Archive for the ‘In Memoriam’ Category

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 11-17, 2012)

Monday, June 18th, 2012


Elinor Ostrom, Winner of Nobel in Economics, Dies at 78.” By Catherine Rampell. New York Times. June 12, 2012. Elinor Ostrom, the only woman to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science — an achievement all the more remarkable because she was not actually an economist — died on Tuesday in Bloomington, Ind. She was 78. The cause was cancer, according to Indiana University, where she taught for many years. Professor Ostrom’s work rebutted fundamental economic beliefs. But to say she was a dark horse for the 2009 economics Nobel is an understatement. Not because she was a woman — although women in the field are still rare — but because she was trained in political science. Professor Ostrom’s prizewinning work examined how people collaborate and organize themselves to manage common resources like forests or fisheries, even when governments are not involved. The research overturned the conventional wisdom about the need for government regulation of public resources. In 1973, Professor Ostrom and her husband, Vincent, who survives her, founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. It would become the first of several interdisciplinary institutions she helped shape, and a locus for her collaboration with scholars across academia, including ecologists, computer scientists and psychologists. Just as her academic habits emphasized collaboration and cooperation, so did the content of her study. Traditionally, economics taught that common ownership of resources results in excessive exploitation, as when fishermen overfish a common pond. This is the so-called tragedy of the commons, and it suggests that common resources must be managed either through privatization or government regulation, in the form of taxes, say, or limits on use. Professor Ostrom studied cases around the world in which communities successfully regulated resource use through cooperation. Her work has important applications for climate change policy today. Professor Ostrom’s research and Mr. Williamson’s related work on corporate oversight are part of a field known as institutional economics. Some economists still debate whether the field deserves a rightful place within the economics discipline. Elinor Awan was born on Aug. 7, 1933, in Los Angeles, an only child. She often spoke about how growing up in the Depression had influenced her interest in cooperative institutions. She recalled helping her family grow food in a large garden and knitting scarves for soldiers. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees — all in political science — at the University of California, Los Angeles.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 8-14, 2011)

Monday, August 15th, 2011


Remembrances: Charles Wyly 1933-2011; Software Billionaire Bankrolled Arts and GOP.” By Ann Zimmerman and Stephanie Simon. Wall Street Journal. August 9, 2011. Charles Wyly was a Dallas billionaire entrepreneur who won acclaim for his patronage of the arts, but whose business practices drew scrutiny in recent years, culminating in federal civil-fraud charges. Mr. Wyly and his younger brother, Sam, the sons of a weekly newspaper owner in rural Louisiana, amassed their fortune founding, buying, expanding and selling a slew of businesses. They were pioneers in computer software, founding University Computer Co., which they later sold for $840 million. They launched Sterling Software in 1981 and sold it 20 years later to Computer Associates Inc. for $4 billion. In 1983, they acquired a controlling stake in Michaels Stores Inc., building it into the largest arts and crafts retailer in the nation before they sold their stake in the past decade. They also founded Maverick Capital Ltd., an early hedge fund. Mr. Wyly’s business achievements lately have been overshadowed by a six-year Securities and Exchange Commission investigation that resulted in formal fraud and insider-trading charges against him and his brother last summer. The SEC alleged the brothers hid $550 million in trading profits by using an “elaborate sham system” of offshore entities. A football star at Louisiana Tech University, Mr. Wyly eventually embraced Texas and was among the top contributors to the gubernatorial and presidential campaigns of George W. Bush. He also donated heavily to the Republican National Committee. He left an indelible imprint on the Dallas arts community. He and his wife, Dee, donated $20 million to help erect a theater in 2009 that serves as one of the centerpieces of the sprawling AT&T Dallas Performing Arts Center complex downtown.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (May 2-8, 2011)

Monday, May 9th, 2011


Richard Cornuelle, Libertarian Author, Dies at 84.” By Margalit Fox. New York Times. May 3, 2011. Richard Cornuelle, a libertarian writer whose best-known book, Reclaiming the American Dream, championed volunteerism as a means of addressing social problems like poverty, unemployment, delinquency and urban blight, died on April 26 at his home in Manhattan. He was 84. Published in 1965, Reclaiming the American Dream was Mr. Cornuelle’s first book. In it, he used the phrase “independent sector” to describe the network of existing voluntary associations — foundations, churches, labor unions, trade groups and fraternal organizations — that, he argued, could marshal their resources to solve a range of contemporary ills more efficiently than government could. The book received wide attention, as did Mr. Cornuelle (pronounced cornell), whose political ideology — neither undiluted conservatism nor undiluted liberalism — defied easy classification. He was perhaps most accurately described as a classical liberal in the 19th-century sense of the term, advocating the rights of individuals while seeking to limit the reach of government. In the 1950s, Mr. Cornuelle was vice president and editorial director of the Princeton Panel, a center for the study of American capitalism; he was later executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers. He helped found several nonprofit organizations, including United Student Aid Funds (now USA Funds), which guarantees student loans. His other books include De-Managing America: The Final Revolution (1975) and Healing America (1983). Though the news media of the 1960s often described Mr. Cornuelle as a conservative, he later bristled at the term, his wife said on Friday. In any case, he took pains throughout his life to articulate his personal construction of the word. As he told Life magazine in 1968, “The notion that a conservative is indifferent to human problems is part of a myth — the same myth that says the government is the only instrument that can solve social problems.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (April 25-May 1, 2011)

Monday, May 2nd, 2011


David Wilkerson 1931 – 2011; Preacher Built Activist Ministry in New York.” By Stephen Miller. Wall Street Journal. April 30, 2011. The Rev. David Wilkerson created the longest-running show on Broadway, an 8,000-strong Pentecostal church dedicated to saving New York City’s drug addicts and prostitutes. Mr. Wilkerson, who died Wednesday at age 79, was founder of World Challenge, a nondenominational Christian ministry that has worked in more than 50 countries, with a special emphasis on young people. In 1963, Mr. Wilkerson published The Cross and the Switchblade, an autobiographical account of working with teenage gang members in New York. The book sold 15 million copies, his church claims, and in 1969 was made into a movie starring Pat Boone as Mr. Wilkerson and Erik Estrada as troubled gang leader Nicky Cruz. Teen Challenge, Mr. Wilkerson’s antidrug organization, runs nearly 1,200 drug centers, 233 of them in the U.S. A native of Hammond, Ind., Mr. Wilkerson was the son of Pentecostal ministers and attended Central Bible Institute in Springfield, Mo. He was ordained by the Assemblies of God, the same denomination that included Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Initially pastor to a congregation in bucolic central Pennsylvania, Mr. Wilkerson was inspired to undertake a more activist ministry by a 1958 Life magazine article about a murder trial involving teen gang members unfolding in New York. Mr. Wilkerson created a ministry for gang members in Brooklyn, and soon began opening satellite Teen Challenge programs in other cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago. Medical professionals were skeptical, but he claimed that 80% of those who completed the program stayed clean. Mr. Wilkerson stayed in New York until 1971, when he moved to Tyler Texas, where he founded World Challenge.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 21-27, 2011)

Monday, March 28th, 2011


Elizabeth Taylor was ‘serious about getting things done’.” By Lorena Blas. USA Today. March 24, 2011. Elizabeth Taylor exploited her fame — to do good. The star’s activism and charity work made her stand out in an industry where fame can be used to put the spotlight on causes. Taylor raised and donated millions to charities over the years. And while she won two Oscars for her performances, she also was recognized with a special Oscar at the 1993 Academy Awards, where she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Taylor received more honors for her philanthropic efforts through the years, including a Presidential Citizens Medal from outgoing President Clinton in 2001. Most recently, she was awarded (in absentia) amfAR’s Award of Courage during the organization’s annual New York Gala in February. With that award, Taylor’s work came full circle. In 1985, she co-founded amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, with Mathilde Krim, a researcher at New York’s Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center. amfAR is one of the leading non-profits supporting AIDS research, HIV prevention and awareness. Taylor’s involvement in amfAR ranks her among the top Hollywood philanthropists, says Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. And it wasn’t just what she gave, but the cause she chose. “In those days, celebrities took on safe causes. To take on AIDS was a really courageous act for a celebrity, and it took her kind of star power to draw attention to the real needs that were going on,” Palmer says.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (March 14-20, 2011)

Monday, March 21st, 2011


Kim Hill, Inspiration for Ronald McDonald House, Dies at 44.” By Daniel E. Slotnick. New York Times. March 9, 2011. Kim Hill, whose childhood battle with leukemia inspired the first Ronald McDonald House, the model for an international network of temporary housing for families of sick children, died on Saturday in Orange, Calif. She was 44. Ms. Hill first came to public attention in 1972, when her father, a former tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, held a team fund-raiser for the Leukemia Society of America in her honor. Its success — more than $10,000 was raised — prompted Mr. Hill and a neighbor, Stan Lane, to start their own charity, Eagles Fly for Leukemia, with backing by the Eagles’ owner, Leonard Tose. The housing idea was suggested by Dr. Audrey Evans at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when Mr. Hill and Mr. Lane asked her about ways to use the money they raised. She saw a need for short-term lodging near the hospital for families of cancer patients. Local McDonald’s restaurants were brought into the effort in 1974, when the Eagles reached an agreement with them to feature the quarterback Roman Gabriel and other players in a promotion for Shamrock Shakes if the franchises would donate a portion of the sales to buy a house. The chain’s regional manager later offered all the shake proceeds if the house was named after their mascot, the clown Ronald McDonald. The Eagles accepted. Ronald McDonald House Charities now operates 302 houses in 30 countries.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (January 3-9, 2010)

Monday, January 10th, 2011


Rich beyond counting with compassion for the poor; Tom White, one of Boston’s greatest philanthropists, dies at the age of 90.” By Bryan Marquard. Boston Globe. January 8, 2011. How much money did Tom White give away before he died yesterday at 90? More than $75 million over his lifetime, he estimated several years ago, but the total is difficult to gauge because he started sending checks to charities as a young man, when his savings barely topped $1,000 and he did not know his gifts would some day measure in the millions of dollars. How many lives did he save or improve? No easy answers there, either. Partners in Health, which he helped found in 1987 and to which he gave millions, has saved uncounted lives in Haiti and other developing countries where the poor die of illnesses such as drug-resistant tuberculosis and AIDS. And Mr. White contributed to dozens of other charities, nudging a seemingly endless stream of lives in new directions simply by keeping a wad of bills in his pocket. He would slip a $20 bill to the employee cleaning toilets at McDonald’s. Once, a homeless woman in Harvard Square told him her life would be better if she had a red wagon to cart redeemable bottles. She burst into tears the next day when he showed up pulling a red wagon. Mr. White, who made his fortune building J.F. White Contracting into one of Boston’s biggest companies, said that after making sure his family was taken care of financially, he set out to die as close to penniless as possible. With his family by his side, he died yesterday morning at his home in the Auburndale neighborhood of Newton. He lived his life with but a single regret. “I’m sorry I don’t have more money to give away,’’ he told the Globe in 2004.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 25-31, 2010)

Monday, November 1st, 2010


Mary Emma Allison, Who Inspired Charitable Ghouls, Dies at 93.” By Margalit Fox. New York Times. October 29, 2010. Six decades ago, on a fall afternoon, a young woman caught sight of a children’s parade. She followed the children, in bright native dress, as they wended their way through the streets of the town. They entered a store, with the woman behind them, and inside the store she encountered a cow. She followed the cow, and she came to a booth. On account of the children, the cow and the booth, the woman came up with a world-changing plan. … The booth was in Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia, and it belonged to Unicef. The parade of costumed children (and the cow) was part of a campaign to send powdered milk to needy children overseas. The woman was a schoolteacher named Mary Emma Allison. Moved by her chance encounter, she and her husband created Trick-or-Treat for Unicef, a Halloween ritual that celebrates its 60th anniversary on Sunday and has raised tens of millions of dollars for children worldwide. Mrs. Allison died on Wednesday, at 93. The death, at her home in Lowell, Ind., was announced by Unicef. In the autumn of 1949, Mrs. Allison set out with her children to buy winter coats at Wanamaker’s. Down the street came the parade. Mrs. Allison wrote an appeal for a national magazine her husband edited, which was sent to Presbyterian Sunday school teachers. Published before Halloween in 1950, the appeal asked prospective trick-or-treaters to collect coins for Unicef in milk cartons or tins. There is no accurate record of the takings that first year, but Unicef’s orange cardboard box with the coin slot, which soon supplanted the milk cartons, became a ubiquitous presence in the sticky hands of autumn.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 6-12, 2010)

Monday, September 13th, 2010


John W. Kluge, Founder of Metromedia, Dies at 95.” By Marilyn Berger. New York Times. September 8, 2010. John W. Kluge, who parlayed a small fortune from a Fritos franchise into a multibillion-dollar communications empire that made him one of the richest men in America, died on Tuesday night at a family home in Charlottesville, Va. He was 95. Mr. Kluge was the creator of Metromedia, the nation’s first major independent broadcasting entity, a conglomerate that grew to include seven television stations, 14 radio stations, outdoor advertising, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Ice Capades, radio paging and mobile telephones. An immigrant from Germany, Mr. Kluge (pronounced KLOOG-ee) came to the United States in 1922 and took his first job at the age of 10 as a payroll clerk for his stepfather in Detroit. He made his first million by the time he was 37. He made his first billion — it was actually almost two billion — in 1984, when he took Metromedia private in a $1.1 billion leveraged buyout and then liquidated the company, more than tripling his take. His philanthropy was prodigious. About a half-billion dollars went to Columbia alone, mainly for scholarships for needy and minority students. One gift, of $400 million, was to be given to the university by his estate when he died. Mr. Kluge also contributed to the restoration of Ellis Island and in 2000 gave $73 million to the Library of Congress, which established the Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanities.
Related story:
A One-Man Empire, From TV to Laundry.” Wall Street Journal. September 9, 2010.

Joan Cutler, 80, prolific fund-raiser, philanthropist.” By Bryan Marquard. Boston Globe. September 8, 2010. Joan Cutler had a phone list that fund-raisers coveted. Because her husband, Ted, was prominent in Boston’s business circles, she could scroll through numbers of the politically powerful and the region’s wealthiest families — those who form the foundation of charitable organizations statewide. The Cutlers themselves made numerous significant financial contributions to a host of causes, but Mrs. Cutler’s biggest donation was her persuasiveness. “For all that they gave, which was a lot, she multiplied that several times over,’’ said Irwin Chafetz, a philanthropist and business partner of Ted Cutler. “This woman was always calling. She was part of everything.’’ Mrs. Cutler, who worked behind the scenes for scores of organizations and lent her name to charitable concerns supporting medical research, the arts, and the impoverished, died Monday after suffering a heart attack while at her family’s home in Falmouth. She was 80 and had lived in Boston’s Back Bay. “Joan was a spectacular woman and a leader in Boston’s philanthropic community,’’ the mayor said. “From her tireless support of the arts to handing out turkeys for Thanksgiving meals, Joan’s dedication was incomparable and her work has helped make our city a brighter and more beautiful place to live.’’

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 9-15, 2010)

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010


Angels in America.” By Frank Rich. Op-ed. New York Times. August 14, 2010. To appreciate how much and how unexpectedly our country can change, look no further than the life and times of Judith Dunnington Peabody, who died on July 25 at 80 in her apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York. The proper names in her biographical sketch suggest a stereotype from a bygone New Yorker cartoon: Miss Hewitt’s Classes, the Ethel Walker School, Bryn Mawr, the Junior League. She “was introduced to society,” as they said of debutantes back then, at the Piping Rock Club, Locust Valley, N.Y., in 1947. As the fashionable wife of Samuel P. Peabody in the decades to follow, she shared the society pages with Pat Buckley, Babe Paley and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. But to quote Tracy Lord, the socialite played by Katharine Hepburn in the classic high-society movie comedy “The Philadelphia Story,” “The time to make up your mind about people is never.” In 1985, Judith Peabody, a frequent contributor to the traditional good causes favored by those of her class, did the unthinkable by volunteering to work as a hands-on caregiver to AIDS patients and their loved ones. Those patients were then mostly gay men, and, as Guy Trebay recently wrote in The Times, they were “treated not with compassion but as bearers of plague.” There was no drug regimen to combat AIDS, and there were many panicky rumors about how its death sentence could be spread through casual contact. People of all types and political persuasions shunned dying gay men even as they treated healthy gay men and lesbians as, at best, second-class citizens. The Times did not put the mysterious disease on Page 1 until after the casualty rate exceeded 500 and didn’t start covering it in earnest until Rock Hudson died of AIDS three years after that. In 1985, the term “gay” itself was an untouchable for writers in this newspaper. Thanks to Peabody’s prominence, her example had a discernible effect in beating back ignorance and fear in New York. But 25 years ago, few could have imagined a larger narrative that might lead to full civil rights for gay Americans.