Observations Along the Road

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

Category Archive: 'obituaries'

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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Deaths of Interest: Actual, Imagined, or Anticipated

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Mar 14, 2012 @ 11:47 am PDT

A number of deaths have come across my desk in the last few days:

  • Gene Spafford. Gene Spafford has died. Well, actually, he hasn’t, but he has written his obituary in advance. You should read it–it’s a hoot! It truly reflects Gene’s unique sense of humor. We’ll miss him.
  • Hybrid Roses.  Earlier this year I got the urge to plant bare-root roses. I went over to Lowes… and there was nothing of interest. I remember the days when I’d visit Green Arrow Nurseries, and there would be loads and loads of varieties. Today,  it is harder and harder to find interesting hybrids and varieties, grandifloras and such. There’s a reason: Varietal roses have gone out of style: rose breeders have gone bankrupt, and in this economy, people are more interested in hardier landscape roses.
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica. The print edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica is dead. I remember growing up in a world of encyclopedias. We had the World Book at home, with yearbooks added regularly. We also had Funk & Wagnalls. Today, everyone believes that well-known bastion of knowledge: Wikipedia and Google. Yet another sign of the devaluation of learning in our society today (if you need another example of the devaluation of learning, just look at the Republican Presidential campaign).
  • Education in California. Steve Lopez has an excellent piece in the Los Angeles Times about how, at every level from public K-12 to universities, California has gone from an educational giant to a laughingstock. I touched upon this a few days ago. I, too, am a proud product of California education: Los Angeles Unified (Palisades HS) and the University of California (UCLA). My wife is also California-educated (Chatsworth HS and CSUN). Yet our daughter is escaping LAUSD just in time (she’s a senior), and hopefully she’ll be able to go to a good school out of state (because we’re not sure if we could afford state schools). It is just sad to see this.

Now, some of these deaths are inescapable: I don’t think there is any way to save Britannica. Some are imaginary: I hope Gene continues to be around and enlighten our industry for years to come (although I’m not sure his grad students feel the same way). But the rest we can do something about: We can demand good varietal roses. We can demand the California stop decimating education in favor of prisons. We can elect politicians who want to save education — at the state and the local level. It is up to us to prevent unavoidable deaths.

Music: Aspects of Love (1989 Original London Cast): ‘She’d be Far Better Off With You’

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Friday Clearin’ o’ the Desk: Deaths in the News

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Feb 24, 2012 @ 1:41 pm PDT

Due to some lunchtime meetings, I’m taking a late lunch break. Time to clear out the links:

  • Death of Free Access. It looks like two things that previously could have been obtained for free are going away:

    [LA Times] First, the LA Times is putting up a paywall on March 5. Given I’m an LA Times subscriber, this won’t affect me, but it will affect a lot of others. I know after the NY Times put up its paywall and my free access expired, I didn’t pay for access. This was not because I object to the paywall, but the pricing was far too high. For digital content, I’m willing to pay what I used to pay for a paper — between 15c and 25c a day — best would be about $1-$1.50 per week. They wanted $3.75/week after the first four weeks. That adds up, and I’d rather support the local paper and get my limited NY Times articles.

    [LA Metro] The other thing going away, at least at some stations, are unlocked gates on the LA Metro. Now, you were always supposed to buy a ticket (I always did), but lots of people didn’t. This will force them to do so.

  • Death of a Market. Another thing going away — and this one took me by surprise. The Gelsons Market near us in Northridge is closing today. Gelsons was an upscale market, and evidently the Northridge neighborhood wasn’t upscale enough to support it. Tarzana and Valley Village remain open. I’ll miss Gelsons — they always had high quality products, a great in-store salad bar and deli, and often carried pippin apples when no one else did. It will probably be the deathnell for their little center: they’ve already lots a big-box linen store and their Hallmark store, so their only draws will be a few small fast-food restaurants (Western Bagel, Togos, Rubios), a discount shoe store, and not much else.
  • Death of a Shipping Company. Last year, Atlantic Mutual Insurance died. You probably haven’t heard of them. What’s interesting is what they left behind, as they were a major insurer of shipping and seafaring companies, including being the insurer of the Titanic. They left behind a fascinating of records of ship wreaks and ship disasters, which will be a literal treasure trove for salvage operations. The article is a fascinating read.
  • Death of Cyber-Innocence. CNN has an interesting article on the risks in cyberspace. The article goes into details into the “wars” that occur in that battlespace. Interesting reading, and it demonstrates why “Cyber” is growing in importance these days.

Music: Dance Band on the Titanic (Harry Chapin): Paint a Picture of Yourself (Michael’s Song)

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A 1970s Icon Passes

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Feb 11, 2012 @ 6:59 am PDT

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Jill Kinmont Boothe has died. Most people know of Jill Kinmont’s story from the 1970’s movie “The Other Side of the Mountain“. Basically, she was a skier who got injured and through her spirit, moved past the injury to do good. She was also a client of my parent’s accounting firm during that time; I think I met her once or twice. Seeing her obituary brought back those memories. As I don’t see an online memorial book, I decided to do a short post to pass on my virtual condolences to her family and those who cared about her.

Music: Picks on the Beatles (Chet Atkins): And I Love Her

 

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