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Tribute Gifts to Honor and/or Commemorate Someone Special

A Roses Tribute Gift is a unique way of paying tribute to those — living and not — who are special to us.

This idea of paying tribute dates to the medieval period, when money or an equivalent was paid to princes and lords in acknowledgement of submission, or as the price of peace, security, and protection. An elaborate tributary system was woven through the medieval social fabric. Princes paid tribute to other princes, subjects paid rent or homage to their sovereign, and vassals paid similar tribute to their lord.

Over the centuries, this condition of being tributary has broadened beyond a sociopolitical duty to include displays of obligation as an acknowledgement of affection or esteem. What started out as a tax or impost paid by a subordinate to a superior has since been transformed into a voluntary offering or gift rendered out of respect.

With Roses Tribute Gifts, we embrace a more modern, democratic vision of “paying tribute,” wherein the tribute is a testimonial to some praiseworthy act or person, regardless of everyone’s social status, power and privilege.

Here, we pay tribute not to an oligarchy, but to the unsung heroes of our own banal lives — those who inspire & sustain us in so many (mostly unrecognized) ways.

Not everyone celebrated here is directly involved with cancer (patient, caregiver, researcher). But we are connected by cancer, all the same. Those of us in the U.S. live in a country where cancer now surpasses heart disease as the leading cause of death for those under age 85, and this means that most of us will be touched by it, one way or another — even if only in the dark recesses of our minds.

Every Roses Tribute Gift helps fund our innovative cancer education projects.

But each is so much more, too.

These heartfelt tributes to the ordinary & extraordinary moments in our lives weave a rich human tale about who we are in sickness, and in health … ’til death do us part.

To learn more about our Roses Tribute Gifts, and how you, too, can honor that special someone in your life, see our Guidelines for creating Roses Tribute Gifts.

Panel from "Roses", a mixed-media work by Tuck Contreras

ornament IN MEMORY OF

Molly Ivins

a Tribute Gift from Deborah T.
received December 2010

One of my heroes, syndicated columnist Molly Ivins, died on 31 January 2007, due to complications from breast cancer. In her column (“Cancer, II”) for the October 2000 issue of The Progressive, Molly wrote — with trademark humor — about the trials & tribulations of being a cancer patient. In sum:
“I just finished with nine months of treatment for cancer. First they poison you, then they mutilate you, then they burn you. I’ve had more fun. And when it’s over, you’re so glad that you’re grateful to absolutely everyone. And I am. The trouble is, I’m not a better person. I was in great hopes that confronting my own mortality would make me deeper, more thoughtful. Many lovely people sent books on how to find a more spiritual meaning in life. My response was, ‘Oh, hell, I can’t go on a spiritual journey — I’m constipated.’”
Amen, Molly!

ornament IN MEMORY OF

Vinola Clark

a Tribute Gift from Deborah T.
received December 2010

VINOLA CLARK, 1919–2008
So much more than “just the piano player’s wife”….

ornament IN HONOR OF


a Tribute Gift from T.
received December 2010

D you are so much more
Than just a friend
Just a writer
More than a lover of life
You are a gift
You are a fighter you
Demand thought
You do not
Settle for less
Not perfection
Do you want
But thought
You have taught me
So much about life
Never asking me to believe
Your way
Just to find my way
In honestly
Truth is your way
You never hide from
It is your bottom LINE
I love you beyond the stars

ornament IN MEMORY OF

Rosalind Franklin

a Tribute Gift from Deborah T.
received March 2011

Gifted crystallographer and experimentalist, whose untimely death from ovarian cancer at age 37 cut short a promising scientific career, and cost her a Nobel Prize as co-discoverer of the helical concept of DNA (the prize is not given posthumously).
In 1962, Maurice Wilkins, Francis Crick, and James Watson received the Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine for their work on DNA, but it was Rosalind Franklin’s data and photographs of DNA — described by physicist J. D. Bernal as “among the most beautiful X-ray photographs of any substance ever taken,” and shown to Watson early in 1953 without Franklin’s knowledge or permission — that led her male colleagues to their discovery.
According to “her last and perhaps closest scientific colleague,” Dr Aaron Klug, who inherited Franklin’s notebooks and reports on her death in 1958: “Franklin was initially struck by cancer in 1956; she bore her illness bravely, never complaining, and worked as much as possible to the very end. She was cut off tragically at the height of her powers and her early death was a great loss to science. But her mark was made. The results of her work on two major biological problems, as well as the techniques used to obtain them, helped lay the foundations of structural molecular biology…. Had she lived she would surely have gone on to further heights, but she will be remembered as one of the select few who made crucial contributions to one of the most important discoveries of the twentieth century.”
That discovery was key to our present understanding of the genetic basis of cancer, which may one day lead to the design of agents able to reverse or control the genetic defects responsible for the development, growth, and dissemination of ovarian cancer.
… And that would be a fitting legacy for the brilliant and intense Anglo-Jewish woman who “was single-minded and uncompromising in her work, so that she sometimes was bound to provoke exasperation among her colleagues, a feeling immediately tempered by the admiration they felt. But she was not austere, she had a sense of fun, and was a woman of wide culture, at home in several European countries and the USA. She loved travel, took walking and cycling holidays abroad, and was a good mountain climber.”

pointer  For more about Franklin’s life & work, see her entry in Wikipedia and the biography by Brenda Maddox, Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA (New York: HarperCollins, 2002; ISBN-10: 0060985089 and ISBN-13: 978-0060985080).

ornament IN MEMORY OF

Henrietta Lacks

a Tribute Gift from Deborah T.
received March 2011

An African-American woman and poor Southern tobacco farmer, cut down in the prime of life at age 30 by advanced-stage cervical cancer.
Renamed HeLa by the scientific establishment — which harvested her cells without her knowledge or permission, and in so doing, gave her unasked-for immortality — Henrietta Lacks changed the future of medicine.
The millions (possibly, billions) of immortal HeLa cells used in research labs around the world — which fueled a multibillion-dollar biotech industry — are grown in culture from samples of Lacks’s malignant tumor, cut from her cervix a few months before she died in 1951.
“HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her ‘immortality’ until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.”
Rebecca Skloot’s book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (New York: Crown Publishers, 2010; 1st paperback edn., 2011; ISBN-10: 1400052181 and ISBN-13: 978-1400052189), is a paper monument to the forgotten person behind HeLa, a woman whose identity and medical history were hidden for years.
Skloot’s remarkable story of the life, death, and immortality of Henrietta Lacks — whose cervical cancer cells thrive and reproduce in labs to this day — raises the most basic questions about the nature of our individual and social selves … about our rights and obligations to one another, as citizens & patients & discoverers.
For HeLa’s story is our story, too … and someday, perhaps, we’ll come together to work on a new ending for it.

ornament IN MEMORY OF

Wangari Muta Maathai

a Tribute Gift from Deborah T.
received October 2011

the courageous & visionary Kenyan biologist, feminist ecologist, and Nobel laureate who died of ovarian cancer on 25 September 2011, age 71
pointer  For more about Maathai’s inspiring life & work, see the Independent Lens film, Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai, produced by Lisa Merton and Alan Dater; and Maathai’s final book, The Challenge for Africa (New York: Pantheon Books, 2009; 1st paperback edn., New York: Anchor Books, 2010; ISBN-10: 0307390284 and ISBN-13: 978-0307390288), in which she “offers ‘hardheaded hope’ and ‘realistic options’ for change and improvement.”
pointer  Film producers Merton & Dater attended Maathai’s funeral in Kenya on 8 October 2011, with pictures and a description of the celebratory event available at the Independent Lens website.
pointer  And see additional tributes by: Tavis Smiley (originally aired 29 September 2011); the PBS NewsHour (posted 26 September 2011); plus The Nation magazine’s Laura Flanders (posted 27 September 2011) and Peter Rothberg (posted 26 September 2011).
pointer  Other good resources include: the blog entry, “A Woman of Firsts,” written by The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel when Maathai became the first African woman Nobel Peace Laureate (posted 11 October 2004); Amitabh Pal’s interview with Wangari Maathai in the May 2005 issue of The Progressive; and Jan Cottingham’s article, “Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Plants Peace,” in the November/December 2005 issue of the Heifer organization’s World Ark magazine, pp. 7–15 (click/tap here for direct access to the PDF version of Cottingham’s article).

ornament IN MEMORY OF

Sally Ride

a Tribute Gift from Deborah T.
received July 2012

SALLY RIDE, 1951–2012
woman of science, mentor, model and hero to thousands of us
died of pancreatic cancer on 23 July 2012, age 61
pointer  See the elegant tribute by Miles O’Brien in his 7/24/2012 interview with the PBS NewsHour. From here, you can link to “the NASA video with Ride’s own reflections on her shuttle flights and space exploration, recorded 25 years after her first flight.”
pointer  And another PBS NewsHour conversation with Miles O’Brien, aired on 5/21/2013, responding to President Obama’s announcement that “he would posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Sally Ride, the first woman in space.”
pointer  See also the PBS NewsHour feature, “The Life of Sally Ride, America’s First Woman Astronaut, in Pictures,” posted 14 October 2015 to the NewsHour’s website by science reporter/producer Nsikan Akpan, who writes: “Behind the icon was a person with private and public passions. And a new photobiography by Tam O’Shaughnessy, Ride’s life and business partner of 27 years, offers an intimate view into that life. PBS NewsHour recently spoke with the O’Shaughnessy about the book. An excerpt of our conversation along with some photos from the book are below.”
pointer  “Scripps Research Vessel Named for Sally Ride: Pioneering astronaut first woman honored with commissioning,” retitled “Scripps Vessel Named for Famed Astronaut Sally Ride” for online posting, by Joshua Emerson Smith (San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 October 2016, pp. A1 and A10).
   And see Joshua Emerson Smith’s companion piece in the print edition of the paper, “Ride’s Partner Talks about Pioneer’s Goals,” retitled “Sally Ride’s Longtime Partner Talks about the Pioneer’s Goals and Legacy” for online posting (San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 October 2016, p. A10).

ornament IN MEMORY OF

Mel Taylor

a Tribute Gift from his daughter
received December 2013

This is the goodbye I was prevented from saying —
I mirror you, so we fought like crazy, and pushed one another’s buttons, and, truth be told, there was probably no happy ending for us had we been allowed to freely communicate as you neared death.
But I want the world to know that much of the best in me comes from you: my integrity, my willingness to take risks, and what little courage I’m able to muster when it’s important to stand on principle, despite the costs.
Your willingness to think and live outside the box has always inspired me: to me, that’s been your most important influence and the best part of your legacy.
I’ve still got that “fire in your belly.” And I thank you for that. Because I’ll need it for what’s ahead....
I always loved you. And I hope you knew that.

ornament IN MEMORY OF


a Tribute Gift from Deborah T.
received December 2013

The world has lost a hero, and a great man.
pointer  See Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s personal retrospective on the life of Nelson Mandela for the PBS NewsHour, originally aired on 12/5/2013. She also reported on the 12/10/2013 memorial service eulogizing post-apartheid South Africa’s first president.
pointer  The PBS NewsHour has several other poignant tributes to this “regal and gracious” man, including an interview with Dr. Johnnetta Cole, in which she recalls honoring Nelson Mandela with a quilt of connection, on behalf of participating schools of the United Negro College Fund. And Gwen Ifill posted her own reflections on Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy — “If Mandela could forgive 27 years of unjust imprisonment (in which the United States, it turns out, was complicit), what grudge is it worth it for the rest of us to hold?” — to The Rundown: A Blog of News and Insight: “Gwen’s Take: Meeting Nelson Mandela” on 12/6/2013.
pointer  See also Michael Halpern’s celebratory entry, “Nelson Mandela and the Politics of Science,” posted 12/6/2013 to the blog for the Center for Science and Democracy, an offshoot of the Union of Concerned Scientists alliance.
pointer  For another honest portrait of a hero and his legacy, see The Nation editorial, “Mandela’s Last Gift” (The Nation, vol. 298, nos. 1 & 2, 6/13 January 2014, pp. 3–4) by Douglas Foster, author of After Mandela: The Struggle for Freedom in Post-Apartheid South Africa.
pointer  And for another assessment of Mandela’s heroic legacy, see “South Africa Looks Back: Celebrating Mandela while venting frustration with the ANC,” by Gary Younge (The Nation, vol. 298, nos. 1 & 2, 6/13 January 2014, pp. 10–11).

ornament IN MEMORY OF

Gwen Ifill

a Tribute Gift from Deborah Taylor-Pearce
received November 2016

GWEN IFILL, 1955–2016
I, like so many fans of Gwen’s, never had the pleasure of knowing her personally, but still thought of Gwen Ifill as a trusted friend. Her untimely death on 14 November 2016 from a gynecologic cancer which I have fought myself is especially devastating.
For years, Gwen was a welcome visitor in my home, 5 days a week, no matter what was going on with me. (Not even my BFFs have achieved that special status! ;-) Her absence at my table — where Gwen and the rest of the PBS NewsHour family often join me while I eat a late supper — has thrown me off balance. Not normally prone to sentimentality, I’ve been surprised at how palpable the loss is.
I shall miss Gwen enormously: her intellectual curiosity, her passion for high-quality reporting & continuing commitment to professional journalism, her unique perspective on events & personalities, and her always-interesting interactions with those making & analyzing the news.
My condolences to all who grieve the passing of this awesome woman.
pointer  “Remembering Gwen” (posted 14 and 15 November 2016)
   “Gwen Ifill, who was the heart and soul of the PBS NewsHour and Washington Week, passed away on Monday after a battle with cancer. We look back at Gwen’s life and remarkable career in journalism.”
pointer  “What Gwen Ifill Taught Us” (posted 18 November 2016)
pointer  “Column: The Cosmic Power of Gwen Ifill,” by Mike Melia (posted 18 November 2016)
pointer  “The Challenges of Fighting Gynecological Cancers” (originally aired 16 November 2016)
   “PBS journalist Gwen Ifill passed away Monday after a battle with endometrial cancer. Do gynecological cancers receive the attention they deserve? Hari Sreenivasan talks to Dr. Angela Marshall of the Black Women’s Health Imperative and Dr. Karen Lu of the MD Anderson Cancer Center to discuss what’s being done to diagnose and treat these cancers.”

ornament IN MEMORY OF

Jennifer Alcorn

a Tribute Gift from Deborah & Ray
received May 2017

In Loving Memory Of
... The spirited, spunky & stubborn little girl who insisted on wearing her new “jelly shoes” on one of our back-country hikes with the dogs (Ozark, Diego, and Trasto) in what used to be a nearby local canyon, complete with rabbits, rattlesnakes, and killer Banzai run ...
... The kindly youngster who presided over the “cool,” kid-friendly house next door, welcoming the motley assortment of children who stayed with us over the years ...
... The awkward teenager who was mortified when her father insisted on driving her to and from school in that beat-up old rusty truck he bought for a song from Frank, who then lived across the street from us ...
... The poised, beautiful, accomplished young woman who metamorphosed — overnight, it seemed — into a beloved wife and mother, wise beyond her years ...
What an inconsolable loss!
Our hearts go out to the grieving family she leaves behind in May 2017.

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Panel from "Roses", a mixed-media work by Tuck Contreras

It is with regret — and some surprise — that I announce the end of this website’s participation in the Powell’s Books, Inc. Partner Program.
   As of 29 August 2012, we will no longer earn a percentage on books purchased through our links to Powells.com (or Amazon.com). Hence, I have decided to drop all such links. There’s no point in pushing one particular out-of-state retailer over another when local, independent bookstores everywhere need our support. Click/tap here to learn more.

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a tax or impost paid by a subordinate to a superior — In his encyclopedic Lexicon Technicum: or, an Universal English Dictionary of Arts and Sciences Explaining not only the Terms of Art, but the Arts Themselves (1st edn., 1704–10), the mathematician and natural philosopher John Harris (c.1666–1719) described tithes as “of three Sorts. (1.) Praedial Tythes, which arise wholly or chiefly from the Earth; as of Corn, Hay, Underwood, Fruits, &c. (2.) Mixt Tythes are such as arise from Beast and other Animals pastured, or fed with the Fruits of the Earth; as Colts, Calves, Lambs, Wool, Milk, Fowls, &c. (3.) Personal Tythes, which are the Profits arising from the Labour, Art, Trade, Negotiation, and Industry of Men. Great Tythes, are of the Tenths of Corn, Hay, and Wood only. All others being called Small Tythes.” (J. Harris, Lexicon Technicum, 2 vols., 1710, s.v. Tythes, 2.n. pag.) ::