Alfred J. Duncan
March 17, 1910 - October 25, 2001
Audiences never had to give Alfred Duncan a sympathy chuckle at an oh-so-bad attempt at humor.
"Dunc," as his friends and co-workers called him, had a true wit and an uncanny ability to loosen up a crowd and make them feel welcome.
He wasn't an entertainer, simply a "happy with life" pharmacist who was often tapped to speak at pharmacy conventions and whose contributions to medicine improved patient care statewide.
The Peoria resident, who died Oct. 25, 2001 at age 91, never lost his sense of fun.
Duncan always tried to make everyone's day a little better, from the time he was a 14-year-old soda jerk at a drugstore in a small Missouri town to his years with the Arizona Board of Pharmacy.
If he wasn't getting a smile out of you in person, it was through his correspondence.
Archived letters and papers during his time as executive secretary of the Board of Pharmacy show Duncan's serious side but also his dry humor.
In a 1978 letter to Gov. Bruce Babbitt, Duncan notes that the Legislature wanted to correct inequities in salaries, like his own. The Pharmacy Board was given a range of possible raises for Duncan, increasing his $23,182 salary to anywhere from $26,105 to $29,497.
"How about the top amount?" he asked Babbitt, adding "There is nothing backward about me." A letter in his file shows he got just under his request.
As part of his job as executive secretary, Duncan would get letters from residents complaining about prices or frustrations they had getting a prescription refilled.
Duncan would often respond with several typewritten pages, usually taking time to praise the person on their writing ability.
He'd then offer an explanation to their question or promise to research the problem.
He was a follow-through kind of guy.
Duncan first became interested in pharmacy work while at that soda shop in Moberly, Mo.
After closing, he would stay behind studying. By 1930, he had passed the Missouri pharmacy exam and became a registered pharmacist.
His first job was in 1932, working at the state hospital in Nevada, Mo.
Four years later, he moved to Arizona and worked at drugstores in Winslow and Holbrook.
By 1941, he was asked to serve as secretary of the Arizona Board of Pharmacy and of the Arizona Pharmaceutical Association. He served until 1943, leaving to enter the Navy.
After the war, Duncan returned to Arizona and eventually came to own two drugstores on opposite sides of the Valley, one in Glendale, the other in Tempe.
In 1954, Duncan was appointed to the Arizona Board of Pharmacy. He served for five years. In the middle of his term, he was again named executive director of the board. This time he held on until retiring in the early 1980s.
During his career, Duncan was key in getting the board to require hospitals to have a pharmacist on hand. He also organized the pharmacist volunteers across the state to assist in vaccinating the public against polio. His efforts yielded the Distinguished Citizens Plaque from the Maricopa County Medical Society.
In the mid-1970s, the University of Arizona wanted to tap Duncan's knowledge of Arizona pharmacy. Once a week for four years he commuted to the Tucson campus to teach a class. He refused a salary, saying he was already getting one from the state.
Outside of work, Duncan and his wife, Marjorie, were inseparable. The two became active in the Glendale Historical Society. For 20 years, they held season tickets to Arizona State University football games.
While Marjorie ran the household, Duncan puttered around in the garage. He once said he had a hobby of "sawing and hammering" just in case you'd mistake him for a carpenter.
When Marjorie died in 1997, Duncan came to live with his grandson, Jim Carey.
Carey once considered his grandfather something of a bookworm nerd.
"He was so scientific. He learned to fish out of a book," he said with a laugh. "But I came to think of him as my hero. I cherished the guy. He always said that if you are nice to people, if you compliment them, you'd get anywhere in life."
Survivors include grandsons Robert, John and James Carey; 14 great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.
Jan. 22, 2003
Character actress Nedra Volz, who played housekeeper Adelaide Brubaker in the early 1980s on the Diff'rent Strokes television series and made a living playing grandmothers and little old ladies, died Monday of Alzheimer's complications. She was 94.
Volz, of Mesa, recognized for her trademark white bun, worked in vaudeville and radio as a young woman but didn't find fame in show business until her 60s.
Her first role as the "Old Lady" came in a 1975 episode of Good Times. Over the years she made several guest appearances on other TV comedies including Alice, Maude and Designing Women. Along with Diff'rent Strokes, she had a recurring role as Pearl Sperling in The Fall Guy and as Miz Emma Tidsale, the postmistress, on The Dukes of Hazzard.
She made her film debut in 1973 in Your Minutes Are Up as the "Free Press Lady" and went on to appear in more than a dozen theatrical and TV films including 10, Little Miss Marker and Earth Girls Are Easy. Her last film was The Great White Hype in 1995.
Volz, born in Montrose, Iowa, on June 18, 1908, first hit the stage as a toddler. Her parents were in vaudeville and billed her as "Baby Nedra."
She sang with a band as a young woman but stayed out of performing until about the 1950s when she did community theater.
"She always had that bun on her head," said her son, Edward, of Mesa. "Nobody knows her name, but everybody knows who she is."
Other survivors include her daughter, Linda Deffenderfer of Chandler.
Joseph P. Pettit
March 7, 1946 - May 3, 2002
It was a simple little newspaper notice that caught his eye. As he sat in his mail truck, munching his lunch that day in the mid-1970s, Joe Pettit happened to read an item about a hang gliding tournament in nearby Nelson, Wis.
Curious, Pettit showed up to watch.
And out where the bluffs jut above the Mississippi River, his life changed forever. As the hang gliders sailed out into the air, catching the rising warm air to circle higher and higher, Pettit was entranced. It seemed unreal and yet so inviting.
"He was bit by the bug," his wife, Karen Pettit, remembered. "He clicked right away with the sport. He had a sixth sense to fly."
For 29 years, Pettit soared through the air, dangling in his harness beneath the 32-foot wingspan of a glider. He began in Wisconsin and perfected his hobby after moving to Phoenix in 1976. There were bumps and broken bones along the way but nothing too serious. He knew the danger but chose to take the risk.
Karen decided from the beginning never to insist he stop. "I knew there was a huge risk but it was so much a part of him. But somewhere in a little part of my heart, I knew something would happen one day."
Her fears came true May 3, when Pettit crashed while trying to land at Sedona Airport. Karen thinks he caught a dust devil and couldn't pull out. The Phoenix resident was 56.
Karen had been with Joe since 1972, when she was attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She was a nursing student, Joe a mail carrier taking college business classes at night. "He was a gentle positive soul. I liked his smiling eyes and that he was very spirited."
There was a nine-year age difference but Karen really couldn't see that he was that much older. Not in his face, not in his spirit. They married on Sept. 11, 1976. "We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary when the tragedy happened with the terrorists," Karen said.
The tragedy made the couple hug a little tighter, look after their teenage children, Ellery and Ariane, a little closer. They felt blessed. Karen had a good job as a nurse, and Joe got to work at home for a company handling customer service and support for CPA firms.
Pettit spent most weekends hang gliding. Often, family members would tag along, Karen or one of the kids driving the truck and keeping in radio contact with Pettit as he flew overhead. They'd meet up with him when he'd land some four or five hours later. Pettit had a couple favorite launch spots: Mingus Mountain near Jerome and Yarnell Hill, southwest of Prescott.
Karen once took to the air with Pettit, taking a tandem ride. "I knew, right away, it was not for me. It was like a double Ferris wheel only magnified a million times."
For Pettit, there was nothing better. He loved to fly among the birds and eagles or following a red-tailed hawk. He'd gaze at the ground, watching to see how the dirt swirled behind a truck on a dusty road or how the wind lines moved on a lake.
Over the years, the hobby had gone high-tech, with many a hang glider carrying oxygen and altimeters. The idea was getting to stay in the air longer, taking the glider a few more miles. Pettit would rise sometimes to 18,000 feet, leaving 80 miles behind him.
Daughter Ariane, 16, said her father was like a best friend, funny and sensitive. He'd never glower at her friends and didn't care if they had baggy pants or piercings galore.
He'd try his best to sing to her CDs, another voice to Destiny's Child. Ariane would wince, just a bit, and laugh.
"He truly loved life. He didn't let the days slip away," she said.
Son Ellery, 19, said he sometimes was a little bored watching his dad glide around but he was thrilled to see the expression on his face when he'd land.
He believes his father's legacy is the notion that people take care of one another. "He was always the first to offer help."
A memorial service will be 1 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 5510 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.
Survivors include wife, Karen; son Ellery; daughter Ariane; sisters Pat Sumner, Eileen Niehoff, Audre Sumner and Elizabeth Bach; and brothers Mike, Tom, Jim, Dan, Mark and Steve.
Howard George Adams Jr.
June 21, 2001
Howard George Adams Jr., the passionate, quick-witted Irishman whose life was a series of political ups and downs, died early Wednesday morning of complications from cancer.
Adams, head of Arizona's department of liquor licenses, former state legislator and longtime Phoenix City Council member, was 67.
"Howard was a great public servant and a committed citizen to our state," Gov. Jane Hull said. "I will miss him both as a member of my Cabinet and as a friend."
After a diving accident in 1964 left Adams paralyzed from the chest down, he moved to the Valley and forged a long and effective career in Arizona politics. First elected to the state Legislature in 1970, Adams fought for many health-care issues and became known as the father of emergency medical services in Arizona.
Adams served two terms in the Legislature. In 1978 he was elected to the first of seven terms as a Phoenix city councilman.
Adams was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Duquesne University and a master's from the American Graduate School of International Management in Glendale.
He worked hard to establish designated wheelchair parking spots in Phoenix. For his efforts to improve accessibility for people who use wheelchairs in Phoenix, he was appointed to the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board by President Reagan in 1987.
Immensely proud of his Irish roots, Adams was a driving force behind Phoenix's St. Patrick's Day parades. He led Phoenix's first delegation to Ennis, Ireland, in 1990, and was instrumental in establishing its sister-city status.
Friends say his proudest accomplishment, however, was the establishment of the Irish Cottage, an Irish cultural center now being built at Margaret T. Hance Park.
Survivors include his son, Howard Mark Adams, of Tempe; daughters Kathleen Lynn Shrum and Elizabeth Nanci Wester, both of Denver; sister Margaret Patricia Kline, of Pittsburgh; and four grandchildren.
Services will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 2312 E. Campbell Ave., Phoenix.
Stephen E. Ambrose
Oct. 14, 2002
NEW ORLEANS - Stephen E. Ambrose, whose bestselling books made America's aging World War II veterans hometown heroes again, died early Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 66.
Ambrose, a longtime smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer in April. Family members were with him when he died about 4 a.m. at a Bay St. Louis, Miss., hospital, relatives said.
"Steve was the great populist historian of America. He didn't write for intellectuals, he wrote for everyday people," said Douglas Brinkley, a former student of Ambrose's who followed him as director of the University of New Orleans' Eisenhower Center.
Ambrose spent the last six months of his life in a flurry of writing, Brinkley said. His last book, To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian, which he called his love song to his country, is set for release Nov. 19.
For much of his career, Ambrose was a little-known history professor. He burst onto the bestsellers list less than a decade ago with his 1994 book D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II.
Based in large part on interviews with veterans about their combat experiences, the book recounted the chaotic, bloody beach invasions of Normandy from the American soldier's perspective.
"He was saying, 'There's all this obsession with high command, but the real story is these citizen soldiers who still live in every town and hamlet in the United States,' " Brinkley said.
With unadorned but lively prose, Ambrose continued to captivate readers as he churned out history books at an industrial pace, publishing more than 30, including a half-dozen more bestsellers such as Citizen Soldiers and The Wild Blue.
He "combined high standards of scholarship with the capacity to make history come alive for a lay audience," Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger said.
While best known for his World War II books and as the founder of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, Ambrose wrote about numerous aspects of American history. Other books addressed former Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, the Transcontinental Railroad and the Lewis and Clark expeditions of the American West.
"His great gift was that he refused to allow people to think history was boring," said Brinkley, who also collaborated on several books with Ambrose. "He was always grabbing people by their lapels and saying, 'Listen to this. Isn't this fascinating?' "
Ambrose, who called himself a hero worshipper, said in a recent interview that his focus on World War II developed from working on his Eisenhower biography and his memory of GIs returning home from World War II when he was 10 years old.
"I thought the returning veterans were giants who had saved the world from barbarism. I still think so," he said.
For the most part, war veterans were eager to help Ambrose and entrusted artifacts they saved from World War II to the National D-Day Museum. The old soldiers seemed to relate well to the author, a plain-speaking man who got to the point and wasn't afraid to mix in a few curse words for emphasis.
When Ambrose discovered he had lung cancer, he said the likely terminal diagnosis was in some respects liberating because "you can do whatever the hell you want. Who's going to criticize you? And if they do, what the hell do you care?"
By the time he became ill, Ambrose's snowballing success had grown into a dynamic family industry that ranged from top-dollar lectures to movie consulting and even historical tours run by one of his sons.
Ambrose's film work included consulting roles in Steven Spielberg's World War II block buster, Saving Private Ryan, and on the World War II documentary, Price for Peace, also directed by Spielberg.
In addition, Spielberg, co-directing with Private Ryan star Tom Hanks, turned Ambrose's bestselling book Band of Brothers into a cable miniseries.
Ambrose was born Jan. 10, 1936, a doctor's son from Whitewater, Wis. He was for much of his career a ponytail-wearing liberal who once quit a teaching job at Kansas State University in protest over a campus visit from Richard Nixon during the bombings of Laos and Cambodia.
As a young professor, Ambrose counted himself among the growing number of new left professors who taught what was wrong with America, criticizing the treatment of Native Americans, U.S. motives for the Mexican-American war and neglect of the environment. But he wasn't always a left-wing academic. He played football for the University of Wisconsin and related his affection for the sport to his fascination with battlefield strategy.
Ambrose spoke out against America's involvement in the Vietnam war, yet he focused his research on presidents and the military at a time when such topics were increasingly regarded by his colleagues as old-fashioned and conservative.
Some in academia didn't take Ambrose seriously, which is why, his supporters say, jealousy ran rampant when Ambrose's name became a fixture on bestsellers lists. Some colleagues say that was what led to accusations in early 2002 that Ambrose plagiarized several passages in a handful of books. The passages lacked quotation marks, but were footnoted.
Ambrose apologized for careless editing but otherwise stood by his work.
"I always thought plagiarism meant using other people's words and ideas, pretending they were your own and profiting from it. I do not do that, have never done that and never will," he wrote in a newspaper editorial.
Ambrose seemed to be settling back into a rhythm in the spring of 2002 when he was diagnosed with cancer. The diagnosis prompted him to drop a World War II project about the Pacific and launch into the autobiographical book due out next month which began with the working title, A Love Song to America. The book in many ways embodied Ambrose's transformation from left-wing demonstrator to superpatriot.
"I want to tell all the things that are right about America," Ambrose said in a May interview with the Associated Press.
Ambrose, who spent most of his teaching career at the University of New Orleans, founded the D-Day Museum to exhibit artifacts entrusted to him by veterans he had interviewed. It initially was meant for the New Orleans campus but turned into a $30 million exhibit in a converted warehouse.
In an interview earlier this month with the Times-Picayune, Ambrose said he was inspired to continue writing by Ulysses S. Grant, who wrote his memoirs through the pain of throat cancer.
"Dying is so damn complicated," he said.
Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Oct. 21, 2002
MEXICO CITY - Manuel Alvarez Bravo, a photographer whose remarkable 80-year portfolio contained everything from mystical portraits of a bygone Mexico to the striking realism of murdered laborers, died Saturday. He was 100.
Bravo died of natural causes at his home, Mexican media reported.
Lauded by the late Nobel laureate Octavio Paz as a "photo-poet," Bravo was one of the leading photographers of surrealism in the 1930s and 1940s and also distinguished himself with his dramatic portrayals of Mexican life.
Many of his photos featured Mexican peasants staring into darkened doorways or bent under the weight of their wares.
A photograph he shot in 1934 that is titled "Murdered Worker on Strike" shows a dead protester lying in a pool of blood.
His images reflected "a sympathy for the working class, an air of mystery, a sense of the surreal, a preoccupation with death," wrote curator Susan Kismaric in a catalogue for a recent show of Bravo's work at New York's Museum of Modern Art.
Bravo was "one of the foremost figures in the history of photography and one of the great Mexican artists of the 20th century," Kismaric wrote.
Bravo also was praised highly during his lifetime by famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera and such renowned photographers as Tina Modotti and Andre Cartier-Breton.
He collaborated with Rivera in 1930 to photograph the work of the muralists, the state-run news agency Notimex noted in an obituary Saturday.
In February, dignitaries and fellow artists honored Bravo on his 100th birthday with a gala celebration at the city's Fine Arts Palace, and the Mexican Postal Service unveiled a stamp to commemorate the occasion. A book featuring his work also was released this year.
"I think the 20th century was the consolidation of photography as a practical means of expression . . . as something that can be called art," Bravo was quoted by El Universal newspaper as having said in 1999.
"All the time, we were getting new inventions, new machines, systems, and laboratory techniques. I began when photographs were colorless, and I followed it to today's perfection."
Bravo was born in Mexico City on Feb. 4, 1902, son of a teacher who occasionally dabbled in photography and painting.
Before dedicating his life to art, Bravo worked as a government bureaucrat and at one point studied to become an accountant,
But in 1915, he changed course and entered the San Carlos Academy to study art and music, Notimex said.
Bravo's body lay in state at the Fine Arts Palace on Saturday, the daily newspaper Reforma reported. Bravo was to be cremated and his ashes buried in a Mexico City cemetery today, the newspaper said.
Margaret "Peg" Phillips
Nov. 13, 2002
SEATTLE - Margaret "Peg" Phillips, who won fame as the tart-tongued shopkeeper Ruth-Anne Miller in the television series Northern Exposure, died Thursday of lung disease. She was 84.
Phillips was a retired accountant who took acting classes at age 65.
In 1990 she was cast in what was supposed to be an intermittent role in Northern Exposure, a CBS series on the fish-out-of-water travails of a New York doctor working off his student loan in the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska.
Shot in suburban Redmond and Roslyn, 65 miles east-southeast of Seattle, the show began as a summer replacement series but became so strong in the ratings it ran through 1995.
Similarly, Phillips' character was so popular she was given a regular role.
Phillips appeared in at least eight movies, a number of television commercials and made guest appearances in such TV series as Seventh Heaven, Touched by an Angel and ER.
She appeared with Shirley MacLaine in Waiting for the Light (1990) and in the made-for-TV movies How the West Was Fun (1994) and Chase (1985).
Miggs Durrance, skier, photographer of Aspen
Nov. 13, 2002
ASPEN, Colo. - Miggs Durrance, a skier and photographer who documented Aspen's transformation from mining community to ski resort, died Monday after a long illness. She was 85.
In 1940, after only two years on skis, Durrance traveled to Sun Valley, Idaho, to try out for the 1940 Olympics. She was named an alternate, but the Games were canceled because of World War II.
She did meet her future husband, Dick Durrance, a star skier. They moved to Aspen in 1947 and she began shooting photos that highlighted the sweeping changes in Aspen.
Jack Gould, senior VP of Chicago White Sox
Nov. 13, 2002
CHICAGO - Jack Gould, a senior vice president of the Chicago White Sox since 1981, died Monday after an extended illness. His age was not disclosed by the team.
Gould flew combat missions during World War II as a bomber pilot for the U.S. Army Air Force and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Actor Jimmy Stewart was second in command of Gould's wing.
Gould joined the White Sox as an investor in 1975 during Bill Veeck's second tenure with the club and assumed his vice president's role with Jerry Reinsdorf's ownership group six years later.
Under Gould's direction, the White Sox began computerizing statistical data during the 1981 season, bringing the club into the forefront of the industry by making baseball decisions based on computer-generated data.
Among his other duties was overseeing research for the club's arbitration cases.
After leaving the military, Gould ran his own mortgage banking firm for 25 years and was a partner in the Chicago Bulls.