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Ajit Pai
An avid reader of the obituaries, inspired in part by Benjamin Franklin's quip: "I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up."
Recent Activity
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Geraldine Ferraro, the first female member of a major presidential party ticket, has died at 75. Ferraro was Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale to be the party's vice presidential candidate in 1984. (The ticket ultimately lost to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in a landslide.) The Washington Post's obituary is here; the New York Times adds its take here. I essentially had forgotten these details, recounted by the Post, but they were salient at the time: Ferraro’s run also was beset by ethical questions, first about her campaign finances and tax returns, then about the business dealings of her... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
The Washington Post just reported that long-time reporter and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist David Broder has died. The obituary begins with the basic information: Mr. Broder was often called the dean of the Washington press corps - a nickname he earned in his late 30s in part for the clarity of his political analysis and the influence he wielded as a perceptive thinker on political trends in his books, articles and television appearances. In 1973, Mr. Broder and The Post each won Pulitzers for coverage of the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard M. Nixon's resignation. Mr. Broder's citation was... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
The press of personal matters has kept the intrepid staff at Every Morning At Nine otherwise occupied, but the obituaries accrue regardless of packed schedules. Herewith, a few of those who passed recently (and many more to come soon): A Japanese-American journalism teacher at Alhambra (CA) High School whose aspiration to be a journalist was thwarted after Pearl Harbor but who later ensured that his students produced the nation’s best high school newspaper by applying exacting standards of grammar, vocabulary, and more. The former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher who played six seasons in the major leagues (including playing in spring... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
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A scientist who recently died at 93 showed us in life how much one could scratch a childhood itch. Christian Lambertsen’s son, quoted by the New York Times, said that Lambertsen “spent a lot of time on Barnegat Bay with his grandfather collecting clams and started wondering how to go deeper underwater. He had his cousin in a rowboat using a bicycle pump and a hose to pump air 15 feet down to him.” For most of us, such tinkering would be the end of the story. Lambertsen was not so quick to surrender. At least not until he invented... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
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I'm far from a wine expert, but I do have a passing familiarity with the output of certain wineries (and, on occasion, particular grapes). The Bogle Vineyards winery is one of them. Sadly, Patty Bogle, the founder of the winery, died a few weeks ago. I found her story surprising, in that she seems to have happened upon the industry, and inspiring. And I wish I had had a chance to meet her; a few years ago, during a brief tour of some Sonoma wineries, one of the things I loved the most was the easy conversation with the wineries’... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
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One of the last and perhaps most famous “Boys of Summer” has died. Duke Snider was 84. His name is perhaps not as familiar to modern baseball fans as his contemporaries Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, but as Snider’s New York Times obituary points out, he was every bit their equal (and arguably their superior in the 1950s): From 1949, his first full season, until 1957, the period generally considered the golden age of New York baseball — the last time the city’s fans were divided into three camps, and when at least one New York team played in the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
Given the vineyards in which I labor here on Every Morning At Nine, it is rare indeed to have an opportunity to cover a current Hollywood event (i.e., something other than the obituaries of actors, directors, producers, etc.). But the recent Oscars ceremony affords an interesting hook: the "In Memoriam" segment, in which the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences recognizes notable Hollywood figures who passed in the prior calendar year. In case you missed the segment, you can see it here: This year's iteration has proven a bit controversial due to the omission of a few people. For... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
Troy Jackson was a big man. At 6 feet, 10 inches and approximately 500 pounds, one would not expect him to be an agile figure on the basketball court. But that he was throughout his all-too-short life. As the sports website Bleacher Report puts it in its obituary for “Escalade” – he was named for the Cadillac SUV – “Jackson had game and moves. He could handle the rock like a guard, and he was amazingly quick on his feet.” Escalade’s death at 38 captured my attention for several reasons. Being just one day younger than me, his passing is... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
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It is safe to say that millions fewer people around the world would ever have heard of the Sony Corporation but for the labors of Nobutoshi Kihara. Howard Stringer, Sony's chief executive, wrote as much in an internal memo, commenting that "I am not exaggerating when I say it would be impossible to speak of the history of Sony’s technologies without mentioning Mr. Kihara." Kihara, who died at 84 a few weeks ago, was an engineer who became known as "The Wizard of Sony" for his the products he developed and supervised. The New York Times describes some of Kihara's... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
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The last American veteran of World War I has died. Frank Buckles, who lived through some of the most tumultuous times in American and world history, was 110 years old. In a statement, President Obama said that Buckles "lived the American Century." He sure did; consider this Telegraph (U.K.) description of the United States as it stood when Buckles was young: Frank Woodruff Buckles was born on a farm near Bethany, northwest Missouri on February 1 1901, seven months before the assassination of President William McKinley. At the time of his birth the United States had five states and 220... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
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The times, they were a-changin’ in 1961, when Robert Zimmerman met Susan Elizabeth Rotolo in a New York church. The New York Times describes what happened after Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo became a couple: “Right from the start I couldn’t take my eyes off her,” Mr. Dylan wrote in his memoir, “Chronicles: Volume 1,” published in 2004. “She was the most erotic thing I’d ever seen. She was fair skinned and golden haired, full-blood Italian. The air was suddenly filled with banana leaves. We started talking and my head started to spin. Cupid’s arrow had whistled past my ears... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
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I still recall the many hours I spent as a child reading and rereading Amar Chitra Katha (translation: “Immortal Illustrated Stories”) comic books. The comic books, each of which covered a particular Hindu mythological character or event, were perfectly designed to capture a child’s fancy while conveying information. Indeed, much of my knowledge of Hinduism and Indian culture came from my precious bound Amar Chitra Katha volumes. I was very sad to learn that the creator of Amar Chitra Katha, Anant Pai, died this past Thursday. “Uncle Pai,” as he came to be known, was 81 years old. Unfortunately, the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
The debilitation that Alzheimer’s disease wreaks on the mind is incredibly sad to me. Whether in real life (as with President Reagan) or in fiction (as portrayed in the 2006 movie Away From Her), the notion of losing one’s memories of events and loved ones is almost too painful to contemplate. For that reason, the Washington Post’s obituary of Thomas DeBaggio resonates with me. DeBaggio, the Post writes, was “a nationally prominent herb grower and gardening author who became a defiant and poignant voice for fellow Alzheimer's patients.” He died of the disease a week ago at 69 years of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
It’s easy to caricature executives charged with turning around a distressed company as cold-hearted, but Sanford Sigoloff’s life demonstrates that the story often is more complicated. Sigoloff died a week ago at 80. According to his obituary in the Los Angeles Times: Sigoloff, whose stern voice and lean figure were familiar to millions of Southern Californians from his "We got the message, Mr. Sigoloff" television commercials for Wickes' now-defunct Builders Emporium chain, was an ace at salvaging debt-laden companies. In addition to Wickes, he helped resuscitate Los Angeles-based companies Republic Corp., a conglomerate, and Daylin Inc., a retailer, in the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
David R. Thompson, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for the past quarter-century, died a week ago at 80. The Court of Appeals obituary on Judge Thompson’s passing includes a number of statements from his colleagues on the bench: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Judge Thompson, who served this court with distinction for 25 years,” said Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. “He was an esteemed jurist, highly regarded by his colleagues and by the many lawyers who argued before him.” “David Thompson was one of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
I'd like to think there’s a special place in the American heart for tinkerers, especially those who monetize their ingenuity through a self-run business. Harry Montague was of that ilk. His Washington Post obituary describes his doings: Harry Montague often enjoyed roaming his Cleveland Park neighborhood [in the District of Columbia] by bicycle, but his cumbersome two-wheeler took up too much room at home. He tried to ride the smaller commuter bikes, but the contraptions were too wobbly for his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame. An architect by trade and a tinkerer by constitution, Mr. Montague built a full-size, foldable mountain bike... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
This San Francisco Chronicle obituary sets the stage well for considering the life and passing of a prominent California scientist: Dr. Charles Epstein was one of the world's leading genetics scientists, and his research led to groundbreaking understandings of Down syndrome, but every bit as dear to his heart was his love of playing the cello. Then a mailed explosive from the anti-technology killer known as the Unabomber blew out both eardrums and parts of his hands in 1993. That's when he showed, as much as he had through his dogged medical research, just how deep his strength and resiliency... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
The Delaware research scientist who later became a politician and environmentalist has died. Russell Peterson was 94. The New York Times covers Peterson’s passing in a thorough obituary. The Times outlines Peterson’s rise from humble beginnings to a DuPont pioneer: Russell Wilbur Peterson, the eighth of nine children of a Swedish immigrant bartender and barber, was born on Oct. 3, 1916, in Portage, Wis. Unlike his brothers who dropped out of school, he was determined to get an education, and he worked as a dishwasher in the chemistry laboratory of the University of Wisconsin to pay his tuition. After completing... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
The debilitation that Alzheimer’s disease wreaks on the mind is incredibly sad to me. Whether in real life (as with President Reagan) or in fiction (as portrayed in the 2006 movie Away From Her), the notion of losing one’s memories of events and loved ones is almost too painful to contemplate. For that reason, the Washington Post’s obituary of Thomas DeBaggio resonates with me. DeBaggio, the Post writes, was “a nationally prominent herb grower and gardening author who became a defiant and poignant voice for fellow Alzheimer's patients.” He died of the disease a week ago at 69 years of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
Some of the most interesting people to read about in the obituaries are those who fully devote their professional or personal energies to a cause, only to undergo a 180˚ change in perspective on that cause later in life. Such is the case with Dr. Bernard Nathanson. Nathanson, an OB-GYN who helped found the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws and estimated that he personally performed 5,000 abortions, later became a staunch critic of the procedure and participated in much-publicized films and articles. In an excellent obituary, the Washington Post covers Nathanson’s transformation. The story begins with his... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
Some of the most interesting people to read about in the obituaries are those who fully devote their professional or personal energies to a cause, only to undergo a 180˚ change in perspective on that cause later in life. Such is the case with Dr. Bernard Nathanson. Nathanson, an OB-GYN who helped found the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws and estimated that he personally performed 5,000 abortions, later became a staunch critic of the procedure and participated in much-publicized films and articles. In an excellent obituary, the Washington Post covers Nathanson’s transformation. The story begins with his... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
Virtually every lawyer has heard of the prominent New York-based law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom. The last name partner of the firm has died; Joseph Flom was 87. After a brief discussion of the beginning of Flom's legal career, ("After law school, by his account, many firms turned him down for a job because he was Jewish, but a small new firm in Manhattan run by Marshall Skadden, Leslie Arps and John Slate took him on. He became a partner in 1954 and within a few years effectively took over leadership."), the New York Times obituary sketches... Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
The New York Times covers the passing of Blanche Moyse, a Brattleboro, Vermont-based musician and conductor who was particularly noted for her renditions of Bach's choral works. Blanche Moyse, a founder of the Marlboro Music School and Festival and, as a conductor, a leading interpreter of Bach’s choral works, died on Thursday [February 10] at her home in Brattleboro, Vt. She was 101. * * * Ms. Moyse (pronounced mo-EASE) moved to Brattleboro from Paris in 1949 at the invitation of the pianist Rudolf Serkin and his father-in-law, the violinist Adolf Busch, who was her longtime mentor. * * *... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
Herschel Leibowitz, a Penn State University psychologist, died recently. His New York Times obituary describes how the work he did affected (among others) each person who drives at night: Dr. Leibowitz described the psychological illusion created by night driving in work conducted during the 1960s and 1970s. In experiments, he and colleagues found evidence that in dim light people’s eyes do not focus on the horizon, as was thought at the time, but settle on a point much closer, often less than 10 feet away. In effect, he argued, people become myopic in the dark, so that they see not... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine
This Washington Post obituary marks the passing of a prominent Washington journalist: Bill Monroe, a journalist best known for his nine-year tenure as moderator of the public-affairs talk show "Meet the Press" during the 1970s and '80s, died Feb. 17 at the ManorCare nursing home in Potomac. He was 90 and had complications from hypertension. Starting on NBC-TV in 1947, "Meet the Press" is one of the longest-running programs in American broadcast history and a staple for many Sunday-morning viewers. Mr. Monroe had long worked for NBC News in Washington and had appeared as a panelist on "Meet the Press"... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2011 at Every Morning At Nine