Categotry Archives: Misc.

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Curtis Pitts

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Categories: Misc.

Curtis H. Pitts, a crop duster who built the first aircraft specifically designed for aerobatics, died on June 10 of complications from a heart valve replacement. He was 89.
In 1943, the Homestead, Fla., resident set out to build himself an airplane. He drew up the plans for an aerobatic biplane that became known as the Pitts S-1 Special. The lightweight aircraft was small, agile and capable of flying equally well upside down as right-side up.
The oldest surviving Special — and the second one Pitts built — was called The Little Stinker. Constructed in 1946, it was used by aerobatic pilot Betty Skelton-Frankman when she won the Feminine International Aerobatic Championships in 1949 and 1950. The Little Stinker was donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in 1985.
In the 1960s, fans of the plane’s design persuaded Pitts to create and sell its construction plans. Amateur pilots and experimental modelers were then able to buy the plane as a kit and assemble it themselves. The most popular homebuilt version was the model S-1C with two ailerons, M-6 airfoils and any engine from 85 hp to 180 hp. These planes were so adored that many pilots painted “Thanks Curtis!” on the tails.
Pitts was inducted into the International Council of Air Shows Foundation Hall of Fame in 2002. He is survived by his two daughters, Martha Holder and Mary Starbird, eight grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, 11 great great-grandchildren and more than 600 Pitts Specials.

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Jim Arthur

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Categories: Misc.

jarthur.jpgJames Herbert Arthur, Britain’s leading golf course agronomist, died on May 14. Cause of death was not released. He was 84.
Born at Camberwell in south London, Arthur studied agriculture at Reading University. He dropped out of school to serve in the British Army during World War II, and reached the rank of captain. A first-class marksman, Arthur shot down a German plane with a machine gun. When a fall injured his ankle and kept him from getting transferred to Burma, he focused on training other soldiers. The injury continued to bother him for the rest of his life.
After the war ended, Arthur returned to school to complete his education. He worked as the chief area manager covering the north of England for Biddy’s, an agricultural seed company, then set up his own landscaping business.
In his spare time, Arthur advised nearly 550 golf courses in Britain and abroad, including the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, St. Andrews and the prime minister’s Buckinghamshire retreat, Chequers. He supervised the preparation of golf courses for Open and amateur championships, as well. Arthur was a traditionalist who spoke out against over-watering and the constant use of fertilizers and pesticides. He believed that links courses were the most challenging for players and disdained making the greens look pretty for TV.
In 1997, Arthur published “Practical Green Keeping,” a guide that many in the field consider the standard for greenkeepers in Britain. He also contributed articles to Golfing World and Greenkeeping International.

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Tony

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Categories: Misc.

Tony, one of the oldest animals at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, died on May 17. Cause of death was not released. He was 44.
Born in a Mississippi zoo, Tony was three years old when he moved to Louisiana. In general, hippos live up to 45 years in the wild and a few years longer in captivity. An African hippo, Tony spent most of his days submerged in water to keep cool and support his large body.
Tony lived with his mate, Rosebud, for 16 years. She died in 1989 at the age of 19 after giving birth to a female hippo named Duffy. The baby died six days later because she refused to eat after her mother died. Zoo officials tried to force feed Duffy under anesthesia, but to no avail.
Tony was the only remaining hippopotamus at the zoo.

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Rich Schweitzer

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Categories: Misc.

Richard C. Schweitzer, the lead giraffe keeper at the Milwaukee County Zoo, died on April 17 of cancer. He was 62.
The Wisconsin native was a lifelong plant and animal lover. Growing up on his family’s dairy farm, Schweitzer spent much of his childhood picking apples and caring for the cows. He ran a hardware store from 1979 to 1983, then went back to school to study horticulture.
Schweitzer earned a degree from the Milwaukee Area Technical College and took a job working for Milwaukee County. He served as the caretaker for the county’s greenhouses and did all of the plantings at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Eager to work with animals, Schweitzer spent several years applying for every open zoo position. In 1991, he got the chance to pursuit his dream job.
After training in different areas of the zoo, Schweitzer became a giraffe specialist. Each day, he fed the animals, cleaned their living quarters, cared for their health and gave tours to school children. One of his favorite tasks was letting the students feed bananas to the giraffes.
Schweitzer was also charged with handling the animals’ reproduction. Although he administered birth control medication in their feed, Schweitzer found a surprise waiting for him on Oct. 31, 2003. The new arrival — a 112-pound extra reticulated giraffe — lay on the ground near his mother, Malindi.
Schweitzer was so stunned by the discovery that he called a co-worker to confirm that the baby giraffe wasn’t a stuffed animal placed in the pen as some sort of Halloween prank. Turns out the young male was the product of a final fling between Malindi and Kio, the zoo’s only adult male. Kio died in 2002, shortly after the calf’s conception.
In honor of his son who was killed in a 1993 car crash at the age of 21, Schweitzer named the newest giraffe Mark.

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George Molchan

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Categories: Misc.

George A. Molchan, a popular spokesman for Oscar Mayer, died on April 12 of congestive heart failure. He was 82.

The Pennsylvania native attended Columbia College in Chicago and Gary College in Gary., Ind. Molchan was working as a bookkeeper at Pepsi Cola in 1951 when his friend, “Wizard of Oz” munchkin actor Meinhardt Raabe, persuaded him to audition for the role of Little Oscar the Chef. The character was created in the 1930s by Oscar Mayer to help market the company’s products.

Molchan landed the part and played the meat processor’s spokesman for 36 years. His duties included traveling around the country in the company’s 27-foot-long Wienermobile and appearing in parades. He played Little Oscar in the Town Square CafĂ© at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., for a decade before retiring in 1987.

Friends and family commemorated Molchan’s life by playing music on small, hotdog-shaped Wienerwhistles and singing a chorus of the jingle “Oh, I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Wiener” during his funeral service. The Wienermobile, which was parked near his grave in Merrillville, Ind., also drew smiles from mourners.

Listen to the “Oscar Mayer Wiener” jingle

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