In the closing months of 2012,
death hovered above us like a gruesome Bushmaster-toting spectre. Those unaffected by the rising death tolls in places like Syria and Congo were sucker punched in the heart last month as word of the mass murder of 26 people-including 20 six- and seven-year-olds-at a school in Newtown, Connecticut spread across Twitter like a virus. Around the same time, Baltimore's sickening body count-215 murders and counting at press time-sailed past last year's without a pause. And if we weren't consumed enough by the Grim Reaper, on Christmas Eve, an ex-con in Western New York armed, like the Connecticut killer, with a Bushmaster, set a house on fire to lure firefighters into his scope. He killed two and injured two more.
While our hearts remain heavy with all that misery, we remember the lives of the departed. In our 2012 People Who Died, we recall 10 locals, famous and obscure, who left us this year, but only after making an indelible impact on Baltimore. They range from
, the scourge of Cleveland who became a hero-and historic philanthropist-in Baltimore to
, the Baltimore County teacher and union and civil rights leader who remained committed to justice until the end. And from Go-Go king
who crafted a soulful voice just for D.C.-and, we think, for us just up 95 apace too-and
, the beating heart of Canton, to
, the cunning gangster who robbed drug dealers, becoming the inspiration for
's Omar, before pulling off a more impressive feat: going straight.
And because Baltimore can never ignore the endless parade of death that plagues its streets, we remember our murdered citizens in "
," in which "Murder Ink" columnist Anna Ditkoff chronicles the deadliest neighborhoods, ages, and races to be in Baltimore.
Of course, every death is a tragedy and we can't write about them all, but we hope remembering these lives make us each think more deeply about those we love and will eventually lose. This issue is for the living and the dead.