Among Those Who Died in 2018: 35 Less-Known Names

Does Juan Romero ring a bell?
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 17, 2018 2:30 PM CST
Updated Dec 22, 2018 3:04 PM CST
List of Those Who Died in 2018 Includes Less-Known Names
In this June 5, 1968 file photo, Hotel busboy Juan Romero, right, comes to the aid of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, as he lies on the floor of the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles moments after he was shot.   (Boris Yaro/Los Angeles Times via AP)

Being reminded that Aretha Franklin, John McCain, George HW and Barbara Bush, Burt Reynolds, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, Stephen Hawking, and Stan Lee died in 2018 will likely come as no great shock. But the AP's roll call of some of the people who shuffled off this mortal coil in 2018 include figures who aren't necessarily household names but still have a unique place in history. Here are 35 such figures, with date of death cited:

  1. John Young, 87. The legendary astronaut who walked on the moon and later commanded the first space shuttle flight. Jan. 5.
  2. Edgar Ray Killen, 92. A former Ku Klux Klan leader who was convicted in the 1964 'Mississippi Burning' slayings of three civil rights workers. Jan. 11. Died in prison.
  3. Keith Jackson, 89. His signature phrases like "Whoa, Nelly!" made him the down-home voice of college football during more than five decades as a sportscaster. Jan. 12.
  4. John Coleman, 83. He co-founded The Weather Channel and was the original meteorologist on ABC's Good Morning America during a six-decade broadcasting career but who later drew people's anger for his open skepticism about climate change being man-made. Jan. 20.
  5. Ursula K. Le Guin, 88. The award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer who explored feminist themes and was best known for her Earthsea books. Jan. 22.

  1. Ingvar Kamprad, 91. As founder of IKEA, he turned a small-scale mail order business started on his family's farm into a furniture empire by letting customers piece together his simple and inexpensive furniture themselves. Jan. 27.
  2. Patricia Frustaci, 63. She made national headlines in 1985 when she gave birth to seven children but struggled with the financial and publicity fallout and with the heartache of seeing four babies perish. Feb. 10.
  3. Prince Henrik, 83. The French-born husband of Danish monarch Queen Margrethe who publicly vented his frustration at not being the social equal of his wife or their son in line to become Denmark's king. Feb. 13.
  4. Jim Bridwell, 73. A hard-partying hippie and legendary climber who lived his life vertically on some of the toughest peaks in Yosemite National Park. Feb. 16.
  5. Roger Bannister, 88. He was the first runner to break the 4-minute barrier in the mile. March 3.
  6. Dick Wilmarth, 75. A miner who won the first-ever Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and then walked away from the sport. March 21.
  7. Linda Brown, 75. As a Kansas girl, she was at the center of the landmark US Supreme Court ruling that struck down racial segregation in schools. March 25.
  8. Nerses "Krik" Krikorian, 97. A scientist who was born a refugee and later became a legend in the once-secret New Mexico city where the atomic bomb was developed. April 18.
  9. Larry Harvey, 70. His whimsical decision to erect a giant wooden figure and then burn it to the ground led to the popular, long-running counterculture celebration known as "Burning Man." April 28.
  10. David Weinlick, 48. The groom who said "I do" to a woman he had just met in a well-publicized wedding at the Mall of America about 20 years ago. May 20. Colon cancer.
  11. Jerry Maren, 99. He was the last surviving munchkin from the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and the one who famously welcomed Dorothy to Munchkin Land. May 24.
  12. Gena Turgel, 95. A Holocaust survivor who comforted Anne Frank at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before the young diarist's death and the camp's liberation a month later. June 7.
  13. DJ Fontana, 87. A rock 'n' roll pioneer who rose from strip joints in his native Shreveport, Louisiana, to the heights of musical history as Elvis Presley's first and longtime drummer. June 13.
  14. Robert D. Ray, 89. A former longtime Iowa governor who helped thousands of Vietnam War refugees relocate to the state and defined Iowa's Republican politics for years. July 8.
  15. Lincoln Brower, 86. He was considered one of the foremost experts on the iconic monarch butterfly and a scientist who advocated for the declining species' protection. July 17.

  1. Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, 93. She uncovered proof that thousands of Japanese-Americans incarcerated in the United States during World War II were held not for reasons of national security but because of racism. July 18.
  2. Adrian Cronauer, 79. The man whose military radio antics inspired a character played by Robin Williams in the film Good Morning, Vietnam. July 18.
  3. Alene Duerk, 98. She was the Navy's first female admiral, who became a trailblazer as the Navy opened up more opportunities for women. July 21.
  4. Elbert "Big Man" Howard, 80. He was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party who served as newspaper editor, information officer and logistics genius behind the group's popular social programs. July 23.
  5. HF "Gerry" Lenfest, 88. He made a $1 billion fortune in the cable industry and gave almost all of it away, supporting schools, museums, journalism and the arts in Philadelphia and beyond. Aug. 5.
  6. Joel Robuchon, 73. A master chef who shook up the stuffy world of French haute cuisine by wowing palates with the delights of the simple mashed potato and giving diners a peek at the kitchen. Aug. 6. Cancer.
  7. Juan Romero, 68. The hotel busboy who came to Robert F. Kennedy's aid when the New York senator was fatally shot in Los Angeles. Oct. 1.
  8. Leon Lederman, 96. An experimental physicist who won a Nobel Prize in physics for his work on subatomic particles and coined the phrase "God particle." Oct. 3.
  9. Will Vinton, 70. An Oscar-winning animator who invented Claymation, a style of stop-motion animation, and brought the California Raisins to TV. Oct. 4.
  10. Betty Lavonne Grissom, 91. The widow of astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom who successfully sued a NASA contractor after his death in the 1967 Apollo launch pad fire. Oct. 7.
  11. George Taliaferro, 91. The star Indiana running back who in 1949 became the first black player drafted in the NFL when George Halas and the Chicago Bears took him in the 13th round. Oct. 8.
  12. Dorcas Reilly, 92. The woman who created the green bean casserole, a Thanksgiving staple enjoyed by millions. Oct. 15. Alzheimer's disease.
  13. Joachim Roenneberg, 99. A World War II saboteur who headed a five-man team that daringly blew up a plant producing heavy water, depriving Nazi Germany of a key ingredient it could have used to make nuclear weapons. Oct. 21.
  14. Ruth Gates, 56. A pioneering coral reef scientist who dedicated much of her career to saving the world's fragile and deteriorating underwater reef ecosystems. Oct. 25.
  15. Douglas Rain, 90. A Canadian actor who played some of Shakespeare's most intriguing characters onstage but perhaps is best known for supplying the creepily calm voice of the rogue computer HAL in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nov. 11.
(See the full list here.)

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