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Category: agents of change

Richard Goldman, who helped create Goldman Environmental Prize, dies at 90

Richard Goldman, a San Francisco philanthropist who created the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize to reward grass-roots activism around the world, has died. He was 90.

Goldman died Monday morning at home in San Francisco. Amy Lyons, executive director of the foundation that awards the prize, said he died of natural causes.

Launched in 1989, the $150,000 Goldman Prize is informally dubbed the "Green Nobel." It's awarded annually to six people "who chose to take great personal risks to safeguard the environment."

The 2010 recipients included a public-interest attorney from Swaziland, a Polish activist who fought to protect a wilderness area from a highway development and a Costa Rican man whose work resulted in that country halting the practice of shark finning.

"While there are other prizes for environmental achievement, it is this focus on work done at the grass-roots level that sets the Goldman Prize apart," Goldman wrote previously in a letter posted on the prize's website.

"Goldman Prize recipients are proof that ordinary people are capable of doing truly extraordinary things."

Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda Haas Goldman, started the prizes after realizing the environmental world did not have a Nobel-like prize dedicated to honoring grass-roots environmental work.

The prize was not the beginning of the Goldmans' philanthropy. The couple created the Goldman Fund in 1951, which has given away nearly half a billion dollars since then.

Goldman was also heavily involved in funding Jewish educational and pro-Israel organizations. The fund gave more than $12.6 million to Jewish-affairs groups in 2010, according to its website.

"One of the most powerful things he did was ensure that his children and grandchildren care about the world," Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, said in a statement.

"I am sure that his legacy will continue in their intelligence, compassion and commitment to the world."

In 1949, Goldman founded the insurance brokerage firm Goldman Insurance Services, which was sold to Willis Insurance in 2001.

He is survived by two sons, John and Douglas, daughter Susan and 11 grandchildren.

A funeral is scheduled for Friday in San Francisco.

-- Associated Press

One year ago: Rena 'Rusty' Kanokogi

KanokogiRena "Rusty" Kanokogi had to pose as a man to compete in a sport she loved. By her perseverance, however, she successfully got women's judo into the Olympics and became the coach of the U.S. team. Kanokogi died one year ago at age 74.

Brooklyn-born Kanokogi learned judo from someone in her neighborhood, but her attempts to compete in the city's judo clubs were met with resistance. Although she won the 1959 New York State YMCA judo championships, she was forced to hand over her medal when she revealed her gender.

She persevered, however, and traveled to Japan where she became the first woman at the main dojo with men. She later returned to the United States and slowly drummed up support for women in the sport.

"It was everything piece by piece," she said of organizing the 1980 world championships in New York. "I didn't care if I slept or ate. It was do or die."

Men's judo became an Olympic sport in the 1964 Games, and Kanokogi threatened legal action if women's judo was not treated equally.

Her efforts were rewarded when women's judo joined the Olympics in 1988 with Kanokogi as U.S. coach. And last year, the Brooklyn YMCA awarded her the gold medal she was forced to give up in 1959.

Kanokogi in 2008 received the Emperor's Award of the Rising Sun, bestowed on foreigners who have had a positive influence on Japanese society.

For more on the woman who fought for women's judo, read Rena Kanokogi's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Rena Kanokogi displays the gold medal for the 1959 New York State YMCA Judo Championships that was stripped from her when it was discovered she was a woman competing against men. It was returned in 2009. Credit: Associated Press

Ten years ago: David Brower

57352299-04144426 The Sierra Club that David Brower joined in 1933 was a friendly group of outdoors enthusiasts; he became a leader in the outings program. Three decades later, the organization he ultimately led was drawing the wrath of the IRS (for political advocating as a nonprofit) in a fight against putting dams in the Grand Canyon -- a fight the Sierra Club won, obviously. On the flip side, his great regret was acquiescing to the Glen Canyon Dam that created Lake Powell. 

Brower's rise tracked a basic shift in the American posture toward wilderness. He had shepherded a conservationism of leisure into a robust, disciplined political force.

Brower wasn't just an activist or an executive. He was an inventor, an oracle (as his lively Times obituary by John Balzar puts it), a vivid and charismatic prototype of what we now think of as the environmentalist. The obituary places Brower in the company of John Muir, Rachel Carson and the philosopher Aldo Leopold as the "four towering figures" of the 20th century environmental movement. Martin Litton, a fellow crusader, called Brower, "in his time, the soul of the movement to save the Earth."

But his biography isn't all steely passion or first-up-the-mountain triumph. Brower was good at getting fired -- it happened at least three times, including at the Sierra Club and then at Friends of the Earth, which he founded to "make the Sierra Club appear reasonable." And when a friend asked him about a quotation inscribed at the National Aquarium -- "We do not inherit the Earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children" -- Brower didn't recognize the words as his. He later figured out he had uttered them in "an interview that had taken place in a North Carolina bar so noisy I could only marvel that I was heard at all. Possibly, I didn't remember saying it because by then they had me on my third martini."

David Brower was 88 when he died of cancer on Nov. 5, 2000.

-- Michael Owen

Photo: David Brower, climbing a Pinnacles National Monument formation in the Salinas Valley in 1934. Credit: Brower family collection

10 years ago: Ring Lardner Jr.


Ring Lardner Jr. was the last living member of the Hollywood 10, a group of writers and filmmakers who refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 and were imprisoned and blacklisted. He was 85 when he died of cancer 10 years ago.

Lardner, a screenwriter, won an Academy Award with Michael Kanin for "Woman of the Year" in 1942, and another in 1970 for "MASH." His career survived the confrontation with HUAC -- he used pseudonyms and worked in Mexico and London -- but he was denied credit for 17 years of work.

When asked by Committee Chairman J. Parnell Thomas if he was or had been a Communist, the wry Lardner answered famously: "I could answer that question the way you want, Mr. Chairman, but if I did I'd hate myself in the morning." Lardner was banished from the hearing room, and he ultimately served 10 months in federal prison.

In fact Lardner was a Communist -- privately but unapologetically. He had become infatuated with Communism during a visit to the Soviet Union when he was 18, in 1934. "It seemed like there was a lot of hope in the air [in Russia]," his son James said, "whereas in Germany he saw awful stuff and in America he saw bread lines." Lardner's politics may have blurred -- "He discarded all that '30s garbage and went on with his life," said Stefan Kanfer, who wrote a book about the blacklist era -- but he never yielded in his refusal to name other members of the party.

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One year ago: Michelle Triola Marvin

Marvins Michelle Triola Marvin was a nightclub singer whose sensational court battle with actor Lee Marvin, with whom she lived for five years, established the legal concept of palimony. She died one year ago at age 75 from lung cancer.

Michelle Marvin, who legally changed her surname even though she and the actor never married, made legal history in 1976 when the California Supreme Court ruled that she and other unmarried people could sue for property division when a relationship ended.

That decision paved the way three years later for an often-sensational 11-week trial in which Michelle Marvin, represented by high-profile divorce lawyer Marvin Mitchelson, was awarded $104,000 for what the judge called "rehabilitative purposes."

Although an appeals court eventually overturned her award, the legal precedent underlying her court battle was left intact.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Columbia University law professor who would go on to become a Supreme Court justice, said in 1979 that the case illustrated "the further breakdown of the legal line between married and unmarried union."

For more on how her case made legal history, read Michelle Triola Marvin's obituary by The Times' Elaine Woo.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Michelle Triola Marvin enters court in Los Angeles with her attorney, Marvin Mitchelson, for a hearing in her trial with actor Lee Marvin. Credit: Associated Press

One year ago: Claude Levi-Strauss

Levi-starussClaude Levi-Strauss was a French philosopher who is widely considered the father of modern anthropology because of his then-revolutionary conclusion that so-called primitive societies did not differ greatly intellectually from modern ones. He died one year ago at age 100.

Levi-Strauss' years spent studying tribes in Brazil and North America led him to the conclusion that the myths and cultural keystones of primitive peoples revealed an intelligence no less sophisticated than that of Western civilizations. Those myths, he argued, all tend to provide answers to such universal questions as "Who are we?" and "How did we come to be in this time and place?"

The philosopher and sociologist was briefly a warrior when World War II broke out and Germany invaded France. When his country was defeated and occupied, he gained employment at a school in Montpellier, but was soon fired because he was Jewish.

He lived in the United States for the rest of the war, working for the New School for Social Research in New York and serving as a cultural attache in the French Embassy in Washington. He returned to his home country after the war was over, earning his doctorate in anthropology at the University of Paris in 1948.

He had become a leading influence in France by the mid-1960s, though by the 1980s his ideas were being supplanted by those of the so-called post-structuralists, who argued that history and experience were far more important than universal laws in shaping human consciousness. More recently, however, his views have come back into popularity.

For more on his journeys, thoughts and influence, read Claude Levi-Strauss' obituary by The Times' Thomas H. Maugh II.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Claude Levi-Strauss in 2005. Credit: Pascal Pavani / AFP/Getty Images

One year ago: Roy DeCarava

Decavera Roy DeCarava, an art photographer and photojournalist, was famous for his powerful, everyday-life shots of African Americans living in Harlem. He died one year ago at age 89.

DeCarava captured spontaneous moments using a small, 35-millimeter camera that allowed him freedom to roam. He was well-known for his candid shots of musicians -- many of them taken in smoky clubs using only available light. Shadow and darkness became hallmarks of DeCarava's style.

DeCarava's first major exhibit was at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego in 1986. Ten years later, he was the subject of a one-man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

"Roy was one of the all-time great photographers," Arthur Ollman, founding director of the San Diego museum, said in 2005. "His photographs provided a vision of African American life that members of the white fine art photography establishment could not have accessed on their own."

While art photography was his passion, DeCarava often earned his living as a freelance photojournalist. He shot for media outlets such as Newsweek, Life and Sports Illustrated throughout his career. Also, in the 1960s, he began teaching, first at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, and at Hunter College starting in 1975.

For more on the photographer who shook up the mid-20th century art establishment, read Roy DeCarava's obituary by The Times, and see a photo gallery of his work.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Roy DeCarava in 1996. Credit: Mitsu Yasukawa / For The Times

One year ago: John Harris Burt


John Harris Burt was a rector at Pasadena's All Saints Episcopal Church who was known for his outspoken support of the civil rights movement during the days of Martin Luther King Jr.'s crusade. Burt died one year ago at age 91.

Burt helped organize massive civil rights rallies in Los Angeles in the 1960s, including a 1963 event in South Los Angeles that attracted 30,000 people. He also was a vocal supporter of Cesar Chavez and the farm workers movement. 

BurtTwice Burt sat behind King while he addressed crowds of thousands in L.A. -- once in 1963 at South L.A.'s Wrigley Field (now demolished), and a year later at the Coliseum

Burt was one of four rectors "who really shaped All Saints to be a peace-and-justice church," said Rector J. Edwin Bacon, who currently leads the Pasadena church, which is known for the strong stands its clergy has taken against war, poverty and racial and ethnic discrimination over the last seven decades.

Burt was a Navy chaplain during World War II and afterward served at St. John's Episcopal Church in Youngstown, Ohio. In 1978, after leaving Pasadena to serve as bishop of Ohio, he earned the prestigious Thomas Merton Award for his advocacy to keep steel plants open in Youngstown, an effort that ultimately failed.

For more on his life and causes, read John Harris Burt's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Upper photo: The Rev. John Burt, seated at fourth from the left, listens as Martin Luther King Jr. addresses 15,000 people at the Coliseum during an interfaith rally in 1964. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: Burt in Ohio. Credit: Episcopal Diocese of Ohio

One year ago: Nancy M. Daly

DalyNancy M. Daly was a stay-at-home mom of three and wife of a prominent entertainment executive when she made a life-changing visit to MacLaren's Children's Center in El Monte in the late 1970s. The former probation center had been converted into a juvenile protection facility with little attention paid to making it less prison-like. "The kids looked sad," Daly recalled years later," and I found it almost unbearable."

Her determination to improve conditions at MacLaren's (which closed in 2003) turned her into a formidable children's advocate. In 1979, with allies such as actor Henry Winkler, she helped found United Friends of the Children to support youngsters in foster care. She successfully lobbied for the creation of what is now the county Department of Children and Family Services and served on its advisory commission. She later helped launch the Children's Action Network, which sought to raise awareness of children's issues in the entertainment industry and lobbied for legislation in Sacramento and Washington. She also served on the nonpartisan President's Commission on Children.

"She was the central, most important person on the commission for adolescence and foster care and the transition from foster care to adulthood," fellow commissioner Donald Cohen of the Yale Child Study Center said of Daly in 1994.

Daly, who was married to former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordanafter her first marriage to former Warner Bros. chief executive Bob Daly ended in divorce, was also a philanthropist and arts leader. She died one year ago at 68.

For more on Nancy Daly, read Times staff writer Jean Merl's obituary.

One year ago: Luis Villalobos

Luis Luis Villalobos founded Tech Coast Angels, an Orange County angel investment group that expanded throughout Southern California.

When he started the group in 1997, people "said I was nuts. They said Orange County had no entrepreneurs or investors," Villalobos told the Orange County Register.

Villalobos, who died a year ago at 70, modeled the group after a similar organization in the Silicon Valley.

As of last year there were five chapters from Santa Barbara to San Diego with more than 250 members, so-called angel investors whose money is directed toward start-up firms and other entrepreneurial enterprises.

For more about Villalobos, read his obituary that appeared in The Times.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Luis Villalobos, left, in 1997 with officials from Wazzu Corp., which the Tech Coast Angels helped. Credit: Los Angeles Times

One year ago: Norman Borlaug

Norman-grainIn the early 1940s, a specter of doom larger even than World War II threatened the world's people: Population was growing rapidly and food was running out.

That danger was stymied by the work of scientist Norman Borlaug, whose revolutionary grain-farming techniques brought agricultural self-sufficiency to developing countries around the world. Borlaug died one year ago.

Borlaug collected thousands of strains of wheat from around the globe and tediously crossbred them to produce varieties that were much higher yielding and resistant to the diseases that were destroying crops.

In 1960, before his techniques were widely adopted, the world produced 692 million tons of grain for 2.2 billion people. By 1992, largely as a result of Borlaug's pioneering approach, it was producing 1.9 billion tons for 5.6 billion people -- using only 1% more land.

For his work, he became one of only five people in history to score the trifecta of humanitarian achievement, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

On Borlaug's 90th birthday, former President Carter said that he "has been demonstrating practical ways to give people of the entire world a higher quality of life. . . . He is a true humanitarian."

For more on a grain expert who is credited with saving millions of lives, read Norman Borlaug's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Norman Borlaug. Credit: Texas A&M AgriLife

Baerbel Bohley, leader in East German pro-democracy movement, dies at 65

Bohley Baerbel Bohley, a prominent figure in the pro-democracy movement that helped end communist rule in the former East Germany, died Saturday. She was 65.

The Robert Havemann Society, a group dedicated to the history of East Germany's opposition that Bohley helped set up, said she died of cancer.

Bohley, a painter who endured harassment by East Germany's secret police, and several others in September 1989 established New Forum. It became the most prominent opposition group in the final phase of hard-line communist rule.

The group advocated free elections, greater openness in East German society and a free press.

East Germany opened its heavily fortified border on Nov. 9, 1989, after mounting peaceful protests helped undermine the communist government.

New Forum's importance faded as Germany headed toward reunification in 1990.

Still, Bohley and other activists that year occupied the archives of the Stasi, East Germany's secret police -- ultimately helping ensure that the public would be granted access to them.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, said Bohley was "one of the important voices of freedom."

"For many, including for me, her courage and her directness were exemplary," she said. "I remember her as a personality who made possible the peaceful revolution and the road to German unity."

In 1996, Bohley said that what had been achieved in Germany since reunification was "less than what we dreamed."

"But it is far more than what we had before," she said.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Baerbel Bohley at the Berlin Wall memorial in 2004. Credit: Michel Urban / AFP / Getty Images


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