Patrick Bray: Blanchette Bridge Accident Claims Worker's Life Weeks Before Retirement

Categories: News, Obituaries

Courtesy of Bray family
Patrick Bray.
Patrick Bray, a 51-year-old worker on the Blanchette Bridge rehabilitation project, was preparing this month for his retirement. Just a few weeks ago, he told his brother that he only needed to work 56 more hours but planned to stay on until July 1 so he could provide insurance for his granddaughters.

"He worked hard his entire life, but he didn't mind doing it," Bob Bray, his 43-year-old brother, tells Daily RFT.

Pat Bray, however, didn't make it to July.

Last Monday, the Jerseyville, Illinois, resident was killed during a construction accident at the bridge, leaving his family to mourn a man who they say was so dedicated to his family and such a hard worker that he was willing to continue the job -- even after he was free to retire.

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Videos: Stan Musial Honored at Funeral Service Featuring Bob Costas Eulogy

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Bob Costas delivering his eulogy for Stan Musial. Footage below.
Since news broke that St. Louis icon Stan Musial has died, fans have had many opportunities to pay tribute to the late, great Cardinal.

And on Saturday, fans got to say a final goodbye to the baseball legend, packed inside the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis for Stan the Man's public funeral service.

The ceremony included an emotional eulogy, full video on view below, from sportscaster Bob Costas, who said, "The bond and attachment between this player and this city is unique and lasting."

See Also:
- Stan Musial Bridge: Momentum Builds to Name Missouri-Illinois Connection After Late Cardinal
- Cardinals 101: This Week's Bestseller List

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7 Tips for Living a Really Long Life (from a Really, Really Old Illinois Woman)

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Mayetta Epps-Miller of East St. Louis died at age 111
Mayetta Epps-Miller of East St. Louis died on New Year's Eve. She was 111 years old.

That made her the oldest person living in Illinois, and also one of our nation's elite supercentenarians (meaning she was at least 110 and a superhero). 

Epps was born in April of 1901. It's hard to get your head around that.

It means she lived more than 40,000 days -- in a row.

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Former St. Louisan T.S. Eliot's Non-St. Louisan Wife Dies; Responsible for Existence of Cats

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Valerie Eliot and her husband at a theater in Chicago in 1959. She once wrote, "I sat next to TSE, my darling, and that makes any play endurable." Also, is it possible she actually saw St. Louis?
Valerie Fletcher Eliot, who was married to the poet T.S. Eliot, who grew up in St. Louis and then moved permanently to England although he occasionally mustered enough nostalgic feeling to write poems about the Mississippi (which he described as "strong brown god--sullen, untamed and intractable"), died Friday after what her family described as a long illness.

She has been described as the one person capable of making him happy.

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RIP Betty Anne McCaskill, Missouri Politician and Advocate for Women

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Betty Anne McCaskill and her daughter, Claire.
Betty Anne McCaskill, who is now most famous as one of the chief campaigners for her daughter Claire but who had a long career of her own in Missouri politics, died yesterday at home in St. Louis after a long illness. She was 84.

Claire McCaskill, who had last week suspended her campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate in order to care for her mother, said in a statement, "For some time, mom's health has not been good, and our family takes comfort that she is now at rest."

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RIP Shulamith Firestone, U. City-Raised Feminist Revolutionary

Categories: Obituaries

Firestone, ca. 1970
Shulamith Firestone, a painter and writer whose 1970 book The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution was one of the seminal books of second-wave feminism, was found dead in her apartment in New York's East Village this past Tuesday. She was 67.

Born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Ottawa, Canada, Firestone and her five brothers and sisters were raised in Kansas City and University City. Firestone attended Washington University before moving to Chicago to finish her education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

While still in her early twenties, Firestone helped found several radical feminist groups in Chicago and then in New York, including (with future Village Voice critic Ellen Willis) Redstockings, which ran consciousness-raising groups, taught self-defense classes and advocated for abortion rights. The manifestos she had written for those groups eventually became The Dialectic of Sex, which was published when she was only 25 and cemented her reputation as an important voice in the women's revolution.

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RIP Lil Musial, Mrs. Stan the Man

Categories: Obituaries

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Lil Musial and her husband. "Look, honey, they're unveiling another statue of you."
Lillian Musial, known as Lil, who was married to some sort of baseball player guy for nearly 72 years, died yesterday evening at home in Ladue. She was 91. Her grandson Brian Schwarze said she had been ill recently, and her death was not unexpected.

Lil Labash grew up in McKean, Pennsylvania, where her parents owned a grocery store. Like many, she first became smitten with Stan Musial when she saw him, on the baseball diamond. That was in 1934, when he was playing for their local team, the semi-pro Donora Zincs. They were both fifteen. Unlike most fans, she was less impressed with his hitting and fielding prowess than with how cute he looked in a baseball uniform. (Hey, it was still pretty early in his career.)

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RIP St. Louis Soccer Legend Harry Keough

Categories: Obituaries, Sports

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Harry Keough
Harry Keough, the soccer great who was a defender on the legendary 1950 U.S. World Cup team and who went on to become the longtime coach at Saint Louis University, died yesterday morning at home in St. Louis. He was 84.

Keough was one of five St. Louisans on the U.S. national team that beat 500-1 odds to defeat Britain in the World Cup tournament in 1950, generally considered the greatest upset in the history of soccer.

"We didn't feel we needed to beat them, but we felt if we could just play pretty good, it would be enough," Keough told The Associated Press in a 2002 interview. "In our minds, if we lost 2-0, we'd feel pretty good about ourselves."

Instead, the Americans went on to win 1-0. Keough started in all three of the Americans' appearances; sadly, after defeating the British, they lost to Chile in the next round of the tournament.

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RIP "Easy Ed" Macauley, Star of Boston Celtics, St. Louis Hawks and SLU Billikens

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Ed Macauley with his SLU coach, Ed Hickey.
"Easy Ed" Macauley, one of the early stars of the NBA and, incidentally, the Saint Louis University Billikens, died yesterday here in St. Louis. He was 83 years old and six feet eight inches tall.

Macauley grew up in St. Louis, attended SLU High and went to SLU by default: His mother told him he could go to any college he wanted, as long as it was in St. Louis and Catholic. He allegedly earned the nickname "Easy Ed" in the fall of 1947, his sophomore year, during his first game as team captain.

"It was my role to lead the team from the basement locker room through the door," he recalled during his induction to the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 2003. "But nobody followed me when I ran down the court and made a layup. Then I heard people shout, 'Take it easy, Ed.' I didn't realize it, but they were playing the national anthem."

Macauley never made that faux pas again, but he also never took it easy on the court. That season, he led the Billikens to the NIT title, scoring 24 points against NYU during the final game at Madison Square Garden and earning MVP honors. (The final score was 65-52.) All of St. Louis rejoiced: A crowd of 15,000 greeted the team at Union Station when it returned in triumph from New York.

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Bob Cassilly: City Museum Founder Died the Way He Lived

Categories: Arts, Obituaries

Peat Wollaeger
A portrait of Bob Cassilly by Peat Wollaeger.
Here's one thing anyone who knew Bob Cassilly will agree on: Cassilly, whose body was found yesterday morning in a bulldozer at Cementland, his larger-than-life sculpture museum/creative experiment, died the way he lived, building something unlike anything else the world had ever seen.

"He was out there working every day," recalls Bill Streeter, a video artist and friend of Cassilly's. "It was his favorite thing to do."

And here's another thing anyone who knew Cassilly or visited the City Museum can agree on: There will never be anyone else like him.

"That a single mind has the whimsy to conceive something like that, and the muscle to make it happen," marvels Matt Strauss, founder of White Flag Projects. "That's singular."

"He really put St. Louis on the map as far as being creative goes," says Barbara Geisman, the city's former executive director of development, whose friendship with Cassilly stretches back to the 1970s when they were among the first urban pioneers to settle in Lafayette Square. (Geisman and her partner, PR maven Richard Callow, later moved into the City Museum building.) "The City Museum got people to come downtown who wouldn't ordinarily be near here. It made them realize there's more to downtown than a baseball stadium."

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