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Obituaries

Memorializing notable Chicagoans and people from around the world who have recently died.

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Mourners pay tribute to South Side gospel legend Pastor Maceo Woods

Woods, who died last week at age 87, was eulogized Saturday by spiritual leaders, the music community, city leaders, and former and current presidents.

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Frank Burns, Beverly native who coached U.S. Paralympic basketball team to gold, dead at 67

He worked for 45 years with people with disabilities and ‘became an icon in the game of wheelchair basketball.’

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Dwayne Johnson’s father, wrestler Rocky Johnson, dies at 75

Rocky retired from wrestling in 1991, but his family’s prized wrestling legacy continued after Dwayne followed in his famous father’s footsteps as "The Rock" before going on to become one of the highest-paid actors ever.

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Pastor Maceo Woods, powerhouse preacher, gospel organist, choir leader and composer, dead at 87

He sang, composed gospel standards, recorded popular albums, hosted radio and TV shows and helped organize Chicago’s Gospel Music Festival and Gospel Supreme.

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‘Fierce, caring’ Chicago labor leader Bill Dugan dies at 86

The sometimes-controversial political figure led the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 for more than 20 years.

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Neil Peart, longtime Rush drummer, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer dies at 67

The drummer, considered one of the greatest in rock and roll, died Tuesday after battling brain cancer for three years.

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‘American Horror Story’ actor Harry Hains dead at 27

His mother, actress Jane Badler, broke the news in an Instagram post Friday.

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Famed golf course designer Pete Dye dies at 94

Dye, among the forefront of modern golf architecture, died Thursday morning in the Dominican Republic at age 94, a spokesperson at Dye Design said. He had been battling Alzheimer’s disease for several years.

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Jim Tuohy, Chicago writer, raconteur, author of Greylord book, has died at 85

He was of a generation of Chicago writers who’d make the rounds of the Old Town Ale House, O’Rourke’s, the Billy Goat and Riccardo’s. He hung out with the likes of Roger Ebert, who called him ‘a great Chicago writer.’

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Edd Byrnes, starred on ‘77 Sunset Strip,’ dies at 87

Byrnes also starred as the suave, smooth-talking TV dance show host Vince Fontaine in the film "Grease."

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Buck Henry, ‘The Graduate’ writer and frequent ‘SNL’ host, dies at 89

The two-time Oscar nominee also won an Emmy for "Get Smart," the satirical 1960s TV spy series he created with Mel Brooks.

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‘Ugly Betty’ co-creator Silvio Horta dies at 45

Investigators believe Horta died by suicide at a Miami hotel on Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner said Wednesday.

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Former Michigan State football coach George Perles dies at 85

In 12 seasons with the Spartans, Perles was 73–62–4 overall and 58–37–2 in the Big Ten.

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Funeral Saturday for Richard Barnett, who helped elect Mayor Harold Washington, others

He was ‘a leader of the independent political movement in Chicago, not just the blacks who would run for office but the white independents as well,’ Rep. Danny K. Davis says.

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Former Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Bucs coach Sam Wyche dies at 74

Wyche took the Bengals to the Super Bowl.

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Don Larsen, who threw only perfect World Series game, dies at 90

"Don’s perfect game is a defining moment for our franchise, encapsulating a storied era of Yankees success and ranking among the greatest single-game performances in Major League Baseball history," the Yankees said in a statement.

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Former NBA commissioner David Stern dies 3 weeks after suffering brain hemorrhage

Stern was the league’s longest-serving commissioner — 30 years (1984-2014) — and oversaw its growth into a global powerhouse.

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Barrington construction company chairman David Pepper dies at 59

David Pepper led his family’s namesake company, which dates back to its 1937 founding in the suburbs.

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Luis Rossi, former head of La Raza newspaper, dies

Rossi bought La Raza in 1983 and turned it into one of the most important Spanish media outlets in the Midwest.

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Monty Python star Neil Innes dies at 75

Innes was known for his work with the British comedy group, The Bonzo Dog Band and the Rutles.

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In Memoriam — From Toni Morrison and Jessye Norman to Valerie Harper and Doris Day, notable celebrity deaths in 2019

Luke Perry, Leon Redbone, Peter Mayhew, Georgia Engels are among the host of entertainers who passed away in 2019.

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Lee Mendelson dies; brought ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ to TV

Lee Mendelson headed a team that included "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz, director Bill Melendez, and pianist and composer Vince Guaraldi, whose music for the show has become as much a Christmas staple as the show itself.

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Controversial radio host Don Imus dies at 79

Imus was vilified and eventually fired in 2007 after using racist language to describe a women’s college basketball team.

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George Michael’s sister, 55, dies on third anniversary of singer’s death

Michael, the British singer, musician and founding member of Wham!, died the same day three years prior. The cause of her death has not been revealed.

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Jerry Herman, ‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer, dies at 88

The creator of 10 Broadway shows and contributor to several more, Herman won two Tony Awards for best musical: "Hello, Dolly!" in 1964 and "La Cage aux Folles" in 1983.

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Ari Behn, Kevin Spacey accuser and ex-husband of Norwegian princess, dies

In 2017, Behn accused Spacey of groping him under the table at a Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo a decade earlier. It didn’t appear that Behn ever pursued criminal charges or a lawsuit against Spacey.

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‘Light In the Piazza’ author Elizabeth Spencer dies at 98

Spencer died Sunday night in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, according to playwright Craig Lucas, who adapted "Light In the Piazza" for the stage.

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James ‘Jimmie’ Gage dies at 85; came north in Great Migration, served in military and worked for CTA

A gifted high school running back, Jimmie Gage was offered a full scholarship to Alabama State University. Instead, he decided to seek opportunity in Chicago.

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Songwriter Allee Willis, who did “Friends” theme, dies

Songwriter’s work also included Earth, Wind & Fire’s "September" and the Broadway musical "The Color Purple."

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Marlene Gelfond, 81, assistant to film critic Roger Ebert

Gelfond was "a culture maven who appreciated many aspects of the arts," said Ebert’s widow, Chaz Ebert. "Her creative spirit will be missed."

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Chicago interment planned for Margery and Charles Barancik, who donated millions to many causes

The philanthropists died in a car accident near their winter home in Florida.

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Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019

This year saw the deaths of people who shifted culture through prose, pragmatism and persistence. It also witnessed tragedy, in talent struck down in its prime.