | Fred Segal, a notable Los Angeles-based celebrity fashion retailer, died Thursday. He was 87.
Segal died from the complications of a stroke at a Santa Monica hospital, his publicist said Friday.
Segal "was an innovator, a forward thinker, a rule-breaker, a mentor to so many, such a lover of life and a humanitarian," his family said in a statement obtained by the Hollywood Reporter. "Anyone who knew him felt his powerful energy. He worked his whole life to have self-love and to teach all of us to love one another."
His company's website counts the Beatles, Diana Ross, Elvis Presley and Farrah Fawcett as his earliest fans.
Segal opened his first shop in West Hollywood in 1961, where he sold denim jeans and flannel and velvet ensembles, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Hollywood Reporter said Segal's ivy-covered location in West Hollywood became a celebrity hotspot over the years and was featured prominently in the 1995 classic teen comedy film "Clueless."
"Lucy! Where's my white collarless shirt from Fred Segal?" Alicia Silverstone's Cher says.
The Hollywood Reporter said it was not uncommon to see actress Cameron Diaz or other major stars like Jennifer Aniston perusing the shops at Fred Segal or dining at its restaurant.
He is survived by his wife, five children and two stepchildren.
Squires, Kansas' first Black men's basketball player, dies
LAWRENCE, Kan. | LaVannes Squires, the first Black men's basketball player at Kansas and a member of the Jayhawks' 1952 national title team, died last week in Pasadena, California. He was 90.
The school announced in a statement Saturday that he passed away Feb. 19. No cause was given.
Squires was born in Missouri but grew up in Wichita, Kansas, where he played high school hoops for eventual Hall of Fame coach Ralph Miller. He wound up lettering in three seasons for Kansas coach Phog Allen, winning the Big Seven regular-season title each year and helping the Jayhawks win their first national championship in nearly 30 years.
"LaVannes was a true trailblazer for Kansas men's basketball," Jayhawks athletic director Jeff Long said. "He left an indelible impression from the first day he stepped on this campus in 1950, and continued to be a great ambassador for KU throughout his life. Not only did LaVannes break down the walls of color at KU, he did so with great success in the banking industry for many decades after his graduation."
Among others, Squires paved the way for Wilt Chamberlain, who played for the Jayhawks from 1956-58 before embarking on a Hall of Fame career in the NBA. He also laid the groundwork for such standouts as Bud Stallworth, who became a first-round pick of the Seattle Supersonics, and JoJo White, who went on to become a seven-time NBA All-Star.
"LaVannes Squires is important to the history of this program," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "He paved the way and opened doors for many to follow. In large part, he is even more important to the history of college basketball because if he hadn't come here, I doubt that Wilt would have come here. And that helped shape the landscape of the history of our game.
"It would never get as good as it is now," Self said, "without somebody like LaVannes Squires."
After his playing career, Squires worked for Look Magazine in Des Moines, Iowa, then became a successful businessman in the banking industry. He proceeded to start a Los Angeles-based real estate company, and he continued to dabble in real estate and trading opportunities until his passing.
'Meyers Manx' dune buggy creator dead at 94
LOS ANGELES | Bruce Meyers was hanging out at Pismo Beach on California's Central Coast one afternoon in 1963 when he saw something that both blew his mind and changed his life: a handful of old, stripped-down cars bouncing across the sand.
It sure would be fun to get behind the wheel of one of those, Meyers thought, if only they weren't so ugly and didn't appear so uncomfortable. He built his own solution: a "dune buggy" fashioned out of lightweight fiberglass mounted on four oversized tires with two bug-eyed looking headlights and a blindingly bright paint job.
The result would become both an overnight automotive sensation and one of the talismans of California surf culture, especially when he created a space in the back to accommodate a surfboard. He called the vehicle the Meyers Manx and it turned the friendly, soft-spoken Meyers into a revered figure among off-roaders, surfers and car enthusiasts of all types.
Meyers died Feb. 19 at his San Diego-area home, his wife, Winnie Meyers, told The Associated Press on Friday. He was 94.
Meyers built thousands of dune buggies in his lifetime but he did far more. He designed boats and surfboards, worked as a commercial artist and a lifeguard, traveled the world surfing and sailing, built a trading post in Tahiti and even survived a World War II Japanese kamikaze attack on his Navy aircraft carrier the USS Bunker Hill.
"He had a life that nobody else has ever lived," his wife said with a chuckle.
Bruce Franklin Meyers was born March 12, 1926, in Los Angeles, the son of a businessman and mechanic who set up automobile dealerships for his friend Henry Ford.
Growing up near such popular Southern California surfing spots as Newport, Hermosa and Manhattan beaches, it was wave riding, not cars, that initially captivated Meyers, who liked to refer to himself as an original beach bum.
He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Navy and was aboard the Bunker Hill when it was attacked near Okinawa, Japan, on May 11, 1945. As fire raged aboard the ship, he jumped overboard, at one point handed his life preserver to someone who needed it more, and helped rescue others.
Later, his wife said, he returned to the ship and helped remove the bodies of the nearly 400 sailors killed.
After the war he served in the Merchant Marine and attended the Chouinard Art Institute, now part of the California Institute of the Arts.
He also designed and built boats, learning to shape lightweight but sturdy fiberglass. That experience gave him skills he would put to use in building the first dune buggies. He built his first 12 mainly for himself and friends, and decades later was still driving No. 1, which he named Old Red.
He and his friends had fallen in love with surfing the more rugged and less crowded beaches of Mexico's Baja California and they figured a Meyers Manx would be perfect for driving over and around the area's sand dunes.
"All I wanted to do was go surfing in Baja when I built the dang thing," he told broadcaster Huell Howser when he took the host of Public Television's California Gold program for a spin in Old Red in 2001.
Those first dozen cars were built without chassis, which hold in place the axels, suspension and other key parts of a vehicle's undercarriage. Not having one made the car lighter but illegal to drive on public roads.
Meyers began adding chassis to his models and created kits that people could initially buy for $985 and build their own cars.
What really caused sales to take off, though, was when Meyers and friends took Old Red to Mexico in 1967 and won a 1,000-mile (1,609-kilometer) off-road race that took drivers through steep gullies, across soft sand and past other obstacles. Old Red won in record time, shattering the previous mark by more than five hours.
"Almost overnight we had 350 orders," Meyers told The New York Times in 2007.
Soon afterward, the road race became officially known as the Mexican 1,000 — since renamed the Baja 1.000 — and when a Meyers-built dune buggy won that one too the orders poured in.
In all, B.F. Meyers & Co., built more than 6,000 Meyers Manx dune buggies. Although he trademarked the design, it was easy to borrow from it, and deep-pocketed competitors sold more than 250,000 copycats.
The Historic Vehicle Association says the Meyers Manx is the most replicated car in history.
Fed up with losing control of his invention, Meyers closed his company in 1971 and went on to other things. At one point, his wife said, he sailed to Tahiti with a wealthy sponsor and built and ran a trading post.
He and his wife re-established the car business in 1999, by which time there were dune buggy clubs all over the world. They sold the business to a venture capital firm last year.
Asked over the years what it was about the dune buggy that so captivated the public, Meyers said several things played into its success.
One was the cars' bright colors and big tires, which gave them almost a cartoonish look. Another was the flat surface of the fenders, which were a perfect place to put a beer. There was also the spot in the back designed for a surfboard.
That, he and others noted, captivated people at a time when California surf culture was being glorified in movies and song.
The car, with Elvis Presley at the wheel, is featured in the opening credits to the 1968 film "Live a Little, Love a Little." To this day, children still play with Meyers Manx Hot Wheels.
As Road and Track Magazine stated in 1976: "The Manx has to rank as one of the most significant and influential cars of all time. It started more fads, attracted more imitators … and was recognized as a genuine sculpture, a piece of art."
In addition to his wife, Meyers is survived by a daughter, Julie Meyers of Colorado. Two children, Georgia and Tim, preceded him in death.
Man who played Duke Chapel bells for 50 years dies
DURHAM, N.C. | When J. Samuel Hammond arrived as a freshman at Duke University in 1964, he knew nothing about the musical instrument that allowed a player to send melodies ringing across campus from the bells in the school's iconic chapel tower. A demonstration from a fellow student introduced him to the 50-bell carillon that would become his life's work as he played music that marked the end of the academic day for countless students.
Hammond, who retired as university carillonneur in 2018 after playing the bells at Duke Chapel for five decades, died Thursday at age 73 in Durham, the university said in a news release.
His music was heard each weekday by students leaving the day's classes and, more recently, by alumni who could watch some of his performances online.
Toward the beginning of each weekday afternoon's 15-minute performance, Hammond would pound out five strikes of the largest bell to mark five o'clock. Then, he typically moved on to hymns and other sometimes whimsical selections such as the movie themes from Star Trek or Star Wars, according to a university news article. He would often play songs to mark special occasions, such as the French anthem "La Marseillaise" on Bastille Day. When the basketball team played its archrival from the University of North Carolina, he played the Duke fight song.
"The carillon marks the rhythm of our days here at Duke, providing a shared experience that — sometimes subtly — connects us with one another, with traditions that stretch across centuries and continents, and even with God," the Rev. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke Chapel, said in 2018 when Hammond retired. "The person who has carried on that tradition at Duke for decades, faithfully and unassumingly, is Sam."
The bells at the Gothic chapel are played by striking wooden keys by hand and pressing foot pedals, similar to a piano. The keys and pedals control cables that cause hammers to strike the bells, which range in size from 10 pounds (4.5 kg) to more than 5 tons (4.5 metric tons), the university article said.
It was physical work. A demonstration video posted by Duke at the time of his retirement shows Hammond shifting forward on his bench and putting his weight down to operate the largest bell when sounding the five o'clock chimes. As he commences the next tune, he leans in and, with subtle flowing movements, uses the side of his hand to strike the thin wooden keys that control smaller bells. The result is a buoyant melody emanating from the chapel's 210-foot (64-meter) tower.
In addition to weekdays, Hammond also performed for Sunday chapel services and university events. The university said he played music on the bells an average of 300 times a year, estimating his performances exceeded 15,000. When he retired as carillonneur, two other musicians took over his duties.
"The sound of those bells is omnipresent in the life of our community, but also unassuming, a gentle accompaniment to the rhythm of our days," Zebulon Highben, director of Chapel music, said in a statement Thursday. "This was Sam, too: omnipresent on campus, unassuming, deeply kind and thoughtful, humbly uninterested in the adulation he deserved."
Hammond also earned earned two master's degrees, in library science and theological studies, and worked for four decades as a music librarian at the school.
Hammond, who grew up in Americus, Georgia, enrolled at Duke in 1964 and learned how to play the carillon after a demonstration from a fellow student, Hammond recalled in 2018.
"When I was a freshman at Duke, I met the student carillonneur at the time, John Simpson, when we studied organ together," Hammond said in the article about his retirement. "John invited me to see the carillon (of which I knew nothing), and in response to my intrigued interest in such an unusual instrument and in a potential opportunity of being of service to the university, kindly provided me beginning instruction and, ultimately, opportunity to play."
He began playing regularly, according to the university article, and he was promoted to chapel carillonneur in 1968, the same year he graduated. In 1986, he was named university carillonneur, becoming the second person to hold that position.