exordia

"By writing or reading obituaries, we can discover ways to make our time on earth more worthwhile, more productive, more meaningful to others."
Alana Baranick, "Life on the Death Beat"


"'I always read the obituaries in The Times,' I explained to her. 'They make me bloody glad to be alive.'"
John Mortimer, "Rumpole's Return"

Gil Spencer

Pulitzer-winning reporter, and editor -- via the Denver Post. He was good to his people, he didn't take any shit, he knew how to have fun and he knew what he was doing. That's pretty rare.

Bob Block

Comedy writer -- via the Guardian.

Marguerite Wolff

Classical pianist -- via the Telegraph.

Randall Dale Adams

A man wrongly accused of killing a police officer, sentenced to death and then saved by the efoorts of documentary filmmaker Errol Morris in his "The Thin Blue Line" -- via the New York Times.

Watch Errol Morris - The Thin Blue Line in Educational & How-To  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Patricia Merbreirer

"Mrs. Noah," childrens' TV show host -- via the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Fred Steiner

Composer, conductor, orchestrator and arranger for film, radio and television -- via Film Music Reporter. An Academy Award nominee for his score for "The Color Purple," he most famously wrote "Park Avenue Beat," the theme for the "Perry Mason" TV show.

CORRECTION: I received a nice note from Chuck Schwartz, cousin of Steiner, whose corrections are now incorporated into the obituary. "Fred Steiner did NOT write the theme for (saturday morning) Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. I think his father George may have done that one. Fred DID write the theme for primetime's The Bullwinkle Show, which was the prime time version of Rocky."



Roy Gene Munse

Radio host -- via The Eagle.

E. M. Broner

Author, professor and feminist -- via The Jewish Week.

Robert A. White

TV writer -- via Animation Magazine.

Cyril Ornadel

Composer and conductor -- via the Independent.

Nasa Begum

Disability rights activist -- via the Guardian.

Peter Falk

Actor -- via KTLA. A great performer -- although he will be best remembered for playing TV detective Columbo,

he could do much, much more. He started in live TV in New York. He made it into movies playing rats and criminals in movies such as "Pretty Boy Floyd" and "Murder, Inc." He finally displayed his dramatic chops in several collaborations with John Cassavetes in "Husbands," "A Woman Under the Influence," and "Opening Night."

He could do comedy -- just watch the original "The In-Laws," "Murder by Death" and "The Princess Bride."

My favorite role of his was a relatively small one, but a key one, as "Der Filmstar" in Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire."

"To smoke, and have coffee - and if you do it together, it's fantastic." What a guy.

Gene Colan

One of the great Silver Age comic book artists -- via the Sacramento Bee. Best known for his work on "Daredevil" and "The Tomb of Dracula," he also drew Captain America (inventing the Falcon), Doctor Strange, the Sub-Mariner, Batman and many others.

Burt Styler

Comedy writer for radio and television -- via the L.A. Times.

Robert Kroetsch

Novelist, poet and writer -- via the National Post.

Mike Waterson

Folksinger and singer-songwriter -- via the Hull Daily Mail.

Anatoli Bitkov

Journalist -- via en.rian.ru.

Kader Asmal

Anti-apartheid activist -- via AFP.

Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco

Journalist -- via Yahoo News. Murdered, along with his wife and son.

Gustaf Kjellvander

Singer-songwriter -- via the Sydsvenskan.

John Ehrman

Historian and writer -- via the Telegraph.

David Rayfiel

Screenwriter -- via the New York Times. A frequent collaborator with Sydney Pollack and Robert Redford, he worked on such excellent scripts as those for "Castle Keep," "Three Days of the Condor," "Abscence of Malice" and "'Round Midnight."

Pablo Ruelas Barraza

Journalist -- via en.rsf.org.

Shaun Best

Sports photographer -- via foxnews.com.

David Camron Duncombe

Chaplain and social activist -- via the Oregonian.

Jack Smith

Artist -- via the Telegraph.

Larry Wayne "Wild Man" Fischer

Outsider musician -- via the New York Times. A mentally ill and tormented person who made songs.


Phyllis Gebauer

Writing instructor and friend to Thomas Pynchon -- via the L.A. Times.

Gene McKown

Songwriter and musician -- via the Kansas City Star.

Kirby Allan

Singer, music promoter, gadfly -- via the East Valley Tribune.

IGnazio "Ig" Vella

Master cheesemaker -- via the San Francisco Chronicle.

Jyotirmoy Dey

Investigative journalist -- via the Economic Times of India.

Charlotte Joko Beck

Zen teacher and writer -- via Tricycle. Her last words were the beautiful and haunting, "This too is wonder."

Mae Wheeler

"Lady Jazz" of St. Louis -- via stljazznotes.blogspot.com.

Asad Ali Khan

Rudra veena player, and the last living master of the Khandar dhrupad school -- via the Deccan Herald.

Gyorgy Szabados

Pianist and "father of Hungarian free jazz" -- via culture.hu.

Don Diamond

Character actor in film, radio and TV -- via the L.A. Times and Legacy.com. His best-known roles were El Toro in "The Adventures of Kit Carson," Corporal Reyes in "Zorro," and Crazy Cat in "F Troop."

Jameel Fakhri

Film, TV and stage actor -- via Pakistan National News.

Maksud Sadikov

Theology professor -- via the New York Times. An advocate of peace, he was gunned down by extremists.