Categotry Archives: Misc.

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Al Baldwin

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Categories: Misc.

Al Baldwin was a man with a mission: to protect the tourists and residents of Australia’s Gold Coast from skin cancer and sunburns.
Known as the “Suntan Man,” Baldwin spent three decades walking along the area’s sandy beaches and spraying people with a machine filled with protective lotion. Some say he sprayed nearly 3 million beachgoers. This philanthropic effort made Baldwin an unofficial ambassador for Australia and a tourism icon. It also earned him the Commonwealth Seniors Medal.
Raised in a New Zealand orphanage, Baldwin moved to Sydney in the early 1950s and opened his own restaurant. In 1968, he relocated to the Gold Coast in Queensland to manage the Broadbeach Hotel and to run a company that rents out beach equipment to patrons of Surfers Paradise.
Baldwin died on Aug. 31 of lymphatic cancer. He was 74. Hundreds of mourners in bathing suits gathered at the beach to honor his memory. They set up a beach chair bearing his sunglasses, cap and suntan-spraying machine, then scattered his ashes in the surf.

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Richard Butler

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Categories: Military, Misc., Religious Leaders

rbutler.jpgRichard Girnt Butler, the former head and founder of the Aryan Nations, died on Sept. 8. Cause of death was not released. He was 86.

Born in Colorado and raised in Los Angeles, Butler served with the U.S. Army Air Corps in the Pacific theater during World War II. An admirer of Adolf Hitler, he returned to the states after the war and became a follower of Wesley Swift, a white-supremacist pastor. Butler also worked at Lockheed as an aerospace engineer. When the company began to hire more minorities, in compliance with federal loan regulations, Butler retired and moved to Idaho.

In 1973, Butler formed the Aryan Nations, the political arm of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian. The organization’s doctrine combined a warped view of Christianity with Nazism. A self-proclaimed “Reverend,” Butler called the Jews “Satan’s children” and described African-Americans as “mud people.” He espoused the belief that “white” blood should remain “pure,” and that any woman who slept with a minority should be killed. The Aryan Nations’ 20-acre, barbed-wire-rimmed estate was decorated with stained-glass swastikas, Third Reich memorabilia and signs that read: “Whites only.”

Beginning in the mid-1980s, members of the Aryan Nations formed splinter groups and launched a campaign of violence against homosexuals, minorities and Jews. Such actions ultimately led to the group’s downfall. Over the last two decades, the Aryan Nations saw its members convicted of murder, racketeering, assault and robbery. The organization also inspired the formation of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, one of the strongest human rights groups in the United States.

In 1998, Aryan Nations security guards shot at Victoria Keenan, a local resident, as she drove near the Idaho compound. They also ran her off the road and assaulted her and her teenaged son. With the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Keenan filed a civil suit and won a $6.3 million judgment. The suit essentially bankrupted the Aryan Nations and forced Butler to auction off the compound. Without a central headquarters, the group downsized to about 200 members across the country.

Last year, Butler ran for mayor of Hayden, Idaho, in order to “keep it white.” While the bid failed, he did receive 50 votes.

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Nick Venetucci

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Categories: Misc.

In Colorado Springs, Colo., Dominic T. “Nick” Venetucci was known as the Pumpkin Man.

For more than 50 years, the humble farmer invited area children to visit his ranch and pick out a free pumpkin. School buses filled with kids would arrive at the Venetucci pumpkin patch every October to celebrate the annual harvest and select the perfect jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

As a boy, Venetucci dreamed of being a professional baseball player. He even landed a spot as a catcher in the New York Yankee’s farm system, but returned home in the 1930s to work on his family’s ranch. Over the next seven decades, Venetucci made a living selling sweet corn, alfalfa and asparagus, but he grew hundreds of pumpkins each year just for the kids.

In honor of his generosity, the Widefield School District renamed an elementary school after Venetucci in 1985. A bronze statue of the Pumpkin Man, designed by sculptor Fred Darpino, is scheduled to be unveiled in October.

Venetucci died on Sept. 7 following a stroke. He was 93.

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Peipei

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Categories: Misc.

peipei.jpgPeipei, the oldest panda bear raised in captivity, died on Aug. 13 of organ failure. She was 33, the equivalent of 100 in human years.
Peipei lived at the Hangzhou Zoological Gardens in Chejiang, China, for three decades. The average lifespan of the giant panda is 25 to 30 years.
One of the rarest animals in the world, 1,600 giant pandas live in the forests of central China. Although the black and white bears rarely breed in captivity, 161 currently live in breeding facilities and zoos. The giant panda has only three natural enemies: the snow leopard, the bamboo rat and man.

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Al Dvorin

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Categories: Misc.

advorin.jpgAlbert Dvorin, the concert announcer who popularized the phrase “Elvis has left the building,” died on Aug. 22 in an automobile accident. He was 81.
Dvorin was a bandleader and talent agent in Chicago when he first booked Elvis Presley as an opening act for country singer Hank Snow. Dvorin then became a permanent member of Presley’s road show staff and promotional team. He worked for Presley through his final tour in 1977.
Although previous announcers first uttered the phrase “Elvis has left the building” at Presley shows, Dvorin made it his signature sign-off in 1954. At the end of each concert, he’d broadcast his announcement to let fans know the King was not going to do another encore. It became a pop-culture catchphrase.
Dvorin’s commentary was later recorded for the Elvis pinball machine. He spoke the famous line one last time on Saturday at an Elvis impersonator concert.
Dvorin and Elvis photographer Ed Bonja were driving from Palm Springs to Las Vegas on Sunday when their vehicle swerved off the road near Ivanpah, Calif. Bonja was treated at the hospital and released, but Dvorin was thrown from the car. He died at the scene.

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