The old year is dead along with a lot of people who never made it to year's end. Death struck viciously for 27 people in a Connecticut school. Wars took some heavy tolls in 2012. Disasters, accidents and health also claimed many lives. For some of us, we lost a few beloved celebrities, dear friends and family members.

Here are the names of a dozen famous people who passed away last year .... Thomas Kinkade, Mike Wallace, Dave Brubeck, Andy Williams, Andy Griffith, Gore Vidal, Ray Bradbury, Joe Paterno, Senators Daniel Inouye, Arlen Specter and George McGovern.

In summing up the year, locals in East Contra Costa County grieved particular losses when they talked about those who never made it to 2013.

For me, it was a longtime dear friend and former colleague at CBS 5, KPIX. Ben Williams was a fellow newsman, a broadcast pioneer. He was San Francisco's first black TV reporter. Ben was sharp, funny, imaginative, warmhearted, and a hell of a good reporter. He died of a heart attack at age 85, just before Christmas.

Whitney Houston's death really touched Shanon Hayes of Brentwood. She said, "Whitney went through a tragic struggle for life with such nobility. She had an enormous talent and died at the top of her game. It was easy for me to relate to her depression battles."

"I was deeply touched at Christmas thinking of Andy Williams," said Tara McKnight of Antioch. "I looked up a lot of things that I had watched as a kid. As I grew up, he had become almost a part of the family."

For Gavin Scott of Oakley, it was Donna Summers. "She had super talent and survived despite being in such pain," he said. "What really touched me was her devotion to religion. It truly inspired me, and hopefully it helped others."

Gary Wilkerson of Oakley talked about his fiancee's uncle. "My fiancee was his favorite niece. He was very funny and a nice guy. I have fond memories of him in his 70s before cancer took him away."

Stephen Smith of Brentwood remembers Mary Lou Laubsher. "I was deeply touched by her passing in December. I served with her on the Citizen's Advisory Committee for the Contra Costa Transport Authority. I felt her death deeply," he said. "She was a delightful woman and truly devoted to solving problems of the aged."

Elizabeth McGuire of Antioch talked about her Aunt Mary and the rural community outside Columbus, Ohio. "Aunt Mary really was the person who raised my family. She died at 91, being what I call a victim of old age," McGuire said. "Aunt Mary was a wonderful person and a lot of fun to be around."

The school tragedy in Connecticut was uppermost in the mind of Ruth Landry of Antioch. "It hit me hard," she said. "I lost no one this past year, but my 50-year old daughter died the previous year. The year before, I lost my 51-year-old son. I still can't stop feeling the pain in the hearts of the parents of those children who died in the school disaster."

Contact Ed Arnow at BrentwoodBuzz@aol.com.