Human Obituaries

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2002:

Astrid Lindgren, 94, died on January 28 in her sleep after
a brief viral illness, at home in Stockholm, Sweden. Born Astrid
Ericsson, the daughter of a farmer in Smaaland, Lindgren at age 19
scandalized her home town of Vimmerby by becoming pregnant out of
wedlock, and fled to Stockholm, where she gave birth to a son,
Lars, who died in 1986. She supported herself at office work,
married Sture Lindgren in 1931, and in 1934 birthed her daughter,
Karen Nyman, for whom she invented the storybook character Pippi
Longstocking. Described as “the strongest girl in the world,” who
feared nothing, Longstocking lived with a horse named Alfonso and a
monkey named Mr. Nilsson. She had no parents at home, but kept a
stash of gold coins left by her sea captain father, and defied the
conventions of children’s literary role models in almost every way.

The first publisher to whom Lindgren sent the original Pippi
Longstocking book turned it down, but Lindgren meanwhile placed
another highly successful children’s book with a different publisher,
in 1944, and then enjoyed an enduring smash hit with Pippi
Longstocking in 1945. She went on to write more than 100 novels,
short stories, poetry collections, and screenplays, mostly after
she was widowed in 1952, and inspired the creation of a theme park
in Vimmerby, opened in 1989, that attracts 300,000 visitors per
year. By the early 1970s sociologists credited Pippi Longstocking
with transforming the culture of Europe by giving the Baby Boom
generation a freethinking, egalitarian role model, who embodied
positive “American” traits within a European identity. Young
Americans accepted her with equal enthusiasm. Always fond of
animals, Lindgren took up a crusade against factory farming in her
seventies. “Swedish farmers still speak contemptuously of ‘Astrid
Lindgren’s Law,’ allegedly a gift from the government for her 80th
birthday,” London Independent correspondent Imre Karacs wrote in
March 2001, “but some concede that she was on the right track.
Lindgren forced Sweden to abandon the farming methods that have
brought hellfire to the fields of Europe,” in the form of mass
destruction of livestock infected with mad cow disease and
hoof-and-mouth disease. Stipulations in the Lindgren Law have left
Sweden as the only European nation which has not yet had a case of
mad cow disease. The Lindgren Law also bans the use of antibiotics
and hormones to promote livestock growth, guarantees cattle the
chance to graze outdoors, bans battery cages and farrowing crates,
and prohibits cutting the tails off of pigs so that they can be kept
in close confinement without hurting each other. Already the
recipient of countless prestigious literary prizes, Lindgren in 1988
won the Albert Schweitzer Medal from the Animal Welfare Institute.

Jim Lewallen, 43, president of Florida Voices for Animals
since 1990, reportedly died by suicide on January 8 in St.
Petersburg, Florida. The father of two vegetarian daughters,
recalled longtime friend Marilyn Weaver, Lewallen “began his
involvement with animal rights after seeing a World Day for Animals
in Laboratories demonstration at the University of South Florida in
1988. His forte was advertising, through billboards, movie theatre
ads, airplane banners, and TV spots. Despite his preference to
avoid public speaking, he was the FVA media spokesperson and hosted
the local animal rights TV show. He was the animal rights attendee
at the USF laboratory medical ethics committee meetings, frequently
eliciting a conscience in the researchers. He also fed and
sterilized several feral cat colonies in the Tampa Bay area, and had
just finished a book about animal rights.”
Thomas Sebeok, 81, died of leukemia on December 21 at his
home in Bloomington, Indiana. A longtime Indiana University
professor of semiotics, the study of signs and symbols, Sebeok
wrote Speaking of Apes (1979), “debunking” the reported success of
experiments with teaching great apes such as the chimpanzees Nim
Chimsky and Washoe and the gorilla Koko to use sign language.
Speaking of Apes appeared just as the biomedical research community
was becoming nervous about the growth of the animal rights movement.
His work was instrumental in terminating federal funding for language
research involving apes, which tended to raise public awareess of
their sentience and ability to suffer. Although Nim Chimpsky was
saved by the intervention of the Fund for Animals, Washoe was saved
when researcher Roger Fouts formed Friends of Washoe, and Koko was
saved when researcher Francine Patterson formed the Gorilla
Foundation, other “talking” primates disappeared into the NIH
Regional Primate Research Center inventories, and are believed to
have perished in experiments.

Mbhekeni Ngubane, 32, a senior field ranger for
KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, was killed on January 25 in an exchange of
gunfire with Soweto police sergeant Thabo Dube, whom Ngubane and
senior field ranger Daniel Mbongwa, 34, caught with two companions
in the act of carrying a poached reedbuck. Mortally wounded,
Ngubane shot Dube dead. Mbongwa was wounded, and is believed to
have wounded a second poacher in return. Ngubane clubbed a third
poacher with his rifle butt before collapsing. The second and third
poachers fled, but one was reportedly later arrested.

Robert Guglielmo, 54, and Stephen Wilcox, 49, died on
January 26 after falling through the ice of Tillson Lake, near
Gardiner, New York, while attempting to rescue their two golden
retrievers, who survived. The men were housemates.

Ron Milstein, 54, of Queens, a longtime vegetarian animal
rights activist known for his calligraphic greeting cards bearing
pro-animal quotations from Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Leonardo da
Vinci, and others, was killed on September 11 at his job as a
temporary worker for Fiduciary Trust at 2 World Trade Center.

Matthew Williams, 12, died of smoke inhalation on January
13 in St. Paul, Minnesota, in a futile attempt to save his crated
basset hound Addy from a housefire.

Lance Loud, 50, died on December 22 from hepatis C at a Los
Angeles hospice. Shown “coming out” as a homosexual in the 1973 PBS
documentary An American Family, Loud led a New York City
rock-and-roll band, the Mumps, 1975-1980, worked as a freelance
reporter, and volunteered for various animal rescue groups, also
persuading his mother Pat and a sister, Michelle, to join him in
taking in stray cats.

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