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RIP: A train-robber, a WWII resistance hero, and 11 other amazing people we just lost

Van Cliburn Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition 1958
AP Photo / Van Cliburn Foundation
Van the man: Cliburn performs to a packed house in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory in Moscow, Russia, in April 1958 during the first International Tchaikovsky Competition, which he eventually won.
By Matt Phillips
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

A selection of people who died last week:

  1. Van Cliburn—Texan classical pianist, whose gold medal performance at the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow gave the US a major Cold War propaganda victory and made him a national hero, 78.
  2. Bruce Reynolds—Jazz-and-literature-loving mastermind of the 1963 British train raid immortalized in pop culture as the Great Train Robbery. “Asked how he was feeling earlier this month, he replied: ‘Well, the axeman cometh.'” He was 81.
  3. Orhan Suyolcu—Turkish Airlines pilot who, during the Iran-Iraq war, took part in an operation to rescue 200 Japanese stranded in the Islamic Republic, 87.
  4. Bert Flugelman—Controversial stainless steel sculptor whose landmark public work in Australian cities earned nicknames such as “Mall’s Balls” and “Silver Shish Kebab,” 90.
  5. Stephane Hessel—French Resistance spy, who survived the Buchenwald death camp. The key to his survival was, on the night before he was supposed to be hanged, assuming the identity of a deceased fellow inmate. He later helped write the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and his  2010 essay “Time for Outrage” became an inspiration for the Occupy Wall Street movement. He was 95.
  6. Goldie Harvey—Nigerian singer and reality show star, whose R&B flavored pop proved infectious throughout Africa. The 31-year-old had complained of a headache soon after her return from Los Angeles, where she had gone for the Grammy awards. She died en route to the hospital.
  7. Adam Strange—Film and television director, who took home a Crystal Bear award at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival for a short film set on a magical dairy farm in the 1930s. He was attacked by sharks while surfing at Muriwai Beach, near Auckland. He was 46.
  8. Atje Keulen-Deelstra—Dutch speed-skating legend who was crowned the women’s world champion four times. She was 74.
  9. Dave Charlton—Successful South African racing driver. He was South Africa’s champion for six consecutive years from 1970 to 1975. He was 76.
  10. Paul McIlhenny—Head of Louisiana’s Tabasco sauce empire, of an apparent heart attack, at 68.
  11. Peter Harvey—Australian broadcaster, journalist, and war correspondent—he covered the Vietnam war for Newsweek—whose signature sign-off, “Peter Harvey … Canberra,” was so well-known as to be lampooned by late-night comedians, 68.
  12. Simon Li Fook-sean—The first Chinese Hong Konger to serve as chief justice under British Rule, 91.
  13. Wojciech Inglot—Polish chemist and businessman who rose to prominence after founding a successful cosmetics company. His breathable nail polish became an unexpected hit with Muslim women. He was 57.

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