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"

George Hurst

Conductor -- via the Guardian.

Dennis Kain

Timpanist -- via the Baltimore Sun.


Lia Lee

Victim of epilepsy whose treatment inspired a book that led to new understanding about the intersection of Eastern and Western medicines and cultures -- via the New York Times.


Joan Coates

Animator and producer -- via the BBC.

Louis Simpson

Poet -- via the New York Times.

Russell Train

Conservationist who helped found the E.P.A. -- via the New York Times.

Steve Sabol

Producer, director, writer, and cameraman for NFL Films -- via the New York Times.

Jack Kralik

Former MLB pitcher -- via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Michael Hurll

TV producer -- via the Guardian.


Joni Gordon

Art gallery owner -- via the L.A. Times.


R.B. Greaves aka Ronald Bertram Aloysius Greaves

Singer and songwriter -- via the New York Times. He wrote and recorded the hit "Take a Letter Maria."

Haim Hefer aka Haim Feiner

Lyricist, songwriter, poem, and writer -- via the New York Times.

Tamer al-Awam

Filmmaker -- via the New York Times.

Pierre Mondy aka Pierre Cuq

Actor and director -- via Big Cartoon News.

(Lavern) Jack Pierce

Former MLB player -- via hardballtimes.com.

Stephen Dunham

Actor -- via the Hollywood Reporter. His last role, a starring one in "Paranormal Activities 4," will be seen on Oct. 19.



James "Sugar Boy" Crawford

R & B singer and composer -- via nola.com. He wrote "Jock-A-Mo," which morphed into "Iko Iko," and has been recorded by countless artists around the world.

Obo Addy

Percussionist, composer, and educator -- via opb.org.

Pedro Guerrero

Photographer -- via the New York Times. Most noted for his portraits of the works of Frank Lloyd Wright.


Tom Sims

Snowboarding pioneer, surfer, and skateboarder -- via ESPN

Sharon McGhee

Broadcaster and playwright -- via the Chicago Sun-Times.

Aditya Dev

Bodybuilder -- via the Daily Mail.

Bradley F. Smith

Historian -- via the Independent.


Pat Mendoza

Storyteller and troubador -- via the Denver Post.

Bob Lambert

Digital media pioneer -- via the L.A. Times.


Barry Commoner

Pioneering environmentalist; biologist, professor and politician -- via the New York Times. His name was a bugbear to conservatives for decades. He was a visionary thinker: not merely a reflexive defender of ecological systems, he tied these concerns in with the concepts of sustainability and social justice. He is still hundreds of years ahead of us. Thank you, Barry!

He drafted the famous Four Laws of Ecology -- 


1. Everything is Connected to Everything Else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.
2. Everything Must Go Somewhere. There is no "waste" in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.
3. Nature Knows Best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is, says Commoner, “likely to be detrimental to that system.”
4. There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. Exploitation of nature will inevitably involve the conversion of resources from useful to useless forms.

Michael Rye aka John Michael Riorden Billsbury aka Rye Billsbury

Voice actor -- via Variety. A remarkable, hard-working, and long-lived performer, he began in radio and ended up working in video games to boot. He played Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy; he was the announcer on "The Cisco Kid"; and guested on dozens of other shows. He played the prototype for Matt Dillon on the audition show of "Gunsmoke." He later worked in TV cartoons, TV and radio commercials, videos, and training films. He was the first person to record a full-length audiobook ("The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin").






Derek Jameson

Broadcaster -- via the BBC.

Bertil Norstrom

Actor -- via dn.se.

Rollin "Oscar" Sullivan

Musician and comic -- via the Tennessean. PArt of the Grand Ole Opry duo Lonzo and Oscar; he was the first to perform the comedy hit "I'm My Own Grandpa."

Leigh Hamilton

Actress -- via the Hollywood Reporter.

Arthur O. "Punch" Sulzberger

Former publisher of the New York Times -- via the New York Times. He printed the Pentagon Papers, and fought the case for freedom of press in front of the Supreme Court -- and won. 

I love the kicker on Clyde Haberman's comprehensive review of Punch's life:

"'I think that paper and ink are here to stay for the kind of newspapers we print,' he said in a post-retirement interview. 'There's no shortage of news in this world. If you want news, you can go to cyberspace and grab out all this junk. But I don't think most people are competent to become editors, or have the time or the interest.'

'You're not buying news when  you buy the New York Times,' Mr. Sulzberger said. 'You're buying judgment.'"