POLLY ANDERSON

Of all the notables who died in 2009, the one who most changed the world could have walked down any Main Street USA without causing a stir.

Scientist Norman Borlaug, who died Sept. 12 at age 95, developed crops that enabled Third World farmers to wrest more food from their land. His "green revolution" was credited with averting global famine ¿ and won him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver were born into America's pre-eminent political family and spent decades living up to its tradition of service.

Michael Jackson helped create his own family dynasty, this one rooted in show business, as the lead singer for The Jackson 5 when he was just a child. He grew up to become one of entertainment's most influential and controversial figures as the King of Pop, and his death at age 50 was as mystifying as his life.

They are just four of the men and women of achievement who died in 2009.

The political world said goodbye to Jack Kemp, Claiborne Pell, Robert McNamara, Jody Powell and writers William Safire, Irving Kristol and Robert Novak.

Overseas, we lost two courageous dissidents who went on to lead their countries ¿ Corazon Aquino of the Philippines and Kim Dae-jung of South Korea. In death, another dissident, Iran's Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, spurred others to mount new protests.

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