The I.B.M. Blog & Articles

The International Brotherhood of Magicians

24 Jul

13 People Honored in August 2017 Broken Wand

Category: Broken Wand   Posted by: C. DENNIS SCHICK



Francis Hearn Jiang Chia, 87, of Singapore, died April 6, 2017. His I.B.M. membership number was 20791, and he had been a member since 1966 (fifty-one years). He was a member of the Order of Merlin Excalibur (fifty-years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 115 (Singapore). Survivors include his wife, Madeline; children, Jennifer, Lawrence, and Audrey; and brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews.




Recently the I.B.M. Headquarters office was notified that Dr. Michael W. Fordice, 76, of Randolph, New Jersey, died January 8, 2017. His I.B.M. membership number was 41255, and he had been a member since 1986 (thirty-one years). He was a member of the Order of Merlin (twenty five years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 200 (North Brunswick, New Jersey). Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, he had been a resident of Randolph since 1977. He began his career as an organic and clinical chemist, working for Merck & Co., the East Orange V.A. Hospital, and MetPath Inc. before retiring from Roche Diagnostic Systems in 1999. Since retirement he owned and operated Fordice Communications in Randolph. He was an amateur magician, and also was a member of the Society of American Magicians. He also loved Apple computers, barbershop singing, and the Service Dog Project. Survivors include his wife of forty-seven years, Tanya; daughter, Alison; son, Christopher (and partner Heidi Adami); brother, John (Janice); and niece Beth and nephew Jeffrey. Memorial contributions may be made to (S.D.P., 37 Boxford Road, Ipswich, MA 07938.



Helen Grabel, 92, of Alamo, California, died peacefully at home May 9, 2017. Born in Oklahoma, she and her family moved to California during World War II. She was working there as a librarian where she met Lee, who was a magician in Special Services. Every day soldiers from the nearby Army base signed in at her desk. He kept going to the back of the line to sign in again, until she finally agreed to go out with him. They were married in 1944, for seventy one years. (Lee died July 27, 2015 at age ninety-six.) After the war she became his assistant, becoming his famous Levitating Lady and Human Cannonball. Together they toured the country, becoming the most famous magic show anywhere at that time. But with the growing popularity of television, people stopped going to live shows. The Grabels closed their show in 1958, and Lee opened Lee Grabel Realty with Helen as his bookkeeper. The agency was a success for almost twenty years. In 1977, the Grabels took their big show out on the road again. Later, in 1987, they hit the college lecture circuit with a show, “Do Not Believe All You See,” using magic to show audiences how to recognize deception in advertisements, politics, and life. In addition to magic, Helen loved Carmel-By-the-Sea, reading, reminiscing with fellow magicians, and especially her family. Survivors include her daughters, Katy and Cindy; son-in-law Tony; grandchildren, Leah, Kristen and Shawn; and great-grandson, Gabe. Memorial contributions may be made to San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church, 902 Danville Boulevard, Alamo, CA 94507. 



James Hamilton, 74, of San Francisco, California, died May 20, 2017, just seven weeks after being diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer, according to his long-time friend and fellow researcher Margaret Steele. He was born James Muszalski. He was a charter member of the Long Beach Mystics, in 1955, and served as their president in 1958. He was best known as a magic historian and collector who was focused on preserving the legacy of the Hermanns. He also had an extensive magic collection, some of which is being auctioned, with the proceeds going to a fund to preserve and continue his Hermann research.



Michael (Mike) Lee King, 68, of Marietta, Ohio, died June 19, 2017. His I.B.M. membership number was 41353, and he had been a member since 1986 (thirty-one years). He was a member of the Order of Merlin (twenty-five years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 197 (Marietta, Ohio), and the Fellowship of Christian Magicians. Born in Milford, Delaware, he graduated from both Shepherd College and Ohio University. He taught elementary students the love of reading for over thirty years. His magic shows were mainly for children, with a Gospel message. He was active in Tunnel United Methodist Church as a lay speaker, and leading Emmaus Walks and Upward Basketball. In addition to magic and his church, Mike loved hunting, fishing, golfing, gardening, traveling, and refereeing basketball and football. Survivors include his wife of forty-six years, Jane; daughters, Marty Baumgartner and Laura (Kyle) Forni; and grandchildren Adalaide, Neela, Emery and Cruz Forni. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.



Yeager Lee Markins, Jr., 83, of Broaddus, Texas, died April 23, 2017. He was a former member of the I.B.M. (1998-2001). Born in Houston, Texas, he earned a degree in accounting from Rice University. After serving in the United States Air Force, he began a career as a CPA. He also owned an air conditioning company. His true passion was for magic and he loved performing. He was a member of the Dallas Magician Club, and even built illusions for other magicians. In addition to magic, he also enjoyed ham radio and his saltwater fish aquarium. He is survived by his children: Ellen, Yeager III (Maryjane), Frank (Levina), and Cynthia (Teddy) King; nine grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church Music Ministry, 522 West Main, Gun Barrel City, Texas 75156.



Eugene (Gene) Gabriel McCarthy, 69, of Auckland, New Zealand, died July 18, 2017. He was a former member of the I.B.M. (1998-2004). Survivors include his children, Chinon and Tausha; and siblings, Osler, Chris, Sheila, and Merri. Those who attended his Service of Celebration were invited to wear his favorite colors, Pink and White.



John Charles Moehring, 74, of Houston, Texas, died July 9, 2017 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He formerly lived in Henderson, Nevada. He was a member of the Society of American Magicians, and was a former member of the I.B.M. Born in Houston, and reared in Rockdale, he was truly a magic “Man For All Seasons.”  He was a noted magic performer, writer, producer, consultant, and mentor. Beginning as a teenager, he developed self-taught skills over the years into an award-winning manipulative act which featured cards, canes, doves and, yes, salt. It took him all over the world, including before a nationwide audience on “The Ed Sullivan Show” April 24, 1966. He worked as a world-class amusement park performer and show producer, and can be credited with helping establish world-wide popularity of that show business genre. One of the popular shows he produced was the “Wizard’s Secret Magic Show” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where he taught and mentored many young magicians. Along the way he owned and operated Panorama Productions, Inc., an audio-visual production company (1978-1990). In the early 1990s, he began contributing freelance articles to MAGIC Magazine, and in 1996 was named its Associate Editor. He became Editor from 2001-2005, at which time he became editor of the S.A.M. monthly magazine, M-U-M., serving for three years, 2006-2008. He also wrote books: an autobiography of his performing career, “A Texas Trixter” (1987); “The Magical Life of Marshall Brodien” (2007); and “Del Ray America’s Foremost” (2010). Jim Steinmeyer wrote an extensive cover story on Moehring for the February 2006 issue of Genii magazine. It is available online. John also was on the cover of MAGIC Magazine’s June 2016 issue. Upon retirement in 2011, he returned to Houston. His former boss, MAGIC publisher Stan Allen, said “the biggest challenge in writing an obituary on John is capturing the man -- soft spoken, polite, generous, wicked sense of humor you didn’t see coming, and so much more.” Survivors include his son, Charles; sister Jeanne Moehring-Haley; brother-in-law Frank Haley; and cousins Darr Kuykendall and Holly Kuykendall-Bryant.   



Thomas Derek Oldham, 88, of Lincoln, England, died June 26, 2017. He was a former member of the I.B.M. (2008-2011). He was a past member of Ring 25 (London, England), the Magic Circle, the Ilford Magical Society, and the Lincoln Magical Society. He owned and operated a successful retail shoe shop in Upminster, until selling and moving to Lincoln to be closer to his family. He performed stage and close-up magic. Other interests included photography and judo. Survivors include his daughter, Caroline, and granddaughters Rosie and Anna.




Recently the I.B.M. Headquarters Office was notified that Charlotte Edna Scott, 87, of Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada, died December 29, 2016. Her I.B.M. membership number was 14640 and she had been a member since 2012. She was a member of Ring 265 (London, Ontario), and Ring 49 (Hamilton, Ontario). She was a registered nurse and worked in a hospital, and later in several long-term care facilities. She enjoyed traveling, garage sales, and magic with her late husband, Max. Survivors include Linda and Kevin White, Robert Montague, Elizabeth (Scott) Gillott, and Donald Watson. Memorial contributions may be made to the Brad Scott Music Scholarship Fund through the Thames Valley Education Foundation, P.O. Box 5888, London, ON N6A 5L1.  



John Shearer, 85, of Tullibody, Scotland, died July 4, 2017. He was a former member of the I.B.M. Born in Bonnybridge, he was considered Scotland’s greatest internationally-renowned magician. As a youngster, while playing cards with his parents, he became aware of his natural dexterity with cards. This led to his fascination with magic. During his national service with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, one of the officers was an amateur magician, who taught John some tricks. After his service, John developed a magic act and began performing at many venues, from parties to hospitals. After trying to juggle two careers, he finally decided to become a full-time professional conjurer. The rest is history -- tours with traveling troupes, engagements in fancy theaters, and gigs in clubs and on cruise ships. He performed throughout Europe and beyond, for over sixty-four years! His last professional appearance was in 2008. People still remembered his popular “Dippy the Duck,” long after he retired. Among survivors are his wife of nearly six decades, Eleanor; children Keith and Gill; and five grandchildren, and their families.



Captain (Ret.) Bertram (Bert) Allan Cohen Udovin, 92, of Lake Mary, Florida, died July 14, 2017 after a short, sudden illness. Formerly he spent thirty years in Woodbridge, Virginia. His I.B.M. member number was 65782, and he had been a member since 2005. He also was a member of Ring 50 (Washington, D.C.). Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he joined the U.S. Navy during World War II as a Flight Officer, in the Pacific Theater. After the war he entered Brown University, but was called back into active duty during the Korean War. He served twelve years active duty in Florida, Hawaii, and California, and continued in the Naval Reserve until 1985. Bert got into magic in the 1950s in order to use tricks to keep the attention of his students while teaching. That early magic blossomed into sixty-seven years of balloon animals and magic tricks for every child he met. He performed and taught magic to all ages, right up until the week he died, teaching the residents at the Oakmonte Village. On May 6 of this year, he had “one of the best years of my life,” when he was part of an Honor Flight to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. He is survived by his wife of eighteen years, Francis; and daughters Cheryl Udovin, Lani Phillips, and Lisa Thorpe, and their families. Memorial contributions may be made to either the Maitland Jewish Community Security Fund (, and/or the Honor Flight of Central Florida ( His daughter, Lisa, wrote: “My father loved this organization. Thank you for providing him with one of his greatest passions in life -- continued love of magic.”




Recently the I.B.M. Headquarters office was notified that William Walter Yost, 87, of Piedmont, Ohio, died December 17, 2016. His I.B.M. membership number was 17167, and he had been a member since 1958 (fifty-eight years). He was a member of the Order of Merlin Excalibur (fifty years a continuous member). He was a self-employed certified public accountant and insurance agent. In addition to magic, he loved flying his own airplane, having earned his private pilot’s license in 1955. He was a founding member and past president of the Harrison County Airport Authority, and played a key role in bringing the airport to Harrison County in 1962. Surviving are his wife of sixty-five years, Ruth; children Patricia (James) Kasik, and William Jr.; five grandchildren; and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, David and Shirley Waller, Myron and Wanda Thompson, and Walter Thompson. A Broken Wand Ceremony was held in his honor. Memorial contributions may be made to the Piedmont United Methodist Church, 33070 West Main, Piedmont, OH 43983. 






















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