OBITUARIES

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1997:

Judi Jones, 51, director of operations
since 1989 for the Friends of the Sea
Lion Marine Mammal Center in Laguna
Beach, California, died January 13 of complications
after gall bladder surgery. A registered
nurse, Jones began helping Friends of
the Sea Lion as a volunteer in 1983. The animal
care staff at Sea World San Diego on
January 17 named a rescued baby gray whale
J.J., in her honor.

Tom Parker, 87, singer Elvis
Presley’s manager, 1955-1977, died January
21 in Las Vegas. Born Andres van Kuijk in
Breda, The Netherlands, Parker was adept
from boyhood at handling animals and teaching
them tricks. Emigrating to the U.S. as a
stowaway in 1928, he assumed a Tennessee
accent and identity as a roustabout for the
Great Parker Pony Circus. He left the circus
in 1935 to marry Marie Mott of Tampa,
Florida, and became dogcatcher for the
Tampa Humane Society, now the Humane
Society of Tampa Bay, in 1940. According to
Dirk Vallenga and Mick Farren, authors of
Elvis & the Colonel, Parker enlarged the
cages and boosted adoptions by dressing as
Santa Claus to give away puppies at
Christmas. He “worked the hustle for all it
was worth,” they wrote. “He pushed the tearjerk
quality of unwanted pets all the way to
bathos. He constantly hit the local press with
weepy stories and found a particularly warm
reception from Paul Wilder, one of the editors
of the Tampa Tribune,” who was rewarded
later with the first formal interview with
Presley under Parker’s tutelage. Meanwhile,
press coverage brought donations of money
and food––and Parker stretched his salary by
trading pet food for things he and his wife
could eat. Eventually Parker formed a pet
cemetery, which Vallenge and Farren said
“was Parker at his flamboyant sleaziest. He
contacted a Tampa stonemason who would
make minature gravestones at $15 a pop. In
turn, Parker sold them to the bereaved for
$50,” along with pricy floral arrangements
and tiny coffins. Parker left the humane society
in 1942 to become an animal handler on
the set of the Spencer Tracy/Van Johnson film
A Guy Named Joe, filmed in Tampa; moved
on to promoting local appearances by country
singers Gene Austin, Roy Acuff, and Tom
Mix; became manager for first Eddy Arnold,
then Hank Snow, and finally introduced
Presley, at recommendation of associate
Oscar Davis, as the opening act on a Hank
Snow tour. Achieving success, both Parker
and Presley made substantial donations––on
the quiet––to humane work.

Frank Edwin Egler, 85, plant
ecologist and forester, died December 26 in
North Canaan, Connecticut, near the 1,100-
acre Aton Forest nonprofit preserve that he
founded with his family’s farm as nucleus in
1944 and continued to direct, as board president,
until his death. During a four-year stint
as head of the department of conservation for
the American Museum of Natural History,
1951-1955, Egler documented the ecological
hazards of herbicides. His work helped
inspire Rachel Carson to author Silent Spring,
the 1962 best-seller often credited with awakening
the modern environmental movement.

J. Robert Hunter, 75, the botanist
who founded the Organization of Tropical
Studies, a 50-university research consortium,
and initiated the acquisition of 740 acres of
Costa Rican rainforest by the Milwaukee
County Museum and Riversedge Nature
Center, died January 3 in California. The
site, which Hunter bought, then transferred,
is used for ongoing study of tropical zoology.

Robert Traub, M.D., 80, died
December 21 in Bethesda, Maryland. Traub
developed an interest in fleas as a colonel in
the U.S. Army Medical Corps, which he pursued
as professor of medical microbiology at
the University of Maryland School of
Medicine, 1962-1983, and thereafter as honorary
Smithsonian Institution curator of fleas
until his death. His theories on the evolution
of 2,200 flea species over the past 125 million
years helped illuminate the relationship of
mammalian evolution and continental drift.

Henry Lincoln Yeagley, 97,
astronomer and physicist, died December 26
in State College, Pennsylvania. Yeagley,
who advocated the use of safety belts and
padded dashboards for automotive safety 30
years before Ralph Nader began the crusade
that made them mandatory, theorized in 1942
that homing pigeons navigate by sensing both
the earth’s magnetic field and the force of
planetary rotation. “Though Yeagley didn’t
really prove his case, he asked the right questions,”
said University of Pittsburgh professor
Melvin Kreithen, who has established that
pigeons have the abilities Yeagley predicted.
“There were those in the field who gave him a
difficult time, as is often the case with a pioneer,
but he had a wonderful thought.”

James D. Webb, 60, general counsel
for the Wilderness Society who in 1980
served briefly as assistant Secretary of the
Interior for fish, wildlife, and parks, died of
brain cancer on January 2 in Washington D.C.
Webb was noted for work to expand and
repair damage done by drainage to Everglades
National Park and Big Cypress National
Preserve.

Ann Wry, 45, a nurse at Northwest
General Hospital in Milwaukee, died
December 22 after falling through ice, apparently
while trying to rescue one of her dogs,
on a pond at Milwaukee Area Technical
College, in Mequon, Wisconsin. All three
dogs survived.

Tony Rees, 52, of Merthyr Tydfil,
south Wales, fell through ice and died trying
to save his dog on December 26.

William and Jill Willis, both 58,
of Upminster, Essex, fell through ice and
died of hypothermia on December 29 during
an attempt to save Tara, their black Labrador
retriever, at Belhus Wood Country Park,
Aveley, Essex. Tara survived.

Tony Page, 40, of Birstell,
Leicester, drowned on January 4 in front of
his stepdaughter, age 9, and stepson, age 5,
after falling through ice on the River Soar in
an attempt to save the family’s dog, who survived.
The children flagged down a car to get
help but were unable to pinpoint the spot
where Page disappeared.

Janet Norman, 51, of Reading,
England, died January 11 of hypothermia
after falling through ice while trying to save
her dog and spending two hours in the Thames
River. The dog survived.

Patrick Holden, 71, of Medford,
Massachusetts, died January 17 after falling
through ice in an apparent attempt to save his
shi-tzu, Moose, who was not found.

James Simenson, 51, of
Pemberton Township, Pennsylvania, not
waiting for his wife Lisa to bring a safety
rope, died January 21 when he rescued his
dog, who fell through ice on Rancocas Creek,
only to fall through himself.

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