Remember those who we have lost

If you are among the readers who count themselves in the Baby Boom generation, you are likely aware that many of the men and women who have shaped that time period have died in the past year.

While the losses were felt across all segments of our lives, it’s tough to pinpoint one that stands out above the others.

We lost another of our heroes in Bruce McCandless. An astronaut, he demonstrated that anything-is-possible attitude of a generation when he became the first person to fly freely and untethered in space in 1984. His voice had already been familiar to millions of people around the world through his work as the mission control communicator during Neil Armstrong’s first lunar moonwalk.

Another trailblazer in space, Gene Cernan, died in January. He is the last man who has walked on the moon.

Residents of the Tri-State Area suffered a major loss in April, when Dan Rooney, the longtime chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, died. Among his accomplishments in and out of sports was his push for the National Football League’s minority hiring initiative, which has become known as the Rooney Rule.

Another person closely associated with area sports, Joni Sledge, left us in March. She joined with her sisters to record the iconic “We Are Family,” which became the anthem that helped drive the 1979 Pirates to their World Series win.

Seemingly countless other major American figures died, including Norma McCorvey, whose legal challenge under the pseudonym “Jane Roe” led to the Supreme Court’s decision that legalized abortion. She later became an outspoken critic of the procedure.

Also gone is Roger Ailes, the creator of the Fox News Channel, who was forced from his job amid allegations of sexual harassment.

George Romero, whose “Night of the Living Dead” was filmed in the Monroeville Mall and helped make zombies fashionable, left us in 2017.

We also lost a James Bond and a Batman with the deaths of Roger Moore and Adam West; a person who created one of the most-loved television characters of all time in Mary Tyler Moore; two of the great comedians of the era in Don Rickles and Jerry Lewis; and a play-by-play legend in Dick Enberg.

Activist Dick Gregory died in the past year, as did music legends Tom Petty, Gregg Allman, Glen Campbell, Chuck Berry and Al Jarreau.

Also gone is the man who revved up the sexual revolution — Hugh Hefner — and the man who came to personify pure evil — Charles Manson.

We also need to remember that we’ve also been touched by personal losses with family and friends, and that their memories are the most important, because they are the ones who truly have shaped the lives of those who live here.

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