A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In Memoriam

A few recent passings that I feel obligated to note.

Andreas Voutsinas

Somewhere in our obsession with whether or not Lindsay Lohan fell off the wagon while on probation, the majority of American media outlets overlooked the death of Greek stage director Andreas Voutsinas on June 8. His name won’t ring a bell with many film and theater fans today, but his work as a stage director and actor's mentor was widely influential. How influential? Consider this short list of the actors he taught: Jane Fonda, Faye Dunaway, Warren Beatty and Anne Bancroft.

His association with Bancroft led him to being cast as Carmen Ghia in Mel Brooks' 1968 landmark comedy The Producers. It was a small role – one short scene – but what a scene! He made the most of his few minutes, stealing attention from the likes of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. God bless you, Mr. Voutsinas, for one of the most memorable comic performances in American film history. White white white is the color of our carpet...

Mary Kenny Badami

This one is much more personal and closer to home.

Dr. Badami was one of my college professors as I made my way through the Masters program in Communication Studies at Bloomsburg University (circa 1985-87). During a long teaching career, mostly at Bloomsburg, Mary demonstrated a dedication to her students and a keen interest in intercultural communications — particularly in gender and gay issues. As a consultant, she traveled to the Grand Canyon on a regular basis and conducted many seminars for the Park Service.

I can vouch for her personal dedication to her students. She served as my master’s thesis chairperson and was willing to meet anytime to discuss my progress. One of these meetings took place at a restaurant halfway between us during a snowstorm that left six inches of frozen precipitation on the country roads. Both of us were either very dedicated or very crazy to venture out from our homes on that day.

Once, when I took one of her gender communications classes, I proposed a critical survey of feminist ideas in pop music for my term paper. In my proposal, I directed the reader to a “Comprehensive List of Popular Rock and Roll Songs Containing Feminist Themes”. Mary followed my directions and was confronted with a blank page! (Yes, I’m a wiseass from way back.) She laughed so loud that she scared her cats out of a sound afternoon snooze and probably a few of their nine lives.

The cats, Mercury and Shadow, would get their revenge. Later in the semester, Mary had several of her students papers spread out in front of her when one of her cats came in from outdoors and, somehow finding my paper among them, brought up a hairball on it. We both laughed at this story when she told me about it.

In her retirement years, which she liked to brag about enjoying, she visited her grandchildren as often as she could. Mary told me that she was known to them as Grand Mary, since the title of grandmother was already taken by her son’s mother-in-law. Somehow the title fits her beyond her family role. She was indeed grand in so many ways.

Mary is survived by a son, a daughter, several grandchildren and a wide circle of supportive caring friends who will – hopefully — continue her work in improving communications amongst all of us still in the world. I will miss hoisting a beer or two with her. Bloomsburg will never be the same again!

(Thank you for reading.)


Anonymous Karen Ann Snider said...

I am the woman who named Mercury. I am in deep grief. Mary Kenny was a great teacher who valued teaching above all else.Thank you for what you wrote about her. I appreciate knowing that she has touched so many.

June 16, 2010 at 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Todd, for this tribute to my mother-in-law. You so nicely captured the Mary (or GrandMary as she is known to my kids) we knew and loved.

June 23, 2010 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Michelle Appel said...

I found this when looking for more information on Dr. Badami's death. She changed my life when I was a student at Bloomsburg in the late 1980s. She taught a University Scholars course in which I was enrolled and then continued to be a gentle, guiding and safe presence for me as I worked my way into adulthood. I often think of her (in fact, I was just discussing her course and her impact on my life last week - not knowing she had passed away).

The world was a better place because she was in it. MY world is a far better place because of her kind spirit.

June 29, 2010 at 8:53 PM  

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