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Past Newsmakers

Spring 2011 Newsmakers

PHIL CAVARRETTA, the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1945, died Dec. 18 in Lilburn GA of a stroke. He was 94. A first baseman and outfielder, he led the Chicago Cubs to their last World Series in 1945. They lost to the Detroit Tigers.

KENNETH CUCCINELLI is the Attorney General of Virginia. He was a Republican senator in the state legislature his election as attorney general in November, 2009. Cuccinelli's office reviews the constitutionality of each bill passed by the General Assembly. He is married and the father of seven children.

THOMAS DeBIAGGIO, a nationally known herb grower and powerful advocate for victims of Alzheimer's, died of the disease Feb. 21 in Virginia. He was 69. For years, he raised thousands of herbs in a nursery attached to his home in Arlington, VA and wrote several books on herbs. In 2000, he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's; went public, appearing on Oprah Winfrey and National Public Radio and authored two books about the disease.

NICHOLAS DELBANCO, teacher and author, has published Lastingness: the Art of Old Age in which he explores how creativity continues into old age. His book looks at geniuses from every era in every art to discover why some produce great works even at the end of their lives. The key is "adaptive energy," he says, that allows them to work with passion and originality even at the end of their lives.

JOYCE DiDONATO, 42, a mezzo soprano from Kansas, is opera's latest diva darling. She sings in major opera houses all over the world, makes first-rate recordings and tours the country in recitals. Admired for her vocal technique, DiDonato saw her career take off despite the verdict of British judges in a 1997 competition who told her she had "nothing to offer as an artist."

SALVATORE GIUNTA, 26, who received the Medal of Honor in November 2010 for heroism in Afghanistan, will leave the Army in June after serving two tours in Afghanistan. He is the first living American to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. He plans to attend college in Colorado on the G.I. Bill to study business or natural resource management.

SERGIO MARCHIONNE, 58, the CEO of Fiat, has brought Chrysler back to life since it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. This year, the giant American auto company expects to have a net income of $200 million to $500 million, according to company insiders. Fiat took control of Chrysler in 2009 and under Marchionne has transformed it by bringing out 16 new or revamped models in 2010 that look and drive well while keeping costs under control.

MARK RUFFALO, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in The Kids Are All Right, is also a dedicated activist, campaigning against "fracking," a procedure that pollutes water when it extracts natural gas. Ruffalo, the father of three young children, has lobbied state and federal governments to ban the practice. "Clean, public water [should be] a constitutional right," he told the Washington Post in a Feb. 19 interview.

ROSEMARIE T. TRUGLIO, PH.D., vice president of Education and Research at Sesame Workshop, developed the interdisciplinary curriculum used on the classic children's program "Sesame Street." An authority on TV's effect on the development of children and teens, she currently serves on several advisory boards including the National Advisory of Child Health and Human Development Council and the PBS KIDS Next Generation Media Advisory Board.

DONALD VERRILLI, Jr., was nominated in January by President Obama to be the next solicitor general and now waits Senate confirmation. The solicitor general represents the government before the U.S. Supreme Court; advises the U.S. attorney general on legal matters and decides whether or not the government should appeal adverse lower court rulings. It is one of the most prestigious legal jobs in Washington. Past solicitors general include a future president, William H. Taft and a future Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall.