The end of December, while a time to recall all that was gained in the last 12 months, is also a time to consider what was lost. In 2015, the world lost a number of women who celebrated their lives by going above and beyond while doing what they loved. And the best way to continue that celebration is to show a bit of gratitude for all they accomplished. So here are 12 women who passed away in 2015, but not before making their marks in the most fantastic of ways.
Their skills were varied. Some inspired you with their personal battles, others showed you not to fear being the first in your field, and there were those who captivated you with their presences. A few made you laugh, and one or two made you cry at news of their exits this year. But there's one commonality among this dozen of dazzling women — they paved the way for all females finding their paths just now. They tried all that might have seemed scary then, so that others later on down the line wouldn't have to be afraid to go after even the wildest of dreams. They deserve not only our remembrance, but our gratitude.
1. Maureen O'Hara
How could you not love O'Hara? She was feisty, determined, adventurous and intelligent in just about all of her acting roles.
2. Jane Briggs Hart
Hart earned her pilot's license during WWII and was later named the first female in the state of Michigan to become a licensed helicopter pilot. If that wasn't enough, Hart passed all the tests to qualify as an astronaut, but the world apparently wasn't ready for one of the female kind at that point.
3. Lauren Hill
The Mount St. Joseph University freshman basketball player stole hearts around the globe when she played in several games while suffering from terminal brain cancer. Hill raised over $1 million for pediatric cancer research in the process.
4. Jackie Collins
Collins's novels may not have been for everyone, but there's no denying Collins knew how to write a bestselling book and sure didn't refrain from giving her readers all the intimate details.
5. Jean Nidetch
A New York housewife with a penchant for heavy foods, Nidetch didn't only venture into losing the extra pounds. She co-founded Weight Watchers in order to help others manage their own eating.
6. Anne Meara
Actress and comedian, Meara made you laugh. But what's more, she did it with love alongside her husband, Jerry Stiller.
7. Doris Hart
Hart became one of the world's best tennis players in the 1940s, and she did it after battling a life-threatening leg infection during her childhood. In case "one of the best" wasn't enough, Hart made it to a No. 1 ranking in 1951 and won every possible title at all four Grand Slam events.
8. Marlene Sanders
Sanders, who worked as an ABC News correspondent, was one of the first female broadcast television journalists. Pioneering for her gender didn't scare Sanders, who stated during one broadcast: "Move over gentlemen. Maybe you can use some help."
9. Annis Jensen
In 1954, Jensen was the first women's captain of the San Francisco Bay Bombers roller derby team. Nicknamed "Big Red," Jensen skated six nights a week and was a fan favorite during televised performances.
10. Betty Tackaberry Blake
Blake was the last surviving member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots' first training class. As a part of the WASPs, Blake performed aircraft delivery missions and flight testing during WWII.
11. Mary Doyle Keefe
Keefe was the woman to pose for Norman Rockwell's "Rosie The Riveter," the painting that landed on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. She was a telephone operator — sure — but her second job as symbol of female strength during WWII takes the cake.
12. Ellen Albertini Dow
Dow was best known for her musical performance of "Rapper's Delight" in The Wedding Singer. Any woman who can pull of a rap at beyond-grandma age deserves some snaps.