Lou Reed 1942 to Sunday
So I get that not a whole lot of people would call him a saint for fronting a rock and roll band. But if a saint is someone who makes the grace of God present among the world, why not put Lou Reed on that list? He found a way to bring earnest poetry into rock and roll. I dare you to listen to ‘Sweet Jane’ and not swell with an increase in faith, hope and love or ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and not be filled with the grace of shame and confusion for my sins. See for yourself:
Augusto Odone 1933 to Friday
Augusto will always be remembered for his “doggedness, serendipity, and ignorance of his own limits.” That’s what they call you when you defy the advice of medical professionals and develop your own experimental treatment for your son’s rare and terminal neurological condition and it actually works. Diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, Lorenzo Odone wasn’t supposed to live past his sixth birthday. But dad wouldn’t give up. Through study and luck distilled extracts of olive and rapseed oils into a compound that broke down the acids that caused Lorenzo’s disorder. Lorenzo made it to 30. Augusto leaves behind ‘Lorenzo’s Oil,’ still the only medicine that finds success in treating ALD.
Thomas Foley 1929 to two-weeks-ago Friday
On June 20th, 1994, Dean Mellberg entered the Fairchild Air Force Base hospital and, with an assault rifle, killed four and wounded 22. Fairchild, just west of Spokane, falls in the Washington 5th congressional district, represented for fifteen terms by the recently departed Foley. Tom was shaken by the events at the base and did something that seems presently inconceivable. Foley, who had an impeccable gun-rights voting record, changed his mind. As Speaker of the House, he shepherded the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 through Congress, an act which cost him reelection (indeed, he was the first Speaker of the House to lose his seat in an election since 1862). John Boehner was so impressed that he set aside his recently-vituperative rhetoric, remembering fondly how Speaker Foley endeared himself to “colleagues on both sides of the aisle … with his solid sense of fairness.” The congressman leaves behind an image of Congressional civility hard to fathom today.
Lawrence G. Foster 1925 to two-weeks-ago Thursday
Larry practiced radical honesty, professionally. In the unenviable position of public-relations point-person for Johnson and Johnson after seven died from taking tampered-with Tylenol, he did what seems now unthinkable in corporate America: Foster told the country the whole, unadulterated truth and accepted all the blame to the tune of recalling 30 million bottle of Extra-strength Tylenol at a cost of $100 million. He leaves behind something which seems as much a novelty as bipartisanship–a genuine apology.
Tom Foley portrait image courtesy Flickr user Speaker John Boehner