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The Daily Goodbye

Patricia Sullivan

Good morning, veterans of all wars.

Is it an obit? John Muhammad was executed by the state (they call it a commonwealth) of Virginia last night. He was the sniper who paralyzed the Washington region for three weeks in 2002 as he and a young accomplice gunned down 10 people at random during a killing spree, and perhaps more in other areas of the nation.

We wonder if Pete Seeger himself has kept the banjo alive. Here's the obit for Banjo Fred Starner, a troubador of hoboes, who took up the five-stringed instrument after hearing a performance by Seeger.

Sam Conti, owner of a series of low-rent nightclubs, and one posh one, in San Francisco, died Monday at age 65. His string of brazenly salacious "encounter parlors" got him in hot water with the law, but he managed to recover and remain a character in the sketchy part of North Beach.

You can hide in the woods or you can hide in the city, but whoever heard of a former federal agent taking up a career in plain sight like television broadcasting? Tom Wassell, a special investigator for the FBI assigned to Chicago and Miami during the 1950s, left the agency to work in TV and became one of the most recognized anchormen in Atlanta.

Another death from those who were part of The Great Escape in World War II. John "Scruffy" Weir was in the hospital when his buddies began the tunnel crawl under Stalag Luft III so he managed to survive, until his death Sept. 20 of this year.

David Smith may have been a seminal figure at the University of Maine, as this obit says, but I'm most interested in the photo of him at work. You'll want to examine the large version.

Lovely story of a former Minneapolis Star-Tribune obit writer who fell in love with a source by phone and what happened next.


By Patricia Sullivan  |  November 11, 2009; 8:17 AM ET
Categories:  Patricia Sullivan , The Daily Goodbye  
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