ROSALYN BRUNSWICK-MCDUFFIE, GOSPEL SINGER REMEMBERED AS ‘WARM AND LOVING’
by Lynwood Abram, Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Aug. 1, 2008
Rosalyn Brunswick-McDuffie, gospel singer, businesswoman and co-founder of a treatment center for troubled young people, died of ovarian cancer on July 26 in the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. She was 39.
“She was warm, loving, compassionate, a woman of elegance and a people person,” said Ken Davis, administrative assistant at McDuffie’s Mortuary, one of the enterprises Brunswick-McDuffie helped found.
Rosalyn Renee Brunswick-McDuffie was born on Jan. 19, 1969, in Los Angeles.
As an infant, she moved to Houston with her parents, Joseph Brunswick Sr. and Rose Brunswick.
She attended Osborne elementary and Fonville middle schools and graduated from Sam Houston High School in 1987.
She also was certified as a dental technician by the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston and worked briefly in that capacity.
A singer since she was 3 years old, Rosalyn Brunswick-McDuffie at 17 sang soul music with the Leon Mitcheson & Co. band in Los Angeles.
In Houston, her career began at the Abundant Life Cathedral, where she was a choir member, praise leader, and lead vocalist.
With her husband, Efrem Z. McDuffie, in 2004 she founded the non-denominational Palace of Praise Church in Houston and later in Spring and Cleveland.
The couple also founded the Willie C. McDuffie Adolescent Treatment Center in Houston, which cares for about 60 youngsters.
In 2005, Brunswick-McDuffie and a 350-voice choir opened the Houston meeting of the Congress of Christian Education of the National Baptist Convention USA.
In 2006, she and Rhonda McLemore recorded Brand New Day on Canvas Records. Rosalyn also recorded a CD, Together We’ll Stand, with Al Jarreau, Chris Walker and Ed Montgomery, pastor of Abundant Life Cathedral.
Besides her parents and husband, survivors include her children, Charizma Zhone McDuffie, Charity Zhoni McDuffie, and Sir William Christopher McDuffie, all of Houston; her brothers, Joseph Brunswick Jr. and Adrian Brunswick, both of Houston; and her grandparents, Herbert J. Brunswick Sr. and Mildred Brunswick of Donaldsonville, La.
The funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at The Fountain of Praise, 13950 Hillcroft. Burial will be in Earthman Resthaven Cemetery.
REV. C.A.W. CLARK, DALLAS PASTOR, CALLED ONE OF THE ‘GREAT’ BLACK PREACHERS’ IN THE 20TH CENTURY
DALLAS — The Rev. C.A.W. Clark Sr., who spent more than half a century preaching from the pulpit of a South Dallas church, died Sunday. He was 93.
“This is the passing of an era. We won’t see his likes again,” the Rev. Gerald Britt Jr., vice president for public policy at Central Dallas Ministries, told The Dallas Morning News for its Monday editions. “He was a master of the pulpit. He influenced generations of preachers.”
Services will be Aug. 4 at Clark’s Good Street Baptist Church. Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Sandra Clark Funeral Home. Viewing will be all day on Aug. 2, followed by a celebration of life service Sunday during normal church services.
Born Caesar Arthur Walter Clark on Dec. 13, 1914, in Shreveport, La., Clark was ordained in 1933 and led his first pastorate at the Israelite Baptist Church in Longstreet, La., at the age of 19, according to his church Web site.
He joined Good Street in September 1950 and remained there until his death. Good Street became one of Dallas’ first black megachurches, opening its doors to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1956. Clark, a friend of King’s father, encouraged the younger King in his work.
At Good Street, Clark oversaw the opening of day care centers, a credit union, low-income housing and a legal clinic.
“Everybody who knows anything about black Baptist life is familiar with C.A.W. Clark,” Cleophus LaRue, author of the book The Heart of Black Preaching, told The Dallas Morning News in 2006. “He was regarded as one of the great black preachers in the 20th century.”
SAMUEL SNOW, WRONGLY CONVICTED WWII VET
SEATTLE — Samuel Snow died refusing to cash the Army’s check, but not before receiving a long-awaited apology.
Chris Livingston for The New York Times
Samuel Snow, at home in Leesburg, Fla., in 2007. He was one of 28 soldiers who had their 1944 convictions overturned.
Mr. Snow, a retired janitor who was a soldier during World War II, died early Sunday, 64 years after he was wrongly convicted in connection with the death of a prisoner of war at a military post here. At a ceremony on the old post hours before Mr. Snow’s death, a top Army official formally apologized to him and to the families of 27 other soldiers who had been involved in the case.
“It’s mighty long coming,” said Roy Montgomery, 87, who is now the only known survivor among the soldiers and who lives in a nursing home in Park Forest, Ill.
Still, Mr. Montgomery, Mr. Snow and the families of the other soldiers have not received what their supporters believe is fair financial compensation for having been wrongly convicted and imprisoned and having their pay docked after one of the largest Army courts-martial of the war, in 1944.
Last fall, after an Army review ordered by Congress found that the soldiers had been wrongly convicted, Mr. Snow was cut a check for $725 in back pay. That amount was based on his pay at the time of his conviction, without being adjusted for interest or inflation. Believing he was owed more, and after reading an Army letter that said cashing the check would prohibit him from seeking more, Mr. Snow never accepted the money. He was 84 when he died.
“We’re probably going to frame that check,” his son, Ray, said Monday from the family’s home in Leesburg, Fla.
Members of Congress, including Representative Jim McDermott of Washington and Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, both Democrats, have been pushing a measure that would give the Army the authority to pay interest on the payments or adjust them for inflation. For Mr. Snow’s family, that could mean $80,000 or more, depending on how the Army calculates the benefits a soldier receives.
The House has passed the measure as part of the Defense Authorization Act. A slightly different measure in the Senate awaits a full vote.
Only a handful of the families of the 28 men have submitted to the Army the request for review that must be filed before it will formally throw out the conviction, grant an honorable discharge and pay compensation.
“The United States Army is not spending a single dime trying to trace these folks,” said Jack Hamann, a Seattle journalist whose book about the case, “On American Soil,” brought the matter to the attention of Mr. McDermott.
Mr. McDermott has suggested that the wrongly convicted soldiers, all black, were “victims of racial injustice.”
The soldiers were stationed in Seattle at Fort Lawton on Aug. 15, 1944, when a prisoner of war, Guglielmo Olivotto, was found dead by hanging after a night of fighting between American soldiers and Italian prisoners.
Two defense lawyers, representing 43 men initially charged, had 13 days to prepare for trial.
Twenty-eight black American soldiers were convicted of rioting; two were also convicted of manslaughter. Last fall, the Army’s Board for Correction of Military Records found that the defense had been rushed and that the military prosecutor had withheld important evidence that could have helped the defendants.
Mr. Snow flew to Seattle from Florida last week to attend the ceremonies honoring the soldiers. But he became too ill with heart problems to attend the main event on Saturday, when an assistant secretary for the Army, Ronald James, gave plaques to the families present and apologized on behalf of the Army for what he called “a grievous wrong.”
Mr. Snow died early the next morning, but not before hearing about the apology, his son said.
“He had a smile so big,” the younger Mr. Snow said.
HIRAM BULLOCK, SOULFUL GUITARIST
Hiram Bullock, a soulful and adaptable jazz and rock guitarist who was a member of the original band for “Late Night with David Letterman
,” died last Friday in Manhattan. He was 52.
Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times
Hiram Bullock, left, with the bassist Will Lee in 2005.
The cause is pending, said Jennifer Armstrong, his partner of 16 years. Mr. Bullock was found to have cancer of the tongue last fall, she said.
Mr. Bullock played on some blockbuster pop albums, including “The Stranger” by Billy Joel
, Steely Dan
’s “Gaucho” and the soundtrack to “A Star is Born” by Barbra Streisand
. His best-known solo was on the 1987 Sting
album “Nothing Like the Sun,” in a version of Jimi Hendrix
’s “Little Wing.
But Mr. Bullock was always more than a session ace. He made his biggest impact in the realm of jazz-rock, funk and fusion, and his own albums, which often featured his singing and songwriting, never strayed far from that base. His last one, released on BHM in 2005, was “Too Funky 2 Ignore.”
He had substantial and productive relationships with other jazz musicians, including the composer and arranger Gil Evans, who served as a kind of mentor, and the bassist Jaco Pastorius, who taught him and employed him in multiple bands.
Born in Osaka, Japan, to parents serving in the United States military, Mr. Bullock grew up mainly in Baltimore, where he studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He played the saxophone and bass guitar before switching to guitar at 16. Then, at the University of Miami
, he studied with the guitarist Pat Metheny
and Pastorius, supporting himself with steady work in local clubs. One of his gigs was with the soul singer Phyllis Hyman, who took him with her to New York.
Mr. Bullock caused a stir almost immediately. The alto saxophonist David Sanborn said he first heard him in 1975 when they were working across the street from each other. “He was the cornerstone of my band for a long time,” Mr. Sanborn said.
Mr. Bullock appeared on 10 of Mr. Sanborn’s albums, starting in 1976, and on the eclectic late-night music showcase of which Mr. Sanborn was host on NBC from 1988 to 1990.
Another important early advocate was the record producer Phil Ramone, who brought him in on sessions for “The Stranger” and Paul Simon
’s “One Trick Pony,” among others. “He was kind of the talk of the town,” Mr. Ramone said.
In the late 1970s Mr. Bullock started the 24th Street Band with the bassist Will Lee, the keyboardist Clifford Carter and the drummer Steve Jordan. The group made three albums.
“At the beginning of the Letterman show, when I needed a band, I just co-opted the 24th Street Band,” the keyboardist Paul Shaffer said, referring to “Late Night with David Letterman,” which began broadcasting on NBC in 1982. The World’s Most Dangerous Band, as Mr. Shaffer billed the group, brought particular attention to Mr. Bullock, who became known as the barefoot guitarist.
Behind the scenes, Mr. Bullock was earning a reputation for unreliability, one byproduct of a serious drug problem that persisted for years. “The relentlessness and regularity of the schedule just proved to be a little bit too much for Hiram,” Mr. Shaffer said.
He left the show after two years but occasionally returned, notably in 1986 to celebrate his Atlantic release “From All Sides.”
Mr. Bullock was largely open about his struggle with substance abuse. “It’s not hard to spiral down,” he sang on a song called “After the Fall,” released in 2003.
In addition to Ms. Armstrong, Mr. Bullock’s survivors include two stepsons, known as Sansho and Niko; and four sisters, Jackie Lewis, Carmen Bean, Brenda Canterbury and Margene Williams. On Monday night “Late Show with David Letterman” included a special tribute to Mr. Bullock.
“As I said on the show,” Mr. Shaffer said, “I think he was the greatest guitar player ever, with the exception perhaps of Jimi Hendrix. Nobody was ever better.”
ALEKSANDR SOLZHENITSYN, LITERARY GIANT WHO DEFIED SOVIETS
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
, whose stubborn, lonely and combative literary struggles gained the force of prophecy as he revealed the heavy afflictions of Soviet Communism in some of the most powerful works of the 20th century, died late on Sunday at the age of 89 in Moscow.
His son Yermolai said the cause was a heart ailment.
Mr. Solzhenitsyn outlived by nearly 17 years the Soviet state and system he had battled through years of imprisonment, ostracism and exile.
Mr. Solzhenitsyn had been an obscure, middle-aged, unpublished high school science teacher in a provincial Russian town when he burst onto the literary stage in 1962 with “A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.” The book, a mold-breaking novel about a prison camp inmate, was a sensation. Suddenly he was being compared to giants of Russian literature like Tolstoy, Dostoyevski and Chekhov.
Over the next five decades, Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s fame spread throughout the world as he drew upon his experiences of totalitarian duress to write evocative novels like “The First Circle” and “The Cancer Ward” and historical works like “The Gulag Archipelago.”
“Gulag” was a monumental account of the Soviet labor camp system, a chain of prisons that by Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s calculation some 60 million people had entered during the 20th century. The book led to his expulsion from his native land. George F. Kennan
, the American diplomat, described it as “the greatest and most powerful single indictment of a political regime ever to be leveled in modern times.”
Mr. Solzhenitsyn was heir to a morally focused and often prophetic Russian literary tradition, and he looked the part. With his stern visage, lofty brow and full, Old Testament beard, he recalled Tolstoy while suggesting a modern-day Jeremiah, denouncing the evils of the Kremlin and later the mores of the West. He returned to Russia
and deplored what he considered its spiritual decline, but in the last years of his life he embraced President Vladimir V. Putin
as a restorer of Russia’s greatness.
In almost half a century, more than 30 million of his books have been sold worldwide and translated into some 40 languages. In 1970 he was awarded the Nobel Prize
Mr. Solzhenitsyn owed his initial success to the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev
’s decision to allow “Ivan Denisovich” to be published in a popular journal. Mr. Khrushchev believed its publication would advance the liberal line he had promoted since his secret speech in 1956 on the crimes of Stalin.
But soon after the story appeared, Mr. Khrushchev was replaced by hard-liners, and they campaigned to silence its author. They stopped publication of his new works, denounced him as a traitor and confiscated his manuscripts.
A Giant and a Victim
But their iron grip could not contain Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s reach. By then his works were appearing outside the Soviet Union, in many languages, and he was being compared not only to Russia’s literary giants but also to Stalin’s literary victims, writers like Anna Akhmatova, Iosip Mandleshtam and Boris Pasternak.
At home, the Kremlin stepped up its campaign by expelling Mr. Solzhenitsyn from the Writer’s Union. He fought back. He succeeded in having microfilms of his banned manuscripts smuggled out of the Soviet Union. He addressed petitions to government organs, wrote open letters, rallied support among friends and artists, and corresponded with people abroad. They turned his struggles into one of the most celebrated cases of the cold war period.
Hundreds of well-known intellectuals signed petitions against his silencing; the names of left-leaning figures like Jean-Paul Sartre
carried particular weight with Moscow. Other supporters included Graham Greene
, Muriel Spark
, W. H. Auden
, Gunther Grass, Heinrich Boll, Yukio Mishima, Carlos Fuentes and, from the United States, Arthur Miller
, John Updike
, Truman Capote
and Kurt Vonnegut
. All joined a call for an international cultural boycott of the Soviet Union.
That position was confirmed when he was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in the face of Moscow’s protests. The Nobel jurists cited him for “the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature.”
Mr. Solzhenitsyn dared not travel to Stockholm to accept the prize for fear that the Soviet authorities would prevent him from returning. But his acceptance address was circulated widely. He recalled a time when “in the midst of exhausting prison camp relocations, marching in a column of prisoners in the gloom of bitterly cold evenings, with strings of camp lights glimmering through the darkness, we would often feel rising in our breast what we would have wanted to shout out to the whole world — if only the whole world could have heard us.”
He wrote that while an ordinary man was obliged “not to participate in lies,” artists had greater responsibilities. “It is within the power of writers and artists to do much more: to defeat the lie!”
By this time, Mr. Solzhenitsyn had completed his own massive attempt at truthfulness, “The Gulag Archipelago.” In more than 300,000 words, he told the history of the Gulag prison camps, whose operations and rationale and even existence were subjects long considered taboo.
Publishers in Paris and New York had secretly received the manuscript on microfilm. But wanting the book to appear first in the Soviet Union, Mr. Solzhenitsyn asked them to put off publishing it. Then, in September 1973, he changed his mind. He had learned that the Soviet spy agency, the KGB
, had unearthed a buried copy of the book after interrogating his typist, Elizaveta Voronyanskaya, and that she had hung herself soon afterward.
YOUSSEF CHAHINE, EGYPTIAN FILM DIRECTOR
by Lee Keath Associated Press
July 27, 2008
Pascal Le Segretain Getty Images
Egyptian film director Youssef Chahine.
Over nearly five decades, Chahine’s films often took Fellini-esque flights of fancy and tackled social ills and Islamic fundamentalism.
One of few Egyptian directors to gain an audience abroad, he won a lifetime achievement award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement Sunday calling Chahine one of cinema’s “most celebrated servants” and “a fervent defender of freedom of expression.”
At home, Chahine’s films raised controversy for their frank portrayal of sexuality, their sharp criticism of political oppression and, in his later works, their denunciations of rising Islamic extremism in Egypt.
In 1994, an Egyptian court banned his film The Emigrant because its plot was based on the story of Joseph. (Most interpretations of Islam ban the depiction of prophets.)
Chahine responded with the historical film Destiny, about the 12th century Muslim philosopher Averroes, whose books were banned by extremists in the Islamic kingdom of Andalus in what is now Spain.
Chahine was born on Jan. 25, 1926, to a Christian family of Lebanese origin in Alexandria, the Mediterranean port known at the time as a cosmopolitan city. He grew up speaking French and English better than Arabic, and many of his films were French co-productions.
His early films, classics of social realism, grittily depicted the lowest in Egyptian society. In his 1958 Cairo Station, Chahine himself starred as Qenawi, a mentally retarded newspaper seller at Cairo’s main railroad station who becomes obsessed with a woman selling lemonade.
The Land in 1969, seen by some as his greatest film, was an epic about peasant farmers and landowners struggling over land in the Nile Delta.
In his Alexandria Trilogy — Alexandria, Why?, An Egyptian Story and Alexandria Again and Forever — Chahine recounted his childhood in his hometown, his love of Hollywood and his ambiguous feeling toward the United States.
“I have a problem with America, you can call it a dilemma,” Chahine, who spent two years in California in the 1940s, once told an interviewer. “I used to love it very much, I studied there, my first love was there … I don’t hate America as some think … but it is difficult to sympathize with it.”
The trilogy broke with the realist style, bringing in wild scenes of fantasy, musical numbers and surrealism that drew comparisons with Italian director Frederico Fellini.
Alexandria, Why? also raised eyebrows by telling the story of two taboo love affairs — one homosexual between an Egyptian man and a British soldier, the other between a Muslim man and a Jewish woman.
His last movie, 2007’s This is Chaos — co-directed with his protégé Khaled Youssef — sharply criticized the Egyptian government’s crackdown on democracy activists.
Chahine died about four weeks after falling into a coma following a brain hemorrhage. He is survived by his French wife, Colette. He had no children.
HENRY MARTINEZ, WHO WORKED HIS WAY UP FROM IMMIGRANT TO MANAGEMENT
by Lynwood Abram, Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
July 26, 2008
Henry Martinez became a U.S. citizen and spent a lifetime helping others.
“He was quite a guy,” said former Houston City Councilman Felix Fraga, who as a youth knew Martinez as a fellow baseball player on East End neighborhood teams.
“All those guys we played with stuck together,” Fraga said. “He helped me in my campaigns.”
One day, Fraga recalled, Martinez met an immigrant from Ecuador, who was hungry and looking for work. “(Martinez) took him home, gave him a meal, a place to sleep and helped him find a job.”
The man he befriended, Colon Cedeno, spoke last week at Martinez’s funeral.
Cedeno said Martinez not only had opened the door that led him to employment, he also became his best friend.
“He wanted nothing in return,” Cedeno said.
Henry Martinez was born July 7, 1928, in Monterrey, Mexico, the eldest son of Jose C. Martinez and Herlinda Flores Martinez.
In 1942, the Martinez family began arriving in Houston in increments.
Initially sponsored by relatives who were already U.S. citizens, Martinez and members of his immediate family eventually became U.S. citizens themselves, said his daughter, Helen M. Soliz, of Houston.
With Houston as their base, family members worked as agricultural migrant workers for several years in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, Soliz said.
In 1950, the Martinez family settled in Houston, moving to the Ship Channel area. Most of the family still lives there, Soliz said.
Henry Martinez first worked for Kay Manufacturing, which produced mattress components. While there, he became a supervisor.
He later worked as a plant manager for Union Carbide, U.S. Bedding and Serta Mattress Co.
In his later years, Martinez spearheaded an effort to establish college scholarships for needy and deserving high school students, Soliz said.
“He had a very strong work ethic, high morals and values. He expected these from his children and his associates,” Soliz said.
Martinez’s first wife and mother of his children, Mary Louise Quiroz Martinez, died in 1968.
Martinez died July 17 in his Houston home from the effects of a stroke. Services were held at Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his second wife, Paula Medina Martinez, of Houston; a son, Henry L. Martinez, of Houston; another daughter, Elisa L. Lopez of Stafford; brothers Hector Martinez and Herbert Martinez, both of Houston; and sisters Elisa Renteria and Elida Lopez, both of Houston.
SISTER AMELIA AKERS, TEACHER AND MEMBER OF THE DOMINICAN SISTERS ‘WITH A VERY BIG HEART’
by Dale Lezon, Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
July 29, 2008
Steve Ueckert Chronicle
Sister Amelia Akers
“She was a kind person,” said Paulina Rizzato, of Beaumont, her sister. “She thought of everybody before herself.”
She cared for their parents before they died, Rizzato said.
In addition to teaching in local schools, including the former Assumption elementary school in Houston, she taught in the Whittier, Calif., diocese, said Sister Paula, her friend in the Dominican Sisters of Houston. She also was the librarian at St. Pius X High School in Houston from 1970 to 1985.
Sister Paula said that Sister Amelia was a warm, generous and caring person who enjoyed helping students. Many of them, she said, stayed in touch.
Some of her former students from Assumption gave her a party to celebrate her 80th birthday, Sister Paula said.
“She had a very big heart,” Sister Paula said. “She was concerned about people. She basically was a good, generous, gracious person.”
Sister Amelia was born Joyce Akers in Beaumont on March 2, 1928. Sister Paula said she graduated from St. Anthony High School in Beaumont in 1944. The school was renamed Monsignor Kelly High School, Sister Paula said. She joined the Dominican Sisters of Houston in 1946 and chose the name Amelia when she took her vows.
She began her ministry as a teacher at Christ the King school in Houston in 1948. She served on the administrative support staff at the St. Elizabeth hospital system in Beaumont.
She returned to Houston in 1998 and worked as the community archivist and receptionist at the Sisters administrative offices. She moved into the Sisters’ retirement home, St. Dominic Villa, in 2002.
In addition to her sister, she is survived by her brothers Bill Akers, of Benbrook; Eugene Akers, of Beaumont; and Jim Akers, of Pennington.
The Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled for 10 a.m. today at the Dominican Sisters Meeting Room at 6501 Almeda. Burial will follow at Forest Park Lawndale Funeral Home and Cemetery at 6900 Lawndale.
UPDATE: BARBARA ANN TEER: “FOR CHAMPION OF BLACK THEATER, A SALUTE IN HARLEM’S STREETS”:
It could not be mistaken for a New Orleans funeral procession — hey, this wasn’t just New York City, this was Harlem. And so the memorial send-off on Monday to celebrate a force in black theater became a theatrical neighborhoodwide parade honoring Barbara Ann Teer, the founder of the four-decades-old National Black Theater, who died last week at the age of 71.
Gianni Cipriano for The New York Times
National Black Theater members and other participants prepared to carry the coffin out before the funeral procession for Barbara Ann Teer, founder of the NBT.
How theatrical? Before the encomiums and songs and reminiscences and invocations at Riverside Church in Manhattan, there was a release of doves. There was a mile-and-a-half-long walk through Harlem. There was an advance processional guard of 40 African drummers. There was a horse-drawn carriage bearing the coffin. And, yes, there was an elephant.
Then, just in case anyone was feeling too very sad, fireworks were presented by the Grucci family at a barge on the Hudson River.
“Barbara championed our culture,” Basil A. Paterson, former state senator and deputy mayor, said before a crowd of nearly 700 that filled the church for more than three hours into Monday evening. “And the culture of an oppressed people has to be important — or they wouldn’t have survived.”
The triumph of survival was an important theme throughout the day — and indeed, the colorful, drum-driven march of 350 celebrators stretched over two blocks was titled “The Soul Journey of Love Processional.”
The hourlong march was a happy bedlam of chants, cheers, drumbeats and song, and was boisterous enough to set off a few car alarms as it snaked from the theater at Fifth Avenue and 125th Street westward through Harlem to the church, growing in size as it grew in momentum.
The ecstatic participants saluted the Apollo Theater
as they passed by on 125th Street when the marquee flashed “In Memory of Dr. Barbara Ann Teer 1937-2008.” She referred to herself, and was known to people in Harlem, as Dr. Teer.
About the elephant? “She was very fond of elephants, especially with their trunks up,” said Debra Ann Byrd, a producing associate at the National Black Theater, who recalled that Ms. Teer “even had elephant earrings.”
At the church on Riverside Drive at 120th Street, Roberta Flack played the piano and sang a song of hope that, she said to the crowd, was “from Barbara to you.” The lyrics included the words “you make the dark clouds roll away,” and brought tears to many eyes in the crowd.
Representative Charles B. Rangel
memorialized “that smile, that unforgettable, beautiful, everlasting smile.” He added, “Whenever it’s time for me to go, I want to be with her.”
Ms. Teer, a Harlem fixture who served as nurturer, gadfly and inspirational mother superior, was a passionate, articulate advocate for black culture and black artists, speakers said.
And her life was a celebration of being “free, open and black,” as she used to put it.
The actress Hattie Winston said during the service that Ms. Teer had “the backbone of an African princess.”
Indeed, Ms. Teer’s Hawaiian name — given to her in a traditional ceremony described during the memorial service — is translated as “the woman with the voice of authority who calls the rain.”
The theater she founded in 1968 produced entertainment, art exhibitions and special events, and toured the world from its home base in a building that Ms. Teer had led the theater in purchasing at 2031 Fifth Avenue.
“We would all have wanted for more years to enjoy her company,” former Mayor David N. Dinkins
He added, “The most telling tribute to her success is the presence here today of so many of those who were touched by her life.”
Her role, many others said at the service, was transformational, and some used strong words in describing Ms. Teer’s struggle to keep black theater alive in the city.
To applause and shouts, Woodie King Jr. of the New Federal Theater in Manhattan honored her “40 years of fighting this vicious, racist system to keep the institution going.”
Others drew laughter from the crowd as they described Ms. Teer’s flamboyant style and crowded schedule. “This leaving is too abrupt, too unanticipated,” said the actress Ruby Dee
of the passing of Ms. Teer. “Perhaps she needed to staff some meeting.”
And Mr. Paterson, who is the father of Gov. David A. Paterson
, got a laugh when, in mentioning Ms. Teer’s forceful defense of her theater, he described himself as “just one of Barbara’s go-fers.”
In explaining the parade, Nabii Faison, the general manager of the National Black Theater, said, “Processions are not unusual in the African-American community, and white is a different take than black, at a memorial,” referring to the white and purple worn by many of the mourners.
“And purple,” Mr. Faison said, “is for royalty, which she surely was.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES: