Andree Layton Roaf, 68, was the first African-American woman to serve on the Arkansas Supreme Court, and was also a member of the Arkansas Court of Appeals. She died on July 1.
Vernon Forrest, 38, a world champion welterweight and light middleweight boxer, was shot to death on July 25, after he resisted an attempted robbery.
On July 27, George Allen Russell, 86, a jazz composer, theorist and pianist, died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. His 1953 book, The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, his theory of jazz improvisation influenced musicians like John Coltrane and Miles Davis.
Lawyer, civil rights activist and former chair of the NAACP National Board of Directors, Margaret Bush Wilson, died at 90, on Aug. 11, of multiple organ failure. She also managed a law firm in St. Louis for more than 40 years.
Free and avant-garde jazz drummer Rashied Ali, 74, who was born Robert Patterson, and often played with saxophonist John Coltrane, died on Aug. 12, of a heart attack.
The first black official in the National Football League, Burl Abron Toler Sr., died on Aug. 16. He officiated NFL games for 24 years and Super Bowl XIV in 1980. He was usually a field judge or head linesman.
Tap dancer Ernest “Brownie” Brown, 93, was the surviving member of the Original Copasetics, and died in Chicago on Aug. 21.
John Milton Stephens, 43, a running back for the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, died on Sept. 1, in a one-car accident.
Producer, DJ and turntablist, Anthony Williams, 37, also known as Roc Raida or Grandmaster Roc Raida, and a member of The X-Ecutioner DJ group, died on Sept. 19.
When President-elect Barack Obama wanted a half-smoke, a smoked sausage sandwich, he went to Ben’s Chili Bowl. Ben Ali, 82, who founded the small restaurant in Washington, D,C,, in 1958, died on Oct. 7.
Musician Abu Talib, 70, also known as Fred Leroy Robinson, was a singer, blues guitarist and harmonica player. He died of cancer on Oct. 8.
On Oct. 13, Cullen Bryant, 58, a 13-year veteran of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks, died. The running back and kick return specialist. But Cullen’s lasting fame was his filing an antitrust lawsuit that challenged the NFL’s free agency regulations.
Jasper Tyrone Howard, 20, a cornerback and team captain for the University of Connecticut football team, was stabbed to death on Oct. 18, several hours after the Huskies’ victory over University of Louisville.
John Allen Muhammad, 48, was executed by lethal injection on Nov. 10, for his part in the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C. area. Muhammad and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, killed 10 people.
The second-oldest surviving Negro League baseball player, Wallace “Bucky” Williams, died at 102 on Nov. 16. Williams had played third base and shortstop for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays.
On Dec. 1, jazz tenor saxophonist, Donald Washington Sr., 79, died of lung cancer.