Archive for the ‘In Memoriam’ Category

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.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (July 5-11, 2010)

Monday, July 12th, 2010


Jim Bohlen, Led in Creation of Greenpeace, Dies at 84.” By William Grimes. New York Times. July 7, 2010. Jim Bohlen, whose snap decision to sail to Amchitka Island, Alaska, to protest an underground nuclear test led to the creation of the environmental organization Greenpeace, died Monday in Comox, British Columbia. He was 84 and lived in Courtenay, British Columbia. Today Greenpeace is an international organization with more than three million members that carries out environmental campaigns through its offices in 40 countries. Bohlen was a director of Greenpeace until retiring in 1993. His memoir, “Making Waves: The Origins and Future of Greenpeace,” was published by Black Rose Books in 2000.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 14-20, 2010)

Monday, June 21st, 2010


Longtime Director of Los Angeles Philharmonic Dies.” By David Mermelstein. Wall Street Journal. June 16, 2010. Ernest Fleischmann was an imperious arts administrator who set the Los Angeles Philharmonic on its road to international renown, and helped remake Los Angeles into something beyond just a movie capital. Mr. Fleischmann, who died Sunday at age 85, was a trained conductor who found his avocation leading orchestras behind the scenes. In 1969, Mr. Fleischmann began work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, then a little-regarded, far-flung ensemble. His job involved not only managing the orchestra but also its summer home, the Hollywood Bowl, which had fallen on hard times. He reversed the Bowl’s decline by turning it into a picnickers’ paradise, replete with mass-appeal fireworks displays. But it was Mr. Fleischmann’s role as a musical impresario that constitutes his greatest legacy.
Related Story:
E. Fleischmann, Impresario of Los Angeles, Dies at 85.” New York Times. June 15, 2010.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (June 6-13, 2010)

Monday, June 14th, 2010


Getty Trust CEO Wood Dies at 69.” By Kelly Crow. Wall Street Journal. June 12, 2010. The J. Paul Getty Trust, the world’s wealthiest arts organization, said its president and chief executive, James N. Wood, died Friday. Mr. Wood was 69 and died unexpectedly of natural causes, the trust said. The trust, which has an endowment of $4.5 billion and total assets of $7.8 billion, funds the Getty Museum in Los Angeles as well as the Getty Research Institute, the Conservation Institute and the Getty Foundation. Mr. Wood joined the Getty three years ago after serving as director of the Art Institute of Chicago for 24 years. During his tenure, the Getty acquired Paul Gauguin’s “Arii Matamoe (The Royal End)” and returned a group of looted antiquities to the Italian and Greek governments. Mr. Wood is also credited with persuading the Getty’s four divisions to collaborate more closely on projects. His death could have a destabilizing effect on the Getty, which is still trying to rebuild its endowment following the recession. The trust also needs to hire a new museum director following Michael Brand’s departure in January.
Related Stories:
Getty Trust CEO James Wood dies at age 69.San Francisco Chronicle. June 12, 2010.
Former Art Institute president leaves inspiring legacy.” Chicago Tribune. June 12, 2010
James N. Wood, President of the Getty Trust, Dies at 69.” New York Times. June 14, 2010.