David Fechheimer, 76, a budding flower child of the 1960s and aspiring English teacher who was spurred overnight by the fictional gumshoe Sam Spade to switch careers and become one of the nation’s leading private investigators, died Tuesdayin Redwood City, California. The cause was complications of open-heart surgery.
By dint of personality and practice, Fechheimer was an inconspicuous character. In 2000, he won $50 million for four children sired by Larry Hillbloom, a founder of DHL, the shipping company, in a disputed estate case. He established paternity through DNA after sitting behind Hillbloom’s reclusive mother at church, placing $10 in the collection plate and, feigning Parkinson’s disease, asking her to lick the envelope for him.
He also investigated several cases without fee for the Innocence Project, leading to the exoneration of inmates facing the death penalty in Alabama and Mississippi.
Dan Robbins, 93, an artist who created the first paint-by-numbers pictures and helped turn the kits into a U.S. sensation during the 1950s, died Mondayin Sylvania, Ohio. His works were dismissed by some critics but later celebrated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. He was working as a package designer for Palmer Paint in Detroit when he came up with the idea for paint-by-numbers. He said his inspiration came from Leonardo da Vinci, who used numbered background patterns for his students and apprentices.
Nipsey Hussle, 33, the rapper was fatally shot last Sunday outside the clothing store he founded to help rebuild his troubled South Los Angeles neighborhood, police said, cutting short a career that earned him a Grammy nomination this year for his major-label debut. Investigators had not yet determined a motive or identified any suspects.
Hussle, who had two children and was engaged to actress Lauren London, was an Eritrean-American whose real name was Ermias Asghedom. He was born on Aug. 15, 1985, in the same Crenshaw neighborhood where he died, and where he had been working to provide youths with alternatives to the hustling he did when he was younger.
Natalia V. Fileva, 55, the longtime Russian airline executive who was credited with consolidating splinter companies of the former Soviet aviation giant Aeroflot into a viable and profitable airline, died last Sundayin a plane crash in Germany.
Fileva was the rare woman to hold an executive position in Russia and the country’s fourth richest, according to Forbes magazine. Known for her tenacity in the face of setbacks, including fatal crashes of her company’s planes, Fileva was outspoken about the Russian government’s heavy hand in business; last year she chided officials for speaking at a conference about ending corruption while wearing thousand-dollar suits to the event.
Billy Adams, 79, the Rockabilly Hall of Famer, who wrote and recorded the rockabilly staple “Rock, Pretty Mama,” died March 30 in Westmoreland, Tennessee.
Among other songs he recorded in the late ‘50s include “You Heard Me Knocking,” “True Love Will Come Your Way,” and “You Gotta Have a Duck Tail.”
Joe Bellino, 81, an elusive halfback who was the first Navy player to win the Heisman Trophy but whose professional football career, delayed by four years of military service, fell short of expectations, died March 27 in a hospice in Lincoln, Massachusetts. The cause was stomach cancer.