BOB SMITH, INVENTOR OF FOG-FREE SKI GOGGLES
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Published: April 30, 2012
As an orthodontist, Bob Smith knew how to correct a problem. And as an avid skier who tackled the mountains near his home in Alta, Utah, he recognized something in 1964 that needed fixing: ski goggles.
The primitive goggles then in use were prone to condensation and fogging. So Dr. Smith and his wife, Jean, sat down at their kitchen table and began tinkering.
Dr. Smith’s design of 1965 inspired the goggles that are in wide use today, with dual-pane lenses and foam vents that prevented fogging, freezing and condensation, allowing skiers greater visibility and access to more extreme terrain.
Dr. Smith, whose design became the backbone for Smith Optics, died on April 18 at his home in La Quinta, Calif. He was 78.
The cause was heart failure several days after a pacemaker had been implanted, according to Tag Kleiner, marketing director for Smith Optics.
The goggles are “a lot like a storm window, ” Mr. Kleiner said. “When you have warmth inside and cold outside, you have dead air space that acts as an insulator,” he added. “Without that you get fog and condensation.”
Dr. Smith sold the goggles to other skiers, sometimes for lift tickets. By 1967 he had struck a distribution deal with Klaus Obermeyer, founder of the Obermeyer ski apparel company, and in 1969 he began producing and selling goggles under the name Smith.
Dr. Smith’s design is now the industry standard, though some skiers still prefer sunglasses. Smith Optics sells its products in 50 countries and reports annual sales of more than $100 million, including hundreds of thousands of goggles, sunglasses and helmets.
Smith Optics also makes goggles for motor sports, law enforcement and military use. Scott Jaeger, a senior retail analyst for Leisure Trends Group, a market research company for outdoor sports, said Smith Optics had 35% of all United States goggles sales through Feb. 2012, a percentage he called “dominant.”
Robert Earl Smith was born on May 12, 1933, in San Carlos, Calif. He attended Stanford but left for the San Francisco College of Dentistry after three years. He joined the United States Army after graduation and worked in dentistry in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1957 and 1958. He spent weekends skiing at Kitzbühl, a nearby mountain.
In 1960, Dr. Smith opened a private practice in Marin County, Calif. In 1964 he married Jean Huntington and moved to Utah.
She survives him, along with two sons, Andrew and Colby, and four grandchildren.
Dr. Smith sold Smith Optics in 1991.
Mr. Kleiner said the company continues to innovate. Smith was the first to add a tiny fan inside goggles to reduce condensation further, he said. The company is now testing goggles with a digital display that includes a readout of mountain conditions, locations of friends, and the title of the song playing on the skier’s MP3 player.
MOSCELYNE LARKIN, A FOUNDER OF TULSA BALLET
Published: April 29, 2012
Her death was announced by Katie Selvidge, Tulsa Ballet’s community relations coordinator.
Ms. Larkin and her husband, Roman Jasinski, built a student group into today’s Tulsa Ballet, a thriving company in an area of the country not previously known as a dance center.
Beginning in the 1940s, Ms. Larkin performed with several Ballets Russes companies, and her roles ranged from the lyrical Waltz in Michel Fokine’s “Sylphides” to the boisterous Cowgirl in Agnes de Mille’s “Rodeo.”
“She is tiny and sparkling, with a magnificent jump and a spectacular way with turns,” the British critic P. W. Manchester wrote of her in 1955.
Edna Moscelyne Larkin was born on Jan. 14, 1925, in Miami, Okla., the daughter of Eva Matlagova, a Russian dancer who had toured America, and Ruben Larkin, who was of part-Welsh and part-Shawnee-Peoria Indian descent. Her parents divorced when she was young and she moved to Tulsa, where her mother opened a dance school.
Ms. Larkin studied in the summer at some of New York’s leading ballet studios. At 15, she auditioned for Col. W. de Basil’s Ballets Russes, one of the major companies of the time. She was immediately hired, whereupon the company changed her name to Moussia Larkina, that being a time when American ballet dancers often were given Russian stage names.
While touring Latin America with de Basil’s company (also known as Original Ballet Russe) during World War II, Ms. Larkin fell in love with Mr. Jasinski, a handsome Polish principal dancer, and married him in Buenos Aires when she was 19. The marriage lasted until Mr. Jasinski’s death, in 1991.
Although the Jasinskis went to Europe with the de Basil company after the war, they soon decided to return to New York because Mr. Jasinski wished to become an American citizen. There, they joined another perpetuator of Ballets Russes traditions, Sergei Denham’s New York-based Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Since Russian stage names were no longer expected, Ms. Larkin danced as Moscelyne Larkin.
In 1955, the Jasinskis retired to Tulsa, where they taught at Ms. Larkin’s mother’s school. When they assembled a student troupe in 1956, the response was so positive that they expanded it into what is now Tulsa Ballet, with a repertory including 19th-century classics, ballets in the 20th-century Ballets Russes tradition and contemporary works.
Proud of her Native American heritage, Ms. Larkin helped organize an Oklahoma Indian Ballerina Festival in 1957, honoring five prominent Indian dancers: in addition to Ms. Larkin, Rosella Hightower, Yvonne Chouteau and the sisters Maria and Marjorie Tallchief. A second festival took place in 1967.
Ms. Larkin is survived by her son, Roman Larkin Jasinski.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: May 1, 2012
An obituary on Monday about the ballerina Moscelyne Larkin misstated the given name of one of the dancers honored along with her at the Oklahoma Indian Ballerina Festival in 1957. She is Maria Tallchief, not Marie.
RICHARD BELLMAN, LAWYER WHO FOUGHT DISCRIMINATION IN HOUSING ZONING
Published: April 29, 2012
Richard F. Bellman, a lawyer whose tenacity and legal ingenuity propelled him to victory in fights with local governments over racially discriminatory zoning, including in a landmark case against Mount Laurel, N.J., in 1975, died on April 18 on his way to work in Manhattan, where he also lived. He was 74.
The cause was a heart attack, his son, Jedd, said.
Where others saw dry zoning ordinances, Mr. Bellman saw a battleground for classic civil rights campaigns as he fought for subsidized housing for the poor and minorities in white suburbs. In Mount Laurel, he persuaded the New Jersey Supreme Court to order the town to change its zoning to make possible the construction of low-income housing.
The ruling “set in motion the most fundamental redistribution of property rights ever attempted by a state government in the United States,” a 1990 article in Political Science Quarterly said. In New Jersey, it required every municipality to provide zoning for affordable housing.
Mr. Bellman was victorious in another class-action suit in 1988, when he convinced a federal appeals court that Huntington, N.Y., on Long Island’s North Shore, had perpetuated segregation through its zoning ordinances. The United States Supreme Court affirmed the ruling, which broadened the interpretation of federal fair-housing laws by holding that to win a judgment, a plaintiff need only demonstrate the fact of discrimination — not an intention to discriminate.
The towns Mr. Bellman fought argued that their zoning laws were appropriate because they helped preserve a style of life, kept school costs down and promoted single-family homes. But as blacks and other minorities sought to follow whites to the suburbs — where life was perceived to be better, and where more jobs were available — opponents saw the land-use restrictions as racist.
“Resistance to any kind of integrated housing in virtually all-white areas is endless and astounding,” Lewis M. Steel, Mr. Bellman’s law partner, said. “There are a thousand arguments and they all sound similar.”
Richard Frederick Bellman was born in Minneapolis on Feb. 20, 1938. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, did graduate work in political science at the University of Chicago and returned to the University of Minnesota to earn a law degree.
His first job was with the N.A.A.C.P., for which he worked as assistant to Robert L. Carter, the general counsel. Starting in 1968, he worked for a succession of anti-discrimination organizations and was in private practice. In addition to his son, Mr. Bellman is survived by his wife, Barbara J. Beck.
Mr. Bellman argued zoning cases from a variety of perspectives, sometimes stressing law-and-order grounds, sometimes constitutional guarantees of equal rights, and sometimes fair-housing legislation, Mr. Steel said.
“Dick has this ability to go on and on,” he said. “He would never give up; he would always try to figure out, ‘O.K., what do you do now? How do you go at this a different way?’ ”
In the Mount Laurel case, he convinced the court that under the due-process and equal-protection clauses in the State Constitution, municipalities could not use zoning to exclude the poor.
Similar arguments did not work in the case of Brookhaven, N.Y. Mr. Bellman lost lawsuits in 1987 and 1992 in which he argued that Brookhaven, also on Long Island, had used zoning policy to exclude low-income people illegally. He had hoped the class actions would establish a precedent for New York State similar to what the Mount Laurel case had done for New Jersey.
Civil rights advocates have complained about how the New Jersey Legislature carried out what came to be called the “Mount Laurel doctrine.” They say its requirement that all 566 of the state’s municipalities provide affordable housing has resulted in the construction of only 60,000 units. Since 2010, Gov. Chris Christie has tried to weaken the state mandates, arguing that housing should be a local matter.
Mr. Bellman often ventured beyond zoning issues in discrimination cases. In 1970 he won $500 in damages for a black minister after a landlord in Montclair, N.J., refused to rent to him because of his race. It was the first monetary award by a New Jersey court for mental suffering caused by racial discrimination.
Mr. Bellman also took the occasional criminal case.
In 1985, he represented Willie Jones, who was charged with evading a subway fare, then imprisoned for three months on Rikers Island to await trial in an unrelated robbery case. The robbery charge was based on fingerprint analysis, which turned out to have been bungled. A different man named Willie Jones was wanted for the robbery. After Mr. Bellman helped Mr. Jones win his freedom, the man promptly became Willie D. Jones, even though he actually had no middle name.
ALEXANDER DALE OEN, NORWEGIAN SWIMMER
By KAREN CROUSE
Published: May 1, 2012
The breaststroker Michael Alexandrov looked up video of Alexander Dale Oen on YouTube last week. The United States Olympic trials are in June, and Alexandrov was studying Dale Oen’s technique to see how to improve his own stroke.
Joe Klamar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Alexander Dale Oen, the world champion in the 100 breaststroke, was doing high-altitude training in Arizona.
Alexandrov’s training partners at the University of Southern California include Kosuke Kitajima, who is regarded as the best breaststroker in history, but Alexandrov considered Dale Oen, the reigning world champion in the 100-meter breaststroke, to be the man to beat at the London Games.
On Tuesday, Alexandrov was on his way to a morning workout when he received an e-mail from a friend with the news that Dale Oen died Monday from cardiac arrest while in Flagstaff, Ariz., for high-altitude training with other members of the Norwegian national team. Dale Oen was 26.
According to The Associated Press, a Norwegian team doctor performed CPR on Dale Oen after he was found on his bathroom floor. He was taken by ambulance to the Flagstaff Medical Center before being pronounced dead.
The Flagstaff Police Department is investigating Dale Oen’s death. According to The A.P., the police said there were no signs of trauma or foul play.
“I’m just really torn apart,” Alexandrov said in a telephone interview. “He was a great guy, and I considered him the favorite for the gold.”
The death of Dale Oen, considered one of Norway’s top Olympic medal prospects in London, dominated the headlines in his homeland. On Twitter, the Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, described Dale Oen as “a great sportsman for a small country.”
At last summer’s world championships in Shanghai, Dale Oen turned in the most emotionally charged performance of the meet. Competing in the 100 breaststroke final three days after 77 people, mostly children, died in the worst massacre in Norway’s history, he won in 58.71 seconds. It was the fastest time recorded by a swimmer not wearing the now-banned polyurethane suits and the fourth fastest in history.
After his time flashed on the scoreboard, Dale Oen pointed to the Norwegian flag on his cap, rose from the water and flexed his biceps in a show of strength to those back home in Norway.
“We need to stay united,” he said after the race. “Everyone back home now is of course paralyzed with what happened, but it was important for me to symbolize that even though I’m here in China, I’m able to feel the same emotions.”
Mark Gangloff, an American who finished eighth in the race, described Dale Oen’s victory as “one of the most amazing performances ever.”
“He really put his country on his shoulders for that race,” said Gangloff, who was nearly two seconds off Dale Oen’s pace. “It was a rallying point for that country to come together.”
Since last summer, Gangloff said, he has watched the video of the final several times — most recently last week.
“I’ve looked at it to see what I could have done better, but also to see what he was doing correctly,” Gangloff said by telephone from Auburn, Ala., where he trains. “The way he swam that race was amazing — he didn’t hold anything back. He just went for it. His swim set the standard for the rest of us.”
Alexandrov said Dale Oen’s technique, which stood out because of his high stroke rate, was frequently copied but never duplicated.
“He was like a feather in the water,” said Alexandrov, who represented Bulgaria in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics before gaining his United States citizenship in 2009.
He recalled racing Dale Oen, who began swimming at 4, for the first time in 2001, and over the years, they kept in touch. Their last communication, he said, came on Facebook before Dale Oen traveled to Arizona for the swim camp.
“He was really into nature and photography,” Alexandrov said. “He’d show me pictures he had taken of these crazy mountains in Norway.”
On his Twitter page Monday, Dale Oen, who lived in Bergen, said he was looking forward to going back home: “2 days left of our camp up here in Flagstaff, then it’s back to the most beautiful city in Norway.”
Dale Oen, who would have turned 27 this month, is survived by his parents, Mona Lillian Dale and Ingolf Oen, and an older brother.
Kitajima, who edged Dale Oen by 29 hundredths of a second in the 100 breaststroke in Beijing on his way to winning his second Olympic 100-200 double, said in a statement: “I was looking forward to racing against him at the Olympics. I’m sure he was looking forward to the Olympics, too. I still can’t believe he’s passed away.”
It was also hard for Gangloff to fathom that his target, the standard he has been chasing in his daily workouts, is gone.
“I was just shocked when I received the news,” Gangloff said. “It’s almost like it’s not real. You don’t expect that to happen to a person who’s at the peak of their physical condition.”
Gangloff, 29, a married father of a 2-year-old, has made the Olympics his focus. But he was having a hard time concentrating on swimming Tuesday.
“I think something like this puts everything in perspective,” he said. “All I could think about all morning as I played with my daughter is what his parents, his family and his country are going through right now. It’s heartbreaking.”
AMARILLO SLIM, FIVE-TIME POKER WORLD SERIES WINNER
Published: April 30, 2012
Amarillo Slim, the pencil-slender, cornpone-spouting Texan who became poker’s first superstar by overpowering opponents with charm, cunning and preternatural coolness, died on Sunday in Amarillo, Tex. He was 83.
The cause was colon cancer, his son, Thomas Preston III, said.
After honing his gambling skills as a pool hall hustler and illegal bookmaker, Thomas Austin Preston Jr. turned his attentions to poker in the 1960s, when it was played mainly on kitchen tables and in smoky backrooms and Las Vegas casinos. With his cowboy hat and boots, Texas drawl and country wit, he became the public face of poker as he won major titles at a time when the game was rising to a multibillion-dollar mainstream business, first on television and then on the Internet.
“Slim used his name and face to promote poker in a way it had never been done before, and without Amarillo Slim, the poker world would likely not exist in the way we know it today,” Poker Player News said in its obituary.
Amarillo Slim won five times in World Series of Poker events, was elected to at least four gambling halls of fame and played poker with Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon, the drug lord Pablo Escobar and the magazine publisher Larry Flynt, who dropped $1.7 million.
His wagers that had nothing to with poker garnered just as much attention. He once bet the 1939 Wimbledon tennis champion Bobby Riggs that he could beat him at table tennis as long as he, Amarillo Slim, picked the rackets, then showed up with iron skillets — with which he had spent months practicing. He then bet a syndicate of Tennessee gamblers that he could beat a world table tennis champion.
The champion practiced with a skillet, only to find that Amarillo Slim had changed weapons. He showed up with a pair of empty Coke bottles and won handily.
He said he won $300,000 from Willie Nelson playing dominoes. He bet on which sugar cube a fly would land on.
Amarillo Slim’s gift for colorful patois was legendary. When asked if he could bluff his way to victory with a bad hand, he said, “Is fat meat greasy?” He then offered the thought that most people who play poker “don’t have the guts of an earthworm.”
He was just as uncharitable to individual opponents. One “couldn’t track an elephant through four feet of snow”; another “had as good a chance of beating me as getting a French kiss out of the Statue of Liberty.”
He liked to say that he had been so skinny as a child, he had to get out of the bathtub before he pulled the plug. As an adult, he was 6 feet 4 inches and 170 pounds.
Thomas Preston was born in Johnson, Ark., on New Year’s Eve 1928. His family moved to Turkey, Tex., nine months later. His father was a car salesman, and the family moved frequently between Arkansas and Amarillo. His memory could astound: he memorized the United States Constitution and could remember a license plate 15 years later.
After picking up snooker, the billiards game popularized by the British, he was soon hustling in pool halls in the Mexican part of Amarillo. In 1945, he enlisted in the Navy and entertained sailors with pool exhibitions. He said he had made $100,000 from a bookmaking business he ran while in the Navy. After returning to Amarillo, he said, he grew bored and enlisted in the Army. Stationed in Europe, he developed a large black-market business that included selling thousands of Mickey Mouse watches to Russian soldiers.
Mr. Preston spent most of the 1950s hustling pool. Some stories have it that he took his pseudonym after playing matches with Minnesota Fats. He enhanced his hustles by learning to play the bumpkin.
Eventually, his reputation at pool spread so widely that Amarillo Slim thought he had to switch businesses, so he turned to engaging in illegal bookmaking in the winter and traveling around Texas in the summer playing poker. When the World Series of Poker was first played in Las Vegas in 1970, he was there. The handful of competitors played his favorite game, hold ’em. He ultimately won more than $500,000 in tournament play and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 1992.
He was free with advice. Poker players, he said, should concentrate on their opponents more than on the cards, watching their eyes and ignoring their words. (His giant Stetson obscured his own eyes.) Most critical, he advised, was to be able to quit a loser.
Amarillo Slim’s reputation was tarnished in 2003 when he was accused of touching a granddaughter inappropriately and charged with multiple accounts of indecency to a child, a felony. In a deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault charges. But he professed his innocence, saying he had accepted the plea deal to protect his family from the embarrassment of a public trial.
His marriage to Helen E. Byler ended in divorce. In addition to his son Thomas, he is survived by another son, Tod; a daughter, Rebecca Ruth Deane; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Younger poker players more scientific about the game have eclipsed Amarillo Slim, but none beat his pithiness.
“I like you, son,” he once said, “but I’ll put a rattlesnake in your pocket and ask you for a match.”
GREG JACKSON, BROOKLYN YOUTH MENTOR
By BRUCE WEBER
Published: May 2, 2012
Greg Jackson, a former professional basketball player who turned a Brooklyn recreation center into a hive of productive activity in one of New York’s most troubled neighborhoods, died on Tuesday in Brooklyn. He was 60.
Mr. Jackson, the longtime manager of the Brownsville Recreation Center, apparently had a heart attack during a parks department meeting in the borough and died at New York Methodist Hospital, the department said.
Mr. Jackson, whom friends called Jocko, grew up in Brownsville, a mostly poor and often crime-riddled segment of eastern Brooklyn dominated by public housing developments. He was a local basketball star who played briefly in the National Basketball Association before returning to his home turf, where he became known as a tireless community advocate and, unofficially, the mayor of Brownsville.
“If you can grow up and survive in Brownsville,” Mr. Jackson said in a 1998 interview, “you can do it anywhere in the world.”
The recreation center, on Linden Boulevard, was built in 1953 as the Brownsville Boys Club. But the building declined with the neighborhood and was closed for a time until the city invested $10 million to renovate it in 1991. Now it has basketball and handball courts, a weight room, a swimming pool, and pool tables, among other features.
Mr. Jackson, who began working for the Department of Parks and Recreation in 1986, was named director of the center in 1997; under his leadership it became a haven for the children, adults and the elderly.
He removed protective — and forbidding — bulletproof plastic barriers from inside the center. He enlisted local artists to paint murals on the walls and expanded the center’s programs beyond athletics, staging plays, running talent shows and holding roller-skating nights. He organized annual old-timers’ weeks, inviting former residents to return for softball and basketball games and barbecues in the name of instilling community pride. He was chairman of the Reeves Drakeford Brownsville Jets, a youth basketball team founded in 1965. And he was a mentor to a legion of neighborhood children.
“We’ve lost a major leader,” Adrian Benepe, the New York City parks commissioner, said in an interview on Wednesday. “He made the center neutral territory, a place of peacefulness and calm in a community where, well, there can be violence. He saw to it that the violence never came in the doors.”
Gregory Jackson was born on Aug. 2, 1951, and was reared in Brownsville by his mother, Dottie Rice. As a boy he played basketball at the center when it was the Boys Club. But he was living with family members who were addicted to drugs and was in danger of going that route himself, Representative Edolphus Towns, an old friend, said in an interview on Wednesday. Mr. Towns, who was then working as a hospital administrator as well as counseling young people in Brownsville, arranged for young Greg to move in with his parents in Chadbourn, N.C., and attend high school there.
After graduating, Mr. Jackson went to Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., where he played with the future N.B.A. stars M. L. Carr and Lloyd B. Free (who later changed his name to World B. Free) on a basketball team that won the 1973 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics championship tournament. Drafted by the Knicks in 1974, he played one season in the N.B.A. as a guard for the Knicks and the Phoenix Suns. He later played for the Allentown Jets in the Eastern Professional Basketball League.
Mr. Jackson’s survivors include his wife, Carmen, and nine children. After his death, Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn borough president, proposed that the Brownsville Recreational Center be named in his honor.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
(April 5 , 1964)
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(April 7, 1891)
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