Monthly Archives: February 2012



“Let us work together to balance the global economy and build a new social contract for the 21st century.  Let us chart a development path that leads to greater social justice and the future we want.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Message for the 2012 World Day of Social Justice


An overcrowded slum area in Brazil.

Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.  We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants.  We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.

For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity.  The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice.  The Declaration focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work.

The General Assembly proclaimed 20 February as World Day of Social Justice in 2007, inviting Member States to devote the day to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth session of the General Assembly. Observance of World Day of Social Justice should support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.

As we look to the upcoming Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, we have a chance to rethink development strategies and business practices so that they point us toward a more sustainable and equitable future. Sustainability depends on building markets that do a better job of spreading the benefits of development.  It means meeting growing consumer demand for greener products and services.  And it means laying the foundations for dignity, stability and opportunity for all.  As we strive to make this transformation, we must integrate social inclusion into our policies and other efforts.

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Published: February 14, 2012

Dory Previn, the lyricist for three Oscar-nominated songs who as a composer and performer mined her difficult childhood, bouts of mental illness and a very public divorce to create a potent and influential personal songbook, died on Tuesday at her home in Southfield, Mass. She was 86.

Larry C. Morris/The New York Times

Dory Previn performing at the Bitter End in New York in 1973.

Her death was confirmed by her husband, Joby Baker.

Ms. Previn rose to prominence as a singer-songwriter with a substantial cult following in the early 1970s and she enriched a period in pop music history that also saw the emergence of Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Laura Nyro.

She never became as widely known as they were (though she did record a live double album at Carnegie Hall), partly because her voice was never as big as theirs, but also because her lyrics — frank and dark, even when tinged with humor, and often wincingly confessional — were not the stuff of pop radio. They were, however, clear antecedents of the work of later balladeers like Sinead O’Connor and Suzanne Vega.

In “With My Daddy in the Attic,” Ms. Previn wrote of her complicated relationship with her disturbed father. In “Esther’s First Communion,” she wrote about a girl’s indoctrination into religious ritual and her revulsion at it. In “Yada Yada La Scala,” she wrote about women in a mental hospital. In “Lemon Haired Ladies,” she wrote about an older woman pining for a younger man:

Whatever you give me

I’ll take as it comes

Discarding self-pity

I’ll manage with crumbs.

Unusually for a pop singer of the day, Ms. Previn’s background was in neither folk nor rock. Her early success came in Hollywood, writing songs for the movies, generally as a lyricist working with her husband, André Previn, who later earned fame as a classical composer and conductor.

Together they were nominated for two Academy Awards: in 1960 for “Faraway Part of Town,” from “Pepe,” and in 1962 for “Second Chance,” from “Two for the Seesaw.” But their best-known collaboration was the theme from the 1967 film version of Jacqueline Susann’s drug-soaked show-business novel “Valley of the Dolls” (later recorded by Dionne Warwick), which begins:

Gotta get off, gonna get

Have to get off from this ride

Gotta get hold, gonna get

Need to get hold of my pride.

The halting, almost stammering progression of laments, Ms. Previn later said, came from her own experience of relying on pills.

In 1969, working with the composer Fred Karlin, Ms. Previn earned a third Oscar nomination, for “Come Saturday Morning” from “The Sterile Cuckoo,” which became a hit for the Sandpipers.

By then, however, the Previn marriage was in a shambles. Mr. Previn had begun an affair with the actress Mia Farrow, then in her early 20s, whom he later married, and Ms. Previn, who had a history of emotional fragility and mental illness, fell apart. Fearful of traveling in general and of flying in particular, she had a breakdown on an airplane that was waiting to take off, shouted unintelligibly and tore at her clothes, and spent several months in a psychiatric hospital.

The episode, as awful as it was, proved to be a turning point in her life and career.

Her first album afterward, “On My Way to Where” (1970) — the title was a reference to the airplane debacle — included perhaps her most famous song, “Beware of Young Girls,” about Ms. Farrow, and received polarized reviews. On her second, “Mythical Kings and Iguanas” (1971), many critics noticed a growing vocal confidence. Her third, “Reflections in a Mud Puddle/Taps Tremors and Time Steps” (1971), included a pained report of and reflection on her father’s death, and drew praise from the New York Times music critic Don Heckman.

“Ms. Previn is no great singer, her guitar playing is only adequate, and her melodies sometimes have an uncomfortable tendency to move in too-familiar directions,” he wrote. “But her message is stated so brilliantly in her lyrics, and the tales she has to tell are so important, that they make occasional musical inadequacies fade away.”

Dorothy Veronica Langan was born in New Jersey — sources differ on the town, Rahway or Woodbridge — on Oct. 22, 1925, and she grew up in Woodbridge. Her father, Michael, was a laborer and a frustrated musician who pushed her toward music and dance. He had also been deranged, Ms. Previn wrote in a 1976 memoir, by his service in World War I. He had been gassed, she wrote, and he was convinced the gassing had made him sterile; therefore she could not be his daughter. For a while he locked himself in the attic.

Ms. Previn left home as a teenager and worked in summer stock and in commercials and sang in small clubs, writing new verses to popular songs. Her work came to the attention of Arthur Freed, the producer of MGM movie musicals like “An American in Paris” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” who hired her for MGM, where she met Mr. Previn. They married in 1959. She had been married and divorced previously.

In addition to her husband, Mr. Baker, a painter whom she met in the 1970s and married in 1984, she is survived by three stepchildren, Michelle Wayland, Fredricka Baker and Scott Zimmerman, and six step-grandchildren.

In the 1980s, Ms. Previn and Mr. Previn reconciled as friends, and she came to loathe the fact that she was best known for their breakup. But the pain and grief were the foundation of her art. In the hospital after her breakdown, she was encouraged to write down her feelings, and they emerged as poems.

“I was always afraid to write music,” she said in 1970. “I wouldn’t have presumed to with a musician like André around the house. But I play a little guitar. So I started working them out on the guitar, thinking I could interest some singer in recording them and that’s how all these songs were born.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 16, 2012

An obituary on Wednesday about the singer and songwriter Dory Previn contained several errors. She and Joby Baker, who survives her, married in 1984, not 1986. The name of one of her three stepchildren is Michelle Wayland, not Michele. The album Ms. Previn recorded in 1970 is called “On My Way to Where,” not “On the Way to Where.”

In addition, the obituary referred incorrectly in some editions to that album. It was the second album of her career, not the first. (It was the first album she recorded after separating from her husband, the composer André Previn, and suffering a breakdown. Her first-ever album was “The Leprechauns Are Upon Me,” which she recorded in the late 1950s under the name Dory Langdon.)





Published: February 15, 2012

Phil Bruns, a familiar-face character actor best known on television as the cigar-chomping hard-hat dad on the 1970s soap-opera parody “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” died on Feb. 8 at a hospital near his home in Los Angeles. He was 80.

February 16, 2012
Columbia Pictures Television

Phil Bruns, center front, with the cast of “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”

He died of natural causes, his friend Joseph Armilla said.

Mr. Bruns, who received critical praise for his roles on the New York stage in the early 1960s, went on to appear in more than 40 movies and 60 television shows.

On “Mary Hartman,” in 1976 and 1977, he played George Shumway, a schlumpy, rubber-faced assembly-line mechanic who never quite gets what’s going on with his daughter Mary (Louise Lasser) or the rest of the world.

“He was this middle-aged working man, the middle class we’re all talking about today, bewildered by the torrent of information thrown at him from all sides, absent context,” Norman Lear, the show’s creator and producer, said in an interview on Tuesday. “He was too ill-informed to be sure of much.”

The show, a convention-breaking spoof of the soap operas of its time, dealt with subjects like infidelity, sexual perversion, racism and religious intolerance. In one episode George is set up in a hotel room with a prostitute by a rival faction of his union. In another he tries to comprehend why stress on the job has made him impotent.

As Reader’s Digest wrote in 1977, George combined “a know-it-all stance with profound ignorance.”

Mr. Bruns could nail that role, Mr. Lear said, because “he was an extremely intelligent man who brought that character out of the 10,000 he could play.”

Among his film credits, Mr. Bruns played a faithful production manager to the filmmaker played by Peter O’Toole in “The Stunt Man” (1980) and a small-town doctor battling zombies in “Return of the Living Dead, Part II” (1988). He also had roles in “Flashdance” (1983), “The Out-of-Towners” (1970) and “The Great Waldo Pepper” (1975) and appeared on television in “Route 66,” “The Defenders,” “Sanford and Son,” “M*A*S*H,” “Kojak,” “Naked City,” “Barney Miller,” “Maude” and “Seinfeld” (in which he was the first actor to play Jerry Seinfeld’s father), among many other series.

Phillip Bruns was born on a farm near Pipestone, Minn., on May 2, 1931, the youngest of three children of Henry and Margie Trigg Bruns. He is survived by his wife, the former Laurie Franks, and a sister, Dorothy Boese.

A 1953 graduate of Augustana College in South Dakota, Mr. Bruns received a master’s degree from the Yale School of Drama and studied at the Old Vic Theater School in England.

He won an Obie Award in 1964 for the Off Broadway production of “Mr. Simian,” an exploration of the misery of the human condition, in which he played the title role: an ape that morphs into a human.

In 1961, in “Seven Come Eleven,” a cabaret show in Manhattan, Mr. Bruns performed in a spoof of Method acting in which he transformed into a toad because, as his character said, “I projected too much.”

“Mr. Bruns’s impersonation of a toad — stance, facial gesture and voice — is miming on a level of brilliance that might be envied by Marcel Marceau,” Arthur Gelb wrote in The New York Times.





Published: February 14, 2012

Freddie Solomon, who gave up his dream of being a professional quarterback to become an outstanding receiver for the Miami Dolphins and a San Francisco 49ers team that won two Super Bowls, died Monday in Tampa, Fla. He was 59.

Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery—Getty Images

Freddie Solomon, a standout college quarterback, became a receiver in the N.F.L. and caught 371 passes in an 11-year career.

The 49ers announced his death. He had been treated for colon and liver cancer.

Solomon lives in legend for a pass not thrown to him. It came with less than a minute to play in the National Football Conference championship game between the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys on Jan. 10, 1982. On a third-down passing play from the Dallas 6, Solomon was quarterback Joe Montana’s first option. But in tight coverage, Solomon slipped, and instead Montana found Dwight Clark in the end zone for the winning score on a reception that came to be called the Catch.

But Solomon had contributed mightily to the drive that led to the touchdown by gaining 14 yards on a reverse and 12 yards on a pass. With the ball on the 13, he got open in the end zone, but Montana threw wide. Then came a running play, then the Catch.

In an 11-year National Football League career, Solomon had 371 receptions for 5,846 yards and 48 touchdowns in 151 games. He ran for 519 yards and 4 touchdowns.

On Dec. 5, 1976, in a game between the Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills, he scored touchdowns three ways: he ran 59 yards on a reverse to score, caught a 53-yard pass for another touchdown, and returned a punt 79 yards to score again. His total yardage was 252.

Freddie Solomon, the son of a cobbler, was born on Jan. 11, 1953, in Sumter, S.C., and grew up idolizing Joe Namath, the University of Alabama quarterback who went on to play for the Jets. Solomon was an offensive end and guard for all-black Lincoln High School, and when Sumter schools were integrated in 1970, he did so well as a replacement quarterback at Sumter High School that his coach made him the starter.

From there, he went to the University of Tampa, where he played quarterback in a run-first offense at a time when blacks in that position were a rarity. He accumulated 5,803 yards of total offense, rushing for 3,299.

After the University of Miami beat Tampa, 28-26, in 1974, Pete Elliott, Miami’s coach, called Solomon “the finest football player in the country.”

That same year, Solomon ran a quarterback draw for an 81-yard score against San Diego State, breaking as many as a dozen tackles. “He’s the most exciting collegiate runner since O. J. Simpson,” Jack Murphy of The San Diego Union wrote, “and he moves faster than anything that doesn’t burn fuel.”

Solomon was voted the offensive player of the game in the 1975 East-West Shrine college all-star game. Miami chose him that year in the second round of the N.F.L. draft as the 36th overall pick.

Despite his hopes of playing quarterback, the Dolphins saw him in other roles, and he soon established himself as an impressive receiver and punt and kickoff returner.

After his retirement from football in 1985, Solomon worked with the Hillsborough County sheriff’s office in Tampa to help disadvantaged youth. Called Coach, he was known for insisting that young men tuck in their shirts.

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Dee; his mother, Bessie Ruth Solomon; and his brothers, Richard, ONeal and Roger.

Solomon had one moment of quarterback glory in the N.F.L. In late December 1978, with the 49ers losing to the Detroit Lions and all the San Francisco quarterbacks injured, Fred O’Connor, the interim coach, scoured the sideline for a quarterback. Everyone pointed at Solomon. He went on to run 11 yards for a touchdown and completed 5 of 9 passes for 85 yards, with one interception.

“That won’t happen again,” he correctly predicted. “I’ve lived my fantasy, and got it out of my system.”


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Whitney Houston’s Gift to the World


Akiba Solomon says Ms. Houston showed us how to marry real singing with pop melodies without losing an inch of soul.

Also: Whitney Houston’s Twin Legacies: Beauty and Pain

A Group of Parents in the Calif. Desert May Be the Future of School Reform

Julianne Hing reports from Adelanto, Calif., where parents are no longer content to let politicians and policy makers lead the debate.

Deported Dad Begs North Carolina To Give Him Back His Children

Nobody argues whether Felipe Montes is a great dad. But the state doesn’t want to send his U.S. citizen kids to Mexico, so he may lose them forever. Seth Freed Wessler reports.

The Street Corner Wisdom of Foreclosure Fraud: It Wasn’t Me The San Francisco County assessor released an audit suggesting that many more demonstrable crimes were committed during the foreclosure bust than we once thought. That’s not a quirk. It’s rampant lawlessness. And it’s by design.

Against All Odds, States Move on Tuition Equity for Undocumented Students Key fights in Colorado and Florida highlight the progress activists have made, and the challenges they’re up against.

U.S. Dept of Ed Inquiry: Do Harvard and Princeton Discriminate Against Asian-American Students? An Asian-American student says he was passed over because of his race. Experts help make sense of the thorny debate.

XXL Mag. Editor Vanessa Satten Issues Non-Apology Statement for Publishing Too $hort VideoSatten isn’t saying sorry.

Actress Lisa Chan Apologizes for Anti-Chinese Hoekstra Ad Lisa Chan, the 21-year-old actress who appeared in Michigan Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra’s anti-Chinese campaign released an apology Wednesday.

Ads Airing on Fox News: Keep ‘Legal’ Immigrants Out Too [Video] A conservative group has launched a campaign to get the federal government to limit the number of foreign workers that are allowed to enter the country with worker visas.

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NewsObservingPhoto GalleryMagazine ArchiveShop at Sky

Keck's twin telescopes

NASA / R. Wainscoat

Bulletin at a Glance

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Closure Looms for Keck’s Interferometer

February 17, 2012                                                                | With NASA funding ending, astronomers will soon shut down the optical plumbing that links the giant Keck telescopes — the most powerful interferometer of its kind on the planet. > read more

No Winds of Change for Eta Carinae

February 15, 2012                                                                | Faint echoes from the massive, hot star’s Great Eruption suggest that a standard explanation for that event may not match what really happen. Not conclusive, the new study is sure to kick off debate among stellar astronomers. > read more

Sunspots’ Secrets Unraveling

February 13, 2012                                                                | For the first time, astronomers have detected an elusive molecule in the cool interiors of sunspots. The molecule, suspected for decades to exist inside the blotches, may help researchers understand what causes the phenomena and better predict changes in space weather. > read more



Venus on the Rise

February 16, 2012                                                                | Noticed an exceptionally bright beacon in the evening sky? The planet Venus has begun its highest foray up the sky’s dome, surprising at least one casual observer as it prepares for its conjunction with the Moon and Jupiter in March.  > read more

Comet Garradd Stays the Course

February 7, 2012                                                                | A first-time visitor to the inner solar system is slowly returning to the evening sky after making a dramatic and beautiful pairing with the globular cluster Messier 92. > read more

Tour February’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

February 1, 2011                                                                  | The sky’s brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, serve as anchors in a wintertime sky full of bright stars and familiar constellations. > read more

Jupiter: Big, Bright, and Beautiful

September 23, 2011                                                                | The “King of Planets,” which will dominate the evening sky from late 2011 through early 2012, is a captivating sight no matter how you look at it. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Just 30 minutes after sunset. Bring binoculars!

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

February 17, 2012                                                                  | Bright Venus and Jupiter are closing in on each other in the southwestern twilight. Mercury shows itself below them, with the thin Moon going by. And Mars is almost as big and bright as it’s going to get. > read more


Postage stamp for NewHorizons?

Dan Durda

Show Your Support for Pluto’s Probe

February 3, 2012                                                                | NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is now just 3½ years from its historic flyby of Pluto. Mission scientists have launched a petition to have the spacecraft commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp — and they want you to sign it! > read more

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‘Sovereign Citizen’ Sues Government Over Grammar

by  Bill Morlin  on February 14, 2012

These days, the U.S. Department of Justice and its investigators and prosecutors get accused of a lot of things by conspiracy-minded antigovernment extremists, but here’s a new one. A so-called “sovereign citizen” in the state of Washington, just sentenced to 40 months in prison, has filed suit accusing the government and its agents of using poor grammar and writing at a second-grade level.

David Russell Myrland filed the civil suit in U.S. District Court in Seattle with help from David Wynn Miller, another sovereign who claims he became the “king of Hawaii” in 1996 after turning that state’s name into a verb. (For the record, Miller prefers the “full-colon” spelling of his name, David-Wynn: Miller. Like many sovereigns who don’t recognize most state and federal laws, he claims the government uses grammar to enslave it citizens. By using hyphens and colons in their names, he claims, citizens can escape the grasp of government and its taxes.)

The “evidence” attached to the suit filed Jan. 23 is the federal criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department in January 2011 against Myrland, accusing him of threatening to kidnap and injure the mayor of Kirkland, Wash. Every word in the complaint is painstakingly footnoted as a “syntax-word-key meaning.”

Myrland, part of a sovereign group calling itself “Assemblies of the Counties,” pleaded guilty last August to threatening to use deadly force to arrest various government officials. The group has ties to Alaska militia leader Francis Schaeffer Cox, who faces charges of plotting to kidnap and kill judges and state police officers.

For the past 20 years, Myrland has been illegally practicing law and teaching others how to cheat on their federal income taxes, prosecutors said in court filings when he was sentenced in December.

Somewhere along the way, Myrland hooked up with Miller, who modestly claims he has an IQ of 200 and is a frequent speaker at antigovernment “Patriot” movement gatherings. Both men’s signatures (with hyphens and full colons, of course) are on the suit, along with Miller’s fingerprint atop his signature.

After 10 pages of single-spaced, legal gobbledygook, the suit concludes: “For the ‘why’ of the sheriff’s-statement-writings and: United States Attorney’s-statements-writing are with a second-grade-reading-level and: writing-level and: vacating-facts, opinions, guessing, modifications, viod [sic]-factual-syntax-grammar word-meanings by the vassalees against the collusion-conspiracy with the handycapping [sic]-parse-syntax-grammar-communication-pleadings and: babbling-collusions-threats against the David-Russell: Myrland by the vassalees.”

“For this federal-judge: David-Wynn: Miller’s-correction of the vassalees-fiction-syntax-grammar-pleadings is with the correction-participation-claim of this babble-indictment-evidence and: bad-probation-syntax=grammar-evidence.  (Why did the vassalees do this case with a void-communications?) For the void-drogue-law, void-oath of an office, void-judge’s-oath, void-docking-court-house-vessel in the Washington-state-dry-dock and: void-original-lodial-land-title.”


Unsurprisingly, the Myrland-Miller lawsuit has hit a snag.

William McCool, the court executive for the Western District of Washington, sent a letter addressed to both men, saying their suit was not accompanied by an In Forma Pauperis form. The plaintiffs were given until Feb. 23 to either pay a $350 filing fee or prove with a certified copy of Myrland’s prison trust account that he’s truly indigent and can proceed as a pauper.



Father in Heaven, give me strength.

“By using hyphens and colons in their names, he claims, citizens can escape the grasp of government and its taxes.”

Yeah, just put a colon in your name and by golly you can avoid paying city/county/state and federal taxes. That also goes for property taxes, and the Big Kahuna of all taxes–income taxes.

Oh, but you do not have to worry about income taxes, do you David Wynn Miller.

Oops, my bad.

David -Wynn: Miller.

As for David Russell Myrland, you are too busy teaching your fellow cohorts how to break the law.

How does the following sound to you?

Intentionally filing of materially false tax returns is considered tax fraud, and is a criminal offence. Any person convicted of committing tax fraud, or aiding and abetting another in committing tax fraud, may be subject to forfeiture of property and/or jail time.Conviction and sentencing is through the court system.

All the colons in the world will not help you out of such a bind.

Not to mention, disregarding the Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White (yes, that’s right, E.B. of Charlotte’s Web fame). I am sure if they were here they would do more than have you write your name 100 times on the blackboard.

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The Little Rock Nine of Civil Rights fame had a lioness of a woman who stood in their corner during those tumultuous times when the nation was seeking to divest itself from the grip of racial segregation. Many people are now familiar with the iconic images when Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas underwent desegregation and the venom that was unleashed on the nine brave students who challenged the Jane Crow system of humiliation, degradation and American apartheid.

I first posted on the Little Rock Nine  here.

Many have seared into their consciousness the image of Elizabeth Eckford, and the screaming White woman who walked behind her yelling vile racial epithets at her. Many are familiar with the photos of the courageous nine who went to and from school, while being guarded by the 101ST Airborne sent by President Dwight Eisenhower.

But, many are at a loss in naming the stalwart lady who shepherded the Little Rock Nine into history, and in her way changed a city, a state, and a nation.

Her name is Daisy Bates.

Here is her story.


Daisy Lee Gatson Bates (b. November 11, 1914 – d. November 4, 1999). Civil rights activist, journalist. Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was born in Huttig,  a small town in the lumbering region of southeast Arkansas. Raised by her adoptive parents, Orlee and Susie Smith, Mrs. Bates never knew her real parents. In the autobiographical sections of The Long Shadow of Little Rock (1962), she revealed that as a child she was told that her mother had been raped and murdered by three White men who were never brought to justice for their crime, and that her father was forced to flee Huttig for fear of reprisals from Whites should he attempt to prosecute the suspects. The Smiths were childless friends of Mrs. Bates’ parents and had agreed to adopt her.

Daisy had a warm and supportive relationship with the Smiths, and she was raised as a somewhat spoiled and willful only child. She grew up in a segregated world, attending segregated schools, which were handed down ragged, old, and outdated books from the better White schools.

When Daisy was fifteen years old and still in high school, she met Lucius Christopher Bates, an insurance agent and close friend of her father. L.C. Bates was born in Mississippi, attended segregated county schools, and went to Wilberforce College in Ohio, majoring in journalism. Upon graduating, he worked on the Kansas City Call in Missouri, but lost his position. He turned to selling insurance and was successful, but longed to return to journalism.

When Orlee Smith died in 1941, L.C. Bates proposed to Daisy Lee, and she accepted. They married a year later, used their savings to lease a newspaper plant from a church group and began a weekly newspaper, the Arkansas State Press. The paper soon had a circulation of ten thousand. Daisy and L.C. brought news to the Black community in a more balanced viewpoint, exposing incidents of White police brutality, and in the process, arousing the anger of White businessmen who threatened to withdraw their advertising from the Bates’ paper. In March of 1942, after the State Press reported the gruesome details of the killing of a Black soldier by a Little Rock policeman, many advertisements were withdrawn and the Bates had to double their efforts, working twelve to sixteen hours a day to keep their paper afloat. Gradually, readership increased, and within a year the newspaper reached twenty thousand readers.

As the “voice of the people”, the State Press worked for the improvement of the social, political and economic circumstances of Black Americans throughout Arkansas, especially in the right to vote and in continually exposing police brutality, and eventually forcing some changes.


The Right To Vote Rally

Flyer for a rally “The Right To Vote. The Fight To Vote” sponsored by the Federation of Negro Civil Service Organizations, Inc. Speakers include Jackie Robinson, Daisy Bates, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Roy Wilkins.  (SOURCE)

Black policemen were hired to patrol black neighborhoods, and the state of race relations improved noticeably. By the end of World War II, Mrs. Bates believed that Little Rock had gained “a reputation as a liberal southern city”.

Not so in the area of schools and education. With Daisy accepting the position of president of the Arkansas state conference of the NAACP in 1952, the passing of Brown vs. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, and with Arkansas continuing its slow and deliberate pace of school desegregation, Mrs. Daisy Bates was poised to usher in a new era of radicalism in the fight against Arkansas’ gradualism. With assistance from the NAACP, Mrs. Bates began helping Black American children to enroll in all-white schools. When the children were denied admission, Mrs. Bates recorded and later reported each incident to the local papers. Under increasing pressure from Black parents and the NAACP, Superintendent Virgil Blossom of the Little Rock Public School District announced a plan to begin the desegregation process with Central High School in September 1957.

Opposition and racial attacks began. Governor Orval Faubus in opposition to desegregation on September 2, 1957, the first day of school, ordered units of the Arkansas National Guard to Central High School to prevent violence. The NAACP lawyers—Wiley Branton and Thurgood Marshall–obtained an injunction from federal courts against the governor’s action, but the troops were not removed.

The nine Black American teenagers who were eventually chosen to participate in the integration of Central High School came to be known as the Little Rock Nine. Mrs. Bates planned and coordinated their activities, stood with them through the ordeal, and gave them a place of rest from the daily onslaughts of racial violence they encountered at Central High School.

The most memorable incident is that of Elizabeth Eckford, one of the nine students who mistakenly went to school alone on the morning of September 22, 1957. Her grace under pressure while she was jeered at and taunted by white mobs, especially in the horrific venom shouted to her by Hazel Bryan, came to symbolize the strength and determination of an entire generation of Black American students.

Elizabeth Eckford is shown center after attempting to enter Little Rock High School and being turned away by the National Guard with an angry Hazel Massery shouting behind her.

Because the mob was not controlled by the local police, Daisy and the student’s lives remained in danger. The police chief requested the assistance of the U.S. Justice Department. The next day, President Dwight Eisenhower federalized all Arkansas National Guard units and sent in 1,000 paratroopers from the 101ST Airborne Division to carry out orders of the federal courts. The following day, September 25, 1957, the paratroopers, under the leadership of Major General Edwin A. Walker, escorted Mrs. Bates and the nine students into Central High School. The paratroopers were withdrawn to nearby Camp Robinson on September 30, but Arkansas National Guard units were to remain on patrol at Central High School throughout the school year.

On October 31, 1957, the Little Rock city council arrested Mrs. Bates and other members of the Arkansas NAACP for failure to supply the city clerk’s office with information about the NAACP’s membership, contributors, and expenditures. At the trial in December of 1957, Mrs. Bates was convicted and fined $100, plus court costs. The conviction was eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bates kept in close contact with the Black students at Central High School, and she always accompanied them and their parents to meetings with school officials when incidents occurred. Eventually, White school officials and students learned that anyone who bothered “Daisy Bates’ children” would also have to deal with Daisy Bates personally. Her vigilance in the protection of and support of her children earned Mrs. Bates  the resentment and animosity of most Arkansas Whites, and a secure place for herself in twentieth-century Black American history.

The State Press was forced to close in 1959, but Daisy Bates remained active on the lecture circuit, in voter registration campaigns, and in community revitalization. In 1985 the Bateses again began to publish the Arkansas State Press, which continued to serve the important social, economic, and political needs of Black Americans in Little Rock. Despite some illness, Daisy Bates remained active in a variety of community organizations and was sought after by the press, politicians, and the people to provide her perspectives on the contemporary problems facing the Black American community.

Daisy Bates at Woolworth's Boycott

Daisy Bates at Woolworth’s Boycott

Daisy Bates and others at Woolworth’s boycott.  (SOURCE)

In 1987 the University of Arkansas Press reissued Mrs. Bates’s autobiography. Inaugurated in 1992, the Daisy Bates Education Summit helped evaluate the progress of America’s school districts in ensuring equal access and quality education to students of all colors.

In 2001, the Arkansas legislature signed a bill honoring Daisy Bates with a state holiday, and the National Park Service officially designated Mrs. Bates’s Little Rock home a National Historic Landmark.

After a series of strokes incapacitated her body, but never her indomitable will, Mrs. Daisy Lee Gatson Bates died in Little Rock, Arkansas at the age of 85.


“Daisy Bates”, by V.P. Franklin, from Black Women in America, by Darlene Clark Hine,  et. al., Oxford University Press, 2005, pgs, 78-80.

The Daisy Bates papers, which include an oral interview with Daisy Bates, are located at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.

Photographs courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society.


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Pop superstar Whitney Houston dead at 48
 Pop superstar Whitney Houston dead at 48

by Associated Press

Posted on February 11, 2012 at 7:19 PM

Updated today at 9:56 PM

LOS ANGELES — Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, died Saturday. She was 48.

Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen told reporters outside the Beverly Hilton that Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. in her room on the fourth floor of the hotel. Her body remained there and Beverly Hills detectives were investigating.

“There were no obvious signs of any criminal intent,” Rosen said.

Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, said the cause of death was unknown.

Rosen said police received a 911 call from hotel security about Houston at 3:43 p.m. Saturday. Paramedics who were already at the hotel because of a Grammy party unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate the singer, he said.

Houston’s end came on the eve of music’s biggest night—the Grammy Awards. It’s a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to cast a heavy pall on Sunday’s ceremony.

Her longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday, and a representative of the show said it would proceed.

Producer Jimmy Jam, who had worked with Houston, said he anticipated the evening would become a tribute to her, and he expected there to be one at the Grammys as well.

Houston was supposed to appear at the gala, and Davis had told The Associated Press that she would perhaps perform: “It’s her favorite night of the year … (so) who knows by the end of the evening,” he said.

Houston had been at rehearsals for the show Thursday, coaching singers Brandy and Monica, according to a person who was at the event but was not authorized to speak publicly about it. The person said Houston looked disheveled, was sweating profusely and liquor and cigarettes could be smelled on her breath.

Two days ago, she performed at a pre-Grammy party with singer Kelly Price.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he would call for a national prayer Sunday morning during a service at Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

“The morning of the Grammys, the world should pause and pray for the memory of a gifted songbird,” Sharpton said in a written statement.

In a statement, Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow said Houston “was one of the world’s greatest pop singers of all time who leaves behind a robust musical soundtrack spanning the past three decades.”

“Her powerful voice graced many memorable and award-winning songs,” Portnow said. “A light has been dimmed in our music community today, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, fans and all who have been touched by her beautiful voice.”

At her peak, Houston was the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world’s best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.

Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like “The Bodyguard” and “Waiting to Exhale.”

She had the perfect voice and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.

She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.

But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.

“The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy,” Houston told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.

It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.

She seemed to be born into greatness. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.

Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.

“The time that I first saw her singing in her mother’s act in a club … it was such a stunning impact,” Davis told “Good Morning America.”

“To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine,” he added.

Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made her album debut in 1985 with “Whitney Houston,” which sold millions and spawned hit after hit. “Saving All My Love for You” brought her her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. “How Will I Know,” “You Give Good Love” and “The Greatest Love of All” also became hit singles.

Another multiplatinum album, “Whitney,” came out in 1987 and included hits like “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

The New York Times wrote that Houston “possesses one of her generation’s most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity.”

Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the “Soul Train Awards” in 1989.

“Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?” she told Katie Couric in 1996. “You’re not black enough for them. I don’t know. You’re not R&B enough. You’re very pop. The white audience has taken you away from them.”

Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. It seemed to be an odd union; she was seen as pop’s pure princess while he had a bad-boy image, and already had children of his own. (The couple had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.) Over the years, he would be arrested several times, on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay child support.

But Houston said their true personalities were not as far apart as people may have believed.

“When you love, you love. I mean, do you stop loving somebody because you have different images? You know, Bobby and I basically come from the same place,” she told Rolling Stone in 1993. “You see somebody, and you deal with their image, that’s their image. It’s part of them, it’s not the whole picture. I am not always in a sequined gown. I am nobody’s angel. I can get down and dirty. I can get raunchy.”

It would take several years, however, for the public to see that side of Houston. Her moving 1991 rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl, amid the first Gulf War, set a new standard and once again reaffirmed her as America’s sweetheart.

In 1992, she became a star in the acting world with “The Bodyguard.” Despite mixed reviews, the story of a singer (Houston) guarded by a former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) was an international success.

It also gave her perhaps her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which sat atop the charts for weeks. It was Grammy’s record of the year and best female pop vocal, and the “Bodyguard” soundtrack was named album of the year.

She returned to the big screen in 1995-96 with “Waiting to Exhale” and “The Preacher’s Wife.” Both spawned soundtrack albums, and another hit studio album, “My Love Is Your Love,” in 1998, brought her a Grammy for best female R&B vocal for the cut “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay.”

But during these career and personal highs, Houston was using drugs. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she said by the time “The Preacher’s Wife” was released, “(doing drugs) was an everyday thing. … I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or two, it was every day. … I wasn’t happy by that point in time. I was losing myself.”

In the interview, Houston blamed her rocky marriage to Brown, which included a charge of domestic abuse against Brown in 1993. They divorced in 2007.

Houston would go to rehab twice before she would declare herself drug-free to Winfrey in 2010. But in the interim, there were missed concert dates, a stop at an airport due to drugs, and public meltdowns.

She was so startlingly thin during a 2001 Michael Jackson tribute concert that rumors spread she had died the next day. Her crude behavior and jittery appearance on Brown’s reality show, “Being Bobby Brown,” was an example of her sad decline. Her Sawyer interview, where she declared “crack is whack,” was often parodied. She dropped out of the spotlight for a few years.

Houston staged what seemed to be a successful comeback with the 2009 album “I Look To You.” The album debuted on the top of the charts, and would eventually go platinum.

Things soon fell apart. A concert to promote the album on “Good Morning America” went awry as Houston’s voice sounded ragged and off-key. She blamed an interview with Winfrey for straining her voice.

A world tour launched overseas, however, only confirmed suspicions that Houston had lost her treasured gift, as she failed to hit notes and left many fans unimpressed; some walked out. Canceled concert dates raised speculation that she may have been abusing drugs, but she denied those claims and said she was in great shape, blaming illness for cancellations.


Whitney Houston in 1988.

David Corio

Whitney Houston in 1988.

Ms. Houston reigned as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage.

An Appraisal

A Voice of Triumph, the Queen of Pain


Whitney Houston’s fall attracted so much notice because she had so far to go, down from the clouds into an abyss.

What can I say?

That voice.

The timbre, the octaves she could hit, the beauty, the resilience of such lovely vocal cords.

It is hard to believe that Whitney is no longer with us.

That all is left are recordings, concerts, and films that captured her image for all time.

But, she is still here.

Still in my heart, my memory, my love for her extraordinary talent.

She is still here in every little girl I see who in her innocence, gives me joy.

Whitney is still here, in every little girl I see who looks at the world with eyes of wonder and grows up to give us all gifts that made us cry tears of sorrow that you have left this world, but most of all, tears of  happiness that she graced our lives.

Whitney Houston.

Thank you for all you have given us.

May you find peace in the next life, where there are no broken hearts, where you can dance, where you will receive the greatest Gift of all.

Rest in peace, Ms. Houston.

Rest in peace.




Frank Noel, courtesy of the State Archives of Florida

Patricia Stephens Due, center, in a protest at a segregated theater in 1963 in Tallahassee, Fla.


Published: February 11, 2012

Patricia Stephens Due, whose belief that, as she put it, “ordinary people can do extraordinary things” propelled her to leadership in the civil rights movement — but at a price, including 49 days in a stark Florida jail — died on Tuesday in Smyrna, Ga. She was 72.

The cause was thyroid cancer, her daughter Johnita Due said. She had moved to Smyrna, an Atlanta suburb, to be near her family after living in Miami.

At 13, Patricia Stephens challenged Jim Crow orthodoxy by trying to use the “whites only” window at a Dairy Queen. As a college student, she led demonstrations to integrate lunch counters, theaters and swimming pools and was repeatedly arrested.

As a young mother, she pushed two children in a stroller while campaigning for the rights of poor people. As a veteran of integration and voting rights battles, she went on to fight for economic rights, once obstructing a garbage truck in support of striking workers. As an elder stateswoman of the movement, she wrote a memoir to honor “unsung foot soldiers.”

She fought beside John D. Due Jr., a civil rights lawyer, whom she married in 1963. For their honeymoon, they rode the Freedom Train to Washington to hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Mrs. Due paid a price for this devotion. She wore large, dark glasses day and night because her eyes were damaged when a hissing tear gas canister hit her in the face. She took a decade to graduate from Florida A&M University because of suspensions for her activism.

Her F.B.I. file ran more than 400 pages. Her stepfather urged her to give up civil rights, to protect her and his own job. She was kicked and threatened with dogs, including a German shepherd whose police handlers gave it a racial slur for a name.

Mrs. Due’s greatest prominence came after she and 10 other students were arrested for sitting at the “whites only” lunch counter at a Woolworth’s store in Tallahassee, Fla., on Feb. 20, 1960. It was 19 days after four black students in Greensboro, N.C., had made civil rights history by doing the same thing.

Mrs. Due and seven others refused to pay $300 fines for violating laws they abhorred. Five served the full 49-day sentence.

As leader of the sit-in, Mrs. Due became a national figure. Jackie Robinson sent her a diary for her jail-time thoughts. James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte and Eleanor Roosevelt endorsed her efforts. Dr. King sent a telegram saying, “Going to jail for a righteous cause is a badge of honor and a symbol of dignity.”

It was not easy behind bars. She and her sister, Priscilla Stephens Kruize, her compatriot in many battles, had to share a narrow bed. They suspected that a mentally disturbed woman was placed in the cell to unnerve them. Food was awful; nights were cold.

Thurgood Marshall, head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, questioned whether it was all worth it, given the deplorable state of Southern jails. But the drama of righteous incarceration seized the nation’s attention, a freed Mrs. Due went on a national fund-raising tour and the “jail-in” became a movement standard.

Patricia Gloria Stephens was born on Dec. 9, 1939, in Quincy, Fla., and was raised in Belle Glade, Fla. As high school students, she and Priscilla, who was 15 months older, started a petition to have the principal removed, The Miami Herald reported in 1990. Patricia said the two were “always testing things.”

In 1959, she formed a local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality. It was the beginning of life as “a professional volunteer,” in her daughter’s words. She worked with youths, helped out in political campaigns and spoke on human rights issues. In the last year of her life, state, county and local governments in Florida honored her.

In addition to her husband of 49 years, her sister and her daughter, Mrs. Due is survived by two other daughters, Tananarive Due and Lydia Due Greisz; a brother, Walter Stephens; and five grandchildren.

In 2003, Mrs. Due and her daughter Tananarive, a novelist, wrote “Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights.” The book discusses thorny issues like black people’s ambivalence about the civil rights struggle in the movement’s early days and the emotional turmoil of children whose parents are activists. It also contains many tales of courage.

“Stories live forever,” Mrs. Due liked to say. “Storytellers don’t.”


Patrica Stephens Due.

She was called the “Joan of Arc” of the Tallahassee, Florida community where she strove, through peaceful demonstrations, to bring civil rights to Black denizens of Florida in her fight to end segregation. Ms. Due’s arrest, along with her sister Priscilla, along with other Florida A&M University students, is considered the nation’s first jail-in.

Her daughter, famed author Tananarive Due, interviewed her mother in a discussion of her civil rights activism and on the mother-daughter memoir they wrote,  Freedom in the Family.

She was one of the many unsung heroines of the Civil Rights Movement.

Because of her, the world and this nation is a better place.

Rest in peace, Ms. Due.

Rest in peace.





Published: February 10, 2012

Jill Kinmont Boothe, a champion ski racer whose struggle to recuperate from a paralyzing fall on an icy slope became the subject of the popular 1975 film “The Other Side of the Mountain,” died Thursday in Carson City, Nev. She was 75.

George Silk/Time Life Pictures — Getty Images

Jill Kinmont, around 1955, before a fall left her paralyzed.

Universal Studios

Marilyn Hassett, with Timothy Bottoms, played Kinmont in two movies.

Her death, at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, was confirmed by a Carson City coroner, Ruth Rhines, who said no cause had yet been determined.

The cover of the Jan. 31, 1955, Sports Illustrated featured a photograph of Jill Kinmont, as she was then known, carrying her skis over one shoulder against a backdrop of snowy mountains. Then 18, she had won the national women’s slalom championship and was deemed a sure bet to represent the United States at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. But days after that issue landed on newsstands, she slid off an icy bump at high speed during a giant slalom race in Alta, Utah, severely damaging her spinal cord. The accident left her largely paralyzed from the neck down.

“The Other Side of the Mountain,” a lightly fictionalized and highly sentimental account of her accident, triumphant rehabilitation and discovery of a new life as a teacher, starred Marilyn Hassett in the lead role and Beau Bridges as her handsome, daredevil fiancé, who is killed in a plane crash. Ms. Hassett’s performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination as best actress in a drama and a Golden Globe for “best acting debut in a motion picture, female.”

“The Other Side of the Mountain” drew attention to the plight of paraplegics and quadriplegics, and for a time Boothe — she married John G. Boothe, who survives her, in 1976 — was a frequent guest on television talk shows. A sequel, “The Other Side of the Mountain, Part II,” which told of their courtship and marriage, appeared in 1978. (Timothy Bottoms played John Boothe.)

Born in Los Angeles on Feb. 16, 1936, Jill Kinmont moved with her family when she was a girl to Bishop, in the eastern Sierra region of California, where she began skiing at age 12.

After her accident, she attended U.C.L.A. and the University of Washington, and taught in schools near Seattle and in Beverly Hills before returning to Bishop and continuing her teaching career in 1975. A public high school in Bishop was named in her honor.





Published: February 10, 2012

Peter Breck, who starred as Barbara Stanwyck’s most tempermental son in the popular 1960s western series “The Big Valley,” died on Monday in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was 82 and had lived in Vancouver since the 1980s.

ABC, via Photofest

Peter Breck as Nick Barkley.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Diana.

Mr. Breck began his acting career shortly after serving in the Navy. He studied drama and English at the University of Houston and began appearing in productions at the Alley Theater in Houston before moving on to the Arena Theater in Washington, where Robert Mitchum saw him in George Bernard Shaw’s “Man of Destiny” and offered him a small role in his next film, “Thunder Road.”

Brooks Atkinson, the New York Times theater critic, happened to be in the audience that night too. He wrote that Mr. Breck “pitches into the part with wit, energy and comic invention.”

Mr. Breck had already made his television debut, in 1956, in an episode of “Sheriff of Cochise,” which was not a western but a contemporary police drama. But westerns seemed to be his particular destiny. In 1959 he starred in “Black Saddle,” a short-lived series about a gunfighter who becomes a lawyer.

Beginning in 1961, he played Doc Holliday in a half-dozen episodes of “Maverick.” And in 1965 he was cast in “The Big Valley,” a drama about a prosperous ranch family in the Old West, which ran four seasons on ABC. The show, a kind of matriarchal version of “Bonanza,” also starred Lee Majors, Linda Evans and Richard Long.

He appeared in feature films over the years but concentrated on theater work beginning in the 1970s and eventually founded an acting school in Vancouver. His last screen appearance was in “Jiminy Glick in Lalawood,” the 2004 Martin Short comedy.

Joseph Peter Breck was born on March 13, 1929, in Rochester. Because his father was a jazz musician often on the road, Peter lived with his grandparents in Haverhill, Mass., which they felt would offer him a more stable childhood.

In 1960 he married Diana Bourne, a dancer. She survives him. Their son, Christopher, died of leukemia in his 20s.

Mr. Breck had an opinion about why those TV westerns decades ago disappeared. “I think they’ve just forgotten how to make them,” he told The Toronto Star in 1998. “Everybody is so antiviolence these days.”


Though not as well known as the Cartwrights’ ‘Bonanza’, ‘The Big Valley’ was a TV western that had panoramic vistas, engaging stories, a rousing theme, and wonderful actors. Starring the great Barbara Stanwyck (“Double Indemnity”), Linda Evans (“Dynasty”), Richard Long (“Nanny and the Professor”), and Lee Majors (“The Six Million Dollar Man”), there was Peter Breck, whom I considered the more dashing and handsome of the brothers. (It also can be stated that because of his last name, I always had the image of the Breck Shampoo ads running though my mind).

Yes, Mr. Breck’s character, Nick Barkley, could be explosive, tempermental, and blunt, but, I still considered him a steady and strong anchor in the family.

Here’s to you, Mr. Breck, as you ride off into the sunset into the Great Beyond.

Rest in peace, Mr. Breck.

Rest in peace.




Published: February 7, 2012

The last veteran of World War I was a waitress, and for 90 years no one knew her name.

Senior Aircraftman Chris Hill/British Ministry of Defence, via Associated Press

Florence Green received a cake from the Royal Air Force for her 109th birthday in February 2010. Mrs. Green joined the Women’s Royal Air Force in 1918, toward the end of World War I.

Florence Green, a member of Britain’s Royal Air Force who was afraid of flying, died in England on Saturday, two weeks shy of her 111th birthday. She was believed to have been the war’s last living veteran — the last anywhere of the tens of millions who served.

Mrs. Green, who joined the R.A.F. as a teenager shortly before war’s end, worked in an officer’s mess on the home front. Her service was officially recognized only in 2010, after a researcher unearthed her records in Britain’s National Archives.

That Mrs. Green went unrecognized for so long owes partly to the fact that she served under her maiden name, Florence Patterson, and partly to the fact that she conducted herself, by all accounts, with proper British restraint, rarely if ever flaunting her service.

It also owes to the fact that her life followed the prescribed trajectory for women of her era: by the time the 20th century had run its course, Mrs. Green had long since disappeared into marriage, motherhood and contented anonymity.

With the death in May of Claude Stanley Choules, an Englishman who served aboard a Royal Navy battleship, Mrs. Green became the last known person, male or female, to have served in the war on either side.

Her death, at a nursing home in King’s Lynn, in eastern England, was announced on the Web site of the Order of the First World War, an organization based in Florida that keeps track of veterans.

In the spate of interviews she gave after her existence was discovered, Mrs. Green expressed quiet pride in her service. She also recalled approvingly the courtly behavior of the officers she served.

“It was very pleasant, and they were lovely,” she once told an interviewer. “Not a bit of bother.”

But though she was aware of her historical position as the war’s last veteran, Mrs. Green was philosophical about the war itself, one of the defining events of modern history, in which more than 20 million people died.

“It seems,” she remarked to The Independent last year, on the occasion of her 110th birthday, “like such a long time ago now.”

The daughter of Frederick Patterson and the former Sarah Neal, Florence Beatrice Patterson was born in London on Feb. 19, 1901, and moved to King’s Lynn as child.

In September 1918, two months before the war ended, Florence, then 17, joined the Women’s Royal Air Force. An auxiliary branch of the R.A.F., it had been created not long before to help free men for combat duty by recruiting women to work as mechanics and drivers and in other noncombat jobs.

Made a steward in the officers’ mess, she was assigned first to the Narborough Aerodrome and later to the R.A.F. base at Marham, both in England’s Norfolk region.

She served the officers meals and tea, and in free moments she would roam the base, admiring the men. “I met dozens of pilots and would go on dates,” Mrs. Green told The Daily Mail in 2010.

But when they offered to take her aloft in their craft — Sopwith Camels and other biplanes — she demurred. She was afraid to fly.

At Marham, Mrs. Green witnessed what was undoubtedly the most benign bombing of the war. On Nov. 11, 1918, when armistice was declared, the Marham fliers celebrated by swooping down on the Narborough airfield, a few miles away, and letting loose bags of flour. The Narborough boys quickly retaliated by pelting Marham with bags of soot.

Mrs. Green, who remained in the Women’s R.A.F. until July 1919, married Walter Green in 1920. Mr. Green, a railway porter, died in the 1970s.

Her survivors include two daughters, May and June; a son, Bob; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Green’s wartime experience remained unsung until 2009, when an English newspaper, The Lynn News and Advertiser, wrote about her 108th birthday. Andrew Holmes, a British researcher for the Gerontology Research Group, an American organization that keeps statistics on people who live well past 100, then located her service records in the National Archives, resulting in Mrs. Green’s recognition as a veteran the next year.

At her funeral next week, The Associated Press reported, the Union Jack will drape the coffin.

Richard Goldstein contributed reporting.


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