Obituaries

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

RIP, Author and Activist Kathryn Ferguson

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 8:22 AM

Kathryn Ferguson in one of her favorite haunts, the Tumacacori mountains. - PHOTO COURTESY OF BOB KEE
  • Photo courtesy of Bob Kee
  • Kathryn Ferguson in one of her favorite haunts, the Tumacacori mountains.

Kathryn Ferguson stands in one of her favorite haunts in the Tumacacori mountains, near the Arizona-Mexico line. As a border activist and volunteer with the Samaritans, the Tucson native hiked dangerous desert trails for 13 years, putting out water and food for migrants at risk. She wrote about her experiences in two award-winning books, The Haunting of the Mexican Border: A Woman's Journey and Crossing with the Virgin: Stories from the Migrant Trail, co-authored with Norma A. Price and Ted Park. Also a filmmaker, a dancer and a choreographer, with her own belly-dance troupe and studio, Xanadu, Ferguson died of cancer Sunday night at Peppi’s House hospice in her hometown, after a short illness. She was in her late 60s.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Remembering Abril and Luisa Castillo

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 10:08 AM

With heavy hearts, the Tucson community is morning the loss of two special individuals. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, Abril Castillo and her 12-year-old daughter Luisa were tragically killed in a car crash on the Interstate 10. They were en route to Luisa's to school when their car was hit by a semi truck that lost control. 

Even though this event is plagued with tragedy, we must remember Abril for the amazing woman and mother that impacted many lives in the Tucson community, and her daughter for the intelligent and bright young girl she was. 
click image YOU CARING FUNDING PAGE
  • You Caring Funding Page
Founding incredible projects such as T-Town Sessions and Tucson People, Abril was a talented artist and photographer dedicated to shedding light on the beauty of Tucson. With T-Town Sessions she worked tirelessly to showcase the rich local music and art scene, and with Tucson People she gave a voice to the local individuals who make Tucson what it is. 

In memory of these two incredible people, a memorial fund has been made in their name. You can make a contribution to the fund here, or plan to attend the benefit being held in their honor this weekend at Caffe Passe. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Looking So Long At These Pictures Of You: Remembering Wendy Van Leuveren

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 7:51 PM

Wendy posed for "A Wendy in the Window" with photographer John Paul Marchand in 2008. While many other photos have emulated this pose over the years, at the time, the concept was all Wendy's, said Marchand. - JOHN PAUL MARCHAND
  • John Paul Marchand
  • Wendy posed for "A Wendy in the Window" with photographer John Paul Marchand in 2008. While many other photos have emulated this pose over the years, at the time, the concept was all Wendy's, said Marchand.

Friends and family of Wendy Van Leuveren are in shock. They’re grieving, and they’re looking for answers. But one thing is very clear—the sudden
death of this well-known and well-loved woman is a tragedy that has rocked many throughout the Tucson community.

On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Wendy took her own life after a mostly-private struggle with mental illness. The death of this beloved mother, partner, daughter, sister and friend came as a surprise to many, as is evident in the numerous posts and comments on the “Remembering Wendy Van L” Facebook page, created on Aug. 31, and had 670 followers as of the evening of Sept. 13.

Loved ones also created the “Wendy Van Leuveren Memorial Fund” to raise money for Wendy’s partner Cameron Green and their young son Escher, to help ease financial responsibilities while they grieve. By Tuesday evening, supporters had raised $5,153 of the $6,000 goal and shared the post on Facebook 390 times.

Wendy moved to Holland earlier this year with her partner and son, leaving behind an abundance of family, friends and admirers in Tucson and across the country.

Her foster-sister and close friend Nellie Cornett‎ posted on the remembrance Facebook page, “Wendy was always bad ass,” remembering the time a teenage Wendy calmly navigated a truck full of youth to safety after the brakes had gone out.

“She was always hungry for being better, doing better, having a principled and moral approach to everything,” Nellie posted. “She always strove to be a better friend.”

It’s obvious, scrolling through the posts, Wendy was a great friend. She was kind and smart—a business woman and community organizer. She was an artist and a great beauty—stunning and stylish. Even those who didn’t know her well—something that many wrote in their FB posts—were touched by her charm.

Loved ones will be holding a memorial to celebrate Wendy’s life on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Galactic Center at 35 E. Toole Ave. People are encouraged to submit art to be hung on the walls at the memorial—something that reminds them of Wendy. Art and poetry can be submitted into a Google Drive at this linkTo submit art that isn’t digital, email montrose@galateastudios.com or just bring them to the memorial.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Our Friend and Contributor, M. Scot Skinner

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 12:15 PM

Rest in peace, Scot. We love you. - SCOT SKINNER/ FACEBOOK
  • Scot Skinner/ Facebook
  • Rest in peace, Scot. We love you.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

From Shakespeare's The Tempest

I had seen M. Scot Skinner's name in print long before I met him. For years he wrote theater reviews for the Arizona Daily Star, and I probably read all of them. He was quick to praise and equally quick to give a thrashing to a production that missed the mark. He was always fun to read.

Not too long ago he couldn't even bring himself to review a show he was to write about for the Weekly, a show he called “up a fake creek without a paddle.” He wrote, “There's no way I'm going to review what I'm seeing right now. Who wants to be the mean old man with nothing better to do than slam the hard work of a serious-minded playwright and four actors who are probably kind and decent people? Not me.” So quite cleverly, he did review the show.

I got to know Scot in a more personal way through my partner, Mary Kate Cooney, who was a copy editor at the Star for years. She had taken him under her wing when he switched from reviewing to the copy desk. In May 2014, when he heard that she had entered hospice because her body had had enough of ovarian cancer's malicious tomfoolery, he wrote in a Facebook post:

"When I was suddenly reassigned to the Arizona Daily Star copy desk in 2002, I had so much to learn and my long-suffering teacher was Mary Cooney. I was a difficult student in every way, but she sighed and kept at it. I owe her so much. As of tonight, my smart and funny friend is in hospice care at TMC's Peppi's House. How I wish we could have one more cheese crisp together at El Minuto."

She's waiting for you Scot. I hope El Minuto delivers to the great hereafter.

M. Scot Skinner passed on Sunday, April 3 after complications resulting from a bacterial infection. He was a great talent and an even greater human being. He will be truly and deeply missed in the theatre and writing communities, as well as the Tucson community at large. Information regarding services for Scot is forthcoming.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Author Jim Harrison Dead at Age 78

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 10:00 AM

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Patagonia writer Jim Harrison died Saturday, March 26. The New York Times remembers the author's many appetites:

At bottom, Mr. Harrison was not so much like Hemingway as he was like something out of Hemingway. Or, more accurately, something out of Rabelais — a mustachioed, barrel-chested bear of a man whose unapologetic immoderation encompassed a dazzling repertory:

There was the eating. Mr. Harrison once faced down 144 oysters, just to see if he could finish them. (He could.)

There was the drinking. One fine summer, he personally tested 38 varieties of Côtes du Rhône. (“It was like a small wine festival. Just me, really,” he told The Washington Post afterward.)

There was the drugging, in his Hollywood period, when he wrote the screenplays for films including “Revenge” (1990), starring Kevin Costner and based on Mr. Harrison’s novella of that name.

There was the hobnobbing with his spate of famous friends, including Jack Nicholson, John Huston, Bill Murray and Jimmy Buffett.

All these ingredients were titanically encapsulated in a dinner Mr. Harrison once shared with Orson Welles, which involved, he wrote, “a half-pound of beluga with a bottle of Stolichnaya, a salmon in sorrel sauce, sweetbreads en croûte, a miniature leg of lamb (the whole thing) with five wines, desserts, cheeses, ports” and a chaser of cocaine.

But constructing Mr. Harrison merely as a rough-and-ready man of appetite — a perennial conceit of profile writers, and one he did relatively little to dispel — ignores the deep intellectualism of the writer and his work. In conversation, he could range easily and without affectation over Freud, Kierkegaard, Stravinsky, Zen Buddhism, Greek oral epic and ballet.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Soul Singing Karaoke Legend and Teacher Burney Starks Dies

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2015 at 2:30 PM

click image Rest in peace, Burney! You will be missed. - BURNEY STARKS / FACEBOOK
  • Burney Starks / Facebook
  • Rest in peace, Burney! You will be missed.


Over the weekend, Tucson lost one of its legendary performers and educators, Burney Starks. A longtime teacher at Pueblo Magnet High School, as well as an actor and singer in many local productions, Starks touched the lives of many in town—a fact that became evident as many spent the last two days voicing condolences.

News came on Sunday, May 31 of Starks' passing and his Facebook page was quickly flooded with people remembering everything Starks had done for the community. Whether that's his two decades of teaching, work as a Juneteenth organizer or musical theater chops, Starks contributed many things to Tucson. Aside from that work professionally, Starks was also a well-loved facet of Tucson's karaoke community, often showing up to many local karaoke nights to sing Motown hits.

Ynot Entertainment's karaoke host Deanna Cross made the announcement in a post to Stark's page on Sunday saying:


I have unfortunate news, friends. It has come to my attention that our longtime karaoke regular and friend Burney Starks has passed away. He collapsed at church this morning and despite given CPR immediately, paramedics were not able to revive him. He will be remembered by his genuine and loving spirit and of course his beautiful voice!

Information on services for Starks is yet to be announced, but The Flycatcher is hosting a special karaoke night in memory of him. The event is free to attend and begins at 9 p.m.

For now, check out a video of Burney Starks doing what he did best:




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Monday, February 16, 2015

The World Already Misses Lesley Gore

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 5:00 PM

"You Don't Own Me" PSA - Upworthy from The Department of Peace on Vimeo.


Lesley Gore
  • Lesley Gore
Lesley Gore, who taught us all that we could cry as long as it was our party, died of lung cancer today at the age of 68. The video above is from an Upwrothy page, encouraging women to vote in November of 2014.

From that project, which Gore endorsed:
In 2013, there were more laws passed to limit women’s reproductive rights than in the entire previous DECADE.
Ten million more women than men voted in the last election. In fact 53% of voters were women. That is not a voting block it's a majority. Women have decided literally every election in our lifetimes, yet, midterm turnout is historically low. LET'S CHANGE THAT!
Beyond women's rights, Gore was a hugely impactful advocate of gay and lesbian rights. She came out* in 2005 while hosting a PBS show called In The Life, which focused on LGBTQ issues. At that time, she had already been with her partner, Lois Sasson, for more than 23 years.

Gore is widely quoted saying:
I think it’s important, not so much to be married to your partner as to be given the civil rights that married couples get, so I’m on that bandwagon...and that may take awhile, but it’s happening, for sure. By the time I shut my eyes for good, I’ll have seen a real difference, I think, and I’m happy about that.
I like to think that came true for her. We'll miss you and your feminist ways, Lesley.


*Which maybe shouldn't have been surprising. I mean, have you heard the song? I know she said she was crying, but Lesley just didn't seem too broken up about Judy wearing Johnny's ring. 

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