Notable deaths in 2018: Politics and business

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Monday, the 24th of December, 2018.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. And it’s Christmas Eve!

EICHER: Yes, Merry Christmas! Now, we all chipped in, and our gift this year is two free weekends not having to prepare Legal Docket!

REICHARD: Thank you so much! I’m so grateful for the reprieve, as is my family!

We’ll need to move fast to get through all those oral arguments, but we will get through them, I promise. In due time.

So, today we kick off a week of holiday programming, now through next Monday.

This week, we will remember notable people who passed away this year.

Of course, every single person is notable in the eyes of God. But today, we remember those who passed away who were notable in the sense that you probably knew of them or felt their influence in some way—whether for good or perhaps not so good.

EICHER: Yes, today we’ll hear about those whose passing we haven’t covered on a previous program, so, in other words, we won’t include, President Bush, for example.

But this is a long list, so today we’ll limit our coverage to the areas of politics, government, and business.

Here’s WORLD Radio’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin today with an international political figure. Former UN head and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Kofi Annan died in August. He was 80.

Annan joined the World Health Organization in 1962, starting a lifelong career with the United Nations. He became secretary general in 1996:

ANNAN: I Kofi Annan, solemnly swear…

As secretary general, Annan’s top priorities included internal UN reform, international development through business, and fighting poverty and HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa.

After leaving the UN, he joined “The Elders,” a group of retired world statesmen founded by Nelson Mandela:

ANNAN: I think we should be looking for those men and women in position of authority and leadership who strive to do what is right. Who also realize that the power they hold in the office they occupy is not something personal. It’s something they hold in trust for the people.

Next, conservative political commentator Charles Krauthammer died of cancer in June.

FOX NEWS: A sad day for our FOX News family, and frankly the country, ‘cause he was such a patriot, our colleague, our friend, the brilliant Charles Krauthammer he passed away today…

Krauthammer was permanently paralyzed from the waist down from a diving accident during his first year in medical school. After graduation, he became a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Later, he worked for the Carter administration and served as a speechwriter for Vice President Walter Mondale. He joined The Washington Post as a columnist in 1984.

His personal journey from liberal to conservative politics was well known inside the beltway. He wrote about it in his 2013 book: “Things That Matter.”

KRAUTHAMMER: I’ve always had a sense of a providential hand in American history. And I think it’s grounded in the basic decency, goodness, and common sense of the ordinary American, so I remain eternally optimistic about America.

Audio from a 2013 interview with CBN. Charles Krauthammer was 68 years old.

Next, we move to the military. The first woman to earn the rank of general died on January 7th.

Anna Mae Hays of Pennsylvania attended nursing school in 1938 and enrolled in the American Red Cross upon graduation.

AUDIO: [Sound of Pearl Harbor announcement]

After the Pearl Harbor attack, Hays enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps. She went on to serve in three wars: World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, she developed new training programs to better prepare nurses for deployment.

President Richard Nixon appointed Hays to the rank of brigadier general in 1970.


During the June 11th ceremony, Hays acknowledged the many military nurses who made her appointment possible:

HAYS: I shall wear these stars proudly, but with deep humility, for I know that they represent no special merit of mine, but rather the dedicated, selfless, and often heroic efforts of Army nurses throughout the world, in time of peace, and time of war.

Next, the story of a reluctant hero. In 1951, the father of African-American student Linda Carol Brown tried to enroll her in their neighborhood school in Topeka, Kansas. When the school refused, Brown and 12 others filed a class-action lawsuit against the Topeka Board of Education.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Justices ruled segregation on the basis of race is inherently unequal and unconstitutional.

BROWN: That evening in our home was much rejoicing. I remember seeing tears of joy in the eyes of my father as he embraced us and repeating, “Thanks be unto God.”

Brown remained a vocal advocate for integration over the years. In 2004, on the 50th anniversary of the landmark decision, Brown identified her father as the true hero:

BROWN: Little did he know, that years ago, when he stepped off the witness stand, he stepped into the pages of history. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]

Brown died in Topeka last March.


Next, another civil rights leader. Wyatt Tee Walker was Martin Luther King Jr.’s chief of staff:

WALKER: This is the critical significance of Birmingham, Alabama: Here the movement for the Negro’s full emancipation took a significant turn.

Walker was the key strategist behind many of the anti-segregation boycotts, non-violent demonstrations, and marches in Birmingham, Alabama.

During a New York television interview in 1995, Walker explained the power of the peaceful marches:

WALKER: The primary thrust of this technique of marches, was to provide an entry level for people to participate in great struggles. It was one of the ways that you could include a great number of people, and give witness to the moral issue that was at stake.

Walker served as pastor of Harlem’s Canaan Baptist Church for 37 years. He died in January at 89.

Next, we turn to business. Computing giant Paul Allen died in October at 65. He helped transform the personal computer from a gadget to an essential tool for business and home.

AUDIO: You’re looking at a small computer…

Allen grew up as the son of educators, but he dropped out of college with childhood friend Bill Gates to start Microsoft in 1975. Although Allen left the company in the 1980s, his founding stock shares eventually made him a billionaire.

He later bought the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks. But Allen also invested heavily in his hometown of Seattle, helping create a vibrant downtown business and cultural district.

ALLEN: As I reflect back on my personal experiences, I encourage those listening today to follow your dreams wherever they may take you. Your dreams are yours, but what becomes of them has the potential to change the course of history.

LYRIC: You see my friend, the computer makes life easier, saves me time and headaches too…

Now on to a different kind of business. Billionaire Harry Wayne Huizenga got his first break over lunch with a garbageman:

HUIZENGA: Herman Molder said to me, what are you doing? I said, “I just got out of the army yesterday.” “Good” he said, “you’re my manager.” I said: “Nah, nah, that’s the last thing I wanted to do was be in the garbage collection business.”

Huizenga changed his mind, and eventually bought his own garbage business in 1962. He would go on to build three successful Fortune 500 companies—Waste Management, Blockbuster video stores and AutoNation.

Huizenga was also the longtime owner of the Miami Dolphins and brought professional baseball and ice hockey teams to South Florida.

Huizenga died of cancer in March. He was 80 years old.


Next, a publicized suicide this summer brought international attention to mental health and depression:


Kate Spade was an American fashion designer whose classy, yet simple handbags made her a household name in the 1990’s. In 2002, she told CNN her first love was actually journalism.

SPADE: I thought I would be Holly Hunter from Broadcast News, behind the scenes, running around really fast, paying attention to what needed to get done. That’s what I thought. I didn’t grow up thinking I would be a designer.

Spade started her career at Mademoiselle Magazine in New York. Eventually she went from “gopher” to fashion editor. When she couldn’t find accessories she liked, she decided to make her own. Soon, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus stores lined up to sell her bags.

In 2007, Spade sold the company to Liz Claiborne and returned home to focus on raising her daughter Frances. Spade’s rentry to the fashion world in 20-16 was headline news, but behind the scenes, things were falling apart. After struggling with severe depression, she died by suicide in her New York apartment on June 5th.

And finally, our last story today begins with a vitamin salesman.

FROM THE GROUND UP VINTAGE FILM: This interesting story is being presented to men and women in homes and offices all over America. And the person who presents the story is a member of your own community, your Nutrilite distributor…

Grand Rapids resident Richard DeVos sold Nutrilite supplements door-to-door for 10 years. In 1959, he—along with a childhood friend—started his own multi-level marketing business selling all-purpose household cleaning products. They called their company “Amway”—an abbreviation of “American Way.

DeVos became a billionaire and frequently promoted free-market economies—as you can hear in this 1960s presentation.

DEVOS: You see, that’s what built this country. Each one respecting the other one and offering them their praise and saying, “Thanks for the help you gave me.” Whether it was to the garbage man, the policeman, and together we built it. [APPLAUSE]

DeVos was active in conservative politics and even ran for Michigan governor in 2006. His daughter-in-law Betsy DeVos is the current Department of Education secretary.

In 2017, Forbes magazine listed him as the 107th-wealthiest person in the United States. He died September 6th at age 92.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/Fox News) Charles Krauthammer

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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