Mourning in 2011 – Those Who Passed

I debated on whether to do this post, but there were some memorable deaths of more than a few remarkable people. Some could have been prevented, others lived very full, fruitful and long lives. Because death is part of the life cycle, I think this is an important part of saying goodbye to quite the unpredictable year. This list, of course, is not all-inclusive, but each stood out in my mind for different reasons.

Jani Lane

Those of us who grew up in the 80s know all too well those classic Warrant songs. Jani Lane was the larger than life lead singer of the band and wrote some of the most powerful ballads from that decade. His cause of death was listed as acute alcohol poisoning and the real tragedy is that he was only 47 when he died in August. See my all time favorite Warrant song below – never outgrew it and it’s still in my top 10 all time favorite songs.

Amy Winehouse

Although I’m not familiar with her music, her death, like Lane’s was especially hard to accept because she was so young and appeared to be winning the long battle with her addiction demons. Her death in July, just one month before Lane’s, was a blow to the collective music industry and those who adored her – and there were many. At her best, she was a larger than life beautiful young woman; after addiction had taken its toll, it really was quite disturbing to see. She was 27.

Steve Jobs

What can you say? Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, introduced the world to…well….each other. Next to Bill Gates, Jobs made more of a contribution to society than we will ever again see in our lifetimes. He too was young and had been battling pancreatic cancer when he passed away October 5.

Patrice O’Neal

This guy made me laugh with his many appearances on The Office and of course, his contribution to the Charlie Sheen Roast earlier this year. He was only 42 when he died from complications of diabetes less than one month ago on November 29.

Andy Rooney

Everyone’s favorite codger – Rooney was a staple on CBS’s 60 Minutes for what seemed like forever. He always reminded me of the proverbial grandfather: ill as bear, but a total pushover when it came to his grandkids. I don’t know if that’s how he was, of course, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. He is one of those who lived a full, amazing and contributory life. He was 92 when he passed on November 4.

Dan Wheldon

This was a huge loss to the racing family. Wheldon was one of those “rock stars of racing” and the crash that took his life still haunts those who witnessed it. He won the 2011 Indianapolis 500 race and just five months later, sustained “unsurvivable” injuries due to a car crash while practicing in Las Vegas on October 16. He was 33.

Nick Ashford

Remember Ashford & Simpson? He and his singing partner and wife Valerie Simpson wrote “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough” “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing” and “Solid” (along with countless others). He was 70 when he passed away in New York on August 22. No doubt, he was Motown’s shining star, especially in the 60s, 70s and even into the 80s.

Annette Charles

Remember Cha Cha from Grease? This lovely woman was 63 when she died of cancer on August 3rd. The best scene from this amazing film was when she stole Danny from Sandy at the dance. I don’t think there was a 15 year old boy anywhere in the world who didn’t hope she’d show up at their dance to show ’em how it’s done.

Sherwood Schwartz

Everyone knows this man’s name, even if they don’t recognize his face. He created some of the greatest television shows ever – Bewitched and Gilligan’s Island are just two of them. He was 94 when he passed away on July 12.

Mike Starr

I admit I wasn’t a fan of Alice in Chains, but Mike Starr’s appearance on Celebrity Rehab in 2009 had everyone hoping he’d come out the other side better for the experience. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. He was only 44 when he passed on March 8. He’d been arrested a month earlier on felony drug possession, though he presented a prescription a few days later for the oxymorphone pills he was carrying. If Michael Jackson’s physician was prosecuted for lending to his death, then Starr’s doctor that prescribed those powerful drugs to an addict should also be investigated.
Again, this is just a short list of the more than 140 deaths of those in the public spotlight, whether as celebrities, activists, journalists or trendsetters. Death is part of life, but you can’t help but wonder how many of these folks still had a lot of living to do in this realm before passing away?


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