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Charley Pride (Paul Natkin/Getty Images)


December deaths

A News of the Year addendum: Notable deaths in the final month of 2020


1 Walter E. Williams, 84 / An economics professor at George Mason University and guest host for Rush Limbaugh, he challenged liberal orthodoxies about the best way to improve the economic condition of black Americans.

2 Rafer Johnson, 86 / The first black captain of a U.S. Olympic team, the 1960 decathlon gold medalist became a friend of the Kennedy ­family and helped subdue Bobby ­Kennedy’s assassin in 1968.

4 David L. Lander, 73 / The actor who played Squiggy on the 1970s ­sitcom Laverne and Shirley.

7 Walter Hooper, 89 / A writer and the literary trustee for the C.S. Lewis estate, he edited and kept in print Lewis’ books for more than 50 years after the author’s death. 

7 Charles “Chuck” Yeager, 97 / A test pilot who broke the sound ­barrier, he lacked the college education to qualify as an astronaut but conquered frontiers of flight with a blue-collar work ethic.

12 John le Carré, 89 / Spy turned spy novelist, he created memorable characters such as George Smiley who navigated morally murky territory during the Cold War.

12 Charley Pride, 86 / Country music’s first black star, he played baseball in the Negro leagues before moving to Nashville, where he had 52 Top 10 hits, including “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone?”

12 Ann Reinking, 71 / A dancer and choreographer, she starred on Broadway in Chicago and Fosse and in the movie All That Jazz.

14 Jesse Taken Alive, 65 / A ­former leader of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, he advocated the return of human remains and artifacts taken from tribal graves.

16 Jean Graetz, 90 / A white ­supporter of the Montgomery bus boycott, along with her Lutheran pastor husband (who died in September), she helped organize child care and transportation for participants.

17 Michael Cusack, 64 / An athletic child with Down syndrome, his enthusiasm in a Chicago-area program for children with disabilities led the organizer to hold the first Special Olympics in 1968, at which 12-year-old Cusack won a gold medal.

17 Alfred Thomas Farrar, 99 / A former Tuskegee airman who died a few days before his 100th birthday, he was an engineer with the Federal ­Aviation Administration after WWII.

18 Roger Berlind, 90 / A producer of more than 100 plays who won 25 Tony Awards, he produced or co-produced Amadeus and revivals of Oklahoma; Kiss Me, Kate; and Hello Dolly. He quit his first career on Wall Street after his wife and three of four children died in an airline crash. 

20 Chad Stuart, 79 / Part of the 1960s pop/folk duo Chad & Jeremy, he crafted hits including “A Summer Song” and “Willow Weep for Me.”

21 K.T. Oslin, 78 / A singer and songwriter, she was the first woman to receive Song of the Year honors from the Country Music Association for her hit song “80’s Ladies,” which also earned a Grammy.

25 K.C. Jones, 88 / A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he won eight consecutive NBA championships as a player with the Boston Celtics in the 1950s and ’60s, then coached the team to two championships in the ’80s.

26 George Blake, 98 / A British intelligence officer who became a spy for the Soviet Union, he betrayed hundreds of Western agents before his arrest in 1961. He escaped from jail and fled to the Soviet Union, where he received a pension and honors.

26 Phil Niekro, 81 / A knuckleballer who pitched until he was 48 years old, he won 318 games, earning a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Glenn and Kathy with nine of their 10 grandchildren (Handout)


Love at long distance

A stressful Navy career often kept Glenn and Kathy Palmer apart, but dependence on God helped their relationship persevere


It was Sept. 25, 1976, and the New York International Bible Society was holding a fundraising dinner in New York City. Kathy Cornell, an 18-year-old employee, found herself sitting at a table beside Glenn Palmer, a 21-year-old Navy sailor in a white service uniform. Glenn was quiet, not knowing anyone at the table, but Kathy had fun chatting with friends. She remembers thinking he looked like an egghead because of his Navy-issued black rimmed glasses. A few days later, she felt guilty and wrote him a letter. He answered, and thus began their correspondence.

They didn’t see each other for three months, but they enjoyed writing letters. In December Glenn came home for Christmas, and he began courting Kathy. Navy duties kept Glenn away for long stretches: He saw her again only once before proposing to her at his family’s house in Vermont in May 1978. They married a year later. “I had actually seen her eight weeks total in the first 2½ years of our courtship,” Glenn said.

Being involuntarily apart, it turned out, would be a theme of their marriage. The Palmers trusted God and stuck together, but loneliness and parenting made long months of separation difficult.

For the first 20 years of marriage, Glenn was gone on Navy deployments and ship duties about a third of the time. Back home in Norfolk, Va., Kathy said, “I had a really hard time just being in the house by myself.” She remembers leaving the lights and the radio on and still feeling bored and lonely when she got home from church or her job at a Christian bookstore. Meanwhile, Glenn was tired of seeing only men his age, in the same clothes, every day, and he missed his wife. To stay connected, the couple followed the same Bible reading plan and wrote letters to each other, numbering the envelopes to keep them in order.

During Glenn’s long deployments, they made a paper chain and tore one link for every day he was gone.

Eventually, their six children replaced Kathy’s loneliness with busyness. At one point, she had four children ages 5 and under: She went grocery shopping with one baby in a backpack, one in a front pack, one in the shopping cart, and one walking beside her. Kathy planned out the days to keep her sanity: She had the children listen to cassette tapes, read books, and play with neighbors and church friends. During Glenn’s long deployments, they made a paper chain and tore one link for every day he was gone. When he returned, Kathy said, the small children sometimes struggled to adjust: “Who is this man coming home? I don’t remember him.” 

The Palmers made financial sacrifices to put all their kids through Christian school and invested in family vacations to historical places. Daughter Rebecca Vandermolen remembers visiting museums on their trips: Her dad became so animated explaining the history of the place to the children that others would think he was a museum tour guide and listen. She also said her parents were hospitable and let her and the other children bring their friends home with them at any time.

On April 14, 1988, Glenn’s ship hit a mine while patrolling the Persian Gulf and almost sank. Kathy saw the news about the USS Samuel B. Roberts on the television but had to wait a few days before Glenn could call her. After he came home that June, Kathy sank into six months of depression from the stress. “It was sort of a delayed reaction,” she said. She found comfort in the book of Psalms and in playing hymns on the piano: “I don’t know how people would get through things like that without the Lord.”

Glenn retired from the Navy a commander in 1998. The Palmers’ youngest son moved out this year, but their house is not empty. Kathy’s sister lives with them, as does a deacon from their church who rents a room. Glenn, 65, serves as an elder at their church in Norfolk, teaches Sunday school, and runs a side business. Kathy, 62, serves with the church’s music ministry. Their children have moved to other states, but the family stays in touch and meets together at Christmas and in the summer. 

Remembering nearly 41 years of marriage, Kathy said, “I could go back and say, ‘Lord, this was from You.’ It was a calling. There was no escape hatch.”

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Julie Rosati

Julie Rosati (right) makes a delivery to a mom for her birthday. (Julie Rosati)


Popping up, helping out

A New York pro-lifer takes the pregnancy center model on the road during the pandemic

Nine thousand six hundred square feet. That’s how big Julie Rosati’s house is in Oneida, a small town in central New York. The three-story red-brick building with tall white columns used to be a nursing home. But since Rosati became the director of the Save the Storks Pro-life Training Center in November 2019, it has served a double purpose: a home for her, her husband Steve, and their three adopted children, and a dormitory for the center’s students. At the beginning of the pandemic this spring, it took on a third role as a storage place for mounds of donated diapers, cribs, and baby clothes. 

New York health officials confirmed the state’s first known case of COVID-19 on March 1, six days before Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency. By mid-month, the state had more than 1,000 reported cases and 10 deaths, and Rosati had heard the seven Care Net pregnancy centers in central New York were temporarily closing their physical locations for the safety of staff and volunteers. WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) food centers closed, the Salvation Army stopped accepting donations, and hospitals ran short of baby supplies for new moms. Rosati knew these closures meant mothers in crisis would need help. 

To fill the gap, Rosati started a local donation and delivery program she called a “pop-up pregnancy center.” She, her family, and about 30 volunteers collected, cleaned, sorted, and delivered donations to needy families in central New York and mentored moms remotely. The program provided women practical and spiritual help but also allowed Rosati to engage her children in serving low-income neighborhoods.

Across the country, pro-life pregnancy centers made up for a dearth of in-person services at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. A pregnancy center in Sacramento, Calif., ran a diaper drive for three weeks that served 1,500 families. Another in Baltimore, Md., ran a curbside pickup operation to distribute diapers, wipes, and formula. Others provided needy families with grocery gift cards. Rosati’s operation met a similar need. 

Rosati issued her first call for donations at the end of March. People delivered their carloads to her home. Trash bags full of baby supplies soon leaned up against car seats, strollers, and play sets by the brick wall of the long back porch. Some donations appeared overnight. One local congregation organized a donation drive and gave Rosati one truckload and two vanloads of diapers, wipes, cribs, and strollers. Jasmine, Rose, and John Rosati (now ages 14, 13, and 12) were finishing the school year at home, so they spent their 10 a.m. snack breaks sanitizing the items before bringing them inside. The donations filled six of the building’s 23 bedrooms.

For Rosati’s first delivery, in March, she brought a bassinet to a 14-year-old refugee and sex trafficking victim. The first week of April, she tucked flyers advertising the free baby products into food boxes at a local church’s grocery giveaway. Someone then posted a picture of the flyer to Facebook. “That day, my phone started blowing up,” said Rosati. Pregnant and young mothers called and texted, asking for diapers, wipes, and pregnancy tests. Rosati connected each woman with a mentor who took the order and continued to check back in by phone or text. The mentors prayed for the women, offered advice, and told them about the gospel.

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