HUMAN OBITUARIES

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1997:

Jacques Cousteau, 87, died June
25. Often ill as a child, Cousteau swam for
his health near his home in St. Andre de
Cubzac, France. He first dived in 1920 on a
visit to Lake Harvey, Vermont, but only
began diving in earnest after a 1936 car crash
forced him to leave the French Naval
Academy flight school. With engineer Emile
Gagnan, Cousteau in 1943 invented the
aqualung and took up underwater filming,
earning the French Legion of Honor for antiNazi
espionage. In 1950 Cousteau bought the
minesweeper Calypso and re-equipped it as a
floating film and TV studio. The screen edition
of his first book, The Silent World
(1953), won the Grand Prize at the 1956
Cannes Film Festival and his first of three
Academy Awards. Cousteau initially touted
the oceans’ economic potential, but reinvented
himself as the world’s most prominent and
popular ecological crusader in The Living Sea
(1963) and World Without Sun (1965), along
with the ABC specials, The World of Jacques
Cousteau (1966) and The Undersea World of
Jacques Cousteau (1968). “The only creatures
on Earth who have bigger and maybe
better brains than humans are the Cetacea,


the whales and dolphins,” Cousteau often
repeated, sparking the “save the whales”
movement. “Perhaps they could one day tell
us something important, but it is unlikely that
we will hear it, because we are coldly, efficiently
and economically killing them off.”
As whale-saving grew into earth-saving,
Cousteau spoke out against the nuclear arms
race, noted often that human population had
quintupled within his lifetime, and encouraged
population planning but warned fellow
anti-population crusaders that becoming
involved in the abortion issue would be suicidal.
Forming the Cousteau Society, based in
Norfolk, Virginia, Cousteau and company
won 40 Emmy nominations for their PBS
series Cousteau Odyssey (1977) and Turner
Broadcasting System series, C o u s t e a u
Amazon (1984). In part due to his own success
in raising appreciation of the sacredness
of life, Cousteau took hits from the animal
rights movement in later years over aspects of
his early work, “We’ve learned since then,”
Cousteau acknowledged in a 1986 interview
with Louise B. Parks of the H o u s t o n
C h r o n i c l e. “It’s horrifying when I see what
we used to do. We didn’t know better. We
used to chase whales. Now when we spot the
whales, we stop and wait for them to come to
us. But we were learning. As we learned,
we helped create the legislation that tells people
how to behave toward mammals in the
sea. If you look at the law today and our
shows 15 years ago, we would go to jail.”
Denouncing the capture of cetaceans for
exhibit, Cousteau in 1991 opened the Parisbased
Parc Oceanique Cousteau, the world’s
first high-tech oceanarium without animals,
but by 1994 it was out of business, partly
because rapid advances in technology had
already rendered much of it obsolete.
Cousteau’s later years were saddened by the
1979 death of eldest son Philippe in a seaplane
crash, the 1990 death of first wife
Simone Melchior, and a bitter lawsuit against
second son Jean-Michel, 57, over use of the
Cousteau name in connection with a Fijian
resort. Cousteau also had two children,
Diane, 16, and Pierre-Yves, 14, with his
second wife, France Triplet.

George Wald, 90, Harvard biologist
who won the 1967 Nobel Prize in medicine
for discovering the biochemical reactions
that produce vision, died April 12 in
Cambridge, Massachsetts. A longtime advisor
to the Farm Animal Reform Movement,
Wald was “deeply involved in a number of
social issues, including peace, nuclear
power, and child and animal welfare,”
according to FARM president Alex Hershaft.

Gloria Blevins, 72, longtime
adoption counselor for the San Diego County
Department of Animal Control, who died in
April, was memorialized in June by an
anonymous gift of $100,000 to the shelter.
“Gloria had a passion for saving all the animals
she could, and in the end that number
reached into the thousands,” SDC/DAC
director Hector Cazares told media. Cazares
said the donor “is a strong supporter of this
department and sees this as seed money to
attract other donors, which would enable us
to make significant capital improvements.”

U.S. District Judge Charles R.
Richey, 73, died of cancer on March 20,
nine days short of six years after issuing perhaps
his most controversial decision, which
held that contrary to implementing regulations
issued by the USDA, Congress meant
the 1985 Improved Standards for Laboratory
Animals Act to apply to mice, rats, and
birds, who are the animals most commonly
used in biomedical research, as well as to primates,
dogs, and other species. The verdict
was later reversed on grounds the plaintiffs,
Animal Legal Defense Fund and three individuals,
had no standing to bring the case.
The 1985 Act still isn’t fully implemented.
On October 29, 1996, Richey issued a similar
verdict, again on behalf of ALDF, this
time striking down so-called “performance
standards” set by the USDA in lieu of firm
definitions. Performance standards, Richey
pointed out, have historically proved unenforceable.
This verdict too may be reversed
on the standing issue, as Richey was notably
more inclined to recognize the standing of
advocacy groups to sue on behalf of animals
than any other federal judge. Appointed to
the federal bench by former President Richard
Nixon in 1971, Richey within less than two
years presided over the first of the Watergate
cases to go to trial. He was remembered in
syndicated obituaries for verdicts that
“advanced the rights of women but curtailed
the powers of presidents,” but the Animal
Welfare Institute argued in a special appreciation
that he will be remembered longest “for
his magnificent series of landmark decisions
for the protection of animals,” also including
an order to the National Marine Fisheries
Service to enforce the Marine Mammal
Protection Act to prevent U.S. boats from netting
tuna “on dolphin.” Commenced one of
Richey’s AWA verdicts, “At the outset, the
Court shall state the following: This case
involves animals, a subject that should be of
great importance to all mankind.”

William Collins, 67, father of
Timothy Collins, the newly elected Member
of Parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale,
died May 24 when he tried to pull his
Labrador retriever from a pond that unknown
to him had been electrified by a faulty pump,
and was himself electrocuted. Collins owned
and ran the Hobbs Cross equestrian center.

Hans Suskind, 90, Holocaust survivor
and cat rescuer, died May 17 in
Okeechobee, Florida, leaving most of his
$250,000 estate to the Okeechobee Rehabilitative
Center for use in cat care. “Suskind had
no family,” the Miami Herald remembered.
“He fled Germany and Hollard before ending
up in Indianapolis, where he was a door-todoor
salesman and kept a cat. After he retired
to Okeechobee, his cat died. But he got
another, who started a small colony of felines
on the bank of a canal where Suskind lived.
When he could no longer care for himself and
his cats, Suskind entered a nursing home.
While he was there, a woman who cared for
his property called animal control and had the
cats picked up. They were put to sleep at the
Okeechobee Rehabilitative Center.”

Christina Bauer, 87, artist and
jeweler, of Keene, New Hampshire, died in
February 1996, noted for longtime service to
the Monadnock Humane Society as a volunteer,
board member, and frequent donor of
paintings, auctioned to raise funds. Her
biggest gift, however, her $111,000 estate,
was only disclosed on May 1, 1997.

Juan Alvarez, 19, a park worker
in Yakima, Washington, drowned on May
31 while trying to rescue a duck who had
become tangled in fishing line at the children’s
fishing pond in Sportsman Park.

Richard A. Baker, 18, of St.
Peters, Missouri, was electrocuted on June
6, the day after he graduated from high
school as class president, when he lifted a
30-foot aluminum irrigation pipe to free a
rabbit who had become trapped inside and
one end of it touched a power line.

Mary McCarthy Dotts, 91, manager
of the Delaware County SPCA for 50
years, assisted by her late husband Horace T.
Dotts, died June 17 in Media, Pennsylvania.
Horace Dotts died in 1976.

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