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"

Kenny Baker

The preeminent bluegrass fiddler -- via the Bluegrass Blog. Interestingly, he began in swing, with influences such as Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and Marion Sumnner. He played with Bill Monroe, father of the genre, longer than another other musician did.His smooth, legato feeling-full style is absolutely the gold standard.

Betty Ford aka Elizabeth Ann Bloomer Warren Ford

First Lady and anti-addiction activist -- via the New York Times. She had a hard life. She was honest and unpretentious. She spoke her mind, supporting equal rights for women, legalized abortion, and other unpopular subjects. She was a user; she got clean, then she helped others. Good job! Beautiful tribute via CNN.

Manuel Galbran

Guitarist -- via NPR.

Edward Hastings

Stage producer, director and artistic director of the American Conservatory Theatre -- via the San Francisco Chronicle.

Josef Suk

Violinist -- via the New York Times.

Catherine Mulholland

Historian -- via the L.A. Times.

Barry Bremen

"The Great Imposter" -- via the L.A. Times. Businessman just loved bluffing his way into sporting events and award shows.

Zurab Kapianidze

Actor, philologist and politician -- via ghn.ge.

Perry Jordan

Guitarist for Heartsfield -- via the Southtown Star.

Nina Leavitt Watkins

Speech therapist -- via legacy.com. Her brief life and untimely death is covered extensively by Tommy Tomlinson at the Charlotte Observer.

Nathan Clark

Creator of the Desert Boot -- via the Sydney Morning Herald.

Otto von Habsburg aka the Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary aka Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xavier Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius von Habsburg

The last crown prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and subversive activist -- via the New York Times. He worked for freedom, most notably as an organizer of the Pan-European Picnic, a demonstration that enabled the defection of hundreds of East Germans in 1989, triggering the collapse of the Iron Curtain.

Richard Hirschfield "Dick" Williams

Baseball Hall of Famer -- via the New York Times. A combative disciplinarian, he led the Red Sox of the "Impossible Dream" to the AL pennant and the brutal 1967 World Series at the hands of my hero, Bob Gibson. He ignited the A's dynasty with back-to-back World Series victories; he even dragged the Padres to their first Series in 1984. Before managing, he served for 13 years on five teams in a number of positions.

Thierry Martens aka Vyes Varende

Author of science fiction, detective stories and comic-book plots -- via forums.bdfi.net.

Martin Woodhouse

Inventor, novelist and screenwriter -- via the Guardian. He penned several episodes of the TV series "The Avengers."

Francis Henry King

Novelist, poet and short story writer -- via the Guardian.

Fred Smith

Soldier who helped liberate Bergen-Belsen -- via the Independent. Let his story stand for those of the righteous who witnessed one of humanity's lowest points and worked to alleviate suffering.

Trevor Frankland

Artist -- via the Independent.

Charlie Craig

Country songwriter -- via WZTV.

Frank Marion Smith Jr.

Owner of sewing machine museum and musician -- via the Star-Telegram.

Iris Jeanette "Mickey" Weller

Hostess -- via obits.mlive.com.

Bebe Manga aka Elizabeth Bessem Ayamo Manga

Singer -- via crtv.cm.

Raymond Deter

Bar owner -- via the New York Daily News.

Anne LaBastille

Woodswoman, author and environmentalist -- via the Plattsburg Press-Republican.

Don Buddin

Infielder for the Red Sox, Colt .45s, and Tigers -- via bloodysox.com.

Joe Mazzone


Auto mechanic, baseball fan, cap collector and vintage car expert and hobbyist -- via morristowngreen.com.

Carl Wedekind

Activist and attorney -- via the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Dulcy Mahar

Gardening columnist -- via oregonlive.com.

Brice Phillips

Founder of Phillips Seafood -- via the Washington Post. Has my first soft-shell crab sandwich there -- one of my most delicious memories!

Kip Tiernan

Social activist and founder of the first shelter for homeless women -- via the Boston Globe.

Robert Sklar

Film historian, writer and teacher -- via the Village Voice.

Ottilie Patterson

Blues singer -- via the Independent.

Jane Scott

The first, and one of the best, critics of rock -- via the New York Times.

Billy Beck aka Frank Billerbeck

Character actor and clown -- via hollywood.patch.com. He was in everything -- my favorite role of his was as a spying private detective's assistant in "The Fortune Cookie."

Ewan "Sudsy" Clark


Actor and musician -- via westernboothill.blogspot.com.

Prince Twins Seven Seven

Artist -- via the New York Times.

Olivera Markovic

Actress and singer -- via blic.rs.

Cy Twombly

Artist -- via the New York Times. Of his drawing of a line, he said: "It does not illustrate. It is the sensation of its own realization."

Christy Essien-Igbokwe

Nigeria's "Lady of Song" -- via www.cocorioko.net.

Shri Kaikhushru Dhunjibhoy Sethna aka Amal Kiran

"Poet, scholar, writer, philosopher, and cultural critic" -- via overmanfoundation.wordpress.com.

Cassandra Hodges

Voice actress -- via capsulecomputers.com.au.

David Dunseith

Journalist and broadcaster -- via the BBC.

Anna Massey

Actress --via the Guardian. A great character actress, often typed as sour or spinsterish, but really a versatile and intelligent presence on stage and in film and television. Her most striking appearance was as the heroine of Michael Powell's "Peeping Tom."