Dec 31, 2019

In photos: Pioneers we lost in 2019

Guests pay respects to the late Rep. Elijah Cummings as his remains lie in state outside the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol October 24, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Guests pay respects to the late Rep. Elijah Cummings as his remains lie in state outside the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Oct. 24. Photo: Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

From literary giants like Nobel laureate Toni Morrison to longtime civil servants and rights advocates like Rep. Elijah Cummings, many influential figures and pioneers left us in 2019.

Go deeper: Here are the some of the most notable from AP's "final goodbye" tribute to the leading luminaries we lost in 2019.

Frank Robinson: The first African American manager in Major League Baseball and the only player to be named MVP in the National League and the American League.

In this image, a statue of Frank Robinson is seen
Frank Robinson's statue in Cleveland, Ohio before the 2019 MLB All-Star Game. Photo: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Valery Bykovsky: The pioneering Soviet-era cosmonaut flew to space three times. His first launch was in 1963.

Valery bykovsky aboard the salyut 6 space station.
Valery Bykovsky aboard the Salyut 6 space station during the 1978 Soyuz 31 mission. Photo: Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Peter Mayhew: He graced "Star Wars" fans as tall, furry, and lovable Chewbacca from "A New Hope" to 2015's "The Force Awakens."

In this image, Peter Mayhew sits in an electric wheelchair on the red carpet.
Peter Mayhew at the world premiere of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" in May 2018. Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney

I.M. Pei: The architect who adorned the Louvre with its iconic giant glass pyramid and designed the bold, geometric Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In this image, I.M. Pei sits in a suit and tie.
I.M. Pei at the 2016 Asia Game Changers, at the United Nations New York Headquarters. Photo: Mark J Sullivan/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Murray Gell-Mann: The Nobel Prize-winning physicist helped discover subatomic particles and developed the strangeness theory and eightfold way theory.

In this image, Murray Gell Mann sits in class and lectures
Murray Gell-Mann during a lecture in Huazhong Normal University in 2010 in Wuhan, China. Photo: Visual China Group via Getty Images

Patricia Bath: A pioneering inventor and ophthalmologist. She was the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent and the first African American to finish an ophthalmology residency.

"Sexism, racism, and relative poverty were the obstacles which I faced as a young girl growing up in Harlem. There were no women physicians I knew of and surgery was a male-dominated profession..."
— Bath, in a Q&A session with the National Institutes of Health

Lee Iacocca: The auto executive behind Ford's Mustang the only executive in modern times to run two of the Big Three automakers..

In this image, Lee Iacocca stands in front of a Benz
Lee Iacocca with the Mercedes-Benz Maybach 57 S in Beverly Hills, California. Photo: Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic

Pernell Whitaker: A four-division boxing champion and Olympic gold medalist regarded as "one of the greatest defensive fighters ever," per AP.

In this image, Pernell sits in a hoodie at a conference
Pernell Whitaker at a Los Angeles press conference in 2011. Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

John Paul Stevens: Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court "who unexpectedly emerged as the Supreme Court’s leading liberal" after being nominated as a Republican, per AP.

In this image, John Paul Stevens sits
John Paul Stevens sits for a portrait in May 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Photo: Scott McIntyre/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Edith Irby Jones: A physician, the first woman president of the National Medical Association, and the first African American student to enroll at an all-white medical school in the South, per AP.

"But I was gonna be a different kind of doctor. I was gonna be a doctor in which money wasn’t gonna to make any difference with me — that I was gonna particular see that those who did not have money — those who were less fortunate —would get the kind of care that they needed ..."
— Jones in a 2006 interview at the University of Arkansas.

Chris Kraft: Founder of NASA’s mission control and American aerospace engineer.

Chris Kraft
President Ronald Reagan briefed by Christopher Kraft at the Johnson Space Center's Mission Control Center in 1981. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Harold Prince: A Broadway director and producer who changed 20th century theater with "The Phantom of the Opera," "Cabaret," "Company" and "Sweeney Todd." He who won 21 Tony Awards.

In this image, Hal Prince sits with glasses on his forehead.
Hal Prince at the Manhattan Theatre Club's Broadway Premiere of 'Prince of Broadway' in 2017. Photo: Walter McBride/Getty Images

Toni Morrison: A legendary American author who unblinkingly examined and exhumed America's relationship with race.

Toni Morrison sits
Toni Morrison at New York City's Ambassador Theatre in 2015. Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images

Phyllis Newman: The first woman to host “The Tonight Show” and a Tony Award-winning Broadway veteran, who won the 1962 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

Phyllis Newman
Phyllis Newman in 2015 in New York City. Photo: Monica Schipper/FilmMagic

Alexei Leonov: The Soviet cosmonaut who became the first person to perform a spacewalk.

In this image, Alexei Leonov
Alexei Leonov at a 2017 news conference. Photo: Andrei Makhonin\TASS via Getty Images

Elijah E. Cummings: A sharecropper's son and civil rights champion, Cummings served in Congress for 23 years. He was head of the House Judiciary Committee and one of President Trump's strongest critics.

Elijah Cummings
Cummings at the National Press Club in D.C. in August 2019. Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sadako Ogata: Former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and former President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and one of the first Japanese to hold a top job at an international organization, per AP.

Sadako Ogata
Sadako Ogata receives receives the Atlantic Council's 2012 Global Citizen Award in New York. Photo: Stan Honda/AFP/GettyImages
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