You Can’t Take It With You – Put Down the Knife

Bill Dees 1939 to three Wednesdays ago
Dees co-wrote and sang harmony with Roy Orbison on the immortal hit ‘Oh, Pretty Woman.’  Even before they recorded the song, they were so confident of its success that they quit their day jobs and embarked on a tour of Europe. As ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ flew to the top of the charts, it turned into quite the tour.  Dees leave behind the hordes of adoring London girls who once so swarmed the duo that they had to lock themselves–together–in a phone booth to escape.

Percy Cohen 1922 to this month
Peter Cohen was one of the first seven whites to be arrested for violating South Africa’s race-segregation laws.  He–and the 40 others who in 1952 walked without permits through Germiston to protest Apartheid–leave behind the often brutal struggle that led the end of Afrikaner minority rule some forty years later.

John Kavanaugh, S.J. 1941 to Monday
A brother Jesuit, Kavanaugh spent less than a decade of his 71-year life outside of St. Louis yet his influence has touched the lives of nearly every American Catholic.  He was one of the most outspoken Catholic critics of the Iraq War, and both a supporter and critic of Barack Obama.  He famously opposed the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, on the grounds that by killing McVeigh, “we will have become just a little more like him.”  In his 36 years of teaching philosophy at St. Louis University, he shaped the hearts and minds of thousands of students (including hundreds of Jesuits, who did some of their studies there).  Mother Teresa shaped his heart and mind when he went to India and served with her for a year.  His most famous book, 1981’s “Following Christ in a Consumer Society,” brought issues of “consumerism, advertising, faith and culture” into theological discourse.  He leaves behind these iconoclastic ethical positions and a life of service.

Letitia Baldrige 1926 to last Monday
Ever use a knife to cut a salad?  See a woman holding a door open for a man?  Did you know that without this woman, those acts would be socially frowned upon?  This Omaha-born etiquette queen and author was social secretary to Jackie O in the White House.  She leaves behind the elegant Kennedy mystique she helped craft and her famous counsel to shampoo infrequently when living on yachts (so as to conserve water).

Ernie Hays 1935 to Thursday
It’s the end of an era in St. Louis.  Hays played the organ for the Cardinals at Busch Stadiums old and new since 1971.  He leaves behind approximately 2,500 renditions of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame.’

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