Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'obituaries'

A One-Two Punch

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Jun 06, 2012 @ 11:53 am PDT

Today’s a busy day, so here’s a quick one-two punch over lunch:

 

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Passing of Note: Digby Wolfe

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue May 08, 2012 @ 7:51 am PDT

This morning, while skimming the LA Times before leaving for work, I noticed a familiar name in the obituaries: Digby Wolfe. My parents had an accounting office, and Digby was one of their long-time clients. Digby’s death has been floating around my head, so I wanted to write a quick post remembering Digby.

Now, I think I only met Digby in person a few times. But he did create memories. Thanks to Digby, I remember going to tapings of Cher (which he was a writer on) and the 2nd version of Laugh-In (I think this one had Robin Williams or Jim Carrey on it). I remember my folks talking about Digby all the time. I got the impression (remember, I was a teen here) that he was a nice, caring man.

In Digby’s memory, I want to share something he wrote in the 1980s for a Goldie Hawn TV Special:

Here’s to the kids who are different,
The kids who don’t always get A’s,
The kids who have ears twice the size of their peers
And noses that go on for days…
Here’s to the kids who are different,
The kids they call crazy or dumb,
The kids who don’t fit,
with the guts and the grit,
Who dance to a different drum…
Here’s to the kids who are different,
The kids with the mischievous streak,
For when they have grown, as history’s shown,
It’s their difference that makes them unique.

Rest in peace, Digby.

(Note: Completing the death trifecta, we have George Lindsey (“Goober”) and Maurice Sendak. Both men understood kids who were different: Lindsey, from all his work for Special Olympics, and Sendak, well, from his books.)

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A Death Close to Home

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Apr 23, 2012 @ 8:11 pm PDT

Saturday, while I was judging the IEEE Ethics competition, I received a very unsettling phone call. My cousin, Nick Faigin had unexpectedly passed away on Friday morning. Nick was 47; 5 years younger than me. You don’t expect younger cousins to go before you.

Now, I didn’t know Nick closely, although we always got along when we saw each other. The age difference was part of it; I tended to associate more with his older sister. I did follow Nick, however. He had a wonderful poetry blog, and was very active in the club and music scene, doing a lot of promotion of bands. I hadn’t realized how much of an impact he had until I was reading all of the wonderful tributes and testimonials that had been posted on his Facebook page.

Being one of the more computer literate of the cousins, I’m the one fretting over the modern worry: how to preserve Nick’s wonderful digital legacy. The two domains he owns do not expire until October; I’ve already contacted the registrar to figure out how to transfer them to my ownership so I can keep them alive. But other areas are harder. What does one do about his Facebook presence? I’m guessing the account will stay there forever, but it would be nice to be able to post a closing message (I guess we could just write something to his wall). What about other places? His gmail account? Other email accounts? This is an area that is far too new and far too sensitive (another good article, another on turning facebook pages into memorials).

In any case, I’ll worry about that latter. For now, Nick, recognize that you touched the lives of a lot of people for good. This is a great legacy to leave behind, my cousin.

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Rabbi John

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Apr 19, 2012 @ 8:15 am PDT

Last night, I learned of the passing early Wednesday morning of Rabbi John Sherwood, a dear friend.

I first met Rabbi John through my wife — she had been active at Temple Emet of Woodland Hills, and wanted John to officiate at our wedding. Over the years we talked many times — he was a regular contributor to my mailing list and the FAQ. He named our daughter. He was going to do her bat mitzvah until he got sick.

For the longest time, John’s spiritual home was Temple Emet of Woodland Hills. I don’t think he was the founding rabbi, but he was there for 23 years. Before that, I know he was a rabbi at North Valley Reform, which through mergers became our current congregation, Ahavat Shalom in Northridge. John remained at Emet until the merger with Shir Chadash to form the current congregation Kol Tikvah. At that time he retired and moved off to Ventura.

Retired, however, does not mean inactive. John was active through Ventura and on the web, officiating on cruises and doing all sorts of good work. We had been out of touch the last few years, alas, so I don’t have the latest details on what he had been doing.

The online obituary for John may be found here. I found a better summary of John’s career here:

Dr. John M. Sherwood is Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Emet of Woodland Hills, California, where he served as Senior Rabbi for twenty-two years. Early in his career, he was the first reform rabbi in western Canada, and taught in the religious studies department of the University of British Columbia. For six years he was an adjunct professor of pastoral studies at St. John’s Roman Catholic Seminary in Camarillo, California. A graduate of the Los Angeles Police Academy advanced chaplaincy course, he was a chaplain and crisis intervention counselor for the Department from 1982 to 1997. His colleagues elected him coordinator of the chaplain corps in 1995. He is a past president of the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council, and the author of a high holy day prayer book and a number of creative haggadahs. He has written many articles on liturgy and the relationship of Jewish and Christian ceremonial observances. One of his favorite community projects was working with the priest-rabbi dialogue committee that is jointly sponsored by the Board of Rabbis of Southern California and the Archdiocese of Southern California. Upon his retirement from the pulpit, he qualified as a personal fitness trainer in order to develop a motivational program bringing mind, body and spirit together. His interest in computers has led him to pursuing intellectual interests all over the world through the Internet. He is a frequent respondent to the Union for Reform Judaism’s “Ask the Rabbi” web site, and that of Jewish.com, and a regular contributor to the Liberal Jewish Newsletter. When not following his academic pursuits, he enjoys travel with his wife, Dolores. These journeys, coupled with his passion for scenic photography, have led to the creation of his slide lecture series entitled “Judaism Around the World, from Budapest to Bangkok and Back.” His biography appears in the Marquis Who’s Who in Religion in America, as well as several other similar publications. Since moving to Oxnard, he has become a chaplain for the Ventura County Fire and Rescue Department, is a member and chairperson of both the Oxnard Clergy Association and the Ventura Interfaith Ministerial Association. He led the two organizations to joint sponsorship of a new program for the west county in interfaith education. He and his wife, Dolores served for three years as chair and vice-chair of the Oxnard City Sea Air Community Council, and as members at-large. He has been active in environmental causes, specifically the Save our Open space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) movement. He is also a professor for Elderhostel. He has served on the executive committee of a study group created by the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor John Flynn. The group is known as “Society Ecology Economy Ventura County Vision”. The Board of Supervisors also appointed him to the newly created County Election Finance Ethics Commission, of which his colleagues elected him vice chair, in which position he served for two years. He served for five years on the Institutional Review Board of St. John’s Regional Medical Center. In addition, he serves as co-chair of the Oxnard Police-Clergy Council. He is a member of the Oxnard Community Relations Commission. He is a recipient of the California Central Coast Anti-Defamation League Distinguished Community Service Award.

John gave me one piece of advice I’d like to share as part of this brief note. Back when we got married, we visited him at his house. His note with directions reminded us to stop and enjoy his beautiful rose bushes and their fragrance. I think of that note to this day when we walk by roses.

Rest well, John.

 

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Three Twos

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Apr 04, 2012 @ 12:01 pm PDT

As you know, when I post my lunchtime news chum, I like to do things in threes. I thought I had no such luck, but then I realized I had three groupatwos:

Music: Hotcakes (Carly Simon): Older Sister

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Drive By Post

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Mar 28, 2012 @ 6:55 pm PDT

Obit of the Day: Earl Scruggs, a legend in banjo and bluegrass music. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, well, he wrote and played the theme to the Beverly Hillbillies.

In other news, this has been a very stressful week. Hopefully, the stress will be relieved, one way or the other, tomorrow. I’ll then update folks on what has been happening.

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Buz

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Mar 24, 2012 @ 7:39 am PDT

Today’s posts (there should be three of them) will be covering the past, present, and future. The past comes from this morning’s email, which brings news of the death of Robert “Buz” Uzaglis. Buz  was a character in the UCLA Computer Science department when I met him. I was in my second quarter. The first had included E10, the introductory programming class that I basically skipped, taking only tests (it was in PL/1, and I already knew well how program in FORTRAN). Second quarter was E20 (later called CS20), the “weeder” course. Buz was the instructor. He gets up and informs us there are two sections of the course this year… one in PL/1(X), the IBM PL/1 optimizing compiler. The other is this section. We’re using Algol 68C. He then holds up a book on Egyptian Hieroglypics, gives a maniacal laugh, and says that we’ll need this to decipher the error messages. Why Algol 68C? From what I understand, Buz was involved in the creation of the language.

This morning’s news brings the report of his death at age 71.

Coming up today… posts on the present and the future.

Music: Stop The World, I Want To Get Off (1962 Original Broadway Cast): Overture / The ABC Song / I Wanna Be Rich

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A Remembrance of My Father

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Mar 19, 2012 @ 5:00 am PDT

Every year on my father’s birthday, I post the following remembrance of him that I wrote the day after he died. Today would have been his 90th birthday.

My father was born in Flushing NY in 1922. He was the eldest of four brothers; the son of a tailor who lived over his shop. I can’t give you too many details of the early days; Uncle Herbert can (and perhaps he will reply to this post and do so). His mother died young, when he was in his twenties, and sometime thereafter, his family moved to Los Angeles (how’s that for glossing over details). My dad went to Southwestern School of Accounting, and was a Public Accountant. He married his first wife in the late 1940s, and my brother was born in 1952. He loved my brother very, very much. He divorced that wife in 1955, and retained custody of my brother. He married my mother in 1956, and I was born in 1960. My mother was a CPA, so they formed an accounting company of their own, Faigin and Faigin. My brother died, reported due to an accident (I never knew the true details) in 1970. It devistated both my parents. My mother died in 1990 on my wedding anniversary. My father remarried a year or so later to Rae, who had lost her husband. This brought me some new wonderful family members. This should bring you up to date on the familial backstory.

So, who was my dad, and what do I remember. This is a jagged collection of memories.

I remember being in Indian Guides with him, painting rocks and bark to invite people to meetings. I remember going on Indian Guide campouts with him. It is because of this that I did Indian Princesses with my daughter, continuing the tradition. I recommend this program to anyone who is a dad.

I remember going on trips with him to East Los Angeles, to visit his clients. We would hit small mom and pop grocery stores, mexican candy companies. I’d always get sweets… and get to sort the paid bills afterwards.

I remember him taking the time to be with me.

I remember him telling bad jokes, and being enamored with old-time radio stars, such as Al Jolsen (his favorite), Eddie Cantor, Jack Benny, and so on.

I remember his teeth. Specifically, I remember how he would remove his dentures just to gross out us kids.

I remember him taking me to the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion to see musicals, starting in 1972 when my mother was too sick to attend The Rothschilds. From this came my love of musicals.

I remember him reading Robert W. Service to me, especially Bessies Boil.

I remember him, at the Passover Seder, reading the Four Sons. He loved to act, mug, and play with his voice to make a point during the story.

I remember him being active in the Masons and the Shriners, especially with his good friend, Raymond Schwartz. I remember him going to the Masonic Picnics.

I remember him playing bridge with my mom and their friends, the Cohens, the Schwartzes, and the Strausses. Perhaps this is where I got my love of gaming.

I remember him telling stories of his time in the Navy, when he was a pharmacists mate, 2nd class, at Camp Elliott, which is now part of Mirimar NAS in San Diego. He found it ironic that he was in the Navy, as he could never swim.

I remember his disorganized toolbench, where eventually you could find what you need. I still have his 30 year old power drill, which I still use today.

I remember him taking care of my mother as she died of cancer, and fiercly defending her when we would fight.

In his later years, I remember him fighting with the computer, and eventually learning to use it and to use Email. However, he could never quite get the printer figured out. I would get calls from him that stuff wasn’t printing, and it was because he had been playing with the printer queue again.

I remember him cooking. He loved to cook peppers and onions in olive oil. He made a mean spaghetti sauce, and a great pot roast in tomatoe sauce. Rae says that I got my cooking skills from him, with which I must agree, as I don’t think my mom could cook.

I remember him collecting autographs and first day covers. For many, he would frame them and put them all over the walls.

I remember his love of baseball, which never rubbed off.

I remember him taking pictures. And more pictures. And more pictures. And still more pictures. I’ll probably find about 50 cameras at the house, together with probably 200 photo albums. In particular, I remember a few specific cameras: His Konica T-3 SLR, which I have. His Fuji POS, which he received at a special party my mother threw for him at the Magic Castle in Hollywood.

I remember him loving fountain pens, just like me. He had boxes of pens, and even more ink. He’s the only man I know that has a quart bottle of Schaeffer Black Quink Ink in his supply closet. There are about 6 bottles of ink on his desk (I only have 3).

I remember him being a luddite when it comes to computerizing financies. I’m going to have loads of two-peg journal books to go through to figure out stocks and bank accounts.

I remember him being a packrat. He collected office supplies. He collected biographical books. He collected CDs. You name it, he collected it.

I remember him being a good friend and caring about other people. After my mother died and he remarried, his new wife’s children were treated the same as his natural children, with the same love. He was a second grandfather to my sister-in-law’s children. He was there when people needed him. Until his last year, he volunteered to help seniors with their taxes.

For many years, I remember him being a staunch Republican, going counter to my mother, the strong liberal. I remember him backing Nixon and Reagan. This year [nb: this was written in 2004], however, had he been strong enough, he was going to vote for John Kerry.

I remember him being a people person. He would just light up when he was around people, especially those that hadn’t heard his stories before.

I remember him being there for me and my family. We spoke weekly on the phone, something I will miss, talking about everything. He had good advice, which I grew to respect as I got older. To the youngsters reading this: listen to your parents. They’ve been their and made the same mistakes. They do know what they are talking about.

I remember his love for his granddaughter, [info]nsshere. He had pictures of her everywhere, and she loved him. I remember him taking her to Disneyland when she was three, and being there in the hospital when she had her open heart surgery at the age of four.

I remember his love for his family. He enjoyed spending time with his brothers, Herbert, Ronald, and Tom, and researching family history. When my daughter was little, we picked up a copy of Grandfather Remembers and gave it to him. He filled it out, and now it is a lasting memory for her of her grandfather. To those of you who are grandparents: take the time now to write out your memories for your grandchildren. Record an oral history. Annotate your photo albums. It is worth the time. You will create that memory that will outlive you.

I remember how he loved Yiddish and Yiddish stories. I remember him reading the Freiheit.

I remember (or have discovered) how he loved his wives. I remember how he loved my mother, Nancy, even through the depths of her depression, her anger, her rages, her illnesses. I remember how he rarely lost his temper (and when he did, you needed to worry). I remember when he first told me he had met Rae, and how they quickly grew to love each other. Even though there was an age difference there, I saw the deep affection that existed between them. He chose well.

I remember how he touched people. A few months ago, I went to a funeral that was packed to the gills of people who loved the deceased. My father had friends all over the world, and helped many people.

In short, I remember a deeply caring man, who I really think was responsible for making me the way I am today (both for good and for bad). He does live on in me, and I think he lives on in my daughter as well. As long as we remember someone, they never die.

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