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People who died in 2011

Lesser-known but significant figures

Photo: Illustrations by Ben Claassen, License: N/A

Illustrations by Ben Claassen


Stanley and the Dead eventually parted company, and his eccentricities were known to cause rifts – like Stanley’s insistence that the band only eat meat. Stanley believed that vegetables were toxic. He claimed he ate only meat for 50 years or more, and that the diet helped save him from throat cancer.

Famously reclusive, in the 1980s he moved to the Australian outback to work on his jewelry, a trade he learned during a two-year prison stint in the early ’70s. “I don’t want my life exposed publicly,” he told Rolling Stone. “I’m interested in the work I’ve done and the things I’ve discovered and in some of my philosophical stuff, because I think it’s of value, but I’m not into being a celebrity, because I think celebrityhood has no value to anyone, least of all to the celebrity. I’ve watched wonderful people get destroyed by it.”

Stanley was, himself, destroyed when his car went over an embankment on March 13. His wife survived the crash.

And the philosophical stuff? Stanley had said he moved to Australia to escape a coming ice age he expected would envelope the Northern Hemisphere. His view of things beyond was inspired by The Kybalion, a book of ancient wisdom he read decades ago. The book, he told Rolling Stone, “was perfect because it put into total context all the things I had experienced on acid. The universe is a creation entirely within a being that is outside time and space, and dreaming what we are. Everything is connected, because it’s all being created by this one consciousness. And we are tiny reflections of the mind that is creating the universe.” – Edward Ericson Jr.

Robert Ettinger

Father of the cryogenics movement

To say Robert Ettinger is dead is not entirely accurate, at least not in his mind and those of his followers. Legally dead, maybe, and certainly dead to the current world, but not, necessarily, dead-dead, as in permanently.

Ettinger, whose life went on extended pause on July 23, was the father of the cryogenics movement – the freezing of humans and other mammals upon declaration of clinical death with the idea that at some point in the future sufficiently advanced technology will exist to warm them back up and allow them to continue healthy lives. Ettinger passed after a brief illness at the age of 92, surrounded by a cadre of nurses, EMTs and family members with coolers of ice carefully arranged ahead of time in order to ensure his body be frozen as quickly as possible.

Born in 1918, in Atlantic City, N.J., Ettinger was an early lover of science fiction. In the ’30s he read Neil R. Jones’ “The Jameson Satellite,” a short story depicting a professor who jettisons himself into the cold vastness of space before he dies, to be awoken millions of years later and revived by a race of technologically advanced aliens with organic brains and robotic bodies. Ettinger cites the story as the catalyst for pursuing his own ideas of cryogenics, which stemmed from his childhood belief that human immortality would eventually be achieved – and why wait for aliens when we could learn ourselves? When he realized, as he grew older, that no one was actively working toward this goal, he wrote his own short story, “The Penultimate Trump” (so named in reference to the angel Gabriel’s final trumpet), published in March 1948 in pulp science fiction magazine Startling Stories.

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