PASSINGS: Zig Ziglar, Don Rhymer, David Courtney

Zig Ziglar

Speaker built motivational empire

Zig Ziglar, 86, the consummate salesman who built a lucrative motivational empire, died Wednesday of pneumonia at his home in Plano, Texas, a family spokeswoman said.

With an aim at helping people achieve success in their careers and personal lives, in addition to a focus on Christianity, Ziglar was a prolific speaker who appeared at events alongside world leaders, including several U.S. presidents and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.


Ziglar’s philosophy focused on positivity and leading a balanced life and resulted in a multimillion-dollar company featuring personal appearances, seminars, book sales and audiovisual recordings.

Hilary Hinton Ziglar was born in 1926, the 10th child of a family with 12 children. He was 5 when his mother and siblings moved to Yazoo City, Miss., where he grew up in poverty after his father died.

Ziglar served briefly in the Navy during World War II, then began working as a salesman. But he struggled for years.

He started his full-time career in motivational speaking when he was in his 40s. His first book was “See You at the Top.”


In the late 1960s he moved to the Dallas area, where his company is based. The firm, which features more than a dozen speakers advocating the “Ziglar Way,” offers motivation and performance training.

Don Rhymer

Writer for television and movies

Don Rhymer, 51, a prolific writer for television and movies, whose credits include the animated hits “Rio” and “Surf’s Up,” died Wednesday of cancer at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, said longtime friend Dave Gallagher.

Born in Union, S.C., on Feb. 23, 1961, Rhymer began working in television in the early 1980s, after graduating from Virginia’s James Madison University, where he majored in English and communications.

One of his first credits was writing an episode of the ABC family sitcom “Valerie.” He also wrote for the CBS comedies “Evening Shade” and “Hearts Afire.”

In the early 1990s he shifted into movies, starting with the Martin Lawrence comedy “Big Momma’s House” (2000), which he wrote with Darryl Quarles. Rhymer and Quarles teamed up again to write the sequel, “Big Momma’s House 2" (2006). Rhymer co-wrote the story for a third installment, “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” (2011).

His other writing credits include “The Santa Clause 2" (2002), “Agent Cody Banks 2" (2004), “The Honeymooners” (2005), “Surf’s Up” (2007) and “Rio” (2011).


After being diagnosed with head and neck cancer three years ago, Rhymer, a La Cañada Flintridge resident, launched a blog called “Let’s Radiate Don,” a wry and often touching commentary on his bouts with the disease, the grueling treatments and his relationships with his wife, Kate, and their three children.

He wrote an article about dealing with other people’s reactions to his illness in the October issue of Coping With Cancer magazine. He most dreaded “sad eyes” and macaroni casseroles, which, he noted, “are not gluten free and are bad for my colon.”


David Courtney, the veteran public address announcer for the Los Angeles Clippers, Kings and Angels sports teams, died Thursday in Los Angeles, the Clippers announced. Courtney had missed Wednesday night’s Clippers game against Minnesota because he was in the hospital awaiting an angiogram, according to his Twitter feed. He was 56 and died of a pulmonary embolism.

— Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports

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