Saturday, July 16, 2011

This week in death

As I mentioned, there were a lot of interesting obituaries this week and they deserve their own feature. I may not do this all the time, but the obituaries this week were particularly compelling.

Starting with Major Lionel Meynell who did bomb disposal during the blitz. Everything must seem like a piece of cake after something like this:

"On October 16, at Church Lawford, near Coventry, an oil incendiary device was reported to have fallen near an RAF aerodrome. When Meynell arrived he found that the bomb, which weighed 250 kilograms, was not an incendiary but was actually fitted with a time fuse which was ticking down. He had received no explicit instructions on the workings of that type of fuse, but in view of the need to deal with it without delay decided to remove it immediately and did so successfully."

Then there's Kip Tiernan who founded the first homeless shelter for women in Boston in the 1970's. She sounds remarkable. And it is remarkable to me this assumption she faced that only men were homeless.

On a lighter note, lots of people noticed the death of Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of both Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch.

But there's also the obituary for Barry Bremen, who is labeled a "professional impostor," but was really an amateur, in the best sense of the word. "Mr. Bremen played golf next to the P.G.A.’s Curtis Strange, made a few layups in the company of the N.B.A. player Otis Birdsong and chased fly balls off the bat of the Kansas City Royals star George Brett. But despite his best efforts as a human Walter Mitty action figure, he never managed to fool anyone for longer than the span of a glance and a double take."

Finally, I read this morning the obituary for Jerry Ragovoy, a songwriter you will know whether you know it or not. Somehow, I find it odd that the writer of Piece of My Heart was the son of an optomotrist and lived in Stamford, CT. But that's just my prejudice. This kind of passion and heartbreak can happen anywhere.

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