Groundbreaking cardiac surgeon Maurice Neligan, pictured below, who pioneered Ireland’s first coronary bypass graft operation in 1974 and its first heart transplant in 1985, died October 15 at the age of 73 at his home in Dublin. Neligan also led the development of open-heart surgery in children, and over the course of his career performed approximately 14,000 to 15,000 open-heart surgeries, many of them on children. He served as consultant cardiac surgeon at Dublin’s Mater Hospital from 1971 until 2009, and at Crumlin Children’s Hospital from 1974 to 2002. He was a founder of the Blackrock Clinic. After his retirement, he remained involved in the medical community.
Neligan’s funeral mass was held October 19 at the Church of the Assumption in Dublin. He is survived by his wife Pat, also a doctor, three sons, and three daughters. A fourth daughter, Sara, was murdered in 2007. – K.R.
Vincent Nolan “The Salmon King,” passed away on October 22, 2010. He was 87.
A much-loved Dublin character, Vincent took over Nolan’s Irish Seafood from his father Harry, a Belfast fish salesman, and turned it into an international brand distributed to over 20 countries. Nolan’s smoked salmon even found its way to the White House where it was served for official functions, a tradition that began in the Kennedy administration and continued under President Johnson.
Apart from his love of fish, Vincent also had a passion for music and golf. He played piano with Hoagy Carmichael, and was a lifelong Frank Sinatra fan. Each year, Sinatra received a batch of Nolan’s salmon on his birthday.
Vincent’s passion for Sinatra was shared by his good friend the former governor of New York Hugh Carey, as was his passion for golf. He also counted Mutual of America’s chairman emeritus Bill Flynn among his golfing buddies and close friends. One golfing story that made the rounds is of the time Vincent played with the actor Sean Connery. Vincent matched the Scotsman shot for shot, but his short game, chipping in particular, let him down.
Vincent hated to lose and Connery decided to rub salt in the wounds. “I hear you’re in the fish business,” he said. “Yes, I am,” replied Vincent. Connery thought for a moment, then turned away to walk towards the clubhouse while saying, “Well I hope your fish is better than your chips!”
Vincent, who was preceded in death by his wife Yvonne, is survived by his sons Harry, Edward, George, Vincent and David, grandchildren and great grandchildren, his close friend Kay, relatives and friends. – PH
Hollywood screenwriter William Norton died Oct 1 at age 85 of a heart attack in Santa Barbara, California. He enjoyed a successful career writing feature films starring John Wayne, Burt Lancaster and Angie Dickinson, including 1968’s The Scalphunters and 1975’s Brannigan. Born in Utah, Norton was interested in his Irish ancestry and moved there in 1985, where he became directly involved in religious conflicts in Northern Ireland. He and his wife Eleanor shipped guns purchased in California to France, intending to help Catholics defend their homes, but were arrested in France. Norton was imprisoned for two years, then moved to Nicaragua with his wife to avoid charges in the United States for illegal exportation. Their home in Nicaragua was invaded by robbers, one of whom Norton shot and killed, but no charges were filed.
Norton, a former Communist Party member, moved to Cuba in the early 1990s, then traveled to Mexico, from where his first wife, Betty, and their daughter Sally successfully smuggled him across the border into Los Angeles. He spent his final years in Santa Barbara, painting and continuing to exercise his passion for social activism through writing letters to politicians.
Norton is survived by his son Bill, daughters Sally and Joan, wife Eleanor, their adopted daughter Teresa, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. – K.R.
Charlie O’Donnell, whose off-screen voice was a definitive aspect of American television in shows like Wheel of Fortune, To Tell the Truth and American Bandstand, as well as the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Golden Globes, died on November 1 at his home in California. He was 78.
O’Donnell was born in Philadelphia in 1932 and began his career on radio as a teenager at WCHA in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He began working in television as the announcer for American Bandstand in 1958. He went on to become a disc jockey and news anchor in Los Angeles, then served as an announcer for the Rolling Stones and the Beatles during 1960’s California performances. However, O’Donnell was best known for voicing the audience warmup, opening announcement, and commentary during Wheel of Fortune from 1988 until October 29, 2010. O’Donnell is survived by his wife Ellen, two sons, two daughters, and two grandchildren. – K.R.