NEAL CONAN, host:
This is Talk of the Nation. I am Neal Conan in Washington. Everybody knows about Paul Newman, Tim Russert, Betty Page, and Heath Ledger. Once a year, we take time to remember people whose obituaries did not make the front page but who deeply affected the lives of those they worked and played with. We've asked a few of our colleagues here at NPR to tell us about people they knew or knew about. They'll tell us about an Egyptian filmmaker, two pioneers of community networking, a reproductive rights activists, a basketball coach and later, Howard Zinn will join us to talk about the great broadcaster and oral historian Studs Terkel.
We also want to know someone you want to remember who died this past year. Someone you knew personally, professionally, otherwise tell us your story. Our phone number is 800-989-8255. Email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the conversation and find more tributes on our website. That's at npr.org just click on Talk of the Nation. We are already getting flooded with emails. This from Sharon in Wayne, Pennsylvania: I will remember by grandfather, Charles Art Thompson who died on January 15, 2008. Pop-pop was a World War II veteran who served as a Navy corps man on U.S.S. Pensacola. He was a true gentleman, a loving father, grandfather and great grandfather who is sorely missed by all his family. And this from Steven in Clarkesville, Tennessee: I recommend you remember Mary Garber, one of the first women sports journalist. Joining us here in Studio 3A is Neda Ulaby who reports on arts and cultural trends for NPR. Happy New Year thanks very much for coming in.
NEDA ULABY: Happy New Year.
CONAN: And who do want us to remember?
ULABY: Well I wanted to talk about Youssef Chahine, who is one of the greats of Egyptian filmmaking. He was born in 1926 when Egypt was still a British colony and died this past July. And you know how you have books that you can't keep on your book because you keep giving them away. Youssef Chahine's "Destiny" is a movie like that, and it's hard because it expensive. It's a lot more expensive than a paper bag. But "Destiny" is one of my favorite movies, and it's just one example of Chahine's unbelievably rich career span - 50 years.
CONAN: I read a little bit you wrote for our website and you said, you know, most of his films have never been seen in this country.
ULABY: You know, a film festival here. You know, appreciation there. He was known outside of the United States. He got a lifetime achievement award at Cannes just I think, in 1997. He was a giant of world cinema but just someone who never really got a lot of traction here. And now I think is a really good moment for him, because people are interested now in the Arab culture, and the view he shows is not one that we see in the United States. It's subversive. It's playful. It's incredibly a humanistic and intellectual. And that he travels forward and backwards in time in many of his movies. He'll take you to 1789 during Napoleon's attempted conquest of Egypt. He'll take to the 12th century Andalusia. He'll take you to contemporary Cairo into really into, you know, the depths of urban poverty.
CONAN: Here he is talking about a film that he made in 1963 about a character we in the West know as Saladin and of course, known to Arabs as Salah ad-Din(ph).
Mr. YOUSSEF CHAHINE (Egyptian Film Director): The legend will not go away easily. It triggers the feeling of pride. The feeling of strength when they go back and they say Salah ad-Din. They're trying to find somebody who's as honorable, as charitable, as tolerant, as great as Salah ad-Din. To cover the feeling of I feel measly. I feel I'm nothing.
CONAN: And you mentioned going back and forth in time - that picture not only about the great enemy and friend of Richard Lyon Heart but also about Gamal Abdul Nasser, the president and dictator, fair enough to say, of Egypt.
Ms. ULABY: What Chahine loved to do and what he's very subversive about was taking figures like this and showing how they would reflect on moments of today so in the movie "Destiny", for example, the movie that I care about so very much. It's set in the 12th century, but it's a movie that is a cry against fundamentalism and for religious tolerance. What Chahine does is he shows movies about Arabs and Europeans getting along, about Jews and Muslims getting along having love affairs. In the 1940s, he shows gay relationships. He shows a very blended world. One that -and one that he started to show way before it became fashionable to do so even in the West.
CONAN: Well, if you need to figure out how to spell his name to look up under Netflix or wherever it is you might be able to find some of his films, go to our website where Neda Ulaby has been kind enough to write a little appreciation of Youssef Chahine. Neda thank you so much for being with us today.
Ms. ULABY: Thank you, Neal.
CONAN: And have a great night.
Ms. ULABY: You too.
CONAN: All right. Let's see if we can get some listeners and have a conversation. Again we want to hear from those of you who want to want us all to remember somebody who passed away this past year. Somebody you knew personally, professionally, somebody you worked or played with, 800-989-8255. Email is email@example.com. And why don't we begin with Jill. Jill calling us from San Antonio.
JILL (Caller): Hi, it's Jill Dexter in San Antonio remembering the deep lived voice of my museum mentor Mildred Connie Constantine, the first woman curator of arts and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Friend, mentor, open-minded, social activist, left the grand dame of the design world.
CONAN: Had to have been a pretty impressive woman to be the first of that - of her type at the Museum of Modern Art.
JILL: Well, she was tough. She withstood anti-Semitism, prejudice against women, and she became a lifelong friend of the great architects of the world from Philip Johnson (unintelligible) to Legorreta in Mexico City. She knew Trotsky. She hung out with Freda Kahlo and Diego in the '30s in Mexico. And she died at 95 and a half, three weeks ago.
CONAN: It sounds like it's a life many of us could envy.
JILL: Well, I sat in her lap many times - laugh, cried, exchanged ideas, and I know that I share this magnificent memory with many, many people in the museum world.
CONAN: Well, Jill, thank you very much for suggesting that we remember her.
JILL: Thank you so much for the opportunity.
CONAN: Good night. Let's see if we can go now to this is if I can find the right button, John. John with us from Berkeley in California.
JOHN (Caller): Yes, Neal.
CONAN: Hi, there you're on the air. Go ahead please.
JOHN: Thank you. I would like to remember my mother who died in April of this year at the age of 98 and a half. She knew everyone who came to her right up to the end and she was a nurse for 44 years.
CONAN: What kind of nurse?
JOHN: She was a registered nurse. The last 27 years of her career she was the head of the outpatient department at the children's hospital in Oakland. And she was - well, a lot of senior nurses now owe their careers to her training. And they told her, Mrs. Bee, we really hated you back then. You were tough, but you were fair. And we love you for it.
CONAN: And those kinds of people leave a broad legacy of people who were trained underneath them.
JOHN: Indeed they do, and I consider my mother one of the great women of the 20th century.
CONAN: John thanks for the opportunity to introduce her.
JOHN: My pleasure, thank you Neal.
CONAN: Bye-bye. And here's an email that we have from Sat in Framingham, Massachusetts. We lost an amazing person this year. A 31-year-old former Medway resident who was a specialist in the politics and culture of Afghanistan killed by a roadside bomb in a remote region of that country along with two U.S. soldiers on Wednesday, Michael Batia of Brown University graduate and doctoral candidate at Oxford University in England. He'd been in Afghanistan since November helping the armies 82nd Airborne Division to understand the country's tribal customs. He is among a handful of academics who have partnered with the U.S. military in so called human terrain teams to established peace in Afghanistan and Iraq. And I think that Sat (unintelligible) in Framingham forward us that first paragraph of an obit that was published on the Boston Globe so we thank him. And for that let's see if we can get another caller on the line. And let's go to James. James with us from Denver.
JAMES (Caller): Yes, hello. I'd like to remember Gilbert Harrison who was my father. He was the editor-in-chief of the New Republic Magazine for 20 years from 1956 or so into the mid-70s and obviously had a fabulous and interesting career in the midst of Vietnam War and the civil rights era. He was actively involved in all of that. But one of his best stories was one I just came across recently. He was one of the first two people in World War II enter Nagasaki after the bombing along with George Weller who was a correspondent from the Chicago-Sun Times I believe it was. And I just came across recently his contemporaneous accounts of his visit to Nagasaki. Very, very compelling very you know, frightening in some ways. And those have now been shipped off to the archives of the Library of Congress.
CONAN: And as the - I'm just doing the dates in my mind. He's been an editor who lured me to subscribe to the New Republic all those years ago.
JAMES: Well, that certainly could be. He lured a number a people to subscribe, and he had a very close group of friends from that whole era. It was really a remarkable group, and I sort of grew up in the midst of those people, and they were fascinating.
CONAN: Well, thank you for calling up to remind us about your dad.
JAMES: OK, we'll thank you.
CONAN: James, have a happy new year.
JAMES: OK, you too. Bye-bye
CONAN: Bye-bye. Let see if we can go now to David. David with us from Austin, Texas.
DAVID (Caller): Hello, good afternoon. How are you?
CONAN: I'm good.
DAVID: Yeah, I was - my dad, too. There's a lot of dads I bet you're going to get today, but he died in June. He was 90. He was also at World War II and at one point was a replacement player for Glenn Miller in the army in the first army band - played clarinet for Glen Miller during the World War two for a while.
CONAN: Wasn't that an air corps band, an army air corps band?
DAVID: Yes, army air corps band I believe.
DAVID: And he was actually waiting in France to replace somebody the night that Glenn Miller went down so...
CONAN: That's the famous...
DAVID: We have a lot of interesting stories about that.
CONAN: Like what?
DAVID: Oh, just traveling around with the how he - he wasn't full-time. He was just the replacement call and have to go to where ever they were then have to turn around and go back to the TV station. Anyway, he was just - it sounded like an interesting time.
CONAN: It's sounded like playing clarinet was more interesting than whatever else he was doing for the Army air corps.
DAVID: Yeah, he was a - he was very good horn player so...
CONAN: Did he play...
DAVID: And a lot of other great things, too.
CONAN: Did you ever hear him play the clarinet?
DAVID: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. In fact, back - oh gosh, before my mom died we had gotten him a new clarinet for Christmas, and he did a concert which was just really neat. .
CONAN: String of pearls and Pennsylvania six 5,000 and all those...
DAVID: Yeah, and Benny Goodman all the other stuff you need and a lot of it.
CONAN: What did you father do? Did he make a living with clarinet after he got back from war?
DAVID: Oh, no, no. He was businessman, and he ran our family business and did really well in it making Western Wear.
CONAN: Making Western Wear?
DAVID: Yes, as a matter of fact(ph).
CONAN: And did you take over the store?
DAVID: No, I went in the ministry. My cousin did.
CONAN: All right. Well, as long as it's still in the family, David.
CONA: Thanks very much for remembering your father.
DAVID: All right. Bye-bye.
CONAN: Bye-bye. We are remembering people whose we lost in 2008, people whose contributions made an impact on our way we live and the way see, hear, and interpret the word. Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us firstname.lastname@example.org. When we come back we'll be talking about two men who, well, helped community networking get underway in this country and we lost them year. So stay tuned for more on that. I'm Neal Conan. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News. This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. This is hour we're celebrating the lives of people who died in 2008 - people whose deaths may not have made the front page but whose lives made a big impact. As we put together our look at some these people, we're asking you who you would like to remember? 800-989-8255 is the phone number. Email us, email@example.com. You can also join the conversation our website that's at npr.org. Just click on Talk of the Nation. Andy Carvin is NPR senior strategist for online communities, and he joins us here in Studio 3A. Andy, nice to have you back on the program. Happy New Year.
ANDY CARVIN: Thanks for having me, Neal.
CONAN: And I know you wanted to remember two men who were working in community networking. First of all, in telling us about them, tell us about what they did.
CARVIN: Well, the Internet has been around for a long time, and it's easy to forget its history. It goes all the way back to 1960s, but it wasn't really until the early 90s that it stared coming to its own. And part of that was because there were volunteers and advocates out there who were trying to set up Internet access in communities all over the country. These were librarians, and teachers and volunteers, people who saw that the Internet had a potential to improve the lives people. And two of the most of important pioneers in that movement unfortunately died this past year.
CONAN: One of them a journalist by the name of Steve Snow.
CARVIN: Yeah, in fact he died just this past weekend at the age of 60, apparently of heart attack. For many years, he was a journalist, an editor, and columnist at the Charlotte News & Observer. And then in mid-90's he decide to change his career as he became fascinated by the Internet and created a local project called Charlotte's Web. He helped thousands of low-income individuals in that community go online for the first time and develop new skills. These were people in homeless shelters, people in low-income housing, people who only had access to libraries to get basic information. He was essentially a pied piper in that community for spreading the word on how the Internet could be used to improve people's lives.
CONAN: Charlotte - Charlotte's Web - how did he come up with a name like that?
CARVIN: Yeah, tell me about it.
CONAN: The other based in Silicon Valley, a man named Steve Sisler.
CARVIN: Right. Steve dedicated his entire life to helping spread knowledge and giving people the skills to gain knowledge. Way back in the 60's he was a peace corps volunteer working in Togo. He helped build schools there, a local - libraries there at local schools. But then in the late 70's and early 80's he started getting interested in online communities and later the Internet. And he worked at Apple running a project called Library of Tomorrow. And what he did was work with librarians and other people all over the country, and at certain times all over the world, to help them understand how libraries could really be some of the most important institutions for introducing Internet access and digital skills into their communities.
CONAN: And you knew him.
CARVIN: I knew both of them actually. In fact, I met both of them at the same - on the same occasion at an event in New Mexico back - about 12, 13 years ago. It was a group of people getting together to try to figure out how they could make all of these local activities into a larger national, international movement. And they were two of the most important figures back then. Steve Sisler was - he was always very calm and thoughtful and level-headed and was able to explain the rational reasons for doing everything. Steve Snow, on the other hand, was passionate and boisterous and really wanted to dive in head first to get his hands dirty. And even though the two of them never partnered directly on an individual project, they were force to be reckoned with.
CONAN: And they - and their kind have created, it's fair to say, a new world.
CARVIN: Absolutely. You know, today we talk about things like social media and Facebook and Web 2.0. And even though some of those things are fairly new activities, none of this would have happened if it hadn't been for people like Steve Snow and Steve Sisler pushing the envelope for how communities could use these tools.
CONAN: Andy Carvin, thanks very much.
CARVIN: Thanks for having me.
CONAN: Andy Carvin, NPR senior strategist for online communities. He joined us this afternoon here in Studio 3A. And let's see if we can go to another caller. This is Lezia(ph). Lezia with us from St. Louis. I hope I'm pronouncing your name correctly.
LEZIA(ph) (Caller): All right, Neal. Thank you for taking my call. I appreciate it.
CONAN: Go ahead, please.
LEZIA: I have to run somewhere. I wanted to give honor to my father who is known as (unintelligible). It's also known as the Rose Man in St. Louis. He was on June 23rd in St. Louis. It was on front pages, and St. Louis was grieving (unintelligible) St. Louis night life. And he was shot by a stray bullet doing what he did best...
CONAN: Selling roses.
LEZIA: Selling roses.
CONAN: It sounds like it's one of those people in the community that just can't be replaced.
LEZIA: Um, no, and we're continuing with it since but - yeah, he is irreplaceable and whenever we've met other people (unintelligible) the word icons, legend comes to mind. And loved, very well loved. He knew that he was selling roses, but he also knew that he was selling love as well.
CONAN: Well, thank you, Lezia, and thank you. Will now remember the Rose Man of St. Louis. Appreciate it.
LEZIA: Thank you very much.
CONAN: Good night. Good afternoon. I have to remember what time of day it is. Let's go to Joe. Joe is with us from Bel Air in Maryland.
JOE (Caller): Hi. I'd like to remember my friend Bryan Norman. He's one of those people that I think just would ordinarily slip away without notice. If somebody didn't call and talked about it once and while. He was my son's teacher in high school. He was one of the most wonderful teachers in his ability to reach kids and teach them about the world outside the classroom. He had definitely unusual techniques on occasion, but he was also an Iraq war veteran. He had spent a lot of time in Afghanistan and Iraq and serving the country. Anybody that knew him he was just the most wonderful guy whose army buddies knew they could count on him. They're always saying that he was always - he would always protect them. My son and daughter whenever they'd go with him anywhere he was into drag racing and some other stuff and he was - but I never felt unsafe keeping my children's safety in his hands. He was a wonderful teacher, a great guy. Unfortunately he came back from his last tour with the PTSD, and he took his life - his own life about 10 days ago. We just buried him and we really miss him.
CONAN: I'm so sorry for your loss, Joe. He sounds like a wonderful man.
JOE: He really was.
CONAN: OK, thank you very much.
CONAN: Here's another soldier that was written to us about, from Lieutenant Lee Payne: I'd like to remember all the soldiers, U.S. coalition, Iraqi and Afghan who have died over the past year. 2008, showed the most significant increase violence in Afghanistan since 2001, even while violence in Iraq fell. I work closely with Muhammad Ibrahim, the executive officer of the 203rd Corps 3rd Brigade 5th (unintelligible) Battalion in the Afghan National Army. He wasn't the best officer I work with, but he certainly put effort into navigating the U.S. attempts to mentor his unit while keeping in mind the significant differences in our cultures and our lack of understanding the depth of problems within his country. And here's another email, this one from Kurt in Renton, Washington: Bob Labbiins(ph) was golf writer. You'd have to be interested in the history of the game to appreciate what a loss he was. He wrote the kind of books that would not make him rich. He had the talent for that, but what really enriched those who wanted to know more about golf than how to hit the ball. He was a wonderful generous fellow who was also - and courageous in the face of dying of ALS at a too young age. There really is nobody to fill his shoes. Joining us here on Studio 3A as NPR correspondent Brenda Wilson on our science desk. As always, Brenda, always nice to see you on the program.
BRENDA WILSON: Hello, Neal.
CONAN: Tell us about the person you'd like us to remember.
WILSON: It's Terry Bartlett, and Terry Bartlett was a reproductive health rights activist, which is a mouthful, I know. She had just recently left Population Action International. But this is a woman who started out in the 70's, shall we say, as a volunteer at a Planned Parenthood Organization right out of college in Nashville, Tennessee. Where I'm told that essentially the way she started out was washing dishes and, you know, sweeping floors and worked her way up to being you know the director of policy for Population Action International here in Washington before she left last year. But she continued that work. I guess one way of giving you an idea of who she really was, though is in some circles she was known as the Voice of Choice.
CONAN: The Voice of Choice.
WILSON: The Voice of Choice and emphasis on Voice. I mean, this was a woman with this husky southern - I mean, it was very thick. It was a very thick, it was not Magnolia. It was you know deep, deep Louisiana south or Tennessee south. Yes.
CONAN: And you've traveled with her.
WILSON: Yes. I was - in Ethiopia with her for three weeks. And you know as a reporter you're trying to just simply gather information and trying to maintain some level of, you know, openness. But this was a woman who is really passionate about the rights of women and how they control their own sexuality. And so, here I'm traveling with a group of women that Alice Walker would have been comfortable in. And I give you a good example. I was at a memorial service recently, and I'll tell you a story that was not unlike the story I heard there. We ended up at some little, small place in the middle of nowhere in Ethiopia. And we sort of, you know, put our bags down in our room. And I'm sort of looking around this room thinking, I'm not sure how I can manage to sleep through the night, and I thought I'm going to have to sleep in this hotel tonight without complaining. I'm going to need two or three stiff drinks, you know. So I tiptoed down the steps, and I head to the bar, and there's Terry of course. And we all proceed - all thinking the same thing. If we were going to make it through the night in this hotel, we're not going to do it too sober. Which was, I mean every - I mean the way her - she was memorialized was she insisted that everybody come together and have a party. That she did not want the big funeral. She wanted people to get together and just remember the good times. But what was really interesting I think, what is important about her is the way she - when I met her, she was trying to bring together, you know, both the family planning groups into the fight against HIV and AIDS, because essentially it's about reproduction and control of women's bodies.
CONAN: You mentioned the Voice, we're going to have a chance to hear that voice. I think there's an excerpt for one of the pieces that you did about her. Terry Bartlett describing what she saw as she traveled around the world.
Ms. TERRY BARTLETT (Women's Activist): You know, we travel around the world, and at the end of every dirt road, there's bottled water, a coca-cola, and a pack of Marlboros. Why can't we have a condom there too?
Ms. WILSON: I think that's a - and one of the things a lot of people who knew her was that she could be persuasive and convincing bringing people to an understanding of her position on this issue. I mean, she was very compelling about it - about the need for it. And she had seen things. And this - I mean I think part of it came from her experience starting out in Louisiana, New Orleans itself, where, you know, very strong Catholic territory with very strong ideas about the family and contraception, and that is one of the places she had to start from the ground up working with missionaries. To kind of persuade people to support the idea of contraception and family planning services for women there.
CONAN: Brenda Wilson, thanks very much. We appreciate it.
Ms. WILSON: Sure, thank you.
CONAN: Happy New Year to you.
Ms. WILSON: OK, thank you.
CONAN: Here's an email from Mike in Westborough, Massachusetts: I'm a facility manager at a small company in Westborough. Not long ago, there was a story about a facilities guy that worked at one of the shows at NPR. He had passed and his contributions to the show were recognized on the air. After hearing that story, I teared up a bit, although I did not know him. I am inspired by him. Small groups depend on each member's skills, smiles, and strengths. In some ways, we should all want to be remembered the way he was. It's about our good friend Gary Smith, who we all miss, too. Barbara Seaman died in February, aged 72 writes Sherry in Phoenix, Arizona. Her book "Free and Female" was on my bookshelf from high school on. One of the first people to speak out about the birth control pill and its safety. She helped make generations of women safer and healthier, and her work saved lives. Her passing earlier this year, and her work did not get the attention it deserved. We're remembering people who we lost in 2008. You're listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News. And let's go to John. John is with us from Jamestown, New York.
JOHN (Caller): Hi, Neal.
CONAN: Hi, John.
JOHN: Well, I'd like to remember Artie Traum. Artie Traum was absolutely one of the most brilliant guitarists I think that ever lived. He and his brother Happy Traum of course, starting out in Greenwich Village in the early 60s. Rolling Stones did almost a full page obit to Artie which is quite unusual when he passed away earlier this year. But I've got to say in the music business in the years that I've been involved, doing a little bit of traveling in plane and producing shows from doing one out to the Midwest, that he was one of the most gracious, kind-hearted, actual gentleman you will ever meet. And his talent was bigger than his warmth. Just a wonderful man, and if anyone out there has an interest in following up on Artie Traum's career, taking a look online and listening to some of the absolutely creative music from his acoustic days as a folk singer all the way through his jazz career will be absolutely impressed with his musicality. The man was just a brilliant guitar player and a very kind gentleman.
CONAN: I had the pleasure to meet Artie and Happy Traum back in the old days in New York many, many years ago. Weren't they at one point at Woodstock?
JOHN: Well, they lived in Woodstock. And Artie in fact lived in Woodstock when he passed - has had a home and kind of centered his career out of there. He and his wife Bev for many, many years, but I had the chance to first meet him actually at the - I think it was a 1978 Buffalo Folk Festival. And I was working with a group of old black gentlemen from Chicago called Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong who were an old string band. And I was playing guitar with them. And at the time - and I first met Artie and John Sebastian and a bunch of the folks from the Woodstock area at that point. But - and Artie and I just became friends over the years, probably saw each other a couple of times a year, at one show or another. And I had Artie involved in a number of shows I produced over the years as well. But I got to tell you, I mean you meet a million people in the music business on the road and in concerts, and some people have attitudes and kind of their image precedes them before they ever get into town. And Artie Traum would be - as if your brother were your best friend. I mean, you can't think of a kinder guy - just tremendous loss, both to the music business, but just to the planet as well, just a wonderful man.
CONAN: Thanks very much. I did not know that he had passed. I appreciate - I don't like the news but I appreciate hearing it.
JOHN: Well, thank you for the opportunity.
CONAN: OK, John, thanks very much.
CONAN: This is from Susie in Belton, Missouri: A small town veterinarian from Boonville, Missouri whose life in town and in church affected many people. She writes about Dr. Debbie Upum. She died this May at the age of 40 from cancer and left a husband and two small kids. This from Odette in Norman, Oklahoma: We lost Harvey Hisel just last week. He brought quality classical ballet to New Orleans in the 1960s, and worked continually since then to stage productions bringing world-class dancers and trained professional dancers in New Orleans. His company just staged the first post-Katrina production of "The Nutcracker." And let's see if we can get somebody in quickly. Let's go to Sherry. Sherry with us from Cincinnati.
SHERRY (Caller): Yes, hi. I'd like to recognize Dr. Irene Barbash, who passed away this year. She was 92. She was a very influential nature path and chiropractor working mostly in Northern Kentucky just across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio,- affected many, many people's lives in a very positive way, not only by her direct doctoring of them but also by her teaching. Many of the principles that she taught went back to her training in the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's from England and also in the U.S. And interestingly, I see so many of her principles now being espoused in contemporary diet books for example.
CONAN: Mm hmm.
SHERRY: So as I see her wisdom, kind of pervading and spreading, I just have to chuckle to myself and think well, you know, Dr. B, she was right. She was right on target even though her principles were not, you know, certainly she wasn't acting from the contemporary, you know. Spur of the moment information but rather from her many, many years of training and insights into how to keep people healthy.
CONAN: Sherry, thanks very much.
SHERIE: Thank you so much.
CONAN: Coming up, let's talk about more under-sung lives of 2008. Plus, we'll talk with Howard Zen about Stud Terkel, who dedicated his life to those who aren't heard as often. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News. This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Today, we're talking about people we lost in 2008 who may not have received enough public recognition. And here's an email that we got from Sherry in Fair Oaks, California: She lay against my body every night for 15 years providing a reassurance that all is well. Her elegant calico fur and jade eyes belied her down to earth style, we named her Vera after Stravinsky's wife, though he preferred the quiet rhythm of her constant purr. She passed away in May 2008. And this remembrance is for her. Well, joining us here on Studio 3A is Uri Berliner. He's the supervising senior editor at NPR's national desk and well, I know you also have a great interest in sports among the reporters and correspondents you supervises is NPR's sports reporting. So who do you want to tell us about?
URI BERLINER: Well, I'd like to talk about a college basketball coach named Don Haskins. He died in September. He was 78 years old. Don Haskins coached for 38 years at the University of Texas, at El Paso and was formally known as Texas Western. During that time he won 719 games. But he's really known for one single game.
CONAN: And that was against the University of Kentucky in the NCAA finals.
BELENER: It certainly was. His team, Texas Western, he was the first coach to play - to start five black players in a national championship game. His team was a huge underdog to Kentucky. Kentucky was the royalty blue-blood of college basketball. And what happened? Texas Western whooped them, and that game changed the course of college basketball.
CONAN: The University of Kentucky team was also not integrated.
BELENER: It was not, it was an all-white team.
CONAN: All-white team. Here is Don Haskins talking about the political statement attributed to him which he said he didn't really intend so much.
Mr. DON HASKINS (Basketball Coach, University of Kentucky): I just played my best players, really wasn't that big a deal. See, you got to understand, it wasn't a big thing in El Paso. It made it the big thing after that game. For me to go in there act like I was, you know, waiving the flag and all that. It's not true. I just played my best guys, you know, like any coach would do.
CONAN: And I think he understood by that time, of course, what an impact he had made.
BELENER: Right. He obviously knew that. But I think that was also one of things what was so compelling about his story, because he really was every man. He was not a crusader or civil rights activist. He was a guy, a coach who was trying to do his job to the best of his abilities. And that meant putting the best players on the floor, which is something a lot of other coaches didn't do at that time.
CONAN: And that - after that game, he continued to coach.
BELENER: Oh, he certainly did. He had a long career that ended in 1999. He, I mean, he was about as old school as you could get. He stayed with one school for 38 years; he wore clip-on ties. He went hunting and fishing I think, with Bobby Knight - Bob Knight, the famous coach at Indiana. So - and, I mean, as forward looking as he was in terms of integration, he was really an old school guy.
CONAN: Uri Berliner, thanks very much. We appreciate your contribution.
BELENER: Thank you very much.
CONAN: And again, Uri and all of the other people we've had on from NPR have contributed some writing about the people they talked about. You can go to our website, npr.org; just click on Talk of the Nation to find - read more about their contributions and there are some others there as well. Let's see if we can get another caller on the line. This is Michael. Michael with us from Cleveland, Ohio.
MICHELLE (Caller): Hi, my name is Michelle.
CONAN: Michelle, excuse me.
MICHELLE: I'll just give tribute to my dog. He died on February. About two days before he died, I found that he was terminally ill. He was very important to me. He was a Wheaton Scottish terrier rescue. He was two years old when I got him. I read about him on a Scottish terrier list. And when I got him, he was in and didn't have any hair and he was afraid of everything. And then, you know, he was afraid of my mother because he'd been abused by an older woman. In a year, he was laying in her lap. And his hair grew out. When my mother was in hospice he sat in the chair, and he looked like a stuffed toy, didn't look like a real dog and he's was beautiful. And I don't have much family, so when I came home after mom died, he and the cat were waiting at the door for me. And I've had a number of illnesses, and they took care of me. They did what they could to take care of me. The day I found out he was terminally ill, I was sick at the time myself and I killed really five really strong rum and Cokes in a row, and I was crying, and he came up to me, sores all over his body from skin cancer, and he nosed my leg - looked at me like what's wrong. And I'm crying in bed, and his laying by my bed, and I'm rubbing his ears. And, you know, that Sat- or Sunday I took him over to a friend's house, and I cooked dinner, and he ate and all that kind of stuff. And then next day I could tell he wasn't feeling well, so it was time. And I've been mourning him. I miss my dog.
CONAN: Michelle thank you very much. Broadcaster and oral historian Studs Terkel died on October 31st at the age of 96. He hosts the "Studs Terkel Radio Program" in Chicago for 45 years and collected the stories of Americans about the great depression, the good war and just about everything since, and he loved to tell stories. Like this one which happens to be about the human voice. It starts after he boards the L, the elevated train in Chicago.
Mr. STUDS TERKEL (Host, "Studs Terkel"): Just when when the doors were about to close, pneumatic doors, when a young couple rush in and push to open the doors and get in. Without missing a beat that voice above says: Because of late entry, we're delayed 30 seconds. The people looked at that couple as if the couple just committed mass murder, you know. And the couple shrank up like this, you know. And I'm known for my talking. I'm gabby, and so, I say jarjarwel(ph), your time has come and gone. I expect a laugh. Dead silence. And now they look at me, and I'm with the couple, the three of us at the hell of Calvary on Good Friday. And then I say: My God, where's the human voice? And just then a little baby - maybe the baby is about a year old or something and I say: sir or madam - to the baby. What is your opinion of the human species? Well what does a baby do? Baby starts giggling. I thank God for the sound of a human voice.
CONAN: Howard Zinn joins us from his home in Boston where he is Professor Emeritus at Boston University. He's of course the author of "A People's History of the United States" and more recently "A Power Governments Cannot Suppress", and Howard thanks very for joining us.
Mr. HOWARD ZINN (Author, "A People's History of the United States"): Sure, I'm glad to do that.
CONAN: And when did you hear it first here, Studs Terkel's voice?
Mr. ZINN: Well, first time I heard him actually was way back when he invited me to Chicago for his radio program. It was about 1964. I just published a book on the south. I really did not know who he was. He did not know who I was except that he just read my book - really read it I found out, read every word of it. It was amazing to me what an interviewer he was. What was really interesting to me was that after he interviewed me so well, like no other interviewer. I went back to my hotel room, and I got a phone call. It was from him. And he said: what are you doing tonight? And I said : Nothing. And he said: Well, Aida and I have tickets to a Pete Sigger concert, would you like to come with us?' Well, no interview ever did that for me. So, I went with them. Yeah, that's the kind of guy he was. But, you know, what he's known for of course is what you were just talking about. He recorded what he called the voices of the etc, the people left out. Not the president's, but the guys and woman, president send to war - working people, not the CEOs. But I mean, what to me is important about his history actually, he was not simply your neutral recorder of people's voices. He had a point of view. He was on the side of the working people, on the side of black people, on the side of really all victims of war. He put quotation marks around his title "The Good War" which is amazing when you think of it, because this was, you know, everybody says "The Good War", but he saw innocent victims on both sides, and I think those are - maybe the most important quotation marks I've ever seen, because if you question "The Good War", World War 2, you could question and you should question any war. So, he is saying I think that whatever government say to justify their wars whether in Iraq or right now in Gaza for instance with Israel and its justifications. A war is always a war against innocent people. And so, cannot be justified. Remember him for his point of view, not just for his oral history.
CONAN: Is there one quick story you'd like us to remember him by?
Mr. ZINN: Well, the story I'd like to remember him by his - I supposed the one I told about him calling me up, but also about the fact that five years later when I saw him in Boston. It was in Boston five years later - the minute he saw me he began quoting to me from my book. He had an amazing memory and an amazing compassion for other people and for other writers and just a lovable person who combined great humor with a powerful social conscience. That's a rare combination.
CONAN: Howard Zinn thank you very much for your time today.
Mr. ZINN: Sure.
CONAN: Howard Zinn the author of "A People's History of the United States" more recently "A Power Governments Cannot Suppress". He joined us from the phone from Boston to talk about his friend, Studs Terkel. And we'd like to thank you all of you for writing in and for calling in. We've just been overwhelmed with the emails and web comments. And we just want to leave you with a few more of these emails that we've gotten. This is from Jean in Saint Ann, Missouri: Dr. Lloyd Olan, author of "Opportunity Theory and Sociology." This was a theoretical basis for the president's committee on youth employment and the president's committee on juvenile delinquency under President Kennedy. This was transformed by Lindon Johnson into among other programs to the Neighborhood Youth Core , NYC. The NYC is brought forward today as part of the summer youth programs. He died December 8, 2008. This is from Mary in Minneapolis: A tribute to Alberta Hubert, president of the College of Saint Catherine in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She carried the college through very difficult yeas. Today CSC is a premier college for women drawing students from all over the globe - preparing women for all ages for a life of learning and giving. Alberta formerly Sister Fidace(ph) kept the college on an even keel when so many institutions were loosing their focus and their footing a good and wise woman. This is from Adriana in Cupertino, California: I'd like to remember my husband's father, Hans Herling who was a sweet man and a distinguished scholar of the German Writer Heinrich Hayne(ph) whose work inspired the ballet "Giselle." He died too young at 68. We miss him a lot. And finally this from Patricia: Remembering a terrific lady Wanda Nash at Marshall, Michigan, a pioneer of animal rights who became a lawyer to advance their legal protection. She founded an organization for lawyers interested in animal law and authored "Animal Case Law" for Michigan, a compassionate lady and dedicated Anglican. She was patient and understanding with those who did not share her passion and by her gentle but persistent advocacy forever changed our world. Those of us privileged to be friends missed her sorely. You're listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News. And finally we leave you with some of the better known voices we lost this year.
Mr. BO DIDLEY (Singer): A story with some funny lyrics or some serious lyrics or some love type lyrics. But you got to think in terms of what people's lives is based on.
Mr. ISAAC HAYES (Singer & Arranger): (Singing) I was born one night about 12 o'clock.
Unidentified Man #1: You know with a clenched fist, you know, soul brothers. So this was galvanizing kind of thing as far as you know, African Americans were concerned and it had that kind of effect of unity. They said it with a lot of pride. So, I said well, why not write a tune called "Soul Man?"
Ms. MIRIAM MAKEBA (Singer & Civil Rights Activist): And from then on, I was branded that artist who sings politics.
Mr. TONY SNOW (Former White House Press Secretary): One of the reasons I took the job was not only because I believe in the president. Because believe it or not I want to work with you. These are times that are going to be very challenging. We've got a lot of big issues ahead, and we've got a lot important things that all of us are going to be covering together.
Mr. TIM RUSSERT(NBC News; Host, "Meet the Press"): Senator Clinton, if you are the nominee, it will be 28 years from 1980 to 2008 where there's been a Bush or Clinton on the national ticket. Is it healthy for democracy to have a two-family political dynasty.
Mr. GEORGE CARLIN (Comedian): So you know what I've been doing? Going through my address book and crossing out the dead people. You do that? That's a lot of fun isn't it? Gives you agood feeling. It kind of gives you a feeling of power, a superiority to have outlasted another old friend.
Mr. BERNIE MAC (Actor): Let me break it down. Don't touch my TV. Don't touch my DVD. Don't touch my duel-deck VCR. And most definitely, don't touch the remote. they're worth the TV, the DVD and the duel-deck VCR. Any questions?
Unidentified Child: Can we touch?
Mr. MAC: No, your can't touch nothing.
Mr. CHARLTON HESTON (Actor): Remember that day, nine times around the circus.
Mr. PAUL NEWMAN (Actor): Rigo, do you hear it? Nine lives to live. You must not win the race the first time around. Win the last time around.
Mr. HEATH LEDGER(Actor) : I don't want to kill you. What would I do without you? Go back to ripen off mob dealers. No, no, no, no you, you complete me.
ODETTA: That's the always told me play it safe, play the percentage. One ball corner pocket. Yeah, percentage players die or broke too, don't they, Bert? It's not enough that you just have talent. You've got to have character too.
Unidentified Man #2: It's a lot like being trapped on a roller coaster - a really good one with lots of twists and turns and huge drops, the kind of make your stomach turn over. Yet, in this case of course is life with cancer. And no one else as much as they want to, as much as they may need to, no one else can really ride along with you.
Unidentified Man #3: (Singing) Amazing grace. How sweet the sound. That saved a soul like me.
CONAN: Bo Diddley, Isaac Hayes, Miriam Makeba, Tony Snow, Tim Russert, George Carlin, Bernie Mac, Charlton Heston, Heath Ledger, Paul Newman, Leroy Sievers, and Odetta. Special thanks associate producer, Sarah Handel who put those voices together for us. Tomorrow John Ridley joins us to show us how to keep that resolution to blog more often. Have a safe and happy New Year's eve and we leave you with another of the voices to which we said goodbye in 2008. Here's Eartha Kitt.This is Talk of the Nation from NPR News, I'm Neal Conan in Washington.