Teresa Anderson

Poet Teresa Anderson died on Jan. 8. Anderson was a newcomer from Kansas and Oklahoma when West End Press published her book of poems “Speaking in Sign” in 1978. Her lyrical voice, gentle manner, political awareness, and physical beauty came together in the strength and uncommon wisdom of her poems; she soon became a noteworthy member of the mid-western poetry scene of the late ’70s. In 1980, Terri translated Pablo Neruda’s last book of poems, “Incitation al Nixonicidio y Alabanza de la Revolucion Chilena” (A Call for the Destruction of Nixon and Praise for the Chilean Revolution) for West End Press.

At the beginning of the new millennium, Terri was struck by cancer of the spine before her 50th birthday. She survived under great pain and physical hardship, continuing to write, travel as she was able, and record her works on DVD, thanks in part to the skill and dedication of her husband, Michael Swite.

Sanora Babb

Sanora Babb, 98, passed away on Dec. 31 at her home in Hollywood. In the 1930s Babb was a journalist for The Associated Press, wrote short stories for literary magazines, and was a radio scriptwriter. She reported on the Spanish Civil War for the British journal This Week and worked as an assistant to Tom Collins, manager of the Farm Security Administration in California, during the Depression.

Later she married the film director James Wong Howe. She continued to reside in Hollywood after his death.

Babb’s best-known book, “Whose Names Are Unknown,” chronicles the life of Oklahoma Dust Bowl migrants. It was scheduled for publication by Random House in 1939 until the company received word that John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” which like Babb’s book used the field notes of Tom Collins as a background source, was due to be published later the same year. Random House decided as a result to withdraw Babb’s book, the more radical work of the two, from publication. Her manuscript languished until it caught the attention of Marxist scholar Alan Wald in the 1980s. It was finally published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2005.

Al ‘Grandpa’ Lewis

Actor and lifelong left-wing political activist Al Lewis, who played “Grandpa” on the television show “The Munsters,” died on Feb. 3. He was 82.

Lewis, born Albert Meister, grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. Not sure on a career, he tried his hand at several different professions, including circus performing, sales, waiting tables and owning a poolroom. He also earned a Ph.D. in child psychology from Columbia University. After his television and movie career took off, he operated a successful restaurant in Greenwich Village, appropriately named “Grandpa’s.”

Lewis was a staunch fighter against the anticommunist witch hunts known as McCarthyism and had been involved in the struggle to save the Rosenbergs.

In 1998, Lewis ran as the Green Party candidate against New York Gov. George Pataki. Lewis campaigned against what he said were severe drug laws and the death penalty, garnering more than 52,000 votes. Lewis is survived by his wife, Karen Ingenthron-Lewis, three sons and four grandchildren.

Henry Siegel

Henry Siegel, union electrician of Cleveland, died Dec. 28 at age 86. Father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Siegel was a lifelong member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and devoted his life to the cause of human liberty, justice, peace and freedom. He was known as a caring person, putting his expertise as an electrician to work rewiring old houses and other kinds of help for friends and families in need.

“Henry believed that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as envisioned and guaranteed by our nation’s forefathers, depended on an informed citizenry, and for this, a free press,” said Wally Kaufman, chairman of the Ohio Communist Party. “His greatest passion was supporting his favorite newspaper, the People’s Weekly World, with yard sales and barbecue dinners on his front lawn.”

Siegel, who joined the Young Communist League as a teenager, devoted his life to social change and socialism. “Always a participant in struggle, workers walking picket lines fighting for union rights and contracts, and peace activists demonstrating to stop unjust wars, could always count on Henry to be there with them,” Kaufman said.

Siegel was committed to the struggle against racism and believed that freedom meant justice and equality for all people. He was a proud descendant of General Franz Siegel, a general in the Union army in the war to abolish slavery.

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