I’m pretty new at this reading-obituaries-everyday thing, but I tell you what: I get the impression that women, African Americans and Latinos die far more infrequently than wealthy white men. Who knew the mortality rate among the ruling class was so high? This week, though, we get some international flavor: a Korean, a Hungarian, an Italian, two African-Americans, a war veteran, and a failed NBA player. Check ‘em out below.
Robert Kotlowitz 1924 to two weeks ago Saturday
This public TV-executive-to-be stormed the beaches at Normandy on on June 6th, 1944. He leaves us a liberated Europe and programming like Brideshead Revisited.
Peter J. Zwack 1927 to five weeks ago Saturday
Speaking of a wartime heroism, this Hungarian-born liquor magnate feared that while fleeing the Nazis, his secret recipe for ‘Unicum digestif,’ one of Hungary’s national drinks, would fall into the wrong hands. To deny the fascists their after-dinner enjoyment, he split his recipe into four parts, giving each to a different person to cross the Atlantic to safety. His effort succeeded and he leaves his family a hard-won booze monopoly.
Art Heyman 1941 to last Monday
This guy kick started the Duke basketball program, leading them to the first of their 15 Final Four appearances. He leaves behind the sense of solidarity we all feel hating the Blue Devils together.
Chris Lighty 1968 to last Thursday
After getting his “MBA in hell” this hip-hop mogul worked his way up from the streets and introduced rap to product endorsements. He made millions for himself and even more for the stars he managed. Lightly leaves 50-Cent the 400 million dollars (no joke) he made on the rapper’s own flavor of Vitamin Water.
Carlo Cardinal Martini, S.J. 1927 to last Friday
We’ve got to salute one of our own–this former Jesuit Archbishop of Milan. Beloved by our Holy Father and Milanians holy or no, he was famous for his commitment to dialogue. A biblical scholar, he held ongoing conversations with atheists, bioethicists and Jews that were published in Italian periodicals. He leaves behind a church he so deeply loved but that he feared was 200 years behind the times.
Sun Myung Moon 1920 to Monday
Moon–a cross between Rupert Murdoch and Jesus–built a fortune through his media empire and the new-age Unification Church that he founded. He and his wife, the self-styled ‘true parents of all humanity,’ sought to do what Jesus couldn’t. The Son of God, Moon thought, went and got himself killed before he had the chance to marry and have the sinless children who would transform the world. Moon also owned dozens of newspapers and a South Korean ballet school. Famous for performing mass marriages, he and his church leave behind God-knows-how-many sinless kids.
Michael Clarke Duncan 1957 to Monday
We can’t leave out this actor who made Tom Hanks cry by by giving him eternal life in ‘The Green Mile’ and saved Liv Tyler’s life by blowing up an asteroid in ‘Armageddon.’ His story is rags to riches: born on the South Side of Chicago, he worked ‘as a ditch digger, as a nightclub bouncer, and even as a stripper’ before he got his big break. He leaves behind the $5 bills he offered “to strangers on the street who could tell him what his full name was.”