Jade Walker

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Donald Goerke

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Categories: Business

Donald Edward Goerke, the “Daddy-O of SpaghettiOs,” died on Jan. 10 of heart failure. He was 83.
Born in Waukesha, Wis., Goerke served in the Army Air Force during World War II, then earned a bachelor’s degree from Carroll College and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. He started his career in marketing as a researcher for the Blatz Brewery before landing a marketing analyst job at the Campbell Soup Company.
During his 35-year career with Campbell’s, Goerke introduced more than 100 products, including Chunky Soup, a hearty ready-to-serve soup that “eats like a meal.” This product was a radical departure from the company’s traditional line of condensed soups, which require the addition of either milk or water.
But Goerke was best known for inventing SpaghettiOs, a reheatable pasta covered in a sweet tomato and cheese sauce. In the early 1960s, he and his team began brainstorming ways to make canned pasta more appealing to children. After considering various shapes, including stars and rocketships, Goerke decided to keep it simple and sell pasta that looked like a tiny “O.”
The product was an instant hit with American families when it launched in 1965 with the catchy commercial jingle, “Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs.” Parents and children both liked the fact that the food was “spoonable,” easy to make and fun to eat. Today, more than 150 million cans of SpaghettiOs are sold each year. SpaghettiOs now come in five variations (original, pasta with meatballs, pasta fortified with extra calcium, RavioliOs and pasta with sliced franks) and two other shapes (A to Zs and fun shapes).
Although he left the company in 1990, Goerke came out of retirement five years later to help promote the 30th anniversary of SpaghettiOs on “The Today Show” and “What’s My Line?”
Goerke was described by friends and family as kind, even-tempered, outgoing and loyal. He was active in community affairs and served as the former president of the Merchantville, N.J., school board. The husband, father, grandfather and avid golf player was also an active member of the Riverton Country Club in Cinnaminson, N.J.

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Tsutomu Yamaguchi

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Categories: Extraordinary People

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only person who was ever officially recognized as a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings at the end of World War II, died on Jan. 4 of stomach cancer. He was 93.
Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip for his employer, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, on Aug. 6, 1945. The 29-year-old oil tanker designer was stepping off a tram when the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a 13-kiloton uranium atomic bomb on the city. The massive explosion destroyed Yamaguchi’s left eardrum, temporarily blinded and balded him and left serious burns on his upper body. Others were not so fortunate; at least 70,000 people died as a result of the initial blast.
After spending the night in a bomb shelter, Yamaguchi returned to his home in Nagasaki. He spent two days recuperating from his injuries, then covered his body in gauze and went to work. As Yamaguchi was explaining what had happened in Hiroshima to his boss, the U.S. B-29 bomber Bock’s Car released its destructive payload, this time on Nagasaki. According to the Nagasaki City Atomic Bomb Records Preservation Committee, the explosion killed more than 73,800 people.
Yamaguchi survived again.
Twelve years after the war ended, Yamaguchi was recognized as a hibakusha, an explosion-affected person, of the Nagasaki bombing. Certification as an atomic bomb survivor qualified him for government compensation, including a monthly stipend, free medical checkups and funeral costs. It would take another 52 years until the Japanese government officially recognized his presence in Hiroshima.
About 260,000 people survived the atomic bomb attacks on Japan, and many of them suffered the effects from radiation exposure. Yamaguchi’s wife suffered radiation poisoning from the black rain that fell after the Nagasaki explosion; she died in 2008 of kidney and liver cancer. All three of Yamaguchi’s children also suffered from health problems.
After Japan surrendered, Yamaguchi worked as a ship engineer in the local port, a translator for the occupying American forces and a schoolmaster. In the final years of his life, he wrote a memoir and appeared in the 2006 documentary “Twice Bombed, Twice Survived: The Doubly Atomic Bombed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” When the film was screened at the United Nations, Yamaguchi spoke to the delegates and called for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

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Ruth Lilly

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Categories: Extraordinary People, Writers/Editors

As an heiress, Ruth E. Lilly could have lived a very comfortable life doing anything she wanted or absolutely nothing at all. Instead, she decided to fund a wide variety of causes and help those in need. And over the course of her nine decades on this planet, she gave away more than half a billion dollars to educational and cultural organizations.
Born in Indianapolis, Lilly was the last surviving great-grandchild of Col. Eli Lilly, who founded the pharmaceutical empire Eli Lilly and Company in 1876. Last year, the company employed over 40,000 workers, earned $21 billion in sales and was ranked #570 on the Forbes 2000 List.
Lilly was still in her teens when she began writing poetry, but it took her nearly 50 years to submit her work, under a pseudonym, to Poetry magazine. Although the influential literary journal rejected her poems, the editors also sent handwritten notes offering critiques of her writing. This left quite an impression on Lilly, and in 1986, she bequeathed $100 million to the magazine. The gift ensured that Poetry would continue publishing in perpetuity. In response, Poetry became a non-profit organization known as the Poetry Foundation, launched the annual Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, which gives $100,000 to a contemporary poet in honor of a lifetime of a achievement, and created five Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowships for aspiring poets.
“Poetry has no greater friend than Ruth Lilly,” said Poetry Foundation President John Barr. “Her historic gift is notable not only for its size — that part of her largesse is known to every corner of the poetry world — but also because it was made with no conditions or restrictions of any kind as to how it should be used for the benefit of poetry. In that, it was the purest expression of her love for the art that meant so much to her as poet herself, and as benefactor.”
Lilly’s quiet generosity also extended to many Indiana-based institutions. She bequeathed a major gift to the Lilly Endowment, the family’s main charitable organization. In 1966, Lilly and her brother, J.K. Lilly III, donated the site of their parents’ estate to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and provided a trust income to maintain it. A health education center, a learning center, a fitness center, a law library and a science library all exist and bear the Ruth Lilly name, thanks to her monetary contributions. Lilly rarely attended ceremonial events, though, preferring instead to have her chauffeur drive her past the institutions she had aided.
In private, Lilly struggled with day to day life. Depression plagued her for decades, and she spent much of her 40-year marriage to writer Guernsey Van Riper in a hospital. The couple divorced in 1981; they had no children. That same year, Lilly’s brother went to court and had her declared incompetent. From that point on, all of her donations had to be signed by an attorney.
Lilly finally found some relief from her illness in 1988, thanks to the invention of Prozac, which was made and distributed by Eli Lilly and Co. The anti-depressant allowed her to live the final years of her life in relative peace. For her many years of philanthropy, Lilly was awarded a doctor of humane letters degree from Wabash College in 1991, from Franklin College in 2003 and from Marian University and Indiana University in 2004.
Lilly died on Dec. 30 of heart failure. She was 94.

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Peter Moore

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Categories: Actors, Media

pmoore.jpgPeter Moore, London’s official town crier for 31 years, died on December 20. Cause of death was not released. He was 70.
Town criers have a long history of serving the English citizenry with vocal proclamations. The first known broadcast occurred in 1066, when town criers shared news about the Battle of Hastings. Since literacy rates amongst the majority of the populace was low well into the late 19th century, town criers served as “talking newspapers” for the public, announcing the king’s edicts, advertising market days and generally spreading the news of the realm.
Although Moore was raised in central England, he ran away to London as a young man with dreams of becoming an actor. Bit parts came his way, including the role of the undertaker Mr. Sowerberry in the original stage production of the musical “Oliver!” in 1960, but steady acting work eluded him until 1978 when he was asked to serve as a town crier for an event. He took the job and found his niche.
Moore was a familiar sight on the streets of London, where he promoted the city’s attractions to tourists and residents alike. Clad in red and gold robes, white breeches, black boots and a feathered tricorn hat, he was easily recognizable in any crowd. Those who were too busy or distracted to see Moore certainly heard him for he would heartily begin every announcement with a boisterous “Oyez, Oyez” (roughly translated as “hark” or “listen”) and a ring of his bell, which was cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the company that made Big Ben and the Liberty Bell.
Among his many titles, Moore was town crier to the mayor of London, the Greater London Authority, the city of Westminster and the London borough of Merton. He was also a freeman and liveryman of the city of London, deputy macebearer and town crier for the London borough of Southwark and tipstaff and town crier to the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames.
Moore’s motto was: “Have Bell, Will Travel,” and he took it to heart. In his role as the official town crier of London, Moore appeared at hundreds of public events, charity balls, openings and ceremonies in the United Kingdom and in countries all over the world. Friends described him as “larger than life,” “a workaholic” and a “people person,” attributes that served him well as the most recognized town crier in England. When asked about his proudest moment on the job, Moore said it was when he announced the 1982 birth of Prince William of Wales outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.
Although his later years were spent in poor health, Moore had no interest in retiring. He performed his last official engagement on Dec. 19 at a Christmas reception given by the mayor of Southwark. Moore was due to receive a lifetime achievement award during the New Year’s Day Parade in London, which he lead every year since 1987. With Moore gone, parade organizers decided to posthumously honor him with the award.
–Photo by Tony Clarke.

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A Look Back

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Categories: Misc.

hourglass.jpgSome people view obituaries as morbid stories, but in truth only one line of an obit deals with death. The rest of the story focuses on the amazing lives people lead. In 2009, these 20 obituaries were the stories that most resonated with me:
* Bea Arthur, a veteran actress and comedian who starred in the TV shows “Maude” and “The Golden Girls”
* Norman Borlaug, an agronomist who won the Nobel Peace Prize for making advances in plant breeding that helped feed millions of people in Latin America and Asia
* Walter Cronkite, a veteran journalist and former CBS anchor who covered such historic events as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, the assassination of JFK and the first man on the moon
* Dom Deluise, an actor, comedian and cookbook author who co-starred in the films “Blazing Saddles” and “Cannonball Run”
* Dominick Dunne, a bestselling author and special correspondent for Vanity Fair who covered the trials of O. J. Simpson, the Menendez brothers, Michael Skakel, William Kennedy Smith and Phil Spector
* Farrah Fawcett, an award-winning actress and pinup beauty who starred in the TV show “Charlie’s Angels”
* Don Hewitt, a veteran journalist and producer who created the “60 Minutes” news program
* John Hughes, a producer, writer and director whose 1980s films (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink”) defined a generation
* Michael Jackson, a singer and dancer — known as the ‘King of Pop’ — who sold more than half a billion albums
* Edward M. Kennedy, a liberal Democrat who served as senator of Massachusetts for 46 years
* Billy Mays, a late-night TV pitchman who promoted Orange Glo and OxiClean and starred in his own reality TV show
* Ed McMahon, a legendary TV personality best known for his work on the “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson” and “Star Search”
* Ricardo Montalban, a Mexican-born actor who starred in the TV show “Fantasy Island” and in the film “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”
* Les Paul, a musician and songwriter who pioneered the development of the solid-body electric guitar
* Natasha Richardson, a Tony Award-winning actress and wife to actor Liam Neeson
* Soupy Sales, a veteran comedian who perfected the pie-throwing routine
* Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics and sister of President John F. Kennedy and Sens. Robert F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy
* Patrick Swayze, an actor and classically trained dancer who was best known for his work in the films “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost”
* George Tiller, one of only a few doctors in America who performed late-term abortions
* Andrew Wyeth, an artist whose paintings provided some of the most popular images of 20th century America
I also lost two unique people this year: my grandmother Terri Carlton and my high school sweetheart Chris Pine. May they rest in peace.

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