obituaries

Jazz Saxophone Legend Jimmy Heath Has Died

Jan 19, 2020

Jimmy Heath, a prolific saxophonist, composer and bandleader who played alongside some of the biggest names of jazz, including Miles Davis and John Coltrane, has died.

Heath died Sunday morning in Loganville, Georgia of natural causes, his grandson told NPR. He was 93 years old. His family was at his side, including his wife of 60 years, Mona Heath, his children Mtume and Rozie, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and his brother, drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath.

David Stern, a basketball Hall of Famer and former commissioner of the NBA, died on Wednesday at age 77. The NBA issued a statement saying that his death was the result of a brain hemorrhage that he suffered in mid-December.

Legendary Broadway songwriter Jerry Herman has died. The author of the hit musicals Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage aux Folles was 88.

Publicist Harlan Boll said Herman was taken to a Miami hospital Thursday night complaining of chest pain and later died of pulmonary complications.

The title of Jerry Herman's autobiography was Showtune, and if there ever was a Broadway composer who wrote good, old-fashioned, hummable show tunes, it was Jerry Herman.

Songwriter Allee Willis, whose credits include the theme for the show Friends, and Earth, Wind & Fire's "Boogie Wonderland" and "September," died Tuesday. She was 72.

Willis' long career included a Grammy win and nominations for an Emmy and a Tony. In 2018, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The spiritual leader and author Ram Dass has died at the age of 88. He was an icon of the psychedelic drug movement of the '60s and '70s, as well as a champion of a mindful philosophy.

According to his official Instagram account, he died Sunday at his home in Maui.

COURTESY OF CESAR ALVAREZ

Arturo Alvarez, trailblazing Miami trial lawyer and co-founder of the Cuban American Bar Association, died Monday at the age of 71.

A native of Havana, Cuba, Alvarez was one of a handful of Cuban law students at the University of Florida when he graduated in 1972. He entered his field at a time when South Florida firms were in dire need of bilingual attorneys, but they still lacked a community to rely on.

Caroll Spinney, the actor and puppeteer who portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street over five decades, died Sunday at age 85.

The Sesame Workshop said Spinney had died at home in Connecticut, and that he had long lived with dystonia, a disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions.

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald file

Garth C. Reeves Sr., publisher emeritus of The Miami Times and a voice for the aspirations of African Americans in Miami for most of the past century, died on Monday.

He was 100.

Joseph Kaplan FAMILY PHOTO

Joseph Kaplan was a published poet. He was an accomplished labor lawyer for nearly five decades. And he was a devoted father and public servant.

In his role as a lawyer, he did pro bono work. Among those he represented: labor leader Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers Union. Kaplan was on the front lines during the drive to unionize orange groves in Central Florida. Chavez was a labor activist focused on improving the lives and working conditions of farmworkers.

Kaplan, a longtime resident of Miami Beach and Coral Gables, died Thursday at age 90.

MARIANNE ARMSHAW/ / MIAMI HERALD

Prominent human rights activist and Haitian community leader Jean-Robert Lafortune died earlier this month after enduring a long chronic illness. He was 63-years-old.

Lafortune, who was locally and nationally recognized for his role in seeking relief for Haitian immigrants throughout the U.S. and abroad, died Oct. 15, according to an obituary circulated by his relatives and colleagues.

Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore attorney and civil rights advocate who served in Maryland's legislature before representing the state in the U.S. House, where he took on a lead role in investigating President Trump, has died. He was 68.

Cummings, the head of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Reform, died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital from complications related to longstanding health challenges, according to The Associated Press.

Legendary actress, singer and style icon Diahann Carroll died on Friday at her home in Los Angeles after a long bout with cancer. She was 84 years old.

Carroll's longtime manager, Ronni Lynn Hart, confirmed her death to NPR.

In her illustrious career, Carroll won a Tony Award and was nominated for an Oscar. But she is perhaps best known for making television history when she starred as the titular character on the NBC sitcom Julia, which debuted in 1968.

JEFFERY A. SALTER MIAMI HERALD FILE

How would you describe award-winning dessert cookbook author and baking legend Maida Heatter?

A decade ago, a Miami Herald features writer sat with her once in her bayside Normandy Isle home — where she died Thursday at 102 — and put her in context with something not unlike one of Heatter’s own heavenly creations:

Courtesy of the Guatemalan-Maya Center

It’s surreal for Fr. Frank O’Loughlin to see a video of a straight-faced Policarpia Gaspar Xuncax talking about the Guatemalan-Maya Center, a nonprofit serving immigrants that they co-founded in Lake Worth.

“In real life, she couldn’t make it through two sentences without laughing,” he said.

Her sense of humor and her passion for education loom large in the stories family, friends and community members tell about the woman they knew as Poli.

University of Florida

The sudden death last week of Florida water expert Karl Havens leaves a void in fighting the state's ongoing water problems, his colleagues said.

"It's such a tragedy," said Jack Payne, senior vice president at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agriculture Resources and Havens boss. "It leaves a huge hole in who we are and what we do."

Pages