May 27, 2020

Alli Gerkman, Lawyer Who Worked To Reform Legal System, Buried In Michigan

OLD MISSION PENINSULA, MI — On a sun-bright day, with a breeze that stirred leaves and a hawk that wheeled overhead, family and friends paid their respects and laid Alli Gerkman to rest yesterday. In a graceful ceremony of poetry, letters, love, and song, about 50 people gathered in a small cemetery here to honor a life cut short by cancer, but filled with Alli’s courage, and distinctive spirit, her humor and splendid judgment. Alli’s …

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Gina Lopez, Philippines Environment Secretary Who Closed Polluting Mines, Is Dead

Only the good die young. I learned today that Gina Lopez, the former Philippines environment secretary, died today of brain cancer at the age of 65. Two years ago, on assignment for Mongabay and China Dialogue, I spent several weeks with Gina in the Philippines as she fought to preserve her position in the face of reckless opposition from that country’s mining industry. She’d ordered most of the country’s open pit mines shut down because …

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Steve Sawyer, A Titan of Environmental Activism

Steve Sawyer, one of the great environmental activists and strategists of our era, died July 31 from cancer. It came as a shock. Steve was a classmate at Haverford College, a friend for 45 years, and a heroic figure to me in our shared allegiance to safeguard Mother Earth. Though his years were too short, what he accomplished in 63 has few peers. He was an important figure in stirring attention to the Earth’s deteriorating …

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Marian Gyr, Benzonia’s Grand Lady, Lived 97 Storied Years

BENZONIA, MI — For a long while, many years in fact, Marian Gyr disdained the mobility afforded by motorized vehicles. She walked. Everywhere. Even in the blowing snow and drifts of winter. Everybody I know here in our little village, on a rise close to Lake Michigan, has a Marian Gyr walking story. She was well into her 80s, with two reconstructed hips, and still walking far from where she slept. How many times — …

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Dennis Pace Loved His Life in Benzie County

I looked back in my photo archive to find a picture of Dennis Pace, my dear friend who died last week. I found I’d photographed Dennis solely in the winter while we skied or skated. Strange since Dennis and I spent a lot of time together during every other season, as well. He was a bike rider, a soccer and basketball and tennis player. We ran the Sleeping Bear dune trails and sailed on Crystal …

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Farewell To My Dear Friend Andy Feinman

Andrew Feinman, my dear friend, died on May 11 at the age of 61 following a long struggle with prostate cancer. It amazes me to write that sentence. It’s confounding. Andy Feinman is life to me. His life. Mine. His birthday in April followed mine by five days. Our lives tied together for 56 years. All that trust and knowing. His big heart and fabulous big brass section laugh. His distinctive mix of stubbornness and …

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Martin Herbert Schneider — A Fabulous Life

The mortality files of the city of New York, the city that he loved and where he of spent most of his life, will formally record that Martin Herbert Schneider was born on March 30, 1924 and died on December 13, 2013. Those are the statistical facts. But what actually happened is that Martin died two days earlier. He stood on the corner of 59th Street and Madison Avenue, ready to board the bus. A …

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Jack Kevorkian Dies — Without Assist; The NYT Obit

Jack Kevorkian met death on Friday without any assist. Three years ago I wrote his advance obituary for the New York Times, which published it on the front page on Saturday. Kevorkian was an odd and immodest man of scant talent who became a signpost of his time principally by being an untiring zealot. He lived alone. He had no other responsibilities other than himself. That made it possible for Kevorkian to focus such uncompromising …

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Ted Bruce’s Life Honored in Benzie County

Late on Sunday, the day I planned to write this tribute to Ted Bruce, the nation learned that Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden in a daring midnight raid in Pakistan.  It was a rare moment, the first time in my life that death presented itself in such fickle and unexpected garb. One moment I’m saddened by the illogical death of a 60-year-old friend who I’ve known for 21 years as the generous and hard-working …

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Judy Feder, My Friend, Dies at 53

Along the avenue of beautiful women Judy Feder, who died yesterday at 53, never failed to attract notice. It wasn’t just her slender waist and long lashes, her red hair and porcelain skin, her knowing smile and flashing eyes. That all helped, of course. Those drawn into Judy’s field of gravity became aware of another dimension to her loveliness — her spirit, which moved at its own pace and was adorned with words like this: …

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