2011: From this life to the next


From this life to the next, a compilation of notable passings.

Ken Curtis, 71, Jan. 3. Evangelical filmmaker and church historian, founder of Gateway Films/Vision Video and Christian History magazine.

Salmaan Taseer, 65, Jan. 4. Pakistan provincial governor and human-rights advocate. Assassinated in Islamabad by his security guard opposed to his defense of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death.

Samuel Ericsson, 66, Jan. 21. Lawyer who directed the 4,500-member Christian Legal Society in the 1980s and later founded and headed Advocates International, a large global network of lawyers championing religious freedom. He was lead counsel in the landmark California Supreme Court case in 1988 that closed the door to "clergy malpractice" claims and was a key architect of the federal Equal Access Act of 1984.

Don Butler, 80, Feb. 3. Gospel singer, composer, talent agent, co-founder in 1964 of the Gospel Music Association, and TV producer for the GMA Dove Awards.

Bernard Nathanson, 84, Feb. 21. Former Manhattan obstetrician who presided over an estimated 75,000 abortions (including his own child's), then denounced the practice in 1979, authored the best-seller Aborting America, directed and narrated the pro-life films The Silent Scream and Eclipse of Reason, and as a former atheist found "peace" after converting to Catholicism in 1996.

Shahbaz Bhatti, 42, March 2. Pakistani legislator, government Minister for Minorities, human-rights advocate opposed to the country's anti-Christian blasphemy law, and a Catholic who defended fellow Christians from the law's abuses; gunned down in the streets by an Islamic group claiming he was a "known blasphemer."

David Wilkerson, 79, April 27. Pentecostal evangelist who in 1959 founded the well-known Brooklyn ministry to troubled teens Teen Challenge, author of the mega bestseller The Cross and the Switchblade (1963), and founder in 1987 of Times Square Church in Manhattan, where he was senior pastor, preaching to 5,000 on Sundays until retirement in 2010.

Therman Austel, 83, May 29. Hebrew scholar, seminary professor, Bible translator, and editor of the Old Testament translation of the New American Standard Bible.

Paul Youngdahl, 73, June 20. Leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and long-time pastor of 13,000-member Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, the ELCA's largest congregation.

John Stott, 90, July 27. London-based Anglican preacher, writer, and one of the most influential figures in the formation of the evangelical movement in the 20th century, whose unwavering commitment to the authority of Scripture and scholarly approach to expositing its message won the respect of generations of Christian university students across the globe, many of them nurtured by his best-known book, Basic Christianity.

Robert P. Evans, 93, July 28. Navy chaplain wounded in World War II, evangelist and early leader in Youth for Christ, and founder and long-time director of Paris-based Greater Europe Mission, also an organizer of Billy Graham's historic 1966 World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin.

David Barrett, 83, Aug. 4. Anglican-priest-turned-Baptist and missions researcher who focused on "unreached people groups," and founding editor of the monumental World Christian Encyclopedia.

Charles Kingsley Barrett, 94, Aug. 26. British New Testament scholar, author of Bible commentaries, teacher, and Methodist minister whose opposition to a proposed Anglican-Methodist union in the 1960s gained him recognition.

Jessy Dixon, 73, Sept. 26. Gospel legend singer and songwriter who spent years with the Gaither Homecoming concerts. Dixon, who many credited with popularizing Gospel music, spent more than 50 years in the industry, including an eight-year stint as the opening act for contemporary pop favorite Paul Simon.

Bil Keane, 89, Nov. 8. Father of five and an artist who in 1960 created "Family Circus," a single-panel cartoon in a circle featuring traditional values and subtle humor as a mommy, daddy, and their four kids live out the warmth and joys of everyday family life. Son Jeff is continuing the hugely popular cartoon, syndicated in some 1,500 newspapers.

George Gallup, Jr., 81, Nov. 21. Evangelical Episcopalian who led the well-known opinion polling research company his father founded, expanding it to include sampling and appraising Americans' views on religion and the level of commitment to their faith.

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