February 8, 2007

Death be not proud - 5

Larry Stewart, known to the world as Kansas City's Secret Santa for his practice (from 1979 to 2006), died at age 58 on January 12, 2007.

He had made a habit of anonymously handing out small amounts of cash, typically in the form of hundred dollar bills, to needy people. The total amount he gave away is estimated to be 1.3 million dollars. Stewart successfully kept his identity hidden until 2006, when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, which would later claim his life. He chose at that time to reveal his identity as part of an effort to encourage others to practice philanthropy.

David Rattray, a well-known historian and tour guide of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu war in South Africa, was brutally murdered on January 26th at his farm in KwaZulu-Natal in circumstances that are under investigation by the South African police.

Molly Ivins died last week (Jan 31st) of breast cancer. What a loss...so now which Texan will pick on the Bush family's exploits!! Expectedly, tributes pour in for this fiesty lady...

Alan MacDiarmid, 79, Professor of Chemistry at UPenn and Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry in 2000 along with Alan J. Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa for the discovery of conductive polymers, died yesterday.

He apparently died "after a fall down stairs in his home in the Drexel Hill suburb of Philadelphia while rushing to catch a flight to his native New Zealand, said his wife, Gayl Gentile. Dr. MacDiarmid was ill with myelodysplastic syndrome, a leukemia-like disease, and had expected to live only a few weeks, during which he wanted to go to New Zealand to say goodbye to his siblings, his wife said."

He is one of the few Nobel laureates I have had the luck to hear/see in person... having attended a seminar he gave in University of Akron in 2001-02.

And lastly, today, a sudden end to a bizarre life....

Reality TV star and former Playboy playmate (sorry..no links! :)), Anna Nicole Smith, is dead at age 39. She was pronounced dead after being found unconscious in her Florida hotel room.

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