Monday, October 31, 2011

These Are The Days of Remembrance

All Hallows' Eve, 2011

Over the course of my life I have had a great deal of formation with respect to remembering the dead. Between ministry both as deacon and as pastoral musician, between witnessing and experiencing the bittersweetness that accompanies the death of a friend, loved one, or family member, and learning the stories behind both mine and my wife's ancestral lineage, no huge leap is necessary to find a place of respect for those who have crossed the bridge of death (over the River Styx, if you like) and have reached the Promised Land of Heaven, the Summerlands, or even the wayside stop some call Purgatory. Nor should a huge leap be needed. 'Nuff said.

In the last ten years I had several means of expression at my disposal. Two had the most impact - one being my dear wife's continuing to maintain memories of her own ancestral line, and the genealogy searches that spawned from it; and the other being the annual Requiem Mass that my Catholic congregation and choir sang every year while Fr. Damien was pastor. Though Fr. D. has retired and Fr. Bill just isn't into this traditional expression, it's been enough to carry me further. Our recent Big Move put us much closer to the cemeteries where our grandparents and great-grandparents are laid to rest..

Another of my expressions of remembrance was intended to be a little more public-facing. When I 'published' a weekly update of family life (nothing of any consequence, just a little 'we're still here' sort of thing), I began including a list of obituaries at this time of year honoring a few of the great and near-great who passed away over the preceding twelve months. It's an interesting read. Since last October 31 I lost two members of my wife's extended family within eight days of each other. Society has lost two of it's more notorious menaces, a technology and marketing wizard, and many other influential people. A romp through the obituary listings at Wikipedia took a couple of hours' time to whittle the list down to what follows. The list is far from complete, and I probably missed a few along the way. Remember them as well, as you remember friends, family, and the rest of my hand-picked list.

1 - Monica Johnson, 64, American novelist and screenwriter (Lost in America, Modern Romance), esophageal cancer.
2 - Jule Sugarman, 83, American educator, creator and director of the Head Start Program, cancer.
3 - Jerry Bock, 81, American musical theater composer (Fiddler on the Roof, Fiorello!), heart failure.
4 - Sparky Anderson, 76, American baseball player and manager (Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers), member of Baseball Hall of Fame, complications from dementia.
5 - Jill Clayburgh, 66, American actress (An Unmarried Woman, Ally McBeal, Dirty Sexy Money), chronic leukemia.
8 - Addison Powell, 89, American actor (Dark Shadows, The Thomas Crown Affair, Three Days of the Condor).
10 - Dino De Laurentiis, 91, Italian film producer.
28 - Leslie Nielsen, 84, Canadian-born American actor (Airplane!, The Naked Gun), pneumonia.

5 - Leslie Nielsen, 84, Canadian-born American actor (Airplane!, The Naked Gun), pneumonia.
15 - Blake Edwards, 88, American film director, producer and screenwriter (The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany's), pneumonia.
17 - Captain Beefheart, 69, American rock musician and artist (Trout Mask Replica), complications from multiple sclerosis.
20 - Steve Landesberg, 74, American actor (Barney Miller, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), colorectal cancer.
26 - Bernard Wilson, 64, American singer (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes), stroke and heart attack.
28 - Agathe von Trapp, 97, Austrian-born American singer, member of the Trapp family (The Sound of Music).

4 - Dick King-Smith, 88, British author (The Sheep-Pig, The Water Horse).
6 - Donald J. Tyson, 80, American business executive, Chairman of Tyson Foods (1967–2001), cancer.
11 - David Nelson, 74, American actor (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet), colon cancer.
17 - Don Kirshner, 76, American record producer and songwriter, host of Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, heart failure.
18 - Sargent Shriver, 95, American diplomat and politician, Ambassador to France (1968–1970), Vice Presidential nominee (1972), complications from Alzheimer's disease.
24 - David Frye, 77, American satirist and Richard Nixon impersonator, cardiopulmonary arrest.

6 - Gary Moore, 58, Irish rock guitarist and singer (Thin Lizzy), heart attack.
12 - Kenneth Mars, 75, American actor (Young Frankenstein, The Producers, The Little Mermaid), pancreatic cancer.
28 - Jane Russell, 89, American actress (The Outlaw, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), respiratory illness.


10 - Eddie Snyder, 92, American composer ("Strangers in the Night", "Spanish Eyes").
13 - (Uncle) Gene Harding, 82
18 - Warren Christopher, 85, American diplomat, Secretary of State (1993–1997), complications from kidney and bladder cancer.
21 - Theodore Green (brother-in-law), 44, cancer.
27 - DJ Megatron, 32, American disc jockey, shot.
30 - Jack Fulk, 78, American businessman, co-founder of Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits.

14 - Arthur Marx, 89, American writer, son of Groucho Marx.
17 - Michael Sarrazin, 70, Canadian actor (They Shoot Horses, Don't They?; The Flim-Flam Man; For Pete's Sake), cancer.

2 - Osama bin Laden, 54, Saudi founder of Al-Qaeda, planned September 11 attacks, shot.
3 - Jackie Cooper, 88, American actor (Skippy, Our Gang, Superman) and director (M*A*S*H).
4 - Richard Steinheimer, 81, American railroad photographer, Alzheimer's disease.
10 - Norma Zimmer, 87, American entertainer (The Lawrence Welk Show).
20 - Randy Savage, 58, American professional wrestler.
22 - Joseph Brooks, 73, American Grammy-winning songwriter ("You Light Up My Life"), suicide by asphyxiation.

3 - Andrew Gold, 59, American singer-songwriter ("Lonely Boy", "Thank You for Being a Friend"), heart attack.
3 - James Arness, 88, American actor (Gunsmoke), natural causes.
7 - Leonard B. Stern, 87, American television director, producer, and writer (Get Smart), creator of The Honeymooners, co-creator of Mad Libs.
12 - Alan Haberman, 81, American grocer, first to use the barcode system, heart and lung disease.
23 - Fred Steiner, 88, American television composer (Perry Mason, Star Trek, The Twilight Zone).
23 - Peter Falk, 83, American actor (Columbo, Murder, Inc., Pocketful of Miracles, The Princess Bride).
27 - Lura Lynn Ryan, 76, American First Lady of Illinois (1999-2003), cancer.

12 - Sherwood Schwartz, 94, American television producer, creator of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island.
20 - Mary Simpson, 85, American minister, first woman to be ordained by the American Episcopal Church.
23 - Amy Winehouse, 27, British singer-songwriter ("Rehab"), accidental alcohol poisoning.

3 - Bubba Smith, 66, American football player (Baltimore Colts) and actor (Police Academy).
22 - Nickolas Ashford, 70, American R&B singer (Ashford & Simpson) and songwriter ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), throat cancer.


6 - Michael S. Hart, 64, American author, inventor of the e-book and founder of Project Gutenberg, heart attack.
10 - Cliff Robertson, 88, American actor (Charly, Spider-Man, PT 109), natural causes.
17 - Charles H. Percy, 91, American politician, Senator from Illinois (1967–1985), Alzheimer's disease.
17 - Eleanor Mondale, 51, American television personality, daughter of Walter Mondale, brain cancer.
19 - Dolores Hope, 102, American philanthropist, widow of Bob Hope, natural causes.
20 - Arch West, 97, American marketing executive credited with developing Doritos.
27 - David Croft, 89, British television comedy writer and producer (Are You Being Served?, Dad's Army).

3 - Arthur C. Nielsen, Jr., 92, American businessman (ACNielsen), Parkinson's disease.
5 - Steve Jobs, 56, American computer entrepreneur and inventor, co-founder of Apple Inc., pancreatic cancer.
8 - Roger Williams, 87, American pianist, pancreatic cancer.
18 - Bob Brunning, 68, British blues musician (Fleetwood Mac), heart attack.
20 - Muammar Gaddafi, 69, Libyan leader (1969–2011), shot.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace....Amen.