Otto Schlaak, 89
Otto F. Schlaak, g.m. of Milwaukee’s public TV operation for 26 years and a key employee for six years earlier, died Dec. 15 after contracting pneumonia during a visit to his daughter in Virginia. He was 89. MORE
Vicki Santa, 56
A 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art radio facility stands as a testament to the pubradio passions of Vicki Santa, a station manager at WMNF in Tampa, Fla. Santa, 56, died Dec. 9 after battling breast cancer for nearly a year. MORE
Chihiro “Cherry” Enoki, 33
Chihiro “Cherry” Enoki, who shared a Daytime Emmy nomination this year for her editing work on the pubTV show Design Squad, died in a fall while climbing California’s Mount Shasta Nov. 28 . She was 33. MORE
Kermit Boston, 73
Kermit H. Boston, a longtime lay leader in public TV, died Nov. 23 , the San Francisco Chronicle reported last week. MORE
Cindy Browne, 56
Cindy Browne, a 25-year executive of Twin Cities Public Television who remade herself as a change agent and then managed the merger of three competitive stations, creating Iowa Public Radio, died Nov. 10  at the age of 56. She had battled fought cancer several times in recent years.
James Armsey, 90
James W. Armsey, 90, a former Ford Foundation grantmaker who helped establish educational television stations and its national production center, died Nov. 2, 2008, at Clark-Lindsey Village, a retirement community in Urbana, Ill., according to press reports. MORE
Henry Loomis, 89
Henry Loomis, the CPB president ordered to take back programming control from PBS during the Watergate years, died Nov. 2 at the age of 89 in Jacksonville, Fla. MORE
Arlene Sherman, 61
Arlene Sherman, a former co-executive producer of Sesame Street who worked with Sesame Workshop for more than 30 years, succumbed to lung cancer Oct. 1. She was 61. MORE
Jack McBride, 82
Debbie S. Jordan, v.p. of operations at Blue Ridge PBS in Roanoke, Va., died July 15  at her home in the city after a bout with cancer. She was 57.
In a ceremony June 9, the station dedicated the Debbie Jordan Studio in her honor. She had spent much of the past year adding HD production capability for the station’s local productions.
Jordan began work at the station in 1998 as a part-time secretary in its development office and was promoted over the years to membership director, executive assistant and then v.p. of operations. Before coming to Blue Ridge PBS, Jordan was an aide to J. Granger Macfarlane, then a Virginia state senator.
Survivors include Jordan’s husband of 39 years, Joseph “Tommy” Jordan, her daughter Sherry Lyn, her son Joseph Tommy III, and her granddaughter Sydney. Her family asked that memorial gifts be made to Blue Ridge PBS, 1215 McNeil Drive, Roanoke, VA 24015.
About 400 NPR staffers came to a memorial event July 18 honoring Gary L. Smith, who greeted them as they passed the front desk for more than four years. Smith, who had several health problems, died July 15 at the age of 57.
“Gary was the heart of NPR, . . . All felt welcomed and appreciated by his hearty hellos, genuine interest and joyful sense of humor,” says the printed program for the celebration of his life. “No matter who you were, Gary treated you as a friend.”
President Kevin Klose opened and closed the event, and 20 or more staffers recounted memories, sang and read poems, including reporters, top execs and the NPR Staff Choir.
The next morning, one of the speakers, Scott Simon, eulogized Smith on Weekend Edition, remembering him as “a big, friendly man with a joshing smile” and a devotion to the Pittsburgh Steelers [Simon's remarks]. Smith developed friendships with hundreds of coworkers and demonstrated daily that he knew their birthdays and their children’s names.
“People would walk through those glass doors, hurried, harried, anxious, timorous or distressed . . . ,” said Simon. “Gary beheld them with a kind of rare insight at which journalists can only marvel. Gary Smith saw through to people’s souls, and the beauty that Gary was determined to see in others was the loveliness that lit up his face and so many lives every day.”
Smith’s greetings were always genuine, another colleague wrote on the network’s intranet. “Often it was simply a smile and a devilish glance over his glasses—other times, he might throw in a brotherly tease, calling me by a nickname that only he could get away with.”
Smith came to NPR as a temporary employee in 2003 and was named client services coordinator in March 2004.
Before joining the network, he had worked eight years in sales and customer service for AT&T Technologies, Danka/Omnifax Corp., Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., ADP and Verizon.
A native of Rochester, Pa., Smith played football in high school and was active in his church. He received a degree in speech communications and speech pathology at the University of Buffalo and also studied at Howard University in Washington.
John Jay Iselin, 74
John Jay Iselin, who led New York’s WNET as it developed such major PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, Live from Lincoln Center, Bill Moyers’ Journal, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report and the news program's successor, the NewsHour, died of pneumonia May 6  at age 74. MORE
James Day, 89
James Day, a creative public TV leader in San Francisco and then New York, died April 24  of respiratory failure, according to a son, Ross. He put San Francisco’s KQED on the air in 1954 — with Jon Rice, the station’s legendary first program director — and in 16 years demonstrated much of what “public television” could become, years before the Carnegie Commission put forth the new name for educational TV. MORE
Duane E. Tucker, 84
Duane E. Tucker, founder of WBGU-TV in Bowling Green, Ohio, died on March 24 in a hospice in Perrysburg Township from complications of congestive heart failure. He was 84.
Tucker joined the faculty at Bowling Green State University in 1959 and served as the first head of Radio/TV/Film in its speech department. He established the university’s closed circuit instructional TV system in 1963 and launched WBGU-TV on Feb. 10, 1964.
Channel 70 broadcast educational programs five hours a day on weekdays, reaching just a few miles beyond the Bowling Green area. Tucker later expanded its power, lengthened its broadcast day and extended its coverage area, moving the station to Channel 57 and eventually Channel 27.
Under his leadership WBGU-TV produced some nationally distributed programs, but its primary mission remains service to the small and medium-size communities in 19 counties in northwest and west central Ohio.
As head of WBGU-TV and Director of Broadcasting and Television Services for 25 years, Tucker was instrumental in the planning and design of the Ohio Educational Broadcasting Network.
Tucker grew up in Great Bend, Kan., and by age 18 was a radio announcer in Emporia, Kan. He earned a bachelor's degree from Kansas State Teachers College and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He taught at Oregon State College before joining the Bowling Green faculty.
On retirement, Tucker became a member for life of the WBGU-PBS Public Advisory Council for Television.
“Dr. Tucker was dedicated to the highest values of public television," said Pat Fitzgerald, the station’s general manager since 1990, "and he was a mentor to many who have had wonderful careers in either professional television or academics.”
Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Margaret, a daughter,
Maggie Laughlin; a son, Todd; two granddaughters, and five
A public memorial service for Tucker is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at the station in BGSU’s Tucker Center for Telecommunications, named after Duane and Margaret Tucker.
Friends wishing to make memorial gifts may send contributions through WBGU to the Tucker Scholarship Fund at the BGSU Foundation.
Obituary, Toledo Blade, March 27, 2008
Bill Estes, 57
Bill Estes, 57, Milwaukee regional manager for Wisconsin Public Radio, died unexpectedly at home April 13.
For the past 19 of his 35 years with the state public broadcasting networks, Estes oversaw the Milwaukee regional office, served as local morning host on WHAD, and chaired the network’s statewide marketing team.
In 2002, Estes received the University of Wisconsin-Extension Award for Excellence “for connecting Wisconsin’s people with vital information and cultural resources.”
Before moving to Milwaukee in 1989, he served as Wisconsin Public Radio’s manager of public information.
“Bill’s skills in promotion, branding and community relations made him a huge contributor to the success of our statewide public radio networks,” said Phil Corriveau, director of Wisconsin Public Radio. “He was in the business of winning friends for Wisconsin Public Radio, and he did so naturally, with an open and welcome personality to all who knew him. He will be greatly missed.”
Estes loved summer sailing and winter skiing. He is survived by his wife, Cheryl Ward, two step-sons, three brothers and a sister.
David Schenk, 50
David T. Schenk, 50, who was the top technologist for both the public TV station, WTVP, and public radio station, WCBU-FM, in Peoria, Ill., died unexpectedly from heart failure Feb. 29 in a Peoria hospital. He had undiagnosed heart disease, WTVP said.
He had just recovered from successful cancer surgery, and his mother had died little more than a month earlier, according to reports.
Schenk was executive director of communications and engineering support at Peoria's Bradley University, licensee of WCBU-FM, for which he was chief engineer. He was also chief technology officer for pubTV station WTVP, previously based on the university's campus. He oversaw WTVP's transition to digital transmission and made WCBU the city's first station airing multichannel HD Radio.
"David was the consummate engineer and “techie,” but he tempered that with his background as a program producer," said WTVP President Chet Tomczyk. "This gave him a unique insight into the technical side of the equipment and its ultimate use in storytelling and content creation."
He was a group ride leader with the Wheelmen Bike Club and a youth soccer referee.
He was survived by his wife, Donna, and children, Calvin and Anna.
Online tributes are collected by www.mem.com.
Kirk Browning, 86
Kirk Browning, 86, the director who began putting performances on TV almost 60 years ago at NBC and continued with PBS broadcasts as recently as a month ago, died of cardiac arrest Feb. 10  in New York. MORE
Nick Zapple, 93
Nicholas Robert Zapple, a key U.S. Senate lawyer who championed public broadcasting during its early years, died Feb. 8  in Falls Church, Va., succumbing to a sudden and acute infection at age 93. MORE
Phil Collyer, 68
Philip W. Collyer, 68, a producer at Boston's WGBH for nearly 50 years and the first director of its Caption Center, died Jan. 27, 2008, of complications of leukemia.
In recent years he was e.p. of the WGBH Auction and its wine-auction spinoff. “He was a great organizer of large production teams and motivated them with his humor and calm command under pressure," said Vice Chair Henry Bector. "It’s hard to imagine ’GBH without him.”
“He had an uncommon ability to treat volunteers with such deep respect that their commitment to WGBH grew with each encounter with him," said Edye Baker, auction manager.
Collyer began volunteering at WGBH in 1959, while he was in college, and afterwards moved from master control into studio work on such programs as Eleanor Roosevelt's Prospects of Mankind.
He led the project that made Julia Child's The French Chef the first TV program captioned for deaf viewers and created the Captioned ABC Evening News, aired without commercials on pubTV five hours after the ABC-TV broadcasts.
In 1973, Collyer demonstrated his flexibility in creating a captioned version of President Nixon's second inaugural speech. WGBH didn't have rights to broadcast the original feed but he acquired a Spanish version and added captioning in English, the Boston Globe reported.
Outside of work, he was a Little League umpire and tennis tournament official.
Collyer was survived by his wife of 44 years, Marie; a son; three daughters; nine grandchildren; a sister and a brother.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.and blood and platelet donations may be made to the American Red Cross.
WGBH's alumni site features a longer profile with remembrances by colleagues.
Larry Jessup, a longtime technician at PBS who was the second employee hired by the network, died Jan. 28.
Starting in October 1970 until last month he held a variety of technical positions, most recently maintenance technician in PBS's Satellite Operations Center.
The PBS Board adopted a resolution Jan. 29 expressing to his family its sympathy and appreciation for his dedicated service.
"Larry's dedication to public broadcasting and his belief in its mission made him an extremely valuable member of PBS's technical family," the board said.
A service was held Jan. 28 in Bethesda, Md.
His wife, Ruth, and son, Stanton, died earlier. He is survived by his daughter, Beth, and a grandson, Thomas.
Memorial contributions in lieu of flowers may be made in his name to the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, 5020 Battery Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814, or to Montgomery County SPCA, P.O. Box 637, Washington Grove, MD 20880.
Zoel Parenteau, 75
Zoel J. Parenteau Jr., a key figure in two midwestern public TV stations, died Jan. 10, 2008, at age 75.
Parenteau launched Kansas City's pubTV station, then known as KCSD and operated by the public schools, in 1961. His title changed to g.m. and the call letters to KCPT when a separate nonprofit took charge later.
In 1972, he moved to KPTS in Wichita, Kan., and managed it for 25 years. He was a member of the executive committees of the boards of the Central Educational Network and the National Association of Public Television Stations, according to the National Public Broadcasting Archive, which has a collection of his papers.
Parenteau's longtime program director, Jim Lewis, was ousted after an extended period of staff protests, and Parenteau retired soon afterward in 1996.
He was the first chair of the state's Kansas Public Broadcasting Council in 1993-94.
Parenteau was a past president of the Wichita Rotary Club and remained involved in its activities until his death.
A Pittsburgh native, he received a bachelor's degree in speech and drama from the University of Connecticut and a master's in TV-radio-film from the University of Iowa.
He served as a producer-director for Atlanta pubTV station WETV (now WPBA) before moving to Kansas City.
Survivors include his daughter Peri Parenteau Saner and her husband Steven.
Memorial donations maybe given to the Wichita Children’s Home, 810 N. Holyoke, Wichita, KS 67208.
Sarah-Maud Sivertsen, 100
Philanthropist Sarah-Maud Sivertsen, age 100, whose family made the first big donation to the St. John’s University radio station that grew into Minnesota Public Radio, died Jan. 12, 2008, in her home in St. Paul. She was the last surviving granddaughter of lumber tycoon Frederick Weyerhaeuser, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
With her husband, Robert, who survives her, she made essential donations that helped the college station put a strong signal in the Twin Cities and develop MPR. "Without them, it would absolutely not have worked,'' MPR President Bill Kling told the Pioneer Press.