Decade in Review: Farewells

From Ronald Reagan to Pope John Paul II, a look back at top newsmakers and intriguing figures who died in the past ten years.

Schulz, the creator of the ''Peanuts'' comic strip, died on Feb. 12, 2000. He was 77 and had suffered from colon cancer. Schulz drew ''Peanuts'' for nearly half a century, with his final strip coming out in Sunday papers just hours after his death. The series, which reached readers in 75 countries, 2,600 papers and 21 languages, made him rich, bringing in more than $1 billion a year in syndication fees, merchandise rights and product endorsements. Born in Minneapolis, He earned $90 from it in its first year. He is seen here in 1966.

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The flamboyant former prime minister of Canada, who died Sept. 28, 2000, at 80, was a rare phenomenon in a country typically averse to personality politics. He dominated the nation’s political scene from the mid-’60s to the mid-’80s, serving twice as premier (from April 1968 to June 1979 and again from March 1980 to June 1984). Born in Montreal, the son of a rich French-Canadian lawyer, Trudeau became a law professor before becoming involved in politics. His private life became as discussed as his public one. In 1971, he married a 22-year-old 30 years his junior. Here, Trudeau is seen during a visit to London in 1975.

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Even though Stassen achieved elective office early in his career – serving as governor of Minnesota from 1939 to 1943 -- he was most famous for his many failed attempts to attain it as a perennial presidential candidate. Elected governor at only 31, Stassen, who died March 4, 2001, at 93, left politics to join the Navy, a move that effectively silenced predictions that he would be a force in the Republican Party. Not daunted, however, he put himself up as a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination 12 times between 1944 and 2000, never attracting more than a smattering of votes in his later runs. He is seen here at a GOP convention during the Fifties.

Leonard Mccombe / Time & Life Pictures

His name may be a mere echo now, but when South African Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant in a Cape Town hospital on Dec. 3, 1967, he was on front pages everywhere. Barnard died on Sept. 2, 2001, at age 79. His first heart recipient was Louis Washkansky, a 54-year-old grocer suffering from incurable coronary disease. Washkansky lived for only 18 days, but Barnard continued his pioneering work, eventually producing results that lasted more than 20 years. He retired in 1983, when developing arthritis prevented him from operating. He is seen here at a press conference in Denmark.

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Olson, the 45-year-old wife of George W. Bush’s solicitor general, Ted Olson, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001, when her plane was hijacked before being crashed into the Pentagon. A lawyer, Olson was a frequent pundit on such talk shows as “Larry King Live” and “Crossfire” at the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandals. On the day she died, she delayed her planned flight so that she could have breakfast with her husband on his 61st birthday. Shortly after take-off, she called him to say that the aircraft had been hijacked Her last words to her husband -- who reportedly had time to tell her that two planes had already hit the World Trade Center -- were "What do I tell the pilot to do?" Here she is seen on NBC's ''Meet the Press'' in 1998.

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Known as the United Kingdom’s mum-in-chief for 50 years -- after achieving near-heroic status with her husband, King George VI, during World War II -- Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother died March 30, 2002, at 101. Born into an aristocratic Scottish family, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon never expected to be queen when she married the second son of King George V, but the abdication in 1936 of Edward VIII forced her and her shy husband into the spotlight. When he died in 1952, the widowed queen settled into a role as an understated cheerleader for the nation. Here she is seen during a visit to Northern Ireland in 1945.

A four-term Democratic U.S. Senator from New York as well as an ambassador, a White House appointee (in both Democratic and Republican administrations) and an academic, Moynihan died March 26, 2003. He was 76. Although never a candidate for nationwide office, he had influence beyond that of a normal senator, due to his intellect and not toeing the party line. Brought up in New York City, he shined shoes as a boy before embarking on an academic career that eventually took him into the Kennedy White House. In 1976 he ran for the Senate, where he stayed until retiring in 2000. Here, he is seen during his time at the United Nations.

Brian Alpert / Hulton Archive

Brinkley, who for more than a half-century loomed large in the newscasting world he helped create, died June 11, 2003, at age 82. Born in Wilmington, N.C., Brinkley was still in high school when he began writing for his hometown newspaper. After university and the Army he worked in Southern bureaus for the United Press syndicate. He moved to Washington, D.C., thinking a radio job awaited him at CBS News. Instead, he wound up at a job four blocks away at NBC News. He became White House correspondent -- NBC's first -- before rising in 1956 to be co-anchor of the nightly news with Chet Huntley, an arrangement that lasted until 1971. This photo shows him in 1965.

Bruce Dale / National Geographic

The only U.S. Senator to reach 100 while still in office (and the second longest-serving of all time), Thurmond died June 26, 2003. A lawyer, Thurmond was elected Democratic governor of his native South Carolina in 1946. Angered by President Truman’s attempts at federal civil-rights reforms and stood for president in the 1948 election as the candidate of the States’ Rights Democratic Party (the ‘‘Dixiecrats”). He won four states. In 1954, he was elected as a U.S. Senator, a seat he held until his death (though changing parties in 1964). After his death it was revealed that Thurmond and a black maid had a daughter whom Thurmond never publicly acknowledged and whom he had supported financially. This photo shows him in his Senate office in late 2002.

Jim Watson / AFP

It started as an extraordinary story -- Tillman turns down a $3.6 million NFL contract to join the Army in the wake of the 9/11 attacks -- but eventually became both a tragedy and a political firestorm. Tillman, who was 27 when he died in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004, was initially hailed as a hero, having supposedly engaged guerrilla forces in a fierce firefight, a story embraced and promoted by military and political officials. The truth, however, was more tragic -- Tillman had died at the hands of his comrades as two allied groups accidentally fired on one another. Press reports soon emerged that officials had known this soon after the incident but continued to support their original story.


Reagan, a movie actor and the most successful conservative American politician of modern times, died June 5, 2004. He was 93. The son of an alcoholic Illinois shoe salesman, Reagan broke into show business while in college, finding work as a college-football announcer. He went on to have a successful movie and TV career before turning to politics in the early ’60s. By 1966 he was governor of California, and after a failed primary challenge against Jerry Ford in 1976, he won the presidency from Jimmy Carter in 1980. A staunch anti-Communist, Reagan laid the groundwork for the eventual fall of the Iron Curtain and helped bring the modern conservative movement into the political mainstream. This photo shows him in 1982.

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Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, who passionately sought a homeland for his people but was seen by many as a ruthless terrorist and a roadblock to peace, died Nov. 11, 2004. He was 75. For five decades, Arafat was the most prominent face of opposition to Israel and the push for a Palestinian state, first as the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which carried out attacks against Israeli targets, and later as the leader of the quasi-governmental Palestinian Authority. Born in Cairo, Egypt, to Palestinian parents, he later lived in Jerusalem before moving abroad to lead the Fatah movement, the political arm of the PLO. This photo shows him in 1999.

Joyce Naltchayan / AFP

Born Karol Wojtyla into a lower-middle class family in Poland, the future Pope John Paul II braved Nazism and communism before, in 1978, becoming the first non-Italian pontiff in more than 500 years. After being in failing health for several years, he died on April 2, 2005, at age 84. He served longer in the position than any other pope except Pius IX, surviving an assassination attempt in St. Peter’s Square. The most-traveled pontiff in history, John Paul II visited more than 125 countries during his time at the Vatican, displaying the charisma and charm that extended his influence far beyond the confines of the church. This photo shows him in 1978.

Massimo Sambucetti / AP

Smooth and sophisticated, Canadian-born Jennings was the chief anchor for ABC News for more than two decades. He died of lung cancer on Aug. 7, 2005, at age 67. Noted for his work as a foreign correspondent, Jennings joined a three-person ABC anchor desk in 1978 before making it his own in 1983. Here he is shown in1965 when, at 26, he became the youngest national network anchor, on ABC's "World News Tonight" the year before. This stint, however, lasted only three years and he returned to being a foreign correspondent.

Slim Aarons / Hulton Archive

The long-serving chief justice of the United States died Sept. 3, 2005, of thyroid cancer, ending a long career during which he oversaw the court’s conservative shift, presided over an impeachment trial and helped decide a presidential election. Appointed to the court in 1972, he was elevated to head the bench in 1986 by President Reagan. Here he is seen with Reagan as he celebrates his 58th birthday during a luncheon in the state dining room of the White House in 1982.

Barry Thumma / AP

Parks, whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man sparked the modern civil rights movement, died on Oct. 24, 2005. She was 92. The Montgomery, Ala., seamstress, was riding on a city bus Dec. 1, 1955, when a white man demanded her seat. She refused, and her arrest led to a 381-day boycott of the city’s bus system led by Martin Luther King, Here, Parks is fingerprinted by a police officer two months after the incident.

Gene Herrick / Ap File / AP

The former Yugoslav president, who was branded the ‘‘butcher of the Balkans” for his role in the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, was found dead March 11, 2006, in his prison cell. He was 64. At the time of his death, Milosevic was on trial in the Netherlands for war crimes after orchestrating a decade of bloodshed during the breakup of his country. This photo shows him on the second day of his trial in February 2002.

Paul Vreeker / AFP

Ford, who picked up the pieces of Richard Nixon’s scandal-shattered White House as the 38th president, died Dec. 26, 2006. He was 93. Ford was born Leslie King in Omaha, Neb. His parents were divorced when he was less than a year old, and his mother returned to her parents in Grand Rapids, Mich., where she later married Gerald R. Ford Sr. He adopted the boy and renamed him. After World War II service with the Navy, he practiced law in his home town before becoming active in Republican politics, rising to become Republican Minority Leader, from where he was chosen to be vice president. This photo shows him in the Oval Office in 1975.


Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging on Dec. 30., 2006. He was 69. At first he was seen as a modernist (and by the U.S. as a bulwark against communism and Iran), but eventually he established a cruel regime based on a cult of personality and the domination of the Shiite majority by the Sunni minority. His 1991 invasion of Kuwait established him as an enemy of the United States, which eventually led to the 2003 invasion and his overthrow. Captured eight months later, he was put on trial for atrocities committed against Shiites and found guilty on Nov. 5, 2006. He was hanged less than two months later.


The former Russian president, who hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union by scrambling atop a tank to rally opposition against a hard-line coup, died on April 23, 2007. He was 76. The son of peasants, Yeltsin was brought to prominence by his predecessor, Mikhail Gorbachev, with whom he eventually feuded. Elected president in 1991, Yeltsin promised much but delivered little to the Russian people, a failure blamed in part on his fondness for vodka. Beset by health problems and bogged down by a fierce war in Chechnya, he stepped down in 1999, handing over power to Vladimir Putin. This photo shows him with President Bill Clinton in 1995.

Luke Frazza / AFP

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the television evangelist who founded the Moral Majority and used it to mold the religious right into a political force, died May 15, 2007. He was 73. Falwell, who railed against homosexuality and abortion -- and even blamed 9/11 on gays and feminists (a statement for which he later apologized) -- also established the conservative Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va., and served as its chancellor. Here, he takes a turn on the back of a longhorn steer during a party sponsored by the National Conservative Political Action Committee in Dallas in 1984.

David Breslauer / AP

The two-time premier of Pakistan was assassinated Dec. 27, 2007, at an election rally in Rawalpindi as she made a return to national politics after years in exile. She was 54. Bhutto, the daughter of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was deposed and hanged by the military, was educated at Oxford and Harvard and became the first female prime minister of a Muslim country when she occupied the premier’s office in 1988 and 1993. Eventually, though, she was ousted in the face of corruption accusations, before returning in October 2007 to take part in elections. She is pictured in Karachi about two months before her death.

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images Europe

Considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time, the American-born Fischer rose to become world champion, only to see his life unravel in a series of increasing bizarre episodes. He died on January 17, 2008. He was 64. Raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Fischer became the youngest-ever international grandmaster at 15 and went on to become a Cold War hero by dethroning the Soviet world champion, Boris Spassky, in 1972. But he soon descended into a life of disappearances, reappearances and off-the-wall comments, some of them anti-Semitic (this despite the fact that his mother was Jewish). This photo shows him in 1962 in New York.

John Lent / AP

Missouri-born Cronkite, who died July 17 at 92, was the avuncular face of TV journalism who became the "most trusted man in America." The anchorman of the "CBS Evening News" from 1962 to 1981, Cronkite famously read the bulletins coming from Dallas when Kennedy was shot Nov. 22, 1963, interrupting a live CBS broadcast of a soap opera. Cronkite died three days before the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, another earthshaking moment of history linked inexorably with his reporting. When he summed up the news each evening by stating, "And THAT's the way it is," millions agreed.

Marty Lederhandler / AP

The greatest heights eluded Ted Kennedy. No presidency. No universal health care in his lifetime. Instead, Kennedy, who died Aug. 25 at 77 after a year-long battle with brain cancer, left his distinct imprint on some of the Senate's most important works over nearly half a century. He was first elected to the Senate in 1962, and he served longer than all but two senators in history. His hopes of reaching the White House were damaged early in his career by the Chappaquiddick scandal. "I think that once he realized he was never going to be president … he really worked at becoming the best senator he possibly could," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "And he did."

John Mottern / AFP