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The Daily Goodbye

Patricia Sullivan

Good morning.

Some cult leaders are ridiculous, and others are just sad, but few are as successful as Elizabeth Clare Prophet, or "Guru Ma," spiritual leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant. Outsiders looking in saw a dangerous collection of people and guns who didn't trust outsiders, willing to believe nuclear annihilation was on its way.

Howard Unruh killed 13 of his neighbors in East Camden, N.J. in 1949. A paranoid schizophrenic, he told police "I'm no psycho." He was never found competent to stand trial after the killing spree and spent the rest of his life in a mental hopsital. He died Monday.

Let's turn away from the bizarre and criminal. Helen Henry spent the majority of her 89 years working and protesting for the rights of the dispossessed, the overlooked and the downtrodden. Even into her 80s she was marching with the American Indian Coalition. She died Sept. 26.

The British papers are full of obits for Sir Ludovic Kennedy, who fought unjust convictions and campaigned for legalization of euthanasia, died Oct. 18.

In Australia, Graeme ''Woody'' Gooding, a forest professional who was intensely passionate about conserving the Australian bush while using it wisely, has died of cancer at a hospice in Kew. He was 55.

Andy MacKenzie, Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, was shot down -- twice -- by friendly fire in two wars. He also spent 24 months in a harsh Chinese prison where "Every minute was an hour and every hour was a day and every day was a week. Nobody knew I was still alive. Every day, [the Chinese] reminded me they could shoot me and nobody would know the difference." He died of cancer in Kemptville, Ont., on Sept. 21.

This next two obits appear here thanks to Matthew Kruk and the community at alt.obits newsgroup: The Akuntsu tribe in the Brazilian Amazon has lost its oldest member, UrurĂº, leaving the tribe with only five surviving members, according to a New Zealand news source. Unrelated: The Iowa doctor who perfected a non-surgical treatment for clubfoot in infants has also died.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  October 20, 2009; 8:15 AM ET
Categories:  Patricia Sullivan , The Daily Goodbye  
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Next: 'Dr. No' Dies


The New York Times won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the Howard Unruh story:

Posted by: rosebudpeas | October 20, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

No kidding! I wasn't aware of that so thanks for the information and the link.

Posted by: Patricia Sullivan | October 20, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

My search for a spiritual path that included the universal truths common to all religions led me to The Summit Lighthouse and Elizabeth Clare Prophet. Mrs. Prophet dedicated her life's energies to helping others. It is a shame to focus on what can be seen as bazaar events rather than the whole story and the benefits so very many received from her teachings and the organization.

Posted by: sallygoodell | October 22, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

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