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News of the Year | Notable deaths of 2009

Issue: "News of the Year," Jan. 2, 2010

In August they buried the nation's leading liberal, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, to a 21-gun salute at Arlington National Cemetery. He had been eulogized from Boston to Washington by scores of senators and four presidents, accompanied by Placido Domingo and Yo-Yo Ma. In September they lowered to his grave by plain box leading conservative Irving Kristol, the mourners pitching dirt to cover it after a simple funeral ceremony that included two psalms, a prayer, and short remarks by a rabbi and Kristol's son William.

Such was not only the contrast between a public official and a public intellectual, but the difference in philosophies that put titanic conservative thinkers-five of whom died this year-in retrograde orbits from their liberal counterparts. Kristol was the son of a Brooklyn garment merchant whose first job was in a navy yard tightening rivets. He became a youthful Trotskyite but famously said he was "mugged by reality" after service in World War II-and neo-conservatism was born. In a 1975 article he called the American right from realism to "revanchism," or taking back the political, moral, and economic ground at the country's core.

William Safire, the conservative agitator of The New York Times editorial pages since 1973, died likewise quietly in a Maryland hospice (of pancreatic cancer) less than 10 days later. A college dropout who, like Kristol, preferred the barricades to the balconies, "Safire did not soar at 35,000 feet bemoaning what fools these mortals be. He did his own reporting, digging up stories and anecdotes that embarrassed politicians who deserved to be embarrassed," noted one obituary.

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These were accompanied in death this year by conservative pundit Robert Novak; NFL quarterback turned lawmaker, vice presidential candidate, and popularizer of individual tax cuts Jack Kemp; and conservative theologian Richard John Neuhaus, author of The Naked Public Square and founder and long-time editor of First Things. All died in the year the pundits declared also the death of conservatism, spurred by the election of the first unapologetically liberal president in over 40 years. Yet these men long withstood other rising tides when the forces of the state-of communism, socialism, Nazism, and welfare-ism-attempted to drown out the forces of conscience, family, and hard work. Always hard, feet on the ground, work.

"Captain" Lou Albano | 76, Oct. 14 | One of pro wrestling's most recognized characters of the 1980s after appearing in Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" music video.

Charles Albury | 88, May 23 | Co-pilot of the B-29 plane, named the Bockscar, that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, on Aug. 9, 1945.

Joseph C. Aldrich | 68, Feb. 12 | Nationally known evangelical leader, president of Multnomah University (1978-1997), and pioneer of the prayer summit movement now known as International Renewal Ministries.

Willard Aldrich | 100, Nov. 27 | Co-founder in 1936 of Multnomah School of the Bible (now Multnomah University) and its president 1943-1978 (and father of Joseph Aldrich).

Frank Aletter | 83, May 13 | Veteran character actor who starred in the 1960s sitcoms Bringing Up Buddy and It's About Time.

Joan Alexander | 94, May 21 | Actress who was the voice of Lois Lane in the 1940s radio "Superman" and in an animated TV version in the 1960s.

Henry Allingham | 113, July 11 | World's oldest man at the time and one of two surviving World War I veterans in Britain.

Wayne Allwine | 62, May 18 | Mickey Mouse's voice for more than 30 years.

Hudson Armerding | 91, Dec. 1 | Presbyterian minister and president of Wheaton College (1965-1982), and president of the National Association of Evangelicals and World Evangelical Fellowship.

Leonore Annenberg | 91, March 12 | Widow of publisher Walter Annenberg who continued his foundation's $4.2 billion in charitable and cultural contributions.

Corazon Aquino | 76, July 25 | Former Philippines president who led a 1986 uprising that ended the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

Dave Arneson | 61, April 7 | Co-creator with Gary Gygax of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy game (1974) and a pioneer of role-playing entertainment.

Beatrice "Bea" Arthur | 86, April 25 | Award-winning stage, film, and television actress known best for her tough-old-girl comedic roles in TV's Maude and The Golden Girls.

Ernie Ashworth | 80, March 2 | Grand Ole Opry singer whose hits included "Talk Back Trembling Lips" and "Everybody But Me."

Susan Atkins | 61, Sept. 24 | Imprisoned member of the Charles Manson "family" who admitted ruthlessly stabbing pregnant actress Sharon Tate to death in the cult's 1969 murder spree.


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