IN REMEMBRANCE: 8-24-2014

TERENCE TODMAN, AN ENVOY TO 6 NATIONS

Terence A. Todman became the senior African-American member of the Foreign Service during his four decades in diplomacy. Credit Frank Johnston/The Washington Post, via Getty Images

The State Department announced the death.

In 1990, Mr. Todman was awarded the title “career ambassador,” the State Department’s equivalent of a four-star general in the Army. For years he was the highest-ranking African-American in the Foreign Service. Jet magazine called him “the Jackie Robinson of diplomacy.”

He was ambassador to Chad, Guinea, Costa Rica, Spain, Denmark and Argentina, and assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration.

The son of a grocery clerk and a laundress, he served in the Army before and during the time it was racially integrated in the 1940s and joined the State Department when the only place to eat near its Virginia training center was segregated. He demanded that it be integrated, and for the rest of his career lobbied for more blacks in the diplomatic corps.

He sharply criticized the State Department for almost automatically sending black diplomats to Africa or the Caribbean as what he called “ghetto” assignments. After serving as ambassador to Chad in the early ’70s, he threatened to quit if he was again assigned to Africa, he told The Nation magazine in a 1996 interview.

He continued in Africa as ambassador to Guinea, but his assignment after that, in 1974, was Costa Rica. He was the first black American ambassador to a Latin American country. He said in an oral history that he felt he was “breaking out of this ridiculous mold.”

In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said Mr. Todman “was known for his outspokenness and his advocacy for equality during a time of segregation, when few minorities could be found at any level in the State Department.”

Mr. Todman’s forthright approach was apparent in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan considered appointing him ambassador to South Africa. Mr. Todman, who was ambassador to Denmark at the time, said at a news conference that he could accept the job only if Mr. Reagan’s policy toward South Africa “finds credibility with the South Africans, with the people of Southern Africa and with the rest of the world.”

He added, “I don’t think we’re at that stage yet.”

Mr. Todman later said he was quoted out of context. Mr. Reagan found another black career Foreign Service officer for the post, Edward J. Perkins.

As the State Department’s chief Latin American strategist in the Carter administration, Mr. Todman helped to negotiate the treaty that led to Panama’s assuming ownership of the Panama Canal, as well as agreements with Cuba that included setting up regular diplomatic channels between Havana and Washington. He was the first American diplomat in 16 years to visit Havana.

He tried to walk a fine line between the Carter White House’s aggressive push for human rights and workable relations with countries being criticized for abuses. At the time he assumed office in the spring of 1977, Brazil, Argentina and several other Latin American countries had refused American aid because of the criticism. He strongly argued that it was wrong to punish an entire country because its rulers behaved badly.

When people were dying of waterborne diseases in Paraguay, for example, he persuaded policy makers in Washington that going ahead with aiding water purification efforts was more important than worrying about whether the country’s dictator, Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, would claim credit.

In February 1978 he gave a speech urging patience with the often fitful efforts by Latin American nations to improve human rights. The New York Times called the speech “a direct attack on the State Department’s human rights activists.” He was replaced as assistant secretary.

But President Jimmy Carter named him ambassador to Spain, one of the most prestigious diplomatic postings and one usually given to political appointees. He was the first black to head one of the most important missions, known as Class One embassies. In Spain, Mr. Todman negotiated the use of naval and air bases and helped the country become a member of NATO.

Terence Alphonso Todman was born on St. Thomas on March 13, 1926, one of 13 siblings. He attended Inter-American University of Puerto Rico for a year until he was drafted into the Army. He served in Japan, where he helped to organize that country’s first postwar election. He returned to Inter-American and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, then went on to Syracuse University, where he earned a master’s degree in public administration.

He passed the written State Department test, but, he recalled, the officer who interviewed him expressed worry that his West Indian accent was not “100 percent American.” On the basis of another interview, he was hired anyway. He said in the oral history that at the time he joined the State Department, the only blacks he saw were secretaries and messengers.

His early posts included the United Nations, Lebanon and Tunisia. From 1965 to 1969 he was deputy chief of mission in Togo, before becoming country director for East African Affairs.

His first ambassadorship was Chad, from 1969 to 1972. His last was Argentina, from 1989 to 1993.

Mr. Todman is survived by his wife of 62 years, the former Doris Weston; his sons, Terence Jr. and Michael; his daughters, Patricia Rhymer Todman and Kathryn Todman Browne; a brother; and six grandchildren.

Mr. Todman generally worked behind the scenes, but generated headlines in 1991 by publicly criticizing Argentine government officials for demanding bribes. He also criticized what he said were bureaucratic roadblocks hindering American investment there.

Negotiating, he once said, is “the art of letting someone else have your way.”

SOURCE

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JOHN BLAKE JR., VERSATILE JAZZ VIOLINIST

John Blake Jr. taught at several music conservatories and mentored many musicians.

The cause was complications of multiple myeloma, said Charlotte Blake Alston, his sister.

Mr. Blake was highly regarded for the energy and clarity of his playing, and for carving out a space for the violin in the realms of post-bop and jazz-funk.

Early in his career he worked with the avant-garde saxophonist Archie Shepp, appearing on his albums “The Cry of My People” and “Attica Blues.” He came to greater prominence in bands led by the saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. and the pianist McCoy Tyner. Both later appeared on Mr. Blake’s own albums; he released five on the Gramavision label, starting with “Maiden Dance” in 1984.

Reviewing him that year in The New York Times, Jon Pareles noted that “where some jazz violin solos could easily be played as horn lines, Mr. Blake deploys violinistic slides, tremolos and doublestops not as special effects, but as flexible, vocalistic shadings.”

John Edward Blake Jr. was born in Philadelphia on July 3, 1947, and began his training on violin at 9. He studied music at West Virginia University, after which did postgraduate work in Montreux, Switzerland, focusing partly on traditional East Indian music.

In addition to Ms. Alston, his sister, Mr. Blake, who lived in Philadelphia, is survived by his wife of 38 years, Barbara Irene Blake; a son, the drummer Johnathan Blake; two daughters, Beverly Woodson and Jennifer Watson; another sister, Vivian Blake Carson; two brothers, Alan and Elliot; and six grandchildren.

Mr. Blake taught at several music conservatories and mentored many musicians outside the classroom, including the prominent jazz violinist Regina Carter; he produced her 2010 album “Reverse Thread” (E1 Music).

Mr. Blake’s most recent release, also in 2010, was “Motherless Child” (ARC Music), an album of hymns and spirituals arranged for his quartet and the Howard University vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue. Among its tracks is an instrumental version of the traditional spiritual “City Called Heaven,” with a stark, commanding prelude on solo violin.

SOURCE

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JAY ADAMS, WHO REVOLUTIONIZED SKATEBOARDING

Jay Adams in a West Los Angeles swimming pool in 1976. Credit Glen E. Friedman, all rights reserved

Allen Sarlo, a lifelong friend of Adams’s who was with him in Mexico, said Adams spent Thursday surfing and went to bed complaining of chest pain. Adams, who had a history of drug trouble but had recently been sober, had a heart attack that night and died early Friday morning, Sarlo said.

To skateboarders, Adams was an evolutionary figure. He came from a generation of surfers for whom skateboarding was sidewalk surfing. They infused it with aggression and attitude, coining phrases like “get radical” and creating foundational maneuvers that paved the way for stars like Tony Hawk.

“Jay embodied our culture and our lifestyle all in one,” said Christian Hosoi, a professional skater and a friend of Adams’s.

But Adams also embodied darkness and excess: His competitive skate career lasted only a few years before it was derailed by addiction and jail time.

Jay J. Adams (his middle name was simply the letter J) was born in Santa Monica, Calif., on Feb. 3, 1961. He never knew his father. When he was 3, his mother began a 14-year relationship with Kent Sherwood, who worked at a local surf shop and later ran a surfboard rental business in the Venice section of Los Angeles. Sherwood raised Adams as his son.

“I got him in the water when he was 4,” Sherwood said in an interview.

Adams was a fixture at local beaches by the time he was in the first grade. Sometime in the late 1960s, he paddled up to the surfboard designer and builder Jeff Ho and complimented his surfing style.

“It really took me aback because in that time you didn’t see little kids in the water,” Ho said in an interview.

That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship that put Adams on the path to fame — not as a surfer but as a skateboarder.

When Adams was growing up in Southern California, there was not much of a distinction between people who surfed and people who skated. In the 1970s, when Ho opened a shop called Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions, Adams became a member of a surf team that traveled to local competitions and, by extension, a member of the shop’s skate team as well.

At the time, organized skateboarding, such as it was, was a cross between acrobatics and ballet, with tricks like rolling handstands and twirling 360s similar to what figure skaters did in the Olympics.

Ho’s Zephyr team, which became known as the Z-Boys, had an aggressive, surf-influenced style in which the skaters lowered their bodies and, as if riding a wave, did hard turns into embankments and walls.

That style became the standard after a 1975 skateboard contest in Del Mar, Calif., when the arrival of Adams and the Zephyr team more or less ended the era of skateboarding as gymnastics.

“It took off; everybody started skating like that,” said J. Grant Brittain, a photographer who was a spectator at the contest.

A few years later, Adams, along with Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta and others, started to unleash himself on empty swimming pools. Skateboarders had experimented with empty pools as far back as the early ’60s, but with the advent of urethane wheels, which got more traction than the clay wheels they replaced, Adams’s generation was able to go faster and higher and ultimately out of the pool.

Over a two-year period, Adams and the other skaters laid the foundations for vertical skateboarding.

“Every week was a month, and every month was a year; things just really progressed,” Glen E. Friedman, a fellow skater who photographed the era, said in an interview.

Through sponsors and endorsement deals, Adams made some money and achieved some fame. But as skateboarding faded in the early 1980s, he became a heavy drug user and began a long run of legal trouble.

He cleaned up for a time but then became addicted to heroin and landed in jail several times from the late 1990s until the late 2000s.

The 2001 documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” directed by Peralta, revived Adams’s legend and brought him a new generation of fans. He continued to have troubles with drugs and the law but became a Christian in jail and recently became sober.

His survivors include his wife, Tracy Hubbard Adams, as well as a son, Seven, and a daughter, Venice, from previous relationships.

A few months ago, several of the Z-Boys, including Adams, Alva and Peralta, met for a reunion dinner at Hostaria del Piccolo, a restaurant near Venice Beach. Two busboys, realizing they were hosting the Z-Boys, were awed.

“Years ago we would have been kicked out of a restaurant like that,” Peralta said, “and here they are: ‘Thank you for choosing us.’ ”

SOURCE

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DON PARDO, THE VOICE OF ‘SNL’

Don Pardo in 1992. He was the announcer for NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” for 38 seasons. Credit Al Levine/NBC Universal, via Associated Press

His daughter Dona Pardo confirmed the death.

Mr. Pardo, whose career began in the radio age, continued on “SNL” through the end of its most recent season, in May.

While not many people knew his face, practically every American knew his voice for more than half a century. Mr. Pardo was with “SNL” for 38 seasons, beginning with its first episode, in October 1975, missing only Season 7, and for many years he had been the announcer on the widely watched game shows “The Price Is Right” and “Jeopardy!”

For many viewers of “Saturday Night Live,” the names of scores of stars — from Chevy Chase to Eddie Murphy to Tina Fey — were first heard in Mr. Pardo’s sonorous baritone, which announced the cast each week at the end of the opening skit.

“Every year the new cast couldn’t wait to hear their name said by him,” Lorne Michaels, the show’s creator, said on Monday night.

That voice was validation for many stars.

“The moment you said my name was the height of my career,” Maya Rudolph told Mr. Pardo in a video tribute when he was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2010.

Dominick George Pardo was born on Feb. 22, 1918, in Westfield, Mass. (It was George Washington’s birthday, the source of his middle name.) His father, also named Dominick, a bakery owner, and his mother, Viola, were immigrants from Poland. Mr. Pardo’s eventual first name resulted from his wanting to distinguish himself from his father.

“They used to call me Nicky, and I didn’t like that,” he said in an oral history he recorded in 2006 for the Archive of American Television. “So when I got into radio, I took up Dom.” That, though, didn’t stick. “People would always say ‘Don,’ ” Mr. Pardo continued. “I said, the heck with it; I’ll be Don.”

Mr. Pardo became interested in oratory and theater while a student at Norwich Free Academy in Connecticut, and in 1938, while living in Providence, R.I., he began working with local troupes, among them the 20th Century Players, which performed on WJAR, the NBC affiliate in Providence. After about a year, the station manager offered him a job as an announcer for $30 a week — a pay cut from his job at Brown & Sharpe, a machine tool manufacturer, but his new bride, Catherine Lyons, told him to take it anyway.

In 1944, Mr. Pardo and a friend, Hal Simms, who would also become a top radio and TV announcer, made a fateful weekend trip to visit the NBC studios in New York. When Mr. Pardo stopped by to thank Patrick J. Kelly, the supervisor of announcers, for arranging the tour, he ended up with a job offer. He started with the studios’ night staff on June 15, 1944, working from 6 p.m. to signoff, 2 a.m.

Mr. Pardo joined NBC just as it was experimenting with television programming. One day in 1946, the boss came in and asked if he knew anything about baseball. He and another announcer wound up calling three televised baseball games.

Mr. Pardo called the games as a radio announcer would, following the maxim never to allow any dead air. It proved to be a poor mix with a new medium in which viewers could see the action. In his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, Mr. Pardo recalled that one reviewer had dismissed his efforts saying, “He doesn’t know the game, and he wouldn’t shut his mouth.”

Mr. Pardo shuttled between radio and television for a time until an assignment he received in 1956 proved to be a keeper: the original “The Price Is Right,” hosted by Bill Cullen. The show’s popularity made the Pardo voice famous, and the occasional on-air mention by Mr. Cullen began to attach a name to that voice.

It was on “The Price Is Right” that he developed, by necessity, his distinctive elongated delivery. Part of his job, he explained, was to describe the merchandise being offered on the show before contestants tried to guess its price.

Mr. Pardo in 1945. He began his career at NBC a year earlier, first as a radio announcer. Credit NBCUniversal

“The cameras are moving so slowly, and that’s the way I had to describe it: slowly,” he said. “Those cameras were large then. You want to make sure you describe what the camera is on.”

The show, based in New York, switched to ABC in 1963, but Mr. Pardo chose to stay with NBC, where he had duties besides “The Price Is Right.” He was, for instance, the first to tell viewers of WNBC in New York that President John F. Kennedy had been shot, breaking into a “Bachelor Father” episode to do it.

Mr. Pardo’s decision to stay at NBC left him available to be the announcer for a new show, “Jeopardy!,” which made its debut in 1964. A trivia show in which contestants tried to provide the questions after seeing the answers, “Jeopardy!” was hosted by Art Fleming, who made a point of thanking Mr. Pardo by name in each episode, lifting him even further out of announcer anonymity.

The original “Jeopardy!” (a syndicated version with Alex Trebek has been broadcast since 1984) ran until 1975, again a serendipitous endpoint because “Saturday Night Live” began that same year. The show’s creator, Mr. Michaels, who was born the year that Mr. Pardo started at NBC, 1944, saw Mr. Pardo, with his radio-age voice, as a strait-laced counterpoint to the wackiness of “SNL.”

“It couldn’t have been a more different culture,” Mr. Michaels said. “But it was perfect for us.”

Mr. Pardo botched the very first opening, calling the Not Ready for Prime-Time Players the “Not for Ready Prime-Time Players.” But the misstep was forgotten, and Mr. Pardo became a signature part of the show, not just announcing the cast, musical guest and host but also introducing “Weekend Update” and playing an integral role in other bits. He missed Season 7 after Mr. Michaels had stepped away from the show temporarily.

Mr. Pardo, who had a lifetime contract with NBC, retired in 2004, but he continued to do “SNL” even though he had moved to Arizona after his wife died in 1995. For years he flew to New York each week. In recent seasons he recorded his material in Tucson.

He had countless odd moments and memorable encounters. In 1976, he appeared in a Frank Zappa performance on “SNL.” In 1984, he had a voice cameo in the Weird Al Yankovic song “I Lost on Jeopardy.” He was in the Woody Allen movie “Radio Days” in 1987 and a guest star on a 2009 episode of “30 Rock.”

In addition to his daughter Dona, Mr. Pardo is survived by two other daughters, Paula and Katherine, two sons, David and Michael; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Mr. Michaels said it was too soon to make a decision on a successor to Mr. Pardo. But he said “Saturday Night Live” would surely present a tribute to him in the coming season.

“It was a happy accident and in some great way our lives intertwined,” Mr. Michaels said. “It was always exciting. Whatever montage we did to open the show, whatever pictures we used, it didn’t really come alive till you heard him say it.”

Correction: August 22, 2014
An obituary on Wednesday about Don Pardo, the longtime announcer for “Saturday Night Live,” misstated, at one point, the year that show began. As the obituary correctly noted elsewhere, it was 1975, not 1976.

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