Puzzle Builder Merl Reagle Got His Message Across—and Down

Merl Reagle, the pun-ishingly inventive man who had created crossword puzzles for AARP The Magazine since 2004, died suddenly of acute pancreatitis in a hospital in Tampa on Aug. 22. He was 65. Those are the facts of the case. What they can’t give you is a sense of Merl’s love of words, or a flavor of how much fun it was to work with him — or a little behind him, I should say, since that’s where his sprinting …

Julian Bond: Civil Rights Activist

In the 1960s, student civil rights activist-turned-Georgia legislator Julian Bond, who passed away Aug. 15 at age 75 in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., cut such a charismatic figure with his slim, handsome looks and dazzling gift for oratory that some envisioned him becoming the first African-American U.S. President. Instead, that political pinnacle eventually was achieved by Barack Obama, who shared many of Bond’s attributes. But Bond, who went on to become chairman of the NAACP from 1998 to 2010, helped …

Frank Gifford: Football Legend and Sportscast Star

As the low-key buffer between folksy “Dandy Don” Meredith and pontificating Howard Cosell on ABC’s Monday Night Football, Frank Gifford became such a sportscasting institution that some younger viewers might not have realized that he was once one of the game’s top players. Gifford, who passed away at age 84 on Aug. 9 in Connecticut, starred at running back for the New York Giants in the 1950s and ’60s and led his team to the 1956 NFL championship, a season …

James Jude: He Invented CPR

In the late 1950s, a young surgical resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital named James Jude learned that his friend Guy Knickerbocker had noticed something strange during an experiment. Knickerbocker, a graduate student, had pressed electrical defibrillator paddles against a dog’s chest, and amazingly, the force seemed to cause the animal’s stopped heart to begin pumping blood again. Famous People We’ve Lost in 2015 » Jude, who passed away July 28 at age 87 in Coral Gables, Fla., then had a brainstorm. What …

E.L. Doctorow: He Turned History Into Fiction

E.L. Doctorow took the art of historical novels a step beyond by reimagining historical figures as fictional characters. In his most famous work, the 1975 best-seller Ragtime, Doctorow, who passed away on July 21 in New York at age 84, set a cast that includes Harry Houdini, Sigmund Freud, Henry Ford and Booker T. Washington interact in scenes that never happened and yet reveal so much about the characters. Famous People We’ve Lost in 2015 » Here are some nuggets about …

Omar Sharif: Star in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Doctor Zhivago’

With his dark, dashing looks and commanding presence, Egyptian-born Omar Sharif dominated the big screen in such epics as Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965).  >> Famous People We’ve Lost in 2015 Sharif, who passed away on July 10 at age 83 in Cairo, was the biggest star of Arab ancestry to break through in Hollywood, with his versatility as an actor enabling him to play a wide range of parts of varying ethnicity, from an ancient Armenian king …