Obituaries

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Michael Robinson McGrady

Michael Robinson McGrady, a New York Times bestselling author and popular Newsday newspaper columnist, died from natural causes Sunday, May 13, in Shelton, Wash. The Lilliwaup, Wash., resident was 78.
Mr. McGrady, whose columns were syndicated in hundreds of newspapers throughout the country in the 1960s through the ’80s, engineered one of the world’s great literary hoaxes in the 1969 bestseller, “Naked Came the Stranger.” Appalled by the mediocrity of the Harold Robbins and Jackie Susann sex potboilers, Mr. McGrady enlisted 24 other Newsday writers to author a novel that spoofed this new low in fiction, a novel so bad that it couldn’t possibly be left off the best-seller lists. Mr. McGrady warned his would-be coauthors in an early memo: “There will be an unremitting emphasis on sex. Also, true excellence in writing will be quickly blue-penciled into oblivion.” His sister-in-law, Billie Young, posed as the alleged author, “Penelope Ashe.”

The book raced up the Times list to number two, proving Mr. McGrady’s thesis that bad writing sells well. When the story broke on front pages across the nation that the novel was a hoax, Walter Cronkite sent a helicopter to retrieve Mr. McGrady from Newsday’s Garden City, Long Island, offices for the nightly news. Mr. McGrady’s image was splashed triumphantly across the pages of Time, Newsweek, and Life magazines for exposing how low the standard for American fiction had fallen. He followed up with “Stranger Than Naked: How to Write Dirty Books for Fun and Profit” to tell the true story of the hoax. Those original manuscripts and papers are housed in the Columbia University Library. There is a Trivial Pursuit question about Naked Came the Stranger, which was re-released in 2004.
 
His career as a Newsday columnist spanned 30 years, in which time he chronicled all the major socio-political issues of the 1960s, including civil rights and the women’s liberation movements, helping to make Long Island’s Newsday a nationally recognized news voice.  Ignoring advice from friends who thought he’d ruin his career, he co-authored the horrific true story of America’s first porn star, Linda Lovelace in his book, “Ordeal,” which is the basis for two biographical films about Lovelace. The book would also make history in 1979 as Mr. McGrady and his brother Patrick McGrady (co-author of “The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise”), were the first two siblings to make the New York Times’ bestseller list simultaneously. 

He frequently contributed to publications such as Playboy, The Saturday Evening Post, Time and New York Magazine, and won a Harvard Nieman Fellowship in 1968-1969.  After publishing an anti-war essay, Mr. McGrady was challenged by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck: "If you think this war is so ignoble," Steinbeck wrote, "then why don't you go over to Vietnam and tell it the way you see it. That's what a real writer would do." So Mr. McGrady did, and his book, A Dove in Vietnam, earned the Overseas Press Club award for best interpretive reporting. This was followed by the prestigious Harvard Nieman Fellowship in 1968-1969.
In 1975, switching roles with his wife Corinne for a year as she embarked on her own design business, Mr. McGrady penned a popular and critical success, The Kitchen Sink Papers: My Life as a Househusband, in which he coined the term “househusband.”
Mr. McGrady was born in New York in 1933, the middle son of Grace, an artist, and Patrick Sr., a UPI reporter, author and science editor for the American Cancer Society. He and his brothers, Patrick and Seamus, began their academic careers in a one-room schoolhouse in the tiny hamlet of Lilliwaup on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. As a high school student, he lived alone in a hotel room in Paris, while he attended and graduated from the American Community School. 
 
Mr. McGrady attended Yale University and served as editor and colunmist at the Yale Daily News. He studied writing under poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren, author of All the King's Men. In 1955, he was graduated from Yale, 
He is survived by his wife, Corinne Young McGrady of Lilliwaup, Wash., and their three children, Sean McGrady, Siobhan Benoit, and Liam McGrady; his brother Seamus McGrady; five grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

His other books include five young adult tiltles for Lippincott; Establishment of Innocence (with Harvey Aronson, 1976), The Motel Tapes (1977), The Househusband's Cookbook (1979), Out of Bondage (with Linda Lovelace, 1986), and Best Restaurants on Long Island (1986).

Catherine Levette

Catherine “Kay” Pearl Viger Levette, 89, died May 7, 2012, at Shelton Health & Rehabilitation Center, surrounded by her children.
Kay was born September 1, 1922, in Munising, Michigan to Avenon and Helena Viger, the middle of seven children.  Her family moved to Shelton in 1929.  Kay graduated from Irene S. Reed High School and married her childhood sweetheart, William (Bill) R. Levette, in 1940.  They were married 63 years.
Kay and Bill started their family in Shelton and made their home in McCleary from the early 40s until 1963, when they moved to North Carolina for four years. Upon return, they lived in Lacey, Washington and Kay went to work for the Washington State Patrol, retiring in 1985.  Moving back to Shelton in March of this year, Kay came full circle and was able to enjoy the visits of friends and family before succumbing to lung cancer.
Kay considered her family her greatest accomplishment. Kay was a lifeguard, Cub Scout den mother, Girl Scout Leader, PTA president and Sunday school teacher.  Bill and Kay loved to travel, especially to Arizona for Spring Training, and enjoyed entertaining friends and family.  Kay, a great cook and organizer of good times, was affectionately known as “The General” or “Big Kahuna.”
Kay was preceded in death by her parents, husband Bill Levette, sisters Josephine Rau and Gertrude Batsone, brother Joseph Viger, and son-in-law, Jim C. Lovett.  She is survived by her children Steve (Barbara) Levette of Union, Barbara (Dave) Anderson of Olympia, and Kitty Lovett (Lacey); brothers Bill and Butch Viger of Union, and sister Toni Hurlen of Florence, Arizona; grandchildren Christopher Sieg, Michael (Sonshine) Sieg, Mary (Brian) Murphy, and Becky Slosson; 11 great grandchildren and a great-great grandson.
A graveside service will be held at Shelton Memorial Park, at 11:00 AM, on Friday, May 11, 2012.  A luncheon will follow at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in the parish hall at high noon. Forest Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Remembrances can be left at www.woodlawn-forest.com

Allen R. Rogers

Allen Richard Rogers died on Friday, May 4, 2012 at Mason General Hospital in Shelton, WA. He was 59 years old. Mr. Rogers was born on August 4, 1952 to Albert W. and Dolores (Knowles) Rogers in Renton, WA. He graduated from Kent Meridian High School in 1971 and never married.
Allen was employed at the Bremerton Naval Shipyard, owned a sailboat and enjoyed sailing.
He is survived by his sister, Sandy Ross (Robert), Ellensburg, WA; niece, Carly Ross, Ellensburg and nephew Joel Ross of Portland, OR.
He is preceded in death by his parents. Donations can be made to SightLife, 221 Yale Ave. N, Suite 450, Seattle, WA 98109-5490.
At his request, no services will be held. The family was served by McComb Funeral Home.