Category Archives: Obituary

Roger Ebert, 70, Chicago Sun-Times Movie Critic

iera Beach ministry that helps homeless now needs help itself
Story by Lynn Gordon/CBS 12 News
RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — A local outreach ministry that helps the hungry and the homeless, now needs help itself from the community

Marie Antoinette Jean Pierre started the Valley of Love ministries in Riviera Beach in 2004, they recently moved to a new location on Broadway last year, but getting by isn’t easy.

“This ministry right here we run with no money at all its only god that help us here.”

Willie Wright is celebrating is celebrating his 48th birthday inside the ministry in trying to find medical care.

“I get depressed I try not to but sometimes i cant help it.”

Jean Pierre says they run the ministry right with no money at all.

“It’s only god that help us here.”

Despite that, Jean Pierre is determined to get Willie who is HIV positive the help he needs. As she’s done numerous times before, she called paramedics Thursday to take Willie to the hospital but that only takes him off the streets temporarily.

The ministry also provides food and clothing  for homeless people, children and adults, but there’s only only so much they can do without more resources.

A pedestrian was killed on Interstate 95 in Riviera Beach on Thursday.
•    Cuban dancers seek political asylum in…
•    Suspect accused of shoving woman, 79,…
•    1 killed in rollover crash in West Palm…
•    Man chases, tackles purse-snatching…
•    Man arrested after leaving 2 dogs to…
√NY KENNEY. I’M TODD MCDERMOTT. A TERRIFYING SCENE FOR DRIVERS ON I-95: A WOMAN DIES AFTER SHE’S HIT BY A VAN… AND POLICE SAY IT WAS UNAVOIDABLE. CHRIS EMMA IS LIVE NEAR THE SCENE IN RIVIERA BEACH… CHRIS We are standing along the northbound lanes of i95 just south of the blue heron blvd exit. Just behind me was site of a gruesome scene for commuters early this afternoon. Take Vo:At around 1:25 this afternoon Florida highway patrol received a call that a woman had been hit by a car on i95. Police say that an African American woman in her late 20’s ran out into oncoming traffic. They say she ran from the right lane side…avoided the first 2 cars but then was hit and killed by a van driving in the middle lane. Witnesses say that hitting her could not have been avoided. The identity of the victim is still unknown but we do know that the woman had a west palm beach address on her license. Investigators also have not said why the woman was on the side of the highway or why she ran into traffic.Tag:I was able to speak with the driver of the van that hit the woman. He did not want to go on camera and he was pretty shaken up but he did describe for me what happened. He said he was in the middle lane going 60 miles an hour and he never saw her. He said she just popped out of nowhere. No word yet on anything charges.

Read more:

Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Tim Frith said a West Palm Beach woman, later identified as Loody Faustin, 27, walked into oncoming traffic in the northbound lanes of I-95 near the Blue Heron Boulevard exit and was struck by a van.
Witnesses said there was no way the driver could avoid hitting her.
The driver told WPBF 25 News that he was traveling about 60 mph when she just came out of nowhere.
Investigators haven’t said why the woman was on the side of the highway or why she darted into traffic.
Faustin was pronounced dead at the scene. The body could be seen covered by a white sheet.








By Neil Steinberg

Roger Ebert loved movies.

Except for those he hated.

For a film with a daring director, a talented cast, a captivating plot or, ideally, all three, there could be no better advocate than Roger Ebert, who passionately celebrated and promoted excellence in film while deflating the awful, the derivative or the merely mediocre with an observant eye, a sharp wit and a depth of knowledge that delighted his millions of readers and viewers.

“No good film is too long,” he once wrote, a sentiment he felt strongly enough about to have engraved on pens. “No bad movie is short enough.”

Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation’s most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago.

“We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away,” said his wife, Chaz Ebert. “No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.”

He had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland.

He lost part of his lower jaw in 2006, and with it the ability to speak or eat, a calamity that would have driven other men from the public eye. But Ebert refused to hide, instead forging what became a new chapter in his career, an extraordinary chronicle of his devastating illness that won him a new generation of admirers. “No point in denying it,” he wrote, analyzing his medical struggles with characteristic courage, candor and wit, a view that was never tinged with bitterness or self-pity.

On Tuesday, Ebert blogged that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer following a hip fracture suffered in December and would be taking “a leave of presence.” In the blog essay, marking his 46th anniversary of becoming the Sun-Times film critic, Ebert wrote “I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me.”

Always technically savvy — he was an early investor in Google — Ebert let the Internet be his voice. His site,, had millions of fans, and he received a special achievement award as the 2010 “Person of the Year” from the Webby Awards, which noted that “his online journal has raised the bar for the level of poignancy, thoughtfulness and critique one can achieve on the Web.” His Twitter feed had more than 841,000 followers.

Ebert was both widely popular and professionally respected. He not only won a Pulitzer Prize — the first film critic to do so — but his name was added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005, among the movie stars he wrote about so well for so long. His reviews were syndicated in hundreds of newspapers worldwide.

The same year Ebert won the Pulitzer — 1975 — he also launched a new kind of television program: “Opening Soon at a Theater Near You” with Chicago Tribune movie critic Gene Siskel on WTTW-Channel 11. At first it ran monthly.

The combination worked. The trim, balding Siskel perfectly balanced the bespectacled, portly Ebert. In 1978, the show, retitled “Sneak Previews,” moved to PBS for national distribution, and the duo was on its way to becoming a fixture in American culture.

“Tall and thin, short and fat. Laurel and Hardy,” Ebert once wrote. “We were parodied on ‘SNL’ and by Bob Hope and Danny Thomas and, the ultimate honor, in the pages of Mad magazine.”

His colleagues admired him as a workhorse. Ebert reviewed as many as 306 movies a year, after he grew ill scheduling his cancer surgeries around the release of important pictures. He eagerly contributed to other sections of the paper — interviews with and obituaries of movie stars, even political columns on issues he cared strongly about on the editorial pages.

In 1997, dissatisfied with spending his critical powers “locked in the present,” he began a running a feature revisiting classic movies and eventually published three books on “The Great Movies” (and two books on movies he hated). A second column, his “Movie Answer Man,” allowed readers to learn about intriguing details of cinema that only a Roger Ebert knew or could ferret out.

That, too, became a book. Ebert wrote more books than any TV personality since Steve Allen — 17 in all. Not only collections of reviews, both good and bad, and critiques of great movies, but humorous glossaries and even a novel, “Behind the Phantom’s Mask,” that was serialized in the Sun-Times. He even wrote a book about rice cookers, “The Pot and How to Use It,” despite the fact that he could no longer eat. In 2011, his autobiography, “Life Itself,” won rave reviews. “This is the best thing Mr. Ebert has ever written,” Janet Maslin wrote in the New York Times. It is, fittingly enough, being made into a documentary, produced by his longtime friend, Martin Scor­sese.

Roger Joseph Ebert was born in Urbana on June 18, 1942, the son of Walter and Annabel Ebert. His father was an electrician at the University of Illinois, his mother, a bookkeeper. It was a liberal household — Ebert remembers his parents praying for the success of Harry Truman in the election of 1948. As a child, he published a mimeographed neighborhood newspaper and a stamp collectors’ newspaper in elementary school.

In high school, he was, as he later wrote, “demented in [his] zeal for school activities,” joining the swim team, acting in plays, founding the Science Fiction Club, co-hosting Urbana High School’s Saturday morning radio program, co-editing the newspaper, being elected senior class president.

He began his professional writing career at 15, as a sportswriter covering the high school beat for the News-Gazette in Champaign-Urbana.

Ebert went on to the University of Illinois, where he published a weekly journal of politics and opinion as a freshman and served as editor of the Daily Illini his senior year. He graduated in 1964 and studied in South Africa on a Rotary Scholarship.

While still in Urbana, he began free-lancing for the Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily News.

He was accepted at the University of Chicago, where he planned to earn his doctorate in English (an avid reader, Ebert later used literary authors to help explain films — for example, quoting e.e. cummings several times in his review of Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking “2001: A Space Odyssey.”)

But Ebert also had written to Herman Kogan, for whom he free-lanced at the Daily News, asking for a job, and ended up at the Sun-Times in September 1966, working part time. The following April, he was asked to become the newspaper’s film critic when the previous critic, Eleanor Keen, retired.

“I didn’t know the job was open until the day I was given it,” Ebert later said. “I had no idea. Bob Zonka, the features editor, called me into the conference room and said, ‘We’re gonna make you the movie critic.’ It fell out of the sky.”

Ebert’s goal up to that point had been to be “a columnist like Royko,” but he accepted this new stroke of luck, which came at exactly the right time. Movie criticism had been a backwater of journalism, barely more than recounting the plots and stars of movies — the Tribune ran its reviews under a jokey generic byline, “Mae Tinee.” But American cinema was about to enter a period of unprecedented creativity, and criticism would follow along. Restrictive film standards were finally easing up, in part thanks to his efforts. When Ebert began reviewing movies, Chicago still had an official film board that often banned daring movies here — Lynn Redgrave’s “Georgy Girl” was kept off Chicago screens in 1966 — and Ebert immediately began lobbying for elimination of the censorship board.

He had a good eye. His Sept. 25, 1967, review of Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in “Bonnie and Clyde” called the movie “a milestone” and “a landmark.”

“Years from now it is quite possible that ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ will be seen as the definitive film of the 1960s,” he wrote, “showing with sadness, humor and unforgiving detail what one society had come to.”

It was. Though of course Ebert was not infallible — while giving Mike Nichols’ “The Graduate” four stars in the same year, he added that the movie’s “only flaw, I believe, is the introduction of limp, wordy Simon and Garfunkel songs.’’

Ebert plunged into what turned out to be a mini-golden age of Chicago journalism. He found himself befriended by Mike Royko — with whom he wrote an unproduced screenplay. He drank with Royko, and with Nelson Algren and Studs Terkel. He wrote a trashy Hollywood movie, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,’’ for Russ Meyer, having met the king of the buxom B-movie after writing an appreciation of his work.

In later years, Ebert was alternately sheepish and proud of the movie. It was the first “sexploitation” film by a major studio, 20th Century Fox, though Time magazine’s Richard Corliss did call it one of the 10 best films of the 1970s.

It was not Ebert’s only foray into film writing — he was also hired to write a movie for the Sex Pistols, the seminal British punk band in the late 1970s.

Eventually, Sun-Times editor James Hoge demanded that Ebert — who took a leave of absence when he went to Hollywood to write “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” — decide between making films and reviewing them. He chose newspapering, which increasingly became known because of his TV fame, which grew around his complex partnership with Gene Siskel on “Sneak Previews.”

“At first the relationship on TV was edgy and uncomfortable,” Ebert wrote in 1999, after Siskel’s untimely death, at 53. “Our newspaper rivalry was always in the air between us. Gene liked to tell about the time he was taking a nap under a conference table at the television station, overheard a telephone conversation I was having with an editor, and scooped me on the story.”

In 1981, the program was renamed “At the Movies” and moved to Tribune Broadcasting. In 1986, it became “Siskel & Ebert & The Movies” and moved to Buena Vista Television, and the duo began the signature “thumbs up, thumbs down” rating system that Ebert invented.

“When we left to go with Disney . . . we had to change some things because we were afraid of [violating] intellectual property rights,’’ he said. “And I came up with the idea of giving thumbs up and thumbs down. And the reason that Siskel and I were able to trademark that is that the phrase ‘two thumbs up’ in connection with movies had never been used. And in fact, the phrase ‘two thumbs up’ was not in the vernacular. And now, of course, it’s part of the language.”

“Two thumbs up” became their registered trademark and a highly coveted endorsement that inevitably ran at the top of movie advertisements.

After Siskel died in 1999, Ebert auditioned a number of temporary co-hosts and settled on Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper in 2000. At its height, “Ebert & Roeper,” was seen on 200 stations.

“Everyone keeps asking me for my favorite Roger Ebert story, or the one thing about him most people might not have known. Here’s the thing: Roger Ebert has already told all the best Roger Ebert stories in far better fashion than I ever could,” said Roeper, who continued the show after health troubles forced Ebert from the airwaves in 2006, until both men quit in 2008 after a contract dispute.

“And whether you ‘knew’ him only through his reviews or his Twitter feed or his blog, or you were lucky enough to have been his friend for many years, with Roger, what you saw and heard was the 100 percent, unvarnished, real deal,” Roeper said. “There was no ‘off camera’ Roger. He was just as passionate, smart, stubborn, genuine and funny behind the scenes as he was in the public eye. He was a great writer and an even better friend.

“They can remake movies, but no one will ever be able to recreate or match the one and only Roger Ebert.”

All that need be mentioned of Ebert’s social life was that in the early 1980s he briefly went out with the hostess of a modest local TV show called “AM Chicago.” Taking her to the Hamburger Hamlet for dinner, Ebert suggested that she syndicate her show, using his success with Siskel as an example of the kind of riches that awaited. While she didn’t return his romantic interest, Oprah Winfrey did follow his business advice.

In his memoir, Ebert writes of a controlling, alcoholic, faith-obsessed mother whom he was frightened of displeasing. “I would never marry before my mother died,” he wrote. She died in 1987, and in 1992 he got married, for the first time, at age 50, to attorney Chaz Hammel-Smith (later Chaz Hammelsmith), who was the great romance of his life and his rock in sickness, instrumental in helping Ebert continue his workload as his health declined.

“She fills my horizon, she is the great fact of my life, she is the love of my life, she saved me from the fate of living out my life alone,” he wrote.

In addition to his TV and newspaper work, Ebert was a fixture at film festivals around the world — Toronto, Cannes, Telluride — and even created a festival of his own, The Overlooked Film Festival, or just “Ebertfest,” which he began in Champaign in 1999 and dedicated to highlighting neglected classics.

Between 1970 and 2010, Ebert made yearly visits to the University of Colorado’s springtime Conference on World Affairs, where he has presented frame-by-frame critiques of classic movies to enraptured audiences.

He had also used the conference to speak on a variety of subjects, from his romantic life to his recovery from alcoholism — he stopped drinking in 1979 — to the problem of spam email. In 1996, Ebert coined the “Boulder Pledge,” considered a cornerstone in the battle against spam.

“Under no circumstances will I ever purchase anything offered to me as the result of an unsolicited e-mail message,” Ebert wrote. “Nor will I forward chain letters, petitions, mass mailings, or virus warnings to large numbers of others. This is my contribution to the survival of the online community.”

Not only was Ebert eager to correspond with and encourage skilled movie bloggers, but he also put his money where his mouth was, investing early in the Google search engine and making several million dollars doing so.

Ebert received honorary degrees from the American Film Institute, the University of Colorado and the School of the Art Institute. He is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and was honored with a sidewalk medallion under the Chicago Theatre marquee.

He first had surgery to remove a malignant tumor on his thyroid in 2002, and three subsequent surgeries on his salivary gland, all the while refusing to cut back on his TV show or his lifelong pride and joy, his job at the Sun-Times.

“My newspaper job,” he said in 2005, “is my identity.”

But as always with Roger Ebert, that was being too modest. He was a renaissance man whose genius was based on film but by no means limited to it, a great soul who had extraordinary impact on his profession and the world around him.

“Kindness covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoir, “Life Itself.” “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”

Survivors, in addition to his wife, include stepchildren Sonia and Jay, and grandchildren Raven, Emil, Mark and Joseph.


William H. Gray, III, Giant who led the UNCF

Compiled from multiple news sources

William H. Gray III, a third-generation Baptist minister who won a seat in Congress in 1978 and rose to become the highest-ranking black lawmaker in the country, died on Monday in London. He was 71.

No cause of death was immediately available.

Family spokesman Bill Epstein said Rev. Gray was attending the tennis matches at Wimbledon with his youngest son, Andrew. “Apparently, it was a sudden death,” said Epstein, who served as press secretary when Mr. Gray was first elected to Congress.

In Harrisburg, the House stood and paused in a moment of silence. Friends struggled to grasp the news that he was gone – he seemed strong, an avid tennis player. Others who knew Rev. Gray for decades – colleagues, political allies and church members – recalled him as a respected Philadelphia pastor, a fighter for justice and a man of keen political sense who put his charisma to good use.

“He could walk down the hallway, and everybody knew him, he knew everyone,” said Congressman Bob Brady. “I’m absolutely positively shocked. It’s a major, major loss to the city, to the area and to the nation.”

At the time of his death Rev. Gray was chairman emeritus of Gray Global Advisors, a business and government consultancy. Prior to founding the firm, he was president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, for which he raised over $2.3 billion for minority institutions.

His home was the pulpit of Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia, one of Philadelphia’s most elite and best known black churches. In 1972, Rev. Gray succeeded his father, who had succeeded his own father. Rev. Gray remained pastor during the time he served in Congress, from 1979 to 1991, commuting from his home in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington to preach on Sundays.

“If you look back over the last 50 years, there’s a handful of people that stood out as transformative leaders in Philadelphia and Bill Gray is one of them,” said George Burrell, a former city official and longtime political ally who attended Bright Hope under Rev. Gray.

Burrell counted Mr. Gray as one of his two or three closest friends. Their children grew together. Burrell got involved in Mr. Gray’s first campaign for Congress, spending almost every day with him. They played tennis on a regular basis.

In 1991, Rev. Gray surprised political watchers by leaving Congress to lead the college fund. He continued to run the church as pastor.

Friends reacted with shocked surprise Monday evening to news of Rev. Gray’s death, noting his relatively young age.

Rev. Gray represented the Second Congressional District of Pennsylvania and rose to become Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, the first African American in the 20th century to assume that leadership post. He also served as chair of the Budget Committee, and member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Foreign Operations.

“He was a trailblazer. He was a pioneer,” said state Rep. Dwight Evans, who considered Mr. Gray a mentor and teacher. “I learned a lot from him about building relationships with rural legislators. He set a tone, not just for Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, but for the nation.”

In Congress, he helped shape the direction of U.S. foreign policy and pushed government resources towards international aid and development.

“I think he could have been speaker of the House if he had stayed in,” said Peter Vaira, a former U.S. Attorney and longtime friend. “Everybody – no matter which side you were on – could work with him.”

Vaira served as Rev. Gray’s attorney during a 1991 federal investigation that resulted in no charges. Federal authorities were seeking evidence in a criminal investigation that focused on the congressman’s finances, according to published accounts. On Monday, Vaira dismissed the investigation as “purely political.”

Rev. Gray’s influence in Philadelphia was enormous. He worked relentlessly for social justice and mentored a generation of young African American leaders.

The Rev. William B. Moore felt numb last night after hearing the news. The two met in 1974 in Philadelphia, and Moore worked for Rev. Gray in Congress. He would fill in at Bright Hope when Rev. Gray was not available.

“A great humanitarian,” Moore said. “He loved people. He loved helping people. He loved helping the city.”

Rev. Gray would say he was a politician but then add “first and foremost, I am a Baptist preacher,” Moore said.

“We would end each conversation telling each other how much we loved each other and appreciated each other,” Moore said. “He was very loyal to his friends.”

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Marian Tasco worked as Mr. Gray’s campaign manager in 1977 and 1978 and went on to work as his director of constituent services in Philadelphia between 1979 and 1983, when he was in Congress.

She was still trying to process the news of her mentor’s death on Monday.

“He’s just not somebody I would expect not to be here,” said Tasco.

Rev. Gray was always there, said Bill Miller IV, whose 50th Ward organization in Northwest Philadelphia helped elect Mr. Gray to Congress and remained closely allied with him over decades. Rev. Gray was so attentive to detail, even as the U.S. House majority whip, that he would call his people in Philadelphia in the middle of the night to talk strategy in elections.

“He rose to the highest level of Congress, and yet he would still call you about ward and division politics,” said Miller, a public-relations executive and veteran political consultant. He and his wife Linda, the former ward chair, were at Tasco’s house Monday to try and process the news.

They would strategize, always over lunch, all over the place – Holmes’ Restaurant in Camden, Susanna Foo in Center City, Tobin’s in West Oak Lane – where he would play Pac-Man between feasting on fried chicken and fish. He loved Pac-Man so much that he bought a real arcade version for his house.

Tasco said Rev. Gray discussed his health during a conversation last week. He told her he was following his doctor’s orders “because I want to be here a long time and enjoy my grandchildren,” Tasco recalled.

Rev. Gray doted on his two grandchildren, she said. And he was a great orator, she noted. “Short, sweet, to the point. He left you feeling good,” Tasco said.

“I think Bill Gray was the most significant African American political figure in Philadelphia in the past 35 years,” former Mayor Wilson Goode said Monday night. “His accomplishments as a Congressmen, as budget chair and majority whip put Philadelphia on the map. did incredible work in so many ways for this city.”

Goode said he and Rev. Gray met 42 years ago. They worked together on Rev. Gray’s unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 1976. Rev. Gray was a significant supporter when Goode ran for mayor in 1983.

The two had met four times during the past year, including twice for lunch in Washington.

Goode rattled off names – Burrell, Tasco, Evans, Bishop, Chaka Fattah. “There is a whole list of people who got elected becasue Congressman Gray supported them”

“He was a supporter of women in politics,” said Rep. Louise Bishop (D., Phila.). “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him. I did not dream I would ever be serving in House of Representatives. There is a void, Congressman Gray has been called to another assignment.”

Rev. Gray “built a very significant and formidable political organization in this town,” said Carl Singley, former dean of the Temple Law School, referring to Mr. Gray’s helping develop prominent political figures such as U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and former State Rep. John F. White Jr.

In 2004, after spending half his life as pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church of North Philadelphia, Rev. Gray decided to step down, ending three generations of successive family leadership.

“We’ve had five pastors – and three of them were named William H. Gray,” said a friend and member of Bright Hope, Augusta Clark.

Gray had preached at Bright Hope since 1972, after the death of his father, William H. Gray Jr. The plan was for Gray to be succeeded by Rev. Cean James, the church’s executive pastor.

But in 2005 the church was jarred by two revelations and Rev. Gray besieged with questions: Why did Bright Hope, widely considered Philadelphia’s proudest and most elite black church, fail to detect false academic claims made by the young preacher who was designated to succeed Rev. Gray? And why did the church allow a choir director recently accused of sexual offenses with underage girls to remain in his job?

Rev. Gray found himself on the defensive and was forced to cancel his plan to retire from the church, even though he had already had begun a new job as a consultant at a major law firm in Washington.

On a freezing cold day in February 2007, Rev. Gray gave his farewell sermon at Bright Hope Baptist Church. Hundreds of parishioners and guests braved bitter cold and jostled for pew space to hear him.

Standing on the same pulpit from which the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, the then 65-year-old former congressman read a verse from Joshua. He used the transfer in leadership of the Israelites from Moses to Joshua as a metaphor for the passing of church leadership to Kevin Johnson, a former assistant minister at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem.

“We must grow and evolve into what God intended us to become,” Rev. Gray shouted, his arms reaching toward the often cheering crowd. “Our new Joshua is well-trained and filled with the holy spirit.”

Rev. Gray said afterward that he planned to spend more time with his family, and would remain active with the church as pastor emeritus.


Even in Death, my Friend Gave Hope to the Hopeless

By C. Ron Allen



BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Palm Beach County has lost a champion with the passing of the Rev. Lance Chaney. I find myself questioning God – as I do quite often these days – why did he have to call home so many of my dear friends so soon?  But then, I’m reminded that it is not man’s plan, but God’s will. After all, we all are on loan for just a while.

I had the pleasure of meeting Bro. Chaney shortly after he arrived in town in June 2002. One of his parishioners and a dear friend told me that he was a member of my fraternity. So I made it my duty to meet him within days.

He was so excited to meet me and we had lunch at one of my favorite local dining establishments. We’ve been friends since. He has spoken to my mentoring program at both Atlantic High and Village Academy on numerous occasions. And among the things I admired about him was his ability to make everyone feel comfortable.

He was a people’s preacher. The students could relate to him although he was a pastor. He spoke to them from a biblical perspective but he broke it down to where each student understood the purpose of his or her existence. He was clear, insightful and persuasive but not loud. He was gentle. That is the way he was as a man and as a pastor.

He was a visionary and it was in his DNA to help those with less means. Before taking the helm at St. John, he led the flock at Greater Antioch Baptist Church of Rock Island, Illinois for 18 years.

There he helped establish a health clinic and bookstore. He served on the school board, the NAACP Board of Directors and more. He started the Quad-City Wide Church Softball League, the “Hoop In The Hood” 3-on3 basketball tournament and Double Dutch contest.  He also formed A Place For Us Ministry to help bi-racial families develop and grow in the worship services. He changed lives, he won souls for Christ. And he attracted hundreds of new worshipers.

So when he moved his family to Boynton Beach, he didn’t slow down. It was not in this husband and father of three to coast.

rev chaney 1Unlike many, he practiced what he preached. He quickly immersed in the fiber of the community, serving as speaker and panelist at civic events. He was active in supporting the Save Darfur Coalition and The Haiti Relief efforts, he served on the Correction Task Force for the Criminal Justice Commission of Palm Beach County and on the boards of Genesis Community Health, Inc., and the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency. He was chairman of Pathways to Prosperity (the church’s non-profit rehabilitation center) and Day Star Academy of Excellence, among other community endeavors.

His congregation grew from about 800 to 3,000.

In October 2007, he started the church’s prayer circles and “Jericho Marches” to reclaim his neighborhood and rid it, little by little, of drug dealing, shootings and other crimes.

Church members marched twice weekly, met and reached out to addicts and homeless people they found on the streets around the church before services on Wednesday nights and after services Sunday mornings.

He did this back in his hometown of Rock Island as his childhood friend, Troy F. Bland, knows quite well.

“I knew Pastor when he was just Lance coming to the baseball park during the summers in the ’70s watching us play baseball,” Bland told me recently. “He is my older sister’s age. (I believe he was a graduate of the class of 1975).  But although being a few years older than myself, I only remember him being supportive to all of the younger ball players.”

After recovery from drug abuse, Bland wrote a play for a neighboring church and Rev. Chaney asked him to do the same for Easter at Antioch.

“It was great and during the production rehearsals and time spent, I grew to know that he had a genuine heart for God,” said Bland, who now works in the information technology field and lives in Colorado. “Our relationship became great as he kept me busy during a critical time in my recovery, allowing me to get past the roughest stage. I am blessed to know him before and during his calling. I do believe that he did make changes to this world for the better.”

Indeed he did.

When gun violence crippled the city some years ago, he was pivotal in putting together a rally. He called for the arrests of the shooters and he instilled hope. He was the voice of reason the community needed to hear.

“We all have a race to run and Pastor Chaney finished his course,” said Vice Mayor Woodrow Hay who is also on the ministerial staff at St. John. “We are better because of him.”

He represented many, especially after he was first diagnosed with prostate cancer during a routine check in June 2008.

I recalled him telling me how wonderful the experience was and how it helped him find the importance of his family and the strength of his faith. And even then, he wanted to help.

“I need to be a voice for those who have the disease and are fearful,” he said. “My brother, I need to let them know there’s hope, that it is not a death sentence. Our technology has come a long way and when I connect it to my faith, it gives me strength to survive.”

That’s the kind of person my brother and friend was.

As one of his parishioners and good friend said recently, “You felt like you could accomplish anything after speaking with Reverend Chaney.”

He gave hope to the hopeless.


Services set for Rev. Lance Chaney

By Zackery Macdonald

BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Funeral services  for Rev. Lance Chaney, the firebrand pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Boynton Beach, will be Sunday, July 28, at 5 p.m.

Visitation will be Saturday, July 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Church, 900 N. Seacrest Blvd. 

Rev. Chaney died Sunday, July 21, after an extended illness. He was 56.

A native of Rock Island, Ill., Mr. Chaney took the helm as the seventh pastor of the 104-year-old church in 2002.



Rev. Lance Chaney, 56, Beloved, Respected Spiritual Leader

By Zackery Macdonald

BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Rev. Lance Chaney, the firebrand pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Boynton Beach, has died after an extended illness. He was 56.

Rev. Chaney, who had been battling prostate cancer, died Sunday, July 21.

“My heart is saddened by St. John’s great loss,” Tamara Wilbur wrote on the church’s Facebook site. “Pastor Chaney used to say absent from the body, present with the Lord. May God lighten your sorrow, and keep you strong with the knowledge that Pastor Chaney is still present in spirit. It was a true honor and privilege to have heard his anointed sermons. I thank our Heavenly Father for that opportunity. Heaven must certainly be happy right now having such a wonderful spirit at the Pearly Gates.”

A native of Rock Island, Ill., Mr. Chaney took the helm as the seventh pastor of the 104-year-old church in 2002 after the death of the previous leader of 42 years, Rev. R.M. Lee. Rev. Chaney had served as the pastor of the Greater Antioch Baptist Church of Rock Island for 18 years.

Under his leadership, the church expanded its services, added a Teen Bible Study, established the church newsletter and founded a K-5 charter school, Day Star Academy of Excellence. The church also opened a preschool earlier this year – and future plans include a family resource center.

His parishioners loved and respected him as their spiritual leader. He was recognized in Boynton Beach and the surrounding areas as a man who put his community before himself and proved to be a man whose personality was embraced by all.

“You felt like you could accomplish anything after speaking with Reverend Chaney,” an emotional Joi Odom Grant, the granddaughter of Rev. Lee, said.

She noted his “extraordinary hope for all people and generations to come”.

“The community of Boynton has truly lost a great leader today,” Odom Grant said with a heavy heart.

Rev. Chaney was also civic-minded.

In the eve of the historic presidential election in 2008, he wanted to make sure every member of his congregation and his community had the chance to vote.

He urged city and county leaders to work together to open an early-voting location in the city so they didn’t have to drive five miles west to vote.

Early-polling spots lined the western fringes of developed Palm Beach County, but voters living east of Interstate 95 from southern Lake Worth to Delray Beach in the densely populated and heavily minority neighborhoods had to drive at least a 5-mile to a voting site.

Having one in eastern Boynton Beach would be “far more convenient than going to Gun Club Road or way out to Jog Road,” he told them, referring to the main Supervisor of Elections Office and the West Boynton Branch Library, adding that the neglected areas lean Democratic whether “by design or by coincidence.”

“We feel that all voters should have the opportunity to vote early, regardless of their affiliation,” he said.

“Because this is a historic election, the turnout is going to be astronomical,” he said. “We have too many seniors who cannot wait in those long lines or who have no faith in the absentee voting process.”

Mr. Chaney discovered his cancer during a routine check in June 2008.

“I think whenever you hear the word ‘cancer’ you think about mortality and your faith steps in,” he said shortly after delivering his first sermon following his diagnosis in September 2008. “It’s been a wonderful experience for me. It helped me find the importance of my family and the strength of my faith.”

He became a crusader for colon, prostate and breast cancer testing and offered health screenings and testing at the church.

Survivors include his wife, Marilane and three children, Lance Alexander, 28, Ashley, 24, and Allison 18.

Visitation will be Saturday, July 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 900 N. Seacrest Blvd. Services  will be Sunday at 5 p.m.

Share comments or contact the reporter at or 561-665-0151.


Helen Thomas Dead: Pioneering White House Reporter Dies At 92


The Huffington Post  |

Helen Thomas, the trailblazing reporter and columnist who was known as the “Dean of the White House Press Corps,” has died at 92.

The Gridiron Club, the press group that counted Thomas as its first female member, announced the news in an email, Politico first reported. The Associated Press saidThomas had been sick “for a long time.”

DBT helen thomas 1Thomas was the first woman to become a chief White House correspondent for a wire service, and the first to join—and lead—the White House Correspondents’ Association. She served as White House correspondent for United Press International (UPI) for 39 years. She then moved to Hearst, where she became a columnist with increasingly open political views, though she retained her prime spot at White House press briefings.

Thomas covered every president from Kennedy to Obama. She was the only woman who traveled with Richard Nixon on his trip to China. She was the person who ended every presidential press conference by saying, on behalf of her fellow journalists, “Thank you, Mr. President.”

By the end of her career, her chair in the White House briefing room had been adorned with, as the New York Times wrote, “a small plaque with her name, the only seat in the briefing room designated by the name of a person, not a news organization.”

Thomas became known for her tough, relentless questioning of presidents and press secretaries. It was not an uncommon sight to see a president repeatedly saying, “Helen—Helen—Helen,” as he tried to get a word in edgewise. She became a special foe of the Bush administration, whose policies she openly loathed. President Bush famously refused to call on her at press conferences for years at a time, perhaps due to exchanges like this one, as described by the AP:

In March 2005, she confronted Bush with the proposition that “your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis” and every justification for the attack proved false.”Why did you really want to go to war?” she demanded.

When Bush began explaining his rationale, she interjected: “They didn’t do anything to you, or to our country.”

“Excuse me for a second,” Bush replied. “They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaeda. That’s where al-Qaeda trained.”

“I’m talking about Iraq,” she said.


It was that outspokenness that led to Thomas’s resignation from her White House job in 2010. After she was recorded on tape saying she thought Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine,” the ensuing controversy forced her to step down.

Even so, on Saturday, her former colleagues remembered Thomas for the paths she carved:

Steven Thomma, the current president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, hailed Thomas’s legacy in a statement:

Starting with the Kennedy administration, she was the first woman to cover the president and not just the First Lady.At her urging in 1962, Kennedy said he would not attend the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents Association unless it was opened to women for the first time. It was.

And in 1975-76, she served as the first woman president of the association.

Women and men who’ve followed in the press corps all owe a debt of gratitude for the work Helen did and the doors she opened. All of our journalism is the better for it.


Read more on Thomas’s life from her Associated Press obituary:

Her disdain for White House secrecy and dodging spanned five decades, back to President John Kennedy. Her freedom to voice her peppery opinions as a speaker and a Hearst columnist came late in her career.The Bush administration marginalized her, clearly peeved with a journalist who had challenged President George W. Bush to his face on the Iraq war and declared him the worst president in history.

After she quit UPI in 2000 – by then an outsized figure in a shrunken organization – her influence waned.

Thomas was accustomed to getting under the skin of presidents, if not to the cold shoulder.

“If you want to be loved,” she said years earlier, “go into something else.”

There was a lighter mood in August 2009, on her 89th birthday, when President Barack Obama popped into in the White House briefing room unannounced. He led the roomful of reporters in singing “Happy Birthday to You” and gave her cupcakes. As it happened, it was the president’s birthday too, his 48th.

Thomas was at the forefront of women’s achievements in journalism. She was one of the first female reporters to break out of the White House “women’s beat” – the soft stories about presidents’ kids, wives, their teas and their hairdos – and cover the hard news on an equal footing with men.

She became the first female White House bureau chief for a wire service when UPI named her to the position in 1974. She was also the first female officer at the National Press Club, where women had once been barred as members and she had to fight for admission into the 1959 luncheon speech where Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev warned: “We will bury you.”

The belligerent Khrushchev was an unlikely ally in one sense. He had refused to speak at any Washington venue that excluded women, she said.

Thomas fought, too, for a more open presidency, resisting all moves by a succession of administrations to restrict press access.

“People will never know how hard it is to get information,” Thomas told an interviewer, “especially if it’s locked up behind official doors where, if politicians had their way, they’d stamp TOP SECRET on the color of the walls.”

Born in Winchester, Ky., to Lebanese immigrants, Thomas was the seventh of nine children. It was in high school, after working on the student newspaper, that she decided she wanted to become a reporter.

After graduating from Detroit’s Wayne University (now Wayne State University), Thomas headed straight for the nation’s capital. She landed a $17.50-a-week position as a copy girl, with duties that included fetching coffee and doughnuts for editors at the Washington Daily News.

United Press – later United Press International – soon hired her to write local news stories for the radio wire. Her assignments were relegated at first to women’s news, society items and celebrity profiles.

Her big break came after the 1960 election that sent Kennedy to the White House, and landed Thomas her first assignment related to the presidency. She was sent to Palm Beach, Fla., to cover the vacation of the president-elect and his family.

JFK’s successor, Lyndon Johnson, complained that he learned of his daughter Luci’s engagement from Thomas’s story.

Bigger and better assignments would follow for Thomas, among them President Richard M. Nixon’s breakthrough trip to China in 1972.

When the Watergate scandal began consuming Nixon’s presidency, Martha Mitchell, the notoriously unguarded wife of the attorney general, would call Thomas late at night to unload her frustrations at what she saw as the betrayal of her husband John by the president’s men.

It was also during the Nixon administration that the woman who scooped so many others was herself scooped – by the first lady. Pat Nixon was the one who announced to the Washington press corps that Thomas was engaged to Douglas Cornell, chief White House correspondent for UPI’s archrival, AP.

They were married in 1971. Cornell died 11 years later.



Helen Thomas, 1920-2013

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Inspirational YouTube Star, Talia Joy Castellano, Dies at 13


The Huffington Post

Ellen DeGeneres’ honorary CoverGirl, Talia Joy Castellano, has died of cancer.

The charming teen that inspired thousands with her YouTube make-up tutorials, was 13.

With wise beauty tips and an inspirational story, Talia became an Internet sensation and captivated many with her extensive cosmetic knowledge as well as her experience fighting two forms of aggressive cancer: neuroblastoma and preleukemia. On Tuesday, a message appeared on the teen’s Facebook page announcing her death.

dbt Talia 1‪#‎prayfortalia‬ It is with a heavy heart that we share with all of you that Talia has earned her wings at 11:22am. Please lift her beautiful soul, her beautiful light to heaven and please send your love and prayers to her family during this most difficult time. God speed little one, may you be free from pain and suffering, may your soul feel the light and love that you brought to so many of us on this Earth during the short time you were her with us. We will miss you more than you will ever know baby girl.

Last summer, doctors told Talia her condition had left her with four months to 1 year to live. On Monday, a Facebook post updated fans saying the teen had been in the hospital for almost 6 months.

On her YouTube channel, taliajoy18, Talia demonstrated great skill with matte bronzer, eyeliner, false eyelashes and more. Despite losing her hair to chemotherapy, the teen’s profile shows a photo of Talia with “Make Up Is My Wig” colorfully written on her head.

The teen’s YouTube channel, which included make-up tutorials and personal video blogs about her cancer treatments, has over 750,000 subscribers.

“YouTube, and all the support that I get from everyone telling me that I’m inspiring and not to give up, it really makes you stop and think about how many people there are that love you… You’re not there alone,” Talia told Shira Lazar, co-founder of WhatsTrending, in August 2012.

In September, Ellen DeGeneres invited the Florida native to appear on her show and revealed that Talia had been chosen to be an honorary CoverGirl.

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talia joy castellano dead

On Tuesday, Ellen and Talia’s fans took to Twitter to mourn the teen’s death.

In a video interview with The Truth 365, Talia was asked how she would like to be remembered.

“In a hundred years, I would like to be remembered as the bubbly girl who wanted to do something about childhood cancer,” Talia said.