Funeral Industry News

Hail and farewell to those we lost in 2014

December 28, 2014

Ryan Thogmartin is the CEO of DISRUPT Media | Follower of Christ | Husband | Father | Entrepreneur | Host of #DISRUPTu! and #FUNERALnationtv | Lover of Skittles DISRUPT Media is a social media content agency that focuses on storytelling for funeral companies. We use real stories to build creative strategies that achieve actual business goals.

Hail and farewell to those we lost in 2014

Charles Osgood brings a smile to your face, and maybe a tear to your eye, as we mark the passing this year of so many talented people who helped define our times:

Robin Williams touched down, as if from a distant galaxy, speaking a language (“Nanu nanu!”) we had never heard before, but which we instantly understood.


He held up his own funhouse mirror to the rest of us, exploring not only comic possibilities, but deeper truths.

“You don’t know about real loss. Because that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself,” he said in the 1997 film, “Good Will Hunting.”

Phillip Seymour Hoffman plumbed the tangled, mysterious depths of the human soul . . . in performances so perfectly nuanced, that they seemed not performances at all, but visitations . . . and broke our hearts this year when his own fragile soul gave way.


Mike Nichols
 won every entertainment award there is — and one, in 1959, that doesn’t exist, for Total Mediocrity, presented by his comic partner, Elaine May.

Goodbye to Geoffrey Holder, the elegant pitchman for 7-UP. He was also singer, dancer, actor, painter, choreographer, director, and costume designer. He gave us Broadway’s “The Wiz.”

Farewell to Ruth Robinson Duccini, the last of the female Munchkins, who started Dorothy down that yellow brick road in 1939.

And to Richard Kiel, whose enormous size usually got him cast as the bad guy (Jaws from the James Bond series), or an alien, monster, or the Soviet spy prowling on “Gilligan’s Island.”

And farewell to Russell Johnson — he played the brainy Professor on that crazy island of castaways:

Ginger: “You can hold me a little closer, I won’t break.”
Professor: “Well, I don’t want to crush your dress.”
Ginger: “Try.”

A round of snaps for Ken Weatherwax, who played Pugsley on “The Addams Family.”

And to Ann B. Davis, Alice on “The Brady Bunch.”

And to Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., who always got his man.

Ralph Waite died this year. As patriarch of the Walton clan, he guided his large brood through the Depression days. Good night to you, Ralph Waite.

And to you, Shirley Temple: You buoyed American spirits during those dark Depression years with your brilliant smile and precocious talent — then walked away from it all and became a successful diplomat.
Shirley Temple Black taught us all a thing or two about life.

Mickey Rooney TORE through life with exuberance, talent and charm. He could do it all, and he DID it all, for most of his 93 years.

Good night and good luck, Mickey Rooney!

Bob Thomas loved the glitter of the Oscars, and he reported on them for 66 years. Good night to him.


And to Oscar de la Renta, who dressed Hollywood’s glittering stars . . .

And to Phil Stern, who captured the many moods of Hollywood’s glitterati . . . in photographs that live on.

“You don’t have to say anything or do anything . . . or maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”


Lauren Bacall, we fell in love with you right from the start. Bacall died this year at 89, her charm and her beauty intact.


James Garner
, you were one smooth operator. He never took acting too seriously, but he was good at it. Farewell to you, James Garner …

… and to you, James Rebhorn, and Meshach Taylor.

And you, Maximilian Schell.

Eli Wallach was an actor’s actor — a chameleon who transformed himself countless times over his 60 years on the stage and screen.
Good night, sweet prince.

And good night to you, Elaine Stritch, unabashed queen of Broadway.

Polly Bergen — what a beautiful, long run YOU enjoyed.

Ruby Dee, your extraordinary talents onstage were inspirational. Offstage, with your husband Ossie Davis, they were even more so.
Thank you, for showing us all what it means to stand up for what is right.

Franklin McCain
 took his stand when he SAT, when he was refused service at a Greensboro, N.C., lunch counter, and the civil rights “sit-in” was born.

“There are many people who will plant the seed, but they will never reap the harvest,” McCain said. “And I considered myself and my colleagues those people.”

Boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter did not set out to become a folk hero. He served 19 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit . . . convictions that were overturned, finally, in 1985. Rubin Carter died this year, a free man.

James Brady took a bullet meant for President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and crusaded for gun control for the rest of his life.

“Damn it, don’t let the vocal minority dictate your position,” he said. “Morally, it’s the right thing to do.”

Stephanie Kwolek was a Du Pont chemist who invented a fiber strong enough to stop a bullet. The Kevlar vest that she made possible has saved thousands of lives.

She made our world a little safer.

Ralph Baer made our world a lot more fun. He invented the popular game, Simon, and the very first video game console, which he demonstrated in 1969.

You really started something, Ralph Baer.

S. Donald Stookey devised a kind of glass that could withstand heat and cold — strong enough to be used to make nosecones for missiles . . . and also the Corningware casserole dish.

How many millions of dinners have we enjoyed because of the ingenuity of S. Donald Stookey?

The people we lost this year left many gifts to remember them by.
Designer Massimo Vignelli left us maps, and signs, and logos — elegant, spare, and instantly recognizable the world over.

Jerrie Mock
 left us a gift of derring-do. She was a housewife from Columbus, Ohio, who became the first woman ever to fly solo around the world in 1964. “It was about time a woman did it,” she said.

A cheer for you, Jerrie Mock.

And for you, Eileen Ford: Your Ford Modeling Agency set the standard for beauty.

Alice Coachman
, you set the bar high, and sailed over it in 1948, to become the first black woman ever to win Olympic gold.

When she returned to her segregated hometown in Georgia, the mayor would not shake her hand. “It wasn’t any problem for me,” she said, ” because I had won the thing.”

George Shuba reached out HIS hand to welcome teammate Jackie Robinson home on his first day with the Brooklyn Dodgers farm team.

You had class, George Shuba.

Don Zimmer suited up for 66 seasons, as player, manager, coach and advisor for 14 teams. He LOVED baseball with a passion that never dimmed.

Au revoir to Jean Beliveau, who led his Montreal Canadians to 10 Stanley Cup championships. A great hockey player, and a true gentleman.

Thomas Menino was a great mayor, for five consecutive terms in Boston.

When the Boston Marathon bombing devastated the citizens of his beloved city, Tom Menino rose from his sickbed to speak:

“No adversity, no challenge, nothing can tear down the resilience in the heart of the city and its people.”

He had a big heart.

Tom Magliozzi had a big laugh, which he shared with us, every week, on the radio, as one half of Click and Clack, the “Car Talk” guys.

Tom Magliozzi left us, laughing, this year.

Sid Ceasar, “Your Show of Shows” set the stage for most of the funny business that was to follow. Hats off to you!

And hats off to David Brenner:

“My mother on the phone, she says, ‘David, we’re going to give him a decent burial.’ And I thought, what’s an indecent burial? What, do you leave his arm out of the ground?”

And to Joan Rivers — she was one funny lady.

“My parents had a sign up on the lawn: ‘Last girl before the turnpike.'”

Good bye to Don Pardo, who introduced us to the world’s funniest people every Saturday night for nearly 40 years.

One of those funny people was Jan Hooks

Good bye to Harold Ramis, the crazy genius behind “Ghostbusters.”

And Bob Hoskins, a fine actor best known for playing second banana to a cartoon.

Alfred E. Neuman became Mad Magazine’s cover boy during editor Al Feldstein‘s 30-year reign . . . farewell to him.

And to Phyllis Dorothy James White, known to her many devoted readers as P.D. James, the Queen of Crime. “The greatest mystery of all,” she said, “is the human heart.”

Writer Nadine Gordimer‘s books explored the mysteries of the human heart in South Africa during the apartheid years . . . and she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and lots of others. The worlds he created were full of mystery and magic. His novels sold millions of copies, in dozens of languages.

Norman Bridwell enchanted generations of children with his tales of Clifford, the Big Red Dog — stories that will continue to enchant generations to come.
Maya Angelou was a gifted storyteller and a poet.

Her voice rang out loud and clear at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration:

“History, despite its wrenching pain,
cannot be unlived,
but if faced with courage,
need not be lived again.”

Good bye to Horace Silver, who coaxed a new kind of jazz out of his piano.

And thank you, Ben Bradlee, crusading editor of the Washington Post. You gave your reporters the backing they needed to break the story of Watergate.

He was a great journalist.

Howard Baker Jr. was a great Senator. He presided over the Watergate hearings with integrity and fair-mindedness. (“What did the president know, and when did he know it?”)

We lost good friends, and good journalists this year: James FoleySteven SotloffAnja NiedringhausBruce MortonGarrick UtleyFouad AjamiEmerson Stone, and Richard C. Hottelet, the last of the famed “Murrow Boys,” who served his profession with distinction for more than 40 years.

Ariel Sharon was a fierce fighter for his country, and a champion of Israeli settlements.
“All those communities that we are building, they are not an obstacle to peace; they are obstacles to war,” he once said.

In later years, as prime minister, Ariel Sharon had second thoughts, calling for settlers to withdraw from Gaza, and for Israel to pursue a more diplomatic course. He died this year, at 85. Shalom.

Maria Von Trapp died this year, at 99 — the last of the singing siblings who fled Nazi-occupied Austria during World War II. Their story inspired “The Sound of Music.”

Auf Weidersehen, Maria Von Trapp.

And Hah-go-eh-nay to Chester Nez, one of the original Navajo Code Talkers. The unbreakable military code he and his people devised helped to win World War II.

A salute to you, Chester Nez.

And to you, Louis Zamperini.

Zamperini survived a plane crash in the Pacific, and torture at the hands of the Japanese. And then, after the war, he forgave his captors.

“If you hate somebody, you’re not hurting the person you hate; you’re hurting yourself,” Zamperini said. “It’s a real healing, forgiveness.”

As a POW in North Vietnam, Jeremiah Denton had the courage to blink the word “torture” in Morse code during a television interview . . . a salute to him.

And to Tomas Young, a soldier paralyzed in Iraq, who shared his own agonizing tale in a film, “Body of War.” He died this year, at 34.

Pete Seeger sang out for peace, for justice, and for cleaner water for most of his long life. Sail on, Pete Seeger!

Martin Litton rode the wild rapids of the Colorado River well into his 90s, and battled fiercely against dams that would tame them.

Thanks to him, the mighty Colorado moves through the Grand Canyon, wild and free.
Peter Matthiessen loved the world’s wild places, and traveled to most of them — and wrote about them with precision and beauty.

“What would you do if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me?

And a note of thanks to Joe Cocker, whose voice was raw and beautiful. He helped us get by, with a little help from our friends. Good bye, dear friend.

And goodbye to Phil Everly, who rode the waves of sweet harmony with his brother, Don.

And to Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, who rode the ocean’s waves, joyfully, for most of his long life.

“Waves roll across 10,000 miles of ocean, and at their very end, you ride them, and so help me God, a part of the galaxy beyond our galaxy is in them,” he said.
Gerry Goffin, your star burned bright, and sweet. Your words, full of love and longing, stay with us, in the beautiful songs you wrote.

The people who left us this year gave us so much love, and so much laughter, so many gifts to remember them by that we can scarcely count them all — but we do think of them all, and thank them all, for gracing us with their presence, and making our world a little brighter, for their being here.

[H/T: CBS News]