The artist laid the groundwork for an unparalleled comic book success story when, in 1975, he launched the "new" X-Men alongside writer Len Wein and editor Roy Thomas. GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 and the reinvigorated UNCANNY X-MEN grew to legendary status, the impact of which is still felt in today's comic world. Cockrum's first tour of duty with the characters was from 1975 to 1977, and he then returned to his creations from 1981 until 1983.The man created Colossus, Storm, Phoenix, Mystique, and Nightcrawler - featured most prominently in the last X-Men movie. That, my friends, is what we call a legacy.
The AP story adds a couple of nice details, sure to resonate with any true fanboy:
In his Superman pajamas and with his Batman blanket, Cockrum died in his favorite chair at his home in Belton, S.C., early Sunday morning.The article also mentions that Cockrum will be cremated wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt.
Cockrum's passing also brings attention to a long-standing stain on the comics industry, the issue of creator's rights. For years, creators of a lot of comics most popular characters received little or nothing in the way of recognition or royalties for their work, even though their creations went on to make millions for the publishing companies. Sadly, Dave Cockrum found himself in the same situation. Fortunately for him, writer Clifford Meth and comics legend Neal Adams petitioned Marvel Comics to do the right thing, which they eventually did.
A nice little tribute site can be found here.