Curious Deaths Pique Our Curiosity
Who Dies Curiously?
The timing of our deaths is not something we like to spend a lot of time thinking about. Some say doing so is ill-advised. Traditional thinking puts us viewing it at quite an old age, perhaps living out a nice, quiet life, then stepping softly out into eternity.
The Hag’s demise, predicted by himself to be on his upcoming birthday, gives us pause for thought. An icon's life filled with dramatic ups and downs, having a legacy of standing his ground and being loved for not caring if he was out of style, he was a legend known for being the real deal. His work is referred to as authentic, authorizing him to make no bones about genuine disappointment in his genre’s industry.
Good or bad, life does not always work out quite like we expect. It is not unreasonable, though, to expect to live a long prosperous life if we take care of our bodies and minds. On hearing of ill-timed accidents we usually make a quick note to self about being careful, but certain deaths occur amid circumstances with coincidental details that make us blink twice.
Outpacing Long Odds from Start to Finish
Highly regarded jockey Johnny Longdon rode Count Fleet to take the Triple Crown in 1943. That victory alone made him remarkable in the world of horse racing.
More wins darted him through the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, with the triumphs placing him in the USA Racing Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
After giving up riding in 1966 Mr. Longden became an outstanding trainer. Coming in first over 6,000 times, he is the only jockey to win a Kentucky Derby, then turn around and train a horse to clinch a win in it.
Born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, February 14, 1907, he claimed his citizenship, dying as an American on February 14, 2003. Beyond his flair for outstripping others in his field, a person has to love the odds of both bolting into the world and out of it on Valentine’s Day.
A Double Leapling’s Passage
Born on February 29, 1812, Sir James Milne Wilson, KCMG, began life as a 29er. That he might be a double leapling probably did not spring into his mother’s mind when she first met him.
Banff, Scotland was his birthplace, but his 1829 emigration to get an engineering education escorted him into a ship’s captain’s post. Somehow, that piloted him into position as Cascade Brewery’s manager. Enlisting in politics steered him to the Premiership of Tasmania in 1869.
These leaps in his life’s callings led to a distinguished political career of worthwhile influence. A Presbyterian, he was an example of loyalty, responsibly leading a full life. Memorable for many reasons, he left a dynamic legacy at age 68.
It is extraordinary that he died on his birthday, February 29, 1880. The question of how often a leap day birth and death can happen jumps up at this juncture. No matter a person’s heritage, one reasonable report is 1 in more than 2 million.
Death for Two Sets of Twins
Not even clergy escape life’s final inevitability. Jerome and Irving Riester were born seconds apart on March 27, 1919. Five sisters were waiting on them, which may explain their parallel penchant for quietude.
Their names changed when they became friars, so Julian and Adrian spent the majority of their lives in a sort of united solitude. Peacefully dying almost in unison, June 1, 2011, they departed as they arrived, together.
Naturally, a note on twins needs a double example. Devoted to each other, William and John Bloomfield of Perth, Australia, originally from Tasmania, lived together for 61 years. After attending an event together they both collapsed from heart attacks at nearly the same moment.
The pair did not recover, but if they had known about it they may have enjoyed the complication that followed their finale. Positively identifying them was hindered by the need to be certain of which twin was William and which was John. Twins to the end seems like as good an ending for these closely connected duos as any.
An Ironclad Iron Man Story
Athletes dying while doing what they love always makes fascinating news, yet sometimes the little things that get us are interesting coincidences. Siegmund Breitbart was billed as a Samson-esque strongman.
He displayed staggering power in performances that reflected his blacksmithing background. Mighty risky shows of force were unforgettable to audiences. Zishe the Strongman is a modern, artfully produced children’s book that maintains the use of his stage name.
Dubbed the strongest man in the world, his own entrepreneurship included a body building book. The resourceful powerhouse promoted that project with a mail order course and the Breitbart Apparatus for aspiring body builders of the 1900s.
Driving a spike through oak boards with his bare hands in one of his last acts scored him a small knee wound. Blood poisoning brought the strongman to his knees at the age of 32. Memorialized in a movie, Invincible, iron brought the ironman down.
Stranger than Fiction Never Gets Old
Stranger things have certainly happened, but not, perhaps, while drinking water during a contest. While attempting to win a Wii game box, Jennifer Strange strangely persisted in trying to drink the most water before having to relieve herself.
Apart from the inescapable principle that when something is full it overflows, warnings leaked out about the dangers of water intoxication during the contest. It is common, but still strange, that people believe that the rules are different for them. On top of that issue, there was a clue. The station calls itself The End.
Unconvinced that it could cost her far more than the game’s retail price at the time (a mere $250), she lost everything in the Waterloo. If one makes a comparison, the trade off does not hold H2O.
Paraclesus taught us that any and everything can be poisonous in the right amount. Really–water too? It’s true that we should avoid needing to void too much too fast.
A Celebration Begins, yet Ends Unceremoniously
After a breezy childhood in the quaint coastal town of Everett, Washington, Dennis Barnhart survived being a Navy aviator, but the CEO’s life ended in June of 1983. Clearly a brave man, it was a thunderbolt to everyone when the 40-year-old computer company president undertook a high-flying stunt in a red Ferrari he had just purchased.
Eagle Computer’s president was celebrating going public and becoming, shall we say, fairly rich. He made his last flight the day he became a multi-millionaire. Before he had a chance to embrace his through-the-roof success, success terminated the possibility of his enjoying it. Investors’ monies (and high hopes) were returned.
As difficult as it was, those left behind worked to get their bearings as they mourned their loss. In their sorrow the family, perhaps with help from friends, decided his tombstone would state that he had soared with the eagles.
Downfalls always surprise. Proceed with caution. Descents follow ascents at some point, and sometimes sooner than later.
Taking Workplace Accidents to a New Level
Though opinion varies, it is safe to say that chance had little to no part in Charles Vacca’s work-related incident. Unintentionally shot by a young student in a lesson he lost control of, he was a gun instructor not certified by the NRA.
Reports on Mr. Vacca’s character from family and friends indicate that, if he could, he would own responsibility for the entire matter. It is safe to say that the child can take heartfelt comfort in that truth.
Before realizing her instructor was injured, the little girl tossed the gun after its recoil shocked and hurt her. She told her parents what by then had become painfully obvious to them, the Uzi was too much for her.
The instructor guiding the circumstances at the shooting range, apparently not quite himself that day, realized the fact too late. By coincidence, or not, he died at The Last Stop’s range.
Swimming with the Big Boys?
What better summer fun is there than splashing around in cool water with friends? As long as lifeguards are present it’s a safe activity for most people, right?
New Orleans residents were buoyed by a swimmingly safe summer at their neighborhood pool. Hard work by well-trained lifeguards made the season successful, but the end was a washout that took them into an especially bad plunge.
Surrounded by 4 on-duty lifeguards and over 100 more lifeguards who were all guests at a party celebrating a zero-drownings summer, Jerome Moody drowned even though he evidently had no intention of going into the water.
Fully clothed, Mr. Moody, 31 years of age, was not swimming with the 100 lifeguards and other guests at the recreation center, yet his body was found at the deep end when the dutifully assigned lifeguards were clearing the pool as the party ended. The event remains a mystery.
Death by Consequences
We have yet more devoted brothers' deaths to consider. Homer and Langley Collyer died due to the way they lived in their Manhattan brownstone. Their uncontrollable collecting finally reached a tipping point in the situation.
Compulsive hoarders amassing masses of useless odds and ends, piling up literally tons of newspapers with other junk, they booby-trapped everything for safe keeping. For reasons unknown this made sense to them, but as we all know, what goes up must come down.
A cave-in trapped the disabled Homer. Langley tried to continue couriering food to his brother via tunnels he bore through the crushing trash. Eventually, the catastrophic avalanche’s tidal wave resulted in one of the tunnels coincidentally intersecting with one of the booby-traps. The upshot of that was what you would expect.
But wait, there is more to the story. Langley’s demise was unknown to the outside world, leaving Homer to die alone. It was some time before their gruesome conditions were discovered and this stops with that.
The Wrong Way
OSHA (or the French equivalent) would have seen this coming and cautioned against it, but Egyptian born Claude Francois did not much care for regulations. A singer/songwriter, still famous for writing Comme D’Habitude, established himself as an independent soul early on.
Some will recognize the trendy song as My Way, the bold declarative that a man’s self is all in all. Popularized by Frank Sinatra, the story line sweeps through a life that threw caution to the wind, something CloClo (his sobriquet–originally Kôkô) finally did.
Noticing a light bulb over his bathtub in need of switching out, the glowing entertainer decided to replace it. Reaching to take charge of the issue was a new and enlightening experience for this high-powered performer.
The popular celebrity had a magnetic personality, but his conduct at that point was shocking. The last thing he did was, indeed, his way, and his way is a conclusive reminder for us to get busy living in a mindful manner.
If living now with eternity in view is of interest, consider reading The Incomparable Christ by J. Oswald Sanders.
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