Notable deaths of 2007: gone but not forgotten

Elizabeth Gladys Dean is 95 years old. Up until October 2007, she – and only one other person in the living world – shared the same experience.

At 2 months old, Dean was on the Titanic in 1912 and is now the last survivor of the sinking.

Barbara West Dainton, 96, passed away in October, leaving Dean with the distinct title.

In a sickly sweet way, one of my favorite parts of a major awards ceremony is the “In Memoriam” slideshow. I know I’m not alone in this. But the media typically focus on the big stars who passed away that year.

It’s time to remember some of the not-so-well-known people, like Dainton, who we typically take for granted – those overshadowed by the Anna Nicole Smiths and Merv Griffins in 2007.

Few people may know the name Bobby “Boris” Pickett, but many know his work. In 1962, Pickett co-wrote a song that “caught on in a flash.” The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts around Halloween of that year. Pickett penned the “Monster Mash.”

The “Mash” was performed by Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers and reentered the U.S. charts in 1970 and 1973, becoming one of only three records to reenter the Billboard Top 100. The Beach Boys even performed a cover in 1964.

Pickett passed away from leukemia on April 25 at the age of 69. There’s no doubt he’ll remain a graveyard smash.

A few years after the “Monster Mash,” America fell in love with another song that will never go away. In 1964, Nancy Sinatra first performed “These Boots are Made for Walkin’,” written by country music singer and songwriter Lee Hazelwood.

Hazelwood, 78, died Aug. 4 from renal cancer. But his legacy lives on in the unceasing popularity of the song. One list counts more than 40 recorded versions that have been created since the original.

The song can even survive murder, as Jessica Simpson proved in her 2005 single.

Moving down on the farm, the restaurant world lost a living legend on June 21. Ohio native Bob Evans took the pork world by storm and created his famous restaurant chain in 1948.

What began as a 12-stool diner has evolved into more than 600 restaurants in 23 states, and, of course, breakfast is still served all day.Evans died in Cleveland after complications from a stroke. He was 89.

The year 1978 saw the birth of a popular Tony Award-winning musical, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, inspired by a real-life Texas ranch. The Chicken Ranch was an illegal brothel in operation from 1905 to 1973.

It was Houston television reporter Marvin Zindler who began investigating the brothel in 1972. His work not only led to the closing of the ranch, but also to the musical and subsequent movie.Known for his unique sign off – something truly worth YouTube-ing – and his Friday featurette “Slime in the Ice Machine,” which exposed restaurants that failed health-code inspections, Zindler signed an unprecedented lifetime contract with the ABC owned-and-operated station in Houston in September 1988.

Zindler passed away July 29 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 85. But he still lives on in his “Slime” segments. I promise, you will not regret looking it up on YouTube.

With $43, Dr. Robert Cade did something to change the way athletes sweat. By pumping carbohydrates and electrolytes into a tasty concoction, Cade invented Gatorade in 1965.

That was the beginning of a multibillion-dollar industry that continues today, selling dozens of flavors in more than 85 countries.

Cade, 80, died last Tuesday from kidney failure.

But enough talk about death. Let’s talk about an inspiring life.

Edna Parker is a cute old lady – or, more specifically, a supercentenarian – who holds the distinction of being the oldest living person in the world as of Aug. 13, 2007. On that date, Yone Minagawa of Japan passed away at 114 years, 221 days old.

Born in 1893 and celebrating a ripe 114 years and 228 days, Parker is a retired teacher. Her only husband, Earl Parker, died in 1938. Parker is the oldest of the 74 supercentenarians – people older than 110 years old – in the world.

As you may have noticed, I’ve mainly focused above on males who have passed away. However, there is good reason why, as exemplified by Parker.

Of the 74 supercentenarians, only nine are males.

Chris Stover can be reached at stover@temple.edu.

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