Cleotha Staples 1934 to last Friday
Cleedi – who sang minor tenor in the Staples Family Singers – wanted to take you there. And so did Martin Luther King who brought her family around with him on tour. She leaves behind the group’s message of tolerance epitomized in this #1 single:
Stéphane Hessel 1917 to Tuesday
Wherever Hessel went, discord seemed to follow. It all started with the Second World War. Drafted into the French infantry in 1937, Stephane was quickly captured by invading Germans. He quickly escaped German captivity once through Casablanca to Portugal where his casino winnings paid for his extradition to Britain. Once wasn’t enough – 1944 brought Hessell back to France as a member of the Resistance – this time the Gestapo captured him, tortured him for 29 days then sent him to Buchenwald. By the largesse of an SS officer, he was given a fake identity as a German and went to build aircraft landing gear. Outed as a fraud by his dearth of mechanical skills, he escaped – only to be retaken prisoner for the third time. He escaped again (his fourth time!) and – you guessed it – was recaptured. This time he didn’t escape. Rather, he took his German captors captive and marched those 14 SS men to American hands. But that’s just for starters. He helped draft the UN’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights before serving as a French emissary in Saigon. We all know what happened in Vietnam next. His next post was Algiers and that also didn’t go so well. Next was Guinea where he left behind a civil war. Two decades later, he did the same in Burundi (the civil-war-leaving-behind). His 1996 efforts to mediate between the French government and a group of African asylum seekers ended with riot police storming a Paris church. Most recently, he leaves behind the discord created by his 4.5-million-copy-selling political polemic “Time for Outrage,” a source of inspiration for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
C. Everett Koop 1916 to Monday
Surgeon General Koop leaves behind the now-taken-for-granted knowledge that “smoking kills.”
Sylvia Smith 1945 to Saturday
Ms. Smith did very little and wrote all about it. Her three-volume memoir was described by one critic like “a cross between a police officer giving evidence in court and a slightly demented grandmother intent on telling you everything over a cup of tea.” She’s leaves behind passages like these: “Early in December, Carol asked me, ‘What day is Christmas Day?’ I replied, ‘I don’t know.’ The following morning she told me, ‘Christmas Day is on the 25th of December.’ I replied, ‘I know that, but I thought you meant what day of the week.’ She didn’t believe me.”
Raymond Cusick 1928 to last Thursday
Mr. Cusick was a television designer. He leaves behind his most famous work, these iconic robots from Dr. Who:
Cover photo by mag3737 via Flickr.