Man knows not his time


Issue: "Year in Review 2000," Dec. 30, 2000

A prewinter storm that dumped about a foot of snow and ice this month on the Midwest forced some urban Chicagoans to ponder their mortality. "It's only by the grace of God that I wasn't killed," said Sonny Skinner, who watched a four-foot chunk of ice whistle downward hundreds of feet from a nearby skyscraper and crash on the sidewalk. Mr. Skinner cringed as shards of ice hit his pantlegs, but he pulled his jacket over his head and soldiered on. Pedestrians in Chicago and other large cities that receive a lot of snowfall often find themselves sidestepping, weaving, or flat-out sprinting down sidewalks to avoid falling ice. Warning signs crop up around city buildings at the first freeze and remain until spring. Mr. Skinner, however, was well outside the area roped off with yellow "Caution Falling Ice" signs. "They didn't do me much good right there," he said. "There's nothing they can do." No, there's not. "Man knows not the time of his death," noted Puritan pastor Increase Mather in 1697. "Often it is so, when death falls upon a man, he thinks no more of it than the fishes think of the net before they are caught in it." Each year, WORLD compiles a large list of relatively well-known men and women from different walks of life who passed away over the last 12 months. This is a much more subtle method of provoking thoughts of eternal things than ice falling from skyscrapers, but we hope it's just as effective. "All future contingencies are known to God only ... ," Mather warned, "that so His children might live by faith, that so they might live a life of holy dependence upon God continually." JANUARY

  • Patrick O'Brian (Jan. 2), 85, author of 20 richly detailed novels that chronicle the experiences of Captain Jack Aubrey and his shipmate Stephen Maturin (friend, surgeon, intellectual, musician, and naturalist) as they sailed around the globe, pursuing Napoleon's navy, rich prizes, and wonderful adventures. He died while at work on the 21st in the series.
  • Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. (Jan. 2), 79, retired Navy admiral who in the 1970s modernized the service with "Z-Grams" that relaxed regulations.
  • Tom Fears (Jan. 4), 76, NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver with the Los Angeles Rams whose record of 18 catches in a game still stands.
  • Rick Acton (Jan. 5), 54, Senior PGA Tour golfer.
  • Don Martin (Jan. 6), 68, the Mad magazine "maddest cartoonist" whose hapless characters met frying-pan-in-the-face fates punctuated by wacky sounds like SHKLIP!
  • Ivan DeBlois Combe (Jan. 11), 88, one of history's little-known benefactors: He invented Clearasil, the acne cream that helped millions of baby boomers get through puberty.
  • Bob Lemon (Jan. 11), 79, star right-hander for the Cleveland Indians who won 20 games seven times. In 1978, he became manager of the slumping New York Yankees at midseason and led them to a startling comeback, including a one-game playoff win over the Boston Red Sox and a World Series title.
  • Robert Rathbun Wilson (Jan. 16), 85, nuclear physicist who led the Manhattan Project and served as director of the National Accelerator Laboratory.
  • Bettino Craxi (Jan. 19), 65, socialist prime minister of Italy who went into exile to escape charges of bribery.
  • Hedy Lamarr (Jan. 19), 86, sultry Austrian-born Hollywood actress who lit up the screen in films of the 1930s and '40s with such leading men as Charles Boyer, Clark Gable, and Spencer Tracy.
  • Craig Claiborne (Jan. 22), 79, New York Times food writer who took readers from the delights of a deli sandwich to the splendors of haute cuisine, including a $4,000 dinner in Paris.
  • Jean MacArthur (Jan. 22), 101, widow of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
  • Carl Curtis (Jan. 24), 94, former Republican senator from Nebraska who served 40 years in Congress and stuck by President Nixon during the final days of Watergate.
  • Don Budge (Jan. 26), 84, Hall of Fame men's tennis great who in 1938 swept all four major tournaments to become the first Grand Slam winner.
  • Harold H. Greene (Jan. 29), 76, a federal judge who oversaw the breakup of AT&T. Earlier, as a government attorney, he played a key role in shaping civil-rights laws.


  • Richard Kleindienst (Feb. 3), 76, U.S. attorney general during the Nixon administration who resigned during Watergate.
  • Carl Albert (Feb. 4), 91, Oklahoma politician elected to Congress in 1947 who served as Speaker of the House from 1971 to 1976.
  • Doug Henning (Feb. 7), 52, mustachioed magician whose showmanship in the 1970s helped rejuvenate the craft with TV specials and Broadway extravaganzas.
  • Derrick Thomas (Feb. 8), 33, nine-time pro-bowl linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. A fan favorite because of his heavy involvement in local charities, he died from injuries suffered in a car accident on the way to the airport; he intended to fly to St. Louis to watch the NFC championship game.
  • Sid Abel (Feb. 10), 81, National Hockey League Hall of Famer who led the Detroit Red Wings to three Stanley Cup championships in the '40s and '50s.
  • Tom Landry (Feb. 12), 75, composed Dallas Cowboys coach for 29 years with 270 NFL victories and five Super Bowl appearances, active in Christian ministries.
  • Charles Schulz (Feb. 12), 77, creator of the Peanuts comic strip. "Why do musicians compose symphonies and poets write poems?" he once said. "They do it because life wouldn't have any meaning for them if they didn't. That's why I draw cartoons. It's my life." Mr. Schulz died just as his last original Peanuts strip appeared in newspapers.

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