Here is a list of beloved members who have passed through this life and have touched our hearts with their own special magic both personally and professionally. This is not a complete list, as we are currently gathering information from our files. If you know of someone we may have missed, who was a member of S.A.M. #112 please contact us through the contact page and provide any information you have.
Ragu Nathan – 1945 – Dec, 25 2008
Ragu Nathan was born in Chennai, India, in 1945. He completed both his BS and MS in Electrical Engineering in India before joining Tata Consultants, a multinational IT company that serviced other industrial customers around the world. He worked for a short time in the Middle East for Tata before migrating to the United States.
His passions were his family, the game of bridge, and magic (card tricks and mentalism). He was a gentle, compassionate man and a true magician at heart. He became a part of the Bay Area magic scene in 1993 and was an active participant in all the club events. Ragu was a spirited performer at nearly every club meeting he would attend. Knowledgeable in magic, he shared it freely with the magic community. He inspired and motivated all who came in touch with him to practice and perform magic.
Many members of Assembly #112 commented on how likable Ragu was a person and as a performer. He entertained his friends and co-workers routinely with magic shows on special occasions and office parties.
Addie Van Winkle – Sep. 18, 1910 – Jan. 17, 2006
Addie (Adeline) Van Winkle, the most beloved member of Assembly #112, in 1939 married Marvin Rex, who died in 1973.
She moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1953, where she married Rip Van Winkle in the mid 70s, a few years after they both had become widowed.
During her career she played golf, was a winning equestrian, square dancer (square dancing was not the only dancing Addie did; she once received three or four free tap-dance lessons from Bill "Bojangles" Robinson), tournament-winning bowler, private and stunt pilot, entrepreneur, legal secretary, playwright, singer, and craft artist. And, of course, she was a wonderful magician (and, as Addie did magic shows, Rip was an able assistant, stagehand, and encourager).
Addie took magic lessons from Leo Luna and learned about Assembly #112 and joined it in 1985. Not long after joining, she became the assembly Secretary and took notes at every assembly meeting and remained Secretary for over fifteen years, until eventually she was unable to attend all the events.
Harry Bartolomei (August 4, 1926 – August 7, 2006)
Born in Alameda, California, of Italian immigrant parents, Harry spoke Italian before he learned English. Upon graduating from high school in 1944, Harry volunteered for the Army but ended up in the Navy, where he became an electronics instructor.
He went on to become chief engineer at various Bay Area radio and TV stations from 1946 till 1967 and once worked with and palled around with the legendary Don Sherwood (if you did not live in the Bay Area during Don's glory days, imagine a very funny Errol Flynn), for whom he served as chief engineer. Also, the first time Phyllis Diller ever performed in public, Harry introduced her.
A superior athlete his whole life, Harry set sixteen power boat world records, won seven National Championships, was elected a member of the Marine Racing Hall of Fame in 1962, and was a member of Yachting Magazine's All American Racing Team for 1961-1962. He was the Unione International Motonautique's sportsman of the year for 1990, earned a Jiu Jitsu black belt and taught judo at the YMCA, and was the Amateur Bowling Tour Champion for 2006.
And, of course, he was a member of the Society of American Magicians, serving once as vice president of Assembly #112.
Those of us in the assembly who knew him each knew only one or two small aspects of his life. It was as though Harry was ten fascinating people, of whom each of us knew only one.
Ian E McLaughlin – Nov 21, 1915 – Apr 21, 2006
Ian E McLaughlin, one of the early members of our assembly (having joined in the late 1970s) participated in the battlefields in WWII as a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps—leading one of the first anti-air-craft computer-guided mobile gun units. He then served as an officer in the United States Air Force Reserves, achieving the rank of colonel. But one of his most cherished accomplishments in life was becoming an Eagle Scout as a teenager.
His avid passions were curling, snow skiing, golf, and magic. Curling was a carryover from his Canadian heritage in which he competed as a youth; snow skiing was the family winter vacation enjoyed over the decades; golf was a sport he continued in his senior years; but it was magic that captured his passion.
Ian performed internationally to the delight of young and old alike. Serious in his magic endeavors, he was an active member of the SAM for over four decades. He gave very polished magical presentations whenever he performed at our assembly meetings.
Doctor Wynn Matsumura – 1944 – Aug 27, 2001
Doctor Wynn Matsumura, member of Assembly #112 as well as some other magic clubs, was also a member of the San Francisco Reef Divers and was also an active participant in that hobby. Besides magic and scuba diving, he enjoyed a variety of other hobbies—including studying the Japanese language and participating in dance and many different sports.
Although he never performed at our meetings, Doctor Matsumura frequently performed for his friends and associates and also frequently came all the way from San Francisco to attend our activities. He collected magic books and magic videos as well as attending magic lectures conventions.
A graduate of UC Berkeley and the University of Detroit School of Dentistry, he was active in many local, state, and national levels of dentistry while practicing dentistry for over twenty-five years. He was also appointed by the State Governor to serve as the Expert Examiner for the California State Board of Dentistry. Additionally, he received a long list of awards in the field of dentistry over the years.
Marion Bruce (aka Jiggsie the Clown) – ? – March 5, 2001
Marion Bruce was a member of the Ebell Society and a board member of the Zucchini Festival as well as belonging to the Oakland Women's Rowing Club, Oakland Council of the Navy League, Clown Club, and being a volunteer at the Oakland Zoo.
In addition to being a clown, Jiggsie was also a magician and was also a longtime member of the Oakland Magic Circle and S.A.M. #112.
Very involved in the Navy League, Jiggsie was proud of her connection with the USCGC Morganthau. For that reason, three crew members from the US Coast Guard Cutter Morganthau attended her memorial service. They accepted Jiggsie's ashes and agreed to fulfill her final request that she be buried at sea from the deck of the Morganthau.
In some ways, Jiggsie lived the Coast Guard motto, Semper Paratus. Jiggsie was "always ready." She was always ready to make someone laugh, to bring a smile to someone's face even in the most dire of circumstances. She lived her life that way.
Leonard L. Miller- Nov 10, 1915 – October 3, 2000
Leonard Miller, was born on November 10, 1915, in San Francisco. Len and his family moved to Richmond when he was five years old. Just prior to the war, Leonard met Adeline Maier, whom he married in 1943 just before shipping off to the South Pacific.
Interested in magic from an early age, Len lived through more than one "Golden Age of Magic." He saw Houdini, Cardini, Thurston, and many of the old-time greats when they came through Oakland on the Orpheum circuit, and he also saw many others, like Luxor Gali Gali, perform years later.
In the 1950s he and his son and daughter used to put on magic shows together for lodges and clubs. When he joined SAM #112 around 1986, he also became interested in clowning and performing again.
Almost entirely self taught, Len concentrated on rope magic although over the years he had been handed down a great deal of magic, most of which he generously gave away to other magicians. And many of us will remember the way he taught us all the magic we were willing to learn from him.
Stan Riddle – 1927 – Feb 12, 2000
Assembly #112 founder and first President, Stan Riddle, was born in Texas in 1927 and migrated to California in 1954. Although he was a chemist by training and worked for many years as such for Chevron, he was also a sportscaster for years at radio station KWUN and also worked for a while at television Channel 42. In fact, he was once offered a job on network radio but turned it down because he felt a long move would disrupt his family.
Performing magic for years before any of us knew him, he was already a member of the Society of American Magicians when he published the classified ad that caused the birth of our assembly.
Loren Lind said, "It was an exciting evening when he introduced the Society of American Magicians to those who answered his classified ad in the Contra Costa Times inviting all interested in magic to a meeting in one of the Concord churches.
"It was the second or third meeting that we signed the applications and requested a Charter for the Concord 'Mount Diablo' Assembly. The Charter was dated November 8, 1975."
Besides forming our assembly, he served as our first president, and furnished our first meeting place.
His strength as a magician was his desire to teach and encourage. There was hardly a performer among the members of our assembly in the first couple of years who was not encouraged by Stan, and he was willing to teach anyone who was willing to learn.
John Richard Birdsell – March 20, 1919 – December 19, 1999
John Richard Birdsell, a native Californian, spent his growing up years between Napa and Long Beach in Southern California. At the age of sixteen he entered the service and spent two years in the Army. But even before he entered the service, his career in radio had already begun when he started singing out over the airwaves. He spent many years as an account executive with KKIS radio in Pittsburg, writing commercials and selling radio time.
But most of us remember him as the sometimes proprietor and sometimes helper at the California Magic & Novelty Co. After marrying Polly, he caught the magic bug from his stepson, Gerry Griffin, and was frequently involved in the magic store. He even became a member of both the SAM and the IBM.
He seemed most alive when he was relating to other people, telling a joke, doing magic, being with his family, making people laugh, or just helping friends enjoy life. And he is missed by all of us who knew him.