In Memoriam 2013: Memphis Remembers

Dec 30, 2013

From singers to soldiers, the Mid-South lost some fascinating personalities in 2013. Here's a list of some of those who passed.

R&B legend Bobby "Blue" Bland was among the residents of the Mid-South who died in 2013

This list includes some of the well-known members of our Mid-South community who passed in 2013.

Dr. Emmett Bell, 90. The first resident physician at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Tina Birchett, 53. Organizer of the Sisterhood Showcase to celebrate black health and fashion, and owner and publisher of Grace Magazine.

Bobby “Blue” Bland, 83. His soulful baritone took him from the cotton fields north of Memphis to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He sang the R&B chart toppers “I Pity the Fool” and “Turn on Your Love Light.”

Eddie Bond, 79. Musician, radio deejay and wrestling promoter who helped launch the career of Jerry “The King” Lawler.

Lindsey Chandler, 75. For nearly 20 years, he was known as “The Flower Man” or “The Glad Man” at the Agricenter Farmers Market where he sold gladiolas, zinnias and sunflowers.

“Cowboy” Jack Clement, 82. Sun Records engineer, songwriter and inspirational figure to Sun artists. Member of Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Wrote the Johnny Cash tunes “Ballad of a Teenage Queen” and “Guess Things Happen that Way.”

Frankie Conklin, 53. Founder of the Memphis Elite Allstar Cheer and Dance Program, one of the oldest competitive cheerleading groups in the country.

Allen Cook, 66. Co-founder of the organization that became Friends for Life. He also co-founded the Triangle News Journal, a local paper focusing on gay issues.

Ed Craig, 80. Veteran news anchor on WHBQ-TV Channel 13.

Bud Davis, 86. Local Cadillac dealer known for his colorful television commercials.

Lois DeBerry, 68. The longest serving member of the Tennessee House of Representatives. She won re-election 20 straight times since 1972. She was the first black woman elected to the General Assembly from Shelby County and the second statewide.

Ricky Dunigan, 40. Best known as Lord Infamous, co-founder of the rap group Three 6 Mafia.

Mary Dyer, 67. Cook who spent 40 years in the kitchen of the famous Arcade Restaurant on South Man.

Jackie Fargo, 82. Local wrestler and personality known as “The Fabulous One.” He attracted sellout crowds to the Mid-South Coliseum in the heyday of Memphis professional wrestling.

Richard Fields, 65. Attorney known for working with the NAACP in school-desegregation cases.

Charles Finney, 90. A hairstylist who founded the Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club more than 50 years ago.

Russell George.  Proprietor of famous watering hole Earnestine & Hazel’s.

Jack Goldsmith, 102. Longtime president of Goldsmith’s, the department store chain that got its start in Memphis in the 1870s.

Howard “Buddy” Gray, 44. Film editor, special effects artist and digital animator in the Memphis film scene.

William Bruce “Billy” Hardwick, 72. Former professional bowling champion and owner of the local bowling alley that bears his name at Quince and White Station. 

Leroy Hidinger Jr., 93. The last survivor of a ship that capsized in the Mississippi River while on a sightseeing excursion. Tom Lee, a black man who saved 32 of the passengers, later had a park named after him.

Otis Higgs, 75. Shelby County Criminal Court Judge. In 1982, he served as the interim Shelby County Sheriff, the only black man to have held that office.

Roosevelt Jamison, Sr., 76. Wrote the R&B classic “That’s How Strong My Love Is.”

Roland Janes, 80. Sun Records guitarist and longtime Phillips Recording Service producer and engineer.

William “Bill” Kendall, 88. In the 1960s and ‘70s, he was an outspoken champion of art cinema and gay pride. He had run-ins with local law enforcement for bringing controversial art house films to Memphis, alongside classics by Fellini, Bergman and Antonioni.

Dr. Sheldon Korones, 89. Founder of the city’s first neonatal intensive care unit at the Regional Medical Center, in 1968.

Dick Lightman, 93. In 1962, he helped integrate Malco theaters by sneaking black couples into the company’s flagship movie palace, the Orpheum theater. Malco theaters became one of the first businesses in Memphis to become desegregated.

Angelo Lucchesi, 92. Liquor businessman who is credited with popularizing the Jack Daniel’s brand.

Corey Maclin, 43. Local wrestling promoter and sports anchor for the local ABC affiliate.

Vernon McGarity, 91. World War II Medal of Honor Recipient. During a battle in 1944, he rescued two wounded soldiers, shot a tank with a rocket launcher, brought ammo to his unit under heavy fire and took out a German machine gun, opening an escape route for his unit.

Jerry McGill, 73. Singer, felon and the subject of the documentary “Very Extremely Dangerous.” He released one single on Sun Records in 1959 called “Lovestruck,” and worked with Waylon Jennings.

Rev. Dr. Ernest H. Mellor, Jr., 83. Presbyterian pastor, missionary, and host of “Family Focus,” a television show broadcast on WKNO-TV for six seasons starting in 1979.

Stephen Michael New, 29. A soldier from Bartlett killed in Afghanistan. He received the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal, the Mississippi Medal for Valor, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and other awards.

Patti Page, 85. Her 1950 hit, “Tennessee Waltz,” sold more than 10 million copies and stayed on the charts for 30 weeks. It later became one of the state songs of Tennessee.

Di Anne Price, 63. Piano stylist, singer and muse of the Memphis nightlife.

Harry Reems, 65. The star of the film “Deep Throat.” He and 15 others were convicted in Memphis with conspiring to distribute pornography. It was the costliest federal trial in Memphis history. In the end, the conviction was overturned.

Shirley Romaine, 82. Past president of the Memphis Education Association teachers union.

Peggie Russell. Pastor, attorney and director of the Memphis Gun Down Initiative.

Dr. Alex Sanford, 72. Founder of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital surgical brain tumor program, which is now the largest in the country.

Joe B. Scott, 92.  In 1937, he was the first black baseball player to play on Chicago’s Wrigley Field.  He later played alongside Jackie Robinson and pitcher Satchel Paige.

Barbara Sonnenburg, 86. Former member of Memphis School Board, and councilwoman on the Memphis City Council from 1979 to 1995.

Charles Scruggs, 80. A WKNO television personality known to local pre-schoolers “Mr. Chuck.”  Before becoming the sweet, grandfather figure on television, he’d also been the first black general manager of the groundbreaking radio station, WDIA.

Sid Selvidge, 69. Singer and producer who championed forgotten artists, like the blues great Furry Lewis, whose career he helped revive in the 1970s. For 17 years, he produced the radio show Beale Street Caravan, heard on some 300 stations around the world.

Anne Whalen Shafer, 90. Activist who, as chairman of the City Beautiful Commission in 1964, integrated city hall by, as she said, “rearranging the furniture.”

Maxine Smith, 83. One of the first black members of the Memphis City Schools Board of Education.

Gordon Stoker, 88. Former member of the Jordanaires and backup singer for Elvis Presley. Can be heard on “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

Thomas “Silky” Sullivan, 71. Colorful owner of the Beale Street bar Silky O’ Sullivan’s.

Tombi, 41. A Southern white rhinoceros who arrived at the Memphis Zoo in 1976. She gave birth to 11 calves.

John Willingham, 80. The former Shelby County commissioner best known for his award-winning barbecue.  He won the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Competition two years straight in 1983 and 1984 – one of only two people to ever do so.

Ed Williams, 78. Shelby County Historian and former County Commissioner.