LENA GUERRERO, RAILROAD COMMISSION PIONEER
First woman, minority to serve faced résumé scandal
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle Austin Bureau
AUSTIN — Lena Guerrero, who became the first woman and the first minority to serve on the Texas Railroad Commission but saw her political career unravel over a misstated résumé, died overnight following a long struggle with cancer, friends said Thursday.
She was 50.
A native of Mission in the Rio Grande Valley, Guerrero began working in political campaigns while a student at the University of Texas at Austin. She was still in her 20s when she was elected from Austin to a seat in the Texas House and 33 when then-Gov. Ann Richards named her to fill a mid-term vacancy on the Railroad Commission.
Her appointment to the previously all-male, all-Anglo oil and natural gas regulatory body was one of the first acts of Richards’ new Democratic administration and symbolized a “New Texas” that Richards said she was trying to promote.
But Guerrero’s political career crashed in 1992 after it was revealed that she had lied about having graduated from UT-Austin. After resigning from the commission, she tried to regain her seat in the election that year but lost to Republican Barry Williamson.
Guerrero later completed her degree requirements and began a lobby practice in Austin.
Diagnosed in 2000
In a 1998 interview with the Houston Chronicle, Guerrero acknowledged she had made serious mistakes during her resignation ordeal.
“I don’t mean to say it wasn’t real and it didn’t hurt,” she said. “But I have learned. And if you can’t learn and go on and you dwell too much in the past, then you’re really wasting your present.”
Guerrero was diagnosed with two malignant brain tumors in 2000 and began “proton beam therapy” at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California. A friend, lobbyist Mignon McGarry, said Guerrero went to California for treatment after being advised by physicians at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston that she would be dead within two years.
“She just decided to fight it,” McGarry said, noting she lived long enough to see her son, Leo G. Aguirre, graduate from high school and begin a baseball career at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.
Gov. Rick Perry, who served with Guerrero in the House and who won her re-election endorsement in 2006, directed that flags at the state Capitol and other state buildings be flown at half-staff in her memory. He said she was a “bright, passionate woman who worked hard to represent the interests of her constituents.”
Former Speaker Pete Laney agreed.
“I don’t think there was anyone who was more passionate about their service in the Legislature or (about) their constituents and beliefs,” Laney said.
Guerrero served in the Texas House for six years. She made Texas Monthly’s 10 Best Legislators list in 1989. She also received favorable publicity in national publications such as Newsweek and USA Today and was awarded a speaking slot at the 1992 Democratic National Convention.
Then the résumé problem erupted.
With tenacity and humor
In a statement issued by former Guerrero aide J. Thomas Stewart, her family called Guerrero a “champion.”
“She dealt with the struggles in her personal life in the same way she dealt with those in her public life — with tenacity, vigor and a sense of humor that we will miss more than words can say,” the statement said.
A visitation will be held today at 6:30 p.m. at Mission Funeral Home, 6204 S. First in Austin, followed by a rosary at 7:30 p.m. A funeral Mass is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 1206 E. Ninth. Burial will be in the Texas State Cemetery.
Guerrero is survived by her son and her husband, Lionel “Leo” Aguirre.
(Article courtesy of the Houston Chronicle: http://www.chron.com )
GRANVILLE SAWYER, EX-TSU PRESIDENT LED SCHOOL IN WAKE OF ’67 CAMPUS RIOT
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Granville M. Sawyer, a former president of Texas Southern University who took the school’s helm in the wake of a 1967 campus riot, has died. He was 88.
The riot, in which a Houston police officer was killed, figured in the resignation of Sawyer’s predecessor, Joseph A. Pierce.
Because Sawyer had a “student-centered philosophy,” it was fortunate that he came to TSU when he did, said James Race, a retired dean and biology professor at the university.
Sawyer had an open-door approach and included students in staff-planning conferences, Race said.
“Dr. Sawyer had a close relationship with the students, and they thought highly of him,” said Glenn Lewis, a Fort Worth lawyer and chairman of the TSU board of regents.”I look back at my contemporaries who attended TSU in Sawyer’s time, and most of them have done very well. I can’t help but think that to some extent, they owe that to him, because he was running the school at the time.”
With minority enrollment rising at what had been white universities, Sawyer confronted questions during his tenure about the future of TSU, which had been founded as a school for African-Americans. Rumors that TSU might merge with the University of Houston persisted.
In 1973, Sawyer’s concept of “an urban university” led the Texas Legislature to designate TSU “a special purpose institution for urban programming.”
“He did an excellent job in presenting our case to legislators,” said Llayron Clarkson, a former professor of mathematics and administrator at TSU.
Sawyer “liked the fine arts and did what he could to expose the students to classical music,”Clarkson said. Sawyer also was responsible for improving the university marching band, he said.
In 1969 Sawyer recruited Benjamin Butler as director of the TSU band. At the time, the band had about 40 members compared with 150 to 200 at other colleges in the Southwest, Butler said.
Because the repertory of the band was mainly military, Sawyer wanted to broaden its range. He suggested a name for the band that it still bears: the Ocean of Soul, Butler said.
Sawyer’s presidency ended in 1979 amid complaints that he had lost control of routine operations.
In 2003, an auditorium on the TSU campus was named in Sawyer’s honor.
Granville Monroe Sawyer was born in Mobile, Ala., on May 7, 1919. He attended public schools in his hometown and spent four years in the Air Force during World War II. He was in pilot training when he was honorably discharged in 1946.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in English and speech with distinction from what is now Tennessee State University in Nashville. At the University of Southern California, Sawyer received a master’s degree in 1952 and a doctorate in 1955, both in speech science.
Sawyer died April 12 in a Houston convalescent center. His wife, Maxine Young Sawyer, died in 2007.
Survivors include a son, Granville M. Sawyer Jr. of Bethesda, Md.; a daughter, Patrecia West of West Orange, N.J.; a brother, Harold Sawyer of New York City; and four sisters, Dorothy Powell, Anna Willis, Tina Carson, and Elloween Henderson, all of Detroit, Mich.
A memorial service is scheduled for June 7 on the TSU campus.
AL WILSON, SOUL SINGER
FONTANA, Calif. — Al Wilson, the soul singer and songwriter who had a number of 1970s hits including “Show and Tell,” has died. He was 68.
Wilson died Monday of kidney failure at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fontana, according to his son, Tony Wilson of Yucaipa.
“He was always singing,” his son said. “He would call me in the middle of the night with a new song that he had written.”
Wilson was born on June 19, 1939, in Meridian, Miss. He sang in the church choir as a boy and had his own spiritual singing quartet. His family moved to San Bernardino in 1958 and he found work as a mail carrier, office clerk and janitor.
He toured for four years with the group Johnny “Legs” Harris and the Statesmen before joining the Navy. Following a two-year stint, he moved to Los Angeles and played with the Jewels and their successor group, the Rollers. A drummer, he also worked with the instrumental group the Souls.
In 1966, he was spo tted by manager Marc Gordon, who introduced him to singer Johnny Rivers, who signed him to his Soul City label. Wilson’s first single, “The Snake” in 1968, was a hit and was followed by “Do What You Gotta Do.”
“Show and Tell” was released in 1973 and the next year was No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 chart.
Wilson charted with several other 1970s singles, including “La La Peace Song,” “I’ve Got a Feeling (We’ll Be Seeing Each Other Again)” and “Count the Days.”
In later years he continued to tour clubs in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
In addition to his son, Wilson is survived by his wife, Patricia; daughters Alene Harris and Sharon Burley; a brother, Eddie Wilson; sisters Lottie Ross, Ruby Conyers and Maebell Cole, and 13 grandchildren.
Copyright 2008 Associated Press.
GERMAINE TILLION, FRENCH ANTHROPOLOGIST AND RESISTANCE FIGHTER
Germaine Tillion, a major figure in contemporary French thought who used experiences studying peasants on the edge of the Sahara, fighting Nazis and surviving a concentration camp as compelling intellectual fodder, died on Saturday at her home in St.-Mande, France
. She was 100.
Stephane de Sakutin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Germaine Tillion in 2004, after Germany named her Commander of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic.
Her death was announced by the Web site of her association.
Ms. Tillion, an anthropologist, lived through moments of high drama, including being arrested by the Gestapo on Aug. 13, 1942, for her role in the formation of the French Resistance. The charges against her included five that could have led to the death penalty.
At Ravensbrück, a concentration camp for women in eastern Germany where she spent three years, she learned that she had been designated to disappear without a trace, with the label NN, under Hitler
’s Nacht und Nebel (night and fog) decree on the fate of Resistance workers. She survived, but her mother, who was picked up for hiding a British airman, died in a gas chamber at Ravensbrück in 1945. She was selected for death for having white hair.
After the war, Ms. Tillion was drawn into the biggest controversy in France in the 1950s, the Algerian demand for independence from France and the French opposition. In the summer of 1957, Saadi Yacef, a leader of the Algerian forces, asked to meet with her. After two and a half hours of conversation, Mr. Yacef said, “You see that we are neither criminals nor murderers.”
As described in her book “France and Algeria: Complementary Enemies,” printed in English in 1961, Ms. Tillion “sadly, but firmly” answered, “You are murderers.”
Ms. Tillion emerged as an important public intellectual in the 1950s and ’60s, when thinkers like Raymond Aron and Jean-Paul Sartre
passionately debated the issue of Algeria. She argued that the French had a responsibility not to allow Algerians to sink into poverty, and that they therefore should retain some kind of ties with what was then their colony.
But she delved into her past to recall “specters of the Gestapo” in becoming one of the first and loudest voices to protest French torture of Algerian prisoners.
As quoted in The New York Times in 1958, Albert Camus
, a native Algerian, wrote of Ms. Tillion: “No one, either in Algeria or throughout the world, can henceforth discuss the Algerian problem without having read what an understanding and cultivated woman has written about my misunderstood, desperate native land, now stirred by a heart-rending hope.”
Ms. Tillion mined her experiences to write two books on Algeria, three versions of her book on Ravensbrück and an influential study of the condition of women in the Mediterranean world, among many other works. At her death, she was honorary director of the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris.
In recent years, as France still wrestles with ghosts from past wars, she has been the subject of biographies, exhibitions, conferences and films. Her moral authority and clarity of intellect eventually gave her “the status of a sage,” wrote Tzvetan Todorov, a philosopher and student of 20th-century totalitarianism.
In an interview with French Politics, Culture and Society in 2004, Mr. Todorov said that whenever he faced a thorny question, he asked himself, “What would Germaine do?”
Ms. Tillion was one of France’s most decorated people. Her awards included the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, which only four other women have received. On her 100th birthday, President Nicolas Sarkozy
wrote her a letter expressing “the affection of the entire nation.”
Germaine Marie Rosine Tillion was born in Allègre, France, on May 30, 1907. Her father was a judge and her mother was a writer. She studied anthropology at the University of Paris and other schools, and in the 1930s conducted four research missions to study Berbers and other groups in northeastern Algeria.
She returned to Paris after Germany invaded France in 1940. She quickly fell in with intellectuals at the Museum of Man who were forming one of the first underground groups to resist the Nazis. Of the four leaders, she was the only one who was not killed.
Denounced by a priest, she was deported to Ravensbrück. During short breaks from building a road, she taught other prisoners a course on the history of man. She also painstakingly figured out the precise economics of how the SS profited from slave labor. “Paltry shopkeepers of death,” she called the SS.
At night, she scratched into the wall her plan to reform primary education in France after liberation, David Schoenbrun wrote in “Soldiers of the Night: The Story of the French Resistance” (1980).
Among Ms. Tillion’s great sorrows was the Nazis’ confiscation of a suitcase with years of anthropological research notes when they arrested her, according to published reports.
A greater sorrow was seeing mothers being made to watch the drowning of their babies in buckets, she wrote. When liberated by Russian soldiers in April 1945, she carried undeveloped photos made with a smuggled camera, which she had hidden for years, showing women’s legs scarred by Nazi medical experiments.
After the war, Ms. Tillion became a strong spokeswoman for the heroism of Resistance fighters in the face of evidence that many French had collaborated with the occupiers. Two groups of former Ravensbrück prisoners chose her to be their representative at trials of camp administrators.
In an interview with the journal History and Memory in 2003, she said criminal trials could not address the acts of those living in a society in which crimes were not an aberration. She said she saw “the deepening of the abyss being dug between what really happened and the uncertain re-presentation we call history.”
Ms. Tillion’s biographer, Jean Lacouture, called her a “major witness of our century,” but she was more than a witness. She appealed to François Mitterrand
when he was minister of the interior to send her back to Algeria to be an advocate for the people she had studied in remote areas.
Her political role grew after unnamed people asked to speak with her about a brochure she had written. Their leader turned out to be Mr. Yacef of Algeria’s National Liberation Front. After they met a second time, the violence stopped, as he had promised, and did not resume until he was arrested.
Ms. Tillion, who did not marry or have children, wrote an operetta, “A Camp Worker Goes to Hell,” while in the concentration camp. It was first performed in Paris last year by a professional troupe. She had kept it in a drawer for 60 years because she worried that “people would get the wrong idea and think we were enjoying ourselves.”
The sheer darkness of the humor makes that unlikely. A character joked that the camp offers “all the creature comforts — water, gas, electricity — especially gas.”
JOY PAGE, A NEWLYWED IN THE FILM ‘CASABLANCA’
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Joy Page, the stepdaughter of Jack L. Warner, a president of the Warner Brothers studio, who made her film debut as a Bulgarian newlywed in “Casablanca,”
died on April 18 in Los Angeles. She was 83.
Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
The actress Joy Page in 1943.
The cause was complications of a stroke and pneumonia, said her son, Gregory Orr.
Born on Nov. 9, 1924, in Los Angeles, Ms. Page was the daughter of the silent-film star Don Alvarado (also known as Don Page) and Ann Boyar, who married Mr. Warner after she and Mr. Alvarado divorced.
A dark-haired beauty, Ms. Page was 17 and a high school senior when she got the role of Annina Brandel in the 1942 Warner Brothers classic “Casablanca,” starring Humphrey Bogart
and Ingrid Bergman
Mr. Warner had taken home a draft of the film script. Ms. Page’s acting coach suggested she read for the part of the bride, who faces having to sleep with the corrupt police captain played by Claude Rains
to obtain exit visas to escape from Casablanca to America. Bogart, as the owner of Rick’s Café Américain, lets her husband win at roulette so he can buy the visas.
Mr. Orr said that while Mr. Warner liked Ms. Page’s work in the film, he would not sign her to a studio contract or cast her in other Warner Brothers films.
In 1945, she married the actor William T. Orr, who later headed the Warner Brothers television department. She retired from acting in 1962. The couple divorced in 1970.
Besides her son, Gregory, she is survived by her daughter, Diane Orr, and her half sister, Barbara Warner Howard.
ENRICO DONATI, SURREALIST ARTIST
Enrico Donati, an Italian-born American painter and sculptor considered by many in the art world to be the last of the Surrealists, died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 99.
Bill Cunningham/The New York Times
Enrico Donati in 2005 with his sculpture “Fist” (1946).
The cause was complications of injuries sustained in a taxi accident in July, said David Oxman, a spokesman for the family.
Mr. Donati survived Surrealism and moved through other art movements, including Constructivism and Abstract Expressionism, and became a successful owner of a perfume company.
After receiving a doctorate in what would now be called sociology at the University of Pavia in 1929, he first turned to music. Unhappy with the state of musical education in Milan under the Fascists, he moved to Paris and for a time composed avant-garde music in a Montmartre garret. He developed an interest in anthropology and in 1934 traveled to the American Southwest and Canada to study and collect American Indian artifacts.
After dabbling in commercial art and printing in New York, he resolved to commit himself to painting and returned to Paris, where he was drawn to the flourishing Surrealist movement.
When war broke out in 1939, Mr. Donati returned to New York for good, along with his first wife, Claire Javel, and their two daughters, Marina Donati and Sylvaine Mahis of Paris, who survive him. He was divorced from Ms. Javel in 1965 and married Adele Schmidt, who also survives him, as well as a daughter from his second marriage, Alexandra Donati of New York; five grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Mr. Donati attended the New School for Social Research and in 1942 had his first one-man show at the New School
’s gallery. His work impressed the art historian Lionello Venturi, who introduced him to the writer André Breton, often considered the father of Surrealism. Breton brought him into the circle of prominent European artists, many of them Surrealists, who had gathered in New York at the outset of the war.
“You are one of us,” he recalled Breton saying to him. The group included Max Ernst, Salvador Dali
, Yves Tanguy, Arshile Gorky
, Marcel Duchamp
, Giorgio de Chirico, Fernand Léger and the American sculptor Alexander Calder.
“We met for lunch every day at Larré’s French restaurant on West 56th Street,” Mr. Donati later told an interviewer.
At his death, he was the only survivor of the group.
Duchamp became a particular friend. They collaborated on various projects, including the Exposition Internationale du Surrealisme at the Maeght Gallery in Paris in 1947. They devised the exposition’s program, decorating the cover of each copy with a foam rubber breast.
As Surrealism faded, Mr. Donati moved on. “He reinvented himself four or five times,” said his biographer, the artist and critic Theodore F. Wolff.
There was his Constructivist phase and, for a time, a focus on Abstract Expressionism. In later years, Mr. Donati became fascinated with surface and texture, mixing his paint with sand, dust, coffee grounds and, at times, the contents of his vacuum cleaner, which he mixed with pigment and glue and slathered on his canvas.
“It opened up a new world for me,” he recalled in a 1968 oral history interview for the Smithsonian Institution
. “I kept on using the vacuum cleaner dirt for years.”
Mr. Donati’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum
and the Whitney Museum of American Art
in New York, the Museum of Fine Art in Houston and the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels.
Mr. Donati was for many years as engaged in the business world as he was in the world of art. In the early 1960s, he joined the board of Houbigant Inc., one of the oldest purveyors of French perfumes and eau de cologne. In 1965 he bought the company, which was privately held.
In 1978 Fortune Magazine reported that as chairman and chief executive, he had “revived the sagging fortunes” of the company, then worth $50 million. His first wife was a member of the Houbigant family, Fortune said.
KATE PHILLIPS, ACTRESS WHO CHRISTENED ‘THE BLOB’
Kate Phillips, who played mostly supporting roles on Broadway and in more than 50 films in the 1930s and ’40s and who later was a co-writer of the 1958 horror film “The Blob,” died on April 18 in Keene, N.H. She was 94.
Kate Phillips about 1940.
The death was confirmed by Lawrence Benaquist, chairman of film studies at Keene State College. Mrs. Phillips, known during her acting career as Kay Linaker, taught at the college from 1980 until two years ago.
In 1956, while working with Theodore Simonson on the script for a movie that was supposed to be called “The Molten Meteor,” Mrs. Phillips referred to the giant jellylike creature from another planet that had plopped into a field outside of a small town as “the blob.”
Overhearing her, the producers changed the name of what became something of a cult classic.
“The Blob” gave a fresh-faced Steve McQueen
his first starring role, as one of two teenagers whose warnings about the voracious appetite of the enlarging monster are ignored until many people are engulfed.
“Both Steve McQueen and I were to receive $150 plus 10 percent of the gross,” Mrs. Phillips said in an interview for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture (she was a native of Pine Bluff, Ark.). “Neither one of us got the percentage — and the film and its remake have earned millions — but I got an important writing credit and Steve became a star.”
Although Mrs. Phillips usually played small parts during her stage and film career, in 1936 she was cast in a leading role opposite Conrad Nagel in “The Girl From Mandalay,” about a man who marries a resort entertainer after his sweetheart back in England tires of waiting for him.
Another of her more notable roles was that of a society matron who marries the former husband of Ginger Rogers
in the 1940 film “Kitty Foyle.” In the movie she visits an upscale department store and is waited on by her working-class counterpart, unaware of what the two have in common. She had smaller parts in “Drums Along the Mohawk” (1939); “Blood and Sand” (1941); and five “Charlie Chan” movies.
Mary Katherine Linaker was born on July 19, 1913. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York during the day while taking classes at New York University
at night. After graduating from N.Y.U., she got a film contract with Warner Bros., having attracted the attention of scouts with her work on Broadway.
During World War II, Mrs. Phillips joined the Red Cross, serving as a hostess at U.S.O. clubs. She also began writing for the Voice of America
. About that time she met, and soon married, Howard Phillips, a singer and writer who later became an NBC television executive.
Her husband died before her. She is survived by a son, Bill, of El Cerrito, Calif.; a daughter, Regina Paquette of Keene; and four grandchildren.
In July 2003, Mrs. Phillips traveled to Phoenixville, Pa., to celebrate the town’s annual Blob Fest. As always, hundreds of B-movie fans raced out of the Colonial Theater, re-enacting the panic caused by a gelatinous creature in a scene filmed there almost five decades ago.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: