Archive for the ‘Obits’ Category

Obit watch: August 26, 2015.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Legendary Houston surgeon Dr. James “Red” Duke Jr.

Dr. Duke was one of the founders of the Life Flight service. He attended John Connally after the Kennedy assassination. He inspired a short-lived TV series with Dennis Weaver.

Hunting and fishing in the surrounding countryside, he became lifelong friends with another redhead, Willie Nelson. Later, as a doctor, he was given to bursting into Nelson songs without warning.

Edited to add 8/27: NYT obit.

Historical note, suitable for use in schools.

Friday, August 21st, 2015

By way of the invaluable NYT obits Twitter feed, I have learned that today is the 75th anniversary of the assassination of Leon Trotsky. I don’t know what I would have done if this anniversary had gotten past me.

(Technically, I suppose it is the 75th anniversary of Trotsky’s death. Ramón Mercader, or whatever his name was – he seems to have had multitudes – attacked Trotsky on the 20th, but he lingered until the 21st.)

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so how about a little musical interlude?

This might push a few buttons.

Obit watch: August 21, 2015.

Friday, August 21st, 2015

Brigadier General Frederick Payne (USMC- ret.)

Gen. Payne was 104 when he died, and was the oldest surviving US fighter ace.

During two and a half weeks in 1942, from behind the guns of his Grumman F4F Wildcat flying over the Pacific near Guadalcanal, Mr. Payne, a major at the time, downed three Japanese bombers and two Zero fighters, having already shared credit with another pilot for bringing down an enemy bomber.

Gen. Payne received the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions.

With Mr. Payne’s death, there are 71 surviving aces, said Arthur Bednar, coordinator of the American Fighter Aces Association.
According to Mr. Bednar, only 1,450 American pilots qualified to be called ace, a distinction reserved for pilots who downed at least five enemy planes in aerial combat during World Wars I and II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam; in addition, six aces are recognized from the Russian Civil War, the Spanish Civil War, the Sino-Japanese War and the Arab-Israeli War. Mr. Payne was credited with five and a half kills.

Quickies: August 13, 2015.

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Hugo Pinell died yesterday.

On August 21, 1971, Pinell, George Jackson, and several other inmates attempted to escape from San Quentin. Three inmates and three guards were killed in the attempt.

Pinell received a third life sentence for attacking two officers, slitting their throats, in that escape attempt, and had spent the majority of his time since then in solitary confinement and had participated in a 2013 statewide hunger strike protesting those conditions.

Pinell was killed by another prisoner during a riot.

Noted: Warren G. Harding apparently did father a child with his mistress, Nan Britton.

Also noted: VonTrey Clark was allegedly offering $5,000 for the murder of Samantha Dean. (Previously.)

My great and good friend Joe D. and I have had past discussions about death at the Grand Canyon and at Yosemite (although I can’t find them now). In that light, this is interesting: “Forget bears: Here’s what really kills people at national parks”.

Short version: if you do die at a national park, it will probably be a drowning or a car crash. But statistically, the odds are low that you will die at a national park.

Obit watch: August 6, 2015.

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I’ve seen some mentions of this elsewhere, but I wanted to go ahead and link to the NYT obit for John Leslie Munro, last of the Dambusters.

I also kind of want to see “The Dam Busters” now. I’m pretty sure it was on TV when I was a kid, but somehow I never caught it. And it doesn’t look like Amazon has it on instant video…

For hysterical raisins: reprinted LAT obit for Marilyn Monroe.

Paul Fussell’s “Thank God For the Atom Bomb”.

Obit watch: August 4, 2015.

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Vincent Marotta Sr., a great American.

Mr. Marotta was one of the inventors of the Mr. Coffee machine.

Obit watch: July 28, 2015.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Noted true crime writer Ann Rule passed away on Sunday. LAT.

(Hattip: Mom.)

The Ann Rule origin story is well known to true crime buffs, but since I’m not sure how many of those read this blog, I’ll recap it here: in the 1970’s, she was working at a suicide hotline and writing under pseudonyms. She became interested in some Seattle area murders and started investigating them; ultimately, it turned out those murders were committed by a close friend who worked with her on the hotline…

…one Mr. Ted Bundy. The Stranger Beside Me made Rule’s reputation and career.

“I really care about the people I’m writing about,” said Rule, whose accounts focused as much on the anguish of the victims and their families as on the depravity of the killers. “I finally came to the knowledge I’m doing what I probably was meant to do in life.”

Edited to add: WP article which goes into more detail about Bundy and Rule.

Quickies.

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

E. L. Doctorow. LAT. WP.

Inverted Jenny watch:

…the agency’s watchdog has called the instant, manufactured stamp rarity issued in 2013 a huge mistake that broke the agency’s own rules, which prohibit postal officials from intentionally creating a rare stamp just to make money.

More:

Postal officials gave 70 upright panes to post offices to distribute randomly to buyers. The 30 remaining panes were sent to the agency’s stamp fulfillment services office in Kansas City, Mo., to ship to customers who ordered the Jennies by mail.
But in Kansas City, officials “forgot” about their distribution plan for the newly created rare stamps, investigators found. They shipped just one pane between March 2014 and December 2014. As a result, 23 upright panes remain in Kansas City, where management has not decided what to do with the stamps, the report said.

(Previously. Previously.)

Obit watch: July 20, 2015.

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Interesting fact about the late Alex Rocco: he was also the voice of Roger Meyers Jr. (A/V Club.)

The A/V Club is also reporting the death of George Coe.

He went on to to appear in films like Kramer Vs. Kramer, and in 1968 was nominated for a Best Live-Action Short Film Oscar for “The Dove,” a satire of Ingmar Bergman films, which he both starred in and co-directed.

I have a copy of “The Dove” somewhere on my MacBook…

Mr. Coe was perhaps best known to contemporary audiences as the voice of Woodhouse in Archer.

Finally, Aubrey Morris has also passed away.

In a career of more than five decades, Mr. Morris brought a memorable touch of eccentricity to films including the cult thriller “The Wicker Man” (1973), Woody Allen’s “Love and Death” (1975) and Ken Russell’s “Lisztomania” (1975).

He was perhaps most famous for playing Mr. Deltoid in A Clockwork Orange.

Obit watch: July 8, 2015.

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Author John Maxtone-Graham.

Safe Return Doubtful: The Heroic Age of Polar Exploration is the book that sparked my ongoing interest in polar exploration.

Noted:

Mr. Maxtone-Graham married Katrina Kanzler in 1955; they later divorced. Survivors include their daughters, Sarah Francois-Poncet and Emily Maxtone-Graham; their sons, Ian, a longtime writer and producer for “The Simpsons,” and Guy, also a television and film comedy writer who worked on “Beavis and Butt-head”; two grandchildren; and a twin brother, Michael.

And:

He also claimed a more unorthodox cultural credit: an appearance as a lecturer on the fictional Royal Valhalla in Episode 505 of “The Simpsons” in 2012.

Obit watch: June 29, 2015.

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Chris Squire, bass player for Yes. A/V Club.

Walter Shawn Browne, noted chess grandmaster.

Mr. Browne’s competitiveness extended beyond chess. “I can beat 97 out of 100 experts in Scrabble, 98 of 100 in backgammon and 99.9 of 100 in poker,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1976. “At hi-lo, table-limit poker, I’m the best in the world.”

Finally, Red Mascara. Mr. Mascara wrote a song, “I’m From New Jersey” in 1960 and spent the next 55 years on a quixotic quest to have it made the official state song.

He came closest to his goal in 1972, when the Legislature passed a bill recognizing “I’m From New Jersey” as the official state song. Mr. Mascara had hired a band to play it from the gallery of the Assembly chamber. But Gov. William Cahill vetoed it, telling reporters that the only thing worse than that song was hearing Mr. Mascara sing it.

Random notes: June 26, 2015.

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Obit watches: Patrick Macnee. A/V Club. LAT.

Phil “Nick Danger” Austin, founding member of the Firesign Theater, passed away on the 18th, but the paper of record just got around to running his obit.

Shepard Fairey has been charged with two counts of “malicious destruction of property” for tagging buildings in Detroit.

The police say he tagged as many as 14 buildings with his signature images, which include the face of Andre the Giant. Nine of the building or business owners were interested in pressing charges.

Two things from the WP that kind of tickled my fancy:

1. How much water do California pot growers use? The answer is: well, that’s hard to quantify, for obvious reasons. But a group of researchers have made an attempt to come up with a number, and their estimate is that pot growing uses about the same amount of water as almond growing.

2. Don’t let your pet goldfish loose in the nearest pond, because they will become gianormous and screw up the ecosystem.

(Do I need a “Fish” category?)