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The International Brotherhood of Magicians

18 Jan

12 magicians honored in February Broken Wand

Category: Broken Wand   Posted by: C. DENNIS SCHICK





Fred D. Ball, 78, of Honolulu, Hawaii, died December 23, 2017. He was a former I.B.M. member (1966-1986), but he regularly attended local I.B.M. and S.A.M. meetings until his last days. Born in Rock Island, Illinois, he worked his way through college as an entertainer while earning a degree at Western Illinois University. He then earned a master’s degree at the University of Hawaii. and stayed for a full entertainment career. He was an actor, comedian, magician, balloon twister and television personality.  He owned “Fun Enterprises.” He was widely known as “Professor Fun,” a television game show character, with his signature graduation cap. As “Freddie Shaka,” he was a comedic music artist. As an actor he appeared in such television shows as the original “Hawaii 5-0,” “Magnum P.I.,” and “Baywatch.” He also acted in several movies. Survivors include one sister who lives in Illinois.



Edwin (Ed) E. Eckl, 83, of Beverly, Massachusetts, died January 6, 2018. He held I.B.M. member number 12233 since 1950 (sixty-eight years). He was a member of the Order of Merlin Excelsior (sixty years a continuous member). He was a former member of Ring 79 (Binghamton, New York). He also was a member of the Society of American Magicians, and The Magic Castle (London, England). A native of St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania, he was raised by an aunt and uncle, in whose honor he established a scholarship at Penn State University, from which he graduated. He developed a love for magic as a child and performed shows on a homemade stage. He also performed at Blue and Gold Banquets and other local venues. He served in the U.S. Army and later had a successful career as a chemist, working for several companies in upstate New York and suburban Boston, retiring in 1996. In 1980 he co-authored “The Creative Card Magic of William P. Miesel,” with Miesel, published by Ed’s Unikorn Magic. From 1983 to 2006, Ed collaborated with Bill Miesel to publish one hundred issues of “The Precursor” magazine. He attended many magic gatherings, including his favorite, the 4F Close-up Convention. His act included magic, humor and clever word-play, but he always gave credit to his faithful card-finding duck, Myra. He kept his sizable collection of magic memorabilia in what he called his “Clutter Cottage.”



Johnny Robert Fox, 64, of Maryland, died December 17, 2017, of liver cancer. He was a former member of the I.B.M. Although he was diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year, he continued to perform, as recently as October at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, where he had been a regular for thirty-seven years. A man on many talents -- including sleight-of-hand magic and hammering a spike up his nose -- he was primarily known as a sword swallower, and was in much demand throughout the country. From 1999 to 2005 he also ran the Freakatorium, El Museo Loco -- a museum on New York’s Lower East Side, that housed such artifacts as clothing worn by Tom Thumb (the P.T. Barnum performer); a mummified cat supposedly from an Egyptian tomb; and a glass eye that supposedly belonged to Sammy Davis Jr. Born in Minneapolis, he grew up in Connecticut. His father took him to the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts as a boy, where he saw his first sword swallower. Later he developed his own magic and comedy act, performing at fairs and sidewalk shows, He gradually added other stunts like fire-eating, to attract crowds. Then in 1978 he trained himself to swallow swords, and it became his main attraction. According to sources, he was married and divorced several times, and was survived by a son, Kelly, and companion Barbara Calvert. 



Debra (Debbie) Ann Garay, 63, of Yalaha, Florida, died January 6, 2018. She was a former associate member of the I.B.M., and was a member of the Society of American Magicians, the International Street Performers Association, and the Music Therapy Association. Born in New York City, she graduated from Florida State University. She was project director for Brain Wellness Academy for Seniors at Waterman Village of Mount Dora. She had been the Entertainment Special Event Coordinator at Universal Studios Florida. Survivors include her husband of thirty-nine years, Dan Dyer; father, Oswald Garay, of Mildenhall, England; mother, Rosario Garay Miller; brother, Kevin; and aunt Sara Rodriquez.  



Walter B. Graham, 94, of Omaha, Nebraska, died January 2, 2018. His I.B.M. membership number was 7134, and he had been a member since 1968. He was a member of the Order of Merlin Excalibur (fifty years a continuous member). He also was a member of the Magic Collector’s Society, and the Omaha Magical Society, of which he was president six times. Born in Omaha, he was a life-long resident. He served in the U.S. Navy, 1942-1946, attended Doane College and graduated from Omaha University. He performed magic for over eight decades, including birthday parties, banquets and special events at schools, private homes, restaurants and retirement centers. Over the years each of his granddaughters took turns serving as his assistant. In addition to performing magic, he was a magic historian and collector of antique magic props, tricks and posters. He privately published “David P. Abbott’s Book of Mysteries,” a major contribution to magic literature. While known for his magic, he also was a successful business owner and graphic arts innovator. In 1948, he founded Modern Litho, and later started Dot Graphic Arts Supply Company. Prior to computers, his paste-up methods and techniques were widely adopted, including his own graphic arts tool inventions, such as his Color-Coded Centering Rule. Survivors include his daughters, Laura Iliff, and Marianne Hawkins; three granddaughters, and five great-grandchildren.



Edward Bryan Hands, 74, of Covington, Louisiana (formerly of Vicksburg, Mississippi), died at home December 14, 2017. He was a former member of the I.B.M. (2006-2014). He was a member of Ring 98 (Jackson, Mississippi). Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University in Geology. After working several years for the Bureau of Lands and Mines, he enrolled at Washington State University, earning a Master’s in Oceanography. In 1983 he moved to Vicksburg to work for the Waterways Experiment Station as a writer. He published more than fifty scientific articles. After his retirement he pursued his passion of magic. His wife was his assistant and they were known as “The Entertaining Hands.” They performed in schools, churches, retirement homes, nursing home and hospitals. Survivors include his wife of twenty-seven years, Hilda; sons Jason, Edward (Vicki), and Morgan; daughters Debbie Sigh, Lowry Fowler, and Jolie (Brennon) Goodreau; eleven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the Church of the Holy Trinity, 900 South Street, Vicksburg, MS 39180.



James E. Harvey, 90, of Eureka, California, died September 3, 2017. His I.B.M. membership number was 13026, and he had been a member since 1971 (forty-six years). He was a member of the Order of Merlin Shield (thirty-five years a continuous member). Known to almost everyone as Harvey, he was a native of Buffalo, New York. He worked for the Eureka City Schools for over twenty years, in charge of the high school auditorium. He was a professional magician who also stood in for Santa Claus on many occasions. He served in the Marines during the Korean War and later served in the California National Guard. Survivors include his three children, their spouses, two grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions are suggested to Toys for Tots, Humboldt Hospice, or the Salvation Army.



Frederick William (Bill) Kuethe, Jr., 84, of Cantonsville, Maryland (formerly of Glen Burnie, Maryland), died September 24, 2017. He was a former member of the I.B.M. (1965-2002). He was a member of the Order of Merlin Shield (thirty-five years a continuous member). A graduate of John Hopkins University, he served in the U.S. Army in Korea. He was a well-known banker, businessman and volunteer in his community. He maintained a substantial private library of magic memorabilia. Starting in 1962 he self-published “The Magic Cauldron,” authored the “Journal of Necromantic Numismatics,” and “Ye Magical Bloodhound,” and co-authored reference books on magician tokens. He also researched his genealogy back forty-two generations. Survivors include his wife of fifty-nine years, Beverly; their four children: Frederick (Kathryn), Marrian McCormick, Melinda (Tim) Smith), and Edward; ten grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter. Memorial donations are requested to The Kuethe Library, P.O. Box 218, Glen Burnie, MD 21060.



Bernadotta Ann (Bunny) Luckner, 100, of Corning, New York, died December 20, 2017, five days after her one hundredth birthday. Born in Tiskilwa, Illinois, after graduating from high school in 1935, she went to work for Harry Blackstone, Sr., as his assistant, touring the United States and Canada. She was known as the Floating Lady Princess Karnac. Later she was a Red Cross Nurse’s Aide Volunteer at Corning Hospital during World War II, then worked at JC Penney for ten years and Gates Rockwell Store for thirty years. She loved to read, sew, embroider, and garden. Survivors include her son, eleven grandchildren, sixteen great grandchildren, and seventeen great-great grandchildren.




Recently, the I.B.M. Headquarters office learned that Henry Muller, 86, of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, died February 28, 2017. Born in Czechoslovakia, he was co-founder and curator of the Houdini Magical Hall of Fame, a public museum in Niagara Falls, Canada, from 1968 to 1995. He, with Dr. Harold A. Stein, opened the museum in May 1968 at 5019 Centre Street. It housed many significant items from Houdini’s personal collection, including the famed Water Torture Cell. Four years after opening, the museum moved a half-block into the old Victoria Park Railway Station, where it remained until it burned down twenty-three years later, April 30, 1995. While some of the collection -- including the Water Torture Cell -- was destroyed in the fire, many pieces survived and are in private collections. Muller also founded Muller’s Meats, Cavalier Motel, and the Niagara Industrial Mall. Survivors include his wife of sixty-four years, Bella; four children: Jerry (Sharon), Alice (Ben Zion), David (Joyce), and Michael (Adrienne); nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. 



Wayne Franklin Ramsdell, 80, of Greenville, Michigan, died December 13, 2017. His I.B.M. member number was 64794, and he had been a member since 2004. He also was a member of Ring 211 (Grand Rapids, Michigan), and Ring 54 (Lansing, Michigan). He loved Grand Rapids and was proud that the 2018 I.B.M. Convention is scheduled there, having promoted it for a long time. More than once he was the largest buyer at Ring 211’s annual auction. He had several big collections, such as one of many types of storage bags and purses, which he shared at a Ring workshop. He loved costumes and showed up in them at the annual Hocus Pocus Party. He retired from RTS of Muskegon, where he worked in sales. He also served in the Ohio National Guard. Survivors include his wife, Nancy; six children: Julie (Tim) McCaul, Bob (Tammi), Todd (Danita) Wabeke, Tammie Thomson, Tony Losey, and Jeff (Jasmine) Losey; eleven grandchildren; one great-grandson; sister, Sharon Ols; and brother, Gary. Memorial contributions may be made to Frederik Meijer Heart Center,

100 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.



Paul Eugene Ricksecker, 81, of Findlay, Ohio, died January 1, 2018.  He held I.B.M. member number 34395 since 1979. He was a member of the Order of Merlin Shield (thirty-five years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 68 (Toledo, Ohio) and the Fellowship of Christian Magicians. Born in Findlay, he graduated from Findlay College in 1981. He worked for RCA, 1954-1970, and Whirlpool Corporation, 1970-1994, retiring as an industrial engineer. He performed as “Hoby Tyler,” clown magician since 1958, in several states and six countries. He claimed to hold the title of “World’s Fastest Magician” by the Guinness Book of World’s Records. Survivors include his wife of forty-three years, Barbara; daughter, Debra Neville; son, Michael (Teresa); stepsons Jeff (Ellen) Melick and Steve Melick; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and brother, Steve (Allison) Frantz. Memorial contributions are suggested to Gideons International, P.O. Box 97251, Washington, DC, 20090-7251.















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