Rest in peace
February 10, 2020

An unidentified teenager in Arlington, Texas, pulled out a handgun Thursday and shot dead Samuel Reynolds, 16, who had stopped the shooter from bullying a smaller boy a few days earlier, police say. "After he broke up the fight, he started having trouble with the suspect," Arlington Police Lt. Christopher Cook said in a news conference Friday. The boy with the gun was between 13 and 15 years old and lived in the same apartment complex as Reynolds, NBC News reports.

Police say they have video of the entire incident from security cameras in the apartment complex. "He pulls out a handgun from the rear part of his pants he was wearing, points it at the victim and fires one round," Cook said. The gunman is being charged with murder.

"This senseless act of gun violence has no place in society and our hometown community," said Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson. "We will direct our attention to how a young teen suspect accessed a firearm used in the offense." Peter Weber

February 5, 2020

Actor Kirk Douglas, a star of Hollywood's Golden Age, died Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 103.

Douglas played a boxer in 1949's Champion, the movie that propelled him to stardom, and created his own film company, Bryna Productions in 1955. He starred in more than 80 movies before retiring from film in 2004, including 1960's Spartacus, serving as a producer and working with blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. He was nominated three times for the Best Actor Academy Award, and received an honorary Oscar in 1996.

Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch Demsky in Amsterdam, New York, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. He worked as a janitor to pay his way through St. Lawrence University, and served in the Navy during World War II. Amid the height of his fame, Douglas was a goodwill ambassador for the U.S. State Department, and he received the Medal of Freedom from former President Jimmy Carter. He was also a philanthropist, launching The Douglas Foundation in 1964.

Douglas survived a helicopter crash in 1991 and suffered a debilitating stroke in 1996. Married to his wife Anne since 1954, his 11th and final book, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood, was published in May.

In a message posted online Wednesday afternoon, son Michael Douglas wrote, "To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the Golden Age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to." Catherine Garcia

January 26, 2020

Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California, confirmed that its head baseball coach, John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa were among the nine people who died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

Retired Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were also on board the helicopter. In a statement, Orange Coast College said Altobelli was "a coach, a colleague, a mentor, and a friend at OCC for 27 years." Jason Kehler, the college's athletic director, said Altobelli "truly personified what it means to be a baseball coach. The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none — he treated them like family."

Over Altobelli's career, he coached the OCC Pirates to more than 700 wins and four state championships. Last year, the American Baseball Coaches Association named him an ABCA/Diamond National Coach of the Year. Catherine Garcia

January 26, 2020

Former President Barack Obama is remembering Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who was killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act," Obama said in a statement. "To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."

During Obama's presidency, Bryant and the Lakers visited the White House to celebrate NBA championship wins, and gifted Obama his own jersey. Before he retired from basketball in 2016, Bryant visited Obama in Washington, D.C., to discuss how he could transition into a new chapter of his life. "In sports, you get better by working in the gym," Bryant said in 2017. "I wanted to know how he got better, from managing his schedule to what he reads. And because he gets sports, and we can talk about that, too, it makes it easier to have that connection." Catherine Garcia

December 27, 2019

Allee Willis, a Grammy winner whose sole 1974 album led to a successful song-crafting career, died Tuesday at a Los Angeles hospital. She was 72, and her partner, Prudence Fenton, attributed the unexpected death to cardiac arrest.

After writing and "fixing" songs, often without credit, for artists including Bonnie Raitt, Ray Charles, and James Brown in the mid-1970s, The Washington Post reports, Willis got a call in 1978 from Earth, Wind & Fire's Maurice White. Her first collaboration with the group produced the enduring hit "September," and she went on to write most of their next album, including the Top 10 single "Boogie Wonderland."

"As a white Jewish girl getting a break, you could not get better than Earth, Wind & Fire," Willis told NPR in 2014. "They had just written the intro to 'September.' And I just thought, dear God, let this be what they want me to write because it was obviously the happiest-sounding song in the world." White insisted on keeping the repeated phrase "ba-dee-ya" in the song over her strident objections, Willis added, and she learned to "never let the lyric get in the way of the groove."

Willis co-wrote "Neutron Dance" for the Pointer Sisters (1985), "What Have I Done to Deserve This" for the Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield (1987), and the Friends theme "I'll Be There For You" (1994), a hit for the Rembrandts. She won two Grammys — in 1986, for her work on the soundtrack to Beverley Hills Cop, and in 2015 for the soundtrack to the Broadway adaptation of The Color Purple. Willis was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.

Still, her "No. 1 skill" was as "a serious party thrower," Willis told The New York Times in 2018. "I always had a music career, an art career, set designer, film and video, technology. The parties really became the only place I could combine everything." Read more about "the most interesting woman you've never heard of" at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

December 8, 2019

Caroll Spinney, the actor and puppeteer who made Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch come alive on Sesame Street, died Sunday. He was 85.

The Sesame Workshop said Spinney, who died at his home in Connecticut, lived with dystonia for many years. Spinney began working on Sesame Street in its earliest days in 1969, before retiring in 2018.

As Big Bird, Spinney traveled around the world, conducted symphony orchestras, danced with the Rockettes, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress.

In a statement, Sesame Workshop said Spinney's "enormous talent and outsized heart were perfectly suited to playing the larger-than-life yellow bird who brought joy to generations of children and countless fans of all ages around the world, and his loveably cantankerous grouch gave us all permission to be cranky once in a while." Catherine Garcia

November 25, 2019

Donald "Nick" Clifford, the last living person to help construct Mount Rushmore, died Saturday in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was 98.

Clifford was 17 when he was hired to work at Mount Rushmore, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. He drilled holes for dynamite and operated a winch that carried the workers who carved the faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln into the mountain, The Associated Press reports. He worked on the project from 1938 to 1940, and was paid 55 cents an hour.

During a 2016 interview, Clifford said he felt Mount Rushmore "was the greatest thing with which I was ever involved. It tells a story that will never go away — the story of how America was made and the men who helped make it what it is today." Catherine Garcia

November 4, 2019

Gert Boyle, who died Sunday morning at age 95, took over Columbia Sportswear Co. in 1970 after her husband died from a sudden heart attack. After a rough start, she and son Tim Boyle turned the Oregon outdoor clothing company into a national brand with 5,300 employees and net sales of $2.47 billion in 2017. Gert Boyle ran the company until Tim took over as president and chief executive in 1988, and she stayed on as chairwoman until her death on Sunday. She continued working in the office, signing every paycheck, into her 90s.

Boyle was the first woman inducted into the National Sporting Goods Hall of Fame, but she gained national celebrity as the face of Columbia's "One Tough Mother" ad campaign, starting in 1984. Columbia's TV ads often featured Gert showcasing the resilience of Columbia's sportswear by putting Tim through extreme conditions. One of her catchphrases was: "Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise."

Gert Boyle was born in Augsburg, Germany. Her family fled to America when she was 9, after Adolf Hitler rose to power and Nazis defaced her family's home with "Jews Live Here," The Oregonian reports. Her father created Columbia Hat Co. after buying a small Portland company, and her husband took over the business when her father died. Boyle moved into an assisted living facility after she thwarted a burglary in 2010; the then-88-year-old Boyle outwitted the would-be thief and, when the police arrived, told one solicitous officer, "Everything was okay until you came in with that North Face jacket." She was the only resident of her retirement home with a full-time job.

Boyle is survived by her son, Tim; daughters Sally Bany, who runs Portland chocolatier Moonstruck Chocolates, and Kathy Deggendorfer, an artist; a younger sister, Eva Labby; and five grandchildren. Peter Weber

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