Let us remember some Tucsonans who died in 2013

2013-12-29T07:00:00Z 2013-12-29T08:36:04Z Let us remember some Tucsonans who died in 2013 Arizona Daily Star

Before ringing in the new year, and keeping in mind that no gathering of names can possibly be complete, we’d like to take a few minutes to remember some of our Southern Arizona neighbors who died in 2013.

Tucson lost several high-profile attorneys this year, including Richard Grand, 83, who was at the vanguard of pushing wrongful-death and injury payments into the millions, having won his clients settlements or verdicts of more than $1 million apiece in more than 100 cases.

Jack T. Arnold, 91, was an attorney by trade who went on to an appointment as a Pima County Superior Court judge. But his greatest civic impact may have come from his advocacy for those in need as founder of the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Clinic.

Tom Chandler, 94, was another attorney who left his mark on Tucson through his philanthropy and civic service. He was a founding member of the Conquistadores, which raised millions of dollars for local youth sports. He also founded or co-founded several other organizations, including the Arizona Adopt-A-Classroom Project, which has helped more than 2,000 teachers in Southern Arizona.

There were several losses in the field of journalism this year, beginning with William “Bill” Gordon Cobbledick, 89, who parlayed his stint in the Navy as a photographer for the Seabees into work as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist in Ohio. He eventually followed the Cleveland Indians to spring training in Tucson, where he and his family ultimately made their home.

Two-time Emmy award-winning broadcaster William David “Dave” Sitton, 58, was known as the “Voice of the Wildcats.” He worked for Fox Sports Net, and was the international voice of rugby for ESPN.

Sometimes over-the-top journalist Jeff Smith, 67, won legions of devoted fans and snarling detractors with his work as a happily off-the-wall columnist for publications including the Arizona Daily Star, the Tucson Citizen, the Tucson Weekly and the New Times in Phoenix.

The arts were not spared, either.

Artist Earl Wettstein, 81, started out as a Tucson ad man, but became best known in his retirement for recreating famous paintings using dachshunds and for his series of paintings “Icons of Tucson — 20 Places No One Else Is Painting.”

In just more than two decades, Alexander Clague Van Slyke, 23, made his dreams come true as a talented jazz musician. Van Slyke earned a scholarship to the University of New Orleans, where he played with many of the great names in jazz. He also toured clubs, concert venues and jazz festivals, playing throughout the United States and Europe.

Fifth-generation Tucsonan Louis Leon Jr., 92, was a fixture on the regional party circuit for nearly 40 years, performing big-band music. He founded the group Conjunto Bahia, which had evolved into the better-known Louis Leon Orchestra by the mid-1960s.

Conductor Charles “Bucky” Steele, 91, spent 25 years at the podium with the Tucson Pops Orchestra, and as the long-time leader of the Tucson High Marching 100, he had the unique ability to “quickly silence 100-plus squirrelly students … with one certain facial expression that we all understood very well,” a former student remembered.

Hortencia Leon Bedoy, 91, had a passion for music. By the age of 16, she and her sister were known as the singing duo “Las Golondrinas.” Bedoy sang for Don Jacinto Orosco on KEVT radio, and performed with orchestras, including Pa Quintero, Lalo Robles, Lalo Guerrero and El Comite de Tucson.

In the fields of health and wellness, chiropractor Eugene “Gene” Arthur Burns, 77, opened New Life Health Center in Tucson after his own experience with natural healing following a serious sports injury. He eventually expanded to four locations.

Registered Nurse Ora Lee Wong, 81, earned her degree in 1954 from the St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing, and spent much of her medical career working with children. Through her myriad civic activities, Wong aided organizations supporting women, the arts and medicine.

Health-care reformer Julia Corral Soto, 83, made it her mission to provide inexpensive medical services for everyone. As a patient advocate in Tucson’s south- and west-side barrios, she was part of a small circle of health-care providers who worked as midwives at El Rio Community Health Center in the 1970s. For more than 30 years, Soto was also director of patient services at El Rio-Santa Cruz Neighborhood Health Center.

Klara Ilona Swimmer, 88, was a physician by trade, but as a Holocaust survivor, she devoted much of her time to addressing the atrocities she survived in a concentration camp and to honoring the millions who were murdered.

Doctors Vincent Anthony Fulginiti, 81, and William A. Grana, 70, were leaders in educating future physicians in Tucson — Fulginiti as founding chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Arizona Health Sciences Center and Grana as the UA College of Medicine’s first head of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

The UA also lost Christy G. Turner II, 79, and Kaoru Matsuda, 82, who were respected university educators. Turner, who taught in the Arizona State University Department of Anthropology for 40 years, had just completed a book. Matsuda, a respected professor and researcher in molecular and cellular biology, spent 27 years at the UA.

Another UA professor, Robert “Bob” Carter Cauthorn, 91, was also dedicated to civil service, serving as a Tucson city councilman in the early 1970s.

Several local businesspeople also died in 2013, including lifelong educator Dorothy Hunt Finley, 92, who found a second career as matriarch of her husband’s beer and beverage business, Finley Distributing Company.

Morton Tuller, 91, and his wife opened the first trophy shop in Tucson in 1955, and for more than a half century, provided thousands of mementos for honorees from Employees of the Year to ball field All-Stars.

Businessman Richard R. Mariscal, 64, may have been best known as manager of Micha’s, the restaurant his parents opened in 1976 on South Fourth Avenue, but he was also a musician and a supporter of youth athletics. For decades, he sponsored and coached youth baseball teams and rewarded the kids after practices with meals at Micha’s. As a drummer, he performed throughout Tucson with the band December’s Children.

Horse breeder Ruth “Bazy” McCormick Tankersley, 91, may have been best known as the owner of Al-Marah Arabians in Tucson, but she also founded St. Gregory College Preparatory School.

Southern Arizonans mourned the deaths of some notable ranchers in 2013, including James Kenneth “Ken” Chilton Sr. He was a fourth-generation Arizona rancher who spent all of his 97 years in the state. He was chosen by the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association as a “Cattleman of the Year,” and he appeared in a photo book celebrating 100 years of ranching.

During numerous decades putting in long hours at his farm in Three Points, Robert “Bob” Glen Buckelew, 88, found time to serve on many boards, including the Trico Electric Cooperative, the Arizona Cotton Growers Association and the Pima County Farm Bureau.

Chicago-born Lloyd William Golder III, 87, moved his family to Tucson in the 1950s because his mother yearned to be a cattle rancher. By the 1960s, the family owned 11 ranches in Southern Arizona, including Golder Ranch, which is now a community of about 18,000 residents.

Lemuel Coover Shattuck, 84, the only child of Bisbee parents, showed an early aptitude for prestidigitation (also known as “sleight of hand”), performing as “Lembardo the Great,” but gave up the art of magic to become a rancher and entrepreneur.

Adventure seekers also made their impact on Tucson.

U.S. Air Force fighter pilot Jack L. Francisco, 77, made a second career for himself in Tucson as a test pilot, working for both Learjet and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Lil “Cookie” Boas, 91, worked as a model, singer and actress, appearing as an extra in the John Wayne classic “McLintock!”.

Janis Claire Cotton, 83, was a barrel racer, rodeo princess and avid skier. Cotton worked at the FBI and Hughes Aircraft when not singing country ballads with friends.

And Charles “Charlie” Ryan Spanyard, 23, was hooked on BMX racing from the age of 4. He supplemented his career in racing as a bicycle mechanic.

There’s no telling how many lives were touched by the many Tucson teachers and supporters of education who died this year.

The life of native Tucsonan Henry “Hank” Oyama, 86, was steeped in mid-century history. In the 1940s, he and his family were among Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during World War II. In the late 1950s, he fought a state law that prohibited interracial marriage, so he and his fiancée could wed. And in the 1960s, he and other educators researched Hispanics’ educational experiences in the Southwest and authored a landmark study that led to federal legislation that created bilingual education.

Businessman Eugene Jones, 96, founded Opening Minds Through the Arts, a program that helps teach reading, math and science by integrating music, opera, theater and dance into a curriculum.

Since its inception in 2000 in the Tucson Unified School District, the program has expanded to include 42 schools and more than 18,000 students.

Richard J. Daglio, 71, was a gifted painter and sculptor who applied his creativity to the classroom as a teacher and administrator. For educator Margaret “Ellen” Reed, 67, her talent for relating to students once won her the title of “Arizona High School Counselor of the Year.” Steven A. Schulman, 64, shared his talent for music with innumerable students during his 35-year teaching career with TUSD. Teachers Pamela M. Cowan, 64, Paula Schnebly Hokanson, 76, Rosalie Lucia Kennon, 76, and Louise Shapiro, 84, also each spent 30-plus years in the classroom.

Long before Leo Sotomayor Carrillo, 86, was a fixture at TUSD in the custodial and facilities department, he was a batboy for the Oury Park Tigers and played first base for the Arizona Flowermills. And when Concepcion Martinez Ruiz, 86, wasn’t cooking for children at Pascua and Pueblo day care centers, she was teaching catechism classes and helping shape future Camp Fire girls as a Bluebird leader.

Leaders in religion and social justice will be remembered, too.

The Rev. Donald Nelson Eckerstrom, 82, who became a Lutheran campus pastor at the UA in the mid-1960s, made it his mission to make Christianity relevant in the lives of students through programs such as Switchboard, a hotline for students in crisis, and by founding The Cup, a faith-based coffeehouse.

Rabbi Joseph S. Weizenbaum, 80, was an outspoken religious leader, known for his work in social justice. He was the first Jewish religious leader to affiliate himself with the Tucson-based Sanctuary Movement, and was a founding member of the International Center for Peace.

Mary Peace Hazard Douglas, 87, was part of a small group of women who were instrumental in establishing Planned Parenthood in Tucson and Arizona.

Attorney Richard L. Keefe, 81, a member of the first Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, co-founded Arizona Families for Children, a child-advocacy group that specializes in pairing children with adoptive families.

Former U.S. Air Force officer Bernard “Bernie” Evenchik, 83, found satisfaction in retirement volunteering at a hospital as a “cuddler” in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Philanthropist and Arizona Regent Esther N. Capin, 78, also served on the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners in the 1970s, and was a founding member and 24-year board member of the UA Health Center.

Mary K. Foster, 87, was a founding member of the Tucson Parks and Recreation Foundation, but her interests were not limited to the great outdoors. She served on numerous other boards and committees supporting the arts, education and social issues.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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