I’ve had a personal tradition, over the past ten years or so, of starting each new year with several columns that acknowledge the passing of important people during the previous twelve months.
This year, my heart wasn’t in it. Perhaps it is a consequence of my advancing age, or just a coincidence of fate, but it seemed like a ridiculous number of people of consequence died last year.
But, as January moves along, I guess it’s time to acknowledge some of the deceased. Now, I’m not saying the people I’m noting below were the most important people to die, and in fact, I don’t know who gets to decide those things. Let’s just say that these people seemed timeless, which is, of course, impossible.
Watching “Benson” re-runs on ME-TV, I was reminded that Robert Guillaume died in 2017. Other retro-rerun icons who passed away were Jim Nabors, David Cassidy, Monte Hall, Adam West, Barbara Hale (Perry Mason’s assistant), Mike Connors (Mannix), and, of course, Mary Tyler Moore.
Don Rickles, Jerry Lewis, Bill Dana (“Jose Jimenez”), Dick Gregory, Shelley Berman, were old-school comedians. Lewis and Gregory used their talent to do more than just amuse people.
Among the musical giants who died were Glen Campbell, Fats Domino, Tom Petty, Don Williams, Troy Gentry (Montgomery-Gentry), Walter Becker (Steely Dan), Chuck Berry, Al Jarreau, along with Butch Trucks and Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band. They ramble no longer.
Sister Frances Carr, the last member of the religious sect called the Shakers, died at 89. Shakers were doomed to disappear, since they didn’t believe in having sex. No replacement plan.
There were many more notable people who breathed their last breaths in 2017. And, many of us lost friends and relatives who were not famous, but who had great importance to us.
It’s funny, but sometimes it feels like the way we respond to someone’s demise, the most important thing in life is death, which is opposite of the truth. However, in a small way, it feels nice to say a quick thank-you to people who were a part of our lives for so long. Maybe when our time comes, someone will return that small favor.