In the last week, many notable Americans have passed away. This week saw the passing of a former presidential confidant, a beloved actor, a NASCAR Hall of Famer, and a trailblazing college basketball player. These amazing people came from various walks of life, helping to shape American culture in some way. May they be put in memoriam forever.


W. Marvin Watson (1924-2017) was a key advisor and loyal confidant to President Lydon B. Johnson. Watson entered the Marine Corps during World War II and saw action in the Pacific. In 1948, he started working for the future president during his primary campaign for the Democratic nomination to the Senate.

By 1960, Watson had become head of the Democratic Party in Texas. He helped to organize the Kennedy/Johnson campaign in the state, while also working as a direct aide to Johnson as he campaigned across the country. He later helped to organize the 1964 Democratic Convention and served as White House Appointments Secretary from 1965-68, acting as the de facto Chief of Staff.

Watson then served as the 58th Postmaster General from 1968-69 and when the Johnson administration ended he became an official at Occidental Petroleum. He also served as the president of Dallas Baptist University from 1979-87. Watson died on November 26 at age 93 at his home in Woodlands, Texas.


Jim Nabors (1930-2017) was an actor best known for portraying Gomer Pyle on “The Andy Griffith Show” and later getting his own spin-off show with “Gomer Pyle: USMC.” He also played Hank Smith in “Valentine's Day” and starred as Fum in “The Lost Saucer.” In 1970, he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best TV Actor in a Comedy or Musical for his work on “The Jim Nabors Show.”

In film, he played Deputy Fred in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," Lugs in “Stroker Ace,” and also had a small role in “Cannonball Run II.” Nabors also reprised his role as Pyle for the 1986 TV Movie “Return to Mayberry.” Starting in 1972 and ending after the 2014 Indy 500, Nabors was also known for opening the race by singing “Back Home Again.” His husband told the Associated Press that Nabors died on November 30 at his home in Hawaii.


Bud Moore (1925-2017) was a NASCAR Hall of Famer. Prior to his career in the sport, he was drafted out of high school into the military and served in the Army during World War II. He participated in D-Day and earned five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars before being formally discharged in November 1945.

After the war, Moore opened a used car business but soon started competing in motorsports as the crew chief to friend Joe Eubanks.

In 1957, Moore won the NASCAR title as crew chief for Buck Baker. In 1961, he switched gears into ownership with the founding of Bud Moore Engineering. He soon found success winning car owner titles in 1962 and 1963 with racer Joe Weatherly.

In 1999, Bud Moore Engineering shut down due to years of funding issues and disappointing results in the late 1990s.

Moore recorded 63 wins, 43 poles, and three NASCAR Grand National Championships in his time as owner. At the time, this gave Moore the fourth most wins by an owner in the sport's history. In 2011, he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Moore died on November 29 at the age of 92, with NASCAR announcing his passing.

Perry Wallace (1948-2017) was the first African-American varsity athlete to play basketball on an athletic scholarship at the University of Vanderbilt and in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

He played four seasons at Vanderbilt, earning Second Team All-SEC honors in 1970. Wallace was drafted in the fifth round by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1970 but never played in the NBA, as he went on to earn his J.D. from Columbia University.

He went on to work as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and in 1992 spent one year on the EPA's Environmental Policy advisory council. The following year he became a professor of law at The American University Washington College of Law. In 2003, he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and had his number retired by Vanderbilt the following year. Wallace died on December 1 at age 69.