Angel Wing

It was just yesterday (technically early this morning) that I wrote about musical people who have left a void, and now I have just learned of the death of Lee Wing. You may not know her by name, but she wrote “An Older Man Is Like an Elegant Wine,” a song that was recorded to great acclaim by both Carol Sloane and Nancy Wilson.

Here’s a snippet from Nancy’s recording of An Older Man Is Like An Elegant Wine (that’s Toots Thielemans with her).

I never met Mrs. Wing, and all I knew about her was her talent as a songwriter. Now, reading her obituary (which I am posting below) I am fascinated to learn of her work in the fields of government and education. A common thread seems to be giving people a voice. Smart Start Kids is an Emmy-award-winning half-hour television program where preschool children are the “stars” of the show, and my eyes zoom in on phrases like “citizen call-ins,” and “connect people and their government.” It seems that her life touched on many of the same topics that I hold dear. Here, then, is her obituary from the Durham Herald-Sun, August 29, 2006.

Durham’s Honored Mrs. Wing dies

Lucie Lee Abramson Wing of Durham, who founded and served as president of Friends of University Network Television (WUNC) and was arts and communications policy adviser to Gov. Jim Hunt in the 1970s, died Sunday. She was 80 and had lived in Durham since 1965.

“I just loved her,” longtime friend Mary D.B.T. Semans said Monday. “She was so talented. I admired her so. She inspired me.”

Mrs. Wing also was executive director of the N.C. Agency for Public Telecommunications from 1979 to 1993, and created OPEN/net, a statewide satellite and cable television network with unscreened citizen call-ins designed to connect people and their government.

The network won the Ford Foundation and Harvard-Kennedy School of Government Award for Innovations in State and Local Government.

Mrs. Wing also received the Governor’s Award of Excellence and was inducted into the Order of the Longleaf Pine for her service to the state.

In 1993, she founded Responsive Media Inc. as a vehicle for new projects involving audience participation. She produced the Call-In Kids radio program from 1996 to 1999, and later created Smart Start Kids, produced by WRAL-TV, which won a regional Emmy Award in 2004.

Mrs. Wing also wrote music and lyrics. Her song “Pushing Forty” was recorded by Pearl Bailey and “An Older Man Is Like an Elegant Wine” was recorded by both Carol Sloane and Nancy Wilson.

From 1968 to 1972, Mrs. Wing was president of the Durham County Democratic Women. She co-chaired Terry Sanford’s 1972 presidential campaign and was a delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

“She was such a believer in democracy and worked for it all the time,” Mrs. Semans said. “She cherished the Constitution and everything about it.”

Former state Rep. George Miller of Durham agreed.

“She was really the one person who originally advocated open government in North Carolina,” Miller said. “That included the Legislature, the Office of the Governor, state agencies, and the like…. She had many talents.”

Mrs. Wing is survived by her husband, Cliff; her son and daughter-in-law, Steve and Betsy; their daughters, Ann and Marion; her son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Natasha; and their sons, Erik and Nicholas.

The family said it will announce plans later to remember and celebrate her life.

My condolences to Mrs. Wing’s family and friends.