Archive for the ‘Obits’ Category

Obit watch: November 27, 2015.

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Guy V. Lewis, former basketball coach at the University of Houston.

With his signature red polka-dot towel in hand, Lewis was the winningest coach in UH history, compiling 592 victories and making five Final Four trips while coaching such stars as Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in 30 seasons from 1956 to 1986.

Off the court, he was regarded as a visionary and innovator for putting together the 1968 “Game of the Century” against top-ranked UCLA at the Astrodome and for being one of the first college basketball coaches to embrace racial integration in the South.

Obit watch: November 25, 2015.

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

The NYT is reporting the death of actor Rex Reason.

He appeared with Hayworth in “Salome” in 1953 and with Gable and Sidney Poitier in “Band of Angels” in 1957. In 1956 he played Dr. Thomas Morgan in “The Creature Walks Among Us,” the last installment in the last of the so-called Gill Man trilogy.

Mr. Reason was perhaps most famous for playing Cal Meacham in “This Island Earth”, which I almost think I’d like to watch again for real (as opposed to the MST3K movie version).

Obit watch and random notes: November 24, 2015.

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

I’ve written previously about Ron Reynolds, a state representative and lawyer who was charged with barratry.

Well, it has been a while. The other seven people who were arrested with Rep. Reynolds took pleas, but Rep. Reynolds went to trial. And…?

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena!

The Fort Bend County Democrat was convicted Friday of five counts of illegally soliciting clients, or misdemeanor barratry. A six-person jury on Monday rejected his plea for probation, and instead sentenced him to 12 months behind bars and a fine of several thousand dollars.

I’ve also written about Kelly Thomas, who was beaten to death by the Fullerton PD. The city (meaning local taxpayers) is going to pay out $4.9 million to his family, in settlement of their wrongful death lawsuit.

Obit watch: noted elsewhere, but I did want to mention the passing of Ken Johnson, former player for the Houston Astros (and the Colt .45s, their predecessor), and the only pitcher ever to “complete a nine-inning game without yielding a hit and still manage to lose it.”

(Oddly enough, there’s a good explanation of how this happened in the FARK discussion thread.)

Also among the dead: Adele Mailer, Norman’s ex-wife and the woman he stabbed in a drunken rage.

Some guests recalled that the point of no return came when she told her husband that he was not as good as Dostoyevsky.

Obit watch: November 12, 2015.

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Carol Doda has passed away at the age of 78.

For those of you like me who were a little young to remember Ms. Doda, she was an early and influential topless dancer:

To understand the scandalousness of Ms. Doda’s precedent-setting impromptu performance in San Francisco, on June 19, 1964, consider that it was followed less than a month later in that same city by the Republican National Convention that nominated the conservative Barry Goldwater.

Apologies for the lack of pictures to provide historical context, but I am blogging from work…

Edited to add: more from SFGate.

Obit watch and other random notes: November 11, 2015.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Helmut Schmidt, former chancellor of West Germany.

Allen Toussaint, noted New Orleans musician.

In 1964, trumpet maestro Al Hirt covered Toussaint’s jaunty instrumental “Java,” which became a No. 1 hit. In 1965, Mr. Toussaint’s “Whipped Cream” not only became the title track on a Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass album, it later became the bachelorettes theme of the television game show “The Dating Game.”

Vito J. Lopez, former New York assemblyman who resigned due to a sexual harassment scandal.

Non-obit, but interesting:

The police in Northern Ireland arrested a 66-year-old man on Tuesday in connection with Bloody Sunday, the infamous massacre of unarmed civilian marchers by British soldiers in Londonderry on Jan. 30, 1972. It was the first time anyone has been arrested in the massacre, for which the British government formally apologized in 2010.

The individual is not named, but is described as a “former lance corporal”.

“Former fugitive fish smuggler pleads guilty, prosecutors say”. Somebody at the LAT was having a bit of fun…

Second day coverage of the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow trial. Doesn’t seem like much here: one of “Shrimp Boy”‘s confederates claims he ordered a hit, but he never explicitly said anything beyond “take care of this”.

The patrol reached a small bridge over a canal and was approached by men on motorcycles coming from the opposite direction — possibly members of the Taliban. They began crossing the bridge but stopped partway and retreated in the opposite direction. The suicide bomber appeared on foot to the left of the patrol after coming out of a building. Groberg ran at him and threw him to the ground with the help of another soldier, Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, who would later receive the Silver Star for his valor.

Where do we get such men?

Obit watch: October 20, 2015.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

Irwin Schiff, noted tax protester.

In essence, Mr. Schiff argued that the Constitution had established that the value of the dollar was based on a certain amount of gold or silver, and that after the so-called gold standard was phased out, starting during the Depression, citizens no longer earned dollars, or income.

His second basic argument was that since all information in a tax return can be used against the taxpayer in a criminal proceeding, filling out a return — he called it a “tax confession” — violated the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

Mr. Schiff was serving a 14-year prison sentence when he died.

Pat Woodell, aka “Bobbie Jo Bradley” of “Petticoat Junction”.

Obit watch: October 16, 2015.

Friday, October 16th, 2015

There’s a really nice obituary in today’s NYT (written by Bruce Weber, one of the paper’s best obit writers) for Sybil Stockdale.

Mrs. Stockdale was the wife of James B. Stockdale. You may remember him as Ross Perot’s vice presidential candidate in 1992. But before that:

A captain when he was shot down over North Vietnam on Sept. 9, 1965, Admiral Stockdale was listed for several months as missing in action before the Pentagon learned he was being held in Hanoi at Hoa Lo prison (the so-called Hanoi Hilton). He survived seven and a half years there, subject to torture and held in leg irons and solitary confinement for long periods, before he was released, returning home in February 1973.

During his captivity, Mrs. Stockdale became a leading advocate for the POW/MIA cause. She also worked with the CIA to gather information. This story brings a smile to my face:

In one [letter -DB], she sent a cheery note about his mother along with a picture of a woman bathing in the Pacific Ocean. Admiral Stockdale’s mother loathed swimming, however, and the picture was not of her; the note said she had come to visit because she wanted to have a good “soak,” a code word that instructed him to soak the photograph in urine. When he did so, he discovered, hidden behind the backing of the photograph, a small swath of special carbon paper that could be used to press messages in invisible ink into his own letters home.

Speaking of the CIA and other bits of history, Ken Taylor has also passed away. Mr. Taylor was the Canadian ambassador to Iran during the hostage crisis:

When the U.S. embassy in Tehran was stormed by Islamist students and militants, six American diplomats escaped and found sanctuary in the homes of Taylor and his first secretary John Sheardown. In addition to shielding the Americans from Iranian capture, Taylor also played a crucial role in plotting their escape.
Working with CIA officials and Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, Taylor obtained for the Americans six Canadian passports containing forged Iranian visas that ultimately allowed them to board a flight to Switzerland. He undertook all these covert actions at a high personal risk, as he and his team would have been taken hostage themselves in the case of discovery by the Islamist militants.

Last, but by no means least: “fresh-faced ingénue” of the 1940s, Joan Leslie.

At 9, touring with her sisters, she played Toronto. Their act included her impression of Durante.
One night after the show, her dressing room door opened to reveal a man armed with nothing but criticism. Her Durante was all wrong, he told her. Unbidden, he showed her the right way to do it.

Read the obit for the punchline, if you haven’t already guessed it.

Obit watch: October 14, 2015.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Robert Leuci.

I don’t think he ever reached the level of fame Frank Serpico did, but he was part of the same NYPD anti-corruption movement.

Of the 70 men assigned to the Special Investigating Unit of the Narcotics Division from 1968 to 1971, 52 were indicted as a result of evidence gathered by Mr. Leuci. Two committed suicide with their service revolvers. Two others, both 42, died of heart attacks after they were indicted. One went insane.

Obit watch: October 9, 2015.

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Paul Prudhomme. NYT.

Asked by The Toronto Star in 2000 to name his favorite dish, he did not hesitate. “From the time I was a child, it’s fresh pork roast with holes punched into it and filled with herbs, spices, pork lard, onions, peppers and celery and cooked in a cast-iron roasting pan in a wood-burning oven all night,” he said. “I’d serve that dish with candied yams, dirty rice and warm potato salad.”

Gail Zappa, Frank Zappa’s widow.

Obit watch: September 23, 2015.

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Yogi Berra has passed away.

In 1949, early in Berra’s Yankee career, his manager assessed him this way in an interview in The Sporting News: “Mr. Berra,” Casey Stengel said, “is a very strange fellow of very remarkable abilities.”

I hope he doesn’t find heaven too crowded.

The NYT obit, in my opinion, is unusually good, though I’m sure it has been in the files for a long time.

Obit watch and more random notes: September 18, 2015.

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Milo Hamilton, sports broadcaster.

Hamilton called Major League Baseball games on radio and television from the 1950s into the current decade, working for the St. Louis Browns (1953), St. Louis Cardinals (1954), Chicago Cubs (1956-57, 1980-84), Chicago White Sox (1962-65), Atlanta Braves (1966-75), Pittsburgh Pirates (1976-79) and the Astros, joining the team in 1985 and serving as its primary on-air voice from 1987 through 2012.


Warren “Remo Williams” Murphy. I’ve never read any of the Remo Williams books myself, mostly because I don’t know where to begin with the series. I am told by trustworthy individuals that they are fun…

New indoor range coming to South Austin. Well. Well well well. Well. I am looking forward to trying this out.

Obit watch: September 17, 2015.

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

I didn’t know Frank James personally, though I wish I had. I did tell him on his blog that I wanted to meet him if he ever made it to Texas: he wrote Project 64: The MP5 Submachine Gun Story, a book I like a whole lot.

That wasn’t the only thing he wrote. He was a prolific gun writer and blogger. And everything I’ve read about him says he was a really good guy.

Tam has a nice tribute up that you should go read.