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 life and culture in some way.


Michael Parks (1940-2017) was an actor who did a number of TV shows and movies during his career. His TV career lasted from 1958 to 1999, while his movie career started in 1965, until his death. Parks is best known for his later work that he did with directors Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. He also did some work as a singer.

He sang the theme song for "Then Came Bronson," a TV show that he was also the star of. Parks died on May 9 at age 77.

Christopher "Big Black" Boykin (1972-2017) was an entertainer and musician. He was best known for his role in MTV's reality TV show "Rob & Big," which also featured Rob Dyrdek. Boykin was also featured in the video game "Skate 2" and continued to make appearances on Dyrdek's other shows. He also launched his own clothing brand, Big Black, back in 2007. Prior to his work in TV, he served in the U.S. Navy. Boykin died on May 9 at age 45 from a heart attack.


Chuck Orsborn (1917-2017) was a college basketball player, coach and athletic director. He played college basketball at Bradley University from 1935-39.

He was then drafted by the New York Yankees, but only played one season in the minors. In 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, serving for five years and getting to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After the army, he served as an assistant coach at Bradley from 1947-56. He then served as head coach for nine seasons, leading the team to a 194-56 (.774) record and 3 NIT Championships.

Right after his coaching career, he served as athletic director of the school from 1965-78. Orsborn died on May 7 at age 99.

Yale Lary (1930-2017) was a football player who played 11 seasons for the Detroit Lions. His career was interrupted when he was ordered to report for duty in the U.S. Army, causing him to miss the 1954 and 1955 seasons.

Lary racked up 50 interceptions and 3 defensive touchdowns as a safety. As a punter he led the league in punting average for three different seasons and retired with the second best average ever. During his career, he made 9 Pro Bowls, 3 First-team AP All-Pro teams and helped the Lions win 3 NFL Championships. In 1969, he was named to the 1950s All-decade team and in 1979 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Lary died on May 12 at age 86.

Michael Jackson (1969-2017) was a football player who played 8 seasons in the NFL. He spent his first 5 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He then played his last 3 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens before injuries cut his career short. His best season came in 1996 when he had 76 catches, 1,201 yards and a league-leading 14 touchdowns.

He later served as mayor of his hometown of Tangipahoa, Louisiana from 2009 to 2012. Jackson died on May 12 at age 48 after a motorcycle accident.


Allan H. Meltzer (1928-2017) was an economist and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Meltzer and fellow economist Karl Brunner are best known for creating the Shadow Open Market Committee. This committee provides a monetarist alternative to the Federal Open Market Committee. Meltzer served as the chair of this committee from 1973 until 1999. Meltzer died on May 8 at age 88.

Wilburn K. Ross (1922-2017) was a solider in the US Army who fought during World War II and the Korean War. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions outside Saint-Jacques, France on October 30, 1944.

He held off nine German assaults on a hill his unit was defending with a machine gun, even after his supporting riflemen ran out of ammo. Ross reached the rank of Master Sergeant before retiring after the Korean War. Ross died on May 9 at the age of 94.