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A tribute to some we lost last year
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Happy New Year!

It is so hard to believe 2016 is gone and now we begin a new year with 2017. It is also hard to believe some of the true “greats” we said goodbye to in 2016.

Gene Wilder passed away in August. He was one of my favorite actors. I remember when “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” came out in 1971. I was a little girl and remember being completely mesmerized by that film.

It remains one of my favorite movies — even now. I loved re-watching it with our children when they were growing up.

I also loved the 1974 movie, “Young Frankenstein.” Still a classic.

We quote lines from that movie all of the time. There were many others, including “Silver Streak” (1976) and “Stir Crazy” (1980) that were wildly successful and showed Wilder’s true comedic genius.

Harper Lee also passed away in 2016 at the age of 89. Lee wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird,” published in 1960. It was an immediate success and bestseller.

She didn’t really think the book would be a success or that her life would garner the attention it did after the book came out.

Did you know that Truman Capote was a childhood friend of Lee’s and that she traveled with him and helped him research for what would become his popular book, “In Cold Blood,” published in 1966?

Prince also passed away this past year. And while I have not really been a fan of his in the past few decades, I certainly remember when his album “1999” was released in 1982.

Even if you didn’t think that his music was your groove, most likely you liked that album.

Prince was such a talented person — he was eccentric for sure, but truly a musical icon.

Someone who passed away recently who might not be as familiar to many was Alan Rickman. Did you see the Harry Potter movies? Rickman was the character Severus Snape. He had a long and lucrative career — I remember him from Die Hard — he was a terrific villain. Still, this generation will best remember him as Snape.

Another Alan we lost in 2016 was Alan Thicke, the Canadian actor probably best known for his role as Jason Seaver, the father on the ABC television show, “Growing Pains.”

The show premiered in 1985 and ended in 1992. Such a great show, our children loved watching those re-runs as much as I did.

Did you know Thicke was also a successful television theme song composer? He collaborated on theme songs for some famous shows such as “Different Strokes” and “The Facts of Life.”

We also had to say goodbye to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who passed away at 73 from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. Born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali began training as an amateur boxer when he was just 12 years old. Nicknamed “The Greatest,” Ali was known for his boxing skills and also for being provocative and even “outlandish” at times.

Ali retired from boxing in 1981 and devoted the rest of his life to religious and charitable work. Considered an activist by many, Ali had numerous controversial ties to various figures and organizations — but nobody argues about how successful his boxing career was.

American hero John Glenn also passed away in early December. Glen had so many achievements — aviator, engineer, astronaut and a United States Senator from Ohio.

Of course, Glenn is probably best known for his space travels. In 1962 he became the first American to orbit the earth, circling it three times.

Before joining the team at NASA, Glenn was a distinguished fighter pilot in World War II and in the Korean War. Glenn was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1990 and served in the Senate from 1974 to 1990.

Of course, there are others and except for space, I would include all of the famous figures that in so many ways have been part of our lives over the years. I also know people who have lost loved ones this past year — some lost their children. Those people were not famous, but were so loved and cherished by their family and friends.

God Bless those we have lost and those they left behind. Here is to hoping you all have a wonderful and blessed 2017.

South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at