IN REMEMBRANCE: 4-29-2012

ENOCH WILLIAMS, 5-TERM NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN

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Published: April 28, 2012

 Enoch H. Williams, a former New York City councilman who used his leadership positions to pass a law banning smoking in most public spaces and to help stop the Giuliani administration from selling city-owned hospitals, but who also came under fire from gay rights groups, died on Tuesday at his home in Heathrow, Fla. He was 84.

Dith Pran/The New York Times

Enoch H. Williams was on the City Council from 1978 to ’97.

His wife, Marian, confirmed the death.

Mr. Williams was a moderate Democrat who represented the largely minority Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, East Flatbush and Crown Heights for five terms, from 1978 to 1997. As chairman of the Council’s Health Committee during his last term, he was a principal force behind the law that in 1994 banned smoking in restaurants, offices and many outdoor locations.

The same year, when Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani proposed selling city hospitals to private companies, Mr. Williams was a leader in taking the administration to court. In its lawsuit, the Council argued that the mayor had overstepped his authority in proposing the sale of hospitals in Coney Island and other neighborhoods. The Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court, agreed.

Mr. Williams, who had opposed a series of gay rights bill in the 1980s, drew protests from gay activists after being quoted by The New York Post as saying that the city had helped spread AIDS by “condoning homosexuality.” Despite Mr. Williams’s insistence that he had been misquoted, activists interrupted a Council meeting with demands for his resignation and shouts of “Help me! I’m dying” and “You are killing us!”

He countered that as the representative of minority communities, he felt compelled to question whether gay groups were getting more federal and state resources than black and Hispanic agencies that served populations in which AIDS had become rampant.

“I fully recognize that gay and lesbian civil rights do not cause AIDS,” he told a news conference. “Ignorance causes AIDS.”

Mr. Williams was also publicly criticized for opposing a public health program that had been set up to inhibit the spread of AIDS by distributing clean needles to drug users. He said he worried that free needles would encourage drug use.

Enoch Hill Williams was born in Wilmington, N.C., on June 21, 1927. His father died when he was very young, and his mother took him to live in Harlem. He served in the Army during World War II and the Korean War. He received a bachelor’s degree in business management from Long Island University and studied urban renewal at New York University and the New School. He then ran a coin laundry business and a church housing program.

Mr. Williams held the rank of major general in the New York Guard, the part of the state militia responsible for military jobs within the state. He was the first black person to command one of the four active units of the state militia.

Mr. Williams was for many years the civilian director of the selective service system in New York City. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention three times and in 2008 was one of 27 presidential electors in Florida.

His first marriage ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sons, Kamau Bandele Kokayi and Robert Williams; his daughter, Chareese Adamson; his stepson, Derrick Johnson; his stepdaughter, Yolonda Johnson; 17 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

SOURCE

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ALEX CASSIE, WHO AIDED ‘GREAT ESCAPE’ FROM NAZIS

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The supposedly escape-proof Stalag Luft III prisoner-of-war camp in eastern Germany.

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Published: April 21, 2012

It was on the moonless night of March 24 and 25, 1944, that 76 Allied prisoners of war, most of them British, clambered down a 30-foot shaft and crawled through a 340-foot-long tunnel below the supposedly escape-proof Stalag Luft III camp in eastern Germany — the daring breakout that was celebrated in the classic 1963 movie “The Great Escape.”

Flight Lt. Alex Cassie

In their pockets, the escapees carried what looked like officially stamped documents, identification cards, business cards and even letters written in German from purported wives and sweethearts, all of which were intended to make it possible for them to befuddle a hapless guard or police officer stopping them on their way to freedom.

Flight Lt. Alex Cassie, a British bomber pilot, was one of a half-dozen artists who had been forging those documents for months, playing a central role in the larger conspiracy to free hundreds of the nearly 1,000 airmen in the camp. They called their unit Dean and Dawson, after a well-known London travel agency.

Having meticulously falsified hundreds of documents, Lieutenant Cassie was placed among the top 50 on the list of those who would sneak into the tunnel that night. But knowing that he was claustrophobic, and not wanting to impede the others, he chose to stay in the barracks.

Lieutenant Cassie, an amateur artist since childhood and a psychologist after his military service, died at a nursing home in Surrey, England, on April 5, his son, Adrian, said. He was 95.

His decision to stay behind on that fateful day troubled him for the rest of his life. For while the breakout is hailed as one of Britain’s momentous acts of heroic resolve in World War II, it did not end as hoped. Of the 76 escapees, 73 were soon recaptured, and 50 of those were executed on orders from Hitler.

“All five of my hut mates had been shot,” Mr. Cassie told the British newspaper The Sun in 2001. “Often I’ve asked myself, ‘Why didn’t I go?’ I can’t shake off the vague feeling of guilt, that why should I have been the lucky one?”

For anyone else aware of his deeds, he was a hero.

While other prisoners were digging three tunnels (code-named Tom, Dick and Harry) under the six compounds at the camp, shoring them up with boards from their bunks, Lieutenant Cassie and his fellow forgers were at work in tiny rooms.

“One of Dean and Dawson’s occupational hazards was that they had to sit by a window so they could get enough light for their finicking work,” Paul Brickhill, a prisoner at the camp, wrote in his 1950 book, “The Great Escape,” which became the basis of the movie. Fellow prisoners standing outside would signal if a guard approached.

A guard “nearly caught them a couple of times,” the book continues, “but they were just able to cover the work before he reached the window.”

To produce their forgeries, Mr. Cassie told The Sun, “we got the best of the paper from the flyleaves of books which arrived at the camp” through the Red Cross. “The rest — ink, photography, timetables, etc. — was bribed from the Germans. It was amazing what a few cigarettes could do.” They got hold of a typewriter with a German typeface. Lieutenant Cassie used cold tea to age documents. He etched official-looking stamps from boot heels.

In the movie, starring Steve McQueen and James Garner, Donald Pleasence played a forger based in part on Lieutenant Cassie. “As a piece of cinematic entertainment, it ranks very highly, but it isn’t a particularly accurate historical record,” Mr. Cassie told the Scottish newspaper The Aberdeen Press and Journal in 2000, which pointed out that there was no jaunty, baseball-throwing, McQueen-like American leading the breakout.

Of the forgers, Lieutenant Cassie was “the most distinctive, in appearance anyway,” Mr. Brickhill wrote in his book, with a “great thatch of long ginger hair that fell over his eyes like a Skye terrier and little tufts of ginger beard sticking out of isolated spots around his jaw.”

Lieutenant Cassie had been the pilot of a Royal Air Force bomber, flying missions over Germany and France, when his plane was shot down after it attacked a submarine in the Bay of Biscay in September 1942. He and his crew were picked up by a French fishing boat and turned over to the German authorities.

The lieutenant was immediately taken to Stalag Luft III. He remained there until January 1945, when, with the Soviets advancing from the east, the Germans emptied the P.O.W. camps and forced thousands of prisoners to march west. They were liberated by the British in April.

Alexander Cassie, known as Sandy, was born in Cape Province, South Africa, on Dec. 22, 1916, the only child of George and Jessie Cassie, who had emigrated from Scotland. After high school, he went to Scotland and began studying psychology at the University of Aberdeen.

“I always had a pencil in my hand and had always been a competent artist and used to do covers for the university rag magazine,” he told The Aberdeen Press and Journal. In 1940, two years after graduating, he joined the R.A.F. Mr. Cassie’s wife of 56 years, the former Jean Stone, died in 2005. Besides his son, he is survived by a daughter, Rosalyn Postance, and four grandchildren.

In 2004, 17 of the prisoners who had been involved in the great escape, Mr. Cassie among them, reunited at the Imperial War Museum in London. Archaeologists had excavated one of the tunnels at Stalag Luft III, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported, adding, “Artifacts recovered include a rubber stamp carved from the heel of an airman’s boot and used to forge documents for escapers.”

SOURCE

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LEROY T. WALKER, U.S. OLYMPIC COMMITTEE’S FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT

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Published: April 24, 2012

LeRoy T. Walker, a leading American track and field coach who was the first African-American to coach a United States men’s Olympic track team and to serve as the president of the United States Olympic Committee, died Monday in Durham, N.C. He was 93.

Associated Press

Mr. Walker was the first African-American president of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

His death was announced by North Carolina Central University, where he gained coaching renown and was later the chancellor.

When he marched into Atlanta’s Olympic Stadium as U.S.O.C. president at the head of the 645-member American delegation to the 1996 Summer Games, Mr. Walker achieved a celebrated homecoming in an America far removed from his boyhood.

He was born in a segregated Atlanta, the youngest of 13 children. He was the only member of his family to attend college, receiving a bachelor’s degree from a historically black college, Benedict College of Columbia, S.C. He was thwarted in his hopes of becoming a physician because medical school spots for blacks were severely limited and his family was poor.

Nonetheless, he received a master’s degree from Columbia University and a doctorate from New York University in physical education and allied fields.

As the head track and field coach at the historically black North Carolina Central in Durham, known as North Carolina College when he arrived there in 1945, Mr. Walker developed Olympic medalists and numerous national champions and all-Americans. (He was the chancellor of the college from 1983 to 1986.)

The best known of those athletes, Lee Calhoun, won gold medals in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1956 Melbourne and 1960 Rome Games, and Larry Black, Julius Sang and Robert Ouko won gold in relay events at the 1972 Munich Games.

When Mr. Walker was named the Olympic men’s track and field coach in 1974, in anticipation of the 1976 Montreal Games, he looked back on an era in which black coaches received limited exposure.

“We didn’t get to the major track meets and we were living in a separate world,” he said. “In 1956, when Lee Calhoun won a gold medal, they thought of Calhoun as a great athlete but not necessarily of LeRoy Walker helping to produce a Calhoun.”

Mr. Walker coached his 1976 American squad, featuring the hurdler Edwin Moses and the decathlete Bruce Jenner, to gold medals in six events at Montreal.

He was treasurer of the United States Olympic Committee from 1988 to 1992 and a senior executive who helped lead preparations for the 1996 Atlanta Games, with a six-figure salary, a post he gave up when he was named the unpaid president of the U.S.O.C. in October 1992.

Beyond his technical knowledge of track, Mr. Walker was respected for his insistence on discipline and his motivational skills. He was known as Doc or Dr. Walker.

“Not that other coaches didn’t have Ph.D.’s, but Dr. Walker’s title had become a handle over the years,” Vince Matthews, the 1972 Olympic 400-meter champion, once said. “He looked more like a business executive than a track coach, with glasses and distinguished streaks of gray in his dark hair.”

“I like to think of the Doc tag as something in terms of closeness,” Mr. Walker said, “not something different from everybody else.”

LeRoy Tashreau Walker was born on June 14, 1918, the son of a railroad firefighter. When his father died, his mother, Mary, sent him to live in Harlem with a brother who owned a window-cleaning business and restaurants, and who became his surrogate father. Returning to the South, he played football and basketball and sprinted at Benedict College, graduating in 1940. He received his master’s degree from Columbia the next year.

Mr. Walker was named the football and basketball coach at North Carolina College in 1945 and developed a track team as a means of conditioning his athletes. He received a doctorate in biomechanics from N.Y.U. in 1957 while continuing to coach.

He was president of the Athletics Congress (now USA Track & Field), the national governing body, from 1984 to 1988. He advised or coached Olympic teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, Israel, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago; helped organize an American-Pan African meet; and took an American track squad to China.

Mr. Walker is survived by his son, LeRoy Jr.; his daughter, Carolyn Walker Hoppe; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His wife, Katherine, died in 1978.

Before he drew national attention, Mr. Walker often faced dispiriting times in the South, especially when he took his teams on the road. “We would go down into rural Alabama, and I’d have to drive 200 miles before I could find somebody who would serve us,” he told Ebony magazine.

When he was named the president of the U.S.O.C., he told The New York Times that he marveled at the road he had taken as “a guy born in Atlanta, where segregation was rampant.”

He added, “It sounds Hollywoodish, yet there it is.”

SOURCE

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JOHN A. HOYT, CHAMPION OF ANIMALS, WHO GUIDED HUMANE SOCIETY TO PROMINENCE

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Published: April 22, 2012   

John A. Hoyt, who made the Humane Society of the United States the largest anticruelty organization in the country during an era when changing cultural attitudes were greatly expanding the number of animal protection groups, died on April 15 in Fredericksburg, Va. He was 80.

The Humane Society of the United States

John A. Hoyt

The cause was progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain disorder, said his daughter Peggy Hoyt.

Mr. Hoyt, who was president and chief executive of the Humane Society from 1970 to 1996, was best known for expanding its traditional stewardship over dogs and cats to include laboratory animals, livestock, wild horses, whales, endangered fish and rodeo bulls.

The society’s expanded agenda reflected both cultural sensitivity and public relations savvy in a period when environmentalism and the animal liberation and natural food movements were emerging, said Bernard Unti, a historian of the Humane Society. The new movements were expanding public consciousness, but also competing for contributions.

“It was a rapidly changing landscape,” Mr. Unti said, “and John made sure that the society blossomed while continuing to be itself.”

Mr. Hoyt also established the Humane Society as one of Washington’s most sophisticated lobbying operations. He began campaigns to save porpoises and baby seals. He worked against fur trapping, sport hunting, roadside zoos, cockfighting and bullfighting, and fought to end unnecessarily painful lab experiments on rats, mice and chimpanzees.

The suffering of livestock became a major focus of Humane Society lobbying in the mid-1970s, soon after Mr. Hoyt met Temple Grandin, the animal behaviorist, who was then developing a stress-reducing corral for young cattle being slaughtered for veal.

The Humane Society financed research for a prototype of her famous double-rail restrainer system. “That system is in use in half the slaughterhouses in the country, and it probably would not have existed if not for John Hoyt,” she said in an interview Friday. “He took the practical approach — ‘If we’re gonna eat meat, well, let’s make sure the animals don’t suffer needlessly.’ ”

Mr. Hoyt was also an early proponent of laws against organized dogfighting. Lobbying efforts by the Humane Society beginning in the 1980s were instrumental in persuading 40 states to adopt laws making deliberate animal cruelty a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Those laws were considered instrumental in the passage of the 2007 Virginia law under which Michael Vick, the N.F.L. quarterback, was prosecuted for dogfighting.

By its own accounting, the Humane Society grew to over 5 million members during Mr. Hoyt’s tenure from 100,000. Its annual budget, which was under $1 million when he became president in 1970, had grown to about $50 million by the time he retired.

When confrontational animal rights organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals emerged in the 1980s — criticizing organizations like the Humane Society for being too focused on fund-raising and for not recognizing the inherent equal rights of humans and animals — Mr. Hoyt vigorously defended his group’s approach, which he described as “pragmatic idealism.”

He dismissed staff members he considered too sympathetic to the animal liberation movement, and in a speech at the society’s 1988 annual conference refused to accept “censure for our willingness to accept compromise” or for the society’s “organizational growth and financial success.”

John Arthur Hoyt was born March 30, 1932, in Marietta, Ohio, one of six children of Claremont and Margaret Hoyt. His father was an itinerant Baptist minister. Mr. Hoyt was ordained a Baptist minister, too, after graduating in 1957 from what is now Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester.

He was serving as senior minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., when he was recruited as president of the Humane Society by a friend who was a board member and an executive in the American Bible Society.

At the time, he told his family it was “like leaving one church for another.”

Mr. Hoyt’s survivors include his wife, Gertrude, and four daughters. Besides Peggy, they are Karen Willcox, Anne Williams and Julie Dorman. He is also survived by a brother, David, and four sisters, Carolyn Harman, Josephine Bero, Mary Griffes and Margaret Nasemann.

The Humane Society was established in 1954 as a result of a schism within the American Humane Association, which was established in 1877 as a loose national federation, based in Denver, of animal rescue groups. While the leaders of the Humane Association were committed to remaining decentralized, the dissidents who founded the Humane Society believed that the cause required a national focus, federal legislation and a headquarters in Washington.

During his tenure, Mr. Hoyt commuted to the society’s L Street townhouse headquarters from a small farm in Fredericksburg, where he lived with his family and the many dogs, cats, horses and other animals that he and his daughters brought home on a regular basis, Peggy Hoyt said.

Though he had no training in animal welfare when he began the job, Mr. Hoyt told interviewers that he had always loved animals, mainly because of the influence of his grandmother, a vegetarian who lived to be 106. “My grandmother had 40 pet sheep,” he once said, “and each one had a name.”

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