In 2012, Long Beach and the surrounding area lost a number of notable residents. They came from diverse fields, from politics and philanthropy, from sports to religion, and many areas in between. They were war heroes and entertainment icons and even a couple of local "first husbands."
Here are some of the notables from the year past:
Maybe the best-known death this year was that of Latin music recording star Jenni Rivera, 43, who died Dec. 9 in a plane crash in Mexico.
Born Dolores Janney Rivera to Mexican immigrant parents and raised on Long Beach's Westside, Rivera attended Poly High until giving birth to her first child at the age of 15.
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- 2012: A look back at Inland Valley news
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Earning international popularity in Mexico and the United States as "La Diva de la Banda," Rivera sold more than 20 million records of banda music, was a television producer and actress whose life story was well-known among her admirers. For this reason, fans flocked to sites throughout Long Beach and the Southland where they shared their grief and sang the songs of their icon.
Mervyn Dymally, a one-time janitor from Trinidad who would become a trailblazer in black politics in a 40-year career in public office, including a term as the state's first black lieutenant governor, died Oct. 7 at the age of 86.
Dymally served in both houses of the state Legislature and in Congress representing Hawthorne, Gardena, Carson, Harbor Gateway, Compton and part of South Los Angeles.
He was the state's first foreign-born black assemblyman in 1962, the first black senator in 1966, the only black lieutenant governor in 1974 and went on to win his congressional seat in 1980.
Long Beach resident Sgt. Thomas R. MacPherson, 26, was killed by small arms fire in the Ghazni Province in Afghanistan on Oct. 12, as he led an assault against an enemy position. MacPherson was born in Long Beach and enlisted in the Army in May 2007.
At the time of his death, MacPherson was on his fifth deployment, with four tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. MacPherson earned more than a dozen awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and the Purple Heart Medal posthumously.
A fixture in the Central Area and early civil rights activist in Long Beach, Viola Croom died Sept. 16 from complications of a stroke. She was 86.
Believed to be the last surviving matriarch of one of the founding families of St. Mark Baptist Church, which was established in 1944, Croom and her late husband, Rev. Joe Croom, worked closely with Ernest McBride during the formative years of the local branch of the NAACP and formed the Long Beach Anti-Discrimination Committee.
LARRY VAN NOSTRAN
Nine-time Lakewood mayor and Councilman Larry Van Nostran died at his home Nov. 9. He was 79.
First elected to the council in 1975, he was the longest-serving council member in Lakewood's history.
Van Nostran moved to Lakewood in 1958 and was active in Lakewood civic life for over 50 years, including membership in the Elks Club, Jaycees, Kiwanis Club, Lakewood Pan American Association, and Masonic Lodge & Scottish Rite.
Bill O'Neill, best known as Long Beach's "First Husband" from his marriage to former Mayor Beverly O'Neill, died Oct. 24 after a series of illnesses. He was 81.
An academic for most of his adult life, O'Neill was the author of eight books and 75 academic articles and a leader in philosophical and social education.
The area's other "first husband," Bruce DuBois, spouse of Lakewood Mayor Diane DuBois, died unexpectedly of an aneurysm May 15. He was 76.
Born in Long Beach and a graduate of Downey High, DuBois and his wife raised a family and lived in the same Lakewood house since 1960. DuBois was a state director of the Jaycees and volunteered for Lakewood Meals on Wheels.
INDIRA HALE TUCKER
A leader in Long Beach's black community as a historian and educator, Indira Hale Tucker died April 8 at her home of natural causes. She was 68.
Always fascinated by personal and black history, Tucker and Aaron Day co-edited "The Heritage of African Americans in Long Beach: Over 100 Years." Tucker also co-founded the African American Heritage Society of Long Beach, home to 1,600 books and videos in Long Beach libraries, and was instrumental in the creation and development of the African American Resource Center at the Burnett Library.
She was also the wife of Marcus Tucker, Long Beach's first black municipal court judge and later a superior court judge.
LEE MARIE ANDERSON
A San Pedro resident, philanthropist and widow of Congressman Glenn Anderson, Lee Marie Anderson died Sept. 24 from complications of melanoma. She was 87.
After working closely with her husband throughout his political career from 1957 until his death in 1994, Lee Marie Anderson remained active as a widow. Involved with many civic and community organizations in Long Beach and the South Bay, she raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for nonprofit organizations and created the Glenn and Lee Anderson Foundation, which gave thousands of dollars in college scholarship funds to local residents.
Another spouse of a politician who gained praise for her own accomplishments was Nini Horn, 80, the wife of the late Congressman Steve Horn. She died Feb. 21 after a long battle with breast caner.
Horn worked closely with her husband during his career as president of Cal State Long Beach from 1970 to 1988 and in Congress from 1993 to 2003. While at the university, she was instrumental in raising significant funds for a number of facilities, from the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center to the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden.
She was also president of the Public Corporation for the Arts in Long Beach and helped persuade the City Council to provide funds for arts organizations.
The former executive vice chancellor for the California State University system and the first woman and African-American woman to serve as acting president of Cal State Long Beach, June Margaret Cooper died Jan. 10 from complications of Parkinson's disease. She was 78.
A longtime resident of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, she was a 30-year employee in the CSU system as a professor and administrator. She was named acting president at Cal State Long Beach in 1988 to replace Stephen Horn, who had stepped down to run for Congress. She was also and active volunteer, working with more than a dozen organizations.
DR. MAX GASPAR
Dr. Max R. Gaspar, an internationally acclaimed vascular surgeon, formerly of Long Beach, died in his Idaho home in October. He was 97.
A pioneer in his field, Gaspar was chief of vascular surgery for 25 years at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he also served as attending surgeon for 50 years. He also had a practice in Long Beach and performed surgeries at local hospitals.
MARY BETH SOTH
The executive director of the Long Beach Day nursery for 22 years, Mary Beth Soth died Dec. 8 in her Lakewood Village after battling the effects of two strokes. She was 78.
As the head of the Day Nursery, which celebrated its 100 th anniversary this year, Soth launched a groundbreaking early childhood intervention program in 1984 that has helped teachers and parents better understand child behavior.
A Holocaust survivor who escaped a slave labor camp and a well-known philanthropist from Lakewood, Eugene Schlesinger died in September of congestive heart failure.
A major donor to many Jewish and Holocaust remembrance causes, Schlesinger was recognized by the Alpert Jewish Community Center in Long Beach, which unveiled a Holocaust Memorial in memory of Schlesinger and his wife, Eva, also a Holocaust survivor. The 20-foot wall commemorates the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust. In August, Cal State Long Beach hosted an endowed teacher training workshop in his name in which high school educators learned how to teach about the Nazi genocide.