April 27, 2001
TUCSON - Fred Gillett, who pioneered infrared astronomy, died Sunday in Seattle of a rare bone-marrow disorder. He was 64.
The condition - myelodysplastic disorder syndrome - is the same disease that killed astronomer Carl Sagan in 1996.
Gillett was the project scientist for the International Gemini Project, a pair of advanced 8-meter telescopes in Hawaii and Chile.
He also was a staff member at Kitt Peak National Observatories in southern Arizona and with the Tucson-based National Optical Astronomy Observatory.
He served as a senior scientist for NASA and won the agency's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award in 1984.
"It's very difficult to overstate Fred's contribution to astronomy," said Frank Low, emeritus professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona.
Gillett designed and built the first infrared instrument and made numerous breakthroughs in the field.
"In every area of infrared astronomy, you find Fred's hand," said Larry Caroff, an astronomer and consultant at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.
Infrared astronomy allows scientists to peer through dust clouds in space and to break infrared light into constituent colors, revealing various properties of celestial objects.
Born Feb. 7, 1937, in Minot, N.D., Gillett earned his undergraduate degree and his doctorate in physics from the University of Minnesota.
After working as a researcher and professor at the University of California at San Diego, he joined the staff at Kitt Peak in 1973.
Gillett is survived by his wife Marian; his mother; two sisters; a brother; two daughters; a son; and five grandchildren.
Memorial services will be held Saturday at Christ Church United Methodist in Tucson.
Sergio Canizo Vasquez
June 15, 2001
TUCSON - Tucson newspaper publisher Sergio Canizo Vasquez has died of a heart attack. He was 61.
He died June 7, 2001 while vacationing in Mexico.
Canizo Vasquez was the editor and publisher of Arizona Hispana, a Tucson-based Spanish-language newspaper he found about seven years ago.
The paper is distributed twice monthly in Tucson and Nogales and neighboring Nogales, Mexico.
Canizo Vasquez was born in Mexico City and was a longtime educator in Mexican schools.
He is survived by his wife, Canizo, and daughters Laura Canizo and Susanna Canizo Schippers.
Ida Mae Bell Owen
May 20, 2001
The film shows 99-year-old Ida Owen sitting in her wheelchair, basketball in hand. She glances at the basket and lets fly. Two points!
With her back to the net, she drops a perfect bank shot. Blindfolded, she casually sinks a shot from the top of the key.
OK, she had some help from the camera, but Owen, star of her great-grandson's whimsical short film Grandma Shoots, Grandma Scores, definitely knew her way around the court. She played forward on her school team in 1914 and was an avid hoops fan, supporting the Suns and cheering passionately for her beloved Phoenix Mercury and the WNBA.
Ida Mae Bell Owen died April 24 of complications from a stroke. The longtime Phoenix resident was just five days shy of her 100th birthday.
"She was a kid at heart," said Michael Brennan, a film student at Scottsdale Community College, noting that his great-grandmother rode roller coasters well into her 80s. "Grandma embraced life and welcomed new adventures."
Owen was born and raised in southwestern Nebraska. When chores were done, she and her siblings played in the family band, which performed at dances and local gatherings.
In 1918, she graduated from a business college in Lincoln and, a year later, married Bryan Owen on Christmas Eve.
During the 1920s, she held a clerical job at a bank in Grant, Neb., near the Colorado line. She remembered vividly the day the bank closed, permanently, during the Great Depression. She later learned that tellers continued to take deposits even though officials knew closure was imminent. It left her with a lifelong distrust of banks.
The Owens worked a variety of jobs during the '30s and '40s, running a gas station here, a furniture store there.
Though times were tough, the family band continued making music, with Owen's husband joining in on the fiddle. She enjoyed telling the story of the day that Lawrence Welk, famed leader of the Hotsy-Totsy Boys, heard the family play at a local dance and complimented them on their style.
In 1950, the Owens moved to Arizona for Bryan's health, settling first in Glendale, then in Phoenix.
A growing interest in horse racing led them to invest in a couple of Thoroughbreds. They enjoyed some success, but the time required to raise and train horses got to be too much, so they turned to other endeavors.
Owen, a talented seamstress, took to sewing the colorful silk jackets and caps that jockeys wear. As horse owners from all around the country came to Turf Paradise, her business steadily expanded, and in 1966 a jockey wore an outfit from Owen Silks in the Kentucky Derby.
Her husband passed away in 1965, but Owen stayed with her business, sewing silks well into her 90s.
Disneyland was one of her favorite places. She was there on opening day in 1955 and returned many times over the years. Just last fall she spent four days there with Brennan and his wife, Mychele.
She enjoyed the rides, especially the Pirates of the Caribbean and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, but the country music show at the Golden Horseshoe Review, which reminded her of the old family band, filled her with delight. She enjoyed it so much she went twice.
Owen appreciated good music all her life, especially the sweet harmonies of the Mills Brothers and the crooning of Bing Crosby. She allowed that "that new kid" - Frank Sinatra - wasn't bad, though he was certainly no Lawrence Welk.
Though wary of individual politicians, she remained staunchly Democratic in her beliefs and made a point of wearing her Al Gore button when Republican relatives visited.
In recent years, she surfed the Internet, sent e-mail and played endless computer games of solitaire - Old Sol, to her.
Always she indulged her sweet tooth, savoring cookies, cakes and candy like a child.
"Old age was a nuisance to her," Brennan said. "She was never done living."
Owen is survived by her daughter, Parthenia Bell Scheel, of Phoenix; sister, Wilimina Vinzant, of San Diego; grandchildren Patricia Lopez, Linda Parker and Bill Pearre; great-grandchildren Kathy Thorley, Kristy Berdin, Karen McWilliams, Michael Brennan, John P. Lopez, David Lopez, Shannon Quinn, Shilo Demoney and Bryan Pearre; and 11 great-great-grandchildren.
Charles Plath Thomas
July 01, 2001
In 1940, during his first week on the job, Charlie Thomas witnessed a fellow patrolman beat a Black man, mostly, he said, just for the hell of it. Sickened by the injustice, Thomas nearly quit. Fortunately for the Police Department, he didn't.
The incident stuck in his craw, though, and in 1953, just a year after being tapped to head the force, Thomas issued a directive to his officers: "In dealing with minority groups, police officers should be governed by a respect for civil rights. Civil rights are nothing more than human rights."
Charles Plath Thomas, the visionary leader who transformed the Phoenix Police Department from a small-town coterie of good old boys into a well-trained, professional organization, died June 18 of complications after a fall. The Phoenix native was 89.
The same year he issued his directive regarding minority groups, Thomas put uniformed female officers on the streets, making Phoenix one of the first big cities to do so. And, in 1956, he assigned an African-American officer to patrol a predominately White neighborhood.
Though some questioned those decisions, once Thomas decided something was the right thing to do, he did it. End of discussion.
"He was a gruff, tough-minded guy," recalled former Assistant Chief Don Lozier, who later was chief of the Paradise Valley Police Department. "If you got chewed out by Chief Thomas, you were chewed out by an expert."
But, his former colleagues agreed, underneath was a big heart.
Often, after he suspended an officer - and he suspended plenty - he'd buy the guy breakfast and arrange a temporary job at the Stern Produce warehouse at Jefferson and Third streets so his family wouldn't have to go without during the suspension.
The unforgivable sin, though, was lying.
"You had to be honest. No matter how efficient or outstanding you were, if you weren't honest, Charlie had no use for you," Lozier said.
"He set the tone for the whole department," added Bud Robinson, who also once served as assistant chief. "He stood for integrity, honesty and training."
Thomas was born at his parents' home on East Culver Street the year before statehood. Though he was smart as a whip and tested well in school, the jobs he took to help his family make ends meet left him little time for study.
After graduating from Phoenix Union High School in 1930, Thomas eloped to Florence with his high school sweetheart, Betty Turner. Though her parents disapproved and hoped to have the marriage annulled, it lasted until Betty's death in 1987.
Thomas worked a variety of jobs over the next decade, at American Cleaners in downtown Phoenix and as a service station attendant in Prescott and in Needles, Calif.
In 1940, looking for a steady paycheck, Thomas applied to the Phoenix Police Department. Soon he was on patrol, tooling around downtown on a three-wheeler motorcycle, slapping 50-cent parking tickets on illegally parked cars.
In the mid-1940s, Thomas joined the Navy and served briefly as a gunnery instructor in Pensacola, Fla. After his discharge, he returned to the Phoenix Police Department.
In 1950 Thomas was promoted to sergeant; he made lieutenant the year after. In 1952, City Manager Ray Wilson appointed Thomas chief of police.
"I didn't sit down hard in the chair because I didn't think I'd last a week," he later said. For the next 11 years he led the department into the modern era and retired at the end of 1963.
Throughout his tenure Thomas stressed education, encouraging his officers to obtain college degrees and greatly expanding the police academy, which he addressed at the beginning of each term.
"From the very first day he was right up front about how important integrity was to the Police Department," said Ed "Clancy" Langevin, a 27-year veteran of the force. "He always said that integrity was the most important thing an officer has."
It was more than lip service.
After an officer ticketed his wife, Thomas sought him the next day. Fearing the worst, the guilty officer went forward.
"I just wanted to shake your hand," said Thomas, adding, "you never play favorites."
After his retirement, Thomas worked as a U.S. commissioner for the Justice Department, chief deputy of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, a bailiff in Maricopa County Superior Court, a county probation officer and, briefly, a security guard at East High School.
He also practiced his golf game and watched loads of baseball on TV. Attending spring training games was a favorite pastime.
Though the department continued to evolve and new chiefs came and went, his colleagues never forgot the man they credited with bringing a sense of honor and professionalism to the force.
"With the Chief in charge," said former Sgt. Ken Ansley, who served from 1956 to 1979, "you could hold your head up and be proud you were a member of the Phoenix Police Department."
Thomas is survived by his daughters, Betty Bucey and Carole Thomas, and their husbands, Bruce Clayton and Leonard Tang, all of Phoenix; niece Evelyn Harrington and her husband, Richard, also of Phoenix; seven grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
Heidi Christi Anne Blizzard
July 22, 2001
Heidi Blizzard sometimes had weeks that lived up to her last name.
Take the last week of May 1993, for example.
She graduated from Northern Arizona University on a Thursday, got hired at 12 News the following Tuesday, then got married that Saturday.
"That was Heidi for you," said her husband, Mark. "She didn't wait for anything. She was a go-getter. She made up her mind to do something and she did it. And she just rolled with the punches. She'd always say, 'Everything is going to be all right.' "
Blizzard kept saying that, even while battling brain cancer for 1 1/2 years.
Heidi Christi Anne Blizzard, a Glendale resident, died July 4 at age 30.
Blizzard was born Jan. 7, 1971, in Columbus, Ohio, the daughter of decidedly liberal parents, so liberal that the family quickly moved north to Vancouver, British Columbia, to wait out the war in Vietnam. After the war and her parents' divorce, her family settled in Pinetop, where young Heidi took part in cheerleading, theater (including a starring role in The Miracle Worker) and the Spanish Club at Blue Ridge High School.
And she sang.
She sang with angelic grace at her high school graduation. She also could belt out tunes, whether it was at 12 News Christmas parties or at the local karaoke bar. Her duet with Mark on Love Shack by the B-52s earned the newlyweds top honors in a contest at the Tropicana during their honeymoon in Las Vegas.
"That was a riot," Mark said.
He and Heidi met at NAU, when he was a sophomore and she was a freshman. They hit it off immediately. They married May 29, 1993, at St. Jerome Catholic Church in Phoenix.
With a high honors degree in broadcast journalism, Heidi didn't need long to find her place at 12 News, producing the morning show with Connie Colla and Ron Hoon.
"Heidi always was an island of calm," recalled Hoon, now with Channel 10 (KSAZ-TV). "Everybody ought to have Heidi's outlook on life. I never saw her get upset. She never had a cross word for anybody. I really think she had her life in perspective."
Julie Watters, a 12 News reporter and weekend anchor, said Blizzard always had a great attitude at work, whether she was producing the morning news, the 10 p.m. broadcast, or even working a dreaded overnight shift.
"She loved working in the TV news business," Watters said. "I think she loved the excitement. I think she loved the constant changing of news. She loved creating."
She certainly liked being in charge of the show better than being in front of the camera. While still an intern, Blizzard accompanied Watters and a cameraman on a story. Watters suggested Blizzard apply more makeup and lipstick. Blizzard would have none of that.
"Extra lipstick was not what Heidi was all about," Watters said.
Blizzard was all about her family, stuffed cows, Payday candy bars, Thanksgiving stuffing, whitewater rafting and the now-defunct Phoenix Roadrunners.
On one of their first dates, Mark and Heidi watched a minor-league hockey game featuring the Roadrunners. Though Heidi wasn't a sports nut before, she took a liking to hockey. They got season tickets and jerseys with their names on the backs. Her jersey had the captain's C on it. "That way you'd know who is in charge," she told him.
In September 1997, she gave birth to a daughter, Brooke.
Heidi began experiencing headaches two years later but didn't think much of it. By February 2000, the pain was unbearable. An MRI revealed a grapefruit-sized brain tumor.
Blizzard fought the inevitable as best as she could. She would tell Mark, "I'm going to see my daughter graduate and get married. I'm not going anywhere." Twelve weeks after her first surgery, she went back to work. She left work for good last Thanksgiving.
In her final weeks, she fretted over being unable to take Brooke to Disneyland. One of Mark's friends and her co-workers at 12 News rallied to fund a four-day trip for her family in May, timed to her wedding anniversary.
"The doctor said she could do anything she wanted, so she did," said Heidi's mother-in-law, Joann Blizzard. "She went on rides Mark wouldn't go on."
Even before she was diagnosed with cancer, Heidi helped groups like Positive Impact, a local non-profit that raises money for severely ill people, get air time on 12 News. Positive Impact returned the favor when Heidi and her family needed it most.
She is survived by her husband, Mark; daughter, Brooke; mother, Kat Dowsey, and her husband, Norm; father, Bud Holbein, and his wife, Charlene; two brothers, Hans and Jeff Holbein; a sister, Mona Curley; her grandparents, Ken Schirtzinger and Al and Mary Holbein; and several nieces, nephews and in-laws.
Memorial donations may be made to an education fund for Brooke at Maricopa County Employees Federal Credit Union, 723 N. Third St., Phoenix, AZ 85004, account number 344850; to the Ina Levine Brain Tumor Center, c/o Barrow Neurological Foundation, 350 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ 85013; or to Hospice of the Valley, 9720 W. Peoria Ave., Suite 128, Peoria, AZ 85345-6133.
Aug. 01, 2001
What makes for a true Frenchman?
He must be a king of the kitchen, a connoisseur of wines and, of course, wear a black belt in judo.
Maurice Leininger fit the bill on all counts.
"He was the consummate Frenchman," his son Christophe said.
Leininger, who emigrated from France to Paradise Valley and helped introduce judo to the Southwest in the 1950s, died June 28 of lung cancer. He was 70.
He was born Jan. 21, 1931, in Rueil-Malmaison, just west of Paris across the Seine.
During the German occupation in World War II, Leininger, like many Parisian children whose parents were seeking a safe harbor, was sent away to a countryside home. Leininger stayed with an old farmer who worked for the French Resistance.
Leininger would later regale his children and grandchildren with war stories.
He found judo after the war. Leininger was among the first generation of European black belts to learn from Japanese masters. Back then, no weight classes existed, so the 180-pound Leininger at times grappled with men much larger than himself.
He fulfilled his military service by training incoming recruits for French Special Forces in both judo and jiu-jitsu.
Leininger met his wife-to-be, Liane, in 1950 and married her three years later in Mignere.
Their first child, a daughter, Veronique, arrived in 1955.
The young family settled in the Valley in July 1958, following Leininger's sister and brother-in-law, Margot and Mike Augustine, to the mountainside near 40th Street and Shea Boulevard. They had the first two homes there.
Leininger joined Augustine in his family business, Phoenix Pipe & Steel. But Leininger soon returned to the sport he loved and helped introduce it to multiple generations of Valley residents.
Allen Metz of Phoenix was a judo instructor at Phoenix College when Leininger came to town. They later served together in the state's judo association.
"He was always cheerful and easy to get along with," Metz said. "When he got excited, though, he would lapse into French and go a mile a minute."
Metz said Leininger always had good ideas about running dojos and improving the martial art.
"If there was something new coming, he wanted to make sure he had it and knew it so he could give it to his students," Metz said.
Leininger opened his first Valley dojo in 1959 at the Thunderbird Judo Club at 20th Street and McDowell Road, then added several locations, including Dick Smith's Swim Gym, Judson School, Camelback Desert School, Scottsdale Judo Club and Luke Air Force Base.
"He just did the rounds, every day, every night," Christophe said. He carries on his father's work through Leininger Dojo in north Phoenix. "He raised a family of five on judo."
Leininger sent his two sons, Christophe and Bryan, to France for a year of judo training while they were high-schoolers. They since have gone on to win several world and national judo trophies, as have many other students of Maurice Leininger.
"If you do judo in Arizona, you know him," said Tawni McBee of Mesa, president of Arizona State Judo Inc.
McBee thought of Leininger as a mentor. She turned to him about a decade ago, asking for his help in getting the state's judo organization and its tournament schedule back up and running.
Even though Arizona judo seemed dormant during the late 1980s, McBee said, Leininger continued to pay the corporation dues and keep the group alive for someone to take it over.
"He believed in people," she said. "I think he believed in me, and that wasn't something I had for myself."
As he got older, Leininger became less active as an instructor and more instrumental in running judo tournaments, including the Fiesta Bowl Judo Tournament, the Desert Classic and the Grand Canyon State Games.
He headed the state's judo association about 10 times, and in 1994, the U.S. Judo Association gave Leininger a Life Membership Award.
Leininger was a charter member of the Paradise Valley Rotary Club. He also became involved in local real estate and briefly worked in importing fine wine and food. He loved to make crepes suzette, especially at Christmastime.
He loved animals, too. He was known to take injured prairie dogs into his Paradise Valley home and care for them.
Leininger is survived by his wife, Liane; a daughter, Veronique; two sons, Christophe and Bryan; a brother, Robert; a sister, Margot Augustine, and her husband, Mike; and several grandchildren, nephews and nieces.
Arlene Hooker Fay
Aug. 08, 2001
GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Arlene Hooker Fay, an artist known for her warm portraits of Indian children and a frequent award winner at the annual C.M. Russell Auction of Original Western Art, was found dead Tuesday in her Great Falls residence.
Fay, born in 1937, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She had been in poor health.
Her pastel "Bobbi in Blue" sold for $7,000 at this year's Russell auction. In 2000, her pastel "Sherry" sold for $6,000 and was named one of the top-selling works by a living artist.
"She was at the top of the line, an equal to some of the best Western portrait artists in the country," Choteau artist and longtime friend Joe Halko said.
Fay painted Western art before it became popular nationally.
"When she started, Western art was just getting rolling," said Steve Seltzer, a local oil painter. "She got in early and developed her skills and became a favorite."
Fay was inducted into the Blackfeet Indian tribe and was an award-winning member of the Northwest Rendezvous Group, a three-time People's Choice winner at the C.M. Russell Auction, as well as a Best of Show winner.
She was published by Leanin' Tree greeting cards, was a frequent guest artist at many Northwest shows and taught workshops at the Frye Museum in Seattle.
Her works were primarily people and still-life subjects, something she once attributed to growing up on a lonely farm in the Highwood Mountains east of Great Falls.
Fay contracted polio at age 15 and had used a wheelchair for more than 50 years.
Colter Rick Hatch
Aug. 12, 2001
Some people have a knack for figuring out problems. Colter Rick Hatch simply solved them.
During his 17 years of life, Colter wasn't too crazy about having to "show his work," as his math teachers would insist. "What's so wrong with just giving the answer?" he'd ask.
Don't pine away, Colter would say, worrying a problem to death. Get up and fix it.
To him, life was meant for wearing bright colors, giving tight hugs, throwing together a Friday night party late on a Friday afternoon. Life meant doing something bold, like streaking your blond hair blue or dotting it with leopard spots.
And life was for telling people how much they mean to you, twice, three times, in the space of five minutes.
Sherida and Rick Hatch wish they had another five minutes with Colter, just to tell him how much he meant, how much they now know about their son.
Since his death last month, they've often gone to the site where he died, a small clearing in north Scottsdale, about a block and a half from their home. Sometime after 10:30 p.m. July 23, Colter's motorcycle skidded off Roping Road, tossing the 17-year-old and his 16-year-old passenger, Jennifer Cattell, to the side of the road. Jennifer is still in intensive care at a Scottsdale hospital.
Although Cattell was found wearing her helmet, Colter's wasn't on his head. Rick Hatch said a police officer later returned it.
"It was a half helmet. It must have come off," he said. "Colter knew to wear his helmet. He had gone through a thorough safety class."
Colter loved riding motorcycles, a passion made easy. The Hatches own the Hacienda Harley-Davidson motorcycle shop in Scottsdale.
"It's ironic, isn't it?" Sherida said of Colter's death.
"We think it was just a coyote that ran in front of him," Rick added.
If Colter were here, his family said he'd be spending all his time helping Cattell get well. He had an interest in medicine. A few months ago, he worked diligently to help his grandfather C.R. - Rick's father - recover from a stroke.
His grandfather, who lives in Snowflake, spent a couple of months recovering at Colter's house. Each day, Colter would guide the elder Hatch outside, helping him steer a shopping cart weighed down with dog food to build his strength. To help retrain his grandfather's eyes, Colter fashioned pipe cleaners on his glasses to help him keep his focus.
Colter, who was going into his senior year at Pinnacle High School in east Phoenix, liked such challenges.
In the past few days, Colter's friends have embraced the Hatch family, sharing snapshots of Colter's life.
"We knew he was a compassionate boy but we never knew how many lives he touched. We've come to understand more about our son since his death," Sherida said. "You love them with all that you are and you think you know them. But you're so focused on protecting them and helping them to be a good person that sometimes you aren't paying attention."
Rick and Sherida have also been amazed at the family stories they've heard from Colter's siblings - Melissa, 31; Erin Nielson, 21; and Tyrone "Ty," 15.
Rick finds himself thinking about the day Colter was born, Jan. 22, 1984. Within an hour of the birth, about a dozen of his Harley-riding buddies roared up to the hospital in Safford.
"It was motley crew when they all came into the hospital. It was cold so they were all wearing their motorcycle jackets," Rick said.
When they all got to the window, Hatch wanted them to know right away he had had his first son. "I had the nurse hold up Colter at the baby window without his diaper on."
Tucson resident Larry Studley was there for the debut.
Studley said he came to think of Colter as his own son over the years. He said Colter was quick to learn a game, even liar's poker at the tender age of 6.
"He beat me out of a lot of money, a dollar at a time," Studley said and laughed. "He was just a happy kid. He grew up to be one of the nicest kids you'd ever meet."
The Hatch family, which over the years has volunteered for various charitable activities, is honoring Colter's memory through "Colter and Associates." Contributions can be sent to The Joy Foundation/The Crossing, a community center for teenagers, 21000 N. 75th Ave., Glendale, AZ 85308.