Human obituaries

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2005:

Leone Cosens, 52, a native of New
Zealand who moved with her husband Tim Cosens Jr.
to Phuket, Thailand, in 1992, on December 26
responded to a call from nine British guests that
water was flooding into the guesthouse the Cosens
ran at Yanui Beach, near Laem Phromthep. Unaware
that the high water was the result of a tsunami,
Leone Cosens apparently ran right into the
highest wave. Tim Cosens Sr., visiting from
Slidell, Louisiana, found her remains in a
nearby rice field the following day. Of the nine
guests Leone Cosens was trying to help, eight
survived, seven with serious injuries, while
one is still missing. A cofounder and former
director of the Phuket Animal Welfare Society,
“Leone was fired because she was treating and
sterilizing too many dogs! Wow, do we miss her!
I’m so incredibly sad!” e-mailed Margot Park,
founder of the Soi Dog Foundation, also in
Phuket. Recalled the Phuket Gazette, “Leone
worked with her Thai helpers selflessly,
tirelessly, and very often at her own expense,
to help strays in the south of the island, and
around Nai Harn Beach in particular. Leone
Cosens was also an outspoken critic of puppy
mills in the Phuket area, citing a “mounting
number of pedigree dogs appearing at veterinary
surgeries with signs of distemper, hip dysplasia
or calcium deficiencies” in a recent letter to
the Phuket Gazette.

Natacha Zana, 35, of Paris, France, a
cofounder of the anti-orca captivity organization
Les Orques AssociƩes and an active member of the
European Cetacean Society, was on a diving
holiday in Phi Phi, Thailand, when the December
26, 2004 tsunami hit. She is missing and
presumed deceased.

Ena Lagerstrom died on January 14, 2005
in Sweden. “Ena was a long-serving World Society
for the Protection of Animals board member and
was latterly one of our few honorary vice
presidents,” WSPA director general Peter Davies
told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “She had been in poor health
for a long time.”

Jerry Orbach, 69, died on Decem-ber 29,
2004 in New York City of prostate cancer. Orbach
debuted on the Broadway stage in a 1955
production of Threepenny Opera, was El Gallo in
the 1960 first production of The Fantasticks,
which became the longest-running Broadway musical
ever, won a Tony Award as best actor for his
performance in Promises, Promises (1968), and
in recent years was best known as Detective
Lennie Briscoe in the NBC series Law & Order.
“Orbach was a great friend of animals, donating
his time and talent to the Fund for animals to
help us shed light on numerous types of cruelty
to wildlife,” Fund president Mike Markarian
said, mentioning that Orbach narrated a public
service announcement for the Fund in opposition
to canned hunts, and “helped support numerous
animal protection bills in his home state of New

Thomas Stacy, 63, a vegetarian food
entrepreneur, died of a heart attack on December
31, 2004 in Minneapolis. Stacy invented the
“Oops! Scoop” in 1989, a cardboard device for
picking up dog messes, designed to be sold in
vending machines at off-leash dog parks, but his
most successful innovation was the Essential
Sandwich, introduced at the Minnesota State Fair
in 1991. Featuring a whole wheat tortilla,
beans, brown rice, and vegetables, it evolved
into the widely distributed Heathy Wrap
vegetarian sandwich.

Sylvia Taylor, 41, of Temple Terrace,
Florida, died suddenly on January 5, 2005.
Employed by the USDA Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service since obtaining her veterinary
degree from the University of Georgia in 1986,
Taylor in March 1997 was assigned to the
10-member APHIS Animal Care’s Primate Environment
Enhancement Team. The team produced the APHIS
primate care policy that has been in effect since
July 1999, 14 years after Congress mandated
psychological enrichment for captive nonhuman
primates through amendments to the Animal Welfare

Simon Combes, 64, was fatally gored by
a buffalo on December 12, 2004 while hiking with
his wife Kat and cheetah researcher Mary Wykstra
on Delamere’s Nose, a rock formation on Lord
Hugh Delamere’s private nature reserve in the
Rift Valley of Kenya. A retired Kenyan army
paratrooper, Combes rose to prominence as a
wildlife artist after a successful exhibition in
Nairobi in 1969. He won awards for excellence
from the Society of Animal Artists in 1990 and
the Pacific Rim Wildlife Art Show in 1994.
Combes had been chased by elephants, treed by a
rhino, and bitten by a Bengal tiger while
researching famed paintings such as “The Angry
One,” “Tension at Dawn,” and “Menace,” but said
the animal he feared most was humanity. Combes
was author of the best-selling books African
Experience (1990) and Great Cats (1998), and was
a board member of Friends of Conservation.

Mary Jane Nixon, 76, wife of acting
Danville (S.C.) animal control chief Ken Nixon,
died on December 15, 2004. Born Mary Jane Hogue
in Danville, she married high school classmate
Nixon in 1946, and moved with him to animal
control posts in Illinois, Colorado, and Iowa,
often serving as his unpaid assistant, before
returning to South Carolina in 1992, where Ken
Nixon headed the Spartanburg Humane Society until
retiring in 2001. Ken Nixon recently returned to
active animal control duty in Danville, where
his career began, substituting for his grandson
John Kenneth Williams. Williams, the current
animal control chief, was recalled with his
National Guard unit to serve in Iraq.

Norman Smith, 17, drowned on December
24, 2004 at a small lake in Miami while trying
to rescue a dog who became entangled in weeds.
The dog drowned as well. Smith and a 19-year-old
woman, whom police did not name, were watching
the dog for a neighbor. The woman also nearly
drowned but was pulled out by her stepfather,
who was unable to reach Smith in time.

Mike Hearn, 33, director of research
for the Save The Rhino Trust, drowned on January
19, 2005 at Swakop-mund, Namibia, when he
apparently suffered an epileptic fit while
surfing. Hearn, a British citizen, had worked
for the Save The Rhino Trust since 1992. He was
a member of the African Rhino Specialist Group
one of the 100-odd Specialist Groups that are
part of the Species Survival Commission, a
division of the World Conservation Union
(formerly called the International Union for the
Conservaton of Nature).

John Wienke, 59, died of cancer on
January 11, 2005 in New London, Wisconsin. A
hunter, Wienke was nonetheless among the six
cofounders of Wisconsin Citizens Concerned about
Cranes and Doves, formed in 1999 to oppose
efforts to legalize dove hunting in Wisconsin.
The group won an injunction in 2001 that blocked
the scheduled opening of a dove season until an
appellate court allowed dove hunting to proceed
in 2003. In April 2004 the Wisconsin Supreme
Court upheld the appellate ruling, finding that
the 1971 law designation of mourning doves as the
state symbol of peace was not meant to preclude
mourning dove hunting.

Tom Thorne, 63, and Beth Williams, 53,
of Albany, Wyoming, were killed on December 28
when their vehicle hit a jackknifed trailer in a
snowstorm near Virginia Dale, Colorado. A
husband and wife veterinary research team, they
were best known for investigations of brucellosis
and chronic wasting disease. Thorne, a retired
35-year employee of the Wyoming Game & Fish
Department, was acting director of the
department for nine months in 2002-2003.
Williams, teaching at the University of Wyoming
since 1982, received honors from the Wildlife
Disease Association in 1996 and from the Wyoming
Game Warden Association in 1999.

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