Members We Remember
This is a page is a memorial for members who have passed – long may they live!
Dirk, a Santa Fe artist by way of the L.A. Film scene, Chicago, and parts all over the world—he loved to travel—came to our club by way of a book he wrote about Jack London’s Dog. A member for the last decade of his writing career, he generously donated many books and boxes of cards that have landed in local reading programs, and the hands of our speakers. In February, 2020, the club did a tie-in reading with the premiere of the movie, Call of the Wild. Dirk was a larger-than-life character and a passionate artist. He read at the Smithsonian and traveled the world sharing his stories. A Lucky Dog was an international best-seller about the USPS. Here’s Dirk’s Farewelling page.
“Dirk Wales not only creates masterpieces, he is a masterpiece.” —Imagine Publicity
Tom Higgins had a short but influential time as a member of CWCBB. He joined in June, 2017, dedicating himself to his writings about climbing, and in August he walked into a board meeting and offered his support in finding our organization a new home and helping us work towards getting grants. In December he read a harrowing adventure story that had listeners on the edge of their seats. He passed away in March 2018, having left the club in better shape than he found it. His stories about climbing can still be found on his website, www.tomhiggins.net. Here’s his obituary.
AL (never Al) was an energetic and beloved leader of CWC-Berkeley, personally associating with the Club’s motto, “Sail On,” as a yachtsman, whose Write Angles column “A View From the Helm” provided an inspiring and welcoming message to members every month, and he inaugurated this blog. He left Alameda to travel the country in his “Land Yacht,” chronicling his adventures in his blog, A Year on the Road… which took him many years down the road, to the greatest adventure of all.
Deborah Frisch ran our 5th Grade Writing Contest for many years, and will be missed. During her time with the club, she published A Mango for the Teacher: Running the Beach and Running a School in Cancún’s Early Days about her adventures teaching English in Mexico. Her blog is: Latinofile – ¿Qué Pasa? with author Déborah Frisch
“A Mango” is a delicious dish…a memoir of dreams, hopes and learning….” — Rene Colato Lainez
Ebony magazine recognized Charlie’s Five on the Black Hand Side as one of the ten best African-American films of all time. At the time of his death, Charlie was working on a historical fiction novel about Haiti.
We lost an amazing talent when Elizabeth Wagele left us, but she went out in style and prepared, having written The Enneagram of Death. Her books are a wonderful resource.
The Enneagram Made Easy • Are You My Type, Am I Yours? • The Enneagram of Parenting • The Happy Introvert • Finding the Birthday Cake • The Career Within You • The Beethoven Enneagram (CD) • The Enneagram of Death • The Career Within You (Psychology Today blog) Enneagram…Exploring Your True Self (blog) • The Enneagram for Teens
Most of her books were published by HarperCollins publishers on the Enneagram personality system. Reviews can be found on her web site under the titles of her books.
Vernon was a wonderful poet and kind, active club member. We held many workshops at his Alameda living community. obituary
Helen Madelyn Sullivan
Helen is the author of a Memoir, “Teaching In The Flatlands, A Three Decades Odyssey in Title 1 Schools.” obituary
Marianne Ingheim Rossi
Was a member of our club in 2011. Article: What Feminism Means to Me on Left Coast Voices.
Dorothy V. Benson
A long-time member of the California Writers’ Club of Berkeley who served as Secretary for a number of years on the Club’s Central Board, passed away at age 93 as a Member Emerita in good standing. Sheloyally attended the biannual CWC Writers Conferences and loved to attend the Annual Club Picnic at Joaquin Miller Park.
Dorothy was particularly active with poetry groups in the East Bay, namely the Ina Coolbrith Circle (Poetry Section) and the annual Poet’s Dinner held at Spengers. She was an award-winning poet and often shared her expertise at a poetry group called The Renegades.
In 1989, when the California Writers’ Club published “West Winds Four; An Anthology,” included was one of Dorothy’s poems, “Toward What Bethlemen.” By then a number of her prize-winning poems were published. Due to her activism in the Woman for Peace Movement, Dorothy was interviewed for an oral history about this, which is part of the oral history collection at The Bancroft Library in UC Berkeley.
In her son Eric Benson’s words, “Dorothy Benson was born of Portuguese and Slavic descent to immigrants that settled in Santa Maria, California out on a farm with a one room house that had dirt floors, and had an illiterate, slaughterhouse butcher father and a doting mother named Anna, who was guided by her Bible. The Great Depression came and they made do with raising all their food and poultry, and traveling to town in a horse-drawn cart for supplies. She became a hard working, industrious person who was able to sustain a family on a meager income with her three sons. When her youngest son Aksel Benson died of cancer at age 12, she went on with courage but wore more somber clothing for years later…
“She was a mother, bookkeeper, writer, editor and your sharpest critic whether grading her son’s paper or giving feedback to a hopeful poet who requested her help. She spoke freely and often ‘shot from the hip’ not always endearing herself to others. From the Women for Peace Movement and other groups including the California Writers’ Club, the Ina Coolbrith Circle, and the Poet’s Dinner, Dorothy was someone you could count on, and the deadline was to be carried out…”
Dorothy Benson had a life well lived and blessed many with her generosity and love. She will be missed by all who knew her.
Phyllis was an active member of the California Writers Club/Berkeley Branch, a Lifetime member of the Club. She and her husband Otto were close friends of Dorothy Benson, and also attended The Renegades poetry workshop regularly in Berkeley. She was an interesting and versatile writer. Many of her poems were read at her Memorial, to everyone’s delight. She had a fetish with dragons and wrote some delightful poems about them. As a wordsmith, she indulged in writing limericks, even more recently.
Among her other writings was her translating of the poems of Jorge de Sena for the bilingual edition of “The Evidences: Poems” (Center for Portuguese Studies, UC Santa Barbara, 1994). Among her science fictioni stories that appeared in pulp magazines in the 1950s were “What Is Posat?” in the September 1951 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine; and “The Quaker Lady and the Jelph,” in the August 1952 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories. One of her non-fiction articles appeared in Catholic Digest in 1989. Then in more recent years, Phyllis did some online publishing. For example, her 556-page novel, “Ai Is a Three-Toed Sloth,” came out through Xlibris in the year 2000. And her “Notice of Intent,” a 20-page story, appeared via eStar Books in April, 2012, also online.
Please feel free to comment with your thoughts or memories of any of these members!