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The International Brotherhood of Magicians

21 Dec

14 People Honored in January Broken Wand

Category: Broken Wand   Posted by: C. DENNIS SCHICK




George H. Baker, Jr., 84, died November 20, 2016, after a short illness. His I.B.M. membership number was 18449, and he had been a member since 1974. He was a member of the Order of Merlin Shield (thirty-five years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 74 (Syracuse, New York), of which the was a past president. He was active in his community and served in the U.S. Coast Guard. He was a teacher’s aide in the North Syracuse School System. For many years he worked as an associate in the Grant and Day’s Department Stores. For many years George was the host of WSYR television’s “Saturday Morning Showboat,” one of the longest-running locally-produced children’s shows in the country. He also was the resident entertainer at a local restaurant, The Castaways, for over twenty-five years. There his stage name was “The Wacky Wizard;” elsewhere he was “George the Magician.” Rather than send Christmas cards, each year he would call everyone on his list to wish them a Merry Christmas. In addition to magic, he was interested in model railroading, and was an Explorer Scout advisor. Survivors include his wife, Arlene; daughters Cindy Stewart and Sandy Humphrey and their families; three grandsons, and three great-daughters. His favorite saying was, “Remember, real magic is in your smile.”



Robert Leo Byrne, 86, of Dubuque, Iowa, died December 6, 2016. He was a former member of the I.B.M. (2000-2015). He was a founding member of Ring 93 (Dubuque, Iowa). He loved magic. He earned a Civil Engineering degree from the University of Colorado, and for many years edited Western Construction, a trade magazine in San Francisco. But he decided to pursue a full-time career in writing. He wrote a column for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald newspaper, and compiled them in a book, “Behold My Shorts.” He also wrote a book, “Memories of a Non-Jewish Childhood,” which was made into a musical. He was a leading authority on pool and billiards, having written many books and made numerous instructional videos on them.  Survivors include his wife, Cindy; son, Russell (Jackie); grandchildren Julia and Tyler; and brothers Tom and John, and their families. 



Donald M. Cox, 81, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, died August 9, 2016, after a long illness. His I.B.M. number was 23348, and he had been a member since 1970. He was a member of the Order of Merlin Shield (thirty-five years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 58 (Knoxville, Tennessee), and Ring 303 (Fort Myers, Florida). He was one of the founding members of Ring 58. He graduated from Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, and worked thirty years for the Department of Energy in Oak Ridge. He enjoyed his winters in Florida, joined a Ring there, and was active in the food program for a local church. He attended forty consecutive conventions of the Winter Carnival of Magic in Gatlinburg. In his early days he taught magic to youngsters at the Boys Club in Oak Ridge, including David Fee, the well-known Pigeon Forge entertainment businessman. Survivors include his wife of fifty-nine years, Julia; son Mark; grandson Aaron (Natasha); sisters Patty York, and Judy (William) Wallace. A Broken Wand ceremony was performed in his honor.



Robert W. Day, 58, of Terry, Mississippi, died December 3, 2016. His I.B.M. member number was 38467, and he had been a member since 2007. He was a member of Ring 98 (Jackson, Mississippi). He was a magician since he was ten, performing in many places and venues, including churches, trade shows and even in Branson, Missouri. But he most enjoyed performing at benefits for the military. Survivors include his wife, Pauline; daughters Holly and April; son Jerry Farmer; brothers Mike, Bill and Kevin, and their families; and four grandchildren. 



Keith McMurchy Hunter, 89, of Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, died December 8, 2016. His I.B.M. member number was 61161, and he had been a member since 2000. A life-long resident of Orangeville, he began working as a butcher with Loblaws, and moonlighted as a drummer with a local band. Then he became co-owner of a local IGA grocery store. In his early forties, he joined Manulife Insurance Company and owned his own insurance agency for twenty-five years. Upon retirement he took up a new passion and performed magic throughout Canada the rest of his life. He loved history of all sorts, and collected antiques. He researched his own family’s history and wrote a book on it. He was a sixty-year Rotarian. Survivors include his wife of sixty years, Joan; children Linda (Brian) and Karen (Carsten) Sorensen; and grandchildren Eric, Drew, Connor and Hayley). Memorial contributions may be made to the Westminster United Church Building Fund, 247 Broadway, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada L9W 2Z5.



Jacosa Nao Kato, 34, of Los Angeles, California, died November 24, 2016 from an accidental fall from a building. She was an assistant to and stepdaughter of magician Jonathan Pendragon. News reports said that she had performed with Pendragon at the Magic Castle the evening before. After leaving the Castle, she and her boyfriend decided to climb onto a roof of a four-story apartment building to stargaze, when she apparently slipped on the fire escape ladder and fell to her death. She was the daughter of West McDonough, who is Pendragon’s wife. Kato was a well-known and talented aerialist and acrobat, and was an instructor at the Circus Arts Institute in California. Among survivors are her mother, Jen Macuch Kato; father, Kiyoaki Kato; sister, Kasumi Kato; and grandfather, Marvin Macuch. Also, god-family West Yarbrough McDonough, James Flanagan, Jason Flanagan, and Claude Yarbrough. For more information, including memorial contributions, go to



Leonard M. Lazar, 84, of Manchester, Massachusetts, died November 19, 2016. His I.B.M. member number was 46593, and he had been a member since 1990. He was a member of the Order of Merlin (twenty-five years a continuous member). He also was a member of the Society of American Magicians. As a boy, growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he became enamored with magic at Kanter’s Magic Shop, spending hours watching traveling magicians perform in the 1940s. He was hooked for life. Performing magic helped pay for his education, first for two degrees at Temple University in Philadelphia, and later a Ph.D. in engineering at the University of Connecticut.  He worked as a computer programmer at United Technologies, and later co-founded General Digital Corporation, which created a groundbreaking touch-screen computer which performed in extreme glare conditions. It is used around the world in air traffic control towers, as well as in submarines, Naval vessels and Humvees. Among places he loved to perform magic most was at his seven children’s birthday parties over the years. Among survivors are his wife of fifty-five years, Suzanne; children Jerry, Beth Kay (Dave) Hanson, David (Bea), Nina (Brad) Burnett, Sara, and Ridie (Zev) Markenson; sister Leah; and grandchildren, Maia and Jonah Lazar, Michael Lazar, and Kira and Marisa Burnett. Memorial contributions may be made to the Society of American Magicians, Assembly 104, c/o Bill Jensen, P.O. Box 2281, Rockport, MA 01966.



Marc Steven Lederman, 56, of Dover, Pennsylvania, died December 11, 2016 of a heart attack. His I.B.M. membership number was 57004, and he had been a member since 1997. He also was a member of Ring 20 (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania). A Boston native, he graduated from Tufts University, and worked for I.B.M. in Binghamton, New York for thirteen years. After being laid off, he worked at GLNoble Denton as a software developer. He met his wife at a MENSA (high IQ) event, and both have remained active in it. In addition to magic, he loved the Boston Red Sox, the New England Patriots, Rock Music Trivia, and was a Bruce Springsteen fan. He had a massive collection of board games. Among survivors are his wife, Joy; half-brother, Roy; sister-in-law Ann Althouse; brother-in-law Chris Althouse; and nephews Levi and Aaron Althouse. Memorial contributions may be made to Mensa Education and Research Foundation,



Stanley Louis Lobenstern, 83, of Casselberry, Florida, died December 15, 2016. His I.B.M. member number was 19813, and he had been a member since 1975. He was a member of the Order of Merlin Shield (thirty-five years a continuous member). He also was a member of Ring 170 (Orlando, Florida), and of the Society of American Magicians. He was well-known as the owner of the Rabbit in the Hat Ranch magic mail order business. He was born in the Bronx, New York, and later his family moved to Washington, D.C. As a teenager there, be worked at Al’s Magic Shop. After a short time in the Navy, he moved to Florida where he met his wife, Sandy, and they had a daughter, Iris. They moved to Pasadena, California, where he performed regularly at the Magic Castle. Stan and Sandy made many life-long friends of fellow magicians. After moving to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Lobensterns became a popular social duo, including his work as a mentalist, a creator of new magic effects, and working on a cruise ship. The family moved to Orlando and he started his mail-order business. Survivors include his wife, Sandra; and daughter Iris, who have moved to Texas. A Broken Wand Ceremony was conducted at his graveside service December 20.  



Henry A. Pettit, 78, of Columbia, South Carolina, died September 19, 2016. His I.B.M. number was 32397, and he had been a member since 2002. He also was a member of Ring 105 (Columbia. South Carolina), of which he was past president. He made a difference in two industries, Emergency Medicine and Entertainment. He was a pioneer in the field of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). He wrote many training manuals, and made improvements to ambulances and equipment. Many of his innovations are still being used today. Throughout his career he saved many lives, including that of his own wife, in 2014. In the early 1960s, his father-in-law gave him a beginning magic book, leading to a life-long hobby and career. He was owner of the Columbia Magic Shop. He was a successful magician, actor, mime, technical director, set designer, and make-up and special effects consultant. He toured throughout New England as a mime, played a detective on the television series Crime to Court, and acted in several video productions. He estimated that he had designed five hundred theatrical sets, as well as designed and built many magic illusions and props. Survivors include his wife, Helen; son, Bill; daughter, Laura; granddaughter Rachel, and two great-granddaughters.



Harry (Huck) Edward Riser, 88, died November 26, 2016. Born in Vincennes, Indiana, he earned a business degree from Indiana University. He first worked for Arvin Industries and lived in Portland. Then he moved into the insurance industry, which took him to Seattle, Dallas, Chicago, Detroit and back to Indiana (Indianapolis), where he retired with the NyHart Company. As a magician he became a well-known sleight-of-hand artist, and wrote two books, “The Feints and Temps of Harry Riser,” and “Secrets of an Escamoteur.” He also wrote a column for the MUM magazine for many years. He was a member of the Society of American Magicians. and was inducted into its Hall of Fame. Two other loves of his were big band music and collecting art. For twenty-five years he produced and hosted “The Great Big Band Radio Hour” on a local radio station. Survivors include his son John, daughter Susan, and grandson Conrad. 



Timothy R. Royer, 65, of North Canton, Ohio, died November 21, 2016. He was a former member of the I.B.M. (1987-2007). He also was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians, and the Canton Magic Crafters. He was a fire prevention educator for the Ohio State Fire Marshal, and was a past firefighter and paramedic for the Hartville Volunteer Fire Department. In addition to being an active magician, he also was a volleyball referee. Survivors include his wife of thirty-six years, Roberta (“Bobbie”); daughters Kathryn (Joe) Dendinger, Kristin Buzzard, and Caroline Royer; son Andy; granddaughter Makenna Buzzard; and sister Amy Cable. A Broken Wand Ceremony was conducted in his honor. 




Ring 25, The British Ring, reports that one of its members, Tony Wyatt, died recently at age 93.  His obituary was published in Northern Lights, the magazine of The Northern Magic Circle, of which he was a member for fifty continuous years. He was president there twice, in 1978 and in 1996. With early training as a joiner, that led to his career as a building inspector. He was a popular children’s magician (performing as “Toe Knees Magic”), and later enjoyed passing on his knowledge and experiences to young magicians. Survivors include his wife, Molly, his son Michael, and a grandson, Jamie.




Recently the I.B.M. Headquarters was notified that Paul Zevin, 87, of Saddle Brook, New Jersey, died June 18, 2016. His I.B.M. membership number was 21897, and he had been a member since 1968. He was a member of the Order of Merlin Shield (thirty-five years a continuous member).  He also was a member of Ring 113 (Bergen County, New Jersey).






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