ROY SCHEIDER, ACTOR IN ‘JAWS’
Mr. Scheider’s rangy figure, gaunt face and emotional openness made him particularly appealing in everyman roles, most famously as the agonized police chief of “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg’s 1975 breakthrough hit, about a New England resort town haunted by the knowledge that a killer shark is preying on the local beaches.
Mr. Scheider conveyed an accelerated metabolism in movies like “Klute” (1971), his first major film role, in which he played a threatening pimp to Jane Fonda’s New York call girl; and in William Friedkin’s “French Connection” (also 1971), as Buddy Russo, the slightly more restrained partner to Gene Hackman’s marauding police detective, Popeye Doyle. That role earned Mr. Scheider the first of two Oscar nominations.
Born in 1932 in Orange, N.J., Mr. Scheider earned his distinctive broken nose in the New Jersey Diamond Gloves Competition. He studied at Rutgers and at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., where he graduated as a history major with the intention of going to law school. He served three years in the United States Air Force, rising to the rank of first lieutenant. When he was discharged, he returned to Franklin and Marshall to star in a production of “Richard III.”
His professional debut was as Mercutio in a 1961 New York Shakespeare Festival production of “Romeo and Juliet.” While continuing to work onstage, he made his movie debut in “The Curse of the Living Corpse” (1964), a low-budget horror film by the prolific schlockmeister Del Tenney. “He had to bend his knees to die into a moat full of quicksand up in Connecticut,” recalled Ms. Siemer, a documentary filmmaker. “He loved to demonstrate that.”
In 1977 Mr. Scheider worked with Mr. Friedkin again in “Sorcerer,” a big-budget remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 French thriller, “The Wages of Fear,” about transporting a dangerous load of nitroglycerine in South America.
“Jaws 2” failed to recapture the appeal of the first film, but Mr. Scheider bounced back, accepting the principal role in Bob Fosse’s autobiographical phantasmagoria of 1979, “All That Jazz.” Equipped with Mr. Fosse’s Mephistophelean beard and manic drive, Mr. Scheider’s character, Joe Gideon, gobbled amphetamines in an attempt to stage a new Broadway show while completing the editing of a film (and pursuing a parade of alluring young women) — a monumental act of self-abuse that leads to open-heart surgery. This won Mr. Scheider an Academy Award nomination in the best actor category. (Dustin Hoffman won that year, for “Kramer vs. Kramer.”)
In 1980, Mr. Scheider returned to his first love, the stage, where his performance in a production of Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” opposite Blythe Danner and Raul Julia earned him the Drama League of New York award for distinguished performance. Although he continued to be active in films, notably in Robert Benton’s “Still of the Night” (1982) and John Badham’s action spectacular “Blue Thunder” (1983), he moved from leading men to character roles, including an American spy in Fred Schepisi’s “Russia House” (1990) and a calculating Mafia don in “Romeo Is Bleeding” (1993).
Living in Sag Harbor, Mr. Scheider continued to appear in films and lend his voice to documentaries, becoming, Ms. Siemer said, increasingly politically active. With the poet Kathy Engle, he helped to found the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, dedicated to creating an innovative, culturally diverse learning environment for local children. At the time of his death, Mr. Scheider was involved in a project to build a film studio in Florence, Italy, for a series about the history of the Renaissance.
Besides his wife, his survivors include two children, Christian Verrier Scheider and Molly Mae Scheider; a brother, Glenn Scheider of Summit, N.J.; and two grandchildren. Another daughter, Maximillia Connelly Lord, from an earlier marriage, to Cynthia Bebout, predeceased him.
Correction: February 13, 2008
Roy Scheider erroneously included the daughter from his first marriage among his survivors. The daughter, Maximillia Connelly Lord, died in 2006. The obituary also misspelled the surname of Mr. Scheider’s wife. She is Brenda Siemer, not Seimer.
That year, he was hired by Hawaiian Airlines, which was then troubled, to turn the company around as its president and chief executive. In 1964, he was hired by Eastern Airlines and eventually served as its president and chief executive.
In 1974, President Richard M. Nixon appointed Mr. Lewis to his post at the railway association. After three years with the group, he turned his attention to another struggling mode of transportation, the intercity bus industry, when he became head of its trade group, the American Bus Association.
He also helped found two airlines: Mid Pacific Airlines, which operated during the 1980s in Hawaii, and U.S. Africa Airways Inc., which operated briefly in the mid-1990s, providing service between Washington and the South African cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Lewis is survived by a son, Gregory, of Chevy Chase, Md.; a daughter, Kimberly K. Lewis Gibson, of Vienna, Va.; a sister; and five grandchildren.
DAVID GROH OF ‘RHODA’
Reviewing the play, Frank Rich called Mr. Groh “completely convincing as the brash gold-chain-and-bikini-clad Lothario.”
David Lawrence Groh was born on May 21, 1939, in Brooklyn, where he attended Brooklyn Technical High School. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University, studied acting in London on a Fulbright scholarship and served in the Army in 1963 and 1964.
He appeared in the Broadway productions of “Chapter Two” in 1978 and “The Twilight of the Golds” in 1993.
His television roles included recurring appearances on “Law & Order,” “Baywatch” and “Girlfriends.” His many guest-star appearances included roles on “The X-Files,” “Melrose Place,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “L.A. Law.”
His film credits included “Get Shorty” (1995) and “Victory at Entebbe” (1976), and in recent years he starred in several independent films.
Mr. Groh is survived by his wife, Kristin Andersen; his son, Spencer; his mother, Mildred Groh of the Los Angeles area; and his sister, Marilyn Mamann of the San Fernando Valley.
BABA AMTE, ADVOCATE FOR LEPERS
Mr. Amte, who was trained as a lawyer, turned from an early life of hunting, playing sports, driving fancy cars and writing film reviews to working with the poor of his country, but his direction was irrevocably determined by an encounter with a destitute leper. After that, he gave up his father’s huge estate and dedicated himself to the service of lepers. To the end of his life, he worked, marched and protested for better treatment for them and the rest of India’s least powerful.
Murlidhar Devidas Amte — later known by the honorific “baba” — was born on Dec. 24, 1914, in Hingaighat in Maharashtra, the eldest son of an affluent Brahmin landlord. His life was privileged, but even in his youth, Mr. Amte rebelled against injustice and discrimination on the basis of birth, caste and creed. Despite his parents’ disapproval, he often ate with servants and played with lower-caste children.
After earning a bachelor’s degree, Mr. Amte went to law school at the request of his father, who gave him a sports car with panther-skin seat covers. He graduated in 1936.
Mr. Amte was inspired by the ideas of Marx and Mao, John Ruskin and the anarchist Pyotr Kropotkin. Drawn to the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore because of his poetry and music, Mr. Amte visited Mr. Tagore at his ashram in Calcutta.
But he was definitively influenced by Gandhi’s ideals of simplicity and truth and his fight against injustice. He spent time at Gandhi’s ashram in Sevagram, took part in his movement to get the British to leave India in 1942 and organized lawyers to defend the movement’s jailed leaders. He was also arrested and imprisoned.
Seeing grim poverty in and around his father’s large estate, he gave up his lucrative law practice in his early 30s and began working with untouchable sweepers and night soil carriers. He let his hair and fingernails grow and took a vow of celibacy.
That vow ended one day when he saw Indu Ghuleshastri quietly slip away from her sister’s wedding festivities to help an elderly maid wash clothes.
“I told her parents that I was the suitable groom for her,” he said. The two married in 1946.
Besides his son Vikas and his wife, he is survived by another son, Prakash, and a daughter, Sheetal.
Mr. Amte and Indu, renamed Sadhna after their marriage, set up a labor ashram near Warora. In 1947, they were joined by a poor Brahmin family who knew something about agriculture, a shoemaker, an umbrella repairer and a few untouchable families. Mr. Amte even worked for about a year as a scavenger, carrying away baskets of human waste.
One rainy night on his way home, he saw a leper named Tulshiram lying naked by the road. Horrified by the sight of his fingerless and maggot-ridden body and fearing infection, Mr. Amte at first ran home, but he returned when his conscience got the better of him, fed the man with his own hands and gave him shelter for the short remainder of his life.
After that, Mr. Amte read voraciously about leprosy and worked at the Warora leprosy clinic. He took a course on leprosy at the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine in 1949 and even let his body be used for an unsuccessful experiment in growing leprosy germs.
In 1951, he established his own commune for lepers, called Anandvan, on rocky land in Maharashtra State that was covered with scrubby vegetation and infested with scorpions and snakes. The nearest well was more than a mile away. With help from his wife, their young sons, six leprosy patients and a lame cow and a dog, he turned the barren place into a thick forest.
Later, 50 young volunteers from dozens of countries would work for three-month stints at Anandvan, which became the nerve center of Mr. Amte’s relentless crusade. His goal was to help leprosy patients become self-confident and capable of cooperative and creative leadership. By the 1950s, with a newly discovered sulfone drug for leprosy available, he began treating patients in more than 60 villages around Warora.
Despite having a back ailment later in his life, Mr. Amte took part in long protest marches for causes including environmentalism, religious tolerance, peace and justice. He was a supporter of India’s indigenous tribes and opposed the construction of a “super dam” project on one of India’s largest rivers; it eventually destroyed many villages.
To the end of his life, he emulated Gandhi in wearing homespun and living a simple life while working for village industry and the empowerment of ordinary people.
In addition to the Templeton Prize, which he won in 1990, his awards included the 1988 United Nations Human Rights Prize.
(Above articles courtesy of The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com )
HARRY LANDIS, ONE OF LAST WWI VETERANS
Another World War I vet, Ohioan J. Russell Coffey, died in December at 109. The last known German World War I veteran, Erich Kaestner, died New Year’s Day at 107.
Landis trained as a U.S. Army recruit for 60 days at the end of the war and never went overseas. But the VA counts him among the 4.7 million men and woman who served during the Great War.
The last time all known U.S. veterans of a war died was Sept. 10, 1992, when Spanish-American War veteran Nathan E. Cook passed away at age 106.
In an interview with The Associated Press in April in his Sun City Center apartment, Landis recalled that his time in the Student Army Training Corps involved a lot of marching. VA records show his entry date into the service was Oct. 14, 1918.
“I don’t remember too much about it,” said Landis, who enlisted while in college in Fayette, Mo., at age 18. “We went to school in the afternoon and drilled in the morning.”
They often drilled in their street clothes.
“We got our uniforms a bit at a time. Got the whole uniform just before the war ended,” Landis said. “Fortunately, we got our great coats first. It was very cold out there.
He told reporters in earlier interviews that he spent a lot of time cleaning up a makeshift sick ward and caring for recruits sickened by an influenza pandemic.
When asked whether he had wanted to get into the fight, Landis said, “No.”
When the war ended on Nov. 11, 1918, Landis recalled a final march with his unit.
“We went down through the girls college, marching down the street. We got down to the courthouse square and there was a wall around this courthouse. We got to the wall and (the drill instructor) didn’t know what to do and we were hup, two, three, four, hup, two, three, four,” Landis said, laughing at the memory. “Finally, we jumped up on the wall and kept going until we got to the courthouse — hup, two, three, four — and he said dismissed.”
He said he and some fellow recruits piled into a car to go to the next town.
“What we did there, why we were there, I couldn’t tell you,” Landis said.
He signed up to fight the Germans again in 1941, but at age 42 was rejected as too old.
“I registered, but that’s all there was to it,” Landis said.
“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. Landis,” said LeRoy Collins Jr., executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. “He was the last World War I-era veteran in Florida, and with his passing we say goodbye to a generation.”
Landis was born in 1899 in Marion County, Mo.
After the war, he was a manager at S.S. Kresge Co., which later became Kmart, in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Dayton, Ohio. His fondest memory was taking golf vacations with three friends and their families, a tradition that ended more than five decades ago with the death of his best friend.
“We really looked forward to getting our old foursome together and going somewhere for a couple of weeks,” Landis said. “Sadly, my favorite best friend lived until he was only 60 years old. We were like brothers. We could talk about business, serious things and we could act like a couple of kids.”
Landis retired to Florida’s warmer climate in 1988 and lived in an assisted living center with his wife of 30 years, Eleanor.
His first wife, Eunice, died after 46 years of marriage. Landis had no children. He said he enjoyed a good game of golf until his health kept him off the course.
Landis laughed when asked the secret to his longevity.
“Just keep swinging,” he said.
GREG VINSON, RAISED MONEY TO AID DISABLED CHILDREN
HISD TEACHER DEDICATED LIFE TO HELPING CHILDREN
Greg Vinson , 35, raised money to aid disabled children despite his many physical problems
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
“He was just such an amazing soul that it just affected everyone,” said his brother, Eric Vinson, of Austin. “He had the purest heart, and he was so selfless in the way he gave. He always gave a whole lot more than he ever got from anyone.”
Unlimited by illness
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was just 10 months old, Vinson also had hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, hypertension and osteoporosis. Despite his illnesses, Vinson worked to keep himself in top physical condition, biking 4,000 miles from Virginia to Oregon one summer.He used an insulin pump while he exercised, slowing periodically to check his glucose levels.
Keeping his body in balance was a constant battle, requiring him to carefully plan when he took medication, ate, exercised and slept.
Friends started to worry Monday morning when the always-predictable Vinson didn’t show up for work.
“All it takes is a small mistake,” said longtime neighbor and fellow HISD teacher Al Bartell, who recalled finding Vinson either sick or passed out because of his diabetes on other occasions. “We’ve had several close calls.”
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, while his father served in the Navy, Vinson graduated from then-McCullough High School in The Woodlands and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Pomona College in California.
He worked a few years in Chicago before joining HISD’s Outdoor Education Center, a camp visited by thousands of HISD fifth-graders each year to learn about nature. Vinson later earned his teaching certificate at Stephen F. Austin University.
Vinson finished the Houston Marathon nine times since 1999. He took pledges for the Kerrville-based Texas Lions Camp, using the money he raised to buy computers and digital cameras for the camp that he had attended as a student and a counselor.
“His entire life was dedicated toward service,” Bartell said. “Everything he did was thoughtful.”
In 2001, Vinson was the last official finisher of the Houston Marathon, clocking in at 5 hours, 31 minutes and 55 seconds. By 2005, he had shaved more than an hour off his time.
Austin teacher Lori Davis, who worked as a camp counselor with Vinson more than a decade ago, said she will run in next year’s marathon to raise money for the Lions Camp.
“I have to do it,” she said. “I will carry on his tradition and will let his memory live on.”
‘An amazing person’
Vinson dedicated most of his life to helping kids. He taught them to enjoy the outdoors, to eat right and to take care of their bodies, friends said.”He just had a light within him,” Davis said. “The world is now missing an amazing person.”
Vinson died Feb. 2.
He is survived by his parents, Lance and Marilyn Vinson; brother Eric Vinson; and his 4-year-old nephew, Jack Vinson. He’s also survived by his grandfather, Harrie Whitney; his uncle Mark Vinson; and his aunt and uncle, Anne and Richard Willhardt.
Memorial services will be planned later at both the Outdoor Education Center in Trinity and at the Texas Lion’s Camp in Kerrville. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be sent to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation or to the Texas Lions Camp.
Anyone who would like to be contacted with details for those services should e-mail Eric Vinson at email@example.com.
GORDON MCKAY, NASA RESEARCHER
NASA SCIENTIST STUDIED MOON, PLANETS
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
“Gordon became interested in space because of my interest in space, plus while working on the lunar rocks,” David McKay said.
Gordon McKay was the division chief in charge of research for the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science.
His research centered on how the core of the moon and planets formed. He worked for NASA for nearly 30 years.
McKay also served on the City Council in the late 1990s for the Clear Lake-area community of El Lago, where he resided. He also was active for many years with the Seabrook Sailing Club and enjoyed sailing on Clear Lake and Galveston Bay.
McKay was known as the gadget person in his family because of his collection of electronics and computers.
“The last time I was at his house, he had six remotes on his coffee table,” David McKay said. His brother, he said, also collected albums and enjoyed listening to the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones.
Gordon McKay was born Sept. 26, 1945, in Titusville, Pa., to Donald and
RAYMOND JACOBS, LAST IWO JIMA FLAG RAISER
Newspaper accounts from the time show he was on the mountain during the initial raising of a smaller American flag, though he had returned to his unit by the time the more famous AP photograph was taken of a second flag-raising later the same day.
The radioman’s face isn’t fully visible in the photograph taken of the first flag-raising by Lou Lowery, a photographer for Leatherneck magazine, leading some veterans to question Jacobs’ claim. However, other negatives from the same roll of film show the radioman is Jacobs, said retired Col. Walt Ford, editor of Leatherneck.
Annette Amerman, a historian with the Marine Corps History Division, said in an e-mailed statement “there are many that believe” Jacobs was the radioman. “However, there are no official records produced at the time that can prove or refute Mr. Jacobs’ location.”
Jacobs was honorably discharged in 1946. He was called up during the Korean conflict in 1951 before retiring as a sergeant, his daughter said.
Jacobs retired in 1992 from KTVU-TV in Oakland, Calif., where he worked 34 years as a reporter, anchor and news director.
(Above articles courtesy of the Houston Chronicle: http://www.chron.com )