As the year comes to a close, we take time to reflect upon those family members and friends who died in 2014. As we cope with the loss and hold on to cherished memories, there are others who died this year that we may not have known personally, but we knew their work and their ideas that impacted our world. In another segment, we appreciate the lives of those who touched us in the area of arts and entertainment, from movies to television to music and more.
Now we turn our attention to those in politics, business, media and sports who left us in 2014.
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Ariel Sharon was a barrel of a man who rose to acclaim as a military hero in Israel and later served as defense minister and prime minister. Known for his no-nonsense approach to terrorism, Sharon later shocked many of his supporters by unilaterally handing Gaza over to the Palestinians. Incapacitated by a massive strike for several years, Sharon died in January. He was 85.
As the Cold War thawed through the relationships between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan, and Gorbachev and George H.W. Bush, Gorbachev's most important subordinate was Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. Later elected president of the Republic of Georgia upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, Shevardnadze died in July at the age of 86.
In Haiti, the renowned Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier was succeeded by his even more corrupt and far less competent son. jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier was forced into exile in the 1980s. He was 63 when he died in October.
In American politics, the Reagan victory in 1980 also brought the first Republican Senate majority since the 1950s. Tennessee's Howard Baker, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination against Reagan, assumed the title of majority leader. While far more moderate than Reagan, Baker shepherded the new president's tax cut through the upper chamber, along with other key initiatives. Baker retired in 1985, only to come on as Reagan's chief of staff late in the second term. He later served as ambassador to Japan under President George W. Bush, Howard Baker was 88 years old.
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While Reagan certainly had his way in front of the microphone, he also recruited the intelligent and witty James Brady to be his press secretary. His time on the job was cut short after just two months when the assassination attempt on Reagan's life left Brady permanently disabled after being shot in the head. The White House press room now bears his name. Brady died in August at the age of 73.
Brady officially held the title of press secretary for the remainder of Reagan's presidency, but the man who did the day-to-day work for most of those years was the aptly named Larry Speakes. He died in January at the age of 74.
Jeremiah Denton was a true American hero. Denton was captured and held prisoner at the infamous Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam. He never broke under interrogation and torture. When forced to read a script on television, Denton blinked Morse code for the word "torture," leaving no doubt what conditions were like for U.S. prisoners. Denton was then elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama in 1980. Although defeated for re-election six years later, Denton remained an example of courage and grace and became an outspoken advocate for Christian principles in his later years. Denton was 89.
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The most colorful member of the House from the mid-1980s until his expulsion in 2002 was Ohio's James Traficant. Known for his outlandish suits, obvious toupee and "Beam me up" catchphrase as he railed against government stupidity, Traficant was forced from office in 2002 following his conviction on federal bribery and corruption charges, for which he served seven years in prison. He died following a farm accident in September. Traficant was 73.
Between Barry Goldwater's presidential run and the rise of Ronald Reagan, no one carried the conservative mantle more proudly than Illinois Rep. Phil Crane. Serving for nearly 35 years in the House, Crame was known for his fierce aversion to ballooning federal spending. Once, when showing the automated voting system on the House floor to a new member when Democrats were in the majority, Crane quipped, "Vote yes on Defense and to adjourn. Vote no on everything else." Crane was 84.
Two highly controversial big-city mayors died this year. In Washington, no one was more polarizing than Marion Barry. Considered a hero by the black community for his civil rights work and for giving black business more opportunities than in the past, those same actions drew accusations of corruption. Barry also drew heat for the skyrocketing murder rate in the nation's capital and for erosion of city services. Getting caught smoking crack on camera by the FBI is what he'll be best remembered for, although it didn't stop him from winning another term as mayor. Barry died in November. He was 78.
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Jane Byrne was the first and still only female mayor of Chicago. Her tenure in the late 1970s and early '80s was a nightmare from start to finish. Byrne lost the Democratic primary in her bid for re-election. She was 81 when she died in November. Tom Menino ruled city hall in Boston for 20 years and was far less controversial than Barry or Byrne. Seen prominently in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Menino was 71.
Back in Washington, Joan Mondale, the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died in February. She was 83.
The man who may have done the most damage to the Reagan presidency was Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh. Hailed by the left and reviled by the right, Walsh died in March. He was 102.
Another major pain in the final years of the Reagan White House was the Savings and Loans scandal. Businessman Charles Keating was at the epicenter of that scandal. He was 90 when he died in April.
Another embarrassing revelation for the Gipper was the public assertion that Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologist to plan her husband's schedule to avoid future assassination plots. Reports later confirmed the astrologer to be Joan Quigley. She died in October at the age of 87.
One of the most despised men in America died in March. Fred Phelps, head of the so-called Westboro Baptist Church, led little more than his own family as they picketed the funerals of soldiers killed in action, claiming they died as punishment for America embracing homosexuality. Phelps was 84.
In journalism, few names left a bigger mark or changed the profession more than Ben Bradlee. The former Washington Post editor guided the paper from a local daily to one of the most prominent voices in politics. Bradlee led the Post through the publishing of the Pentagon papers and steered Woodward and Bernstein as they exposed the Watergate scandal. Bradlee had been suffering from dementia when he died in October. He was 93.
Garrick Utley was a longtime news anchor for NBC. Utley died in February at the age of 74.
Bruce Morton was the curmudgeonly CBS News reporter who dug up the real story behind all the talking points. Morton died in September. He was 83.
Terri Keenan was a sharp business reporter and anchor for CNN and then the Fox Business Network. Keenan died suddenly of a heart attack in October at the age of 53.
In business, Truett Cathy would tell you he didn't invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich. Cathy turned a couple of Atlanta food court stands into the Chick-fil-A phenomenon. Known just as much for his devout Christian faith, philanthropy and giving his employees the day off on Sundays, Cathy was 93 when he died in September.
Eileen Ford built the renowned modeling agency that bears her name and ruled the industry for decades. Ford was 92.
Those models had to wear something on the catwalk. If they were lucky, it would be something designed by Oscar de la Renta. The designer to the stars died in October. He was 82.
In the world of sports, only one coach has won four Superbowls in the NFL, and Chuck Noll did it in a six-year span. Thanks to his steel-curtain defense, Noll turned the Pittsburgh Steelers from NFL afterthought to the most feared franchise in the league. Hall of Famer Chuck Noll died in June. He was 82.
The last original American Football League owner passed away this year. Ralph Wilson Jr. owned the Buffalo Bills for over 50 years and watched them claim two AFL titles but no Superbowls, even though the Bills went to an unprecedented four consecutive title games in the 1990s. Wilson was 95.
William Clay Ford owned the Detroit Lions for more than 50 years but had only one playoff win to show for it. Fortunately, his auto business acumen was much sharper. Ford was 88.
Malcolm Glazer not only owned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but the most famous franchise that plays the other kind of football, Manchester United. Glazer was 85.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins are still the only unbeaten team in NFL history, and the quarterback who rarely gets much credit for that run is Earl Morall. Morall started many games that season in relief of the injured Bob Griese. He also appeared in earlier Superbowls for the Baltimore Colts. Morall was 79.
In baseball, many considered Tony Gwynn the best pure hitter since Ted Williams. A staple in right field for the San Diego Padres, Gwynn was much better known for having one of the best lifetime batting averages in history and leading the Padres to two National League Pennants. Gwynn died of cancer he attributed to years of chewing tobacco. Gwynn was 54.
In the late 1940s and early '50s, it was almost a given that the New York Yankees would win the World Series. One of the key figures in that run was second baseman Jerry Coleman. Far beyond his exploits on the diamond, Coleman served as a fighter pilot in both World War II and Korea. he later became a Hall of Fame announcer for the San Diego Padres. Coleman was 89.
Ralph Kiner was one of the game's great sluggers for the Pirates, Cubs and Indians in a Hall of Fame career. But for more than 50 years, he was always linked to the New York Mets, whose game he announced from their start in 1962 until his death in February. Kiner was 91.
One of the true characters of the game was Don Zimmer. Popeye was known for managing the Boston Red Sox in their painful 1978 season, guiding the Chicago Cubs to the division crown in 1989 and serving as a bench coach for the great Yankee teams under Joe Torre. Zimmer was 83 when he died in June.
Jim Fregosi spent 18 years playing in the big leagues but gained more fame as a manager. Best known for leading the Philadelphia Phillis to the 1993 National League title, Fregosi suddenly died from a stroke in February. He was 71.
Bob Welch had a very successful pitching career, highlighted by two major accomplishments. A young Welch engaged in an epic duel for the Los Angeles Dodgers against Yankees slugger Reggie Jackson in the 1978 World Series. Welch won the battle in Game 2 that gave the Dodgers the win even though the Yankees won the Series. Welch also amassed an amazing 27 wins in 1990 for the Oakland A's – an achievement that earned him the American League Cy Young Award. Welch was just 57 years old.
Alvin Dark was shortstop for the 1954 world champion New York Giants. Later a manager, Dark guided the Oakland A's to the 1974 World Series title. Dark was 92.
Oscar Tavares was a very promising star for the St. Louis Cardinals, who hit a key home run in Game 2 of this year's National League Championship Series. Tavares was killed in a car crash just days after the Series ended. He was just 22.
One of the greatest basketball minds belonged to Dr. Jack Ramsay. Ramsay coached the Portland Trailblazers to the 1977 NBA Crown. He later served for many years as a radio and television analyst for NBA games. Ramsay was 89.
In hockey, Pat Quinn was a successful coach for five different teams and reached the Stanley Cup Finals twice. His greatest triumph was leading Canada to the gold medal in hockey at the 2002 winter Olympics. Quinn was 71.
Viktor Tikhonov was one of the most successful hockey coaches in history, leading the Soviets to three Olympic gold medals and eight world championships. However, it's the one he didn't win that he's best known for. Tikhonov was coaching the USSR when it lost to the U.S. in the Miracle on Ice in the 1980 winter games. Tikhonov was 84.
It's hard to find a bigger winner in hockey than Jean Beliveau. Beliveau played more than 20 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, winning 10 Stanley Cups. He later joined the front office and had a hand in winning seven more. Beliveau was 83.
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter was a solid middleweight fighter, but his greatest claim to fame was being wrongfully imprisoned for 20 years for a murder he did not commit. Carter was 76.
In professional wrestling, few brought more energy or fury to the ring than The Ultimate Warrior. He was James Hellwig in real life. Hellwig died suddenly in April at the age of 54.
In addition to Jeremiah Denton, the nation lost more of its greatest military heroes this year. Louis Zamperini went from a rebellious youth to an Olympic runner. Serving in World War II, his plane was shot down in the Pacific. After weeks adrift at sea, he and his fellow crew members were captured by the Japanese and treated horrendously. Zamperini then became a devout Christian and even forgave his captors. His story is told in the book and movie "Unbroken." Zamperini died in July. He was 97.
It was the atomic bombs that brought an early end to the war against Japan. The Enold Gay dropped the first huge bomb over Hiroshima. Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk was the navigator on that fateful flight. He was 93 when he died in July.
Chester Nez was the last of the original Navajo Code Talkers, the group of Navajo Indians that created a code the Japanese could never crack. Nez was 93.
The Band of Brothers was one of the most famous companies in World War II, thanks to the writings of Stephen Ambrose. One of the most well-known brothers was "Wild" Bill Guarnere. He died in March at the age of 90.
Walter Ehlers not only served on D-Day, but his heroic actions in the Battle of Normandy earned him the Medal of Honor for rescuing a fallen soldier and risking his life again to retrieve the man's weapon. Ehlers was 92.