Rest in peace: 15 people we lost in 2015

Mr Lee Kuan Yew is the founding Prime Minister and the architect of modern Singapore.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew is the founding Prime Minister and the architect of modern Singapore. PHOTO: REUTERS

From statesmen to celebrities, the world lost many people who were larger than life in 2015.

The first that comes to mind is none other than Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

We pay tribute to 15 people whom we mourned in 2015:

1. Subhas Anandan (1947 - 2015)


Mr Subhas Anandan defended some of Singapore's most notorious criminals. ST PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR

Mr Subhas Anandan, one of Singapore's most well-known lawyers, died of heart failure at age 67 on Jan 7. The prolific criminal lawyer defended some of Singapore's most notorious criminals, and took on many cases pro bono.

Despite battling health problems for many years, Mr Subhas worked till the end, and dictated chapters of his autobiography, It's Easy To Cry, while undergoing kidney dialysis treatment.

Read more here.

2. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (1924 - 2015)


King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became Saudi monarch in 2005. PHOTO: REUTERS

King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud died on Jan 23 at the age of 90 after being hospitalised for pneumonia. He was succeeded by his half-brother King Salman, 79.

King Abdullah became Saudi monarch in 2005 but due to his predecessor's poor health, had already been de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia for 10 years.

He was crown prince during the Sept 11, 2001, attacks and ruled as the events of the Arab Spring unfolded.

Read more here.

3. Leonard Nimoy (1931 - 2015)


Leonard Nimoy was ambivalent about being tied to the iconic role of Mr Spock from Star Trek. PHOTO: REUTERS

The actor synonymous with Mr Spock in hit science fiction TV show Star Trek died on Feb 27 at age 83.

Like Spock, a half-alien and half-human who was at times torn between his two selves, Nimoy was ambivalent about being tied to the iconic role.

His first autobiography, written in 1975, was titled I Am Not Spock. Later he embraced the role and his second memoir, published in 1995, was titled I Am Spock.

His screen legacy will certainly "live long and prosper".

Read more here.

4. Sir Terry Pratchett (1948 - 2015)


Sir Terry Pratchett is best known for his 41 Discworld novels. PHOTO: TERRY PRATCHETT

 

Sir Terry Pratchett, who died on March 12 at age 67, was best known for his 41 Discworld novels.

The series, set in a world that lies on the backs of four elephants standing on the shell of a giant turtle, was ostensibly fantasy. But Pratchett frequently made astute comment on modern life by interjecting observations of the real world into one populated by wizards, dwarves, trolls and his most iconic creation - Death.

Death, who speaks in capital letters, was a character in almost all the Discworld novels.

One of Pratchett's last tweets was in Death's voice: "AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER."

Read more here.

5. Lee Kuan Yew (1923 - 2015)


Mr Lee Kuan Yew is the founding Prime Minister and the architect of modern Singapore.  PHOTO: REUTERS

Mr Lee Kuan Yew, founding Prime Minister and architect of modern Singapore post independence, died on March 23 at the age of 91.

More than 100,000 people braved the rain and lined the streets to say goodbye during his funeral procession on March 29.

One of Mr Lee's last wishes was for the pre-war bungalow at Oxley Road where he lived to be demolished. He was adamant that it should not be kept as a "relic".

As his younger son Lee Hsien Yang put it: "Lee Kuan Yew did not see his legacy in bricks and mortar, but living on in the values and principles that make our nation work. His life's work lives on in you and me, in every Singaporean and in Singapore."

Read more here.

6. Gunter Grass (1927 - 2015)


Author Gunter Grass' Danzig trilogy explored Nazi brutality and the trauma Germany suffered during World War II. PHOTO: REUTERS

Nobel Prize-winning author Gunter Grass died on April 13 at age 87. His magic realist works explored Nazi brutality and the trauma Germany suffered after World War II.

His best known works are the Danzig trilogy - The Tin Drum (1959), Cat And Mouse (1961) and Dog Years (1963).

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1999, but was also criticised for his polemical views and lack lustre works in his later years.

In a 2006 memoir, he shocked German society by admitting that he had served in the Waffen-SS, a combat arm of Adolf Hitler's elite SS security unit, at the end of World War II.

7. BB King (1925 - 2015)


King of blues BB King declared himself an ambassador for blues music. PHOTO: REUTERS

 

The king of blues died on May 14 due to Alzheimer's disease at age 89. He still played months before his death.

Born Riley B. King, the former farmhand started playing the guitar at the age of 12. He declared himself an ambassador for blues music and influenced many great guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and George Harrison.

The Rolling Stones magazine ranked him sixth in the list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time in 2011.

The itinerant artist was rarely clear about his personal life and often said he had 15 children by 15 women.

Read more here.

8. John Nash (1928 - 2015)


US mathematician John Nash struggled with schizophrenia but able to eventually return to his research. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mathematician John Nash, who died on May 23 at age 86, won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994 for his work on game theory and the mathematics of decision-making.

But he is known to much of the public as the subject of the Oscar-winning movie A Beautiful Mind (2001), which dramatised his struggle with schizophrenia.

"I was disturbed in this way for a very long period of time, like 25 years," Nash said in a 2004 video interview on the Nobel website.

He was able eventually to stop taking medication and return to his research in an unusual recovery.

Nash's wife Alicia Larde divorced him in 1963, but they re-married in 2001. Nash was killed in a car crash along with Larde, who was 82.

Read more here.

9. Christopher Lee (1922 - 2015)


Christopher Lee starred in many films and even had a music career. PHOTO: REUTERS

Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee CBE, who died on June 7 at age 93, played screen villains to chilling perfection in many blockbuster movies.

The 1.93m thespian played Dracula 10 times, and starred in many other horror films from the 1950s to 1970s.

He was also the "the man with the golden gun" in the James Bond movie of the same name, evil wizard Saruman the White in the Lord Of The Rings movies and a rogue Jedi turned Sith Lord in the later Star Wars movies.

Lee began a singing career in the 1990s, and released his first full-length album - he characterised as "symphonic metal"- when he was 88.

Read more here.

10. Quah Kim Swee (1939 - 2015)


Former Singapore star Quah Kim Swee and daughter Bee Jin at the Germany-Argentina quarter-final football match in Berlin. PHOTO: TRACY TEO

Footballer Quah Kim Swee was the fourth of the famous Quah family of sporting siblings. He died on July 18 after a long disease at the age of 76.

He was a star striker in the 1950s and 1960s, and was part of the Singapore team with the best-ever Asian finish.

They finished fourth at the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games after losing the bronze-medal match to Japan.

Ten out of the 11 Quah siblings went on to represent Singapore in sports and for four decades, there was at least one of the Quah brothers in the national team, from second brother Kim Beng in 1954 to Kim Song, who played from 1968 to 1983.

Read more here.

11. Oliver Sacks (1933 - 2015)


Oliver Sacks was a neurologist who wrote books that gave people insight into the minds of those with neurological conditions. PHOTO: OLIVERSACKS.COM

Neurologist Oliver Sacks was called the "poet laureate of medicine" for writing books which gave millions insight into the lives and minds of those with neurological conditions.

His best-known books The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat and An Anthropologist On Mars described the bizarre case histories of his patients.

Another well-known work Awakenings (1973), about a group of immobile patients who were revived by an experimental drug, was made into a movie in 1990 starring Robin Williams and Robert de Niro.

In a February 2015 op-ed for The New York Times, Sacks wrote: "Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."

He died on Aug 30 at the age of 82.

Read more here.

12. Wes Craven (1939 - 2015)


Wes Craven is best known for his slasher series A Nightmare On Elm Street. PHOTO: REUTERS

Horror film maestro Wes Craven died on Aug 30 at age 76. He was best known for writing slasher classic A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984).

The movie spawned eight sequels, a television series and novels.

Before that, the former college professor's low-budget thrillers such as The Last House On The Left (1972), The Hills Have Eyes (1977) and Swamp Thing (1982) have become cult classics in the horror genre.

He was also the creator of Scream (1996), which satirised the genre he helped popularise.

Read more here.

13. Helmut Schmidt (1918 - 2015)


Former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt led Germany in its rise into an economic powerhouse. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mr Helmut Schmidt, who died on Nov 10 at age 96, was West German chancellor for eight years between 1974 and 1982, and defence and finance minister before that.

Hailed as an unsentimental "doer" and practitioner of realpolitik, he led Germany as it rose to become an economic powerhouse, and refused to give in to urban terrorist organisations such as the Red Army Faction

The statesman was a long-time friend to Singapore and the late Mr Lee, and remained his country's "conscience" to the end.

A chain smoker, he was the only German granted permission to light up whenever and wherever he chose.

Read more here.

14. Kwek Leng Joo (1953 - 2015)


Mr Kwek Leng Joo is a well-known advocate for corporate social responsibility. PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Kwek Leng Joo died on Nov 16 at age 62 of a sudden heart attack.

The deputy chairman of property group City Developments was a well-known advocate of corporate social responsibility, a champion of environmental causes, and an accomplished photographer.

A leader in the business community, he helped found the Singapore Business Federation in 2002. Mr Kwek received the President's Award for the Environment just a month before his death.

He was called the "perfect gentleman" by Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Read more here.

15. Rugby star Jonah Lomu (1975 - 2015)


Rugby legend Jonah Lomu is hailed as the most influential player in rugby history. PHOTO: REUTERS

Rugby legend Jonah Lomu, the game's first global superstar, died unexpectedly at age 40 on Nov 18. He succumbed to a rare kidney disorder that had cut short his sporting career.

Hailed as the most influential player in rugby history, he shot to international fame at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa.

At his peak, the 1.96m tall All Blacks player terrorised his opponents on the pitch with his speed and power.

Read more here.

Sources: BBC, Bloomberg, Reuters, The Telegraph