IN REMEMBRANCE: 12-6-2015

Chuck Williams, Founder of Williams-Sonoma

Chuck Williams, who founded the Williams-Sonoma empire and ushered in an era of aspirational culinary retailing, has died. He was 100.The retailer of high-end home goods said Williams died peacefully of natural causes Saturday at his home in San Francisco.

Williams opened his first Williams-Sonoma store in Sonoma, California, in 1956 inspired by a trip to Paris three years earlier. A lover of cooking and entertaining, he wanted U.S. professional chefs and home cooks to have access to high-quality cookware and tools.

“I couldn’t get over seeing so many great things for cooking, the heavy pots and pans, white porcelain ovenware, country earthenware, great tools and professional knives,” Williams told The Washington Post in 2005.He refurbished the store off Sonoma’s town square, covering the floor with black and white checkerboard tiles and painting the walls a bright yellow that he’d seen in pictures. He built custom shelving to display individual pots and pans and crafted a simple logo with the words “Williams” and “Sonoma” in block letters over a woodcut illustration of a pineapple — a symbol of hospitality.

The shop was such an enormous success that in 1958, he relocated to a 3,000-square foot store in San Francisco, next to the city’s bustling Union Square shopping district.

Julia Child’s landmark 1961 cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” and her cooking show on television sent even more cooks interested in French cuisine to Williams-Sonoma and by 11 years later, that store had expanded to twice its original size and the catalog, first published in black and white in 1958, was flourishing.

Renowned chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller said Williams made a major contribution to the world of cuisine.

 Chuck Williams
Chuck Williams, right, founder of Williams-Sonoma Inc., shakes hands with old friends outside his very first storefront in Sonoma, Calif., Tuesday, March 20, 2007. AP

“His tireless search for new equipment, techniques and ingredients to feature at Williams-Sonoma brought the pleasures of using fine cookware into reach for Americans, and by following his passion, Chuck allowed us to fulfill ours,” Keller said in a statement. “As we do with all of our mentors, we must acknowledge and be thankful for his vision and commitment; for what he did has impacted kitchens and restaurants worldwide. Chuck Williams once said, ‘If you love what you do, then the world will fall in love with you.’ We fell for you, Chuck, and we thank you for touching our lives.”

Born Oct. 2, 1915 in northern Florida, Mr. Williams’ earliest memories were of hand-mixing egg whites for divinity fudge and lemon meringue pies with his grandmother, who once owned her own restaurant.

Williams’ family moved to Palm Springs, California, during the Great Depression. He later relocated to Los Angeles, where he worked as a window dresser at the I.Magnin and Bullocks department stores. During World War II, he traveled to India and Africa, exploring the food, drinks and unique cooking techniques and tools of those parts of the world.

After returning home, he visited Sonoma and decided to move there and start a home construction business before venturing into the world of high-end cooking ingredients and home goods.

“With his impeccable taste and unique talent for selecting the right products at the right time, he built a powerful brand that inspired a cultural revolution around food and had immeasurable impact on home and family life around the world,” said Janet Hayes, Williams-Sonoma brand president.

He sold the company in 1979, but he remained closely involved with it.

SOURCE

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George Sakato; Given Medal of Honor Half Century After It Was Denied

George Sakato in 2013, escorted by Rick Crandall, the founder of the Colorado Freedom Memorial, during dedication ceremonies for the memorial in Aurora, Colo. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2000. Credit John Leyba/The Denver Post, via Getty Images

George T. Sakato didn’t think he would be much of a combat soldier. He was only 5 feet 4 inches tall, and he couldn’t hit the target on the rifle range in Army basic training.
But in a firefight in the Vosges Mountains of northeast France in October 1944, Private Sakato engaged in extraordinary feats of heroism. He killed five German soldiers and captured four others, then made a one-man rush under heavy fire that enabled his squad to destroy a German strongpoint atop a hill. When his squad leader was killed in a counterattack, he took charge, killed another seven enemy soldiers and assisted in taking 34 prisoners in all.
Mr. Sakato died on Wednesday in Denver at 94. He was the last survivor of the seven living Japanese-American veterans to whom tribute was paid more than a half a century after they fought gallantly for a nation that feared and loathed their people.
His daughter, Leslie Sakato, confirmed his death.
Mr. Sakato’s exploits, near the town of Biffontaine, were among the numerous feats of bravery displayed by the Japanese-Americans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in their rescue, amid heavy casualties, of more than 200 soldiers from the Texas National Guard, who had been trapped by the Germans and came to be known as the Lost Battalion.
(The original Lost Battalion, doughboys from the 77th Infantry Division, held off Germans who had trapped them in the Meuse-Argonne campaign of World War I.)
Private Sakato received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second-highest award for bravery. He was also recommended for the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor. But like other Asian-American soldiers at a time when the Japanese represented the enemy, he was denied it.
Or at least until June 21, 2000. On that day, in a gesture of belated recognition, Mr. Sakato and 21 other Asian-Americans — all but two of them of Japanese ancestry — were finally awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton in a ceremony at the White House.
Fifteen of the medals were awarded posthumously, those recipients having either died in the war or afterward.
The 22 medal presentations were the outgrowth of a Pentagon inquiry pressed by Senator Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii to identify Asian-Americans who may have deserved the Medal of Honor in World War II but did not receive it, presumably because of prejudicial attitudes.
The recipients included Mr. Akaka’s colleague from Hawaii, Senator Daniel K. Inouye, who lost an arm fighting in Italy. Senator Inouye died in December 2012.
Only one Japanese-American had received the Medal of Honor during World War II or immediately afterward. That soldier, Private Sadao Munemori, was honored posthumously in 1946. He had fallen on an exploding grenade to save two fellow soldiers alongside him during the Italian campaign.
Mr. Sakato was a Nisei, an American-born citizen of Japanese descent.
In the wake of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, thousands of Japanese, citizens as well as foreigners, were removed from the West Coast to inland internment camps, deemed collectively as security risks, which history has determined they were not.
“In order to prove our loyalty, I volunteered into the service,” Mr. Sakato told PBS in 2003.
“I’m an American and I want to be respected as an American, even though I look like the enemy,” he said, recalling his sentiments when war came.
George Taro Sakato, known to his friends as Joe, was born on Feb. 19, 1921, in Colton, Calif., where his parents owned a barber shop. When he was a youngster, the Sakato family moved to Redlands, Calif., and operated a meat market and grocery.
Weeks after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Sakatos moved to Phoenix rather than be shipped to an internment camp. Mr. Sakato sought to enlist in the Army Air Forces about a year later.
He was rejected, however: The military was classifying Nisei as enemy foreigners, notwithstanding their indisputable American citizenship. Another year would pass before he was allowed to enlist.
When he did, in March 1944, Mr. Sakato believed he had been accepted by the Air Forces. But as he discovered, they still did not want Japanese-Americans, and when his troop train arrived at Camp Blanding, Fla., he learned he had been taken by the ground Army. He was trained as an infantryman.
His prospects for surviving the war seemed none too bright.
As a child, the smallest of five brothers, “I was skinny and I got pneumonia, chickenpox, measles, anything that came by,” he told Densho, the Seattle-based Japanese-American Legacy Project, in 2009. In Army training camp he was unable to climb eight-foot-high walls, he said, so “I went around ’em.” Moreover, he said, “I couldn’t shoot that rifle.”
The Army shipped him to Europe nonetheless, assigning him to the Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
In the battle to help rescue the Lost Battalion, Private Sakato was enraged and grief-stricken when a buddy died alongside him.
As he told Densho: “I cried, hugged him, and ‘God, why?’ Laid him down and looked at all the blood in my hands and I said, ‘You son of a bitch.’ Threw the pack off, picked up the Tommy gun, and I got out of the hole and zigzagged back up, run this way and I’d run that way. I shot two or three guys, and then pretty soon the guys with white handkerchiefs were waving them.”
He was evacuated to the United States with a battle wound. When he came home, as he told the military newspaper Stars and Stripes in 2013, “I can remember going into a restaurant for a cup of coffee and the two waitresses wouldn’t even wait on me.”
He settled in Denver and became a postal worker.
Beside his daughter, Mr. Sakato is survived by his brothers James and John. His wife, Bess, died in 2007.
“I don’t know whether I deserve that medal,” Mr. Sakato told Renita Menyhert in the oral history “Remember Pearl Harbor” (2012). “But I do know the 442nd R.C.T. always seemed to be in the thick of every fight. We didn’t ask questions. We just did our duty. We were willing to die for our country.”
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Robert Loggia, Rugged but Versatile Character Actor

Robert Loggia, left, and Tom Hanks in a scene from the 1988 film “Big.” Credit 20th Century Fox

Robert Loggia, an Oscar-nominated actor who had a durable career in television and movies, notably in Brian De Palma’s gangster film “Scarface” and Penny Marshall’s comedy “Big,” died on Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 85.
His wife, Audrey Loggia, said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease. “He struggled with Alzheimer’s disease for five years,” she said. “It just took its natural progression.”
Mr. Loggia’s career began on the New York stage in the 1950s and soon moved into film and television in its early years. His rugged looks and gravelly voice made him a natural for playing characters with a hard edge, like a drug lord in “Scarface” (1983), a Sicilian mobster in “Prizzi’s Honor” (1985) and a private detective in “Jagged Edge” (1985), a role that got him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. (Don Ameche won that year, for “Cocoon.”)
In four episodes of David Chase’s HBO series “The Sopranos” he played Michele (Feech) La Manna, who wants to rejoin the mob after his release from prison.

Mr. Loggia earned a reputation as an energetic scene stealer. Credit Twentieth Century Fox

But Mr. Loggia could also break out of that mold to play a softhearted character, as he did memorably in “Big.”
He earned a reputation in Hollywood as a versatile performer and an energetic scene stealer.
“I’m a character actor in that I play many different roles, and I’m virtually unrecognizable from one role to another,” The Associated Press quoted Mr. Loggia as saying in 1990. “So I never wear out my welcome.”
Among his most noteworthy credits was “Scarface,” in which he played Frank Lopez, a Florida gangster who befriends and is then betrayed by a rising Cuban-born mobster played by Al Pacino, who kills him and marries his mistress, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.
In the comic fantasy “Big” (1988), he played Macmillan, a toy company executive who befriends a child trapped in the body of an adult man, played by Tom Hanks.
Mr. Loggia had one of the signature scenes of that film: gleefully tapping out “Chopsticks” and “Heart and Soul” with Mr. Hanks on a giant piano built into the floor of the toy store F.A.O. Schwarz.
In “Jagged Edge,” which starred Glenn Close and Jeff Bridges, he was Sam Ransom, a private eye who is hired to investigate a murder.
A favorite of the director Blake Edwards, Mr. Loggia appeared in five of his films, including three in the “Pink Panther” franchise. In George Stevens’s sprawling biblical film “The Greatest Story Ever Told” he played Joseph.
He made his film debut in 1956 in “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” playing a mobster who tries to persuade the boxer Rocky Graziano (Paul Newman) to throw a fight. Later in his career he was a presidential adviser in the science-fiction thriller “Independence Day” (1996).
On television, he had the starring role in the NBC television crime drama “T.H.E. Cat,” playing a former circus acrobat and cat burglar who hires himself out to clients in need of protection. The series was canceled after one season, 1966-67.
Mr. Loggia won an Emmy in 1989 for his work on the series “Mancuso FBI,” in which he played the title role, an F.B.I. agent. He was nominated for an Emmy in 2000 for a guest appearance on “Malcolm in the Middle.”
On the New York stage, in a 1956 Off Broadway production of “The Man With the Golden Arm,” Mr. Loggia played the lead role, a drug addict, who had been portrayed in the 1955 film version by Frank Sinatra.
Reviewing that play in The New York Times, Brooks Atkinson wrote that it would appeal to “connoisseurs of the dope habit and of degradation in general” and described Mr. Loggia as “a handsome, swaggering hero.”
Mr. Loggia made his Broadway debut in a 1960 production of Lillian Hellman’s “Toys in the Attic,” filling a role that had previously been played by Jason Robards Jr.
His theater background served him well when he broke into television in the late 1950s, appearing on “Studio One,” “Playhouse 90” and other live dramatic anthology series.
He was born Salvatore Loggia on Staten Island on Jan. 3, 1930, a son of Sicilian immigrants, and grew up in the Little Italy section of Manhattan. He studied journalism for a time at the University of Missouri before deciding to pursue acting and joining the Actors Studio in New York.
Besides his wife, the former Audrey O’Brien, he is survived by four children: Tracy, John and Kristina, from a previous marriage, to Della Marjorie Sloan, and Cynthia, as well as six grandchildren.
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Melvin Williams, an Inspiration for ‘The Wire’

Melvin Williams after being released from prison in 2003. Credit John Makely/BALTIMORE SUN STAFF PHOTO

Melvin Williams, whose exploits as a drug kingpin in Baltimore informed the plot and character details of the HBO series “The Wire,” and who, after emerging from prison, played a role on the show, died on Thursday in Baltimore. He was 73.
A spokeswoman for the Wylie Funeral Home in Randallstown, Md., confirmed the death, saying that the funeral arrangements were being handled by its Baltimore branch. The Baltimore Sun reported that Mr. Williams died at the University of Maryland Medical Center and, citing unidentified friends of his, said the cause was cancer.
A wily criminal with authority on the street and a gift for insulating himself from his crimes, Mr. Williams, who dealt in heroin and cocaine, was a leading figure in the stubborn and virulent drug trade along Pennsylvania Avenue in the West Baltimore neighborhood that “The Wire” made notorious in its run on HBO from 2002 to 2008. He did not escape punishment; convicted of drug crimes three times and for weapons possession once, he spent more than 20 years behind bars.
It was in the mid-1980s that he agreed to a series of prison interviews with a young Sun reporter, David Simon, whose five-part series about Mr. Williams appeared in January 1987. In an interview on Friday, Mr. Simon, who later created “The Wire,’’ said that growing up in a Washington suburb and attending the University of Maryland had hardly prepared him for covering the Baltimore drug trade.
“So now I’m a white reporter in a mostly black city, and the drug wars are heating up and everything you get is from the cops, so I was hearing it from one side,” he said. His talks with Mr. Williams, whom Mr. Simon described as “very sharp and very calculating,” began filling him in on the other side.
Many details of the drug operation depicted in “The Wire” — for instance, the system of communication involving pay phones and beepers employed by Mr. Williams and his underlings — were described in Mr. Simon’s newspaper articles. Some reports have suggested that Mr. Williams was the model for Avon Barksdale, the drug boss on “The Wire” played by Wood Harris, but Mr. Simon said that that wasn’t accurate — that Barksdale’s character was drawn from a number of people, including Mr. Williams, as well as from his own imagination and that of other writers on the series.
“He would never cop to an act of violence,” Mr. Simon said about his interviews with Mr. Williams. “But when he talked about the game” — the enterprise of running the drug business and avoiding arrest — “and what Pennsylvania Avenue was like, his eyes lit up.
“This was the life he had lived, and he had lived it at an extraordinary pace. It was the pride of a survivor, and of someone who had never gone back on his word to anybody. He had his own ethos, and he was very proud of that.”
Melvin Douglas Williams was born in Baltimore on Dec. 14, 1941, the son of a cabdriver and a nurses’ aide. He was a bright child and a decent student but was drawn to the street and the pool hall — he became a skilled hustler — and dropped out of school in the 11th grade. By the time he was 21, Mr. Simon reported in The Sun, Mr. Williams had been arrested 10 times on charges including auto theft and assault.
Known as Little Melvin, he was jailed on a drug charge in 1967, but he was out on bail after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April 1968 and the city erupted in riots. Mr. Williams stood on a Pennsylvania Avenue bench and, urging people to go home, helped quell the unrest, though several days later he was charged with threatening the patrons of a bar with a submachine gun. He was convicted of drug possession in 1969 and served his first extended sentence.
The Sun reported that Mr. Williams is survived by a wife and two daughters.
Released from prison for the last time in 2003 after finding religion — “Sometime in my 50s, I became aware that there was a God in charge, and not a Melvin,” he said in court — he did community service work trying to steer young people away from the kind of life he had led.
As Mr. Simon told the story, he and Ed Burns, a former police detective who had helped put Mr. Williams in jail and was a writer on “The Wire,” had lunch with Mr. Williams shortly after he was freed. They settled some old scores, and through it all Mr. Williams was so polite and had such a charismatic presence that both Mr. Simon and Mr. Burns thought he might play a role on the show. He appeared in several episodes as Deacon, a neighborhood spiritual leader. In his first episode, he counsels a distraught police official who despairs that his attempts to curb the drug trade have been futile.
“Oh, come on, man, you talking ’bout drugs,” Mr. Williams, as Deacon, says. “That’s a force of nature, it’s sweeping leaves on a windy day whoever the hell you are. You fought the good fight.”
Mr. Simon laughed in recalling the episode.
“It was an astounding inside joke if you were from West Baltimore, having Melvin Williams deliver that speech,” he said.
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Scott Weiland, Singer Who Helped Found Stone Temple Pilots

Scott Weiland in 2000, onstage in Las Vegas, on tour with the Stone Temple Pilots, promoting the group’s album “No. 4.” Credit Ethan Miller/Reuters

Scott Weiland, whose mercurial vocal style was a signature of the rock band he helped start, the Stone Temple Pilots, and later of the band Velvet Revolver, died on Thursday in Bloomington, Minn. He was 48.
His manager, Tom Vitorino, confirmed the death. A statement posted to Mr. Weiland’s Facebook and Instagram pages said he died in his sleep while on a tour stop with his current band, Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts.
The cause of death had not been determined as of late Friday. The police said they found “a small quantity” of cocaine during a search of the band’s tour bus. The Wildabouts had been scheduled to perform on Thursday night in Medina, Minn., at the Medina Entertainment Center.
Mr. Weiland released one album with the Wildabouts, “Blaster,” this year, and the band was near the end of a fall tour of clubs and small theaters. But at the height of the Stone Temple Pilots’ fame in the 1990s, he was known for commanding large stages. One of his signature moves was shouting lyrics through a megaphone held up to his microphone.
The Stone Temple Pilots were formed in California in the late 1980s by Mr. Weiland; the brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo, on guitar and bass; and the drummer Eric Kretz.
The group was initially dismissed by critics as a knockoff of popular Seattle-based acts like Pearl Jam, but it found a large fan base with broody melodies and memorable riffs. It was later credited with introducing to grunge the stadium-rock ambitions of ’70s bands. Danny Goldberg, former manager of another Seattle group, Nirvana, signed Mr. Weiland’s band to Atlantic Records in 1992.
In September of that year the group released its first studio album, “Core,” which included the hits “Plush” and “Creep.” The second Stone Temple Pilots album, “Purple,” which included the songs “Vasoline” and “Interstate Love Song,” was released two years later. Together, the two records sold 14 million copies in the United States, and “Plush” earned a Grammy for best hard rock performance in 1994.
The band released three more albums before going on hiatus in 2001; it reunited and released an album titled simply “Stone Temple Pilots” in 2010.
Three years later, the group parted ways with Mr. Weiland, posting a brief message on its website that said he had been “officially terminated.”

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Mr. Weiland, who struggled with drug addiction, was often seen as defiant and bedraggled, but he was also a capable singer with a gruff, powerful voice. He said in interviews that he had been given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

 

Scott Weiland, then the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, performing at a concert in Speedway, Ind., in 2008. Credit Steve C. Mitchell/European Pressphoto Agency

In 1995, he was arrested on suspicion of possessing cocaine and heroin and completed a rehabilitation program. He entered rehab again in 1996, forcing the band to cancel a tour supporting the album “Tiny Music … Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop.”
“It got to the point where I didn’t feel like I got a good enough rush unless I had one hand on the needle and one hand dialing 911,” he told Rolling Stone in 1997.
Two years later, he was sentenced to a year in jail for violating probation that resulted from a 1998 arrest in connection with heroin possession.
Mr. Weiland released his first solo album, “12 Bar Blues,” in 1998 and its follow-up, “ ‘Happy’ in Galoshes,” a decade later. He also released a holiday album, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” in 2011.
But Mr. Weiland’s greatest fame outside the Stone Temple Pilots was found with Velvet Revolver, a band consisting of three former members of Guns N’ Roses — Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum — and the guitarist Dave Kushner.
The group’s 2004 debut, “Contraband,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard album chart and included two gold-selling singles, “Slither” and “Fall to Pieces.” “Slither” also received a Grammy for best hard rock performance in 2005.
But Mr. Weiland’s time in Velvet Revolver also ended in chaos. In 2008, the band dismissed him, releasing a statement that said his “increasingly erratic onstage behavior and personal problems” were partly to blame.
Mr. Weiland was born Scott Richard Kline on Oct. 27, 1967, in San Jose, Calif. His parents divorced when he was 2 years old, and his mother, Sharon, married David Weiland, who formally adopted him.
The family moved to Ohio, and in his 2011 memoir, “Not Dead & Not for Sale,” Mr. Weiland disclosed that he had been sexually abused when he was 12 years old by a “muscular” high school senior.
The family moved back to California when Mr. Weiland was a teenager. He said that he had difficulty fitting in at his new high school, and that he started experimenting with drugs and alcohol after playing varsity football.
At 16, he started his first band. He met Robert DeLeo at a concert; Dean DeLeo joined in 1989, and the group finalized its lineup with Mr. Kretz.
Mr. Weiland married Janina Castaneda in the 1990s. After their divorce, he was married to the model Mary Forsberg from 2000 to 2007; the couple had two children, Noah and Lucy. He married the photographer Jamie Wachtel in 2013.
Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.
Mr. Weiland was remembered on social media by a number of his contemporaries, including Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, the singer and songwriter Ryan Adams and the guitarist Dave Navarro.
“It’s not my loss,” Mr. Navarro wrote, “it’s our loss.”
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