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APRIL 2005

Human Obituaries

Frank Perdue, 84, died on March 31 at home in Salisbury, Maryland. His father, Arthur Perdue, started an egg farm in the year that Frank Perdue was born. After leukosis killed their 2,000 leghorns in the early 1940s, they switched to raising broiler hens, began developing factory-style protection methods, and prospered during the World War II meat shortage. Frank Perdue took over the $6 million a year business in 1952. Annual revenues were up to $56 million in 1970, when Perdue introduced the Perdue Farms brand name to supermarkets, appearing in approximately 200 TV commercials during the next 24 years to promote it. By 1991 Perdue Farms was the third largest poultry firm in the U.S., worth $1.2 billion a year. In April 1997, Animal Rights International founder Henry Spira asked Perdue to lead the way in reducing the suffering to poultry that results from factory farming. After Perdue ignored repeated requests from Spira, Spira in October 1989 began exposing conditions at Perdue Farms in full-page New York Times advertisements. The most famous, entitled “The P. Word,” noted Perdue’s appointment to the University of Maryland Board of Regents. “There’s a word for someone who does bad stuff for money,” it proclaimed. “Perdue.” The ad noted that, “In 1986 Perdue admitted to the President’s Commission on Organized Crime that when his workers tried to organize, he went to New York’s Gambino crime family to get their help…National Public Radio reported that women were urinating on the [Perdue] workline because they were afraid to leave it.” Recalled Spira biographer Peter Singer, “The advertisement continued in that vein, highlighting Perdue’s false advertising, his conviction for polluting Virginia’s waterways, his abuse of animals, and his evasion of a manslaughter charge after he killed someone when speeding the wrong way up a one-way road.” Spira, who died in 1998, never won concessions from Perdue, but his ads were cited in many Perdue obituaries.

Phil Simard, 40, one of the two animal control officers in Portland, Maine, since 1990, died on the job of an apparent heart attack on March 26. He was found dead still holding the leash he had just put on a stray husky, said Portland police chief Michael Chitwood.

Judith Ball, 65, general curator at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, died on February 10 of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease. Learning in 1996 that the Sepilok wildlife rehabilition center in Borneo was overcrowded with sun bears confiscated from illegal traffickers, Ball and William Karesh of the Wildlife Conservation Society evacuated 10 bears to U.S. zoos, including two who came to Woodland Park.

Henry Everding III, DVM, 42, was killed by falling rocks on February 19 in a climbing accident in Pategonia, Chile. Everding had for the past four years been medical director at the nonprofit Harrison Memorial Animal Hospital in Denver, and had done veterinary volunteer work in Nepal.

Natalie Ann Chambers, 30, a vet tech in Tumwater, Washington, on February 14 descended 15 feet from a trail above the White River to try to rescue her border collie Phoebe, who had fallen onto a ledge. Holding Phoebe, trying to climb back up by gripping a tree branch in her other hand, she plummeted 350 feet into the river when the branch broke. Phoebe survived with a minor hip injury.