Deaths of celebrities in 2018 prompt reminiscence

Anna DeLibro, Reporter

As 2018 comes to an end, we not only start to think about the exciting possibilities of the new year, but the influential people who have shaped the past year, specifically Stan Lee, Stephen Hillenburg, former president George H.W. Bush, and Stephen Hawking. Whether the person contributed to daily pop culture or inspired scientific theories, their work is sure to have a lasting impact on society.

Stan Lee, writer for Marvel Comics, passed away at 95 this year. His work led to him becoming a primary creative leader in a small business, then years later, to running a multimedia corporation that dominated the comic and movie industry.

Lindsey Duquette (‘20), a fan of Marvel, reflected on her favorite aspects about Lee.

“He was always trying to help the world become a better place, and I believe that his comics were his way of trying to do that,” Duquette said.

Iconic characters such as Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and Spiderman have been passed through generations and will likely continue to spread Lee’s legacy throughout time.

“My favorite movie has to be the first Iron Man because it’s a redemption story,” Duquette said. “[It’s about] a man who was always living in fantasy, forced to face reality.”

Throughout his life, Lee won several awards including the National Medal of Arts, Producers Guild of America, the Vanguard award, Lifetime Achievement, and the Visual Effect Society Award. His wide range of super heroes gave viewers a different story each time.

“I love the pure enjoyment of the movies,” Duquette said. “[There is] something for everyone. Something serious like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, to something lighthearted like “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Another famous creator, Stephen Hillenburg – the director, producer, and writer of “Spongebob Squarepants” — died at 56 this year. He suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function. “Spongebob Squarepants” first aired in 1999 and it has just been renewed for a 12th season in 2019.

Whitney Langlee (‘20), enjoys the show because it was a prominent part of her childhood.

“In elementary school, I used to watch Spongebob every day before school with my mom,” Langlee said.

The characters Hillenburg created — like Spongebob, Patrick Star, and Squidward Tentacles are the main source of humor in the show.

“You can still watch it now and laugh because it has jokes for both adults and kids,” Langlee said.

41st US president George H.W. Bush also died this year at 94. He served from 1989-1993 and only a few years later his son George W. Bush took office.

His funeral took place on December 5 in Washington DC at the US National Cathedral. Previous presidents such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter all attended the funeral, and many other world leaders came to pay their respects.

“When you think about him, you really think about how he was an upstanding guy with really strong morals,” history teacher, Sarah Crue, said.

In George W. Bush’s eulogy speech, he said his father still enjoyed riding on his boat at age 85, and even parachuted out of an aircraft at age 90. As president, one of George H.W Bush’s focus was dealing with the Gulf War, which only lasted from 1990-1991.

“[It is] a huge accomplishment for any president to get a conflict over [with] really quickly, without a ton of deaths on our part,” Crue said.

Former first lady and wife to George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush, also died this year. Both Bush’s will be honored at the upcoming “Aggie Muster” ceremony at Texas A&M university.

Theoretical Physicist, cosmologist and author, Stephen Hawking, died at 76 this year. During his life, he battled with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which is a neurodegenerative disease that wears away nerve and muscle function over time. Despite this disease, Hawking still pursued success.

“Stephen Hawking couldn’t scratch an itch, yet he was writing and publishing up to his death in March,” Nathan Hamidi, (‘19) said. “I have no excuse not to do a physics lab due tomorrow.”

Hawking won awards like the Albert Einstein Medal, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Wolf Prize of Physics, but these are not his only notable accomplishments.

“The thing I most admire was that he declined a knighthood in the late 1990’s because the UK didn’t have a good science funding policy,” Hamidi said. “That was a bold move.”

Hawking came up with many theories like “The Theory of Everything”, which is also the name of the 2014 film made about his life. He also came up with theories such as “Hawking Radiation” and the “Black Hole Information Paradox”.

“The principles he worked with gave rise to some fun speculation about the future of the universe, and current topics that barely anybody in a physics class a Hereford High would understand,” Hamidi said. “The work with black holes was great and led to discoveries on gravity.”

At the end of each year, it’s important to take time and reflect on the people who influenced 2018. Aretha Franklin, the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died this year at 76. John McCain also died this year at 81, and his work with the United States military will never be forgotten. Instead of grieving over who we lost, we should celebrate how that person positively affected our lives. Whether it was a person who influenced your childhood, made your favorite movies, or even ran the United States, there’s always something memorable that will be passed on from generation to generation.