The Memorial Wall

Christian Soe

Christian Soe

May 4, 1936 - March 12, 2021

Professor Christian Soe, a member of the Department of Political Science at California State University, Long Beach since 1967, passed away peacefully on March 12, 2021. Christian was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1999. He fought the advance of PD by exercising his body and his brain until just before his death with Parkinson’s but not from Parkinson’s on March 12, 2021, just before his 85th birthday. He lived a long, fulfilling life, was an excellent husband and father, had a great career in research, was a gifted teacher, and got to work at what he loved. 

He was an extraordinarily well-loved colleague, friend, teacher, and researcher, and his loss is mourned by his wide-ranging community of friends and family. An expert on German politics, particularly on German political parties and the special role of the German Free Democratic Party (FDP), he taught courses on Western European politics, comparative politics, political theory, and American politics until his retirement as professor emeritus in 2006. 

Soe was born in Denmark in 1936. Following the second world war, Soe’s widowed mother moved the family to British Columbia, where he completed high school. He completed his B.A. degree in political science at the University of British Columbia, after specialized studies at the University of Michigan, McGill University (advanced French), and Middlebury College (advanced Russian). Deciding to pursue an academic career, he attended the Free University of Berlin for his graduate studies, receiving his Ph.D. summa cum laude in 1972. 

Apart from his research specialization on German liberalism, Soe published works on a number of other topics, including Danish-German relations, Denmark during the second world war, the practice of direct democracy in California, neoliberalism in Canada and the U.S., and more. In the wider discipline, he was perhaps best known for editing twenty-five consecutive annually revised editions of Comparative Politics (McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, Inc., 1983-2007), the most widely used anthology for introductory courses on comparative politics in the American academy. 

But it was in his specialization of German politics that Søe made his deepest and most important mark as a political scientist and scholar. After publishing his doctoral dissertation on the Der Spiegel Affair, he authored eleven book chapters and journal articles on German politics, most of them on German liberalism and the FDP. He co-authored several more book chapters in edited volumes. He also published nine entries on German liberalism and German liberal political leaders in the two-volume Modern Germany (Garland Publishing, 1998). In addition, Søe co-edited six influential books on German politics, German political parties, and German foreign policy. As an internationally known leading scholar on the special role of the FDP in German politics, Søe’s work on Germany’s political party system and the FDP both preceded and followed the stunningly rapid transformation of German politics via the country’s reunification in 1989. He also presented more than fifty scholarly papers and/or scholarly lectures at professional conferences and similar venues in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden.

Soe’s distinguished scholarship was enhanced by his wide-ranging and frequent travels to observe German politics in action. In recognition of his expertise, he was an invited observer of eight consecutive Bundestag elections in Germany, from 1980 to 2005. The first seven of these were organized and sponsored by the German government’s Information and Press Office. The eighth (2005) was organized and sponsored by the U.K.-based Association for the Study of German Politics and the U.S.-based German Studies Association. Soe was also an invited observer of the first free election to the Volkskammer in East Germany in March 1990. As an invited member of these election observer teams, Soe met with and came to know multiple political leaders, scholars, and influential journalists from all shades of German politics. 

Through these wide-ranging friendships and professional contacts, he was able to organize a very influential series of six bi-annual Pacific Workshops on German Affairs that were held on the campus of California State University, Long Beach. These were three-day events, beginning in 1983 and until 2001 (a period during which Germany went through some of the most consequential changes in the last half of the twentieth century), bringing together scholars on German affairs from throughout the world, including some of Germany’s leading scholars of politics. Søe organized and hosted the workshops virtually on his own, and did the fund-raising as well, garnering enough funds to bring all the scholars on the program to the event at no cost to themselves. The Soe family often opened their home to traveling scholars, journalists, and political leaders from Germany and other European locales who were spending time in southern California. He was a consummate host: gregarious, generous, and thoughtful, and enjoyed nothing more than talking about politics and ideas until late in the night. In addition to his scholarship, Soe contributed to a broad range of professional associations and organizations. 

Soe also provided an extraordinary amount of service to the Department of Political Science at California State University, as well as to the college and university as a whole. He was an immensely hard-working and gifted teacher, and students from the first year to graduate levels appreciated his talent for wrapping political knowledge into stories seen from a human and humane perspective. Unusually available for office hour consultations, he would work tirelessly with students, trying to help them improve their academic skills, as well as their life coping skills. His colleagues also benefitted consistently from Christian’s generous spirit and expertise as a teacher and scholar, and he provided mentorship to a number of junior colleagues throughout his career on the campus.

Christian Soe is survived by his wife of fifty years, Dr. Louise Soe, three adult children, and two grandchildren. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.



Remembering Christian Soe

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In Memoriam
Anya Hoffman
In Memoriam

Anya Hoffman

April 3, 1935 - March 5, 2021

Anya Hoffman passed away on March 5, 2021, from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. She died as she lived, a fighter to the end, always prepared to take on the challenges that life presented her and to enjoy its pleasures to the fullest. She was born on April 3, 1935, In the Bronx, New York, the youngest child of Samuel Hoffman and Rose Saidel Hoffman, who had immigrated in the early 1900s from the part of Russia now known as Belarus. Her siblings, May Hoffman Radding, Edith Hoffman Barry, and Benjamin Hoffman all preceded her in death.  None of the Hoffman sisters used the names on their birth certificates! May was initially Mildred; Edith was Ida, and Anya was originally Ethel. She changed her name in her 40’s, as she began to more fully manifest the powerhouse woman she hadn’t been able to fully express before.  

Though she was the baby of the family, she was independent at an early age. She told stories of navigating the subway from the age of 7 to visit the museums and libraries of Manhattan on her own (though this might have been as much the result of being insufficiently supervised, as much as her independence)!  Her father died when she was just a girl, and when she was 16 her mother died as well. She then lived with her sister Edith‘s family until she married Herb Biskar.  

Anya & Herb welcomed their three children into their family: Jonathan, Sanford, and Paul Biskar, (married to Anne Marie). Being the Mom to three extremely energetic & curious boys was a handful. She once told the story of a time when she took the boys on a train trip to San Diego, and by the time they arrived, the dress she was wearing was so destroyed she had to throw it away! But their home was always lively, interesting, and full of love. In 1972 they moved with their children to Portland, Oregon. 

Anyone who knew Anya was familiar with her wry, irreverent sense of humor. She usually took the opportunity to try on a crazy hat and was known to hang a spoon on her nose at a family dinner. But mostly she could find the funny in any situation, and her laughter would fill the room. Though not a traditionally observant Jew, Anya embraced her cultural heritage. She famously hosted a large and hilarious family Chanukah party for many years, presiding over the event with an Auntie Mame-inspired cigarette holder in hand. She could shop! Somehow she always found the $80 item for $7.50, and she could take some forgotten and forlorn item, bring it home, and place it in the perfect location to make it look like a million bucks.

Anya had the creative sensibilities of an artist. Her beautifully decorated home was always warm and welcoming, filled with treasures she collected from around the world.  She was an excellent and intuitive cook. When you thought there was nothing in the refrigerator to eat, she could pull out a few things and create a delicious meal you didn’t imagine was possible. She always had some creative project she was working on, whether it was knitting a sweater, re-finishing a cabinet, making jewelry, or tending her plants. She had such a green thumb that she graduated from the Landscape Technology Department at Portland Community College, developed an interior landscape business, and co-authored a book, Green Plants For Gray Days. She was always ready for adventure, and traveled widely in Europe, Asia, Mexico, and the U.S., collecting beautiful artifacts and memories along the way. She appreciated music, dance, and theater, and even when ticket prices were prohibitive, she found a way — by volunteering as an usher.

She was a champion of progressive causes. She worked in the labor movement, made her voice heard at protest marches, supported progressive candidates, and engaged in passionate discussions about politics throughout her life.      

A woman of many interests, she earned a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Evergreen College in 1981 and then opened a psychotherapy practice. In addition to traditional talk therapy, she studied Neo-Reichian therapy, Bioenergetics, hypnotherapy, and massage. Through these professional pursuits, she also met an extraordinary group of women, who established a group to discuss clinical cases with each other. This group evolved over the years into an incredibly rich network of friendships that, even after many of them had retired from practice, continued to sustain and support them all for 40 years. Though grieving the loss of Anya, the group continues. The same qualities she used in her practice of psychotherapy — empathy and a willingness to tell the truth — also made her a reliable source of support to family and friends.

In 1984, some years after divorcing Herb, Anya moved to the Washington D.C. area, where she met Ernest Culman, whose warmth and kindness won her heart. They married in 1992.  As was her way, she made many more friends. She also established other branches of her career. Working for the Jewish Community Center, she worked with seniors, planning events and organizing field trips. In addition, she ran support groups for divorced women for a number of years. She took specialized courses on exercise for elders with arthritis and then conducted classes, keeping her students motivated by creating her musical playlists using hits from their younger years. Running around from senior center to senior center, teaching up to a dozen classes a week also kept her in shape.  In 2016 Anya and Ernie moved back to Portland, not long after Anya’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s; and then in 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, they moved once again to Palm Desert, California. 

Anya is survived by her husband, her three sons and their families, several nieces and nephews, a granddaughter and a grandniece, and innumerable friends.  She will be sorely missed.


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Walter Gretzky

Walter Gretzky

October 8, 1938 - March 4, 2021

Walter Gretzky, the father of hockey great Wayne Gretzky who built a backyard rink to improve his son’s hockey skills as a child and later appeared with him in commercials died on March 4. He was 82. Wayne Gretzky confirmed that his father had Parkinson’s disease and other health problems.

Walter Gretzky became a name himself, a constant in Wayne’s world, beginning in their hometown of Brantford, Ontario. As Wayne’s star ascended, Walter remained a blue-collar symbol of a devoted hockey parent in a country filled with them. The two were also often intertwined, their father-son story used in commercials from Tim Hortons restaurants to Coca-Cola. Mr. Gretzky’s celebrity status increased after making a remarkable recovery from a stroke suffered in 1991. His story was told in a 2001 autobiography and a 2005 made-for-TV movie. His immigrant parents — a Polish mother and Russian father — started a vegetable farm in 1932 in Canning, Ontario, on the Nith River, where Wayne learned to skate when he was 2.

Walter Gretzky was born Oct. 8, 1938, in Canning and played hockey throughout his youth and teens but did not play professionally. He and his wife, Phyllis Hockin, were married in 1960. She died in 2005. Wayne Gretzky was the oldest of their five children. One of his younger brothers, Brent, briefly played in the NHL.

In 1961, the same year Wayne was born, Walter Gretzky fractured his skull in a work accident as a Bell lineman. He spent some time in a coma, lost the hearing in his left ear, and was off work for 18 months. He eventually transferred to another Bell department and became an installer/repairman. When Wayne was 4, Mr. Gretzky turned the backyard of their Brantford home into a rink. He recruited older kids for Wayne to practice against and found him a spot on a team of 10-year-olds when he was 6.

“You knew he was good at his age at what he was doing,” Mr. Gretzky said in 2016. “But to say that one day he’d do what he did, you couldn’t say that. Nobody could.”

Wayne recalled crying after his first year of hockey when he didn’t receive a trophy at the end of the season.

“Wayne, keep practicing and one day you’re going to have so many trophies we’re not going to have room for them all,” his father said.

Walter drove one old blue Chevy station wagon after another — calling each the Blue Goose. After Wayne succeeded in the National Hockey League, he bought his parents a blue Cadillac for their 25th wedding anniversary. Walter Gretzky was a much sought-after banquet speaker and was a national spokesman for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. He was named to the Order of Canada in 2007. In 2010, Walter Gretzky carried the Olympic torch before the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Games in Vancouver, where Wayne lit the Olympic flame.

Mr. Gretzky was 53 when he suffered his stroke, just a few months into retirement after 34 years at Bell. He slowly recovered much of his lost memory. He later worked with youth hockey groups and became an avid golfer. In addition to his children, survivors include numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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Herman William "Bill" Steinberg Jr.

Herman William "Bill" Steinberg Jr.

December 12, 1948 - February 28, 2021

Herman William "Bill" Steinberg, Jr. died peacefully, in the company of his family on February 28th, at home in Altadena, CA at the age of 72.

Bill is survived by his wife, Mary Quirk; his eldest daughter Sarah Orenstein, her husband Daniel Orenstein, and their son Theo; his younger daughter Hannah Steinberg and her partner Quin Venedicto. Bill was born on December 12th, 1948 in Passaic, NJ to Herman Steinberg and Selma Moore. He began his studies at Duke University (where he staked a claim as a lifelong Blue Devils basketball fan) with a BA in Theology, followed by a MA in Religious Studies at UCSB, and earned his Ph.D. at the California School of Professional Psychology. In November of 1983,

Bill married Mary, a colleague who caught his eye during his time as Head of the Psychology Department at St. Mary's Hospital in Long Beach. He continued his career as a private-practice therapist in Pasadena, which he maintained until his retirement in 2005. Bill and Mary made their home of 37 years in Altadena, where they raised their two daughters. In spite of his thirty-year battle with Parkinson's Disease, Bill was buoyed by his humor, determination, and the steadfast care provided by his wife, family, physicians (notably his neurologist, Dr. Richard Spitzer), caregivers, and community of friends.

He will be remembered for his thoughtfulness, intellect, and kindness; for his love of Dodgers and Pirates baseball, and time spent with family at home and in New Jersey, Louisiana, and Georgia. 

Remembering Herman William "Bill" Steinberg Jr.

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Jerry Wheeler

Jerry Wheeler

October 27, 1942 - February 28, 2021

Jerry Wheeler passed away on February 28, 2021, at Home + Hospice House Monument Health in Rapid City after a 22-year courageous battle with Parkinson's Disease.

Jerry was born Oct. 27, 1942, to Howard and Grace Wheeler in Montrose, SD. After graduating from Montrose High School in 1960, he moved to Sioux Falls where he held positions with Kolman Manufacturing and L. G. Everist. In 1964, Jerry completed his associates degree in accounting from Nettleton Commercial College.

In 1967, he joined the South Dakota Automobile Dealers Association and three years later was named the Executive Director of that organization. During his tenure with the Auto Dealers, he attended Institutes of Organizational Management at both Michigan State University and Notre Dame University.

In 1987, Jerry left his position with the Auto and Trucking Association to experience the retail side of the auto industry. In 1990, he again entered the trade association business when the South Dakota Retailers Association hired him as their Executive Director.

Jerry married Kelly Donahue in 1986. The couple lived and worked in Pierre for 18 years before retiring and moving to the Black Hills. They had many happy years of retirement, spending summers in the beautiful Black Hills and winters in Arizona and California.

Jerry was an inspiration and role model for association executives across South Dakota and the nation. There have been few association directors past or present who could create the kind of robust and impressive organizations that Jerry built over the years. He was a tenacious leader during his tenure as a trade association director and lobbyist; being recognized for his ability as a troubleshooter and problem-solver. Jerry was able to bring people together and understood the need for compromise when working through the legislative process. He earned a reputation as an honest and trustworthy lobbyist. Calm in the face of conflict, but strong and forceful when necessary, Jerry could fight the good fight, believing in the issues and people he represented. One of his strengths was knowing when to admit he didn't know something, but then used his energy to go find the answer. Never forgetting where he came from, Jerry believed in hard work and the success it brings. He was a true South Dakota boy who loved his family, his country and maintained a strong faith in God throughout his life.

Jerry served as the Chairman of the South Dakota Court Appointed Special Advocates, President of the Black Hills Playhouse Board of Directors, and a Fort Pierre City Council member. He received many awards including the National Retail Federation award in recognition for life time achievement in the retail industry and most recently the SD Chamber of Commerce and Industry 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jerry worked hard but he also played hard. His leisure activities included lawn work, golf, tennis, skiing, horseback riding and cheering on his beloved Minnesota Vikings. Jerry's favorite saying was, "You can't have too much fun" and he followed his own advice. His story telling was legendary and he will be greatly missed by family and friends who enjoyed his sense of humor.

Jerry is survived by his wife of 34 years, Kelly; his two sons from his first marriage, Greg (Dawn) of Sioux Falls and Steve of Lawrenceville, GA; three grandchildren, Sidra, Jake, Griffin; and step-granddaughter, Skyler Neiers.

Jerry was blessed with many caring and competent health care professionals throughout his illness. Special recognition is sent to Monument Home Health and Hospice and to Dr. Joy Falkenberg of Custer for her many years of exceptional care as Jerry's personal physician.

Remembering Jerry Wheeler

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Kenneth J. Ott

Kenneth J. Ott

March 9, 1951 - February 23, 2021

Born in Yonkers, New York, to Albina and Charles Ott (and welcomed by older brother Charlie), the family moved to Bloomington Indiana, where his father worked for the Otis Elevator Company and his mother was employed by Indiana University. Lifelong friendships were formed during his University High School years; lifelong activities included travel and many reunions with UHS classmates. He spent his undergraduate years at Indiana University, studying theater and working as an actor in summer stock at the Brown County Summer Playhouse. By the time he graduated from IU in 1973, he had established his own theatre production company, Midwest Theatre Productions, based in Bloomington. Ken went on to earn an MFA in Directing and Management from the University of Montana. For his graduate thesis he researched and produced "A Director's Approach to Selective Naturalism in Tobacco Road." At age 27 he moved to Aurora, Illinois, to become the director of information at the Paramount Arts Centre, gaining national press attention for the restored community redevelopment project, attracting new audiences and Chicagoland celebrities to the arts centre, and initiating his long career as an arts advancement professional. He moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1978 to become the Manager of the ACC Performing Arts Center. In Alaska he befriended many local luminaries, including noted dogsled musher and explorer Col. Norman Vaughan. Southern California was his destination in 1980, working in theater and film development, Ken authored a number of screenplays, and served as a Development Officer at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. He joined the Pasadena Playhouse in 1988 as Development Director, supporting productions including Other People's Money and The Twilight of the Golds, and later joined Loyola University as the Assistant Dean of the law school.

Parkinson's Disease forced his retirement from LLS in 2013.Ken was known for his intelligence, wit, and his gentle heart (evidenced by his weekend trips to the LLS campus to feed the stray felines), and for his unerring palate when recommending wines from every appellation.He became an active participant in Rock Steady Boxing in 2016, working out every week with his fellow PD boxers at the Kaizen studio in Monrovia.He passed peacefully in his Altadena home, lovingly tended by his wife of 31 years, Marilyn Delanoeye, and in the company of his two cats and many friends.

Remembering Kenneth J. Ott

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Geoffrey Scott

Geoffrey Scott

February 22, 1942 - February 23, 2021

He worked on several other soap operas and was a familiar face in commercials for Marlboro, Old Spice, and Camel cigarettes.

Geoffrey Scott, who portrayed tennis pro, Mark Jennings, the first husband of Linda Evans' Krystle Carrington, on the 1980s ABC primetime soap Dynasty, has died. He was 79.

Scott died of Parkinson's disease on Feb. 23 — just after midnight on the day after his birthday — in Broomfield, Colorado, his wife, Cheri Catherine Scott, told The Hollywood Reporter.

The handsome Scott also played a U.S. marshal fighting aliens in 1880s Wyoming on "The Secret Empire" portion of 1979 NBC series Cliffhangers!; starred alongside Jerry Reed on the 1981 CBS series Concrete Cowboys (he stepped into the role originated by Tom Selleck in a TV movie on which the show was based), and was a quarterback on the 1984-85 HBO sitcom 1st & Ten.

On daytime soap operas, Scott portrayed publisher Sky Rumson on ABC's Dark Shadows in 1970, Jeffrey Jordan on CBS' Where the Heart Is in 1972, David McAllister on ABC's General Hospital in 1989, and Billy Lewis on CBS' Guiding Light in 1994.

And in commercials — he did nearly 100 of them — he played a Marlboro man as well as a sailor pitching Old Spice antiperspirant, "walked a mile for a Camel" in a cigarette campaign shot at the Taj Mahal, and starred with Margaret Hamilton in spots for Maxwell House coffee.

Scott joined Dynasty near the start of its third season in 1982 and worked on the fabled show for two years, appearing in 45 episodes. His character is brought to Denver by the conniving Alexis Colby (Joan Collins) after she learns that Mark and Krystle's divorce years earlier wasn't legal.

Later, Mark saves Krystle and Alexis from a fire, becomes Alexis' bodyguard, and is pushed off a terrace to his death, with Alexis emerging as the prime suspect.

Scott was born in Los Angeles on Feb. 22, 1942. His father, Reed, worked as a manager at Lockheed producing planes, and his mother, Jayne, was a housewife.

He and his brother Don, later a lawyer at Universal, were raised in the San Fernando Valley on the same street that John Wayne and Clark Gable lived, and he often jumped into Gable's pool uninvited.

Scott was signed by legendary agent Dick Clayton, who would also rep the likes of Jane Fonda, James Dean, and Burt Reynolds, and he got a deal at Universal.

Scott also appeared in Sidney Lumet's The Morning After (1986) and on such shows as Adam-12CannonBarnaby JonesKojakDallasMatt HoustonNight CourtMarried … With Children, and Murphy Brown.

His wife said he and Selleck often competed for roles.

Scott retired after 45 years in show business and moved to Colorado with his family to pursue skiing, his lifelong passion. He had lived in the Boulder area for the past 10 years.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by twin sons Christopher and Matthew.


Remembering Geoffrey Scott

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Don Dietrich

Don Dietrich

April 5, 1961 - February 16, 2021

Don Dietrich, a former Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman and longtime supporter of the game in his hometown of Deloraine, has died.

He was 59.

Dietrich, who played 28 games in the National Hockey League, battled Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

On his Facebook tribute page, which was active in the weeks before his death, his son Tristan posted the news on Tuesday morning.

"We are sad to announce that Don, Dad, Dins, Beaker passed away this morning peacefully," Tristan wrote. "He fought hard till the end. The ‘I can’ in him stayed true right till the end."

Don’s immediate family also includes his wife Nadine and sons Jacob and Nick.

Dietrich, who was profiled in the Brandon Sun’s Wheat Kings alumni series in 2016, said at the time that hockey played an instrumental role in his ability to fight the health issues that plagued him in his later years.

"The game is the main reason I’m here today for sure," Dietrich said. "If I could give back a tenth of what the game’s given me … I don’t think I’ve done that. There’s a saying that you’re only as good as your last shift and a lot of those things I take with me in life. And a lot of them I learned right here in Brandon."

He skated with the Wheat Kings for three seasons from 1978 to 1981 before embarking on a 10-year pro career that included stints with the Chicago Black Hawks and New Jersey Devils.

He retired after the 1990-91 season, and the family moved back to Deloraine in 1994. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a year later.

His health took another turn for the worse in 1999 when doctors found an aggressive type of cancer called leiomyosarcoma. He was given six months to live, but took an experimental drug for six months and then returned to work with Canada Customs.

Two years later the cancer was back, this time in his liver, but again an experimental treatment worked.

Despite his health issues, he never stopped giving back to the game of hockey.

He worked with the Deloraine Royals senior team and the Southwest Midget AAA Cougars. And as a member of Canada’s national coach mentorship program, he developed a breakfast club that allowed young players to come out twice a week to work on skill development.

He was elected to the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame with the 1978-79 Wheat Kings in 2007, and Dietrich was inducted in the builders’ category in 2011.

His story was told in a 2007 book called No Guarantees, a collection of Dietrich’s memories assembled by Nadine and freelance writer Brad Bird.

Dietrich said he made $365,000 in 10 pro seasons, but the experiences his time in the game provided are priceless.

"I made a living at it, I didn’t make a fortune," Dietrich said. "But I wouldn’t change that for anything. That’s part of looking at that man in the mirror. Are you satisfied with him? Can you honestly look at him and say you did your best?

"I’d say I did."

Remembering Don Dietrich

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Lucy Roucis

Lucy Roucis

August 22, 1959 - February 8, 2021

Lucy Roucis is a living, breathing, and tremoring example of "turning something adverse around and making it work." Her young-onset Parkinson's disease actually helped get her a part in the film, "Love and Other Drugs." Director and writer, Ed Zwick, after reading over 40 actors for the role, was so impressed with Lucy's audition that he asked her to write for the scene and add her own dialogue. Lucy portrays a woman doing a stand-up routine, poking fun at having Parkinson's, and helps Anne Hathaway's character, Maggie, begin accepting her own diagnosis.

A native of Denver, Colorado, Lucy is the daughter of a dentist and a homemaker. She and her five siblings all received a private education. She attended Loretto Heights College in Denver, receiving a B.A. in theatre, Magna cum Laude. She immediately moved to Los Angeles to start her career. There she became a long-time student of Roy London, the late acting teacher who revolutionized acting technique.

She began getting work in the film, television, and modeling world as well, being tall and slender. She had parts on "General Hospital," "Santa Barbara," the CBS pilot "Domestic Life" with Martin Mull, and on-screen in "Better Off Dead" with John Cusack and "The Party Animal." On the theatrical stage, she was a member of the Los Angeles-based Radio City Music Hall Rockettes Christmas Spectacular and the Colony Theater's "The Robber Bridegroom." She co-starred and produced the Celtic Arts Center's "A Tragedy You Can Dance To" by Ric Matheson. Several television commercials and print ads later, she was breaking ground as an actor when the Parkinson's reared its head.

She had a double diagnosis of young-onset Parkinson's disease and thyroid cancer, undergoing thyroid removal and the cancer being eradicated. But Parkinson's is incurable so, defeated, she returned home to Denver, giving up on Hollywood. She reinvented herself as an actress with a disability and found work. Denver Audiences know Lucy well and her Parkinson's is just part of her package. She's a long-time member of the world-renowned PHAMALY (Physically Handicapped Actors and Musical Artists League, Inc.) where her Parkinson's is an asset, alongside her fellow cast members who each have a disability of his/her own. The award-winning company produces quality plays at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Roucis has starred in 20 productions, winning Best Supporting Actress in a Musical from WestWord Magazine for her Adelaide in "Guys and Dolls." She was cast in the pilot, "One Step Ahead," a Washington, DC-based weekly disability news program, as its Cultural Correspondent. In 2008, Lucy received the Mayor's Award for being an Unsung Hero.

In 2008 Lucy underwent deep brain stimulation at the Cleveland Clinic. This procedure, although temporary, lessens the symptoms of her now advanced Parkinson's disease.

Like Michael J. Fox, Lucy found her voice as an advocate for Parkinson's and disability awareness. She also found an outlet for her wit as a stand-up (or sit-down) comic, working fundraisers with comedian Josh Blue    

Remembering Lucy Roucis

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In Memoriam
Irene "Rene" J. Motta
In Memoriam

Irene "Rene" J. Motta

August 9, 1928 - February 6, 2021

Irene "Rene" J. Motta Taught physical education and English in San Jose and Los Angeles for 36 years. She was our beloved and generous "feisty little Italian" who gave Parkinson's a good fight for many years. Rene will be greatly missed by her many friends, niece Leslie Mancebo, nephew John Marshall and especially by her loving partner of 48 years, Francine Savery.

Remembering Irene "Rene" J. Motta

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Contact Us

Parkinson's Resource Organization
74785 Highway 111
Suite 208
Indian Wells, CA 92210

Local Phone
(760) 773-5628

Toll-Free Phone
(877) 775-4111

General Information


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Updated: August 16, 2017