The Memorial Wall

Dr. Walter Jackson Stark

Dr. Walter Jackson Stark

January 1, 1943 - February 29, 2024

Dr. Walter Jackson Stark, a Johns Hopkins eye surgeon and teacher who treated heads of state, Supreme Court justices and sports luminaries, died of Parkinson’s disease complications Feb. 29 at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida. The North Baltimore resident was 81.

A physician who also found time to remove the cataracts on an aged National Aquarium sea turtle, he had six Supreme Court justices as patients, along with O.J. Simpson and Saudi princes.

Bert Jones, who as a Baltimore Colts quarterback was the 1976 MVP said: “Walter examined me in my rookie year. We became great friends and often went goose hunting on the Eastern Shore.”

Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Dr. Stark was the son of Walter Jackson Stark Sr., a banker who went on to be administrator of the Dean McGee Eye Institute, and Lucy Anderson Stark. After his mother’s death, he was raised by Mary Lou Moorman.

A 1960 graduate of the old Harding High School, where he was a state champion swimmer, he attended the University of Oklahoma and graduated from its College of Medicine.

He married his high school sweetheart, Polly Allen. They met at the old Split-T, an Oklahoma City restaurant.

He did his residency and fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and joined the faculty of the Institute in 1973. He was named professor of ophthalmology and director of corneal and cataract services.

“My dad squeezed 10 lifetimes into one. He never left the state of Oklahoma until he was 18 and then he went on to travel and change lives around the world,” said a daughter, Melissa Stark Lilley. “People would come up to us all the time with stories of how he restored their gift of sight.

“He would take us to the Baltimore Colts games and I would go with him to the locker room at halftime when he checked the players’ eyes. He was my introduction to the NFL,” said his daughter, Melissa, an NBC “Sunday Night Football” sideline reporter.

Dr. Stark taught generations of students at Hopkins.

“Walter was medically persistent,” said Dr. John D. Gottsch, a Hopkins professor of ophthalmology and a friend. “He was legendary examining his patients in complex cases. He often made a neurological diagnosis and sent them off to a different clinic for treatment.”

A 1982 Sun article about his surgery on a week-old baby born blind described Dr. Stark as a “tanned, athletic-looking man of ramrod stiff posture.”

Dr. Stark was noted as a medical leader in corneal surgery, corneal transplantation, intraocular lens implantation, and the use of the excimer laser for the rehabilitation of patients with visual disability.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology gave Dr. Stark its lifetime achievement award in 2015, the year he retired.

“We were residents together and spent half the night discussing a case,” said Dr. Allan D. Jensen, a fellow ophthalmologist and friend. “Walter was not shy and was worth all the credit he got. He will go down as a legend at Wilmer.”

Dr. Stark also operated on a sea turtle that was living at the National Aquarium and developed cataracts. He performed another procedure on a poisonous dart frog.

“My father was dedicated to his profession — an eye was an eye,” his daughter said. “He got such a kick out of a tiny frog. Nothing was too small for him.”

His daughter said Dr. Stark enjoyed bicycling down the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he had a vacation home. He also favored Maryland steamed crabs and Grotto’s pizza.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Polly Allen Stark, a teacher, antiques dealer and real estate agent; two daughters, Dr. Heather Stark, of Gainesville, Florida, an internist and public health physician, and Melissa Stark Lilley, of Rumson, New Jersey; a son, Walter J. “Jay” Stark III, of Fort Worth, Texas, owner of an ophthalmic device consulting firm; a brother, Jeff Moorman, of Oklahoma City; and two sisters, Penny Replogle and Susan Moorman, also of Oklahoma City; and nine grandchildren.

Remembering Dr. Walter Jackson Stark

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Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis

January 1, 1948 - February 27, 2024

Richard Lewis, the stand-up comedian who also starred alongside Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” died Tuesday night at his Los Angeles home due to a heart attack, Variety has confirmed. He was 76.

Lewis announced last April he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was retiring from stand-up comedy. He most recently appeared in Season 12 of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” currently airing on HBO.

In 2021, Lewis announced he would not appear in Season 11 of “Curb” in order to recover from three surgeries. He surprised viewers by returning to set for one Season 11 episode, telling Variety at the time, “When I walked in and they applauded, I felt like a million bucks. Larry doesn’t like to hug, and he hugged me and told me how happy he was after we shot our scene.”

Lewis, who played a semi-fictionalized version of himself throughout the 24 years of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” was known for his neurotic, self-deprecating style of comedy. After making his screen acting debut in 1979’s “Diary of a Young Comic,” Lewis rose to prominence in the 1980s and ’90s with appearances on “The Tonight Show” and the “Late Show With David Letterman.” He showcased his dark, yet brightly animated persona in his 1985 Showtime comedy special “I’m in Pain,” following it up with the HBO specials “I’m Exhausted” (1988), “I’m Doomed” (1990) and “Richard Lewis: The Magical Misery Tour” (1997).

In 1989, Lewis landed a leading role in the ABC sitcom “Anything but Love,” in which he starred opposite Jamie Lee Curtis as coworkers at a Chicago magazine who fall in love and fail to uphold a strictly professional relationship. The series ran for 56 episodes across four seasons before ending in 1992. Lewis landed other ’90s sitcom roles in the short-lived “Daddy Dearest” starring Don Rickles and “Hiller and Diller” featuring Kevin Nealon.

Lewis’ film roles include the 1993 comedy “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” the 1995 drama “Leaving Las Vegas” and the 1997 rom-com “Hugo Pool.” In “Drunks” — starring an ensemble including Faye Dunaway, George Martin, Parker Posey, Howard Rollins, Spalding Gray and Dianne Wiest — Lewis played a struggling alcoholic and drug addict.

Throughout his career, the comedian has also been candid about his own battle with drug and alcohol addiction, referencing his recovery and struggles with depression and anxiety in his comedy. Lewis, formerly a user of cocaine and crystal meth, said his decision to get sober was partly inspired by John Candy’s 1994 death.

In 2021, upon returning to “Curb Your Enthusiasm” after various health struggles, Lewis told Variety, “I’ve devoted my life to comedy and my sobriety the last almost 27 years. I’m overwhelmed with joy right now. I never learned how to keep joy in my head for more than a minute, but I’m breaking all records for my life today.”

In a statement shared with Variety by HBO, David said of his longtime co-star and friend, “Richard and I were born three days apart in the same hospital and for most of my life he’s been like a brother to me. He had that rare combination of being the funniest person and also the sweetest. But today he made me sob and for that I’ll never forgive him.”

HBO added in a statement, “We are heartbroken to learn that Richard Lewis has passed away. His comedic brilliance, wit and talent were unmatched. Richard will always be a cherished member of the HBO and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ families, our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and all the fans who could count on Richard to brighten their days with laughter.”

Lewis is survived by his wife, Joyce Lapinsky.

Remembering Richard Lewis

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Richard Harrison Truly

Richard Harrison Truly

November 12, 1937 - February 27, 2024

Richard H. Truly, former astronaut and NASA administrator, passed away Tuesday, February 27, 2024, at 86. Born November 12, 1937, in Fayette, Mississippi, he attended school in Fayette and Meridian, Mississippi.

Truly graduated with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he attended a Naval ROTC midshipman. In 1959, coinciding with his graduation, he began his career in the U.S. Navy and was commissioned an ensign.

In 1965, Truly became one of the first military astronauts selected to the Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory program in Los Angeles, California, before transferring to NASA in 1969. He served as capsule communicator for all three Skylab missions in 1973, and the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975.

Between his time as a naval aviator, test pilot, and astronaut, Truly logged over 75,000 hours in military and civilian jet aircraft. He piloted one of the two astronaut crews that flew the 747/space shuttle Enterprise approach and landing test flights in 1977. Then, he was the backup pilot for STS-1, the first orbital test of the shuttle.

His first space flight was in November 1981, as the pilot of space shuttle Columbia. This flight was a major milestone marking the first piloted spacecraft that was REFLOWN in space. Truly’s second flight was from August through September 1983, when he was commander of the space shuttle Challenger, which marked the first night launch and landing in the Space Shuttle Program.

After serving as the first commander of the Naval Space Command in Dahlgren, Virginia, in 1983, Truly returned to NASA in 1986 as the Associate Administrator for Space Flight, the same year as the Challenger accident. He led the rebuilding of the Space Shuttle Program following the tragedy. Under his leadership, Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in September 1988, marking the first Shuttle mission in nearly three years.

Richard went on to serve as NASA’s eighth Administrator from February 1989 to 1992.

He received several honors during his NASA career including two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, and two NASA Space Flight Medals, plus many more accolades throughout the years.

Richard married Colleen Cody Hanner of Milledgeville, Georgia. They had three children together.

A wreath was placed in his honor inside the rotunda of Heroes & Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® presented by Boeing®.

Remembering Richard Harrison Truly

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Ross R. Fanning

Ross R. Fanning

August 24, 1942 - February 25, 2024

Ross R. Fanning, 81, of Emmaus, formerly a 50-year resident of Wyckoff, NJ, died Feb. 25, 2024 from complications of Parkinson’s Disease. He was the husband of Nancy A. Fanning. Born in Erie, he was the son of the late Richard and Virginia (Frantz) Fanning. Ross was a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University with a BS in Business Management. He worked in pharmaceutical printing and flexible packaging for many years, retiring as plant manager. He was a member of St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Emmaus and a former member of St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, Wyckoff, NJ, where he was on the RCIA Team, Cornerstone Team, and was a greeter. Ross was a professional musician and member of Local #248. He was a notary republic in NJ, enjoyed ceramics, was an avid bowler, car enthusiast, and enjoyed spending time with family, especially his grandchildren. Ross is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Nancy; sons, Gregory Fanning and wife Tammy and Kevin Fanning and wife Tiffany; sister-in-law, Virginia Fanning; grandchildren, Cameron, Kyla, Jared, and Emily. He was predeceased by a brother, William Fanning. 

Remembering Ross R. Fanning

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Ron Mansfield

Ron Mansfield

July 10, 1947 - February 25, 2024

To the average wine drinker, Ron Mansfield wasn’t a household name. But the viticulturist was a quiet force who shaped California wine in important ways over the last 35 years.

He helped put El Dorado County, and by extension the Sierra foothills, on the map as a wine destination. He was among the first in the state to plant now-beloved grape varieties like Gamay. The fruit that Mansfield grew ended up in bottles made by some of California’s most highly respected wine producers, like Arnot-Roberts, Edmunds St. John, Jolie-Laide and Keplinger.

Mansfield died last month at age 76, after a long ordeal with Parkinson’s disease. Since his death, those who knew him have been reflecting on his remarkable legacy. It’s a legacy that stretched all the way to the White House, which served the cherries that Mansfield grew — he was as much a stone-fruit farmer as a grape farmer — during every presidential administration from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama.

“It was such an important thing for me to have the chance to work with somebody like Ron,” said Steve Edmunds, the winemaker behind Edmunds St. John. “I felt very lucky to have somebody with Ron’s gift for farming interested in what I was doing.”

When Mansfield began farming in the 1980s, El Dorado County was in a transitional moment. The region’s pears, then the cornerstone of its agricultural industry, had been infected with blight. It was clear that farmers would need to shift to a new crop.

Mansfield had just come into some money thanks to a winning racehorse named Loyal Lad, and in 1980 he bought a plot of land. He grew cherries, peaches, nectarines and plums, calling the operation Goldbud Farms. The Goldbud cherries soon gained renown; they’re what caught the attention of White House chief usher Gary Walters. The Chronicle devoted an entire article to Mansfield’s cherries in 1991, quoting one of his retail customers: “The cherries are the biggest, darkest, best-tasting I have ever had.”

Soon Mansfield took over the farming at neighbor Al Fenaughty’s property, where he tended to a small section of Gewürztraminer and Syrah grapevines.

The Syrah grapes initially went to home winemakers, but in the late ’80s, Edmunds came calling. He was looking for Syrah and bought the entire Fenaughty Vineyard crop, which he estimates was about one barrel’s worth. “The wine was really intriguing and quite lovely,” said Edmunds. He shared some with Amador County winemaker Bill Easton, and the two agreed that it smelled like the legendary French Syrah Côte Rôtie.

From then on, Mansfield and Edmunds became inextricably linked. Many other vineyard owners throughout El Dorado began hiring Mansfield to farm their vineyards, and whenever he had the chance to plant something new, he’d consult Edmunds about which grape varieties might do well. He was willing to take chances on obscure, unproven cultivars like Vermentino and Grenache Blanc. Eventually, word got out among winemakers in Napa and Sonoma that Mansfield oversaw a treasure trove of these types of grapes, which tend to be scarce in Cabernet- and Chardonnay-dominant Wine Country.

“It was just slow, steady, organic growth,” said Mansfield’s son, Chuck Mansfield. Once Mansfield started working with a winemaker, “if they wanted some variety, and even if it was a bit of an outlier like Arneis or Negroamaro, we’d put in a little block for them.” 

Gamay may have been the ultimate coup. The signature red grape of France’s Beaujolais region has never been a major commercial success, always doomed to command lower prices and less respect than a somewhat similar-tasting grape, Pinot Noir. Yet wine geeks, especially those who prize subtler wines, adore Gamay.

“I felt like I had tricked Ron into planting it,” Edmunds said. In the 1990s, when Mansfield began cultivating Gamay in the granite-packed soils of the Barsotti Vineyard, Edmunds said, “what anybody in California knew about Gamay was virtually nothing.” Mansfield later planted it at additional sites too, including the Witters Vineyard, and winemakers now line up for the chance to buy it.

Along the way, Mansfield supported the burgeoning wine industry in his community. “So many people I didn’t realize he’d worked with have come to me and said, ‘Your dad helped me so much, getting my irrigation lines set up or choosing the grape varieties,’ ” said Chuck Mansfield, now Goldbud’s general manager.

“Mansfield is known in the community as someone who sticks his neck out but who knows what he is doing,” wrote Sibella Kraus in that 1991 Chronicle article.

He never lost his passion for horse racing, and he remained an active competitive bowler through his later years. In 2022, while fighting Parkinson’s symptoms, he competed in his 50th consecutive U.S. Bowling Congress Open Championship in Las Vegas. He earned a standing ovation, Chuck Mansfield said.

And through the end, Mansfield remained just as committed to his other crops, like the cherries, as to wine grapes. When asked which fruit his father favored, Chuck Mansfield returned a surprising answer.

“I think he really loved Fuji apples,” Chuck Mansfield said. “They’re not the most profitable. We don’t get the most attention or notoriety for those. But the satisfaction on his face when he was eating one of those Fuji apples — it was the same look on his face as when he and Steve were having a wine that really spoke to them.”

Remembering Ron Mansfield

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Coleman Hough

Coleman Hough

February 26, 1961 - February 24, 2024

Coleman Hough, who received solo screenplay credit on the quirky Steven Soderbergh-directed improvisational films Full Frontal and Bubble, has died. She was 62.

Hough died Feb. 24 at the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, New Jersey, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, her friend Jennifer Romine told The Hollywood Reporter. She was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s when she was 42.

Full Frontal (2002), set in Hollywood and a film within a film, shot in 18 days using a consumer-grade digital camera and was the first produced screenplay by playwright and poet Hough.

Featuring Julia Roberts, Catherine Keener, David Hyde Pierce, Blair Underwood, David Duchovny and Jeff Garlin as a Harvey Weinstein type, it marked an extreme change of pace for Soderbergh, who was coming off Erin Brockovich (2000), an Oscar win for Traffic (2000) and Ocean’s Eleven (2001).

Hough’s characters are “simultaneously self-absorbed and less introspective than they think they are,” Craig J. Clark wrote in a piece for Crooked Marquee in 2022. “They stop short of being completely contemptible, however, thanks to the fleeting moments of grace Hough affords them — with one notable exception … movie producer and all-around creep Gus Delario (Duchovny).”

Hough then came up with an outline for Bubble (2005), which employed nonprofessional and local actors in a crime drama about workers in an Ohio factory that makes parts for dolls. That film also took less than a month to shoot.

Coleman Ann Hough was born on Feb. 26, 1961, in Charleston, South Carolina. Her parents, Kenneth and Ann, were teachers. She attended the Emma Willard all-girls private boarding school and graduated from Emerson College with a degree in acting in 1982.

She was a professor at Lehman College in the Bronx from 1987-98 and at Emerson from 1988-90 before making her way to Los Angeles.

Hough was a publicist’s assistant at Disney and staging plays at L.A. theaters when Soderbergh saw her in Angel and Mr. Charm, one of her productions. He gave her an uncredited role in his 1996 film Schizopolis and hired her to write a modern adaptation of Julius Caesar that never made it to the screen.

In 2003, she penned a short play called Shipping and Receiving that eventually became Full Frontal. She initially created nine 10-minute scenes for the movie, which is set over a 24-hour period.

“Steven asked me to write a list of questions he would ask the actors. But beyond that, I had no say. I wanted no say; I was curious to see what it would become.” Hough told MovieMaker magazine in 2005. “Once I had written the script, Steven, the crew and the actors took over. It took on a life of its own.”

Hough was researching Midwestern industries when she found the doll-parts factory that would be used for Bubble.

She also performed for the experimental theater Dixon Place in New York; wrote and directed the short film The Diagnosis (2008), starring Lesley Ann Warren and James Urbanick; and wrote a script about Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham for HBO.

And she taught screenwriting at Ohio University and USC.

Survivors include her sister, Lee. 

Remembering Coleman Hough

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Golden Richards

Golden Richards

January 1, 1951 - February 23, 2024

Golden Richards, the former Dallas Cowboys receiver known for his flowing blond hair who famously caught a touchdown pass off a gadget play in the 1978 Super Bowl, died Friday of congestive heart failure at his home in Murray. He was 73.

Richards' nephew, Lance Richards, confirmed the death in a Facebook post.

“My uncle Golden passed away peacefully this morning,” Lance Richards wrote. “I will forever remember going hunting and talking Dallas Cowboy football. He was a kind and sweet soul and I’m so happy he’s not suffering anymore.”

The former BYU star spent seven seasons in the NFL with Dallas, Chicago and Denver, and is best known for his five-plus seasons as a deep-play threat with the Cowboys. He twice averaged more than 21 yards per catch, finishing his time in Dallas with an 18.3 career mark.

That was especially evident in the 1978 Super Bowl against Denver. With the Cowboys ahead 20-10 in the fourth quarter, fullback Robert Newhouse threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Richards, who got behind the defense to all but assure the Cowboys of their second championship.

Richards finished his career with 122 receptions for 2,136 yards and 17 TDs before injuries prompted him to retire in 1980.

A Salt Lake City native, he starred at Granite High School, then at nearby BYU, where he was a receiver and punt returner, leading the nation as a junior with four returns for TDs.

Richards played his final college season at Hawaii, catching 23 passes for 414 yards and five touchdowns. That caught the eye of the Cowboys, who drafted him in the second round in 1973.

The Deseret News said Richards struggled with health problems and drug addiction after retiring, but was sober over his final 10 years.

“Seven or eight years of wear and tear on the football field for a 175-pound wide receiver who was concussed several times, too,” brother Doug Richards, a former BYU basketball player, told the newspaper. “That obviously took its toll.”

Richards was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011 and lived with adult sons Goldie Jr. and Jordan in his later years. Doug Richards said his brother broke his hip on Christmas in 2022 and had four hip surgeries.

“He has left us and gone to a better place,” Doug Richards said. “He fought pretty good there to the end, until it was his time.”


Remembering Golden Richards

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Michael J. Appaneal

Michael J. Appaneal

January 1, 1946 - February 20, 2024

Michael Joseph Appaneal, beloved life partner of Ann Lindsey, passed away Tuesday, February 20, 2024. He was 78 years old. Michael died of Parkinson's Disease at the Newton Wellesley Hospital. He lived in Newton, MA most of his adult life.

Michael leaves Ann, his two sons, Mike of West Chester, PA, and Craig of Canberra, Australia, and their families. He also leave Ann's sons, Gene of Coconut Grove, FL, and Bruce of Albuquerque, NM and their families, and Ann's brother, Jim of Surfside Beach, SC and his family.

Michael grew up in Norwalk, Connecticut and was a graduate in mechanical engineering from Northeastern University. Before he studied engineering, he earned a degree in metallurgy. One of proudest achievements was that he worked in a lab in Norwalk where his team created an adhesive that helped make the moon landing of 1969 possible. Michael entered the computer technology industry early on and spent most of his working life in that industry.

Michael was a loving, kind, caring, and sensitive man. He enjoyed creating things whether they had to do with the world of computers or with the planting of flowers that would bloom in the spring, summer, and early fall. He enjoyed playing his guitar, his friends and neighbors, his pet dogs over the years, and all variety of home projects. He will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved him.

Remembering Michael J. Appaneal

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William "Lee" Heidel

William "Lee" Heidel

January 1, 1944 - February 19, 2024

William "Lee" Heidel of Golden Valley passed away on February 19, 2024, he was 80 years old. He died from complications of Parkinson's disease, after being diagnosed 11 years ago. He was preceded in death by his parents, Thelma and William Heidel, and daughter Laurie Dolan.

He attended North Judson Indiana High School and later went into the Army and was recruited to be in the military police. He attended Ball State University, in Indiana, majoring in accounting.

Lee, as he liked his friends to call him, was a mortgage banker for over 30 years. He started his own mortgage company in his garage in San Diego, CA with a friend called Banc Smith's Mortgage. After several years, he left California for New York, where he ran the mortgage division at Chase Home Mortgage, part of Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. He later moved back to Los Angeles, where he was the CFO of Beverly Hills Securities where he met his wife, Cheri, who was a mortgage loan officer at the time. He later ran the Mortgage operations at Ohio Savings Bank in Cleveland, one of the largest banks in Ohio. Later they moved to Richmond, VA where he ran the mortgage company at Sun Trust Bank. Everyone respected him for the way he treated his employees, and how he handled business. He was sought after as a speaker and panel member at various conferences and had articles and his picture in many mortgage publications. After retiring Lee and his wife Cheri moved to Golden Valley, MN from Baltimore, MD. He loved to travel, especially to see the grandkids. His team was the Cubs, and he also loved the Ravens (unless the Colts were playing!). His friends and family will remember that if you put him in a room with a Coke and some Peanut M and M's, he will be happy.

Survived by wife, Cheri Heidel; children, Marnie Neese (Brad), Kevin Heidel (Krista), Joe Dolan (Sara); grandchildren, Miles and Ware Smith, Eli and Sammy Dolan, Raven Long (David), Graham Smith; siblings, Pat Liskey (Harold) Mike Heidel, Jack Heidel, sister-in-law Barb Ritzen, brother-in-law Larry Sperling (Nancy)

Remembering William "Lee" Heidel

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Geoffrey Michaels

Geoffrey Michaels

January 1, 1945 - February 17, 2024

Geoffrey Michaels, 79, of Collingswood, celebrated violin prodigy and longtime violin, viola, and chamber music teacher, died Saturday, Feb. 17, of complications from Parkinson’s disease at the Samaritan Center in Voorhees.

Mr. Michaels first tucked a violin under his chin when he was 5 in his hometown of Perth, Australia. At 14, he was the youngest winner ever of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s concerto competition, and he toured the country afterward as a dazzling new soloist and with prestigious quartets and orchestras.

At 16, he was invited to the Curtis Institute of Music, and he studied violin with Curtis director Efrem Zimbalist, and violin and viola with Philadelphia legend Oscar Shumsky. He was quickly recruited into the renowned Curtis Quartet and later cofounded his own Liebesfreud Quartet, which released Selected Shorts in 2009 and played more than 100 concerts over 15 years.

He also played with other notable ensembles around Philadelphia and in Australia, Canada, New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere. Liebesfreud cofounder Philip Kates said in a tribute that Mr. Michaels was an exacting colleague who displayed “integrity with regard to his approach to the music’s preparation.” He said Mr. Michaels’ “prowess on his instrument, depth of knowledge of the music, and demeanor during rehearsals established rigorous standards.”

He won Philadelphia’s Emma Feldman Memorial Competition in 1970 and was a finalist at international events in Paris, Moscow, Brussels, Montreal, and elsewhere. A colleague said: “His inspired playing and thoughtful approach to music-making led to an enduring transformation in my perspective.” Mr. Michaels’ wife, Beverly, said: “He was an artist in service of the music.”

As a soloist, Mr. Michaels played venerable pieces across North America, Europe, and Australia. He appeared at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, and Kennedy Center in Washington. His performance in the U.S. premiere of Alfred Schnittke’s famous concerto grosso was broadcast live in the United States and what was the Soviet Union in the late 1970s.

“I think of Mr. Michaels every single time I play my violin, and I will always hear his voice in my head.”

One of Mr. Michaels' former students

Inquirer music critic Daniel Webster reviewed Mr. Michaels’ 1971 debut at the Academy of Music and said he showed “the security and polish of an able young artist.” Michael Upchurch of the Seattle Times reviewed a 1991 performance at the Seattle Spring Festival of Contemporary Music and called Mr. Michaels “superb” and “deserving special praise.”

Mr. Michaels earned a diploma at Curtis and, in addition to touring and playing locally at events and private parties, taught violin, viola, and chamber music for years at Princeton, Temple, and Florida State Universities; Swarthmore and Haverford Colleges; the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada; and elsewhere. Former students said in tributes that he had a “self-effacing dedication to the music” and was funny, inspirational, and generous with his time.

He also participated in community outreach music programs and told the New York Times in 1986: “I feel that I am no use as a teacher unless I am consistently engaged in the business of actually playing. Almost everything I have to say is based on my own experience with the instrument.”

His wife said: “Music was like a religion to him. Teaching was like passing on a craft.”

Geoffrey Michaels was born June 19, 1944. He attended Perth Modern School in Australia, led its orchestra in musical productions, and served as secretary of the school’s music society in 1960.

He married childhood friend Patricia Walmsley, and they divorced later. He met Beverly McCoy at a music camp, and they married in 1978, and had daughters Julia, Annika, and Carolyn. They lived in Cherry Hill at first, moved to Vancouver for six years when he taught there, and then to Radnor and Collingswood in 2004.

Mr. Michaels played tennis and chess, and was thrilled when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. He and others performed on the field before a Phillies game in 2017, and the Phanatic grabbed his violin and pretended to play it.

He followed politics and current events, and likely read every spy novel by John le Carre. Friends said he could be a perfectionist but rarely a self-promoter. He was a hands-on parent by all accounts.

His daughter Annika said Mr. Michaels had a gift for “seeing the deep elegance and complexity in things we otherwise might take for granted.” Honoring him, she said, was to recognize “the passion in the way the people we care about live their lives and how that enriches our own lives.”

In addition to his wife, daughters, and former wife, Mr. Michaels is survived by three grandchildren, a sister, and other relatives.

Remembering Geoffrey Michaels

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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