Each year takes with it some of our friends, relatives and those public figures we see as friends, or perhaps, something other than a friend, some heroes, some villains, and some a little of each. 2012 was no different.
I was 10 years old when awoken by my mother, to come see Neil Armstrong take his “one small step.” He was 82 when he passed away after heart surgery in December. He was the stuff of legends and will never be forgotten, but it was a bad year for legendary American astronauts, as Sally Ride, the first American woman in space also passed away at the young age of 61, the victim of pancreatic cancer.
In the wide world of sports, we said goodbye to Joe Paterno in January, just weeks after he was fired in the wake of the Sandusky child abuse nightmare at Penn State University. One wonders whether he lost his will to fight in the aftermath of those events. A hero to some, and yet the University removed his statue, in some way, a posthumous judgment, and a sad event in every way.
Another controversial figure from the world of football, Art Modell, passed away at the start of the NFL season. He was still a villain in Cleveland, having moved the old Browns franchise to Baltimore and renamed them the Ravens in 1996, but he became a hero to Baltimore when they won the Super Bowl in 2001. Perhaps saddest of all was the suicide of Junior Seau, who spent 19 years as a linebacker in the NFL. This deepened the concern of many regarding the effects of repeated head trauma on the brain, as he was by no means the first player to commit suicide after a long football career.
2012 was a bad year in the world of music, where Whitney Houston, Marvin Hamlisch, Dave Brubeck, and also Robin Gibb, of the Bee Gees, and Davy Jones, of the Monkees, all passed away. Some, like Hamlisch and Brubeck after long lives, but Whitney Houston’s passing, at 48, as a result of drowning was especially sad, and a waste of such talent. The autopsy showed evidence of cocaine abuse and consequent heart disease - which made the event all the more tragic.