With another year coming to a close, the Washington Examiner is looking back at some of the high-profile people who died in 2021, including a sports legend, media icons, and political giants.

Kuhn Aaron
FILE - Atlanta Braves' Hank Aaron waves to the crowd as baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn presents him with a trophy in Cincinnati after Aaron tied Babe Ruth's all-time home run mark, in this April 4, 1974, file photo. Aaron died Jan. 22, 2021. Kuhn was commissioner from Feb. 4, 1969 to Sept. 30, 1984. (AP Photo/Bob Johnson, File) Bob Johnson/AP

Hank Aaron, 86

Baseball fans know the MLB legend for breaking Babe Ruth's record of 714 home runs, but less talked about is how Hank Aaron did so during a time of racial tension and social unrest.

After finishing the 1973 season with 713 home runs, just one shy of beating Ruth's record, the prospect of a black athlete surpassing Ruth sowed racial discord. Aaron was subjected to racist taunts from fans and even death threats. His team, the Atlanta Braves, hired a police escort for him, and Aaron checked into hotels under a different name as a precaution.

Through it all, Aaron never lost his cool in the public eye. He went on to hit 755 home runs by 1976, a record that would last for over 30 years until August 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds — a record still mired in controversy.

"Forget the later, steroid-fueled long-ball records," commentary writer for the Washington Examiner Quin Hillyer wrote. "Hank Aaron will always be the home run king. More important, he was a man well worth emulating. Now he has cleared his final fence."

Larry King
In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Larry King, 87

A broadcaster whose career spanned over six decades, Larry King began his career in Miami in the 1950s and gained national recognition with the debut of his eponymous radio show in 1978.

In 1985, CNN introduced Larry King Live, a program in which King became a media staple interviewing politicians, celebrities, and media figures.

"Whether he was interviewing a U.S. president, foreign leader, celebrity, scandal-ridden personage, or an everyman, Larry liked to ask short, direct, and uncomplicated questions," read a statement from Ora Media, the studio and network he co-founded. "He believed concise questions usually provided the best answers, and he was not wrong in that belief."

King died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He is survived by three of his five children — Larry Jr., Chance, and Cannon — nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Limbaugh Famous Missourians
Rush Limbaugh (AP/Julie Smith) Julie Smith

Rush Limbaugh, 70

Considered by many to be the definitive voice of conservative radio, the outspoken right-wing icon hosted the Rush Limbaugh Show for decades, captivating the attention of his listeners. He died from lung cancer in February.

Philip Terzian commended Rush Limbaugh as "an entertainer, respectful of his faithful audience and disinclined to take himself unduly seriously" in a Washington Examiner op-ed.

"Above all, Limbaugh had a self-taught gift for converting complex issues into lucid, accessible, conversational terms, which, in turn, conveyed knowledge and empowered his audience," Terzian wrote. "He could talk for hours, over successive days, on federal budgets, foreign affairs, healthcare, and social policy to millions of people who were more accustomed to being harangued than informed."

President Donald Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his 2020 State of the Union address.

Britain Prince Philip
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh waves as he leaves King Edward VII Hospital in central London after being treated for a bladder infection, Saturday, June 9, 2012. The duke will celebrate his 91st birthday Sunday privately with members of the family. On Friday he enjoyed the company of grandsons the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry who paid a short, private visit to the hospital. (AP Photo/PA, Max Nash) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE Max nash

Prince Philip, 99

As the Duke of Edinburgh and husband to Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, whose death was announced in April, was the longest-serving spouse of a reigning monarch and the oldest male member of the British royal family.

Born in 1921 at Mon Repos in Greece, Philip joined the British Royal Navy at the age of 18 and served in the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets during World War II. He married then-Princess Elizabeth in September 1947, and the royal pair enjoyed nearly 75 years of marriage. Philip was also the patron of more than 780 organizations, including the National Playing Fields Association, the International Equestrian Federation, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

In 2012, Queen Elizabeth called her husband her "constant guide and strength."

Bernie Madoff
Bernard L. Madoff, the accused mastermind of a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, leaves Federal Court in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009. ( AP Photo/Stuart Ramson) (AP Photo/Stuart Ramson)

Bernie Madoff, 82

Responsible for running the largest Ponzi scheme in history, Bernie Madoff died in April of chronic kidney failure that had progressed to "end-stage renal disease."

Madoff, who had been imprisoned since March 2009, pleaded guilty to financial crimes, theft, perjury, and money laundering after being accused of stealing billions of dollars from his clients, many of whom lost their life savings in the scheme. Madoff had been using money from new investors to pay back earlier ones, a scheme that went on for decades and defrauded as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

In February 2020, he sought an early release from prison, saying he had less than 18 months to live. A judge denied his bid for compassionate release after more than 500 victims wrote to the Manhattan federal court judge to oppose early release and prosecutors said Madoff showed “a wholesale lack of understanding of the seriousness of his crimes and a lack of compassion for his victims, underscoring that he is undeserving of compassionate release himself.”

Walter Mondale 2
Former Vice President Walter Mondale smiles as he gets on an elevator on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Walter Mondale, 93

The vice president who served under President Jimmy Carter, and a failed presidential candidate himself in 1984, Walter Mondale previously served as attorney general and U.S. senator for Minnesota in the 1960s and 1970s and remained an influential figure in the state even after his political career ended.

Despite losing the election to President Ronald Reagan, he took the loss well, with guest writer Tevi Tory writing that "conservatives and the United States "would be better off with more Fritz Mondales in the Democratic Party."

After losing to Reagan, Mondale joined the Dorsey & Whitney law firm in Minneapolis. He periodically got involved in government in the years that followed, which included a failed 2002 run for a U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota.

090615 colin powell-pic
"These are remarkable changes [that Iran has made] and so we have stopped this highway race that they were going down â€" and I think that's very, very important," Powell said. (AP file) Owen Sweeney

Colin Powell, 84

Colin Powell began his storied military career as an adviser to a South Vietnamese infantry battalion from December 1962 to November 1963, where he received a Purple Heart after getting wounded in a Viet Cong trap. He later returned to Vietnam five years later, where he served as the 1st Battalion executive officer and then as assistant chief of staff, operations, and later deputy G-3 with the 23rd Infantry Division.

Powell was named President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser in 1987. He would later serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993 and as secretary of state, the first black man to take on the role, under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005.

His 2003 speech to the United Nations in which he falsely claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction became one of the lasting legacies of his time as the nation's top diplomat. The consequential call for an invasion became a reality shortly thereafter, and it remained as a “blot” on his record, he said afterwards.

"Like most public figures, before or since, Powell did not always measure up to the standards he described in Marshall," Terzian wrote. "But when, at 84, he died last week of cancer complicated by the coronavirus, there was universal agreement that Powell was one of a very small number of senior military officers in American history who had also served their country with distinction and fidelity as statesmen."

Francisca Susano, 124

Born on Sept. 11, 1897, Francisca Susano was believed to be the oldest person ever before her death in her Kabankalan, Philippines, home. Known as Lola Iska, the secret to her long life is believed to include a diet mainly consisting of vegetables and a little meat, with no pork, and no alcohol. The cause of Susano's death remains unclear.

The Guinness World Records was still examining documents necessary for her to be declared the world's oldest person before her death. She was two years older than the official record holder, Jeanne Louise Calment of Arles, France.

Stephen Sondheim
FILE - Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim poses after being awarded the Freedom of the City of London at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London, on Sept. 27, 2018. Sondheim, the songwriter who reshaped the American musical theater in the second half of the 20th century, has died at age 91. Sondheim's death was announced by his Texas-based attorney, Rick Pappas, who told The New York Times the composer died Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at his home in Roxbury, Conn. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File) Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Stephen Sondheim, 91

One of Broadway history’s songwriting titans, Stephen Sondheim was considered by many as "the theater’s most revered and influential composer-lyricist of the last half of the 20th century," according to The New York Times.

The first Broadway show for which Sondheim wrote both the words and music was the 1962 comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The show went on to win a Tony Award for best musical and ran for more than two years. Other shows he created included Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday in the Park With George (1984), and Into the Woods (1987).

Sondheim's death Nov. 26 was caused by cardiovascular disease. The day before, he had celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with his friends.


Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Bob Dole arrives at an event.
Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Bob Dole arrives at an event. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Bob Dole, 98

Sen. Bob Dole served many roles in his lifetime: an Army combat veteran in World War II, Senate majority leader twice, and GOP presidential nominee in 1996.

In mid-February, Dole announced he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and had begun treatment for the disease. Ten months later, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced he had died in his sleep, noting that "he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years."

"What we dedicate today is not a memorial to war, rather it’s a tribute to the physical and moral courage that makes heroes out of farm and city boys and that inspires Americans in every generation to lay down their lives for people they will never meet," Dole wrote in his autobiography One Soldier’s Story: A Memoir.

Dole's death attracted bipartisan tributes, with President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, and former Vice President Mike Pence among those mourning his death. The former senator also lay in state at the Capitol, a rare honor.