Memorial Roster 2019 • Tributes & Testimonials

Posted In: Culture, , Biography,   From Issue 889   By: Robert E Martin

11th December, 2019     0

Death takes no bribes, pays all debts, and keeps no calendar. And once again, as we close out this epic, difficult, and memorable year of 2019 we at The REVIEW find it incumbent to take inventory and honor many of the significant souls who passed over to what I like to call the ‘unseen world’.

Each of these individuals were special in their own way and sadly irreplaceable, although their legacies and contributions will resonate strongly even though their mortal coils have ceased to exist. 

Some of them were personal friends; other majors influences.  May each of them live eternal in our memory and fortify us with the light, wisdom, and talent they brought to this world.

Jean Beach • author & historian • 89

As a local historian and author, Jean Beach contributed both substance, class, and accuracy to the work she generated about the texture and contours of Saginaw’s rich and singular history.  A 1947 graduate of Saginaw High School, she received her BFA from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1951 and continued to be a lifelong learner.

She wrote several pivotal books, including "A Century on Canvas" about the art careers of Julia and Henry Roecker, three Saginaw Hall of Fame volumes, and "Undefeated" with Don Steel that chronicled the tale of the Shepler Ferry family from Mackinaw Island.   Jean also authored histories of First Congregational Church, Pit and Balcony Community Theater, and the Saginaw historical cookbook "Savoring Saginaw" with Patricia Shek, which won the top award in the Saginaw News Critic's Choice in 2007.

Unique accomplishments include creating the "Slim Chipley" character for Paramount Potato Chips, and starring as "Miss Merryweather" on WNEM Channel 5 in Saginaw. As a recognized artist with exhibits throughout Michigan art museums, Jean was in various shows held at the Saginaw Art Museum, where she was awarded Best of Show in 1998. Her work has also been included in the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in Lansing, and the Scarab Club in Detroit. In 2010 Beach received the All-Area Arts Award from the Saginaw Arts and Enrichment Commission.

Jean was also known for her riveting lectures that were sprinkled with amusing anecdotes on such topics as "The History of Pit and Balcony", "Art in Public Places", and "How Saginaw Got the World's Best Water" among many others.

Greg Branch • Mayor & Communicator • 62

Saginaw lost one of its staunchest advocates with the sudden passing in February of this year of former Mayor, graphic artist, and communicator Greg Branch.  Greg was firmly grounded in the city he loved, and despite the fact that Greg and I were often antagonists on topics such as the city tax cap and rewriting the city charter, we shared much in common beginning with the fact that both of us have lived within a mile of our birthplace our entire lives.

For more than 40 years, Greg created and shaped memorable and lasting messages, stories and brand strategies for thousands of businesses, campaigns, municipal entities, and nonprofit organizations throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond. He spent more than 20 years with Princing & Ewend before that agency merged with AMPM, Inc. in Midland, where he enjoyed the last eight years.

In his trademark vest and pocket watch, Greg served on the Saginaw City Council from 2005 until 2013. In 2009, Branch's council colleagues elected him to serve as the city's mayor, a post he held for four years. Greg also lent his expertise to several civic and professional organizations including the American Advertising Federation (local, district and national levels) and the boards of Child & Family Services of Saginaw County, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, MBS Airport Authority and Hidden Harvest.

Doris Marsh • Ballet & Dance Instructor • 88

A graduate from Saginaw High School, in 1949 Doris received her Bachelors of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Michigan and in 1953 studied Classical Ballet with Betty Oliphant of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Doris was a teacher at South Elementary, Saginaw Public Schools and taught Ballet as a private teacher, developing her own studio which she continued after leaving the Saginaw Schools. 

Her students performed as the Saginaw Valley Dancers throughout the area and Doris eventually developed The Nutcracker Ballet,  which was performed for 20 years until 1999. Students also performed with the Saginaw Symphony Orchestra in the Berlios: L'Enfance du Christ, Menotti: Amahl and the Night Visitors, Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel and she choreographed original ballets for the Young Peoples concerts: Snow Queen, Tales from Arabian Nights and many more. Students also performed with the NBC Opera and the Midland Symphony Orchestra.

Doris developed a Summer Dance Program at Delta College, a six-week program of daily classes, giving local students the opportunity to gain an insight into the professional training of a dancer. She taught ballet at Saginaw Valley State College and choreographed two years for the Fischer Opera Haus. Former students preformed with the Minnesota Dance Theater, Colorado Ballet, The Norwegian Opera Ballet, Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and the Interlochen Academy.

The following is a tribute from one of her students, Christal Schoen:

Doris Marsh has passed away. An important part of the Saginaw Arts scene for so many years, I can't tell you how much that woman meant to me. When I walked into her studio for the first time, I figured I was there to learn some pretty dance moves, have a bit of fun, then move on with my life. Boy, was I wrong, and I am so grateful for that.

When I lost my Mom at a young age there was a vacuum. Little girls need strong female role models, and Doris was one of the strongest. I spent a lot of time with her as a kid, and I can't ever remember seeing her intimidated by anyone, even though she may have been the smallest adult in the room most of the time. Her spirit was larger than the flesh that contained her.

Doris held a unique position in my life. She guided me in my development, never telling me how to think or who to be, but instead helping me find myself.  She encouraged me to define myself on my own terms. She could see through my silly, rebellious teenage ways, saw potential, and helped me grow. Under her mentorship, some of her confidence rubbed off on me, giving me strength I never knew I had.

Then there were the productions. Every single Christmas, I revisit my memories of performing "The Nutcracker" in the Heritage theater under her creative direction. That was a special place to be. She taught us the art of discipline while still allowing us to dream, creating some of the most magical days of my life.

In the end, Doris couldn't move very well, which is one of the saddest things about her story. This woman, for whom movement meant so much, was unfairly stifled. Sometimes I wonder how many of us there are. We are the unofficially adopted daughters of Doris Marsh, carrying her with us in our work ethic, creativity, and spunk. As a teacher, I hope that I can have a fraction of the impact on my future students that Doris had on me.

Norman ‘Pops’ Crawford • Master Chef, Businessman, Manager • 87

There are certain characters and personalities that are larger than life, and Norman Crawford (better known as Pops) was no exception. A lifetime resident and supporter of Saginaw, he attended Saginaw High School and was a trained boxer who went on to box in the Golden Gloves. A man of many gifts & talents with an infectious and welcoming personality, Pops was a Master Chef who got his start by hitchhiking across the country from Atlantic City to Miami.  He cooked for the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and could take basic ingredients and create a five-star meal.  Some of the best parties I’ve ever held were the REVIEW Christmas gatherings that he catered for several years in the late ‘90s and early 2000’s.

As the proud owner of Wiseguys, Pops ushered in a new era of regional entertainment by supporting many new and upcoming Blues, Jazz & Rock artists with his commitment to live music; and it was here that he met the love of his life, local blues legend Sharrie Williams.

Pops was a man of ambition, drive and determination. He was a family man who loved his children. He was charming, kind, caring, intelligent and a man of wisdom. An avid hunter, fisherman and trapper, he loved life. He was a member of Spirit Filled Lighthouse Church, where he was recently baptized with his grandson Matthew and his son Charles. His favorite scripture was I Corinthians 10:13. He believed that God would never put more upon us than we can bear.

Patricia Shek • Cultural Philanthropist & Arts Advocate • 91

Patricia Shek was one of the classiest, modest, and smartest women I have had the pleasure to know. In many ways, she was Saginaw’s own Gloria Vanderbilt and had a passion for creativity - whether it was in arts or business.  She became an early supporter of my own endeavors with The REVIEW when she convinced me to move our offices to her business development at Hamilton Square back in 1986, where we have continued to operate for 33 years now.

Pat was born in New York City on June 28, 1927, and raised in the suburbs of Detroit. She attended Wayne State University and discontinued her studies to marry a young Thoracic Surgeon, John L. Shek, MD. They moved to Saginaw, started a family, and became a pivotal arts activist within the community and region.

On November 15, 2005, she received the prestigious ArtServe Michigan/ Governor's Award for Arts & Culture (Civic Leadership), as recognition for her many activities and commitment to the Saginaw, Bay City and Midland communities.

Her numerous activities and interests included a laundry list of public service.

She was Co-Founder of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation in 1965, and received numerous honors, including the following:  The Saginaw County Commission on Aging and the Business & Professional Women/KBR Network/NAFE Honoree (2006), Girl Scout Woman of Distinction Award (2003), Volunteer Award, Association of Fundraising Professionals (2003), Saginaw Community Enrichment Foundation "All Area Arts Award", Junior League of Saginaw Valley Gold Rose Award for Outstanding Service to the Community (1994).

She was also an active member of the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra Board, Saginaw Art Museum Board, Saginaw Hall of Fame Board, St. Mary's of Michigan Medical Center Advisory Board, and for her past leadership positions, including President, Saginaw County Medical Society Auxiliary (1969-70), President, Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra Service (two terms 1971-73), President, Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors (1973-76), President, Saginaw Children's Museum (1973-76 Walter Yoder, Director), President, Saginaw Art Museum (one term 1974), President, St. Mary's Hospital Auxiliary (two terms 1975-77), President, Saginaw YWCA (two terms 1978-80), Chair, Heritage Park "Three Children" Sculpture in Downtown Saginaw (1964), Chair, Saginaw Civic Center Music Theater Grand Opening (1973), Chair, Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra 40th Birthday Celebration (1975), Chair, St. Mary's Hospital "Vittles and Vogues" Fundraiser (1975), Chair, Saginaw County Bicentennial Committee (1976), Chair, HealthSource Saginaw Community Relations Committee (1990-2000), Chair, Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra 60th Birthday Celebration (1994-95), Chair, 1995 "Saginaw Valley to Tin Pan Alley", Chair, 1996 "Pop to Rock" opening Horizons Conference Center, Chair, 1997 "Big Band, Blues and All That Jazz", Co-Chair, Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra 70th Birthday Celebration "UM-MSU And All That Jazz" (2005).

Are you out of breath yet, because there’s more.   Her memberships in civic organizations included  the Junior League of Saginaw Valley (Since 1958), Founding Member, Original Saginaw Children's Zoo Committee, Member, Saginaw Civic Center Planning Committee (1970-73), Member, Saginaw Civic Center Acquisition Committee (1973-76), Member, Westside Historic District (1979-86), Editor and Compiler St. Mary's Hospital "Masterpieces from Saginaw Art Museum Cookbook" (1971), "Manna From Heaven Cookbook ".

Obviously, she is irreplaceable and her passing gives us pause to reflect upon how much one individual can accomplish.

Cokie Roberts • journalist, 75

A journalist and political commentator, Cokie Roberts won three Emmy awards during her long career with National Public Radio (NPR) and ABC News. Born Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs, she got the name “Cokie” from her older brother who couldn’t pronounce Corrine and called her Cokie instead. Roberts was a pioneer at NPR in the late 1970s when there were few women in broadcasting. Among her many roles during three decades at ABC, she co-anchored the network’s Sunday morning show, This Week, with Sam Donaldson. Roberts was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. In 2008, the Library of Congress dubbed her a "Living Legend.”

Ric Ocasek • musician, 75

Ric Ocasek was lead singer and cofounder of the iconic band The Cars whose eponymous 1978 debut release showcased the band’s unique blend of synth-driven, New Wave atmospherics with power pop guitar licks. Peaking from 1978-84, Ocasek and the Cars racked up a string of hit singles (“Just What I Needed,” “Let’s Go,’ “Shake It Up”). Apart from the Cars, Ocasek gained a reputation as a music producer, helming albums by Weezer, Bad Brains and No Doubt. In 2018, the Cars and Ocasek were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Ocasek began exhibiting his paintings in galleries nationwide.

Eddie Money • musician, 70

The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist born Edward Mahoney wrote a string of hits that were a staple of 1970s-’80s rock radio. Born in Brooklyn, New York, to a large Irish Catholic family and raised in Long Island, Money decided not to follow his father, grandfather and brother into the NYPD — opting to drop out of the police academy and move to Berkeley, California, in 1968.   He became a regular in the local club scene and landed a deal with Columbia Records in the late ’70s, scoring hits with “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise.” Money’s earnest and impassioned blend of soul-tinged working-man’s rock and infectious hooks found a receptive audience in the fledgling MTV music video scene of the early ’80s, and he began climbing the charts with songs such as “Shakin’ ” and “Think I’m in Love,” and later with “Take Me Home Tonight” (featuring Ronnie Spector). For years he kicked off every concert season at Pine Knob Music Theatre in Detroit.

Peter Fonda •  actor, 79

An actor and Oscar-nominated screenwriter (1969's counterculture classic Easy Rider), Peter Fonda maintained the family legacy in Hollywood created by his father, Henry. Fonda started his career on Broadway in the early '60s, directed his first film in 1971 and was again nominated for an Oscar in 1998 for his role as a beekeeper in Ulee's Gold.    Nonetheless, Easy Rider remained a touchstone of his career, as it opened the door for New Hollywood and directors such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and George Lucas. Fonda's last film as an actor, The Last Full Measure, will be released in October. He died of complications from lung cancer. "He was my sweet-hearted baby brother, the talker of the family," his sister, actress Jane Fonda, said in a statement. "I have had beautiful alone time with him these last days. He went out laughing."

John Paul Stevens • Retired Supreme Court justice, 99

This high court justice served for almost 35 years before retiring in June 2010 at age 90. President Gerald Ford nominated Stevens in 1975, and he began his work that December, when he was 55. Although he was nominated by a Republican president, Stevens often agreed with the liberal side of the bench on issues such as the death penalty, affirmative action, and Bush v. Gore. In spite of research from one of his clerks in the mid-1970s that determined the average retirement age of justices was 70 or 75, he decided that he enjoyed his work and was sharp enough to continue an additional 15 or 20 years. 

Rip Torn • actor, 88

Most famous for his Emmy-winning role as the devoted producer Artie on HBO’s 1990s comedy The Larry Sanders Show, starring Garry Shandling as a late night talk show host, Rip Torn had one of the most ironic and amusing theatrical names along with a long career on stage and in films as diverse as 1965’s The Cincinnati Kid and 2006’s Marie Antoinette.  Early on Torn became known for his temper (he notoriously hit director Norman Mailer on the head with a hammer on the set of the film Maidstone in 1968, causing Mailer to bite Torn’s ear).   He also had an excellent role in Nicholas Roeg’s cult masterpiece The Man Who Fell to Earth, which starred David Bowie.

Ross Perot • businessman, presidential candidate, 89

Ross Perot became a billionaire as chief executive of Electronic Data Systems (EDS), the company he founded, but will go down in history books for his role as a presidential hopeful. Known for his no-nonsense style (“If you see a snake, just kill it - don't appoint a committee on snakes,” he once quipped), independent candidate Perot shook up the 1992 election, earning a record 18.9 percent of the popular vote — and, some said, contributing to Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush’s loss to Democrat Bill Clinton. He later created The Reform Party and unsuccessfully ran for president again as its candidate in 1996. Perot was also a major benefactor in his home state of Texas, helping found or fund projects like The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. “Ross Perot epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit and the American creed,” said former President George W. Bush in a statement. “He gave selflessly of his time and resources to help others in our community, across our country, and around the world.”  And he foresaw the dangers of globalization as an early critic of the NAFTA Treaty when he warned about that “big sucking sound of dollars being pulled out into foreign countries.”

Herman Wouk • author, 103

The Bronx-born World War II veteran and author, a giant among 20th century popular novelists, first found fame with his 1951 Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Caine Mutiny. He then went on to offer his many fans absorbing yarns such as 1955’s Marjorie Morningstar, as well as The Winds of War and War and Remembrance — stories based on his own wartime experience and whose TV miniseries renditions drew millions of viewers in the 1980s. Even in recent years Wouk (rhymes with “woke”) hardly seemed to pause in his work. At age 97 he told The New York Times he had no plans to stop writing: “What am I going to do? Sit around and wait a year?”

Doris Day • singer and actress, 97

At age 12, Day (born Doris Kappelhoff) almost died in a car wreck, ending her dance career. “That was the greatest thing,” she said in a 2011 interview. “Instead of dancing, I sang. They carried me three times a week up a stairway to my music teacher.” Back on her feet at 22, she hit No. 1 with her 1945 jazz hit “Sentimental Journey.” Her sugar-and-spice image propelled her to a second unexpected career as a No. 1 film actress opposite Frank Sinatra, James Stewart and, most famously, Rock Hudson.   Pillow Talk (1959) earned her an Oscar nomination for best actress, while “Que Sera, Sera” from Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much and “Secret Love” from Calamity Jane both won Oscars for best original song. She bounced back from bankruptcy caused by her husband and manager Martin Melcher, survived the death of their son Terry Melcher, retired from show biz and became an animal rights activist. Her philosophy was captured in “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” a song she learned at 7 and rerecorded in 2011, at 89, for her final studio album. “

Peggy Lipton • actress, 72

Catapulted to unwelcome fame at 22 on TV's 1968 hippie-cops hit The Mod Squad, Lipton earned a Golden Globe and four Emmy nominations, made the Billboard charts with her recording of Laura Nyro's “Stoney End” before Streisand did, dated Elvis Presley and Paul McCartney, then married Quincy Jones and concentrated on raising their now-famous daughters Kidada and Rashida Jones. She returned to TV on Twin Peaks and after a colon cancer diagnosis in 2004, wrote the memoir Breathing Out. “I think part of aging boldly is staying in the moment,” she told writer Sheila Weller in 2018. “If things don't go well in the moment, you have to adjust — and stop beating yourself up for not being ‘together.’ Make change happen."

Frank Robinson • athlete, 83

Frank Robinson was a trailblazer, record-breaker and one of the greatest baseball players ever. In a career that spanned 21 seasons, Robinson became the first black manager in the major leagues when he took the helm of the Cleveland Indians in 1975. He was the only player to win Most Valuable Player in both the National and American leagues and, in 1982, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In his first game as player and manager for the Indians, Robinson hit a home run, one of 586 career homers.  He went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles and the Montreal Expos, and was also the first manager of the Washington Nationals. In 2005, President George W. Bush gave Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, saying he set “a lasting example of character in athletics.”

James Ingram • singer-songwriter, 66

With a courtly romantic style and a voice that Quincy Jones, who discovered him, compared to fine whiskey, R&B immortal James Ingram earned two Grammy awards (for 1991’s “One Hundred Ways” and 1983’s duet with Michael McDonald “Yah Mo B There”) and two No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits (1981’s “Baby, Come to Me” and 1989’s “I Don’t Have the Heart”). He also earned two Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, for “The Day I Fall in Love” and “Look What Love Has Done,” and his inspiring 1986 duet with Linda Ronstadt from the film An American Tail, “Somewhere Out There,” was a No. 2 hit. Equally talented as a songwriter, he contributed to Michael Jackson’s masterpiece Thriller by penning its hit “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing).”

Carol Channing • actress, 97

Sandpaper-voiced Carol Channing, whose performance in 1964’s Hello, Dolly! made her a Broadway icon, never celebrated birthdays as a child because her Christian Science faith deemed age an illusion. She defied time, playing Dolly again at 74 (“An exalting experience, sort of like witnessing Cal Ripken’s shattering of Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-game record,” wrote critic Tom Shales), and winning a Golden Globe, three Tony Awards, and an Oscar nomination. “No matter how old you get,” she said at 89, “there is always something around the corner.


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