In the Obits

The Tribune's top obit today is of a woman born in 1914 in Chicago of Czechoslovakian immigrants. She had a lifetime of social work, both in the US and abroad, working with refugees. She graduated from Northwestern in sociology in 1935. (She graduated from high school at 16, but her father thought she was too young for college. I'm impressed that it sounds like he assumed she would go to college. So she and her mother traveled in Europe.) Just after the war ended, she went to Europe and worked with displaced persons in Germany, where she met and married an interpreter she worked with. He was a former member of the Polish Army who had been a prisoner of war. Her name was Helen Zilka Jaworski and she died at 93 of "natural causes," which sounds peaceful and is a euphemism for "the wearing out of parts due to old age." But don't we all die of natural causes, unless we're the victims of homicide, suicide or
accident? Isn't cancer a "natural cause," albeit one we would very happily call unnatural and say To hell with?

And if humans are naturally aggressive, isn't war a "natural cause"?

The other obit of note was for Leroy Sievers, who was born the year I was. He was an NPR commentator who had a series on "Morning Edition" and on-line about his colon cancer that returned as a brain tumor and lung cancer. We're told that he "covered more than a dozen wars" and that Ted Koppel wrote that Sievers' "battle with cancer... [was] the most important story of his life."

I wonder if Sievers would agree. Is it better to cover wars or your own body's deterioration? Which is more helpful to the world at large?

I knew about Seivers' blog and national commentaries and was envious.

The in-text links aren't working right. You can find the obits here:,0,225735.story

and here:,0,6433352.story

Link to Sievers' work on NPR:

--posted by Cancer Bitch