Edward T. Thompson

Edward T., of North Salem, NY, worldwide editor of Reader’s Digest (RD) in the 1970s and 80s, died with family at his side February 13, 2018 on his 90th birthday.

He created a new and exciting chapter in the history of RD by launching the magazine into serious investigative journalism, expanding the international editions and increasing assignments for original articles. In addition to those from dear friends who were members of his U.S. editorial team, birthday greetings came from friends and colleagues in Australia, France, Japan, India, Canada, Switzerland, South America, and South Africa.

The son of Marguerite Maxam and Edward Kramer Thompson, Ed was born in Milwaukee, WI, on February 13, 1928. Soon after the family moved to New York, Ed was enrolled at the Lawrenceville School. He credits Lawrenceville with teaching him how to think and, next, MIT for teaching him how to share a broken down car with five zany fraternity brothers.  While at MIT, Ed was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

After a brief career in chemical engineering, Ed followed his instincts (and family talent and tradition: his father was managing editor of Life and founding editor of Smithsonian) to the world of journalism, first as a writer for McGraw Hill publications, then Fortune. He joined Reader’s Digest in 1960, where founder DeWitt Wallace chose him to run the magazine in 1976. After leaving the Digest, he was involved in several publishing ventures and was a consultant on projects for Jann Wenner. He served on the Visiting Committee at MIT and several boards.

An accomplished skier, he would rouse his reluctant five children to be first in the lift line at Stratton Mountain. Being an average golfer didn’t stop him from playing challenging courses all over the world, from a par three in Ulundi to Pebble Beach. The helm of the family trawler “Sea Legs” was one of his favorite places, and he loved taking family and friends from Maine to Miami without always paying attention to the Coast Guard weather forecasts. He loved traveling with children and grandchildren, country music, singing and playing guitar with his family, cooking elaborate meals and playing bridge.

When macular degeneration began to diminish his eyesight, this master of the printed world began to listen to recorded books and learned to remain on the computer with the help of Zoom Text — a mixed blessing for those on the receiving end of his joke and photo list.

Most important to Ed was his family: his wife, Susan; brother, Colin R. of Rockville, Maryland; and his five children: Edward T. (Agnes), Cresskill, NJ; Anne B., Bethesda, Maryland; Evan K., Cold Spring, NY; David S. (Carol) Culver City, CA and Julie Robison (Neal), Wallingford, CT. He adored his 12 grandchildren and one great-grand- daughter.

Dave Gerard

David ‘Dave’ Charles Gerard was a nationally syndicated cartoonist, creator of the Will-Yum and Citizen Smith series. He was also a freelance cartoonist for the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers and other similar magazines.

Robert Ketchum

Robert Ketchum is a landscape and nature photographer whose work has been noted for having strong messages towards advocacy for the environment. As an undergraduate he studied design, but soon he began to study history and in 1974 he received his M.F.A in photography.

Audubon magazine named him one of the top 100 people who shaped the 21st century environmental movement. Brother Ketchum was given the Master Series distinction by American Photo Magazine in 2010. He is one of four recipients of this honor and the only environmental photographer to earn it.

In 1989 Ketchum won the Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography given to him by the Sierra Club. On top of his accomplishments as a photographer, he is a renowned curator and a seven time published author.

Erich Kunzel

Erich Kunzel, Jr. was an American orchestra conductor, named the “Prince of Pops” by the Chicago Tribune. He conducted the Brown University Glee Club for at least two years, the Santa Fe Opera, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. He lead the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra (CPO), for 32 years and received the 2006 National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush.

In 1965, Kunzel began the country’s first winter pops series, the “8 O’Clock Pops”. When the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra board of trustees created the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra in 1977, Kunzel was named conductor. The Pops became the larger of Cincinnati’s two orchestras, as all of Max Rudolf’s symphony orchestra also played for the Pops year-round. At the invitation of Arthur Fiedler in 1970, Kunzel guest-conducted over 100 concerts with the Boston Pops Orchestra. He remained active with symphony, leading the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (as Principal Pops Conductor) from 1982 to 2002.

From the beginning, Kunzel strove to expand the Cincinnati Pops’ reach worldwide, with nearly 90 recordings on the Telarc label, most of which became bestsellers. His popular recordings of classical music, Broadway musicals, and movie scores topped worldwide crossover charts more than any other conductor or orchestra in the world.

The Cincinnati Pops were especially popular in Asia. The group toured Japan several times, starting in 1990. In 1998, Kunzel became the first American pops conductor to perform in China. Ten years later, he and the Cincinnati Pops were invited back to perform at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing; they were the only American orchestra to play at the event.

Kunzel made most of his classical music recordings as director of the Cincinnati Pops. However, he also made jazz recordings with Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, and other well-known artists. From the Capitol Building lawn, Kunzel conducted the National Symphony Orchestra every Memorial Day and Fourth of July from 1991 to 2009, in concerts televised nationwide on PBS. In 1987, his Aaron Copland: Lincoln Portrait (CD-80117) album with narration by Katharine Hepburn including Old American Songs sung by Sherrill Milnes received a Grammy nomination. Other Grammy nominations came in 1989 (A Disney Spectacular), 1991 (Meredith Willson’s The Music Man), and 1993 (Amen!–A Gospel Celebration). The album American Jubilee won the Grand Prix du Disque in 1989.

The conductor had a large influence on Cincinnati’s local music scene. In addition to conducting almost weekly subscription concerts with the Cincinnati Pops, he expanded the Pops program in 1984 to include a summer concert series at the newly built Riverbend Music Center on the banks of the Ohio River. He pushed for a new campus to house the city’s public School for Creative and Performing Arts. He invited many local performers, including children’s choruses and College-Conservatory students, to share the stage with the Pops.

Dan Moldea

Dan E. Moldea is a best-selling author and investigative journalist who has reported on organized crime and political corruption since 1974. He is the author of books about the rise and fall of Jimmy Hoffa, the contract killing of an Ohio businessman, the Mafia’s penetration of Hollywood, and its influence on professional football, as well as works about the murder of Senator Robert Kennedy, the O.J. Simpson case, and the suicide of White House Deputy Counsel Vincent Foster.

He received his bachelor’s degree in English and history from the University of Akron, where he served as student-body president. He did his post-graduate work at Kent State University, where he taught in the Honors and Experimental College. Moldea has lectured about “The Mafia in America” at colleges and universities throughout the country, and has appeared on numerous national and local radio and television programs. He was also featured in the 2004 film, The Hunting of the President. He is a former president of Washington Independent Writers (now American Independent Writers).

Reynolds Price

Over his career, Price produced 38 total novels, short stories, and memoirs. he is classified as a Southern writer, as his works are often especially associated with his lifelong home of North Carolina. Price’s first ever published story, called “A Chain of Love”, came in 1958. He wrote his first novel, A Long and Happy Life, and witnessed its publication in 1962. The work received the William Faulkner Foundation Award (1963) and has sold over a million copies. His 1986 novel Kate Vaiden also gained immense popularity and received the National Books Critics Circle Award.

Price composed a memoir entitled Clear Pictures in 1989 which directly led to the production of a Charles Guggenheim documentary about the author’s lifetime. He completed another memoir called A Whole New Life in 1994 which chronicled his journey after the discovery of cancer in his spine. The Collected Poems, containing four volumes of poetry – Vital Provisions (1982), The Laws of Ice (1986), The Use of Fire (1990), and The Unaccountable Worth of the World (1997) – was published in 1997.

Price entered the realm of pop culture with the release and Top-40 status of James Taylor’s song “Copperline,” which he and Taylor wrote together. Bill Clinton characterized Price as one of his favorite authors.

William Styron

Styron was an American novelist and essayist who won major literary awards for his work. He was best known for his novels, including: Lie Down in Darkness (1951), his acclaimed first work, published at age 26; The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), narrated by Nat Turner, the leader of an 1831 Virginian slave revolt; and Sophie’s Choice (1979), a story “told through the eyes of a young aspiring writer from the South, about a Polish Catholic survivor of Auschwitz and her brilliant but psychotic Jewish lover in postwar Brooklyn”.

In 1985, he suffered from his first serious bout with depression. When he emerged out from under this initial experience, Styron was able to write the memoir Darkness Visible (1990), the work he became best known for during the last two decades of his life.

Clinton Willour

Clinton T. Willour has served as curator at the Galveston Arts Center since 1990, in addition to operating as executive director from 1995 to 2004. Prior to that, he worked as an independent curator, owner, and director of private galleries in Houston.

Over the past 30 years, he has curated more than 60 exhibitions for profit and non-profit institutions. These include David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto; Tibor deNagy Gallery, New York City; Mattingly/Baker Gallery, Dallas; Glassell School of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Centro Cultural Borges, Buenos Aires; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Austin Museum of Art.

From 1980 to 2005, Willour was one of the most important benefactors of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX. Donating 976 photographs, prints, drawings, paintings, and sculptures to his name, the museum estimates the collection is currently worth about a million dollars.

Additionally, he has served as a juror for more than 50 exhibitions and competitions and has lectured and participated in panels and symposia throughout Texas and across the country.

Ray Baker

Ray Stannard Baker (also known by his pen name David Grayson) was an American journalist, historian, biographer, and author.

In 1898 Baker joined the staff of McClure’s, a pioneer muckraking magazine, and quickly rose to prominence along with Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell. He also dabbled in fiction, writing children’s stories for the magazine Youth’s Companion and a 9-volume series of stories about rural living in America, the first of which was titled “Adventures in Contentment” (1910) under his pseudonym David Grayson, which reached millions of readers worldwide.

In 1907 dissatisfied with the muckraker label, Baker, Steffens, and Tarbell left McClure’s and founded The American Magazine. In 1908 after the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot got him involved, Baker published the book Following the Color Line: An Account of Negro Citizenship in the American Democracy, becoming the first prominent journalist to examine America’s racial divide; it was extremely successful.

He followed up that work with numerous articles in the following decade.

In 1912, Baker supported the presidential candidacy of Woodrow Wilson, which led to a close relationship between the two men, and in 1918 Wilson sent Baker to Europe to study the war situation. During peace negotiations, Baker served as Wilson’s press secretary at Versailles. He eventually published 15 volumes about Wilson and internationalism, including the 6-volume The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (1925-1927) with William Edward Dodd, and the 8-volume Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters (1927–39), the last two volumes of which won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1940. He served as an adviser on Darryl F. Zanuck’s 1944 film Wilson.

Baker wrote three autobiographies, Native American (1941) , American Chronicle (1945) and Turtles (1943)

A dormitory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is named in honor of Baker, using his pen name David Grayson. David Grayson Elementary School in Waterford, Michigan is also named in his honor using his pen name.

Fletcher Benton

Fletcher Benton is an American sculptor and painter from San Francisco, California. Benton is widely known for his kinetic art as well as his large-scale steel abstract geometric sculptures. After graduating in 1956 with his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, Fletcher began his teaching career at the California College of Arts and Crafts. After three years he served as an instructor at the San Francisco Art Institute from 11964 to 1967 and has since been a professor as San Jose State University. Fletcher began exhibiting his art as early as 1961. Since, his sculptures, paintings, drawings and prints have been displayed in exhibits throughout America and in six other countries. Fletcher first gained recognitions as major Kinetic sculptor as well as his large-scale steel abstract geometric sculptures. In 2008, Fletcher Benton was a recipient of the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. In 1993 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Miami University at the Miami University Art Museum. And in 1995, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters by the University of Rio Grande, located in Gallia County, Ohio.

Works by Benton are in the permanent collections of the Denver Art Museum, CO; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; The Milwaukee Art Center, WI, New Orleans Museum of Art, LA; Oakland Museum and Sculpture Garden, CA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NY and other major museums, universities and corporations.