It’s always heartbreaking to look back at the year gone by and think about all the remarkable people who are no longer here with us. It’s especially tough to contemplate the Gen Xers who have passed away because they left us at such a lamentably young age and had so much more of their talent to share.
The following individuals delighted us with their creative artistry, won our admiration by fighting for justice and empowerment, or helped abolish a status quo that they believed was outmoded and unfair.
As we bring the curtain down on 2022, we want to reflect upon their well-lived lives and pause to remember them one more time.
Rapper Coolio (born Artis Leon Ivey Jr.) hit the jackpot with the hip-hop group WC and the Maad Circle. Then he went off on his own and released three successful studio albums, including Gangsta’s Paradise (1995), a two-million-copies seller in this country and My Soul (1997), a certified gold LP. He died of cardiac arrest on September 28, 2022.
Heche’s portrayal of the long-suffering, neglected wife of an undercover FBI agent in Donnie Brasco (1997) was sublime. It was just one example of her exceptional gift for bringing complex characters to three-dimensional life on stage, television, and in films.
Her roles in movies like Volcano (1997) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) proved that Heche had the acting chops to tackle any part that came her way.
Heche passed away on August 11, 2022, from serious injuries she sustained when her car crashed into a Los Angeles residence.
Hawkins, who was the drummer for Foo Fighters, deserves his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he earned in 2021. Before linking up with Foo Fighters, Hawkins toured with Alanis Morissette from 1995 to 1997 and appeared in some of her music videos from Jagged Little Pill. He also had his own group, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders.
Authorities announced that Hawkins, who was in Colombia at the time of his death on March 25, 2022, had 10 different substances in his body including THC, opioids, and tricyclic antidepressants. He was believed to have died from cardiovascular collapse.
Jason David Frank
If you watched and loved The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, then you loved Jason David Frank, who played the character Tommy Oliver on the sensationally-popular kids’ TV show.
Frank brought his charisma to two films, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995) and Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997), as well as other productions in the Power Rangers franchise.
Frank played a superhero and to millions of riveted youngsters, he truly was one. He died by suicide on November 19, 2022.
Lots of people who cook at home idolized Julia Child, whose book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was like their bible. Julie Powell, who died from cardiac arrest on October 26, 2022, took mere admiration for Child much further, however.
She decided to make every recipe in Child’s classic volume—all 524 of them. Powell turned her culinary escapade into a blog, then into a book, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (2005). Bon appetit forever, Julie Powell!
Her birth name was Gloria Rodriguez, but this Brooklyn-born sensation of Puerto Rican heritage was known to those who follow rap music as Hurricane G. It was an apt moniker because she was a whirlwind musical force.
She sang with Cocoa Brovaz, Keith Murray, Delinquent Habits, and Redman, but she had a sound and a personality that were distinctively and triumphantly all her own. She died from lung cancer on November 6, 2022.
How do you best describe the band Low? Maybe it’s better to ask how you can describe its co-founder, Mimi Parker, who left us on November 5, 2022 due to cancer.
National Public Radio said that she “had a voice that let the light in.” Low’s songs, like the hauntingly beautiful, almost otherworldly “Lullaby” and the mellow “Days Like These” seem to waft gently through the air. The band originated in Duluth, Minnesota in 1993. Its appeal, however, is wonderfully universal.
Brad William Henke
Brad William Henke Henke had two careers. The first one was as a player in the NFL. He was part of the Denver Broncos squad that lost Super Bowl XXIV to the San Francisco 49ers in 1990.
When his playing days ended due to ankle injuries, Henke started a new gig as an actor in commercials, movies, and TV shows like Orange Is the New Black. In that series, Henke was cast as Desi Piscatella, a corrections officer.
Henke died in his sleep on November 29, 2022. No cause of death was given at the time, but he had recently undergone heart surgery.
Vicky Phelan, a resident of Ireland, got a false negative result when she was tested for cervical cancer in 2011 as part of the nation’s CervicalCheck program. Three years later, she found out she actually did have cancer.
She discovered that scores of other women were in the same predicament, with cancer that would have been treated much earlier, possibly successfully, had it not been for their erroneous test results.
A passionate advocate for women in her home country, Phelan bravely challenged the Irish healthcare system, demanding transparency regarding the bungled cervical cancer testing that failed so many women who had trusted it with their lives, including herself. She passed away from the disease on November 14, 2022.
Lois Curtis, an artist, spoke out on behalf of people with disabilities. She knew what hardships they often faced because of her own background and experiences. Curtis, who dealt with developmental and cognitive disabilities, was institutionalized for almost two decades, beginning in childhood.
She challenged the trend toward placing people with psychiatric impairments or disabilities in institutions as opposed to giving them the help and resources they required at home in the community.
The Olmstead Decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court in 1999, in a case in which Curtis was the lead plaintiff, affirmed that “unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
Lois Curtis’s tireless crusade for what she felt was fair treatment was a dramatic success. She died from pancreatic cancer on November 3, 2022.
Caroline Ödman-Govender’s high school physics teacher evidently made a big impression on her at a young age. She followed in that teacher’s footsteps and studied science—a choice that led to a dazzling career.
Her CV reads like an endless scroll of accomplishments, one of them being an initiative Ödman-Govender helmed called Universe Awareness. It educated 400,000 young people about astronomy in 60 nations. She died from pancreatic adenocarcinoma on November 15, 2022.