The Memorial Wall

Reggie Wicks

Reggie Wicks

January 1, 1945 - April 24, 2024

Reginald "Reggie" Paul Wicks, 79, wrestling coach and professor at the Naval Academy, passed away peacefully on April 24 of Parkinson's and Lyme's Disease at his home in Crownsville, Md.

A native Iowan from Decorah, Wicks attended Decorah High School where he met Linda Grinna, his future bride and wife of 55 years.  

Wicks had a distinguished career in wrestling.  He was a four-year letter winner in high school and was twice named team MVP.  He was a Northeast Iowa Conference Champion at 154 pounds in 1963.  In 1964, he was a district champion at 154 pounds and finished second at the state championship, finishing with a 19-2 record.  

Wrestling for Iowa State University under head coach Harold Nichols, Wicks was a three-time conference place winner and a three-time NCAA qualifier.  In 1968, Wicks won the NCAA National Championship at 160 lbs and earned All-American distinction.  Wicks, who was also the Iowa State team captain in 1968, finished his career with a 44-12-4 record with six of his losses coming by two points or less.

His coaching career started as an assistant coach at Mankato State from 1969-1971, where he also earned his master's degree.  Wicks earned his first head coaching job in 1971, where he served for four years and coached two All-Americans.

Wicks coached for 28 years at the Naval Academy, assisting Ed Peery from 1974-1987, before taking the reins of the program from 1987-2000.  During his time as the head coach in Annapolis, the Midshipmen were 175-60-5, winning the EIWA tournament in 1990 and finishing second four times (1988, 1991, 1992 and 1994). Wicks coached 17 EIWA champions, 35 NCAA qualifiers and six NCAA place winners at Navy. He was the EIWA Coach of the Year in 1990. Wicks was 10-1-2 against Army. 

Wicks retired from coaching in 2000 with a career record of 200-80-6. 

Wicks was inducted in several Hall of Fames: Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame (1998), National Wrestling Coaches Association, 25 years award, National Wrestling Hall of Fame (2001) for Life Service, Iowa High School Hall of Fame (2005), and Iowa State University Hall of Fame (2016).  After retirement from coaching, Wicks continued as a full professor at the USNA until 2010.  He also remained active within both the national and local wrestling community.  Wicks enjoyed working in his garden, traveling, and spending time with his family and Jack Russell Terriers.

Reg will be lovingly remembered by his high school sweetheart, Linda Wicks, his three children: Michelle (John) Kapral, Port Orange, Florida, Paul (Melissa) Wicks, Brookeville, MD, Russell (Trine) Wicks, Odenton, MD; six grandchildren: Mackenzie Kapral, Aidan Kapral, Brennan Wicks, Grant Wicks, Mason Wicks and Noah Wicks.  He is survived by his maternal aunt, Dorothy Denner. Reg's siblings: Joan Wicks (2002), Charlotte (Richard 2020) Ball, Allan (Janenne 1985/1985), Wes Wicks, Ray (Cathy) Wicks, Wayne (Pam) Wicks. In-laws, John (Cheryl 2017/2015) Grinna, Mimi (Dennis) Wilkins, Jim (Londa) Grinna; many cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and wrestlers.

The family would like to deeply thank Dr. Bill Vickers, Vida Amoaka, OT, PT and the Gilchrist Hospice staff for their dedication and care of Reg and the family.

Remembering Reggie Wicks

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Mickie Reinertson

Mickie Reinertson

April 11, 1939 - April 20, 2024

On the evening of April 20, 2024, Mickie Reinertson from Huntington Beach passed away after a 7 year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was born in Modesto, California on April 11, 1939 to Edna (de la Motte) Reinertson and Bernard Reinertson. In 1957, Mickie graduated from Series High School in California. He attended Concordia Oakland and went on to graduate from Concordia Teacher’s College in Seward Nebraska where he met his wife, Betty Kirchhof. He and Betty were married in June of 1961 in Iowa. Mickie accepted his first teaching job in Sacramento California in 1961 at Town and Country Lutheran School. He then went on to teach at several other Lutheran Schools: St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Round Lake Illinois, Faith Lutheran School in Whittier, St. Paul’s Garden Grove and St. Paul’s Lutheran in Orange, California. Toward the end of his career he became principal at Hephatha Lutheran School in Anaheim Hills where he served until his retirement. After retirement, he became a substitute teacher in Garden Grove Unified School District where he enjoyed instructing all grades from Kindergarten to High School and even taught music. Mickie had many hobbies and passions. He loved to play, coach and watch all sports. Throughout his teaching career he coached everything from basketball to track and field, but he especially loved baseball/softball as a player, coach and manager. He had a love for music and played both the trumpet and ukulele. He enjoyed many years of playing ukulele with his fellow musicians at Island Bazaar in Huntington Beach. Mickie loved stories both telling them and hearing them. He loved to laugh and kept his humor until the very end of his life. When asked how old he was on his 85th birthday he said,” Twenty one?” He loved his family and was a wonderful father, grandfather and great grandfather. During his last days he was able to enjoy the friends and family members who came to visit and would recall great memories and stories from the past. He is survived by his brother, Jerome (Jerry) Reinertson, his wife, Betty Reinertson, his three daughters, Denise Trok, (Steve Trok), Brenda Hawkins, (Jim Hawkins), Coleen Barrier, (Chris Barrier). His six grandchildren, Joshua Cox, Joseph Brintane Cox,( Cat Paul), Jacklyn Chen, (Kevin Pegg), Madeline Chen, Nathan Trok, (Ashley Trok), Allison Trok (Lorenz Sarcletti), and his three great grand children, Clara and Evan Trok and Charlotte Cox. 

Remembering Mickie Reinertson

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Mel Opotowsky

Mel Opotowsky

December 13, 1931 - April 18, 2024

Maurice Leon “Mel” Opotowsky, a former newspaper editor and tenacious free press advocate who was known for helping to advance 1st Amendment rights, has died.

Opotowsky died April 18 at Claremont Manor retirement community, where he lived with his wife, Bonnie Opotowsky, according to their son, Didier Opotowsky. He said his father’s cause of death is not certain, and that he had Parkinson’s. He was 92.

Opotowsky was a top editor at the Riverside Press-Enterprise when the paper brought two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that resulted in landmark rulings advancing the public’s right to view certain legal proceedings. He was later a founding board member of the First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the free press and preserving access to government records and meetings.

“I don’t know that there’s another single person in California who had such a positive and long-lasting impact on open government in our state,” said David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition. Opotowsky remained an active board member until his death and had emailed Snyder suggesting work the organization could take up just weeks ago, he added. “His longevity, his persistence and his tenacity are the stuff of legend.”

Opotowsky joined the Press-Enterprise in 1973 after working as an editor at Newsday. He was known for fostering a culture that emphasized hard news and accountability journalism, said former columnist Dan Bernstein, who worked at the Press-Enterprise from 1976 to 2014.

Back then, the news organization put out two papers: the morning Enterprise and the afternoon Press, which were later merged. Opotowsky eventually climbed the ranks to become managing editor of the combined edition.

“He was pretty much on everybody’s shoulder as they wrote and reported stories, because he was a very tough and aggressive editor who was skeptical of government and skeptical of politicians,” Bernstein said. “And none of us wanted to be left not asking the question that he would have looked for immediately.”

In January 1984, the paper won the first of two Supreme Court rulings that are still often cited by attorneys seeking access to court proceedings.

“He was reputed to know as much about constitutional law as a lot of lawyers did,” he said. “Whether it was government meetings, courtrooms or records, he was pretty much adamant that all records should be open and all courtrooms should be open.”

Opotowsky retired as editor of the Press-Enterprise in 1999, becoming an ombudsman, tasked with investigating and responding to reader complaints. In addition to his open records advocacy work, he taught at Cal State Fullerton.

He was rightly known for being unsparingly direct, said Kris Lovekin, a former education reporter at the Press-Enterprise. She recalled one story in which Opotowsky demanded that a reporter unmask a donor to UC Riverside who wanted to remain anonymous, figuring that a public university must be required to disclose its backers. After he resolved to get an attorney involved, the Press-Enterprise’s then-publisher, Howard H. “Tim” Hays, was forced to disclose that it was he who had, in fact, made the donation, Lovekin said.

At the same time, Opotowsky was also kind and compassionate when warranted, she said. A keen chronicler of the world around him, he was creating journalism up until the end of his life, she said.

“He was still writing stories about people in Claremont Manor, about the people he lived with,” Lovekin said. “He would post it on Facebook and we would read about the other residents.”

Opotowsky was remembered for his dry wit that at times leaned acerbic. He had a soft spot for practical jokes and an even softer spot for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, his son said. He loved horseback riding, fox hunting and trying different restaurants, he said.

Opotowsky was born in New Orleans on Dec. 13, 1931. His mother was ill, so one of her sisters-in-law filled out the registration card and submitted it to the city to produce a birth certificate, Didier Optowsky said. The sister-in-law named him Maurice Leon after their father — contrary to a tradition among some Jewish people that dictates babies should not be named after living relatives, he said.

“My grandmother was so furious she refused to call him Maurice, refused to call him M.L.,” Didier Opotowsky said. “So she called him Mel.”

His father did not learn his legal name until he was drafted into the Army, Didier Opotowsky said.

True to his roots, Opotowsky was also known to make enormous batches of red beans and rice — enough to feed the entire family for weeks, his son said. “They were good,” he said. “But we would get tired after the fifth day or so.”

He is survived by his wife Bonnie; son Didier; daughters Joelle Opotowsky, Keturah Persellin and Jamie Persellin; 18 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by a daughter, Arielle Opotowsky, who died as an infant.

Remembering Mel Opotowsky

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Thomas Lee Phillips

Thomas Lee Phillips

December 25, 1941 - April 18, 2024


Thomas Lee Phillips of Newport Coast, California, died peacefully at his home on Thursday, April 18, 2024, surrounded by his four children and his loving caregivers. He had fought a courageous battle with Parkinson’s Disease for over a decade. Tom was born in Camden, New Jersey on December 25, 1941 to parents Helen Hutchinson Phillips and Jules Ludin Phillips. He lived most of his adult life in Montgomery County, Maryland before moving to northern Virginia in 1998 and then Orange County, California in 2010. He earned a B.A. in political science from Dartmouth College and a M.A. in journalism from The American University. He also served in the U.S. Army and was employed with two large national advertising agencies and a Washington, D.C. publishing firm. In January 1974, Tom started Phillips Publishing (which later became Phillips International, Inc.) with his wife Jan in the garage of their home in Chevy Chase, Maryland with a $1,000 investment. After launching two newsletters with three employees, the company grew into one of the most important print publishing firms over the next three decades. The firm published newsletters, magazines, and directories and later online information services for consumer and business-to-business marketplaces. The wide range of industries included health, personal investing, telecommunications, banking, aerospace, and energy. A very successful subsidiary of the company also marketed several doctor-formulated lines of nutritional supplements to the health newsletter subscribers. He sold the final Phillips subsidiary in January 2007. Tom was also Founder and Chairman of Eagle Publishing, Inc., which he started in 1993. Eagle Publishing was a leading source of books and periodicals that included Regnery Publishing, a politically conservative book publisher founded in 1947, and Human Events, a leading conservative newspaper. He sold this company in 2014 to Salem Media Group. Tom founded The Phillips Foundation, a non-profit organization which sponsored programs for print journalists and the Ronald Reagan Leaders Scholarship Program. It was later merged into The Fund for America Studies. He was a founding member of the Newsletters Publishers Association and served as its president. In 1989, Tom was named Newsletter Publishers Association “Publisher of the Year” and in 1994 he was elected as the first member of the Newsletter Publishers Hall of Fame. Tom served on the Board of Directors of Young America’s Foundation, chaired the Board of Governors of the National Journalism Center, and was a member of the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Fund for American Studies and Chairman of the Board of Visitors for the Institute on Political Journalism. He served for many years on the Board of Junior Achievement of the National Capital Area and on the Board of the Boy Scouts of America National Capital Area Council. A generous man, Tom was extremely proud to be part of the purchase of the Reagan Ranch, President Ronald Reagan’s Western White House in Santa Barbara, by Young America’s Foundation. He worked closely with The Fund for American Studies, which fosters programs that teach the principles of limited government, free-market economics, and honorable leadership to students and young professionals in America and around the world. He often hosted events and political fundraisers at his homes on the east coast and Orange County and loved to throw a good party. Tom took his entire company to Disney World in Florida in September 1993 in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the company. It was a 3-day, 2-night stay and included all employees and their families. A second trip, a Disney cruise, followed ten years later in September 2003 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the company (which was officially founded on 1/1/1974). Again, the trip included all Phillips Publishing employees, their families, board members and some vendors of the company who had been with the firm for many years. Tom considered his employees like family and wanted to make sure they knew how appreciated and valued they were. Tom enjoyed collecting art (mainly American Impressionist) and traveling and loved all forms of chocolate, blueberry pie, and lemon bars. His favorite flower was the rose. When he lived in both Maryland and Virginia, he had beautiful rose gardens. He would bring a pail of these roses to his business office and hand them out to his new employees, making sure he personally thanked them for joining the team. Tom Phillips is survived by Karen (Christopher) Broussard and Mark Thomas Phillips, children from his first marriage, and Reagan Thomas Phillips and Parker James Phillips, sons from his second marriage. He is also survived by five grandchildren, a sister Katherine (Dorsey) Hunt, a niece and a nephew, an uncle and a cousin.

Remembering Thomas Lee Phillips

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Robert F. “Bob” Fischer

Robert F. “Bob” Fischer

February 29, 1932 - April 16, 2024

Judge Robert F. “Bob” Fischer, who retired from the Appellate Court of Maryland, died of complications from Parkinson’s disease April 16 at the Pineapple House at Sapphire Lakes, a Naples, Florida, assisted living facility.

The former Ellicott City and Grasonville resident was 92.

“I first met Bob in the fall of 1994 when I joined the court, and I must be his No. 1 fan,” said U.S. District Court Judge Ellen L. Hollander.

“He commanded love and affection from the bench and the bar,” she said. “He was warm, humble, collegial and aimed his rulings for the court by the demands of the law. He had a dignity about him and it was an honor to serve with him and be his colleague.”

Retired Appellate Court Judge Paul E. Alpert was both a colleague and longtime friend.

“Bob was just a terrific fellow,” Judge Alpert said. “He was very honest and courageous and he took positions and didn’t care if you agreed or not. He was very straightforward.”

Robert Frederick Fischer, son of John Ernest Fischer, a compositor, also known as a typesetter, for The Baltimore Sun, and Anna Karis Fischer, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Westport, on land where his grandfather, an immigrant form Lithuania, owned and operated a beer garden.

His mother died when he was 10, and his father nine years later.

Judge Fischer told The Sun in 1988 that he grew up “with no prospects at all. I know how hard it is to advance in the world.

“I am somebody who struggled.”

In Judge Fischer’s case, the way out was wrestling, where he became a champion on the varsity team, along with his brother, Ernest Fischer, at the old Southern High School. There, in 1946, he won his first of two Maryland Scholastic Association championships.

“All of my friends went to reform school. We didn’t because of athletics,” he told The Sun.

At the University of Maryland, College Park, he was a wrestling champion for two years and undefeated his senior year.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1954, he enlisted in the Air Force where he served from 1955 to 1958 as a jet fighter instructor in Greenville, Mississippi.

After being discharged, he worked as a probation officer by day while studying law at night at the University of Baltimore.

He earned his law degree and passed the bar in 1961 then became an associate partner at Pierson & Pierson in Towson, where he worked for a decade.

In 1969, Judge Fischer, and his wife, the former Sally Watson, a Baltimore County public schools educator, moved to Ellicott City where he established a law practice, and also served as a Howard County assistant solicitor and in 1972 county solicitor.

A Democrat, in 1973, he was appointed a District Court judge, and four years later, to the Circuit Court by Gov. Blair Lee III, and in 1987 became administrative judge of the Howard County Circuit Court.
Judge Fischer was appointed to the Maryland Appellate Court, the second highest court in the state, in 1988.

“The reputation he forged on the Circuit Court reflected a genuine concern for the underdog,” The Sun reported at the time of his appointment to the Appellate Court.

Judge Fischer at times earned the ire of prosecutors for giving defendants a second chance.

“If I thought a person was sincere about changing his pattern of life, I was inclined to give them an opportunity, if it was feasible,” he told the newspaper. “I stuck my neck out a lot. I’ve taken chances on people who were not entirely safe risks, and fortunately, most of them turned out well.”

He added: “If I found out they were not going to change and stop committing crimes, I had to warehouse them. But, I believe you should give people an opportunity.”

Judge Fischer developed his views of state prisons when he was a young lawyer.

“I knew of several young men who went to prison, and they were brutalized and raped,” he told The Sun. “I realize managing violent people is not easy, and the prisons are overcrowded. So, protecting the average person is extremely difficult.”

Judge Fischer, who once sentenced a 15-year-old Laurel boy convicted of rape to five years in the county jail “because I did not want to put him in the state prison system. It would have ruined his life.”

“He was a very good lawyer and judge and his record speaks for itself,” Judge Alpert said. “He was very well respected as a lawyer and as an Appellate Court judge.”

“He had an extraordinary judicial temperament, warmth and charm, and these are traits that stand out in my mind,” Judge Hollander said. “Appellate Court is so different from being a Circuit Court judge because you function as a group.”

Judge Fischer retired in 1997, but for a few years afterward, continued part time as a senior judge in various courts throughout the state until moving to Naples in 2002.

Judge Fischer, who had been elected to the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, enjoyed painting landscapes, making furniture, reading, and playing tennis and golf.

He was a former communicant of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Ellicott City and was a member of Trinity-By-The-Cove Episcopal Church in Naples.

In addition to his wife of 67 years, a retired special education teacher, Judge Fischer is survived by a son, Kurt J. Fischer, of Towson; a daughter, Keri Corless, of Wellesley, Massachusetts; and five grandchildren.

Remembering Robert F. “Bob” Fischer

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Norm Zeigler

Norm Zeigler

July 10, 1948 - April 15, 2024

Norm Zeigler had no secret fishing spots.

Inventor of one of the most used flies in the history of fly fishing, Zeigler was known for passing on his free fishing knowledge in a sport that's often thought of an exclusive extension of angling reserved for the rich and retired.

The famous Sanibel Island angler and businessman died early Monday at his partially rebuilt home on Sanibel Island from complications related to Parkinson's.

Born on July 10, 1948 on Cape Cod, Zeigler, 75, worked as a travel and outdoors writer and editor for most of his life, and he was known locally as the forefather and big promoter of fly fishing for snook, especially from beaches like Sanibel Island.

"He was so king and big-hearted and that's why he was so successful," said his wife of 39 years, Libby Grimm. "He believed in no secret spots, even before he opened the fly shop."

He is survived by Libby, son Travis Zeigler of Sanibel, daughter, Katrina Sherman (Hunter), and three grandchildren, of Austin, Texas. He is also survived by his sister and three brothers, and many nieces and nephews.

Zeigler spent much of his professional life as an outdoors and travel writer and editor for Stars and Stripes, a military publication based in Germany.

There, he roamed across much of Europe, hunting and fishing some of the most beautiful landscapes the continent has to offer.

Zeigler came down with Lyme disease, and in 1994 his doctor advised that he move to an area like Florida for its temperate climate and clean air.

He did, but he also lost trout fishing, which had become an obsession over the decades.

"He was so sick he would cast from the beach, and then he realized he could catch snook from the beach," Libby said. "Then he wrote the book that revolutionized the fly fishing industry because you didn't need money to pay for a guide."

Norm Zeigler's Fly Shop opened in 2009 along Periwinkle Drive, and the fly fishing atmosphere there inspired a generation of guides in Lee County to follow Zeigler's lead.

He sold the shop in 2021 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's.

"He didn't make it three years and (Hurricane) Ian didn't help because we lost everything in the world," Libby said. "It was a 6-minute walk to the Gulf, and it was a great house until Ian."

Hurricane Ian made landfall on their 38th wedding anniversary, Libby said.

Daniel Andrews, co-founder of Captains for Clean Water, worked at Zeigler's fly shop for several years while he was in high school.

"I met Norm before I had my driver's license," Andrews said. "I must have been 13 or 14 years old."

He said Zeigler was an advocate for fly fishing and he fought to break down economic barriers that keep many people from enjoying the sport.

"The thing about Norm was he was incredibly empowering to people: Anybody can pick up a fly rod and you don't need the fanciest setup out there," Andrews said. "The most notable thing about his is he worked to remove boundaries and he wanted people to find the peace and connection to nature."

Andrews described Zeigler as a serious fisherman who wanted his friends and guests to experience the joys he had come to know on Sanibel.

"When you were on the water with him, he had a sense of seriousness and there wasn't a lot of words said," Andrews said. "He just wanted you to have the same experience he did. The real drive for that was the peace and serenity that he had while fly fishing the beaches."

Long-time friend and fellow fly fisherman Bob Brooks said Zeigler's shop was key to starting a unique fishery on Sanibel.

"There were a few people who were doing it but they were very quiet about it," Brooks said. "Norm was the one who started writing about it and developed the Schminnow and he was probably the first people who really went after it and told people about it. Then people started to come to Sanibel just to do that and they still do."

Zeigler was featured in a recent article on his life and passing.

Calusa Watekeeper and fishing guide Codty Pierce, 33, worked at Zeigler's shop as a teenager, and he credited Zeigler with making Southwest Florida waters famous.

"He's really the one who bridged the gap and told normal people they could sight fish for tropical gamefish on Sanibel Island," Pierce said. Sight fishing is a visual method where fish are spotted and then cast to. "Not only was it his business but he went out of his way to give casting lessons and encouraged people to go out and try it. He founded the Sanibel Fly Club and they really are a staple of the community." Pierce said Zeigler was a leader in the fishing community and just a genuinely good person.

"What started as hanging out on a dirty old couch turned into a group that got together for fly fishing because we were passionate about it, but that turned into more beautiful things like helping Boy Scouts and doing work inside Ding Darling and that was all the brainchild of Norm," Pierce said. "His book was a gamechanger for this area because it really put us on the map. The only thing that's rivaled his book is the tarpon fishing at Boca Grande."

But Zeigler's health failed him in the past few years.

"He certainly had his share of health issues with the chronic Lyme disease and the prostate cancer and this Parkinson's was more than enough, but fly fishing was his Zen, his yoga and his religion," Libby said.

Remembering Norm Zeigler

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Richard Horowitz

Richard Horowitz

January 6, 1949 - April 13, 2024

Richard Horowitz, the composer and pianist who won a Golden Globe Award for his soundtrack, with Ryuichi Sakamoto, to The Sheltering Sky, died in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Saturday, April 13. A post on the Instagram page of his wife, Sussan Deyhim, written by his daughter Tamara Melnik, confirmed the news. In its own tribute, the New York label Rvng Intl., which reissued Horowitz’s album Eros in Arabia, heralded the “incredible tapestry of music [Horowitz] was a part of,” adding, “now you are all around us, reborn in the ultimate dimension.”

Horowitz was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1949, and spent much of his young adulthood traveling Europe performing music. In the 1970s, he studied electronic music in Paris and the ney (a traditional flute) in Morocco. He, in turn, released a series of albums based around the ney between the late 1970s and early 1980s

In 1981, Horowitz entered two important partnerships: the first with vocalist, dancer, and composer Sussan Deyhim—his future wife—and the second with Jon Hassell, who swiftly invited Horowitz to join his touring operation and work on records, including Power Spot, that synthesized ancient mysticism and modern music technology. The same year, he released Eros in Arabia, his formal debut album, under the moniker Drahcir Ztiworoh; it has since been heralded as a formative work in the development of American minimalism.

Throughout the decade, Horowitz collaborated with artists including David Byrne and Brian Eno and jazz greats such as Anthony Braxton, before partnering with Sakamoto for the North African–set romance movie The Sheltering Sky in 1990. He spent much of his life in Morocco, and, in 1998, co-founded the Gnawa and World Music Festival in the city of Essaouira, now attended by some half a million people each year. Around the same time, he was working on the score for what would become his best-known soundtrack, to Oliver Stone’s 1999 sports thriller Any Given Sunday.

In addition to his musical legacy, the family’s Instagram post honored Horowitz as “a seeker, a master linguist (most especially fond of a good double entendre), a master pianist and ney player, a humorist, trickster, a loving partner, father, and grandfather, sometimes a critical snob, a traveler and world citizen who believed in our shared humanity. He will be missed beyond measure or time and we ask that he continue to guide us in the melody and tone of the universe.”

Remembering Richard Horowitz

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Ted Wilson

Ted Wilson

January 1, 1940 - April 11, 2024

Ted Wilson, who was elected to three terms as mayor of Salt Lake City and narrowly lost a bid for governor, died Thursday due to congestive heart failure and Parkinson’s disease. He was 84.

Wilson was elected mayor in November 1975 and served 10 years in the office, leaving to become the director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah. He ran for U.S. Senate against incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch in 1982 and, in 1988, was the Democratic nominee for governor.

“He changed this city,” said Tim Chambless, a long-time friend and former staffer in Wilson’s administration. “He changed lives.”

In the closing weeks of the race, polls showed Wilson with a sizable lead over Republican Norm Bangerter and independent Merrill Cook in a three-way race, but Bangerter eked out the victory by barely 11,000 votes.

“I’ve always said to myself that if you have to hatch out better things for yourself through public office, you’re in it for the wrong reasons,” Wilson said reflecting on the defeat in 2017. “If you can’t retreat back to where you were before, you’ve cheated reason.”

No Democrat has held the office since.

Wilson was an accomplished mountaineer — climbing peaks in the Alps, Alaska and the Andes — and was a founding member of the Alpenbock Climbing Club. In 1961, Wilson and club member Bob Stout made a first ascent in Little Cottonwood Canyon on a route they later named Chickenhead Holiday, introducing the world to the canyon’s premier climbing

He was also a leader on environmental issues, serving as director of the Utah Rivers Council, environmental advisor to Gov. Gary Herbert and director of the Utah Clean Air Partnership, among other other roles.

In a statement Thursday, his family said Wilson died surrounded by his family.

“As the eternal optimist, he loved people and they loved him back. We are honored that his memory will live on in the legacy he built as Salt Lake City mayor, through the countless people he has taught and mentored, his decades of humanitarian service, and his mountaineering accomplishments,” the statement read. “Ted’s lifetime priorities were his family and public service. He built and nurtured many deep and meaningful friendships and would remind us all to ‘never sweat the small stuff.’”

On Thursday, Salt Lake Mayor Erin Mendenhall said Wilson “was my mentor, my cherished friend and someone I could always count on.

“To this city, he was a giant and a champion. His legacy is a permanent thread in our City’s story,” she said. “He was a committed leader, a driver of progress and someone willing to listen, learn, and evolve.”

Wilson launched his mayoral bid in 1975, after having worked on political campaigns, pulling off an upset against an incumbent mayor and sitting city commissioner.

During his tenure as mayor, Wilson oversaw the reconstruction and expansion of the Salt Lake City airport and the city’s response to massive flooding in 1983 that saw City Creek turn part of downtown into a river.

Palmer DePaulis, who served on the city council and later as Wilson’s public works director before being his successor as mayor, said Wilson’s cool head and unifying leadership helped rally the community to respond to the torrential runoff.

“He just had an instinct to make people just relax and feel like their lives weren’t coming apart,” DePaulis said Thursday. “He conveyed confidence, and within days the city under him had put bridges over the water, the sandbagging. He brought everyone together and made people feel like, ‘OK, we’re all in this together and we’re going to make it.’”

Amid a corruption scandal involving the city commission, Wilson initiated a change to the current council format that also saw council members representing specific districts for the first time.

“He used to joke that all of the commissioners lived within a block of each other, so there was no representation for the rest of the city,” said Cindy Gust-Jensen, who was a young staffer in the Wilson administration and now is the executive director of the council. “[The change] really brought a lot of transparency and accountability.”

Wilson spearheaded the efforts to preserve the Salt Lake City and County Building when it began to crumble, create a historic district to preserve The Avenues neighborhood and build a new sewage treatment plant to replace one that was prone to overflowing.

He led a movement to preserve the city’s foothills and helped to lay the groundwork for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

“He was just able to make fast friends and he genuinely cared about people. I really wouldn’t have the job I have today but for his mentorship and kindness and support. He’s just one in a million,” said Gust-Jensen.

Born May 18, 1939, in Salt Lake City, to working-class parents — his mother was a hospital switchboard operator, his father owned a tent and awning shop — Wilson grew up steeped in Democratic politics.

“The only time we dressed up was on Sundays — to listen to FDR Fireside Chats,” he recalled in a 2003 interview. “I was 14 before I realized ‘damn Republicans’ was two words.”

He graduated from South High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Utah and a master’s degree in education from the University of Washington. In 1962, he married his high school sweetheart, Kathy Carling, and the couple had five children.

He served in the Utah Army National Guard from 1957 to 1963 and taught economics at Skyline High School for seven years, spending several of his summers as a park ranger in Grand Teton National Park.

In the summer of 1967, Wilson and six other climbers executed a harrowing rescue of a climber who had broken a leg scaling the treacherous north face of the Grand Teton. He received a reward for valor from the U.S. Interior Department the following year for his role in the rescue and his daughter, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, made a documentary about the rescue in 2012.

“We spent three days on the face,” Ted Wilson later recalled. “At the time it was the most technical rescue in North America.” He worked as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Wayne Owens before being appointed as director of the Salt Lake County Department of Social Services in 1975 and then being elected mayor later that year.

As director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, he helped shape the political lives of many young people, said Utah House Minority Leader Angela Romero, who participated in a Hinckley internship in 1994 during Wilson’s tenure.

“Mayor Wilson’s support and guidance have been invaluable throughout my career, instilling in me a deep sense of compassion and commitment to making a positive difference in the world,” Romero said.

Thursday afternoon, Gov. Spencer Cox ordered flags to be lowered across the state in Wilson’s honor.

“Ted Wilson devoted most of his life to public service,” Cox said in a statement. “As a Utah National Guardsman, Salt Lake City’s mayor, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics and a trusted advisor to Gov. Gary Herbert, Ted always put people over politics.”

He later married Holly Mullen, a former editor and columnist at The Salt Lake Tribune, and was stepfather to her two children.

Remembering Ted Wilson

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Jane Hoffman Banister

Jane Hoffman Banister

February 27, 1947 - April 9, 2024

Janie Banister, 77, died on April 9. 2024 from complications of Parkinson’s disease and dementia. She passed away peacefully in her home with her family at her bedside.

Janie was born February 22, 1947 in Salisbury, North Carolina. She was a Proud Pirate graduating from East Carolina University in 1969 with a degree in education. With her diploma in hand, Janie headed north for Virginia where she taught second grade for Chesapeake Public Schools primarily at E. W. Chittum elementary from which she retired after thirty years of service.

While living in Virginia Beach, she met Fred at a party hosted by her and her roommates. They wedded seven months after this encounter and enjoyed fifty one years of marriage which produced three children and four grandchildren.

Janie was predeceased by a son, Stephen, her parents, Burt and Nancy Hoffman, and a brother, Scott. She is survived by her loving husband, Fred, a son, John (Ellen), a daughter, Anne (Cora), and four grandchildren, Vivian, Sammy, Bryn, and Oliver, two sisters, Cynthia and Beth, a sister-in-law, Lina, and five nephews and nieces.

A visitation will be held at Sturtevant Funeral Home, Bennetts Creek Chapel, 2690 Bridge Road, Suffolk, from 6:30 to 8pm on Monday, April 15th followed by a graveside service at Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens, 4569 Shoulders Hill Road, Suffolk at 11am, Tuesday, April 16th.

Her family wants to thank her long-time team of caregivers and the staff of Gentiva Hospice for their loving care.

Remembering Jane Hoffman Banister

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Ralph Puckett

Ralph Puckett

December 8, 1926 - April 8, 2024

Retired Col. Ralph Puckett Jr., an Army Ranger who received the Medal of Honor in 2021, 71 years after the valiant combat actions in the Korean War for which he was decorated, and who became one of the most honored soldiers in U.S. military history, died April 8 at his home in Columbus, Ga. He was 97.

The cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease, said his wife, Jean Puckett.

At age 94, Col. Puckett traveled to the White House to receive the Medal of Honor, leaving behind both his wheelchair and walker to stand straight as President Biden draped the military’s top award for valor around his neck. The decoration for Col. Puckett was years in the making, championed by close and influential friends in the military community who wanted to upgrade his Distinguished Service Cross. He had been presented with the DSC, the second-highest award for valor, soon after a fierce battle on a Korean hilltop.

Starting on Nov. 25, 1950, then-1st Lt. Puckett and fellow soldiers with the Eighth Army Ranger Company assaulted and took command of Hill 205, frozen high ground about 60 miles from the Chinese border. It was near the outset of what became known as the Battle of Chongchon River, in which senior U.S. commanders were caught by surprise by China’s full-scale entry into the Korean War.

To succeed in his objective, he was credited with deliberately braving enemy machine-gun fire to help his men locate and kill a Chinese sniper.

The Chinese launched swarming wave attacks of small-arms and mortar fire for hours in bitterly cold temperatures. The American soldiers were outnumbered 10 to 1, according to Army accounts, but Lt. Puckett, despite being wounded by a hand grenade, helped his men defeat five successive Chinese counterattacks that stretched into the early morning of Nov. 26.

On the sixth Chinese counterattack, the Rangers were overrun after Lt. Puckett was told that further artillery fire was unavailable to support them. He and his men engaged in hand-to-hand combat, and Lt. Puckett suffered additional wounds from mortars that left him unable to move. He ordered his soldiers to abandon him to enable them to have a better chance of withdrawing alive.

Two privates first class, Billy G. Walls and David L. Pollock, carried him to safety. They later received the Silver Star for their valor in saving him.

In an oral history project, Lt. Puckett recalled seeing Chinese soldiers attacking U.S. service members with bayonets 15 yards away from him when Walls and Pollock arrived by his side. He said that he was glad the men disobeyed his order to leave him.

“I wouldn’t be talking to you today,” Lt. Puckett said. “They saved my neck.”

For 18 years beginning in 2003, retired Army Lt. Col. John Lock, a historian who had written extensively on the Rangers, sought to have Col. Puckett recognized with the Medal of Honor.

In 2021, Jean Puckett told The Washington Post that her husband felt the Distinguished Service Cross was “honor enough,” but Lock and other members of Col. Puckett’s immediate family wanted to see the effort through. It required extensive research on what happened during the battle and the Army reassessing whether Col. Puckett’s actions deserved the Medal of Honor.

Among those who advocated Col. Puckett’s Medal of Honor were Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and some of the Army’s top officers, including Gens. Joseph Votel and Stanley McChrystal, according to documents previously reviewed by The Post. Both generals had encountered Col. Puckett as Rangers.

At the White House ceremony, Biden recalled with a smile that Col. Puckett wondered if it would be possible to mail him the Medal of Honor, rather than holding an event with fanfare.

“Korea is sometimes called the ‘Forgotten War,’ but those men who were there under Lieutenant Puckett’s command, they will never forget his bravery,” Biden said during the White House ceremony in 2021. “They will never forget that he was right by their side for every minute of it.”

Col. Puckett, in remarks at the Pentagon that week, called for unity in the United States.

“While we have many enemies of this country today who want to see us fall, there’s no greater enemy than ourselves,” he said. “We have divided ourselves into tribes and closed our ears to all who would not think we would do what we needed to do.”

alph Puckett Jr. was born in Tifton, Ga., on Dec. 8, 1926. His father ran an insurance business and wholesale grocery, and his mother was a homemaker. He graduated from the Baylor School, a preparatory school in Chattanooga, Tenn., and then in 1949 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he was captain of the boxing team. War broke out in Korea the next year.

His deployment in Korea ended prematurely with his injuries. After returning to the United States, he convalesced at a hospital at Fort Benning, Ga., where he met his future wife, Jean Martin. They married Nov. 26, 1952 — two years to the day after he was nearly killed.

After healing from his wounds, Col. Puckett returned to duty and held assignments in Georgia, at West Point and in West Germany. In 1967, he deployed to Vietnam as a lieutenant colonel with the 101st Airborne Division and was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross. That honor was for landing by helicopter during an active firefight, maneuvering through a heavily mined area, and then personally occupying a foxhole and braving enemy fire throughout the night on Aug. 13, 1967.

“He heard cries for help during an intense mortar barrage later that night and dashed through a hail of flying shrapnel to give aid,” according to a copy of his award citation. “He personally carried the two wounded soldiers back to safety and used his skill and experience as a truly professional soldier to treat their wounds. When rescue helicopters came in, he repeatedly refused extraction for himself and directed that the casualties be evacuated.”

His other decorations included two awards each of the Silver Star and Bronze Star Medal, and five awards of the Purple Heart, according to his Army biography. Combined, the decorations make him among the most decorated soldiers in U.S. military history, Lock said.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two children, Martha Lane Wilcoxson and Thomas M. Puckett; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Jean Raney, died in 2004.

Col. Puckett retired from the military in 1971, then spent years working for Outward Bound, a nonprofit focused on outdoor education. When the Army Ranger Hall of Fame was established in 1992 at Fort Benning (renamed Fort Moore last year), Col. Puckett was a member of the inaugural class.

Well into his 80s, he hiked training ranges at Benning and mentored younger soldiers. He stressed the need for Rangers not to talk down to other soldiers in the Army, Votel said.

“He always reminded me: Show your class. Show your civility. Don’t let things get you down and distract you from your mission,” Votel said.

Remembering Ralph Puckett

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Updated: August 16, 2017