Dr. Julian Bond closes out his teaching day at UVA in 1998
The Washington Post / Getty Images
December 30, 2015

Since the first issue of TIME, the Milestones section has marked important moments and celebrated lives recently lost.

Here are nine of 2015’s most notable Milestones obituaries for the people who changed the world or changed our minds:

President Bill Clinton on Mario Cuomo: “Everything Mario Cuomo did was part of his passionate determination to strengthen the bonds of community, from his early efforts to address AIDS, to his support for mentoring and health care programs for children who needed them, to his initiatives to create more economic opportunities in upstate New York. For him the struggle to solve particular problems was not interest-group politics but community building, making the weak links stronger.”

Read the full remembrance here

Letty Cottin Pogrebin on birth-control pill inventor Carl Djerassi: “Unconventional, brave and transgressive to the end, Djerassi was the very definition of a Renaissance man. An eminent professor, brilliant chemist and pioneering biomedical entrepreneur, he was celebrated for his development of antihistamines and his work on environmentally friendly pest control. But he also wrote poetry, plays and novels, collected important art, started a cattle ranch and established an artists’ residency program.”

Read the full remembrance here

David Von Drehle on David Carr: “…even at his most self-absorbed, he had a winning sense of wonder and gratitude for the way his life had turned out. David Carr believed in a God of second chances, and he accepted without question that he was among this God’s favorites. With his twins safely grown to young adulthood; with his beautiful wife and the daughter they had together; with his bully pulpit at the Times and his all-access pass to the glittering world of media and celebrity, David Carr was the Prodigal Son 10 times over. Feasting on the fatted calf of divine grace, every day was thanksgiving.”

Read the full remembrance here

Elizabeth Dias on Cardinal Edward Egan: “Roman Catholic Cardinal Edward Egan once said he did not like eulogies. But after the retired ninth Archbishop of New York died of cardiac arrest on March 5 at 82, thousands packed St. Patrick’s Cathedral to celebrate the life of this scholar of canon law who loved music and helped carry the city through the dark days following Sept. 11, 2001.”

Read the full remembrance here

Zoher Abdoolcarim and Neel Chowdhury on Lee Kuan Yew: “Lee’s life traced a long arc of modern East Asian history: the last vestiges of colonialism; the advent of affluence; the introduction of democracy, albeit flawed and limited; the spread of globalization; the decline of Japan and the rise of China; and, now, the retreat to nationalism. He was not so much an architect of change—his stage, Singapore, was, perhaps regrettably for him, too small to be a global actor—as an observer of the way of the world, on anything from nation-building to geopolitics to terrorism, and everything in between. In six decades of public life, Lee preached, berated, pontificated and counseled—not only his own people but also those of other countries, whether the advice was solicited or not.”

Read the full remembrance here

Ron Howard on John Nash: “Sylvain Cappell from New York University explained John to me in another, very lyrical way. He posited that there are three types of geniuses pushing the boundaries of knowledge. One is the scientist mining the edges, finding nuggets, polishing them into proofs with little concern for their application. They toss them over their shoulders to the next group of innovators, who take the breakthroughs and find ways to use them. John, Cappell said, belonged to a third group: paratroopers dropped behind the lines into the darkness, with orders to fight their way back into the light.”

Read the full remembrance here

Ted Kaufman on Beau Biden: “Beau’s actions were not like those of most folks involved in politics. He broke a lot of the rules of how you advance your career. He never took the easy road. He would not allow things to be given to him; he wanted to earn them.”

Read the full remembrance here

Bryan Stevenson on Julian Bond: “He will be remembered for his intellect, charm and eloquence. But he died with a fighter’s spirit that forced an entire nation to recognize the urgency of confronting all that our shameful history of racial injustice has done.”

Read the full remembrance here

Jeffrey Kluger on Oliver Sacks: “Sacks displayed a capacity for joy shared by our greatest science popularizers, like Carl Sagan. But Sagan told tales of the cosmos—a place that explodes with light. Sacks had a harder job, writing of the often dark corners of the mind. Yet he managed to find so many suns there—and he shared them with us all.”

Read the full remembrance here

Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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