The Memorial Wall

Morty Drescher

Morty Drescher

January 1, 1930 - March 20, 2024

Fran Drescher’s dad, Morty Drescher, died at age 94 on March 20.

Fran, 66, reacted to the loss in a statement shared with Us Weekly via her rep one week later.

“My beloved father Morty passed away gently in his sleep in the early hours of Mar 20th surrounded by my mother and I. Although he was 94.5, it still feels untenable how permanent the loss of this great man is,” the Nanny star began.

Fran went on to speak at length about her father’s admirable qualities.

“His values were always in the right place. He honored and respected everyone equally. He understood the important things in this life, love of family, simple pleasures and living in gratitude. He passed these values onto his children and lived an exemplary life,” she wrote. “Always, the life of the party, he was funny and smart. Known within our circles of family and friends to always recite Casey At The Bat, one of his favorite poems.”

The actress also mentioned some of her father’s interests, which included swimming and “sports of all kinds,” and praised him for being a good friend, husband and father.

He was a good friend to many people both at work and within his community. He was an amazing father who taught my sister [Nadine Drescher] and I to swim, ride a bicycle and drive a car. He was the best husband to my mom [Sylvia Drescher] and remained madly in love with her until his last breath,” she wrote.

In the wake of her father’s death, Fran skipped the New York Women in Film & Television’s 44th annual Muse Awards for Vision and Achievement on Wednesday, March 27, where she was slated to accept an award. One of her SAG-AFTRA colleagues accepted the honor on Fran’s behalf, with the star sending a message honoring Morty and apologizing for her absence.

Fran, who has been President of SAG-AFTRA since 2021, credits her father with the skills she used while presiding over negotiations during the union’s historic months-long strike last year.

“[My dad was] a systems analyst, I inherited his analytical mind which I referenced throughout my leadership as sag-aftra president, especially during the strike,” she said in her statement. “I am so happy he got to see me not only achieve success as an actor but even more important as a labor leader because doing volunteer work on behalf of the greater good was the ethics by which he raised me.”

Fran, who noted that Morty was “very proud of both of his daughters’ accomplishments”, concluded the statement: “If there is a heaven, he’s there now because he lived purely, honestly and lovingly.”

The comedian previously spoke about her father’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease during a December 2023 essay for The Daily Beast.

“[He] has gone from once being a white-collar systems analyst and very athletic to, at 94, now being an invalid, barely able to transfer from bed to wheelchair or take a brief supervised walk with his walker,” she wrote.

Fran then praised her mom, Sylvia, 89, for taking such good care of Morty.

“Without question, the only reason he is still alive and has quality of life is because of my mother’s commitment to preserving that quality of life,” she penned. “When he remembers something that she can’t, she praises him profusely on how smart he is. That’s what she was most attracted to about him.”

Fran has also been open about how cannabis helped her father cope with the chronic degenerative disorder.

“He went from having that expressionless look that Parkinson’s patients often get where it’s kind of a dull life, to a positive reaction within seconds upon using cannabis,” she said during a 2018 interview with Forbes. “His whole face became animated, his voice became strong, his eyes opened up, and my dad was back to being himself.”

Morty made several appearances on The Nanny over the years, portraying both Fran’s fictional father, Morty Fine, and Fran’s uncle Stanley Fine. He also appeared on two episodes of the WB sitcom Living With Fran in 2005.

More recently, Morty participated in the 2020 REELZ television special Fran Drescher: In My Own Words alongside Sylvia.

“My mom’s in her eighties, my dad just turned 90. I asked for all the footage because [they were interviewed] for hours. To have that for posterity, that alone was worth doing it,” Fran told TV Insider in 2020 of her parents’ participation in the film.

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Allen Shankles

Allen Shankles

January 1, 1958 - March 19, 2024

The longtime director of Amarillo Little Theatre died after a battle with Parkinson's disease.

Allen Shankles passed away peacefully in his sleep Tuesday night.

He was 66-years-old.

Shankles was the Managing/Artistic Director of Amarillo Little Theatre for 38 years.

According to ALT's website, he directed hundreds of shows before retiring in 2021 due to declining health.

"Allen is THE reason ALT still exists with his brilliant visionary directing of 38 years and his dedication to our community," said ALT on Facebook. "Allen established ALT as the leading community theatre in our nation and we are forever grateful for the legacy he has left."

Remembering Allen Shankles

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Ralph Burnet

Ralph Burnet

January 1, 1946 - March 19, 2024

Ralph Burnet — who founded from scratch a powerhouse Minnesota real estate company that's helped transform the way people buy and sell houses — died Tuesday in Minneapolis at age 78.

For sale signs with BURNET stripped across them made his name synonymous with real estate in the area, but he was no less renowned for his boundless enthusiasm for sports and modern art.

"He was truly one of the brightest guys during his tenure running a brokerage company. ... He was also the only guy in the industry to underwrite a corporate golf outing, the CBB Senior Classic," said Steve Murray of RTC Consulting, a national brokerage expert. "From the late 70s to 80s and 90s and 2000s, he was very much a part of everything going on here."

Burnet, born in Pittsburgh but who grew up in the Twin Cities, didn't set out to be a real estate mogul. In his 20s, he co-owned a ski shop at 50th and France. The trajectory of his life — and real estate in the Twin Cities — changed in 1968 when the owner of a real estate office across the street, who also happened to be his former Little League Coach, hired him to sell houses.

Burnet caught the real estate bug in a big way. He wanted to do more than work with buyers and sellers: He wanted to build a business, and he wanted to be No. 1. In 1973, he and Dar Reedy opened their own real estate office, which ballooned from a small group of seven agents to thousands, making it one of most storied companies in the industry and one of the biggest brokerages in the nation.

"He was a huge risk taker," said Patti Napier, a Twin Cities agent for what's now known as Coldwell Banker Realty and the last of those initial seven. "He operated out of the box."

Napier said Burnet's personal and professional mantra revolved around embracing growth, change and fun, whether in the office or on the links.

That philosophy and a willingness to challenge the status quo inspired Burnet to embrace new business models. In the fledgling days of the company, most real estate competitors focused solely on buying and selling houses. Burnet saw an opportunity to add convenience — and boost profits — by offering buyers and sellers easy access to affiliated services including title, mortgage and insurance.

Burnet was especially successful at creating a relocation services division that enabled the company to tap into the lucrative world of corporate relocations, something that wasn't routinely done in the days before the World Web and online listing services.

"He was one of the pioneers of mortgage and title services. He was certainly one of the first to really integrate it within his brokerage and to figure that out," said Murray of the rapidly changing industry at the time.

Barely a decade after starting the company, its stratospheric growth and reputation for innovation caught the attention of Merrill Lynch, which bought the company and lured Burnet to Connecticut to run the business.

The company passed through the hands of Merrill Lynch to Prudential, but in 1990, it was back to Burnet and Reed, who bought the company back. That deal included First Security Title, which became a wholly owned subsidiary of Burnet Realty. But by the 1990s, in a move intended to convey the message the company does more than sell houses, Burnet Realty became Burnet Financial Group, which included a move into the insurance business. Its other companies included Great Lakes Mortgage, Burnet Relocation Management, Distinctive Homes Division, Burnet New Homes Division and the new Burnet Insurance.

At the time, Burnet, who was chairman and chief executive officer, said renaming the company "better reflects what we are as a whole company and where we are headed."

Burnet was known for his eye-catching and sometimes over-the-top marketing campaigns as well as for tackling projects — like a home improvement business — that didn't thrive. He was fiercely competitive, going toe-to-toe and listing-to-listing against a handful of other homegrown brokerages, including Edina Realty.

"He was absolutely willing to fail and learn from it," said Napier, who ran the relocation business and reported directly to Burnet for a time.

In 1998, the company sold again, this time to NRT with another new name: Coldwell Banker Burnet. And in early 2000, as part of a corporate reshuffle, Robin Peterson, who started working for Burnet in 1977, became president of Coldwell Banker Burnet Home Services.

Peterson said Burnet was especially adept at cultivating talent and encouraging people to succeed.

"The most important thing when you met him was that you knew he cared about you and your growth and where you wanted to go in life and business," she said. "The two were intertwined."

Matt Baker agreed. He said Burnet was both a friend and mentor. Baker started selling real estate for the company decades ago but eventually became its president.

"Ralph was intense and emphatic and had a fair amount of irreverence, but he didn't have much pretense. And there was only speed with Ralph. He brought great things to the Twin Cities," he said. "He had a plan and vision to be No. 1, and when you walked out of [his office], you were thinking, 'I want to be part of this.'"

Real estate wasn't his only personal or professional (usually both) passion. Burnet was a Timberwolves minority owner and is credited with bringing pro golf to Minnesota in the 1990s. He hosted several major golf and tennis tournaments, brought world-class professionals to the Twin Cities and was known as an expressive player.

"He wasn't a hack at golf," Napier said. "He was always animated on the course, and you always knew if there was a bad shot."

After his brokerage days, Burnet focused on other real estate challenges, including a multi-year transformation of a neglected building on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis into the art-centric Chambers Hotel. And in 2007, he led the conversion of the historic Foshay Tower into the W Minneapolis Hotel.

"As busy as he was, he made all the time in the world for us," said his son, Ryan. "He was my baseball coach and my hockey coach. He was involved in every single one of my tennis matches."

Ryan Burnet said despite his business interests and his passion for skiing, sailing and so many other sports, his father seemed to have boundless energy.

"He was able to pivot quickly whether he was able to work on an acquisition of a company, but he showed up for everything," Burnet said. "He had such an impact not only me but on a lot of my close friends. He was like a second father and role model. He was someone whose personality just lit up the room."

Ralph Burnet's wife Peggy, two daughters and eight grandchildren also survive him.

Remembering Ralph Burnet

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Louis "Lou" Florimonte

Louis "Lou" Florimonte

January 1, 1937 - March 18, 2024

Private family services will be held for Louis “Lou” Florimonte who passed away on March 18th, he was 86 years old.Lou was born in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, to Italian American parents. Lou was not yet five when his father died, plunging his family into poverty and hardship during the years of WWII. The middle of three boys, he developed resourcefulness and courage to forge ahead despite uncertainty. Following his graduation from High School in 1955, he joined the Air Force and became a trainer in missile guidance systems until his discharge in 1959. Lou then worked in a sink manufacturing company before attending college at Pennsylvania State University.

In 1968 he met his future wife, Alexandra Kissinger, in a theater workshop and after one date, they were married outdoors, streamside, in Fisherman’s Paradise, Pennsylvania.While at PSU studying Journalism, he wrote several well-received plays, which inspired him to change his focus to writing. He earned a BA in Broadcast Journalism and an MA in theater. During this time, Lou and Alex also had two boys, Arik and Cory. Becoming a father was one of the most cherished roles Lou took on and he tried to give to his children all that had been lacking in his own life.

Lou worked at the television station WPSX at Penn State for several years, writing, directing, and producing, but without the creative freedom he sought.So, in 1972, drawn by the opportunity to develop his own program, he took a teaching position at the Lindenwood Colleges in St. Charles, Missouri, where he served as head of the theater program and chairman of Communications Arts. During that time, several of his plays were produced off-off Broadway and in other cities.

In 1977 he moved his family to Valencia, California where he earned an MFA at the California Institute of the Arts. In 1979 he was invited to teach at CalArts in the Theater School and in 1984 co-founded the Directing for Theater, Video and Cinema program with Alexander MacKendrick and Gill Dennis. Lou was program head from 1994 until his retirement.

Lou was a beloved teacher and mentor. He truly enjoyed working with students, valuing their energy and fresh ideas, and he would often see more in a student’s work than the student would ever recognize themselves. He rigorously imparted the rules and traditions of filmmaking, in part to prepare his students to understand when to break them. He was continually learning from his students as well: while he held strong opinions about storytelling technique and would challenge his students intellectually, he would freely admit when a student’s idea was better. His students went on to make art that spoke authentically and beautifully, and Lou remained close to many of them long after his retirement.

Lou gave profoundly of himself to his family, his students, and all those he loved. He would turn the whole of his attention and empathy on you without judgment. It didn’t matter what led to the problem, he had a knack for helping you to clarify it and find a way forward.Lou and Alex kept a welcoming home and drew many people into their lives, creating a dynamic community of extended family and friends who felt like family. They’d often look after nieces and nephews for a week at a time while their parents traveled. And as friends of his sons would attest, their house was often a late-night hub where teenagers could drop in and still feel rebellious and adventuresome, while in reality remaining safe and well-fed.Lou was an avid cook, particularly of Italian cuisine. He prepared huge feasts, frequently inviting students over for parties, or hosting Italian Christmas dinners with seven fishes, and even a 150-person lasagna banquet for Arik’s track team (after being volunteered without his knowledge). But his generosity and culinary expertise also combined in small moments. Anyone arriving at Lou’s home at any hour with even a hint of hunger would soon be served a steaming plate of linguini with clams, or a pizza with homemade dough he just happened to have on hand. Lou was an operatic cook, and usually turned the kitchen into a dramatic whirlwind of barely contained chaos.

In 2005 he retired from CalArts and he and Alex moved to Denver to be near Alex’s father and their lifelong friends Ed and Sallie Baierlein. Lou loved golfing with Ed, helping in Ed’s theater, and hosting many who came to visit. Lou and Alex traveled four times to Italy, exploring it together from north to south and visiting the ancestral hometowns of Lou’s father and mother. He particularly enjoyed taking pasta-making classes in Bologna and meeting up with his sons and their families at various points. After Alex’s father passed away in 2011 and Lou was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, they moved to Santa Cruz, California, to be closer to family, including their new grandson, Shane.Lou doted on his grandson. He often spoke of feeling like a child inside, which was evident as he wrestled and invented silly games with Shane when he was little. Later, Lou attended Shane’s little league games, and they made pasta and sausage and went fishing together. He wrote a delightful trilogy of books for Shane, about a boy named Petey who is visited by a rebellious alien named Buzz. Lou was especially thrilled with Shane’s interest in film and storytelling, although he restrained himself, citing his teaching mantra “no information before need.” But his excitement was tangible as he began to mentor Shane’s growing interest in filmmaking.

Lou’s love of writing and cooking continued throughout his life, even though Parkinson’s disease made these pursuits progressively more difficult. He worked on his memoirs, and often helped former students with their projects. He continued cooking for his family bread, pasta, and Italian desserts even in the last months of his life. And he took up new hobbies such as acrylic painting and creating garden art. He faced the challenges of Parkinson’s with courage, grace, and defiance, sup- ported by Alex’s love and her generous, meticulous care- giving.In February he was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and chose not to pursue invasive treatments, his death following one month later.

Lou lived his whole life with courage, intentionality, and love. Perhaps it was these qualities that allowed him to live even the challenging final years of his life with such fortitude.Lou left this world better than he found it in every way that matters, and his family remembers him with an abundance of gratitude. Alex cherishes the memories of golden afternoons in Italy’s piazzas and the many road trips they took. Arik and Cory carry on Lou’s creativity, sense of humor, and confidence in taking on difficult challenges. Shane is inspired to continue his storytelling legacy. His daughters-in-law, Claire and Cynthia, have thrived in the light of his unconditional love. Lou is also survived by his brother Joseph Florimonte, brother-in-law David Kissinger, and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and dear friends.Preceding him in death were his father, Louis Florimonte Sr, his mother, Anna (DiNardo) Mancini, stepfather Rocco Mancini, brother Ralph Florimonte, sister Angela (Mancini) Maizie, stepbrother Vincent Mancini, and his niece Laura (Florimonte) Navarette.

Remembering Louis "Lou" Florimonte

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Paul P. Ragonese

Paul P. Ragonese

January 1, 1937 - March 14, 2024

Paul P. Ragonese, a retired Coast Guard mechanical engineer and automobile enthusiast, died Thursday of Parkinson’s disease at Blakehurst, a retirement community in Towson. He was 87.

“Paul was a good engineer and very methodical,” said Edward A. Kaczmarek, a retired engineer and his former supervisor at the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay in Anne Arundel County.

“He’d check things seven different ways before he turned in a project and he always brought them in on time, but he took his time because he wanted to get it right,” Mr. Kaczmarek said. “We built and repaired ships, and he was very good at his work.”

“Ever-ready to modify design or materials, Mr. Ragonese was quick to pull out a tape measure or calculator depending on the need at hand,” wrote a niece, Margaret McAdam Ondov, of Lewes, Delaware, in a biographical profile.

After graduating in 1953 from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Mr. Ragonese attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge for a year before leaving school.

From 1953 to 1955, he worked for his father’s company, Square Construction, as a highway surveyor.

“He barely passed his first year at MIT,” Ms. Ondov said in a telephone interview.

After withdrawing from school, he worked from 1957 to 1960 for Bendix-Friez, an instrument plant, in Towson as a lab tech.

In 1960, he returned to surveying for his father’s company for four years. He went back to college at the Johns Hopkins University and graduated in 1967 with honors from the Whiting School of Engineering. In 1969, he earned a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

While at Hopkins, he was a member of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society, and joined Mensa.

Projects he was associated with while working for Square Construction included the Mays Chapel reservoir in Baltimore County and the Metro in Washington.

He later worked for the Coast Guard until he retired in 1999. The former longtime resident of the Fox Chapel neighborhood in Timonium served in the Maryland Air National Guard from 1958 to 1964.

“He was a lifelong enthusiast of objects in motion,” his niece wrote. He built a go-cart and a stock car.

“He loved his cars and he even built a hot rod on a Model-A chassis,” Mr. Kaczmarek said. “He also loved driving, so whenever we had to go out on a job, I let him drive.”

He was a member of the Moles, an organization of tunneling executives.

“Uncle Paul was an extremely intelligent and well-read man who had read the [St. John’s College Great Books Reading List],” his niece said. “He could quote from memory Alexander Pope or Charles Bukowski, the poet novelist.”

Ms. Ondov described her uncle as a “Renaissance man.”

“He was so intelligent and always wanted to learn, and was extremely engaged intellectually and socially,” she said.

He met his future wife, Anne Henderson, at a dance and the couple married in 1967.

“He loved ballroom dancing,” his niece said.

Mr. Ragonese’s and his wife’s philanthropic interests included the Johns Hopkins Legacy Society, the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering and the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, where in the 1980s he began treatment for glaucoma.

“The Ragoneses have endowed professorships and research funds, expanded resources, clinical care and provided opportunities to educate the next generation of leaders in ophthalmic medicine,” Wilmer director Dr. Peter J. McDonnell told Planning Matters, a Johns Hopkins University and Medicine publication.

“We felt we could do something that would be a benefit to people,” Mr. Ragonese said in the article.

A memorial celebration will be held at 11 a.m. April 6 at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home at 1050 York Road.

In addition to his wife of 57 years, a retired MedStar Union Memorial Hospital registered nurse, and niece, Mr. Ragonese is survived by a nephew, Michael P. McAdam, of Ruxton; another niece, Karoline McAdam Obora,  of Naperville, Illinois; and several grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

Remembering Paul P. Ragonese

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Gerald Levin

Gerald Levin

May 5, 1939 - March 13, 2024

Gerald Levin, the visionary executive in the early days of HBO whose career will be forever marred after he orchestrated the merger of Time Warner and AOL, a debacle that destroyed the value of employees’ retirement accounts and culminated in a historic $100 billion write-down, has died. He was 84.

Levin died Wednesday in a hospital, his grandchild Jake Maia Arlow told The New York Times. He had battled Parkinson’s disease since being diagnosed in 2006 and lived most recently in Long Beach, California.

Levin was an attorney who worked for a year in Iran before joining HBO at its inception in 1972 as a programming executive. He was promoted to CEO a year later, and a year after that he convinced parent company Time Inc. to take HBO to cable companies nationwide via satellite technology, earning him the nickname of “resident genius.”

The Philadelphia native and University of Pennsylvania Law School graduate was elected a Time board member in 1988 and quickly helped arrange the company’s $14 billion acquisition of Warner Communications, bringing Warner Bros. and Warner Music into the fold.

Levin was named co-CEO of Time Warner along with Steven J. Ross in early 1992, then had the title for himself when Ross died 10 months later from prostate cancer.

Time Warner meandered under Levin’s early tenure, but he impressed Wall Street in 1996 by acquiring Turner Broadcasting System, thus adding CNN, TNT, TCM and Cartoon Network to the conglomerate’s growing list of assets. The merger also returned to Warner Bros. rights to its pre-1950 movies, which Turner had purchased years earlier, and it made media mogul Ted Turner a board member and primary Time Warner shareholder.

In 1997, Levin’s son Jonathan, a 31-year-old high school English teacher in the Bronx, was murdered by a former student who tortured him with a knife until he surrendered the password to his bank ATM card. Friends called the tragedy a “defining moment” for Levin, who already had a reputation for quoting Greek philosophers and the Bible, and he began brainstorming ways to leave an inspiring, world-changing legacy through his leadership of Time Warner.

“Levin presented himself as a scholarly, upright man who just happened to be the CEO of the world’s largest media company. He didn’t just want to be remembered as a CEO who’d improved the bottom line; he aspired to be known for so much more,” Nina Munk wrote in her 2004 book, Fools Rush In: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Unmaking of AOL Time Warner.

In the late 1990s, Levin figured, correctly, that the Internet would forever alter the way media was delivered and sought a dramatic way in for Time Warner, which had stumbled with its own lackluster digital initiatives like Entertaindom and Full Service Network.

After months of negotiations between Levin and AOL CEO Steve Case, they agreed to merge the two companies, with 55 percent going to AOL’s shareholders and 45 percent going to Time Warner’s. The latter company was far bigger in every metric (annual revenue, for example, was $27 billion vs. $5 billion) except for one: market capitalization, which is the value Wall Street put on each of the company’s shares.

By the time the merger was announced in early 2000, AOL’s 17 million subscribers already were growing impatient with slow, dial-up internet providers, and soon they’d be fleeing in droves for high-speed cable providers like Time Warner Cable, owned then, of course, by Time Warner.

After the merger, Levin pledged that synergies and the internet’s rapid growth would quickly lead to $40 billion in revenue and $11 billion in cash flow for the newly minted AOL Time Warner. However, a bursting stock bubble, falling ad rates and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, devastated the company.

Levin stepped down as CEO of AOL Time Warner in May 2002, replaced by Richard Parsons, and that year the company reported a $100 billion loss, the largest in the history of corporate America. A year later, Parsons removed AOL from the company name.

At its nadir, which didn’t come until several years after Levin’s departure, shares of the company known again as Time Warner had lost 92 percent of their value, and Levin went on CNBC in 2010 to apologize to shareholders, in particular employees who lost their jobs or saw the value of their retirement accounts plummet.

“I presided over the worst deal of the century, apparently … I have obviously been reflecting on that,” he told CNBC anchor Joe Kernen. “I’m really very sorry about the pain and suffering and loss that was caused.

More recently, Levin had been encouraging media moguls — and CEOs in general — to push for social change and not worry about offending Wall Street, and a couple of issues he was passionate about before his death were holistic health care and gun control. He referred to himself as “a dedicated, religious vegan” in a June 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“How can you justify an assault rifle as being a valid Second Amendment instrument? Let’s hear from some of the people that lead our companies what they believe,” Levin said during that interview, which occurred two weeks after Omar Mateen killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. “Every time there is a murder or a mass killing, it brings back my own family’s experience, and each time I hope that we are going to do something.”

In 2004, Levin married his third wife, Dr. Laurie Ann Levin, a former producer, agent and wife of producer Jack Rapke, and he had been helping her run Moonview Sanctuary, a posh, holistic healing institute she founded in 1998 in Santa Monica. He also backed StartUp Health, which invests in next-generation health initiatives, and he brought Case in as an investor as well.

Levin also was a senior adviser to Oasis TV, which has been trying to establish itself as a provider of TV content for the spa crowd.

Levin went public about suffering from Parkinson’s disease shortly after Robin Williams committed suicide in 2014, in part because Williams was depressed and thought he was in the early stages of the same disease. (An autopsy later revealed that the comedian actually had suffered from Lewy body dementia, not Parkinson’s).

“I was trained not to show my emotions. You couldn’t tell by looking at me what I was thinking because I was an ace negotiator. I mean, life was a poker game. What a terrible thing. So I don’t let Parkinson’s dominate my life,” he told THR.

“I’d love to open a treatment center that treats everybody in the world. Not just for addiction or depression or mental health issues or Alzheimer’s. Everybody needs help.”

Levin was previously married to Carol Needelman and Barbara Riley. Survivors include his children, Anna, Laura, Leon and Michael, and seven grandchildren.

Remembering Gerald Levin

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Arthur Serwano

Arthur Serwano

November 15, 1964 - March 5, 2024

Former boxer Arthur Serwano, aka the Jesus Kid, died March 5, and in California after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2020. Serwano, a former UNLA soldier, won the IBF USBA junior middleweight title in 1989, retained it thrice and vied for other titles, and did aviation mechanics. 

Remembering Arthur Serwano

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Michael Jenkins

Michael Jenkins

January 1, 1947 - March 4, 2024

Australian writer-director Michael Jenkins, known for provocative Australian teen drama Heartbreak High, died March 4 following a 2020 diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. He was 77.

His management confirmed his death through his partner Amanda Robson. His friend, Ian Barry, wrote in a tribute that Jenkins passed away with Robson and close family by his side.

The statement from Jenkins’ management said that his “contributions to the entertainment industry and his legacy as a film-maker and storyteller will be well remembered.”

Known for a gritty and frenetic style of directing, Jenkins was behind some of Australia‘s most notable TV series, with his internationally-popular 1990s high school drama Heartbreak High was rebooted for Netflix in 2022. He had initially co-created the series, which helped launch the career of The Mentalist actor Simon Baker, with Ben Gannon for Network Ten in 1994.

He was also behind Blue Murder, the Australian series often held up as one of the country’s best-ever crime dramas. Jenkins directed the two-part miniseries for the ABC in 1995 and then came out of retirement as producer on the 2017 reprisal, Blue Murder: Killer Cop, which was from Endemol Shine Australia.

Jenkins began his career as a reporter before moving into production at Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC. After a decade as a director, he worked on controversial ABC police corruption drama Scales of Justice in 1983 and then directed Australian musical feature Rebel, which starred Matt Dillon, Debra Byrne and Brown Brown.

He subsequently worked on numerous TV drama series until his career really kicked off with 1993 film The Heartbreak Kid, from which Heartbreak High was spun-off a year later.

Heartbreak High followed a group of Australian teenagers at the multi-cultural Hartley High in the suburbs of Sydney. The show was so popular in the UK that when Network Ten axed it in 1996, BBC2 took on the funding for another 26 episodes before the ABC commissioned further seasons between 1997 and 1999.

In 2000, Netflix struck a deal with Heartbreak High rights holder Fremantle Australia to remake the show for a modern audience and carry all 210 episodes of the original series. The reboot launched in 2022 and won an International Emmy. It was renewed for a second season, which launches on Netflix in April. Jenkins was a script consultant on the reboot.

Jenkins’ output slowed after Heartbreak High though he made headlines in 2007 when he was named director of an Australian film about a gang rape, which drew criticism from then-New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma. Jenkins responded by saying the film would be “an incredibly sympathetic investigation and exploration of these events,” but it was ultimately scrapped.

Tributes have flooded in for Jenkins, with Screen Producers Australia saying his “contributions to the Australian screen industry were extensive,” adding: “Michael’s legacy will live on through audiences enjoying productions he worked on for generations to come.”

Australian actor Adam Zwar, who has created several television comedies, paid tribute to Jenkins a social media message saying: “RIP Michael Jenkins – writer/director of arguably the greatest Oz TV series ever – Blue Murder… He often talked of making a Ned Kelly film, told through the eyes of Joe Byrne. Would’ve loved to have seen that.”

Remembering Michael Jenkins

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Esmond Roberts

Esmond Roberts

January 1, 1940 - March 4, 2024

Tributes have been paid to a former Mansfield landlord who passed away following an eight year battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Esmond Roberts died on March 4, aged 84, in Kings Mill Hospital after being admitted for pneumonia.

Born and bred in Pleasley to Frederick and Margaret Roberts, Esmond was one of 12 children.

He began his working life as at Landers Bread, firstly as a van boy and then onto the bread factory, eventually having his own bread round across the community, always pushing to be bigger and better, selling more than bread and providing an invaluable service for local people in Mansfield.

Diane Hannah, Esmond’s stepdaughter, said: “Never shy of working hard, he spent some time down the coal mine before becoming a milkman for Northern Dairy, Esmond was ambitious and eventually had the biggest round in the area, winning many awards for his service to the industry.”

During the 1980’s he trained and qualified as a financial adviser, and saw clients in the evenings to discuss their investments and mortgages. This was done alongside his milk round and often worked from 4am to 9pm to provide for his family.

Beginning his career as a publican for Mansfield Brewery, alongside his wife Barbara at the Wheatsheaf on Stockwell Gate in 1991, he was licensee for five years and was known for transforming pubs into busy establishments, with high quality beer, great food and a friendly atmosphere.

His pub career spanned over two decades winning awards for Best Landlord and becoming a popular member of the wider Mansfield community.

He went on to win Cellar of the Year many times in Mansfield Woodhouse at the Black Bull, in Sutton at the Sir John Cockle, and then at the Rushley on Nottingham Road from where he eventually retired from the brewery.

Unable to settle into retirement he then went to work as relief publican at Sam Smith Brewery, with Barbara at the Whitegates in Forest Town, and a hotel in Northamptonshire, well into his 70's.

Never one to rest, and despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he then volunteered for the Homeless Support Centre at St Mary's Church, together with his wife and used his spare time to give back to those not as fortunate.

It was reminiscent of his years behind a bar, and he thrived from connecting with people, sharing experiences and stories of his life.

On February 26, Esmond was admitted to Kings Mill Hospital with pneumonia and despite exceptional efforts and relentless care from the team on ward 42, he passed away on March 4, surrounded by his family.

Diane said: “Esmond was always described as a loving husband, a hardworking and progressive man, who had time for everyone, always without judgement and ready to share a cheeky joke.”

He leaves his wife Barbara, two children, Dale and Karen, two stepchildren, ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Remembering Esmond Roberts

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Peter Franklin Conrad

Peter Franklin Conrad

January 1, 1946 - March 3, 2024

Peter Conrad, a pioneering medical sociologist who brought attention to the increasing medicalization of society, died in his home in Lincoln, Massachusetts, on March 3rd, 2024. He was 78 years old.

He died at home, surrounded by loved ones, listening to Joan Baez. His cause of death was pneumonia after a long experience of Parkinson's.
Peter Conrad, the author of 16 books or monographs and more than 100 articles and chapters, was a dedicated academic at Brandeis University for more than 30 years, where he chaired both the sociology department and the Health: Science, Society, and Policy program.
Peter Franklin Conrad was born on April 12, 1945, in New York City to George Conrad and Gertrude (Rosenthal) Conrad. They were recent Jewish emigres from Germany and Austria, respectively. Conrad always proclaimed that he was a disobedient, distracted student during middle and high school school - one of the sources of his later interest in ADHD - and that he only came alive academically after taking sociology courses at SUNY Buffalo, now the University of Buffalo.

He went on to earn a master's degree from Northeastern University, in part to get a draft deferment from the Vietnam War. As a conscientious objector, he was assigned to do alternative service as an occupational therapy assistant at Boston State Hospital, a historic mental health institution. Witnessing interactions between patients, clinicians and the institution provided him with initial insights that would later lead him to apply sociological tools in examining the medical system's roles in society.

Combining this perspective with sociology's mid-century preoccupation with "deviance", he wrote his PhD dissertation at Boston University, which became his first book, Identifying Hyperactive Children: the Medicalization of Deviant Behavior. Peter began to understand that the diagnosis of hyperkinesis - later called hyperactivity, then ADD, and now called ADHD - "medicalized deviance". It transitioned a perceived "moral failing" into a medical diagnosis. This became a major theme in his research. As the subtitle of one of his most cited books puts it, medicalization transforms from "badness to sickness".
Over his career, he looked at how cultural and social factors in medicalization shape the definitions, perceptions, and experiences of alcoholism, depression, homosexuality, baldness, short boys and tall girls, among other conditions, in addition to ADHD. 

While many tried moralizing medicalization, Peter resisted that impulse. "I'm not trying to say it's good or bad," he'd often say, "I'm saying it's happening and we should understand it." Though his work was deeply analytical and theoretical, he always rejected the title of "theorist", but prided himself on "conceptualization".

Beyond medicalization, Peter studied the experience of epilepsy, worksite wellness programs, medical education, the social meanings of the new genetics, and illness on the internet. Graham Scambler, emeritus professor at University College London, once wrote that, when it comes to medical sociology, "people and things tend to revolve around Peter."

Peter was elected Chair of the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association in 1987 and elected President of the Society for the Study of Social Problems in 1995.

He was a dedicated teacher, mentor, and collaborator, and had tremendous pride in the accomplishments of his graduate and undergraduate students, even long after they became his colleagues.

Beyond sociology, Peter had an enduring interest in green spaces and rural heritage in Massachusetts. He served on the Lincoln Conservation Commission, the board of Codman Community Farm, and the community board of Drumlin Farm, a site of the Massachusetts Audubon Society. He also nurtured this interest in his annual vegetable garden, cultivating multiple potato varieties, giving many opportunities for his younger family members to squash potato bugs.

Peter was an avid traveler taking many journeys with his beloved wife and family. These included two sabbatical years abroad: one in Yogyakarta, Indonesia and the other in London, England. He was also a Distinguished Fulbright Scholar at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and maintained close professional relationships with colleagues there through a twenty-year visiting faculty appointment.

One of the great joys of his later years was reuniting with a lost branch of his maternal lineage through family research that brought multiple branches of that family together in Munich and later in Washington, D.C. Peter spoke what he called "Kitchen German" from his emigre parents and engaging more deeply with his family history was deeply meaningful.

Though born in New York, Peter was a devoted Boston sports fan, particularly of his beloved Celtics, who were a constant comfort in his last years and a joy he shared with many family members and friends. After his diagnosis with Parkinson's in 2014, he also became deeply involved with Rock Steady Boxing at SLS in Lowell to maintain strength, mobility, and community. He was supported during this time by loving caregivers, most notably Annette and Moses Mugwanya, who were with him during the last four years.

He is survived by his wife, Libby Bradshaw, a physician and assistant professor at Tufts Medical School of Lincoln, MA; his daughter Rya Conrad-Bradshaw, an executive in EdTech of Concord, MA; a son, Jared Conrad-Bradshaw, an educational consultant of Istanbul, Turkey; as well as three grandchildren Rafi, Sela, and Avi, and a son-in-law, Drew Magliozzi, and a daughter-in-law, Rita Ender, both of whom he adored. He is also survived by close-in-heart family members across the world, students from multiple generations, dear friends of more than 50 years (including multiple housemates), and a dog he tolerated. He is predeceased by his sister Nina (Conrad) Furgiuele.

Remembering Peter Franklin Conrad

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74785 Highway 111
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Indian Wells, CA 92210

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info@parkinsonsresource.org

 

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Updated: August 16, 2017