Categotry Archives: Writers/Editors

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Steve Medley

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Categories: Law, Writers/Editors

Steven P. Medley, an author and naturalist who devoted his life to promoting Yosemite National Park, died on Oct. 5 in a car accident. He was 57.
The Palo Alto, Calif., native earned a bachelor’s degree in film and broadcasting from Stanford University in 1971. That summer, he started working at Yosemite as a park ranger. During subsequent summers, Medley collected camping fees and helped run the park’s library and museum. He even met his future wife, Jane, at Yosemite; the couple wed in 1976.
Medley received a master’s degree in library science from the University of Oregon in 1975, and a law degree from the Martin Luther King, Jr., School of Law at the University of California, Davis six years later. He was a practicing attorney for four years in Oregon, but working at the park was his true passion. So he stepped off the legal path and became the director of the Yosemite Association in 1985.
From that point on, Medley devoted himself to Yosemite — its visitors and its inhabitants. For 21 years, he served as the president of the Yosemite Association, a non-profit organization of 11,000 members that supports the National Park Service. In this capacity, he guided the public on nature walks, pointed out the local flora and fauna and edited/produced more than 50 publications about the park. His guidebook, “The Complete Guidebook to Yosemite,” sold nearly 100,000 copies.
“This is a huge loss for the Yosemite family. In addition to Steve’s innumerable contributions to the park, he was known for his quick wit, dedication and sense of accomplishment,” Yosemite National Park Superintendent Michael Tollefson said.
Affectionately known as “Smedley,” he liked to complete crossword puzzles in his spare time and hike through the park with his three sons. He was also the president of the Rotary Club of Yosemite National Park.
Medley was driving his 1998 Honda Accord eastbound on Highway 140 in Mariposa County, en route to a Rotary Club meeting, when his car crashed into a tree. The California Highway Patrol said wet, oily road conditions and excessive speed contributed to the crash. No one else was injured and Medley was pronounced dead at the scene. A memorial service is scheduled for Nov. 4. The Yosemite Association plans to produce a small booklet that celebrates Medley’s life to distribute at the event.

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John Money

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Categories: Business, Medicine, Writers/Editors

Dr. John William Money, a sex researcher and the co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, died on July 7 from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. He was 84.

Born in Morrinsville, New Zealand, Money studied psychology at Victoria University of Wellington and at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his doctorate at Harvard University after writing a thesis paper on hermaphroditism.

Money was the first pediatric psychoendocrinologist at Johns Hopkins University. He designed the school’s curriculum in sexual medicine and served as a professor of medical psychology and pediatrics for 50 years. In the mid-1960s, Money co-founded the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic with Reed Erickson, a wealthy philanthropist and female-to-male transsexual, and performed one of the first sex reassignment surgeries in the United States.

Money soon gained a reputation as an expert in the sex reassignment field, and was frequently called to testify in court that such surgery was appropriate therapy for people suffering from gender identity disorder. Also known as transsexualism, GID is a psychological condition where a person experiences “strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one’s own assigned sex.”

Money believed that gender identity was determined by environment and upbringing as well as biology, and thus could be changed in the first few years of a person’s life. He promoted genital surgery to make intersex infants look more “normal” and social conditioning to alter their gender belief systems. Money put these theories to the test on David Reimer, a Canadian boy who suffered from a botched circumcision operation when he was 8 months old. Money persuaded Reimer’s parents to turn him into a girl, and so David underwent a radical sex-change procedure. He was given female hormones and psychologically trained into believing he was a girl named Brenda.

The experiment was widely considered a success in medical circles. Money published several journal articles about the case, as well as the book, “Man and Woman, Boy and Girl” with Anke Ehrhardt. However, Reimer suffered greatly as the guinea pig in Money’s research project. He was teased by classmates, confused by his gender identity and clinically depressed for many years. After learning the truth of his past, Reimer underwent surgery and testosterone therapy. He changed his name to David and returned to living as a man.

Reimer’s life story served as the basis of John Colapinto’s 2000 book, “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.” He appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and in several documentaries in order to save other children from a similar fate. In 2004, Reimer committed suicide at the age of 38.

Despite criticism from the media, psychologists, scholars and other members of the medical community about the Reimer case, Money refused to alter his gender identity theories. “I don’t mind being wrong a few times because I’m right most of the time,” Money said.

The controversial researcher also theorized about the origins of sexual orientation (which he believed were formed by both biological and environmental factors), and on the nature of attraction (what he called “love maps”). In his testimony before Attorney General Edwin Meese’s pornography commission in 1985, Money stated that sexually explicit photographs and films were not detrimental to minors. That same year, he received the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology.

In 2002, Money entrusted his personal collection of papers and published works to the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, and established the John Money Sexology Scholars Library Fund to help pay for the preservation of archives and collections from the sexological community.

Listen to a Remembrance From NPR
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Patricia Guiver

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Categories: Writers/Editors

Patricia Guiver, the author of the Delilah Doolittle Pet Detective mystery series, died on June 13 of complications from heart surgery. She was 76.
Born in Surrey, England, Guiver left school at 15 to work as a secretary on London’s Fleet Street. She began her writing career as a freelancer for British women’s magazines. After moving to Huntington Beach, Calif., in 1961, Guiver self-published the book, “Animal Connections: The Complete Directory of Pet and Wildlife Resources,” and hosted local cable access program, “The Critter Connection.” For the past three years, she wrote “Creature Connection,” a syndicated column about animal rights, laws, pet ownership and products.
While taking a mystery-writing class with writer/editor Patricia McFall, Guiver created the character Delilah Doolittle, a British widow who searches for missing pets and solves murder investigations in the fictional southern California town of Surf City. The dainty, tea-drinking pet detective appeared in six cozy mystery novels alongside her faithful Doberman pinscher, Watson.
Although she was shy and preferred to avoid public appearances, Guiver had a true affection for her readers. When answering letters from fans, Guiver was known to enclose a teabag with her response. The last book in the Delilah Doolittle series, “The Beastly Bloodline,” (2003) even included a recipe for home-made dog biscuits.
Guiver was unable to complete her seventh Doolittle novel, “The Scarpered Sea Lion,” before her death. However, actress Betty White has optioned the rights to the stories, and hopes to play Doolittle in a future fim or TV production.
A long-time animal welfare advocate, Guiver founded the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1985 and spent nearly two decades as the organization’s executive director and board president. She also co-founded the Animal Assistance League of Orange County, a non-profit no kill humane society dedicated to aiding lost and homeless pets, and sat on the Orange County Animal Shelter Advisory Board.

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Katherine Dunham

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Categories: Artists, Writers/Editors

Katherine Dunham, a multicultural dancer-choreographer who established one of the first self-supporting all-black modern dance groups in the United States, died on May 21. Cause of death was not released. She was 96.
Born and raised in Illinois, Dunham began taking dance classes as a teenager. She performed in several productions at the Cube Theatre, a local playhouse her brother Albert Dunham Jr. helped to establish, and danced her first leading role in the 1933 ballet “La Guiablesse.”
Dunham earned a bachelor’s degree in social anthropology at the University of Chicago in 1936. One particular lecture on cultural anthropology inspired her to begin viewing dance as more than an art form, but as a cultural symbol. Inspired by these new ideas, Dunham started studying the anthropological roots of dance. She earned a Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship, and used the money to study native dance in Haiti and Jamaica. Once the villagers in these Caribbean nations felt comfortable with her, Dunham was invited to attend several sacred dance rituals. At one of these ceremonies, she viewed the Myal dance, which is based on the belief that the dead can back to life. Dunham would eventually adopt Haiti as a second home and become a priestess of voudon (voodoo).
Known as the “matriarch of black dance,” Dunham added her African-infused dance steps to Metropolitan Opera’s production of “Aida” and to the Broadway musical “Cabin in the Sky.” She also choreographed several films, including “Carnival of Rhythm,” “Stormy Weather,” “Mambo” and “The Bible: In the Beginning.”
In the spring of 1938, she formed the Katherine Dunham Dance Company in New York. The renowned Dunham Dancers performed all over the United States and toured 57 countries on six continents. In a time when the color of her skin led to discrimination, Dunham fought back by suing hotels and restaurants that wouldn’t cater to her dancers. She refused to allow her company’s productions play at segregated theaters and even choreographed “Southland,” an hour-long ballet about lynching.
Dunham opened schools in Paris, Stockholm and Rome, but thousands of students studied at her New York studio, including actors Marlon Brando, Eartha Kitt and James Dean. There they learned the “Dunham Technique,” which combines African movements with the classic elements of ballets and modern dance. This technique is still taught at colleges all over the U.S., and at prestigious dance companies, such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
After serving as an advisor to the cultural ministry of Senegal in the late 1960s, Dunham moved to East St. Louis, Ill., a predominantly black town that suffered from povery and high crime. Determined to bring arts and hope to the area, she taught at Southern Illinois University and opened the Katherine Dunham Centers for the Arts and Humanities, a school and community center that provided free classes in dance, drama, foreign languages, social science, woodcarving and African hair-braiding. Dunham’s center also offered martial arts training to help young, black teens channel their anger.
Dunham and set designer John Thomas Pratt were married for 49 years. After his death in 1986, she was plagued with health problems and poverty. Former students and celebrities helped keep her from living on the streets, but no matter how much she struggled, Dunham was always aware of other people’s problems. In 1992, she went on a 47-day hunger strike to protest U.S. government’s policy of repatriating Haitian refugees.
For her social and artistic contributions, Dunham received numerous honorary doctorates, the National Medal of the Arts, the Albert Schweitzer Prize and France’s Legion d’Honneur. In 2000, the Dance Heritage Coalition named her one of “American’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures.” The Katherine Dunham College at the Library of Congress features nearly 1,700 documents and videos that document her career. Her life was also chronicled in the biography, “Katherine Dunham: A Dancing Life” by Joyce Aschenbrenner, and in her 1959 memoir, A Touch of Innocence.”
Listen to a Tribute From NPR

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Thomas J. Abercrombie

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Categories: Artists, Writers/Editors

As a writer and photographer for National Geographic magazine, Thomas James Abercrombie was paid to travel to the ends of the earth and take pictures of some of its most awe-inspiring sights.
The Minnesota native earned a degree in art and journalism from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. He broke into the news business as a staff photographer for the Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., and the Milwaukee Journal. In 1956, Abercrombie landed a job as a correspondent for the National Geographic and set off on a life of adventure. Over the next four decades, he shot pictures of deserts, quake-ravaged towns, geishas and African natives, wrote stories from every continent and befriended peasant and prince alike.
In 1957, the publication sent him to Antarctica, where he won a lottery to become the first reporter to visit the South Pole. Before he could take off, however, the plane froze, leaving Abercrombie stranded in the frozen wasteland for nearly three weeks. He finally made it to the pole, and set up an all-night exposure of the sky to show the stars making concentric circles.
Known for putting his own life at risk to get the perfect shot, Abercrombie’s exploits became the stuff of legend. He took stunning underwater photos during a dive with Jacques Cousteau. He survived a plane crash while trying to cover a civil war in Yemen. He fell off a yak in Afghanistan and nearly plunged into a 1,000-foot chasm. On an assignment in the Himalayas, Abercrombie nearly died from typhoid and had to amputate the toes of a pilgrim after gangrene set in. A scar across the bridge of his nose marked the time he got knocked off the top of a mountain cable car in Venezuela, but was rescued by a Swiss guide who caught him by his belt and hauled him back to safety.
One of Abercrombie’s favorite shoots involved climbing up 5,000 feet of vertical rock and ice to take pictures from the top of the Matterhorn. Soon after reaching the summit and viewing both Italy and Switzerland, a squall drove him back down to the picturesque town of Zermatt.
His most famous story, however, ended up costing the National Geographic a fortune. Back in the mid-1960s, Abercrombie took an assignment in Alaska. He learned to fly, bought a Cessna 180 and took off for the northernmost state. Once there, Abercrombie purchased pontoons for the aircraft, shot his photos and flew home. He then expensed the whole experience to the magazine. The company reluctantly paid for it all, but Abercrombie helped out by selling the plane and giving the proceeds back to his employer.
Although he was fluent in German, English, French, Spanish and Arabic, Abercrombie was frequently described by friends as a man’s man, one who could ride a camel, smoke a pipe and write off AK-47s on his expense report as “auto insurance.” Married to National Geographic photographer Lynn Abercrombie for 53 years, Tom and his wife often worked on assignments together.
Abercrombie won the 1954 Newspaper Photographer of the Year award and the 1958 Magazine Photographer of the Year award; he was the first photographer to win both honors. After retiring, he taught geography at George Washington University and spent his spare time building a skipjack by hand. His life and work were chronicled in the documentary “White Tiger: The Adventures of Thomas J. Abercrombie,” which was shown at the New York Film and Video Festival in 2004.
Abercrombie died on April 3 of complications following heart surgery. He was 75.
Watch a Trailer for “White Tiger”
View Posters of Abercrombie’s Work

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