Historical Figures Who Died in 1981

  • Jan 3 Princess Alice of Albany (b. 1883)
  • Jan 5 Harold Urey, American physical chemist (Deuterium, Nobel 1934), dies at 87
  • Jan 5 Lanza del Vasto, Italian philosopher (b. 1901)
  • Jan 5 Paul Félix, Flemish architect (Song of the Sun), dies at 67
  • Jan 6 A. J. Cronin, Scottish writer (Citadel, Shining Victory), dies at 84
  • Jan 7 Alvar Lidell, UK radio broadcaster (b. 1908)
  • Jan 7 Eric Robinson, Australian politician (b. 1926)
  • Jan 10 Fawn M. Brodie, American historian (b. 1915)
  • Jan 13 Emiel van Hemeldonck, Belgian writer (Mary, My Child), dies at 83
  • Jan 14 John O'Grady, Australian writer (Nino Culotta) (b. 1907)
  • Jan 15 Emanuel Celler, American politician (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York), dies at 92
  • Jan 21 James Stronge former Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament, assassinated by IRA, alongside his father Norman
  • Jan 21 Norman Stronge, former Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament, assassinated by IRA alongside son James
  • Jan 22 Fannie Thomas, American who became the oldest known American at her death, dies at 113 years and 273 days
  • Jan 22 Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, Pakistani historian and educationist, dies at 77
  • Jan 25 Adele Astaire [Lady Charles Cavendish], American dancer and entertainer, sister of Fred Astaire (Last Man on Earth, Millie), dies at 82
  • Jan 27 Leo Collard, Belgian minister of Education (1946/54-58), dies at 78

Donald Wills Douglas

Feb 1 Donald Wills Douglas, American aircraft industrialist (McDonnell Douglas) & aviation pioneer (Douglas DC-3), dies at 88

  • Feb 2 Jan Donner, Dutch chairman of High Council, dies at 89
  • Feb 5 Ella Grasso, American politician, Governor of Connecticut (1975-80), dies at 61
  • Feb 5 Kuda Bux, Indian mystic (I'd Like to See), dies at 75
  • Feb 6 Frederica of Hanover, Queen Consort of Greece, dies at 63
  • Feb 18 John Knudsen Northrop, American aircraft designer (Northrop Air), dies at 85
  • Feb 26 FC Terborgh [Reijnier Flaes], Dutch lawyer and writer (Turkish War), dies at 79
  • Feb 26 Robert Aickman, English writer and conservationist (co-founding the Inland Waterways Association), dies at 66
  • Feb 27 Jacob H Gilbert, American politician (US Representative 1960-1971), dies at 60
  • Mar 6 Klaus Grabowski, German alleged murderer and convicted sex offender, shot and killed in Lübeck District Court by Marianne Bachmeier the mother of the daughter he was accused of murdering
  • Mar 7 John Gnagy, artist (Learn to Draw), dies at 73
  • Mar 9 Max Delbrück, German-American biologist and molecular geneticist (bacteriophage, Nobel Prize 1969), dies at 74
  • Mar 22 James "Jumbo" Elliott, American track coach (b. 1915)
  • Mar 26 Cyril Dean Darlington, English biologist and geneticist who discovered the mechanics of chromosomal crossover and its role in inheritance and evolution, dies at 77
  • Mar 27 Mao Dun [Shen Dehong], Chinese writer (Midnight), dies at 84
  • Mar 29 Eric Williams, 1st Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago (People's National Movement: 1962-81), dies at 79 [1]
  • Mar 30 Dewitt Wallace, American founder of Reader's Digest, dies at 91
  • Mar 31 Enid Bagnold, British novelist (Chalk Garden, 1956 Award of Merit), dies at 91
  • Apr 1 D[ennis] F[eltham] Jones, sci-fi author (Colossus), dies at 65
  • Apr 3 Juan Trippe, American airline pioneer and entrepreneur (Pan Am founder), dies at 81
  • Apr 3 Leo Kanner, Austrian-American psychiatrist and social activist known for his work related to autism, dies at 86
  • Apr 5 Cornelis Verolme, Dutch ship builder, dies at 80

Omar Bradley

Apr 8 Omar Bradley, American WWII General (Invasion of Normandy) and 1st Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1949-53), dies of cardiac arrhythmia at 88

  • Apr 10 Howard Thurman, African-American theologian and author (Deep River, Deep is the Hunger), dies at 81
  • Apr 11 Marie Ney, dies at 85
  • Apr 13 Prince Asaka Yasuhiko of Japan, Japanese military commander, dies at 93
  • Apr 15 French Duynstee, Dutch states rights leader, dies at 67
  • Apr 15 John Thach, American WWII naval aviator (developed the Thach Weave) & USN admiral, dies at 75
  • Apr 18 James H. Schmitz, American sci-fi author (Lion Game), dies at 69
  • Apr 23 Josep Pla, Spanish journalist & author, dies at 84
  • Apr 26 Madge Evans, American TV panelist (Masquerade Party), dies at 71
  • Apr 30 Peter Huchel, German poet, dies at 78
  • May 1 Clarence A Bacote, historian/political scientist, dies at 75
  • May 5 Bobby Sands, Irish IRA activist dies in the 66th day of his hunger strike at 26
  • May 9 Nelson Algren, American novelist (Man with the Golden Arm), dies at 72
  • May 11 Hoyt J. Fuller, American editor (1st World magazine), dies at 57
  • May 11 Odd Hassel, Norwegian chemist (Nobel 1969 - the study of the three-dimensional geometric structure of molecules), dies at 83
  • May 12 Benjamin Sheares, President of Singapore (1971-81), dies at 73
  • May 17 Jeannette Ridlon Piccard, 1st US woman free balloon pilot, dies
  • May 18 William Saroyan, American novelist & stagewriter (Time of your life), dies at 72
  • May 21 Patsy O'Hara, Irish hunger striker (b. 1957)
  • May 21 Raymond Mccreesh, Irish hunger striker (b. 1957)
  • May 23 David Lewis, Canadian labour lawyer and politician (b. 1909)
  • May 23 Rayner Heppenstall, English novelist (The Blaze of Noon), dies at 70
  • May 25 Fredric Warburg, British publisher (Animal Farm) and author, dies at 82
  • May 28 Stefan Wyszyński, Polish Cardinal, dies at 79
  • May 30 Ziaur Rahmen, President of Bangladesh, is assassinated
  • May 31 Giuseppe Pella, 31st Prime Minister of Italy, dies at 79
  • Jun 1 Carl Vinson, American politician (38th Dean of the United States House of Representatives, 1961-65), dies at 97
  • Jun 1 Naim Chadir, PLO-representative in Brussels, murdered
  • Jun 3 Carleton Coon, American anthropologist (What in the World), dies at 76
  • Jun 11 Eppo Doeve, Dutch cartoonist and painter, dies at 73
  • Jun 15 Philip Toynbee, British journalist and writer (Savage Days, Barricade), dies at 64
  • Jun 16 Humphrey Keervelt, Surinamese official (Suriname Planning Bureau), murdered
  • Jun 16 John S Knight, American journalist and publisher (Knight Newspapers), dies at 86
  • Jun 16 Jule Gregory Charney, American meteorologist, dies at 64
  • Jun 17 Richard O'Connor, British general (b. 1889)
  • Jun 17 Yitzhak Zuckerman [Itzhak Zuckerman], Jewish resistance hero in World War II and one of the few survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, dies at 65
  • Jun 17 Zerna Sharp, American writer and educator (Dick and Jane) (b. 1889)
  • Jun 28 Mohammed Beheshti, Iranian cleric and politician (Chief Justice of Iran), assassinated in Hafte Tir bombing at 52
  • Jul 1 Carlos de Oliveira, Portuguese writer (b. 1921)
  • Jul 7 Peace Pilgrim [Mildred Lisette Norman], American peace activist, dies at 72
  • Jul 9 Wilhelm H C Tenhaeff, para-psychologist, dies at 87
  • Jul 10 Ken Rex McElroy, American resident of Skidmore, Missouri known as "the town bully", murdered at 47 in an unsolved killing in front of a crowd of 30-46 in Skidmore's main street
  • Jul 12 Ben Seijes, historian (WWII), dies at 73
  • Jul 18 Wilhelm HC Tenhaeff, Dutch para-psychologist, dies at 87
  • Jul 28 Fr. Stanley Rother, American Roman Catholic priest, martyr and missionary to Guatemala, murdered at 46
  • Jul 29 Robert Moses, American public official and urban planner (oversaw rebuilding of Long Island and NYC parks and roads), dies at 92
  • Jul 31 Gen Omar Torrijos, leader of Panama, dies in plane crash
  • Aug 3 Roberto Peci, Italian brother of Red Brigade leader, murdered at 25
  • Aug 15 Humphrey Waldock, British lawyer (UN International Law Commission, 1961-72), and jurist (European Court of Human Rights, 1966-74; International Court of Justice, 1973-81), dies of a heart attack at 77
  • Aug 26 Roger Nash Baldwin, American founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, dies at 97
  • Aug 30 Mohammad-Ali Rajai, President of Iran (1981), assassinated by a bomb at 48
  • Aug 31 Joseph H. Hirschhorn, US art collector/founder H Museum, dies at 82

Albert Speer

Sep 1 Albert Speer, German architect and Nazi leader (Reich Minister for Armaments and War Production), dies of a stroke at 76

  • Sep 1 Bùi Thanh Liêm, Vietnamese cosmonaut, dies in a MiG-21 crash at 32
  • Sep 3 Alec Waugh, English novelist (Island in the Sun), died after suffering a stroke at 83
  • Sep 5 Ayatollah Ali Qoddusi, prosecutor-general of Iran, assassinated
  • Sep 6 Christy Brown, Irish author (b. 1932)
  • Sep 8 Hideki Yukawa, Japanese physicist (Nobel 1949), dies at 74
  • Sep 8 Roy Wilkins, American civil rights activist and longtime executive director of NAACP, dies at 80
  • Sep 9 Jacques Lacan, French psychoanalyst and semanticist, dies at 80
  • Sep 12 Eugenio Montale, Italian poet and translator (Xenia-Nobel 1975), dies at 84
  • Sep 13 William Loeb, publisher of Manchester Union Leader, NH, dies at 75
  • Sep 19 Joke Kool-Smit, Dutch feminist, dies
  • Sep 27 Coenraad van Emde Boas, Dutch sexologist, dies at 77
  • Sep 28 Rómulo Betancourt, President of Venezuela (b. 1908)
  • Oct 2 Harry Golden, Jewish-American journalist and writer (Only in America), dies at 79
  • Oct 3 Walter Mehring, German writer (Die Gedichte, Lieder und Chansons des Walter Mehring), dies at 85

AssassinationAnwar Sadat

Oct 6 Anwar Sadat, 3rd President of Egypt (1970-81, Nobel 1978), assassinated by fundamentalist army officers at 62

  • Oct 7 Albert Cohen, Greek-born Swiss novelist (Belle du Seigneur), dies at 86
  • Oct 19 Paul Snoek [Edm Schietekat], Belgian poet, dies at 48
  • Oct 25 Ariel Durant, American author (Story of Civilization), dies at 83
  • Oct 29 William O. Walker, American publisher of Cleveland Call Post, dies at 85
  • Nov 2 Kenneth Oakley, English Anthropologist, Palaeontologist, and Geologist whose method for the relative dating of fossils using fluorine content was instrumental in exposing the Piltdown Man hoax, dies at 70
  • Nov 3 Thérèse Casgrain, French Canadian politician and senator, dies at 85

Will Durant

Nov 7 Will Durant, American author and historian (The Story of Philosophy, The Story of Civilization), dies at 96

  • Nov 19 Griffiths Mxenge, South African anti-apartheid activist, murdered at 46
  • Nov 20 Rolf Bongs, German writer, dies at 74
  • Nov 22 Hans Krebs, German-British doctor and research biochemist specializing in metabolic reactions (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1953), dies at 81 [1]
  • Nov 29 Fredric Wertham, German-born psychologist (b. 1895)
  • Dec 2 Alexis Kagame, Rwandan philosopher, historian, poet and Tutsi intellectual and cultural leader, dies at 69
  • Dec 3 (Nicolaas) "Cola" Debrot, Dutch lawyer, doctor.author and politician (Governor of the Netherlands Antilles, 1962-70), dies at 79

Walter Knott

Dec 3 Walter Knott, American farmer who created the Knott's Berry Farm amusement park in California and introduced the boysenberry to America, dies at 91

  • Dec 9 Daniel Faulkner, Philadelphia police officer (b. 1955)
  • Dec 17 Edwin Erich Dwinger, German writer (General Vlassov), dies at 83
  • Dec 18 Mehmet Shehu, PM Albania (1954-81)/"US-Russ spy", commits suicide
  • Dec 26 Amber Reeves, feminist writer (b. 1887)
  • Dec 29 Guido Provoost, Belgian historian, dies at 41
  • Dec 29 Miroslav Krleža, Croatian writer (b. 1893)