June 16, 2014 12:00 PM

Maya Angelou 1928–2014

The renowned author, poet and activist, who died at 86, leaves a trove of work that has resonated across generations

It takes an extraordinary life to fill seven autobiographies, but then Maya Angelou was never less than extraordinary. Born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, she survived a childhood that verged on the Dickensian – including a sexual assault that left her mute for years – to become one of the defining voices in American letters.

The ultimate renaissance woman, Angelou danced with Alvin Ailey, composed for Roberta Flack and had a small role in the miniseries Roots – when she wasn’t teaching, editing a newspaper or championing civil rights. She also happened to be a mean cook. But it was words that brought Angelou her most devoted following, starting in 1969 with her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a riveting account of her childhood, followed by her first volume of poetry, the Pulitzer-nominated Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie. Angelou toured into her 80s, reading a poem at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 Inauguration and often appearing with friend Oprah Winfrey. She remains, through her words and her work, a cultural icon.

BABIES ON BOARD

The Lone Ranger’s Armie Hammer, 27, and his wife, TV host Elizabeth Chambers, 31, are expecting their first child later this year. • Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene, 36, will have their first child together. Albert, 56, has two other children from previous relationships.

ENGAGED

Les Misérables actor Eddie Redmayne, 32, proposed to Hannah Bagshawe over Memorial Day weekend. • La Toya Jackson, 58, the star of OWN’s Life with La Toya, is engaged to her longtime business partner Jeffré Phillips, 46. He presented her with a 17.5-carat ring.

WINNERS

For the first time in 52 years two students were declared winners of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 29. Sriram Hathwar, 14, of Painted Post, N.Y., and Ansun Sujoe, 13, of Fort Worth both spelled so many words correctly that there weren’t enough words left for them to compete over. Sujoe’s winning word was “feuilleton” (part of a European newspaper), while Hathwar’s winning word was “stichomythia” (dialogue delivered by two actors in violent dispute).

BIRTHS

Once upon a Time’s Ginnifer Goodwin, 36, and her husband, costar Josh Dallas, 32, welcomed their first child, a son, on May 29. “Both mom and baby are doing great,” their rep told PEOPLE exclusively. • It’s a party of five! Actor Scott Wolf, 46, and his wife, the Real World: New Orleans alum Kelley Limp, 37, welcomed daughter Lucy Marie on May 24. Lucy joins big brothers Jackson, 5, and Miller, 19 months.

UNCOUPLED

Actors Evan Rachel Wood, 26, and Jamie Bell, 28, have separated after nearly two years of marriage. “This is a mutual decision, and the two remain close friends,” their rep said on May 28. The former couple have an 11-month-old son.

SOLD!

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, 58, purchased the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team in a bidding war for a record $2 billion. The Clippers were up for sale after owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for making racist comments.

A Truck Driver Supplies Food for Hungry Families

Seeing homeless people on his route, “it turned my heart,” says waste hauler Arnold Harvey. Today his nonprofit feeds thousands in need

Driving his waste pickup route in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the dead of night in September 2007, Arnold Harvey was shocked to discover people sleeping on the street near a shelter. “I’d pick up a [garbage] can, and people would be behind it,” says Harvey, 57. “It turned my heart.” And it turned his life in a new direction. A driver for Waste Management in Gaithersburg, Md., since 1990, the Army veteran and father of five launched with his wife, Theresa, the nonprofit God’s Connection Transition (godconnectiontransition.com), which provides donated food to 5,000 families a month. Harvey is one of more than 50 employees of FORTUNE 500 companies being honored as part of FORTUNE’s “Heroes of the 500.” Reaching out to companies like Pepperidge Farm and Costco, he now hauls truckloads of food to a rented warehouse staffed by his family and open seven days a week. Philomene Binam-Dorsey, a child-care worker, and husband Anthony, a maintenance man, make trips to Harvey’s warehouse to help support their seven-member household. “Our income is barely enough to get by,” Philomene, 28, says. “This is a godsend.”

This article is part of a gallery that appears on FORTUNE magazine’s newly revamped website, Fortune.com. To read about more “Heroes of the 500,” go to fortune.com/heroes

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