In the last week many notable Americans have passed away. This will cover a few of these amazing people from various walks of life that helped to shape American culture and life in some way.


Deane R. Hilton (1923-2017) served as a 2nd Lt. during World War II and after the war became a Foreign Service Officer. He had postings in Syria, Kenya, Guatemala, France and Chile before becoming an ambassador. He served as ambassador to Zaire (74-75), El Salvador (81-83), Pakistan (83-86), Costa Rica (87-90) and Panama (90-94). Hilton died on March 28 at age 94 from kidney failure.


Darlene Cates (1947-2017) was an actress best known for her role as Bonnie in the 1993 movie "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" She also appeared in an episode of the TV shows "Picket Fences" and "Touched by an Angel." Cates passed away in her sleep on March 26 at age 69.

Rosie Hamlin (1945-2017) was the lead singer of the 1960s music group Rosie and the Originals. The group is best known for their hit single "Angel Baby," which would lead to the group breaking up due to legal battles over copyright and royalties of the song with their record company. John Lennon said that Hamlin was one of his favorite singers and recorded his own version of the song in 1973. Hamlin passed away in her sleep on March 30 at age 71.


Ken Sparks (1944-2017) was a football coach at Carson-Newman University from 1980 until 2016, when he retired after 37 years. He led Carson-Newman win 5 NAIA Championships and got to the Division II title game 3 times. Sparks also won 21 South Atlantic Conference titles and holds the record for most wins by a Division II coach.

Sparks died on March 29 following a long battle with prostate cancer.

Linwood Sexton (1926-2017) was one of the first black football players to play for Wichita State. In his four years at the school, he got named to the All-Conference team three times (1945,46,47) becoming the first black player to do so. He had his jersey number 66 retired before he graduated in 1948.

He has also been inducted in the Wichita State Hall of Fame, Missouri Valley Conference Athletics Hall of Fame and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Sexton died on March 29 at age 90.


Roger Wilkins (1932-2017) was a prominent civil rights activist, journalist and history professor at George Mason University. He was an Assistant Attorney General and later the Director of Community Relations Service during President Johnson's administration. He worked for the New York Times and Washington Star, but is best known for his time on the editorial staff of the Washington Post, where they won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing the Watergate scandal. Wilkins died on March 26 from complications of dementia.

Robert Parr (1921-2017) was a theoretical chemist. In 1953 Parr helped to develop the PPP method, which helps to compute molecular orbits for pi electron systems. In 1988 he also helped to produce an improved density functional theory (DFT) method that became known as LYP functional theory, which is one of the most cited papers in chemical literature. Parr died on March 27 at age 95 following a brief illness.