Metro.Style's Year-Ender List: Deaths And Tragedies That Made Headlines In 2018
There are different ways to remember a year by.
For some people, hard-hitting headlines, heartwarming news stories, or trending topics might constitute their memories of the year coming to close, but this time, we're choosing to shine the spotlight on some of the society's most unforgettable personalities—cultural icons, industry leaders, and political figures—who gave their final farewells in 2018, setting in place legacies that will live on long after their passing.
Dwelling not on the sense of sadness and loss that these individuals' deaths stirred in our hearts and minds, we instead focus on their most remarkable successes, the indelible marks they left on the lives of those they inspired, moved, and changed forever.
Also in this list are heartbreaking stories of losses and tragedies that have made the memories of 2018 particularly painful for those affected.
Stephen Hawking: January 8, 1942 to March 10, 2018
He was one of this century's greatest, most awake, boundary-pushing, and death-defying minds. The theoretical physicist turned lecturer, speaker, and author will mostly be remembered by the wider public for inspiring a curiosity about the cosmos, pushing even the most casual stargazer to ask profound questions about the universe, creation, and human existence itself.
The professor was admired and deeply loved in and out of the academe, delighting people from all over the planet with his razor-sharp humor and good-natured retorts to both his biggest supporters and critics.
Aside from the body of scientific work he leaves behind, Stephen Hawking's legacy is also defined by the fact he lived a five decades more than the life expectancy his doctors predicted. Despite being diagnosed with life-threatening amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in his early 20s, he lived fully and rewardingly.
Stan Lee: December 28, 1922 to November 12, 2018
There was more to the man whose cameos in Marvel Studios' biggest superhero blockbusters we always looked forward to.
At 95 years old, the creator of recognizable graphic novel heavyweights and big screen names like Spider-Man, the X-Men, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Black Panther (to say the very least) was a legend. Stan Lee ushered in the comic book we know today—not simply a children's novelty filled with make-believe characters and scenarios, but an invaluable capsule of the stories, values, and movements that have shaped and continue to shape the world.
His imagination was his readers' (of which there were millions) inspiration; he wasn't just a writer or editor, but a force in pop culture that will never be forgotten.
Rico J. Puno: February 13, 1953 to October 30, 2018
OPM was never the same since the day RIco J. Puno became a household name in the seventies.
Famous for his inimitable ways of merging his recognizable vocals and unique brand of humor in his onstage performances, Rico was a one-in-a-milion gem of the local entertainment industry, his unexpected death at the age of 54 leaving behind a hole that can never be filled.
He was beloved both in the Philippines and overseas (he often toured in countries with large populations of overseas Filipno workers who he wanted to bring the taste of home to), and his hit songs like "Kapalaran," "Macho Gwapito," and "Lupa" as well as his talent for translating English songs to Filipino are sure to have a place in the airwaves for years to come.
Aretha Franklin: March 25, 1942 to August 16, 2018
The wide-ranging influence of Aretha who broke into the music scene as a teenager 60 years ago can never be understated; aside from her world-famous talent as a performer, singer, and songwriter, the African-American woman simultaneously became an icon of female sexual liberation, women empowerment, and the Civil Rights Movement.
Her oeuvre that helped redefine music (and particularly what women and black artists could accomplish in the industry) is summarized by her hits like "A Natural Woman," "Respect," and "I Say a Little Prayer," but that is not to say that she was limited; anyone from Ariana Grande, Dolly Parton, George Michael, and Jennifer Hudson have drawn inspiration from her voice that transcended genres.
Aretha will always be the one and only Queen of Soul.
Kate Spade: December 24, 1962 to June 5, 2018
The fashion industry mourned (wept, even) over the loss of one of the warmest hearts it's ever had the pleasure of knowing in 2018.
Learning that American bag and accessory designer Kate Spade had passed was difficult enough, but when reports announced that the mother of one had actually taken her own life, her industry partners, friends, and family found themselves in shock. The event spurred further discussion on the importance of mental health, struggles of which Kate dealt with several times in the past.
Her premature departure from this world prompted her biggest admirers, many of whom are famous women themselves, to share their tributes, pointing out that she was the designer that opened up the world of sophisticated dressing and accessorizing to young women. To date, she's best known for her whimsical, youthful, and colorful bag designs.
Anthony Bourdain: June 25, 1956 to June 8, 2018
Anthony Bourdain—the rebel rockstar chef who grew into one a bona fide citizen of the world and whose talent for storytelling was unlike anything we've ever seen—made the world a smaller place, proving that people had much more in common with each other than they were different.
It made him a hero not only of the world's best chefs, most intense foodies, and most seasoned travel journalists, but of humanity's, as a whole. At the heart of his work was showcasing the beauty of the world's diverse cultures and how food, especially when shared, is capable of bridging gaps and filling in the blanks when other forms of communication fall short.
He was an ambassador of peace, understanding, adventure, and the best damn food there ever was, teaching his international audience of millions life lessons that mattered. No one could have predicted that suicide would become the great Bourdain's cause of death.
George H. W. Bush: June 12, 1924 to November 30, 2018
The 41st President of the United States (and also the country's longest living president), died due to Vascular Parkinsonism, a rare condition that affects a person's ability to walk and balance themselves, and the general use of their muscles. He was 94 years old.
With a political career that began in the late sixties, Bush had decades to cement a legacy that his supporters (as well as his Democrat counterparts) will forever respect and admire him for, alongside his political high points that include playing key roles in the collapse of the USSR, the end of the Cold War, and the US' victory in Iraq. He was known to be prayerful, compassionate, loving, and overall generous in spirit.
Despite being a staunch Republican all his life, the former president managed to bring American politicians together with his universally shared values, a fact proven during his funeral attended by the Obamas, BIll and Hillary Clinton, his son George W. Bush and, yes, even current President Donald Trump.
He passed away seven months after his wife, Barbara, succumbed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Senator John McCain: August 29, 1936 to August 26, 2018
Senator John McCain, who non-Americans will recognize as the Republican candidate who bowed out of the race to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential elections, eventually grew too weak to keep up his fight against brain cancer, breathing his last in the company of the people who knew him best.
He'll be forever be remembered as the man humble enough to accept defeat to America's first black president while continuing to work as a dedicated public servant in his own capacity after the event.
Though considered to be old-fashioned and conservative for the most part, the politician charmingly gained a following of young, more "liberal-minded" individuals in the latter months of his life because of his social media presence; his regular updates of his dates with his wife, time spent with his kids, and just him being a regular Joe endeared him to many, and gave another dimension to the Senator.
The Tham Luang cave rescue
Thankfully, this dramatic story about a hiking trip gone wrong, which could have reported multiple deaths, ended well.
In a report that gripped the world, The Tham Luang cave rescue proved to be a cautionary tale for the bravehearted thrill seekers: heed the advice of locals who know the dangers of a location like the back of their hands, and follow it.
It was a lesson learned the hard way for the people involved: a Thai soccer team composed of teenage boys and their coach who ventured into the Tham Luang cave and got trapped in its intricate system of underground tunnels. It took 18 days for the group to be reported missing, located, and rescued, requiring assistance from expert divers, search and rescue teams, the Thai military, and even US Airforce.
A single diver, Saman Kunan, was the only casualty and is regarded a hero.
The California wildfires
Hundreds of collective deaths and injuries were reported in the worst series of wildfires California has ever seen.
The calamity, thought of by many to be a result of worsening climate change, wreaked havoc on some of the state's most upscale neighborhoods, sparing no one, including celebrity homes. Personalities like Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, Gerard Butler, Kim Kardashian, Jessica Simpson, Lady Gaga, Cher, Kim Kardashian, Rob Lowe, Orlando Bloom, and several more were all affected by the widespread fire, some even losing the entirety of their properties to the flames.
Still, many of the mentioned celebrities, despite having their own repairs and reconstruction needs to address, chose to be of help to their communities by making donations, sponsoring food and drink, or personally visiting the firefighters, first responders, and search and rescue teams involved in the event.
Volcanic eruption and tsunami in Indonesia
As of this writing, the number of casualties from this extremely traumatic and tragic event in Indonesia has reached more than 400, and more than 7,000 were injured. Many buildings and houses near the coast have also been heavily damaged.
Following the eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano last December 22, the Sundra Strait was said to have experienced tsunami due to undersea landslides. Indonesian pop band Seventeen was having a concert by the shore, when the tsunami hit. The volcano that trigerred the tsunami reportedly lost two-thirds of its height.
Photos from @stephen_hawking_ @therealstanlee @gerardbutler and courtesy of Cedjie Aquino