Thursday, August 8, 2019

Posted By on Thu, Aug 8, 2019 at 1:58 PM

click to enlarge Sam Borozan: 1928-2019
Sam Borozan: 1928-2019
The man lovingly referred to by friends and family as “Mr. NAU” will be remembered at a service at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 1946 E. Lee St.

Sam Borozan, who graduated from the Flagstaff campus in 1957, died on Thursday, July 25. He was 90.

Borozan spent much of the past six decades around Northern Arizona University, working in the financial aid and university’s alumni relations office.

Borozan, who served in the Marine Corp. for six years during the Korean War, was born in Bisbee but raised in Tucson.

He leaves behind his older sister, Milena Parber, 92.  His brothers, Michael and George (a longtime local broadcaster), passed away in years past.

A graduate of Tucson High School, Borozan also spent much of his free time after graduating with a bachelors and two master’s degrees from NAU working as an official in numerous sports for the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Parber described her late younger brother as a kind soul who enlisted in the Marines out of high school, despite having a stomach ulcer that should have disqualified him from serving.

Instead, Borozan worked as a line cook at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, dishing out food to grunts and generals alike.

“I was tickled by his enthusiasm for the job,” Parber said via email. “He sent me an official Marine cookbook, explaining, ‘It’s easy, Micki, just divide everything in the recipe book by a thousand!’”

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Posted By on Sun, May 12, 2019 at 10:18 AM

Ask anybody who ever experienced success as a football player to describe the coach who had the greatest impact on him and the response will almost always go something like, “Oh man, he was hard on me. He’d yell and scream, get in my face and cuss me out…I loved that dude.”

When you talk to guys who played for Dick Tomey, the former University of Arizona football coach who died Friday at the age of 80 from lung cancer, they generally skip over the preamble and go right to the “I loved that dude.”

This is not to say that Tomey didn’t have the fire and the fury, but he interacted with his players on a more-personal level. One of his best quotes was, “Football isn’t complicated. People are.”
Tomey went out of his way to get to know his players and to try to learn how best to motivate each one. Keith Smith, who shared the quarterbacking duties with Ortege Jenkins during Arizona’s best-ever season, remembered that Tomey somehow treated the two QBs “totally different(ly), but exactly the same.” He was known for his honestly, his compassion and his love of people.

Dick Tomey followed the usual circuitous coaching route, serving as an assistant here and a coordinator there before finally landing his first head coaching job, taking over a woefully bad Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors program. Through force of will and grit, he turned the Warriors into a winner, going 63-46-4 over a 10-year period. What’s funny is that his record on the island averages out to just a little bit better that 6-5, a season record that would follow him around.

While Tomey was building a winner in Honolulu, three time zones to the east, Larry Smith was working wonders in Tucson. Smith had taken over a program that was in the dregs of the Pac-10 AND was in the NCAA doghouse for a variety of violations committed during the previous coach’s tenure. Smith became a local hero when his underdog Cats knocked Arizona State out of a berth in the Rose Bowl in 1982. Smith then built Arizona into something of a power and twice nearly took the Cats to Pasadena on New Year’s Day. It seemed inevitable that Smith would leave for a bigger program. When he did, he did so rather inelegantly to in-conference rival USC.

Arizona then hired Dick Tomey, who was met with a collective “Who?” by Arizona fans. Smith’s last Wildcat team had gone 9-3 and finished the season ranked 11th in the country. Tomey’s first team was the absolute picture of mediocrity, finishing 4-4-3 (back in those days, college games could end in a tie). His next two teams went 7-4 and 8-4, respectively, and Cat fans began to warm to the coach with the folksy charm and preternatural calm.

There was nothing flashy about his teams. The offense scored when it could, special teams did their jobs, but the members of the defense played like their butts were on fire. Two members of the vaunted “Desert Swarm” defense—Tedy Bruschi and Rob Waldrop—are in the College Football Hall of Fame. That 1993 team started a six-year streak in which the Cats won 48 games. (In the 1990s, Tomey’s Wildcats would win more games than any other team in the Pac-10.) It culminated with the 1998 team that went 12-1, missed the Rose Bowl by the flukiest of flukes and ended the season ranked No. 4 in the country.

But when his next two teams went a combined 11-12, the fickle fans called for a change, something most have probably regretted to this day. What has followed is 18 years with a combined record of 103-119 for Arizona football under three coaches (John Mackovic, Mike Stoops and Rich Rodriguez) who won occasionally but mostly brought shame to Arizona with their sideline antics.

A lot of long-time Tucsonans remember Tomey for the way he was off the field. He played in a men’s baseball league, competing against people half his age. And he didn’t play first base or right field; he played catcher, a position that is brutal on an older guy’s knees.

One time I took my daughter to see Tucson legend Linda Ronstadt in concert with Aaron Neville. As the crowd waited for the Tucson Convention Center doors to open, I spotted Tomey and his wife, Nanci. Other coaches might have Big Timed it, huffing and puffing as to why he wasn’t being given special treatment. But Tomey was just part of the crowd. He made small talk with the people around him, always including his wife in the conversation.

I had seen him at press conferences, but I have no idea if he recognized my face. But he asked how I was doing. I introduced my daughter, Darlene. He got a big smile on his face and said, “Father-daughter concert date. That’s so nice.”

I turned to the couple standing behind us and said, “Dick Tomey approves. I’m Father of the Year!”

Tomey’s overall coaching record of 183-145-7 in 29 seasons averages out to 6.3-5. His Arizona record of 95-64 averages out to 6.8-4.8. But those are just numbers. Dick Tomey once won the Provost Award as the UA’s best teacher. I’m pretty sure that’s a record that will never be broken.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2019 at 7:30 PM

click to enlarge RIP, Don Diamond - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy photo
RIP, Don Diamond
He was an influential leader, a charismatic entrepreneur and man who loved Tucson until his final days.

That’s how friends and family described the legacy of the late Donald R. Diamond, a prominent Tucson-based real estate developer and philanthropist, during a memorial held on Wednesday afternoon.

Diamond died on Monday, March 25. He was 91.

More than 300 people packed the Catalina Room at the Jewish Community Center Tucson. Although the required garb was dark the tone of the ceremony was playful and light-hearted, keeping in step with Diamond’s temperament.

“My father couldn’t afford a rabbi for the service, so I will be officiating this afternoon,” his eldest daughter Rabbi Jennifer Diamond told the piqued crowd.

She further said Donald Diamond would be pleased to know that he’ll finally recoup for paying for her the five years of rabbinic school.

Both comments sweetened the heavy mood of the day with warm laughter.

After leading a traditional service, Jennifer Diamond offered their personal guests a glimpse into her family’s life.

Diamond was a scrappy preteen, who always returned home to his family’s Park Avenue apartment in ragged condition, she explained. He was eventually relegated to using the service elevator due to his appearance, which didn’t alter his behavior.

“So from an early age it was clear that he was going to go his own way,” she said.

Diamond, a New York native, initially relocated to Tucson in the 1940s to attend Brandes Boarding School, but went to high school in Washington D.C. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II at age 17, lying about his age in order to serve.

He attended the University of Arizona from 1947 to 1949, where he majored in business and met his wife, Joan; the pair began their 64-year marriage in 1952.

Joan Diamond died on Dec. 28, 2016.

Diamond spent the beginning of his professional career as a commodities trader on Wall Street. In 1965, at age 37, he retired from trading and relocated to Tucson with Joan and their three daughters Helaine, Jennifer and Deanne.

After he made Tucson his home, Diamond would become of one of most influential private landowners in Pima County. And in 1988, he founded Diamond Ventures, Inc., a company that aims to engage in high quality real estate investments while considering the environmental impact of land development.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Posted By on Mon, Mar 25, 2019 at 4:28 PM

Don Diamond, Tucson land developer and philanthropist, passed away at 91 today. He is known for his decades of real estate development around Tucson and Pima County, as well as his philanthropic efforts. 
Courtesy photo

Upon news of his passing, Gov. Ducey issued the following statement:

“Arizona is saddened by the loss of Don Diamond. Genuine, generous, and respected by all, Don displayed a deep love for Arizona and commitment to Tucson dating back to his earliest days. Through his business and real-estate career, Don — possibly more than anyone else —helped develop Arizona’s metropolitan areas into the growing cities they are today. He will also be remembered for his extensive philanthropic efforts, which included supporting causes such as promoting higher education, expanding access to children’s healthcare, and protecting natural habitats. No doubt, Don’s legacy will have a lasting impact on Arizona for many years to come. Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the entire Diamond family during this difficult time.”

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Posted By on Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 3:03 PM

click to enlarge Karl Eller with his wife and fellow Wildcat, Stevie. - COURTESY UA
Courtesy UA
Karl Eller with his wife and fellow Wildcat, Stevie.

The UA's Eller College of Management is a household name across Arizona, and its namesake Karl Eller is remembered by many after his passing on Sunday, March 10.

"Karl Eller was a true pillar of this community and an inspiration to the many people whose lives were positively impacted by his generosity, dedication and Wildcat spirit," said UA President Robert C. Robbins in a release.

Eller was born in Chicago in 1928 and grew up in Tucson. Growing up across the street from Arizona Stadium, Eller's mother rented rooms to UA students and Eller's connection to the university was born. He enrolled in the U.S. Army after high school and later attended the University of Arizona to study business.

About a decade after graduation, Eller founded Eller Outdoor Advertising. He later went on to lead the Gannett Company and Columbia Pictures as board chairman and CEO. In the early 1980's Eller took over the Circle K Corporation.

In 1998 the UA School of Business was renamed the Eller College of Management to recognize the legacy, philanthropy and impact Eller had on the school.

click to enlarge UA President Robert C. Robbins, Karl and Stevie Eller and Eller College of Management Dean Paulo Goes. - COURTESY UA
Courtesy UA
UA President Robert C. Robbins, Karl and Stevie Eller and Eller College of Management Dean Paulo Goes.

"What an honor it has been to know Karl Eller. He used his education, intelligence and a deep commitment to integrity to achieve the highest levels of success, while always keeping a little bit of Tucson ruggedness and authenticity," said Paulo Goes, dean of the Eller College of Management.

click to enlarge COURTESY FIESTA BOWL.
Courtesy Fiesta Bowl.
Over the course of his career, Eller and his wife Stevie donated millions of dollars to UA to develop the Entrepreneurship Program, fund student career development and more.

Eller was also involved with Arizona athletics, helping bring UA into the PAC-12 and the Fiesta Bowl to Arizona. The Fiesta Bowl released a statement remembering his impact.

Eller is survived by his wife, Stevie, their two children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He is remembered and honored by many in Tucson and his legacy will live on through the Eller College of Management. 

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 10:20 AM

Local author and artist Kimi Eisele remembers Stella Tucker who passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Memorial services will be held on Saturday, Jan. 19 at San Xavier beginning at 9 a.m.

   Tohono O’odham elder and teacher Stella Tucker passed away on January 9, 2019 at the age of 71, surrounded by family. Stella, a mother of three daughters, was known publicly for her work upholding the tradition of the annual baidaj, or saguaro fruit harvest, a tradition she learned from her parents, grandparents, and her late aunt, Juanita Ahil.

Juanita Ahil harvested from desert lands west of Tucson, lands that in 1961 were designated by U.S. Department of the Interior as Saguaro National Monument. That designation threatened the camp as officials initially prohibited the continued harvest. Friends and educators from the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum wrote a letter on behalf of Ahil prompting then-Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall to grant permission for the harvest to continue.

Stella took over the camp in 1994 after Ahil’s death and received a special permit from Saguaro National Park every year to continue the harvest. (Saguaro National Monument was upgraded to a National Park in 1994.)

For 25 years, Stella received visitors, students, scientists, artists, and family at the camp to share with them the declining tradition of saguaro harvesting and promote the interrelationship between the O’odham people, the saguaro cactus, and the Sonoran Desert. She also taught many workshops at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Stella’s primary interest was engaging Tohono O’odham youth in order to keep the tradition alive. She expressed gratitude that her daughter, Tanisha Tucker, had joined her in running the camp and offering workshops. In a 2017 issue of Edible Baja Arizona magazine, Stella said, “It’s a dying culture. One day nobody will know how to do it. I want them to learn. It’s really important to me that they learn and keep this culture going.”

Tina Vavages-Andrew, the Ancestral Ranger at Saguaro National Park, organized educational visits to the camp for nearly 50 schoolchildren and others every year. “Stella was very patient and willing to share the knowledge she possessed. I most enjoyed her personal stories of her harvesting experiences,” said Vavages-Andrew.

Barbara Rose, who runs of Bean Tree Farm and offers workshops about desert foods, met Stella in the mid-1990s when she went to help her harvest saguaro fruit. “Stella shared her homeland so graciously with all who came to Saguaro Camp. We were fortunate to experience her love and care for the desert and its gifts, the sweetness of its fruits. She kept generations of wisdom safe, and now her daughter Tanisha carries that love and wisdom forward. We will miss her,” Rose said.

In 2018 Stella was awarded a Master-Apprentice Artist Award from the Southwest Folklife Alliance in honor of her work upholding, preserving, and teaching the tradition. The award supported her work in passing along the tradition to her daughter, Tanisha Tucker.

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2019 at 11:07 AM

Yvonne Ervin
Yvonne Ervin
Yvonne Ervin was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois. Her love for music blossomed early. As a child she played clarinet, eventually transitioning to alto and tenor saxophone. Later, at Springfield High School she “booked a band for the first time” for her freshman class dance, testing the waters as impresario.

In 1979, Ervin attended Illinois State University. Then, in 1981, the University of Arizona where she completed a double major in journalism and music performance. After graduation, she made Tucson her home.

In a touching homage to Ervin, filmmaker Bret Primack said, “She was a doer not a talker.” And achieve, she did.

For the past 30 years, Ervin worked as a journalist/editor/producer for radio and print media publishing articles, writing columns and liner notes, producing programming and interviewing jazz legends for KUAZ-FM, Tucson Weekly, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Citizen, Hot House Jazz, Down Beat and Music Hound’s Guide to Jazz, as well as RCA, Capri and Doubletime records. Thirty of Ervin’s interviews are archived at the Library of Congress.

A charismatic stage presence, Ervin emceed and interviewed jazz greats on stage at the Monterey, Montreux, Tanglewood and Telluride jazz festivals.

In 1989, Ervin became the founding executive director of the Tucson Jazz Society—working as a volunteer for eight years before becoming the organization’s first paid employee—erecting the structure from the ground up, brick by painstaking brick, into the largest jazz society in the country. Beginning her reign as “The Queen of Jazz in Tucson.”

She produced Jazz on the Border: The Charles Mingus Project and organized Primavera, the world's longest-running women’s jazz festival. Bitches Brew, her all-female ensemble in which she played saxophone, often performed. She served as the executive director of the Western Jazz Presenters Network—a coalition of 45 jazz festivals and venues in the West—and The Mid-Atlantic Arts Alliance. Ervin served as vice president of the Jazz Journalists Association and the American Federation of Jazz Societies—representing the jazz industry on the International Association of Jazz Educators Board. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts hired her to write the curriculum to train new jazz presenters for a National Endowment for the Arts funded program.
The Tucson Jazz Music Foundation has established the Yvonne Ervin Jazz Music Memorial Scholarship for Girls.
The Tucson Jazz Music Foundation has established the Yvonne Ervin Jazz Music Memorial Scholarship for Girls.

As a certified fundraising executive, Ervin, worked in New York City for a dozen years as executive director of the Candie's Foundation. After returning to Tucson in 2011, she was director of development for the University of Arizona’s Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry and marketing director for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Arizona Dance Theatre.

Impressive as such, this is in no way a comprehensive list of Yvonne Ervin’s accomplishments.

After being approached by Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Elliot Glicksman, Esq., in 2015, she launched the Tucson Jazz Festival. A labor of love.

Primack expands, “She loved the music and the people who played it. She cared and helped people. She was a hero.” From the festival’s inaugural concert—which saw such diverse artists as Burt Bacharach and the Robert Glasper Experiment to this year’s lineup which includes Bobby McFerrin, Pink Martini and Trombone Shorty—Ervin led a one-woman crusade to bring world-class jazz to Tucson.

Yvonne Cerise Ervin left this world on Wednesday, Dec 26, 2018. She had been hospitalized since October with hepatitis A. Following liver transplant surgery she succumbed to a heart attack. She was 59 years old. 

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Posted By on Mon, Dec 10, 2018 at 10:34 AM

Christopher Charles Burroughs grew up in West Milford, New Jersey. He studied journalism at Rutgers University before moving to Tucson to pursue his dream of a career in music. With a penchant for language, he put pen to paper. Combining social commentary and vagabond philosophy, vivid storytelling became his musical trademark.

In the summer of 1982 Chris Burroughs and the Nationals made their debut playing local clubs—Nino’s, Dooley’s and such—leaping onto the scene with contemporaries Eighty Go Ninety, Jonny Sevin and The Fred’s. The Nationals spent the next two years playing dive bars and watering holes from Bisbee to Flagstaff before the bright lights of Los Angeles beckoned.

“We would do something like eighteen one-nighters in a row… And only play three cities,” Burroughs was quoted as saying.

Burroughs released six albums—his debut West of Texas (Triple Bar Records) was released in 1988—and appeared on numerous others. In addition to The Nationals, he fronted Chris Burroughs and the Mercenaries and most recently Hardpan, with stints in Yard Trauma, Losers Club and Creosote, acquiring fans throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Christopher Charles Burroughs passed away unexpectedly at his Tucson home on Monday, Nov 19. He was 60 years old.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

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

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

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. 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.