The Tardy Times

Gina Warren: 'Quite an insightful
   young woman . . . I admired her fire'
                                        – Dorothy Kantor
   Gina Warren
   Stephanie Von Buchau
   Phil Frank

Regina (Gina) Warren
SHE COUNSELED teenagers at night and finished college while working full time at the San Francisco Chronicle, but the fatal effects of a routine shoulder injury derailed the once-promising life of Regina (Gina) Warren.
      Hospitalized with only her name and an out-of-date address, she died on April 6, 2007, but she wasn't located by her frantic family for nearly four months. Not until Saturday, Oct. 20, seven months after her death, could friends and former colleagues organize a memorial gathering at John's Grill in San Francisco.
     “She had a passion for helping troubled youth,” said her sister, Georgiana Sullivan, who flew from her home in Ohio.          
     For 13 years, Gina balanced her day job at the Chronicle with work as a live-in counselor at group homes for boys. In the meantime, she enrolled at Cal State Hayward (now Cal State East Bay). She then earned a scholarship at the University of California at Santa Cruz, a tiring commute of 80 miles each way from her apartment in El Cerrito. She won her degree in psychology in 1988.
    “She was quite an insightful young woman,” said Dorothy Kantor, a former Chronicle colleague. “I admired her fire.”
WITH PLANS for graduate work toward a master's degree, she aimed for a career in medicine or counseling. The crippling shoulder injury put the dream on hold. The surgeons tried three times to fix her rotator cuff – and failed to relieve pain so excruciating that she was seldom seen without holding an ice pack to her shoulder.  
     Six years ago, in constant pain, she went on disability and never returned to the newspaper.
    Regina Warren was born Dec. 18, 1961, in New York City. She grew up in Harlem. She was 13 when she lost both parents  William R. Warren Sr. (1898-1975) and Doris Willis (1924-1975). The teenage girl adopted what she called “a second set of parents”– Dr. Mary Louise Patterson and her then-husband, Lance Gilmer, a sports writer who worked at one time at the San Francisco Examiner.
     “Regina received unconditional love, support, and guidance as a young teenager from Mary Louise and Lance, and I know she truly loved them as her parents,” said Georgiana.  Dr. Patterson, now a pediatrician at Cornell Medical Associates in Manhattan, said, “She had a natural intellectual inquisitiveness. She had courage and real determination.”
     After graduation from Louis D. Brandeis High School in Manhattan's  Upper West Side, she moved West, shortened her name to Gina and landed a job as a copy clerk at the Chronicle.
   “She loved working at the newspaper and was very proud that she was part of that environment,” said her sister. “She embraced California and did not follow the traditional roles in life, such as getting married and having children. She remained single and made herself available to those who needed her help. She was also an adventurer, having traveled to Mexico and across the United States.”
IN 1986, after her shifts at the newspaper, she began spending nights in homes for troubled boys. Three years later, when she was working as a live-in counselor at a group home, she met Ed and Geraldine Lewis.
     “Her friendship with them grew so strong that she considered them her extended family,” said Georgiana.  
       Regina (Gina) Warren is survived by her sister, Georgiana Sullivan, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio; three brothers, William R. Warren Jr. (wife Anita), of Akron, Ohio; Kirk D. Warren, of Durham, N.C., and Richard Warren (wife Debra), of Carencro, La.; six nieces, Jennifer Warren, Laverne Sullivan, Doris Warren, Cassie Warren, Tasha Tucker and Tyla Tucker; five nephews, William T. Warren, Everette Sullivan, Richard Warren, Lionel Warren and Kirk D. Warren Jr.   
     On August 20, in a sad journey to their home town of New York City, William and Kirk Warren joined Georgiana and took their sister's urn to the northwest corner of Central Park at West 110th Street.     
    “We did not have a traditional funeral service,” wrote the elder sister. “As children we spent a lot of time in Central Park. She and I often talked about the park, the skating rink and the picnics around the lake. It was decided to scatter her ashes in the last place the siblings each had memories of her.”              
     This notice is Gina’s only obituary.  A report on her untimely death, which raised questions still unanswered, appears in The Geezer Gazoot. The page: Gina Warren.

Stephanie von Buchau
WHEN THE FANG  family bought the Examiner, nobody was surprised at a new Asian surname on reviews of opera and ballet. But the byline's first name was, well, unusual.
     Tiger Hashimoto?
     In the distant past, leading Opera House critics of the Old Guard could be called by an ordinary name. Like Al. For example, the Examiner's Alexander Fried and the Chronicle's Alfred Frankenstein. Then came a surfeit of extraordinary names: Heuwell Tircuit, Octavio Roca, Aidin Vaziri and, of course, Stephanie von Buchau.
    Her Teutonic byline bespoke the Bayreuth Festival and East Prussian aristocracy, but she was in fact a San Francisco native. She attended public schools. She studied journalism at SF State. Then she spent nearly four decades as an entertaining, opinionated and endlessly knowledgeable free-lance critic of opera, classical music, dance and food.
     Her reviews, characterized by one of her editors for her “witty, take-no-prisoners style,” appeared in the Oakland Tribune, Pacific Sun, Bay Area Reporter, Opera News and many other publications.
    She once wrote, “The only truly objective critic is a dead critic.”
   The aphorism was remembered but unmentioned in obituaries for the critic, who was found dead of natural causes on Dec. 19, 2007, at her home in Larkspur.
    She was admired for pointed reviews that punctured many an overblown ego. All the same, at age 67 she was Old Guard.
    Perhaps it was time for a talented newcomer, someone with an Asian  name like Tiger Hashimoto, to carry on her tradition of uncompromising criticism.
    It was not to be.
   She suffered from Hashimoto's syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that destroys the thyroid gland. “Tiger,” according to her friend Roberto Friedman in the Bay Area Reporter, was a childhood nickname conferred by her father.
   Tiger Hashimoto died along with Stephanie von Buchau.
    It was her pseudonym.  

Phil Frank
COMIC STRIP: “Did get that mud-gram I was sending your way?” says Yosemite's bachelor beaver. He had invited courtship by slapping his tail. Says Charbeaver, “I did.” She adds, “What was the tune?” He answers, not unexpectedly, “Sedimental journey.”
     The eulogies for Phil Frank, creator of the “Farley” strip in the Chronicle, said a lot about his cartooning, his cast of characters and his good humor. But his death on Sept. 12 came as a squelching punishment, as it were, to the Bay Area's legion of bad-pun lovers.
    When Velma Melmac wields a glue gun on an ailing tree in Yosemite Valley, she says, “Its bark is worse than its blight.”
      “Barkeep!” says the bachelor beaver, gesturing toward Charbeaver and his little companion.  “Make it one for my baby, and one more for the toad.”            

Of special note
COLLEAGUES and people related to the Bay Area newspapers:  Charles Dale, 78, who worked for the Newspaper Guild in various roles (including international president from 1987 to 1995) and led the campaign to merge with Communication Workers of America, died of cancer on Oct. 23, 2007, in his home in Brentwood . . . G. Gordon Strong, 92, publisher of the Oakland Tribune in the late 1970s, died Nov. 13, 2006,  in Pasadena . . . Melanie Lomax, 56, Los Angeles civil rights attorney and daughter of former Examiner writer Almena Lomax, died Sept. 20, 2006, when her Jaguar plummeted from her driveway. She was the sister of the late Michelle Lomax, a brilliant, quirky movie critic in the 1970s at the Examiner, where she was criminally under-appreciated . . . . Frank Benson, one of the best-liked printers in the composing room of the Chronicle and the old Examiner, died Dec. 22, 2007, after battling for two years to recover from lung transplants . . . Peggy Gould, who died Dec. 27 at 85, had been a radio reporter, model, gossip columnist and editor of the women's pages at the New York Journal-American when she met Charles L. Gould, then its advertising director. They were married in 1951. When he became publisher of the Examiner and News-Call Bulletin in 1962, they moved to Hillsborough. He died in 1986. . . . More than 40 years ago, when the Thirty obituarian was co-editor (with Don Fortune) of the Newspaper Guild's little paper, we were greeted warmly by David Selvin, editor of the Labor Council's newspaper. He had been a labor writer at the old Examiner, which he left for an extraordinary career as a labor activist, journalist, historian and author. He was instrumental in founding the labor studies program and labor archives at SF State. After winning more than 20 awards for the Labor Council's newspaper, he retired in 1979. In due course, so did his newspaper. He then wrote “A Terrible Anger,” easily the best book about the waterfront showdown in 1933. It led to the general strike that gave San Francisco its reputation (now fading) as a labor town.  One of his sons, Joel, is a veteran music critic for the Chronicle. David Selvin, a legend, was 93 when he died March 6, 2007. . . Edgar-nominated writer Jack Lynch parlayed his bartender job at Sausalito’s No Name Bar into a career as a Chronicle reporter. Then he quit more than 25 years ago to write a string of popular mystery novels starting with “Bragg’s Hunch,” 1981, and ending with “Wolf House,” 2002. His protagonist, Peter Bragg, was (surprise) a former Chron reporter. Jack died in Petaluma on May 30 at age 78. . . . “Mike” Hovey  was a budding sports stringer for the Chronicle in the 1930s. Eventually it came out that the Stanford student’s name was Marjorie. It was the only way to get into print in the all-male world of sports journalism at the time. In later years she concentrated on community news.  Marjorie Hovey Kinder died May 23 in Sunnyvale, age 87.  

September 2008

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