The Tardy Times
    OTHER OBITUARIES: Friends, Neighbors

                                        Abi Finer and his mom, Yukiko Tominaga

'I'm going down that old dusty road...'
   Steve Finer

   Stan Andersen
   Diane Heagerty McGauley
   Roger Burr 
   Arthur Feldman
Steve Finer

PEOPLE on the 1500 block of Hampshire Street were thrilled when Yukiko Tominaga  sent a holiday card that said, simply, “We will be neighbors again. I am so happy!”
     It had been a year of grief since Yuki and her little son, Abraham (Abi) Finer, flew to Japan to visit her family. Left behind was her young husband, Steve Finer, a convivial neighbor who enjoyed restoring middle-aged cars in his driveway just down our street.  She would never see him again.
     Steve died alone in September 2007. He was crushed when the jack slipped under his 1962 Impala.
    “Steve was a great guy who took life in great big bites,” wrote a friend in  Virginia who signed his name as “Lez En.” “He wasted no time in going after whatever he wanted. That included a move from Boston to San Francisco, marriage, fatherhood, fixing up old cars, getting involved in the production of a TV show and running his own business.”
      Steve had founded, an online store that offered 40,000 products to enhance what he called “the love for living a more creative life through getting your hands dirty.”
    After the memorial and the loss of their home (sold in July to a nurse whose name, by happenstance, is Yuko), Yuki and Abi visited Steve's family back in New England, then stayed for almost a year in Mau’i.
  In March, after another visit to Japan, Yuki and Abi returned to Hampshire Street. They moved next door into the pre-1906 Victorian where the late Mary Ferguson spent most of her life. Her son, Bill Ferguson, had rented it to Travis Porter and Christy Britt-Porter, parents themselves of a brand-new baby, Naomi. To move in, they just carried their things across the street from the apartment house. They asked Yuki to join them and share the rent. The young widow, after returning from Mau’i (“such a healing place”), now says, “We've never thought life can be this wonderful again.”           

Roger Burr

FONDLY remembered when he studied journalism at San Francisco State, Roger Burr was 56 when he died in Albuquerque in 2006 from complications related to a heart defect.
    After a stint with community weeklies on the Peninsula, he spent 18 years with the Daily Times of Farmington, N.M.
   “His byline became well known in the northwestern New Mexico region as he earned the trust and respect of the people he covered,” said his former colleagues in a jointly written eulogy.
  “Roger formed a deep affection for his adopted town, applying his trademark wit and wisdom to writing feature stories and a weekly column. His colleagues considered Roger the consummate beat reporter.”
   He was married to Sande Scott in 1976. He later quit newspapering to help earn win her doctorate in paleontology at Cornell. He became a teacher in Ithaca and Albuquerque.
   After his death, Sande moved back to San Francisco.
  Printed below, published for the first time, is one of Roger’s  vignettes.       

An ineffable conversation

By Roger Burr

IT'S SPRING, and the warm weather is bringing out the effing neighbors. "Eff you! Eff you! Eff you, you mother-effing efffer. Efffffffffffffffff yoooouuuuuu!”
   We'd heard much the same over the winter. But the voice, like sandpaper over concrete, had been muffled by two sets of closed windows and 12 feet of dead air space divided by a wooden fence. Now it's spring, and our neighbors are airing their personal relationships outside.
    The house is a long-time rental with a crumbling concrete porch, sagging screen door and peeling paint. The roof shingles are curling, and there's a two-inch gap between the closed garage door and the driveway. The landlord is the type who resents the cost of a can of paint.
     The main tenant is a big, but fit, guy who goes by the name of  “Bob.” Bob has jaw-length gray hair framing a gnarly face and steel-rimmed glasses. He seems like a nice enough guy, although when he speaks you know George Carlin would refer to him as someone to whom the 60s were extremely good.
BOB moved in about a year ago with a son, who these days would be termed “developmentally disabled,” and four dogs, all related. He works at a truck wash at night, and by day he spends his time  keeping one of his four junkers running. The yard is bare dirt. Except for the junkers, it  is adorned only by a near-permanent, hand-lettered sign –  “Free Puppies” – taped to a cardboard box.
     The sign was replaced after the old, faded, sign blew into our yard along with various fast-food wrappers and cups, empty cigarette packs and past-due notices.
     “Eff you! Eff you! Eff you, you mother-effing efffer. Efffffffffffffffff  yoooouuuuuuuuuuuuu!”
     There's also a woman living in the house, and on this warm afternoon it was she who was doing the cursing.  I've only seen the woman up close when I delivered a news clipping about a free spay and neuter clinic for the pets of the poor.
     Billows of smoke emanated from the house when the door opened to my knock Before me stood a woman who I can best describe as a cigarette.  She held a long, white menthol between her fingers as she squinted through the smoke that had tanned her skin, yellowed her eyes and discolored her hair.
      In a voice like the grinding of gears, she said she already had a hysterectomy. But she thanked me for the news clipping anyway, promising to pass it on to Bob and his son. After I came away, she must have been shouting to them.
     “Eff you! Eff you! Eff you, you mother-effing efffer. Efffffffffffffffff  yoooouuuuuuuuuuuuu!”  
ON THIS otherwise beautiful afternoon, the woman was turning the air as blue as her smoke.
     Across the street, our neighbor Toshiro watched from his front porch, where he sat on a resin chair. I waved to Toshi, and simultaneously we shrugged our shoulders.  The shrug said it all: Life, in a sketchy neighborhood.    
July 2008
Arthur Feldman

SHORTLY after he gave the graduation address to his paralegal classmates in 1996 at USF, the former newsman walked up to the district attorney and asked for a job. Nothing unusual about that, except:
    (1) Arthur Feldman was two years away from triple-bypass surgery.
    (2) Terence Hallinan, then the D.A., hired him anyway.
    (3) His new paralegal, whom he described as “a wonderful old guy,” was 81 years old.
    Arthur, a family friend and the father of our own Lisa Amand, hadn't always been the oldest guy in the room.   
    In 1934, when radio was in its boyhood, so was he. He landed a job as an announcer at an NBC station in Boston. He was 17.
     After the outbreak of World War II, he was already a seasoned announcer and reporter in London with the NBC Blue Network (later, ABC). He covered the D-Day invasion, then shipped out to China, Burma, India and the invasion of the Philippines. In 1945 he married Rhoda Magid and became a special events producer for NBC.
     As the golden age of radio began to fade, a change of careers took him into sales and consulting work. The Feldmans settled in San Francisco in 1985. He was 79 when he enrolled at USF. He worked as a paralegal for six years, retiring in 2004 for health reasons. But he and Rhoda managed to attend seders and other special occasions with Lynn and Margo.
     (Their daughter Lisa, while working at the Antioch Ledger, met and married a fellow reporter, Bill Hutchinson, one of Lynn's students at SF State. Lisa writes restaurant reviews. Bill is now working on the rewrite desk of the New York Daily News. (See Book Notes on Page 3.)
   Arthur Feldman, cheerful and curious to the last, died of complications from emphysema on Aug. 1, 2007.
    He leaves his wife of 61 years; his son, Curt, and two daughters, New York writer Lisa Amand and attorney Susan Minasian of Chico.      

Stan Andersen

AN IMPROBABLE title, “Social Insights in Literature,” pulled me into Stan Andersen's classroom at SF State. It was 1957, but I remember the day he loaded a reel into one of those new-fangled tape machines. And he smiled.
    “Literature takes many forms,” he said.
    We heard the voice of Woody Guthrie.
      I'm a-going down this old dusty road.
      I'm a-going down this old dusty road.
      O Lord God
     And I ain't gonna be treated this way. . .

   When the song ended, Andersen said, “That's uniquely American.”
     That moment of unforgettable revelation came to mind when Stanley P. Andersen, Ph.D, died of heart trouble on Nov. 5, 2006. The professor emeritus of English and humanities had been chair of the Humanities Department for 10 years when he retired in 1988 after 33 years of imagination, curiosity and creativity in his classes.
     In supposed retirement, he taught in the Fromm Institute of Lifelong Learning and wrote op-ed pieces for the former student who was then the Examiner's op-ed editor.
     But that was much later. Imagine my surprise in 1964 to see my favorite professor on the rim of the horseshoe-shaped copy desk at the Examiner newsroom on Third Street. It was his summer job.
    He had been a young newspaperman in Utah, his native state, before he went off to England in 1942 for more than three years.
It wasn't a sabbatical. The Army Air Corps taught the new lieutenant how to drop bombs. He was lead navigator for his squadron in 35 missions over German territory. Lt. Andersen won the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism and the Purple Heart for wounds in air battles now forgotten. (More than 26,000 men of the Eighth Air Force lost their lives in aerial combat.)
   He entered academia on the GI Bill. He came to SF State in 1955, got his Ph.D in 1960 and never said a word, so far as I know, about his experiences as an improbable warrior. It was uniquely American, in a way. Later, as a mild-mannered teacher, he managed to go down that old dusty road and inculcate generations of students, young and old, with the wisdom of  Woodie Guthrie.

Diane Heagerty McGauley

THEN she was lively young Diane Heagerty, feature editor of the Golden Gater and later an administrative assistant to the chair of SF State’s Language Arts Department. After she married Walter McGauley (known to all as “Mac”), they moved to Santa Rosa. In 1971, she co-founded Actors' Theater for Children. Mac, an optometrist, died in 1989. Disabled by a series of small strokes, Diane died Dec. 4, 2006. She was 73. She leaves twin daughters and a son.

Lynn Ludlow

September 2008

Person Lynn Ludlow
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