​Passage: A. Alfred Taubman, Joel Spira and Percy Sledge


Three very different passings of note this week - businessman and philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman; Joel Spira, inventor of the dimmer switch; and soulful singer Percy Sledge.

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It happened this past week ... three very different passings of note.

A. Alfred Taubman
died Friday night at his Michigan home.

A trained architect, Taubman pioneered the idea, in the 1950s, of putting parking spaces in FRONT of stores ... effectively creating the modern strip mall.

Like his idea or not, it changed the face of suburbia, and made Alfred Taubman a billionaire.

From 1983 to 2000, Taubman served as chairman of the Sotheby's auction house, where charges of price-fixing -- charges he always denied -- led to a fine and a prison term.

However, it's for his hundreds of millions of dollars in gifts to medical research and other causes that Taubman is primarily being remembered this weekend.

A. Alfred Taubman was 91.

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We also learned of the death earlier this month of Joel Spira, an inventor with what you might call a dim view of life.

For it was Spira who invented the very first light-dimming device suitable for in-home use.

Although the company he founded now stresses the dimmer's energy savings, Spira's early ads emphasized its romantic possibilities.

Joel Spira was 88.

And speaking of romance ... Tuesday brought news of the death of Percy Sledge, whose recording of "When a Man Loves a Woman" was a Number One hit back in 1966.

Born in Alabama, Sledge was a hospital orderly who moonlighted with a local band when his very first single catapulted him to stardom.

Sledge went on to a long recording and touring career, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

Percy Sledge was 74.