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Marva Collins, educator who helped poor, black students succeed, dies at 78

Marva Collins and students at Westside Prep in December 1980.
Marva Collins and students at Westside Prep in December 1980.
Published Jul. 4, 2015

Marva Collins, 78, a former substitute teacher whose success at educating poor black students in a private school she founded in Chicago made her a candidate for secretary of education and the subject of a television movie, died June 24 in Bluffton, S.C. Her school, Westside Prep, remained in operation for more than 30 years. In 2004 she was awarded the National Humanities Medal.

Ben Wattenberg, 81, an author, a PBS television commentator and a professed neoconservative who in the late 1960s and early '70s vainly urged his fellow Democrats to court the nation's centrist voters at a time when the party was moving to the left, died June 28 in Washington. William Safire, the New York Times columnist, credited him with introducing the term "social issues" to the political lexicon.

Sonny Madrid, 70, who as a founder of Lowrider magazine in 1977 helped spread Chicano political activism by pairing it with coverage of the tricked-out cars that found popularity among Mexican-Americans, died of prostate cancer June 22 in San Jose, Calif. "What Sonny wanted to do was change the image of the lowrider, so people could see they were normal, hardworking individuals like everybody else," his sister Gloria Flores said.

Jack Carter, 93, whose deft mimicry, rapid-fire wisecracks and manic storytelling energies made him a comedy star in television's infancy and helped sustain a show-business career that extended through eight decades, died of respiratory failure June 28 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Val Doonican, 88, an Irish crooner whose gentle, humorous way with a song and a story on TV made him so popular in Britain in the 1960s and '70s that he once dislodged the Beatles from the top of the album charts, died Wednesday in England.

Chris Squire, 67, the influential rock bassist who was a founding member of the celebrated British rock band Yes, died of acute erythroid leukemia June 27 in Phoenix. He was credited with being one of the artists who helped redefine the bass for a generation of players and listeners.

Lawrence R. Herkimer, 89, who elevated cheerleading into an aspirational goal for generations of youths and a highly successful business for himself, died of heart failure Wednesday in Dallas. Called the grandfather of modern cheerleading, he invented a leap known as the "Herkie jump" that is widely used by squads across the country.

Kathryn Barnard, 77, a professor of nursing whose expertise in the social and emotional development of very young children led her to develop innovative techniques for better parenting of infants, died June 27 in Seattle.