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.


John G. Avildsen (1935-2017) was a film director who was best known for directing 'Rocky', 'Rocky V' and the first three films in the 'Karate Kid' series. His work on 'Rocky' won Avildsen the 1977 Oscar for Best Director. He also directed other successful films like 'Joe', 'Save the Tiger', 'Neighbors' and 'Lean on Me.' Avildsen died on June 16 at age 81 from pancreatic cancer.

Stephen Furst (1954-2017) was an actor, director, and producer. He is best known for his breakout role as Kent "Flounder" Dorfman in the 1978 movie 'Animal House' and its spin-off TV series 'Delta House.' He was also well-known as Dr. Elliot Axelrod in the TV series 'St. Elsewhere' and as Vir Cotto in the TV series 'Babylon 5.' As a director and producer he worked on mostly low-budget TV movies. His best-known work in this area would be as the producer of the 2009 movie 'My Sister's Keeper.' Furst died on June 16 at age 63 from complications related to diabetes.


Rick Tuten (1965-2017) was a punter who played 11 seasons in the NFL. He spent his first two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills.

He then joined the Seattle Seahawks, where he had his greatest success as their punter for seven seasons and made the Pro Bowl in 1994. Tuten spent his last two seasons with the St Louis Rams and was part of their Super Bowl XXXIV team, but he only played eight games that year because of a leg injury. Tuten died unexpectedly on June 13 at age 52 while on vacation in Costa Rica of unknown causes.


Charles P. Thacker (1943-2017) was a computer designer best known for his work at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). He worked as the project lead on the Xerox Alto personal computer system, the first time a computer was designed to support an operating system based on the graphic user interface (GUI).

He was also the co-inventor of Ethernet LAN and contributed to the first laser printer.

In the early 2000s, he would help to design the hardware for Microsoft's Tablet PC. Thacker died on June 12 at age 74 from complications due to esophageal cancer.

Arthur J. Jackson (1924-2017) was a U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient. He received the honor for his actions at the November 1944 Battle of Peleliu, when he single-handedly destroyed 12 enemy pillboxes and killed 50 Japanese soldiers. He also received a Purple Heart for his actions and would receive another one at the May 1945 Battle of Okinawa. Jackson later served in the Korean War as part of the Army and reached the rank of Captain. Jackson died on June 14 at age 92.

Venus Ramey (1924-2017) was a Miss America winner and an activist.

She won the Miss District of Columbia pageant after having left Kentucky for the capital to work for the war effort. Ramey then won the Miss America pageant in 1944, becoming the first red-head to win the title and the first winner photographed in color.

She went on to become the first Miss America to run for public office, unsuccessfully running a seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1947. In the 1970s she campaigned to successfully save Over-the-Rhine a historical neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. Ramey died on June 17 at age 92.