Gu Fangzhou, a virologist who dedicated his life to eradicating polio from China, passed away at age 92 on Jan 2. "Sugar pills", an oral polio vaccine, developed by Gu reduced incidence rate of the disease by nearly 100 times from 1949 to 1993, saving millions of children from crippling paralysis. "I spent my whole life doing one thing – developing an effective polio vaccine," Gu Fangzhou, once said while summarizing his life. Gu started polio research in 1957 and created the sugar pills attenuated oral vaccine in 1959. According to Gu's biography, in order to test the efficacy and side effects of the vaccine, he administered the vaccine to himself and started the first stage of the human trial. After extensive testing, he took another bold step to administer the oral vaccine to his one-month-old son. This inspired his colleagues to vaccinate their kids. "If we don't believe in what we produce, how can others believe in it?" said Gu while recalling the trial.
Yu Min, a nuclear physicist widely known as the father of China's hydrogen bomb, died on Jan 16 at the age of 93. Yu, together with 99 other Chinese people from different walks of life, won the honorary title of "reform pioneer" at a gathering held in Beijing on Dec 18 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up. In January 2015 Yu also won China's top science and technology accolade. Yu, a native of Tianjin, earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Peking University in 1949 and then conducted postgraduate research at the school's physics department. He also served as a teaching assistant. He entered the Modern Physics Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and began to study atomic nuclear physics theory in 1951. To address the country's strategic needs, Yu began to conduct theoretical research on nuclear weapons in 1961. For the next 28 years, Yu and his work remained top national secrets.
Chinese author Lin Qingxuan died at the age of 65 on Jan 23. Lin, who once used pen names such as Qin Qing and Lin Li, was a celebrated writer, essayist, poet, and scholar, who won numerous prizes and enjoyed great popularity across the Straits. Lin showed his intellect and talent for writing at a very young age. He started his career by publishing articles in local newspapers and won first prize in the Tainan writing competition during his high school days. Lin spent his college years at Shih Hsin University, during which he published his first book, "Lian Hua Kai Luo." Hailed as one of the eight masters of contemporary prose in China, the essay master has published more than a hundred books during his career.
Karl Lagerfeld, the most prolific designer of the 20th and 21st centuries and a man whose career formed the prototype of the modern luxury fashion industry, died on Feb 19. He was 85. Creative director of Chanel since 1983 and Fendi since 1965, and founder of his own line, Lagerfeld was the definition of a fashion polyglot, able to speak the language of many different brands at the same time. In his 80s, when most of his peers were retiring to their yachts or country estates, he was designing an average of 14 new collections a year ranging from couture to the high street, and not counting collaborations and special projects. Lagerfeld never stopped creating. He was also a photographer, whose work was exhibited at the Pinacothèque de Paris; a publisher, having founded his own imprint for Steidl, Edition 7L. A self-identified "caricature," with his dark glasses, powdered ponytail, black jeans, fingerless gloves, starched collars, Chrome Hearts jewelry and obsessive Diet Coke consumption, he achieved such a level of global fame and controversy.
John Havlicek, the eight-time NBA champion and Basketball Hall of Famer, died on April 25. He was 79. Havlicek's death was confirmed in a statement by the Boston Celtics, the team he played with for 16 seasons. The Boston Celtics great whose steal of Hal Greer's inbounds pass in the final seconds of the 1965 Eastern Conference final against the Philadelphia 76ers remains one of the most famous plays in NBA history. Havlicek remains the Celtics' highest scoring member with 26,395 points across his career. He was also a 13-time NBA All-Star, and upon his retirement in 1978, the Celtics immediately retired his number 17 jersey with him. While the NBA legend had been suffering from Parkinson's disease, the statement did not confirm his exact cause of death.
I.M. Pei, the world-famous Chinese-American architect, died in a New York hospital on May 16 at the age of 102. In April of this year, Pei just celebrated his 102nd birthday. Pei was born in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on April 26, 1917. In 1935, he went to the US to study at the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University. He obtained a bachelor's degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master's degree in architecture from Harvard University. In 1983, he won the Pritzker prize, known as the Nobel Prize for architects. The glass pyramid of the Louvre in Paris, France is the most famous masterpiece of I.M. Pei. His architectural works in China include the Suzhou Museum, Beijing Xiangshan Hotel, Hong Kong Bank of China Tower and Beijing Bank of China Head Office. The Chinese embassy in the US also came from the hand of Pei.