Obituaries [December 2001]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2001:

Human obituaries

Lewis Robert Plumb, 78, died on December 9, 2001, in Sacramento, California. A professor of physics for 26 years at
Chico State University, Plumb and his late wife Charlotte cofounded the Promoting Animal Welfare Society in Paradise, California, during the early 1980s, funding their work with a thrift shop. An avid statistical analyst, Plumb often contributed ideas and data to ANIMAL PEOPLE. Wrote Richard Avanzino, longtime president of the San Francisco SPCA and now executive director of Maddie’s Fund, “Bob and I spent many hours on the phone together hashing over ideas to save lives. Bob was really ahead of the curve in his efforts to design a mathematical formula to evaluate the success of spaying and neutering. I thought the world of him.” Plumb did not just advocate what his data showed; he also put serious money into proving the efficacy of subsidized sterilization and neuter/return. “If I were to run the numbers,” said Emily Jane Williams, the current PAWS president, “I’m sure more than 100,000 cats and dogs were not born into suffering because of his efforts to help Butte County low-income residents to fix their pets. To them, Bob Plumb was Santa Claus.”

Colin Smith, 60, died in September 2001. Starting work with the National Anti-Vivisection Society of the U.K. at age 16, Smith for some years edited the NAVS-U.K. journal, The Animal Defender, and then served 10 years as NAVS-U.K. general secretary. In 1973 Smith founded the Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research, a division of HAVS-U.K., recalled Australian Association for Humane Research president Elizabeth Ahlston, and in 1984 organized “the first major international conference on ‘Religious Perspectives on the Use of Animals in Science.’ Smith later cofounded the
International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals, known for helping to fund new antivivisection groups in Africa, Korea, and eastern Europe. Smith had recently visited Pakistan to encourage pro-animal activism there.

Peter Blake, 53, was killed in a shootout with pirates on December 5 as his yacht Seamaster lay at anchor near the mouth of the Amazon. The Seamaster was previously the Cousteau Society research ketch Antarctic Explorer. The captain of New Zealand vessels that twice won the America’s Cup, Blake was formerly head of expeditions for the Cousteau Society and was designated successor to founder Jacques Cousteau, but resigned in favor of Cousteau’s widow, Francine Cousteau. Blake bought the Sea-master from the Society to continue leading private research voyages. Ricardo Tavares Collares, 23, is charged with his murder. Six alleged accomplices were also arrested.

John E. Olson, 49, Jerry Open-shaw, 34, and Roger Small, of Marysvale, Clinton, and Roosevelt, Utah, were killed on December 27 while trying to rescue a moose from thin ice at the Mountain Dell Reservoir near Salt Lake City, when the tail rotor of their helicopter struck a power line. The moose was among a herd of 15-20 whom the men were trying to relocate from deep snow in a box canyon. Pilot Olson and assistant Small worked for Helicopter Capture Services, along with Olson’s son, John Olson Jr., who had just been dropped off to help from below. Olson and John Zolezzi of
San Diego founded the firm in 1996 after working together as spotters for tuna boats. The parents and daughters of Openshaw, a Utah Department of Wildlife Resources biologist since 1998, were also watching the operation from the ground. Openshaw’s brother had been killed in a Coast Guard accident just three weeks earlier.

Joy Belsky, 56, died from breast cancer on December 14 in Portland, Oregon. Belsky studied wildlife in Africa for five years but was driven out by poachers. Back in the U.S., she worked as staff ecologist for first the Oregon Natural Resources Council and later the Oregon Natural Desert Association. “She published more than 45 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on African and North American grasslands, often blaming livestock for upsetting the
balance of plants and wildlife in the arid interior West,” wrote Michael Milstein of the Portland Oregonian. Belsky also helped lead the ultimately successful fight to keep the management of the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge from killing coyotes, instead of curtailing grazing, to stimulate the recovery of pronghorns.

Debbie Prasnicki, 47, was shot dead on December 1 by hunter Mike Berseth, 43, near her home in Stanley, Wisconsin, as she kicked a yellow ball along a public road to amuse her two dogs. “Prasnicki was a nurturing woman whose mothering instincts grew all the more acute during deer season. She hung bells on her pets to protect them from negligent hunters and forbade her two children, Rachel and Seth, from playing in the woods. Her walk with her dogs on December 1 was her first since the regular gun deer season ended on November 25. She was unaware that a special muzzleloader season had begun,” wrote Crocker Stephenson of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Joe Maniaci, 54, died on October 2, 2001. Maniaci was longtime animal control officer for Macomb County, Michigan, a volunteer firefighter, former mayor of Richmond Township, president of the Michigan Animal Control Officers Association, and vice president of the National Animal Control Association.

David Charlebois, a sustaining guardian of the Washington D.C. Humane Society, was first officer on American Air-lines flight 77, hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon on September 11.

David Arce, 36, a New York City firefighter known for “always bringing home stray cats and dogs,” according to his mother Margaret Arce, was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11.

David L.W. Fodor, 38, a former breeder and exhibitor of Rottweilers, including a national champion, who had turned to
rescuing shelter animals, was killed on September 11 while on duty as a volunteer floor fire warden at #2 World Trade Center.

Sondra Conaty Brace, 60, who with her husband David Brace kept 25 rescued cats at their home in Staten Island, was killed on September 11 at her insurance industry job in the World Trade Center.

Joe Lopes, a flight attendant on American Airlines flight 587, which crashed in the Rockaways on November 12, was honored at Christmas with the “Joe Lopes Celebration of Life Tree” and a horseback caroling expedition led by friend and coworker Gloria Smith to raise funds for the Angel’s Gate Hospice & Rehabilitation Center for Animals, one of his favorite charities.

Joseph Yon, M.D., 65, who lived most of his life in Seattle, died on December 5 while trying to rescue his German
shepherd mix Jake from a freezing canal near a home he and his wife had just rented in Scottsdale, Arizona. Jake survived.

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