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The Daily Goodbye

Patricia Sullivan

Good morning! My desk may be a mess, but I'm looking at leafed-out flowering trees and blue skies. Life is worth living, as friends and relatives of any of the following people will tell you, as will the Spanish businessman who faked his own death to avoid heavy debts.

Blossom where you are planted, goes the old saying, and Roland Pitschel helped restore the blooms to Bernal Heights in San Francisco. He and his wife spent thousands of volunteer hours over the last 30 years restoring the slopes with California poppies, iris, lupine and the countless wildflowers that make northern California so beautiful.

Far be it from this D.C. resident to wade into the rivalries of Texas versus North Carolina versus Memphis versus Kansas City barbecue. George Salih, who ran a popular barbecue restaurant in Dallas, had his defenders; Solly's may have been the first cafeteria-style barbecue restaurant and it didn't have sawdust on the floor, and it featured a mural that ran down the cafeteria line. "It was very classy in its day," said Salih's son.

One of the three or four of the best teachers at a pretty fine university, Dr. Freda Rebelsky adopted some pretty innovative techniques at Boston University. She hired a student who had gotten a good grade the previous semester to sit in the front of her class and take notes. Then she'd make copies and distribute them to her students so they could sit in the class and listen and participate in the discussion, instead of burying their heads in their notebooks. Seven years after she joined the faculty in 1962, 400 students signed up for an 8 a.m. class she taught in child psychology. For lack of space, another 100 were turned away.

Florence Emde got off the back of a motorcycle in the 1960s, but her life revolved around them. She was the matriarch of a prize-winning motorcycle-racing family and former co-owner of one of the top motorcycle retail businesses in San Diego County. But the story fails to provide a photo of this motorcycle mama.

We have an affection for intellectuals and scientists, perhaps because of our own imperfect attempts at both fields. Jean Jones was one who succeeded. Aside from her primary occupation as a historian of science, she was an expert on literature, from Beowulf and the Sagas to the complete novels of Anthony Trollope, Patrick O'Brian and African writers of the 1960s. She was also a musician, an accomplished horsewoman and competitive sportswoman.

Two questions for the readers this morning. There are many original and well-written obits of guitar pioneer Les Paul today, as happens whenever a person of world renown dies. Are you interested in links to them all, or a non-scientific reader poll of which ones are best, or my choices for the best-written ones, or do you prefer to nominate the best yourself? Comment below.

Second Q: We're thinking about doing a video blog of this blog series (The Daily Goodbye, within PostMortem). Worthwhile or no? Would you prefer a podcast? Is it important to you to get it first thing in the morning, or is later in the day sufficient? Please speak up, as your opinions will be a major factor in our decision-making. If you're too shy to post publicly, e-mail me with "PostMortem" in the subject line.

By Patricia Sullivan |  August 14, 2009; 8:04 AM ET  | Category:  Patricia Sullivan , The Daily Goodbye
Previous: Les Paul Dies at 94; updated | Next: Kenneth Bacon, 64

Comments

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Photo of Florence Emde here: http://www.roadracerx.com/news/florence-emde-1919-2009/

Re: links to Les Pauls obits: don't bother. They're easy to find.

Re: video blog: sounds like a good idea. Time-of-day isn't important. Being able to play it under Linux/Firefox is important.

Posted by: sparge1 | August 14, 2009 11:08 AM

I would rather hear about the unknowns. The people who really make it happen.

Posted by: LTPitzer | August 14, 2009 11:21 AM

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