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The Daily Goodbye

Patricia Sullivan

Good morning, everyone.

Cuba's diva, mezzo-soprano Marta Perez, was the first Cuban to sing at Milan's La Scala opera house. You may have seen her on the Ed Sullivan show, unless you run in the La Scala circle. She died this week, at age 85.

Here's another musician you may have heard, although you didn't know it. Abe Torchinsky, a tubaist with the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini from 1946 to 1949, then with Eugene Ormandy's Philadelphia Orchestra from 1949 to 1972, an era of tremendous recording activity and a time when the orchestra's brass section was perhaps the most admired in the world. He too died this week.

There are shades of gray in every walk of life, despite what those sure of their own opinions will tell you. Yet some jobs require a definite answer, despite those too-close-to-call situations. I'm thinking of baseball umpire Frederick Brocklander, who called balls and strikes in the majors and minors for nearly 30 years. This Baltimore Sun story has a great anecdote about an angry manager in the Midwest League; I won't ruin it for you.

Dr. Andrew Willis White Jr., a physician from Menlo Park, Calif., did not have easy time gettng through school, much less medical school. As a child, he worked as a "yard boy." He rode his bicycle 17 miles a day to get to school. After winning a partial college scholarship, he couldn't afford the rest of the tuition, so he worked as a redcap and porter. World War II put him into the Army, and finally, with the GI Bill, he was able to go to Howard University. His wife, who landed a good job at the Library of Congress, put him through medical school at Howard. And at his death, people said that he was so attuned to the struggles of the poor that he once even accepted collard greens and barbecued food as payment for treating a patient.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  August 21, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Patricia Sullivan , The Daily Goodbye  
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