Benedict XVI, Queen Elizabeth, more: Notable names who died in 2022


From political leaders to history-making activists to researchers who made groundbreaking discoveries, here are some of the newsmakers who died in 2022.

WASHINGTON — In 2022, for the first time in 70 years, the United Kingdom saw the throne change hands with the death of Queen Elizabeth II. 

No other death in 2022 triggered such an international outpouring of mourning like the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Her death at age 96 prompted praise for her steady leadership and renewed conversations about the future of the British monarchy. Her funeral was attended by leaders from around the world. 

Other notable political figures who died this year include former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch. 

The final days of 2022 saw the loss of several other exceptionally notable people, including Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and trailblazing TV journalist Barbara Walters.

From political leaders to history-making activists to researchers who made groundbreaking discoveries, here are some of the newsmakers who died in 2022, listed by date.

Sheikh Saleh bin Mohammed al-Luhaidan, 90. An influential Saudi cleric who once served for years as head of the kingdom’s Shariah courts and whose ultraconservative views sparked outcry. Jan. 5.

Robert Durst, 78. The wealthy New York real estate heir and failed fugitive dogged for decades with suspicion in the disappearance and deaths of those around him before he was convicted last year of killing his best friend. Jan. 10.

David Sassoli, 65. An Italian journalist who worked his way up in politics while defending the downtrodden and oppressed to become president of the European Union’s parliament. Jan. 11.

Clyde Bellecourt, 85. A leader in the Native American struggle for civil rights and a founder of the American Indian Movement. Jan. 11.

Iraj Pezeshkzad, 94. An Iranian author whose bestselling comic novel, “My Uncle Napoleon,” lampooned Persian culture’s self-aggrandizing and paranoid behavior as the country entered the modern era. Jan. 12.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, 76. The former president of Mali who took office in a landmark election held after a destabilizing coup only to be ousted in another military takeover nearly seven years later. Jan. 16.

Charles McGee, 102. A Tuskegee Airman who flew 409 fighter combat missions over three wars and later helped to bring attention to the Black pilots who battled racism at home to fight for freedom abroad. Jan. 16.

André Leon Talley, 73. A towering and highly visible figure of the fashion world who made history as a rare Black editor in an overwhelmingly white industry. Jan. 18.

Thich Nhat Hanh, 95. The revered Zen Buddhist monk who helped spread the practice of mindfulness in the West and socially engaged Buddhism in the East. Jan. 22.

Olavo de Carvalho, 74. A leading light of Brazil’s conservative movement who stirred passions among both devotees and detractors. Jan. 24.

Cheslie Kryst, 30. The winner of the Miss USA pageant and a correspondent for the entertainment news program “Extra.” Jan. 30. Died by suicide.

Shintaro Ishihara, 89. A fiery nationalist politician remembered as Tokyo’s gaffe-prone governor who provoked a spat with China by calling for Japan’s purchase of disputed islands in the East China Seas. Feb. 1.

Robin Herman, 70. A gender barrier-breaking reporter for The New York Times who was the first female journalist to interview players in the locker room after an NHL game. Feb. 1.

Ashley Bryan, 98. A prolific and prize-winning children’s author and illustrator who told stories of Black life, culture and folklore in such acclaimed works as “Freedom Over Me,” “Beautiful Blackbird” and “Beat the Story-Drum, Pum-Pum.” Feb. 4.

Luc Montagnier, 89. A French researcher who won a Nobel Prize in 2008 for discovering the HIV virus and more recently spread false claims about the coronavirus. Feb. 8.

Carmen Herrera, 106. A Cuban-born artist whose radiant color palette and geometric paintings were overlooked for decades before the art world took notice. Feb. 12.

P.J. O’Rourke, 74. The prolific author and satirist who re-fashioned the irreverence and “Gonzo” journalism of the 1960s counterculture into a distinctive brand of conservative and libertarian commentary. Feb. 15.

Gail S. Halvorsen, 101. A U.S. military pilot known as the “Candy Bomber” for his candy airdrops during the Berlin Airlift after World War II ended. Feb. 16.

Dr. Paul Farmer, 62. A U.S. physician, humanitarian and author renowned for providing health care to millions of impoverished people worldwide and who co-founded the global nonprofit Partners in Health. Feb. 21.

Shirley Hughes, 94. A British children’s author and illustrator best known for her popular “Alfie” series and classic picture book “Dogger.” Feb. 25.

Alan Ladd Jr., 84. The Oscar-winning producer and studio boss who as a 20th Century Fox executive greenlit “Star Wars.” March 2.

Autherine Lucy Foster, 92. The first Black student to enroll at the University of Alabama. March 2.

Inge Deutschkron, 99. A Holocaust survivor who hid in Berlin during the Third Reich to escape deportation to Nazi death camps and later wrote an autobiography. March 9.

Mario Terán, 80. The Bolivian soldier who pulled the trigger to execute famed revolutionary guerrilla Ernesto “Che” Guevara. March 10.

Eugene Parker, 94. A physicist who theorized the existence of solar wind and became the first person to witness the launch of a spacecraft bearing his name. March 15.

Lauro F. Cavazos Jr., 95. A Texas ranch foreman’s son who rose to become the first Latino to serve in a presidential Cabinet as U.S. Secretary of Education during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. March 15.

Don Young, 88. The Alaska congressman was the longest-serving Republican in the history of the U.S. House. March 18.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, 94. One of the most influential leaders in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. March 18.

Madeleine Albright, 84. A child refugee from Nazi- and then Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe who rose to become the first female secretary of state and a mentor to many current and former American statesmen and women. March 23.

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Dagny Carlsson, 109. Dubbed the world’s oldest blogger, who wrote about her life in Sweden based on the attitude that you should never think you are too old to do what you want to do. March 24.

Noam Shalit, 68. The father of a captive Israeli soldier who battled for five years to free his son from his Hamas captors. March 30.

Richard Howard, 92. A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet celebrated for his exuberant monologues of historical figures and a prolific translator who helped introduce readers to a wide range of French literature. March 31.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, 75. The Russian nationalist leader was a senior lawmaker whose sulphurous rhetoric and antics alarmed the West but appealed to Russians’ aggrievement and wounded pride. April 6.

Mimi Reinhard, 107. A secretary in Oskar Schindler’s office who typed up the list of Jews he saved from extermination by Nazi Germany. April 8.

Letizia Battaglia, 87. An Italian photographer who documented the arrests of Mafia bosses and the bodies of their victims. April 13.

Rosario Ibarra, 95. Her long struggle to learn the fate of her disappeared son helped develop Mexico’s human rights movement and led her to become the country’s first female presidential candidate. April 16.

Dede Robertson, 94. The wife of religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and a founding board member of the Christian Broadcasting Network. April 19.

Romeo Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, 93. An award-winning Texas author who began in the 1970s writing a series of novels that told the stories of people living in a fictional county along the Texas-Mexico border. April 19.

Orrin G. Hatch, 88. The longest-serving Republican senator in history who was a fixture in Utah politics for more than four decades. April 23.

Dr. Morton Mower, 89. A former Maryland-based cardiologist who helped invent an automatic implantable defibrillator that has helped countless heart patients live longer and healthier. April 25.

Ron Galella, 91. The photographer known for his visceral celebrity shots and his dogged pursuit of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who sued him and won a restraining order. April 30.

Ricardo Alarcón, 84. For years, he was the head of Cuba’s parliament and one of the country’s most prominent diplomats. April 30.

Kathy Boudin, 78. A former Weather Underground radical who served more than two decades behind bars for her role in a fatal 1981 armored truck robbery and spent the latter part of her life helping people who had been imprisoned. May 1.

Norman Mineta, 90. He broke racial barriers for Asian Americans serving in high-profile government posts and ordered commercial flights grounded after the 9/11 terror attacks as the nation’s federal transportation secretary. May 3.

Stanislav Shushkevich, 87. He steered Belarus to independence during the breakup of the Soviet Union and served as its first leader. May 4.

Ray Scott, 88. A consummate promoter who helped launch professional bass angling and became a fishing buddy to presidents while popularizing the conservation practice of catching and releasing fish. May 8.

Midge Decter, 94. A leading neoconservative writer and commentator who in blunt and tenacious style helped lead the right’s attack in the culture wars as she opposed the rise of feminism, affirmative action and the gay rights movement. May 9.

Leonid Kravchuk, 88. He led Ukraine to independence amid the collapse of the Soviet Union and served as its first president. May 10.

Shireen Abu Akleh, 51. A correspondent who became a household name synonymous with Al Jazeera’s coverage of life under occupation during her more than two decades reporting in the Palestinian territories. May 11. Fatally shot during an Israeli raid in the West Bank.

Randy Weaver, 74. The patriarch of a family that was involved in an 11-day Idaho standoff with federal agents 30 years ago that left three people dead and helped spark the growth of antigovernment extremists. May 11.

Robert C. McFarlane, 84. The former White House national security adviser was a top aide to President Ronald Reagan who pleaded guilty to charges for his role in an illegal arms-for-hostages deal known as the Iran-Contra affair. May 12.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, 73. The United Arab Emirates’ long-ailing ruler and president who oversaw much of the country’s blistering economic growth and whose name was immortalized on the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. May 13.

Uri Savir, 69. A prominent Israeli peace negotiator and dogged believer in the need for a settlement with the Palestinians. May 13.

Rosmarie Trapp, 93. Her Austrian family the von Trapps was made famous in the musical and beloved movie “The Sound of Music.” May 13.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 94. A once-powerful Italian prelate who long served as the Vatican’s No. 2 official but whose legacy was tarnished by his support for the pedophile founder of an influential religious order. May 27.

Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela, 83. An elderly leader of the former Cali cartel that smuggled vast amounts of cocaine from Colombia to the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. May 31. Died in a U.S. prison.

George Lamming, 94. A giant of post-colonial literature whose novels, essays and speeches influenced readers and peers in his native Barbados and around the world. June 4.

Valery Ryumin, 82. A veteran Russian cosmonaut who set space endurance records on Soviet missions, then returned to orbit after a long absence to fly on a U.S. space shuttle. June 6.

Paula Rego, 87. A Portuguese-British artist who created bold, visceral works inspired by fairy tales, her homeland and her own life. June 8.

Song Hae, 95. A South Korean TV presenter who was beloved for decades as the warm-humored emcee of a nationally televised singing contest. June 8.

Jean-Louis Trintignant, 91. A French film legend and amateur race car driver who earned acclaim for his starring role in the Oscar-winning film “A Man and a Woman” half a century ago and went on to portray the brutality of aging in his later years. June 17.

Mark Shields, 85. A political commentator and columnist who shared his insight into American politics and wit on “PBS NewsHour” for decades. June 18.

Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, 80. He was Denmark’s foreign minister for more than 10 years from the early 1980s and was considered one of the Nordic region’s key politicians in the end phase of the Cold War. June 18.

Clela Rorex, 78. A former Colorado county clerk considered a pioneer in the gay rights movement for being the first public official to issue a same-sex marriage license in 1975. June 19.

Józef Walaszczyk, 102. A member of the Polish resistance who rescued dozens of Jews during the Nazi German occupation of Poland during World War II. June 20.

Leonardo Del Vecchio, 87. He founded eyewear empire Luxottica in a trailer and turned an everyday object into a global fashion item, becoming one of Italy’s richest men in the process. June 27.

Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, 62. A prominent member of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community who founded a volunteer paramedic service before his reputation came crashing down in a series of sexual abuse allegations. June 29.

Hershel W. “Woody” Williams, 98. The last remaining Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, whose heroics under fire over several crucial hours at the Battle of Iwo Jima made him a legend in his native West Virginia. June 29.

Sonny Barger, 83. The leather-clad fixture of 1960s counterculture and figurehead of the Hells Angels motorcycle club who was at the notorious Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway. June 29.

Bradford Freeman, 97. The last survivor of the famed Army unit featured in the World War II oral history book and miniseries “Band of Brothers.” July 3.

Shinzo Abe, 67. Japan’s longest serving prime minister, he was also perhaps the most polarizing, complex politician in recent Japanese history. July 8. Fatally shot during a campaign speech.

José Eduardo dos Santos, 79. He was once one of Africa’s longest-serving rulers who during almost four decades as president of Angola fought the continent’s longest civil war and turned his country into a major oil producer as well as one of the world’s poorest and most corrupt nations. July 8.

Luis Echeverria, 100. A former Mexican president who tried to cast himself as a progressive world leader but was blamed for some of Mexico’s worst political killings of the 20th century. July 8.

Ann Shulgin, 91. Together with her late husband Alexander Shulgin, she pioneered the use of psychedelic drugs in psychotherapy and co-wrote two seminal books on the subject. July 9.

Ivana Trump, 73. A skier-turned-businesswoman who formed half of a publicity power couple in the 1980s as the first wife of former President Donald Trump and mother of his oldest children. July 14. Injuries suffered in an accident.

Eugenio Scalfari, 98. He helped revolutionize Italian journalism with the creation of La Repubblica, a liberal daily that boldly challenged Italy’s traditional newspapers. July 14.

Francisco Morales Bermudez, 100. The former president was an army general credited with paving the way for Peru’s return to civilian government — but also convicted abroad of involvement in dirty war crimes. July 14.

Stuart Woods, 84. An author of more than 90 novels, many featuring the character of lawyer-investigator Stone Barrington. July 22.

Tim Giago, 88. The founder of the first independently owned Native American newspaper in the United States. July 24.

David Trimble, 77. A former Northern Ireland first minister who won the Nobel Peace Prize for playing a key role in helping end Northern Ireland’s decades of violence. July 25.

James Lovelock, 103. The British environmental scientist whose influential Gaia theory sees the Earth as a living organism gravely imperiled by human activity. July 26.

Ayman al-Zawahri, 71. An Egyptian surgeon who became a mastermind of jihad against the West and who took over as al-Qaida leader after Osama bin Laden’s death in a U.S. raid. July 31. Killed by a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan.

Fidel Valdez Ramos, 94. The former Philippine president was a U.S.-trained ex-general who saw action in the Korean and Vietnam wars and played a key role in a 1986 pro-democracy uprising that ousted a dictator. July 31.

Roy Hackett, 93. The British civil rights campaigner was a leader of a bus boycott that played a key role in ending legal racial discrimination in the U.K. Aug. 3.

Albert Woodfox, 75. A former inmate who spent decades in isolation at a Louisiana prison and then became an advocate for prison reforms after he was released. Aug. 4.

Issey Miyake, 84. He built one of Japan’s biggest fashion brands and was known for his boldly sculpted pleated pieces as well as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ black turtlenecks. Aug. 5.

Bert Fields, 93. For decades, he was the go-to lawyer for Hollywood A-listers including Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson, George Lucas and the Beatles, and a character as colorful as many of his clients. Aug. 7.

Raymond Briggs, 88. A British children’s author and illustrator whose creations include “The Snowman” and “Fungus the Bogeyman.” Aug. 9.

Hanae Mori, 96. A designer known for her elegant signature butterfly motifs, numerous cinema fashions and the wedding gown of Japan’s empress. Aug. 11.

Jean-Jacques Sempé, 89. A French cartoonist whose simple line drawings tinted with humor graced the covers of The New Yorker magazine and granted him international acclaim. Aug. 11.

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, 62. A veteran stock market investor and Indian billionaire nicknamed India’s own Warren Buffett. Aug. 14.

Dr. Nafis Sadik, 92. A Pakistani doctor who championed women’s health and rights and spearheaded the breakthrough action plan adopted by 179 countries at the 1994 United Nations population conference. Aug. 14.

Kazuo Inamori, 90. He was the founder of Japanese ceramics and electronics maker Kyocera who also became a philanthropist singing the virtues of fairness and hard work. Aug. 24.

Mikhail Gorbachev, 91. The last leader of the Soviet Union, he set out to revitalize it but ended up unleashing forces that led to the collapse of communism, the breakup of the state and the end of the Cold War. Aug. 30.

Barbara Ehrenreich, 81. The author, activist and self-described “myth buster” who in such notable works as “Nickel and Dimed” and “Bait and Switch” challenged conventional thinking about class, religion and the very idea of an American dream. Sept. 1.

Moon Landrieu, 92. A former New Orleans mayor whose early, lonely stand against segregationists in the Louisiana legislature launched a political career at the forefront of sweeping changes on race. Sept. 5.

Bernard Shaw, 82. CNN’s chief anchor for two decades and a pioneering Black broadcast journalist best remembered for calmly reporting the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991 as missiles flew around him in Baghdad. Sept. 7.

Lance Mackey, 52. The four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race winner was one of mushing’s most colorful and accomplished champions but also suffered from health and drug issues. Sept. 7.

Queen Elizabeth II, 96. Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century. Sept. 8.

Ken Starr, 76. A former federal appellate judge and a prominent attorney whose criminal investigation of Bill Clinton led to the president’s impeachment and put Starr at the center of one of the country’s most polarizing debates of the 1990s. Sept. 13.

Dave Foreman, 74. A self-proclaimed eco-warrior who was a prominent member of the radical environmentalism movement and a co-founder of Earth First! Sept. 19.

Sylvia Wu, 106. Her famed Southern California restaurant drew Hollywood’s biggest stars for four decades. Sept. 19.

Dr. Valery Polyakov, 80. The Soviet cosmonaut who set the record for the longest single stay in space. Sept. 19.

Meredith Tax, 80. A prominent activist and writer of second-wave feminism who challenged herself, her peers and the world at large to rethink long-held ideas about gender, race and class. Sept. 25.

Youssef al-Qaradawi, 96. An Egyptian cleric who was seen as the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and became the Islamist “voice of revolution” during the popular uprisings around the Arab world more than a decade ago. Sept. 26.

Jerzy Urban, 89. A spokesman for Poland’s communist-era government in the 1980s who masterminded state propaganda and censorship for the regime in the final years before its collapse. Oct. 3.

Charles Fuller, 83. The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of the searing and acclaimed “A Soldier’s Play” who often explored and exposed how social institutions can perpetuate racism. Oct. 3.

Nikki Finke, 68. The veteran reporter who became one of Hollywood’s top journalists as founder of the entertainment trade website Deadline.com and whose sharp-tongued tenacity made her the most-feared columnist in show business. Oct. 9.

James A. McDivitt, 93. He commanded the Apollo 9 mission testing the first complete set of equipment to go to the moon. Oct. 13.

Benjamin R. Civiletti, 87. A former U.S. attorney general who investigated President Jimmy Carter’s brother while in the administration and who later became one of the nation’s most expensive private attorneys. Oct. 16.

Zilli Schmidt, 98. A survivor of the Auschwitz, Lety and Ravensbrueck concentration camps who became a vocal advocate for the recognition of the Nazi genocide of Sinti and Roma. Oct. 21.

Dietrich Mateschitz, 78. The Austrian billionaire was the co-founder of energy drink company Red Bull and founder and owner of the Red Bull Formula One racing team. Oct. 22.

Ash Carter, 68. A former defense secretary who opened combat jobs to women and ended a ban on transgender people serving in the military. Oct. 24.

The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, 73. He fought poverty and racism and skillfully navigated New York’s power structure as pastor of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church. Oct. 28.

George Booth, 96. A prize-winning cartoonist for The New Yorker who with manic affection captured the timeless comedy of dogs and cats and the human beings somehow in charge of their well being. Nov. 1.

Ibrahim Munir, 85. The former acting leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Nov. 4.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II, 81. The outspoken leader of Cyprus’ Greek Orthodox Christian Church whose forays into the country’s complex politics and finances fired up supporters and detractors alike. Nov. 7.

Paul Schrade, 97. A labor union leader who was shot in the head during the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and spent decades convinced that Sirhan Sirhan wasn’t the killer. Nov. 9.

Robert Clary, 96. A French-born survivor of Nazi concentration camps during World War II who played a feisty prisoner of war in the improbable 1960s sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes.” Nov. 16.

Carol Leigh, 71. A San Francisco activist who is credited with coining the term “sex work” and who sought for decades to improve conditions for prostitutes and others in the adult entertainment business. Nov. 16.

Hebe de Bonafini, 93. She became a human rights campaigner when her two sons were arrested and disappeared under Argentina’s military dictatorship. Nov. 20.

Jiang Zemin, 96. He led China out of isolation after the army crushed the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989 and supported economic reforms that led to a decade of explosive growth. Nov. 30.

Dorothy Pitman Hughes, 84. A pioneering Black feminist, child welfare advocate and lifelong community activist who toured the country speaking with Gloria Steinem in the 1970s and appears with her in one of the most iconic photos of the second-wave feminist movement. Dec. 1.

Barbara Walters, 93. An intrepid interviewer, anchor and program host, she led the way as the first woman to become a TV news superstar. Dec. 30.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 95. A German theologian who tried to reawaken Christianity in a secularized Europe and who will be remembered as the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. Benedict announced in 2013 that he no longer had the strength to run the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church. Dec. 31.


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