The Memorial Wall

Fred White

Fred White

January 13, 1955 - January 1, 2023

FRED WHITE, DRUMMER for the groundbreaking funk outfit Earth, Wind and Fire — and half-brother of lead singer Maurice and brother of bassist Verdine White — has died, his family announced on Jan. 1. White was 67 years old.

“He joins our brothers Maurice, Monte, and Ronald in heaven and is now drumming with the angels,” Verdine White wrote in a tribute shared on Instagram. (He did not disclose a cause of death; Maurice White died after a battle with Parkinson’s Disease in 2016.)

A child prodigy who began drumming at age nine before going on to earn his first gold record at the age of 16 for his work on Donny Hathaway’s Live — which made Rolling Stone’s list of 50 greatest live albums of all time — White joined his brothers’ band in 1974 just before the group shot to stardom on the success of its sixth studio album, That’s the Way of the World. Both the album and the single, “Shining Star,” hit number 1 on the Billboard charts.

Earth, Wind and Fire went on to sell more than 90 million records, cementing its status as one of the best-selling bands of all time. Beloved by critics as well as fans, the band was nominated for 17 Grammys, and won six. 

More than two dozen members have cycled in and out of Earth, Wind and Fire since its founding in 1969, but White was part of the nine-man lineup inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

While Maurice — Earth, Wind and Fire’s vocalist, co-founder, and producer — began his career as a drummer, it was Fred playing percussion on the Earth Wind and Fire’s biggest hits, like “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” and “Shining Star.”

Longtime Earth, Wind and Fire frontman Philip Bailey paid tribute to White on Twitter, writing, “EWF. That Family groove foundation. It was built on Maurice, Verdine, and Freddy. We never had to say much… The Groove was in the Blood … RIP my little Brother.”

Remembering Fred White

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Orion Knox

Orion Knox

March 20, 1941 - December 31, 2022

The New Year began with the sad news. After a battle with Parkinson’s disease, a pillar of Texas and Mexico speleology has passed away on December 31, 2022. Orion Knox was one of the discoverers of Natural Bridge Caverns in 1960, and one of the first cavers to go to Huantla, Oaxaca, Mexico. He started into caving in 1957 while still in high school; and, at age 78 was on a trip to the Dome Pit in Natural Bridge Caverns in 2019. Orion was 81. 

One of the discoverers in 1960, Knox also helped develop the caverns by installing pathways and lights. Since the discovery, millions have visited Natural Bridge Caverns.

He met his wife, Jan, through the local grotto at University of Texas in Austin. Together they became a surveying team and worked on Harrison’s Cave in Barbados and Kartchner Caverns in Arizona, Natural Bridge Caverns TX plus numerous others. When traveling they would include a stop at any local caves that were open.

Upon graduation he went to work for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Starting as a park planner and later becoming the head of the Historic Sites branch in Texas Parks. He worked on the first restoration for the Battleship Texas. He said that crawling in the battleship was similar to caving.

He will always be remembered as friendly, smiling and a good storyteller. He will be greatly missed.

Remembering Orion Knox

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JonPaul Stonehuerner

JonPaul Stonehuerner

November 8, 1937 - December 31, 2022

He was born John Paul Stone, November 8, 1937, in Arkansas City, KS. He died in his sleep Dec. 31, 2022, which Kenny Rogers thinks is the best you can hope for. Not only did he get to die in his sleep, he got to die at home. Only about 20% of the people in this country die in the familiar surroundings of home. He could not have done it without the help of Rose Ogu and Frank Doonan. What a difference they made in his life and his death. The official cause of death was Parkinson's disease even though the Parkinson's Foundation states that no one dies of Parkinson's. The actual cause of death, which, strangely, cannot be put on death certificates in this country, was old age. He was the only one in his immediate family to reach the age of 85. He died because he had reached the end of his natural life span.
Somewhere over the first 30 years or so of his life he came to be Jonpaul Stone, commonly known as JP. On June 11, 1977, he married his beloved Jackie Huerner and became Jonpaul Stonehuerner. His mother, Ruth Bernard Stone, published a Pioneer Cookbook with recipes for all sorts of wildlife, had a quilt-making business, and was a dental assistant. His father, Walter Stone, was a dentist who got out of dental school in 1929. Unable to set up a dental practice, he joined the CCC, and the family moved to Washington and Oregon. He was drafted directly into the army at the start of WWII, and JP moved with his mother and his brothers to her grandparents' farm in Kansas where they lived without electricity or indoor plumbing. Some of his fondest early memories were of sitting on the sacks of grain while his grandpa drove to the mill in his horse-drawn wagon.
When the war ended, the family moved to Topeka, which he always considered his hometown. While still in high school, he joined his brother Bernard to study art with Emil Bisttram in Taos. After graduation from Topeka High he studied at the Art Students' League in New York City with George Grosz, Robert Brackman, and Frank Reilly.
At this point in an obituary it is traditional to say what the deceased did for a living so here goes. He always considered himself an artist and at times supported himself solely by selling his artwork. At other times, most of the time actually, he found it necessary to do other things, some of them tangentially related to the art world. He worked in frame shops and small galleries, sometimes as a wage slave and sometimes as an unofficial manager, and some of these galleries also sold his artwork. In silk-screening shops he just cleaned screens as teenager. Later he took his portfolio to a shop in Hog Eye, AR, and was hired as a T-shirt artist. He once had a job drawing in the colored lines that showed the routes of the little independent telephone companies in Kansas. He painted houses inside and out, but to say just that gives no idea of the wide-ranging discussions that took place when his fellow house painters were or had been theology students. He did layout for a yearbook company. He worked up gravestone rubbings, including those of Bonnie and Clyde who are buried in Kansas. He painted a few signs and also a couple of murals with his brother Bernard. In the 50's he and his brother Lee were paid beatniks in a upstairs coffee-shop, Big Daddy's, on Westport Road in Kansas City, Missouri. Big Daddy bought them black turtlenecks, and Lee played the guitar and sang songs about the customers while JP did sketches of them. He was also a sketch artist/ bartender/bouncer in a bar on skid row in Seattle.
Then there were a lot of jobs that were in no way connected with painting or art. He worked in restaurants as a cook, a waiter, a dishwasher, and a cashier, and he was the counterman in a Jewish deli. He was a paid extra in movies and TV shows. Like everyone with a resume like this, he drove a cab, first in San Francisco and later in Kansas City. Long before the days of the GPS he learned not just the streets in San Francisco but how to get from one place to another by going around the hills rather than over them. That knowledge also served him well in what turned out to be one of his favorite jobs, with the Pacific Lighting and Electric Company where he did whatever needed to be done: assembly, shipping and receiving, delivery.
He and a colorful crew did foundations, framing and finishing on a couple of owner-built houses in Northwest Arkansas. He worked in machine shops in Kansas City and Oklahoma City and cabinet shops in Durham and Hillsborough, NC, as well as being a flunky on the production line for White Furniture.
In Eureka Springs, AR, he pretty much did it all for a small company that made furniture from weathered oak. They bought the oak from local farmers and sold the furniture in a shop in Eureka. JP first had to convince the farmers, who clearly thought he was crazy, that he really was going to replace the beat-up old boards with new ones-and pay for the wood as well. He was as good as his word and got a few takers. Back in the woodshop he built the shelves, tables, and other things, and then waited on customers in the store.
He did what people who have never done it know as casual labor. He unloaded boxcars of fiberglass insulation on hot summer days. He detailed cars and occasionally drove them to another location while working for a Mercedes dealer. As with many other jobs, his duties were quite different from the way they were explained when he was hired. He picked peas in Washington State and came to count his blessings when he picked Brussels sprouts and artichokes in the fields of Northern Cal alongside mostly Filipino co-workers, many of whom had not seen their families for decades. He tried his hand at being a travelling salesman, selling enzyme-based drain cleaners years before they were available in stores or online. His work for a high-tech company in the Triangle consisted mostly of moving walls to accommodate their ever-changing corporate structure. "It's a house of cards," he muttered half to himself and heard the phrase whispered for days as he moved among the flimsy cubicles. He was a groundskeeper for a while at the University of Arkansas, a job he considered somewhat demeaning even though he looked charming and bucolic with a pipe in his mouth and a rake in his hand. The Chamber of Commerce of Eureka Springs paid him, but probably never very much, to answer tourists' questions. He assembled and painted dinghies and generally made them seaworthy while working for a small company in Davenport, CA. He took the census. He rued the day he hired on with a company that installed greenhouses where he had to climb across narrow strips of metal to secure big pieces of glass in place. He worked on the line at the Campbell's Chicken Soup plant in Fayetteville, AR, and never again willingly ate poultry.
While living in Kansas City he answered an ad in the Kansas City Star for a job based in Dallas. He drove there and was hired to deliver a wildlife film to movie theatres in small towns, mostly in the South and Southwest. During this gig, he caught pneumonia and almost died in Truth or Consequences, NM. He lost consciousness and came to surrounded by smiling women in white whom he first thought were angels but were really nurses. He was run out of town at gunpoint by a jealous husband in Spring Hill, LA, (He didn't know she was married), and he discovered Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which was to be his home for the next several years. Probably his most colorful job was as a roughneck in the oilfields of Kansas. This kind of work was easy to find. Any able-bodied man could drive out onto the plains at night where drilling rigs were the only thing lit up and get hired on the spot.
It's impossible anymore to know the sequence of these endeavors except the first and the last. His first job unloading trucks and stocking shelves at the Piggly Wiggly turned into a warning about the ways of the world. After they'd unloaded a truck full of watermelons, the truck driver offered JP a dollar to come with him for another hour, an offer so extravagant he couldn't refuse. They drove out into the country, out of sight of any houses, and JP helped the driver drag big heavy rocks out of the truck and throw them by the side of the road. Being only 14, it took him a long time to figure out why the rocks were there. His 'career' ended when his knees gave out while he worked on the line at White Furniture Company under conditions that might have appalled Charles Dickens. These are just the jobs he managed to get paid for. Among his unpaid positions-spiritual advisor to the Broken Dreams Trailer Park.
Strange to spend so much time describing his employment when it was never the focus of his life. Life itself was. In addition to creating his own art, he deeply appreciated the work of others. The first time he saw Frederick Church's 'View of Jerusalem' at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, he spent the rest of the day taking it in from every possible distance, every direction, every possible angle of lighting.
Although he continued to paint well into his 70's, he never repeated the bursts of artistic activity he experienced in San Francisco and Eureka Springs and environs (I would include here 'The View from Fort Leverett' shown above painted in his studio on N. Leverett Ave., Fayetteville AR).
He gained some local fame for his associations with pop-culture figures from the 60's. His magician friend Gerard Kolbetter lived down the hall from Janis Joplin. His musician friend Tom Hobson was friends with Jorma Kaukonen of the Jefferson Airplane, and you never knew who would stop in to jam. He knew Jerry Garcia slightly from just being around the Avalon and the Fillmore. He rented studio and living space in a huge Quonset hut in Sausalito. Buffalo Springfield used another part of the building for practice sessions. He thought they sounded awful. Maybe bad acoustics.
But he always found the writers more interesting than the musicians. He knew Richard Brautigan from the Coffee Gallery on San Francisco's North Beach. The only job he said he would have willingly done without pay was at the Pomegranate Gallery across the alley from Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights bookstore. He sold his and others' paintings at the gallery. He met Gary Snyder when he was hitchhiking down Highway One, and Snyder stopped to give him a ride. They kept in touch for several years through Ferlinghetti and City Lights. He never met Kerouac, but also through City Lights he had the misfortune to encounter Neal Cassidy, a royal pain the ass if there ever was one.
He looked upon the 60's in San Francisco as a kind of folk festival where the peasants celebrated the harvest. That experience can never be repeated because, unlike now, living was so easy. He could work as an extra for a couple of days and pay his part of the rent for rooms in a big old Victorian house. One day he walked out of the house he was sharing with Tom Brand to see Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters bus parked in front. Their spirit was in the air even though he never knew Kesey.
Of course, the San Francisco area was also a hotbed of political activity at the time with anti-war demonstrations throughout, the Black Panthers based in Oakland, and the Free Speech movement centered in Berkeley. He went to a couple of Free Speech demonstrations in Berkeley and was haunted forever by the sound of billy clubs cracking heads. One day he was strolling down Telegraph Avenue toward the university minding his own business when he was confronted or very nearly confronted by a phalanx of heavily armed police heading toward him, completely blocking his way. When he saw them and realized they saw him, he opened the nearest door, ran up a flight of stairs, and entered an apartment where he was welcomed warmly with smoke and wine.
At some point California just got too crazy. Stuff like that simply didn't happen in the Midwest. He moved back to Topeka and then to Kansas City, MO, where he met Jackie. They were married there in All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. Then, as noted above, he discovered Eureka Springs, which is more visually stimulating than KC for sure. Jackie followed him to Arkansas where she found interesting but not particularly lucrative work at the university in Fayetteville. After scraping out a living for seven years, they moved to Durham. Asked later why he came to North Carolina, he said, "to join the middle class." In this he was not entirely successful since jobs paid better in North Carolina, but it cost more to live here. Growing up a Kansas Freestater he had feared even to enter the South but came to feel at home in the gentle warm climate of North Carolina.
Had he not moved to the Old North State, he never would have found Cup-A-Joe's and the myriad of amazing people he met there-intelligent, well read, clever in conversation but also compassionate. Sadly, he developed dementia near the end of his life that, among other things, rendered his speech generally unintelligible. Long after they had figured out conversations with JP were going nowhere, they always seemed genuinely happy to see him and made room for him at the table. You know who you are. Not knowing any one of you would have left an emptiness. Not knowing any of you is unimaginable.
His 85th birthday, November 8, was the day of the 2022 mid-term elections. Rest assured that even in his most demented state, he never voted for a Republican. As for his last words, it's a little hard to say for sure. He continued to mumble incoherently. During the last few days he would call out, "Jackie," but no one could figure out what he wanted to say to her. Probably just for her to be there, which she was. The last words he spoke clearly that indicated he was aware of his situation were his response when Jackie stupidly tried to assure him that he was okay, that everything was all right, "Bull shit."
He is survived by his wife of 45 years and soul-mate forever, Jackie Stonehuerner of Hillsborough, his sister-in-law Sylvia Stevens (widow of Bernard Stone) of Leavenworth, KS, brothers-in-law Richard Huerner (wife May) of Lake Orion, MI, and Jim Weaver (widower of Diana Stone) of Topeka, KS, numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and great, great nieces and nephews. How he loved his big, diverse, talented, never boring extended family! Probably the ones who had the greatest impact on his life were his nieces Chelsea Appenfeller of Topeka and Becky Richmond of Prairie Village, KS, and especially his nephew the late Greg Stone of Ottawa, KS. He and Greg lived together in two or three places in the Westport area of Kansas City when JP was young, and Greg was really, really young. They seemed to form bonds that were never broken even though their lives took very different courses. His brother Bernard Stone of Leavenworth, KS, and sister Diana Stone of Topeka preceded him in death. His niece Becky said that to them he was "not only a brother but a friend, a confidant, and a fellow fun-seeker." Especially since he had no children, and his siblings preceded him in death, it seems appropriate to include in this section friends that stood by him for fifty years or more: Dan Pinckley of somewhere outside West Fork, AR, Tom Brand of Silver City, NM, the late Jimmy Gates of Cedar Point, KS, and James Yale of Rogers, AR.
'Whatever' being a good Kansas word popularized by Bob Dole among others, a Whatever gathering will be held in JP's honor at the Exchange Club Building on Exchange Park Lane Feb. 19, 1-4 pm, followed by a free pitcher of beer at Nash Street Tavern starting at 7 p.m. to the first ten people who mention JP's name whether or not they can say Stonehuerner. There will also be a graveside service in Mt. Vernon Cemetery, Winfield, KS, when his cremains will be interred next to his mother's grave April 8. As Mike Stradtner observed, "The end of an era."

Remembering JonPaul Stonehuerner

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Edward Weidenfeld

Edward Weidenfeld

July 15, 1943 - December 29, 2022

Edward L. Weidenfeld, Republican lawyer, general counsel to Ronald Reagan, cannabis entrepreneur, medical marijuana supporter and patient died at his home in Washington at age 79 due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, reported the Washington Post. 

Following his time with the Reagans, Weidenfeld became a cannabis entrepreneur and critic of the war on drugs, including Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign. 

Having worked in a variety of capacities for six U.S. presidents and as a successful estate lawyer, Weidenfeld got interested in cannabis following his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2002. 

Weidenfeld said cannabis relieved his symptoms, especially the anxiety that gripped him over Parkinson’s debilitating physical progression.

“When you’ve got a degenerative disease,” he told the Daily Beast, “And there’s something that makes you laugh and takes your mind off the disease, that’s what is medically beneficial.”

Weidenfeld, while self-medicating with cannabis, by chance met Andras Kirschner who was looking to start a medical marijuana company in the D.C. area. They teamed up and co-founded Phyto Management, a licensed producer in Washington, D.C. After co-founding what became District Cannabis brand, the partners expanded into Maryland.

Kirschner said, per WAPO, that Weidenfeld was active in every aspect of the business, from growing to marketing: “He was like an elder statesman when he walked in the room.”

As he became more involved in cannabis, Weidenfeld also became more outspoken about the injustices of the drug war. 

He told the Cannabis Business Times in 2020 that the “Just Say No” campaign and war on drugs were mistakes, particularly with cannabis. “It demonized a substance which has tremendous therapeutic potential” and “was used as a means of social control over people of color, immigrants.”


Remembering Edward Weidenfeld

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In Memoriam
Mary Naffziger
In Memoriam

Mary Naffziger

September 14, 1946 - December 27, 2022

Naffziger, Mary Dorothy, 76, born September 14, 1946, in Saint Joseph, Michigan and died on Tuesday, December 27,2022 in Anaheim, CA. Mary graduated from Saint Joseph Catholic High School in 1964 and later graduated from Lake Michigan College. Before moving to California in the late 1970's, Mary resided in Saint Joseph, Michigan. Mary is survived by six loving siblings, William J. Naffziger of Orange, CA, Terry L. Naffziger of Palm Desert, CA, June M. Graham of Palm Desert, CA, Jack C. Naffziger of Laguna Niguel, CA, Donald J. Naffziger of Oceanside, CA., and Kenneth C. Shayna of Ann Arbor, MI. Mary had nineteen nieces and nephews and twenty-four grand nieces and nephews.

Mary was preceded in death by her brother Robert, her father Hugh, her mother Zell, her niece Janelle and her sister Norma. Mary was a kind, clever woman who enjoyed the outdoors especially the beach and the mountains. Visits to antique stores and thrift stores gave her opportunities to find a bargain. She loved Christmas and attended arts and crafts classes to create unique gift items for her family and friends.

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Steve Zachary

Steve Zachary

January 1, 1955 - December 25, 2022

Steve Zachary joined Jesus in Heaven on Christmas Day 2022 after a 7 year battle with Parkinson’s and 3 years with PD dementia. 

Steve was born in 1955 in Eugene, Oregon. He attended school in Springfield and Grants Pass, Oregon as well as in Alberta, Canada where his dad was attending Prairie Bible Institute.  Upon returning to the United States, his dad became pastor of a church in Madras, Oregon and Steve attended Madras High his last two years.  

Steve worked for Anderson Farms and in 1976 married the farmer’s daughter, Kathleen Anderson.  They were married for 46 years.  Steve worked various jobs in his life including farming and retail but his favorite jobs were men’s clothing buyer for Hatfield’s Department Stores and swathing for Warkentin Farms in Christmas Valley. Steve and Kathleen had 4 children and 18 grandchildren which were the light of his life.  

Steve loved teasing his nieces and nephews, water-skiing, playing basketball, and most of all spending time with his wife, kids, and grandkids, especially at hunting camp and at their winter home in Thousand Palms, CA. He traveled to Canada, El Salvador, and Mexico and spent a summer working at a Christian camp in Panama with Kathleen and the kids. Most of his grandchildren remember his ear pinches, trips to Dairy Queen in Madras, and encouragement to follow Jesus. 

In late 2015 Steve was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and in 2018 after having to retire from Madras Marine, he and Kathleen moved to Christmas Valley, Oregon while continuing to spend winters at their place in Thousand Palms, California.  Sadly, his Parkinson’s progressed rapidly followed by Parkinson’s dementia. In early December of 2022 he entered memory care in Redmond, Oregon but was only there for 16 days before he was transferred to Partners in Care Hospice House in Bend where he passed away. 

Steve is survived by the love of his life Kathleen, as well as his children and grandchildren.  He’s also survived by his mother, 5 siblings and many much loved nieces and nephews.

Remembering Steve Zachary

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In Memoriam
Lydia Auslander
In Memoriam

Lydia Auslander

- December 22, 2022

After a twelve-year battle with a progressive Parkinson's disease, Lydia finally succumbed on December 22, at home, surrounded by her three loving children; five loving granddaughters; her daughter-in-law and son-in-law.

Born on June 15, 1936, the daughter of Dr. Henry Lowey and Mrs. Rebecca (May) Lowey, Lydia grew up in St. Albans and Holliswood, Queens and attended P.S. 136, Andrew Jackson High School, Syracuse University and Finch College. She married, later divorced, and raised her three children in New Rochelle, New York.

Lydia loved to sing and act in summer stock and community theater in her younger years and later, was a dedicated teacher who took great pride in writing songs and poems for her nursery school students. She was also a skilled office building manager for Time Warner.

She was unfailingly kind and thoughtful. She was creative. Most of all, she loved and was adored by her family and many friends.

Lydia is survived by her children, Amy Auslander, Todd Auslander and Kimberly Englert; her grandchildren, Isabella Englert, Zoe Zambito, Hannah Auslander, Piper Englert, and Eliza Auslander; her daughter-in-law, Shawn Auslander, her sons-in-law, Timothy Englert and Joseph Zambito and her brother, Stephen Lowey and sister-in- law, Nita Lowey.

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Dr. Lucien J. Côté

Dr. Lucien J. Côté

January 4, 1928 - December 21, 2022

Dr. Lucien J. Côté of Tuxedo Park, a leading Parkinson’s disease specialist, died Wednesday, December 21st, 2022, surrounded by his wife, Joanne, and family. He was 94 years old. Lucien was born January 4th, 1928, in Angers, Quebec Canada, son of the late Yvonne (Scantland) and Gaston Coté,

Dr. Côté, Emeritus Professor of Neurology at the Columbia University Medical Center, was recognized for a career spanning 60 years, during which he has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to patient care and research.

Dr. Côté was honored by the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF) in May 2014 with its Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual gala at The Plaza Hotel in New York City.

He is known by patients and colleagues alike for taking his time to provide the best care for each patient, whether that means hour-long appointments or weekend phone calls. His approach benefited thousands, creating a loyal following of patients and families and leading to a genetics research program at Parkins Disease Foundation that is named in his honor.

“The most important thing I do as a doctor," Côté said in the foundation's press release announcing the award, "is to really take the time to listen.”

He has been at the forefront of Parkinson’s science and care since the 1960s and his contributions are the stuff of legend.”

He is survived by his wife Joanne at home in Tuxedo Park, NY; his son Paul Andrew Coté and his wife Marilyn of New York, NY; his daughter Gabrielle Crandall of Center Harbor, NH; his twin sister Yvette Lloyd of Louisville, KY; his brother Jean-Guy Coté of Enosburgh Falls, VT; and by his two grandsons: Thomas Crandall, and Brian Crandall.

Remembering Dr. Lucien J. Côté

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Penny Carducci

Penny Carducci

October 28, 1929 - December 20, 2022

With heavy hearts, we announce the death of Millicent J. Carducci of Orlando, Florida, who passed away on December 20, 2022 at the age of 93. Leave a sympathy message to the family on the memorial page of Millicent J. Carducci to pay them a last tribute.

She was loved and cherished by many people including : her parents, Mildred Thomas and Harry Worth; her children, Christopher J. Carducci (LuAnn), Dr. Theresa J. Carducci (Walter Raleigh Whitehurst) of Mary, A. C, Hefka (Bruce Hefka), Dr. Michael A. Carducci (Mary Katherine), Victor G. Carducci, Alexander Thomas Jr. and Robert Philip; her grandchildren, Cristina, Charles, Alexander, Angela, Taylor, Patricia Jeanne, Austin, Claire, Amber, Jonathan and Emmanuel; her great grandchildren, Suzanne and John; and her husband Dr. Alexander Carducci.

Remembering Penny Carducci

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Joseph William Heyer

Joseph William Heyer

- December 18, 2022

Joseph William Heyer, 84, of West Chester, PA, formerly of Philadelphia, North Wales, Lansdale, and Boothwyn, PA passed away on Sunday, December 18th in Hospice Care at Main Line Health-Paoli Hospital after suffering numerous complications from Covid-19 and advanced stages of Parkinson's disease. He died peacefully, surrounded by family. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Sandra (Jennings) Heyer.

Mr. Heyer was a dedicated husband, father, uncle, grandfather, educator, basketball coach, baseball coach, tennis enthusiast and avid gardener. He was also well-known in Philadelphia basketball circles as one of the city's all-time sharpshooters.

Joe is a member of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall-Of-Fame (City All-Star Chapter) as well as the North Penn High School Alumni Athletic Association Hall-Of-Fame and the St. Helena's School Hall of Fame. He was also given lifetime achievement citations by both the Markward Basketball Club of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Basketball Old-Timers Association. The Philadelphia Daily News named him to the Philadelphia Playground Legends Team of the 1950's.

As a player, Heyer enjoyed a decorated two-sport athletic career at La Salle College High School. On the hardwood he was the 1956 Philadelphia Sportswriters Catholic League Most Valuable Player and led the Catholic League in scoring, averaging 21.2 points-per-game. His 49 points against St. Thomas Moore broke the Catholic League scoring record, and it remains the LHS single-game record to this day. In the Explorers very next game he tallied 39 points against Father Judge. The two-game total of 88 points is believed to be the highest consecutive two-game scoring outburst in league history. The 49 points has only been topped one time in Catholic League history. He helped the Explorers capture the 1956 Catholic League regular season title. In the Catholic League playoffs, the Explorers advanced to the Championship game at the Palestra in both his junior and senior seasons. Following his senior campaign, he was named to the Gold Medal North-South All-Star Game in Murray, KY, hosted by George Mikan. Heyer led the East with 7 field goals in the game.

In addition to his basketball exploits, Heyer was a member of the LHS baseball team, which captured the 1955 Catholic League championship, defeating Olney High School at Connie Mack Stadium.

Heyer accepted an athletic scholarship to La Salle College, where he played basketball and baseball.

On the hardwood, Heyer continued his scoring exploits, breaking Tom Gola's school record with 17 field goals in a 35-point outburst against Lehigh in 1958. The mark also bettered the Palestra record of 15 field goals, previously held by Oscar Robertson. The 35 points was the Palestra's single-game high total for the '58'-'59 season, back when all members of the Big 5 played a large portion of their home games at the hallowed arena. The following season, Heyer's 31 points against Temple was the Palestra's single-game high total for the '59-'60 campaign. Other big scoring nights included 29 versus Bucknell, 29 against Muhlenberg, 28 on Albright, and 24 against Syracuse. "Jumpin' Joe" was known for his patented "Tip-Toe" jump shot which featured a quick release with little knee-bend. He got the inspiration for the shot after watching 2-time NCAA leading scorer Frank Selvy from Furman when they came to Philadelphia to play La Salle in 1954.

Heyer led the Explorers in scoring for the 1958-'59 season with a 17.2 average and became just the 4th Junior in school history to tally 400 points in a season. Following that campaign, he was named 1st Team All-Middle Atlantic Conference, 2nd Team All Big-Five and 2nd team Catholic All-American. During his 3-year playing career, the Explorers were ranked in the Associated Press Top 20, reaching a high of #14 during the '59- '60 campaign. Heyer finished his career with 928 points, which was the highest scoring total of any guard in school history, and it ranked #7 on the school career list at the time. He was also a member of the La Salle College varsity baseball team.

Heyer immediately entered the coaching ranks, accepting the Head Basketball and Baseball Coach positions at Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia. In three seasons with the Cardinals, his basketball teams advanced to the Catholic League Championship game all 3 years. He compiled an overall record of 50-20 (70%).

In the fall of 1963, Heyer returned to La Salle College, where he was named Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach, as well as Head Coach of the Freshman team. His 1963-'64 team was the Big 5 Freshman co-Champion.

Just days before beginning his 3rd season as an assistant for the varsity team, Explorers Head Coach Bob Walters announced he was stepping down due to health reasons. One day before the 1965 Explorers season-opener against Albright, Heyer was named the Varsity Head Coach. At just 27 years old, he was the youngest Division 1 head basketball coach in the country, and one of the youngest in history. It is worth noting he also remained the Freshman Coach and did not have a single assistant coach that year.

In his collegiate coaching debut, Heyer's Explorers defeated Albright. In a twist of irony, La Salle's Hubie Marshall, a 5'10" guard from Coatesville, PA touched the nets for 17 field goals, tying Heyer's school and Palestra record. Under Heyer's guidance, Marshall experienced a storied career at La Salle, averaging 27.0 points per game in '65-'66, and was later enshrined into the Big 5 Hall of Fame. In Heyer's first season, the team finished 10-15 but pulled off two of the most memorable upsets in Palestra history. One was defeating a Louisville team that featured future Hall of Fame center Wes Unseld. But the bigger upset came in the Quaker City Tournament, when the Explorers knocked off #6 (AP) Brigham Young, which was undefeated at the time, and went on to win that season's NIT Championship.

The 1966-67 was packed with high expectations due to the arrival of one of the top recruiting classes in Big 5 history. The class of newcomers featured future NBA players Larry Cannon, who had broken Wilt Chamberlain's career high school total, and Bernie Williams, a highly regarded guard from the legendary program of DeMatha High School in Baltimore. A tough road schedule to start the season, along the difficulty of blending highly regarded newcomers with upperclassmen proved to be a challenge early in Heyer's second season as the team struggled to stay near .500. However, the Explorers began to gain momentum as the season progressed. They defeated St. Joseph's to advance to the 1967 Middle Atlantic Championship Game, where the Explorers fell to Temple.

Heyer's team experienced a four-game improvement in the win column to finish with a 14-12 record for his second year at the helm. But despite having a year remaining on his head coaching contract, Heyer resigned his duties as head coach following the '66-'67 season. Heyer later cited philosophical differences with the university on the direction of the basketball program.

After leaving La Salle, Heyer spent a year living in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where one day on the beach he met his future wife, Sandra Jennings. He approached Ms. Jennings and asked her if she could please hold his car keys while he took a swim in the ocean. After completing his swim, she returned his keys safely to him and they decided to continue their conversation. Sandra gave him a birthday present by marrying him on his birthday, October 18, 1969. Their wedding song was the popular hit, "Sunny" by Bobby Hebb.

The young couple decided to settle in the Philadelphia suburbs and Heyer accepted a job teaching and coaching at the high school level. He was the head basketball coach at North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA from 1969-'90, compiling a record of 291-185. His teams captured 11 Holiday Tournament Championships, 6 Bux-Mont League regular season "Halves" titles, and the 1975 Bux-Mont League overall championship. His 1972 and '76 teams advanced to the District One quarterfinals at the Palestra. The '72 team holds the school record by going 12-0 to start the season, and the '77 team was the first in school history to win 20 games in the regular season. In addition to coaching basketball, he taught Social Studies at NPHS for 30 years. He received his M.S. in teaching from St. Joseph's University. He was a teacher at both Cardinal Dougherty and North Penn High Schools for a total of 38 years. He was an avid researcher on the JFK, RFK, MLK and Lincoln assassinations. Mr. Heyer was often a guest speaker on the topic to various community groups, and he also taught the subject matter at adult higher-learning courses.

The teaching profession provided him ample time in the summers to grow elaborate vegetable gardens in his North Wales, PA home. While he grew the typical staples of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, radishes, peas, and eggplant, there was no vegetable he wouldn't give a try. Some of his more adventurous products included Swiss chard, watermelons, pumpkins, potatoes, and even mustard seed. This was in addition to the various fruit he grew including grapes, peaches, pears, apples, cherries, blueberries, blackberries and boysenberries.

While Heyer spent many years playing and coaching basketball, he had a passion for many other sports. His lifetime love of baseball began at age 3, when his photo appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper, after meeting Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio on the field at Shibe Park. DiMaggio autographed a baseball for the youngster. When Heyer later added the signature of Pete Rose to the same ball, he had his lifetime prize possession - autographs of both the American League and National League hitting streak record-holders (DiMaggio 56 and Rose 44). His passion for baseball also included being an avid follower of the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League in Montgomery County, PA. He made several trips with his kids and grandson to Cooperstown, NY to tour the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His favorite team was the Philadelphia Athletics, and he used research and statistics to conclude that the 1929-'30 A's world champion teams were the greatest in MLB history. His most anguishing baseball memory was the Phillies collapse of 1964, and it took him decades to forgive Manager Gene Mauch for his handling of the starting pitching staff late in the season.

He was an avid tennis player and instructor, playing actively into his 70's, until his knees gave way. He also loved football, serving as the public address announcer for the North Penn High School football team for many years. He developed an appreciation for skateboarding when his son Todd pursued the activity very heavily. Mr. Heyer built his son a "half-pipe" in their Lansdale, PA backyard.

He spent his most recent years attending hundreds, if not thousands, of his grandchildren's and grand-nephew's concerts, competitions and sporting events.

Joe is the son of the late Elizabeth (Naas) Heyer and Joseph William Heyer, Sr. of Philadelphia. He is proceeded in death by his sister, Elizabeth Heyer Leahy. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Sandra (Jennings) Heyer and their four (4) children, Stephen Geiskopf, Robin (Geiskopf) Sachtleben, Joseph S. Heyer and Todd W. Heyer, along with eight (8) grandchildren: Tyler Sachtleben, Bethany Sachtleben, Keri Sachtleben, Graham Sachtleben, Jamie Sachtleben, Jacqueline Heyer, Brendan Heyer and Jackson Heyer, two (2) nephews, Timothy Leahy and Michael Leahy, and two (2) grand-nephews Sara (Leahy) Lofton and Christopher Leahy.

Remembering Joseph William Heyer

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Updated: August 16, 2017