Old Scientologists are rare birds. There are so few of them. Even rarer are old Scientologists who die gracefully and with dignity. It is Church policy to neglect them and ignore pleas for even the most basic spiritual help.I have read that certain of those who died in the UK – John Harvey, John Cox, Thelma Cusworth and others – fared better and were cared for within the organisation at the end of their lives. But elsewhere it has been a different and truly terrible story.
In Their Hour of Greatest Need, Valerie Stansfield wrote: “Unbelievable but true – there is a church in the United States that refuses to succor those who are ill unto death. In their hour of greatest need, members of the Church of Scientology, by policy and practice are refused services, counselling or spiritual care from the spiritual body to which they have declared their allegiance.”
This is official policy, laid down by Hubbard. On 6 December 1976, he published a Policy Letter stating: “It shall be a Committee of Evidence offense… to accept for processing and process any PC (parishioner) … who is terminally ill, regardless of what the org. may have promised or asserted. Such diseases as advanced cancer are included.”
This may have been prompted by the fact that, only a few days earlier, on 17 November, he had received the unwelcome news that his estranged son, Quentin Hubbard (22), had died in hospital at Las Vegas, and that he had been identified before his death, despite all the precautions taken to remove identification from his body and his car. No service was held for him then or later and no public announcement of his death was ever made. Church members learned about it through newspaper reports and rumor.
By grim but appropriate irony, Hubbard himself died incognito, in a motor-home, neglected and deranged, after a series of strokes, in January 1986 aged 75. His body was cremated with indecent haste and the ashes were dumped without ceremony in the ocean.
B for Faith Banks, aged 71, in 2001 – her age is only remarkable because she was a Scientologist.
B for Louie Belucci, who died aged 74 from “natural causes”, in his case, uncontrolled diabetes.
D for Hank Deneke, 82, died around Christmas of 1985. He gave 23 years of his life on staff being paid a fraction of the minimum wage. He couldn’t get money for his Advanced Levels so no spiritual help was given. When he became terminally ill, he was ignored. Not one staff member attended his memorial service.
F for Donella Frost, 76, who was involved with Joan Lonstein in APUME. Cause of death not known.
H for John Harvey, John Harvey, AOSHUK, who spent 38 years in the Sea Org.
H for Marjorie Hunt, who died of “natural causes” in 2002 at the age of 84.
J for Fenton Jones, aged 88, died in 2000 – is more information available?
J for Laverne Jardine, who died aged 77 from “natural causes”.
K for Alfred W. Kozak who died 7 November 2009. He was in Dianetics, and Scientology from day one. In 1950, he read Dianetics and immediately joined the local Philadelphia Dianetics group and started co-auditing. Al followed LRH 59 years in this life. He made it up The Bridge to NED for OTs Case Level Completion.
L for Joan Lonstein, super-wealthy public, who died in 2010, probably of cancer, age unknown but certainly more than the Biblical span. She had gone OTVIII twice, in 1998 and 2004.
N for Marie Nollenberger, aged 95, in 2002. Does anyone know more about this lady?
O for Robert Oakes gave over 20 years of his life to forward and improve the Church. When he had severe heart trouble, only his friends offered help. At his passing only a private funeral was held. Only one Church staff member, an old friend, attended and there was no church officiation and no spiritual guidance offered his grieving widow.
P for Ed or Howard Pughes, 82, who died 1976, was exploited to the end. “In San Francisco or Sacramento in 1976, I recall an old man Ed or Howard Pughes being made to pay the totality of his savings for Flag services. He was an 82 year old man who knew he had little time to live and he was made to spend all of his money in a few months. The main motive was: to get his money. The registrar (Felice Brand) said: “He is a sweet old man who wants to give us all of his money before he dies.”
P for Grant Pool had routed on to begin the Special Briefing Course to further his ministerial training. He had been devoted for around 30 years. He was told he had to produce money to take a prerequisite course and being unable to do so, as age and severe physical problems plagued him, quietly hung around the Church unable to participate. When he died, the organization did nothing – his friends had a private memorial service for him.
R for Bob Ross: “natural causes”. If this is B. Robert Ross, Indie, born 1921, he was 79 in 2000 and is listed here because he lived to an unusual age for a Scientologist.
S for Idella (Ikey) Stone – Over 80 years old in 1983, when she became ill she wrote the Founder L. Ron Hubbard who ordered the Advanced Organization in writing to give her processing (counselling) at no charge. She got none. Idella started the first center for Hubbard in the world. She travelled and lectured for him since 1950. The newspapers gave her death front page exposure due to her general fame. No mention of it was made by the Church. When the Advanced Organization had refused her a minister, she and her friends requested a student Minister be dispatched to aid her – in her hours of greatest need after 35 years of devotion. They were told it would upset the Church’s plans for the students. Her funeral also had no official Church minister present.
S for Julia Salmen who started the Los Angeles branch of the Church and administered it for nearly two decades. She started many of the programs now permanently incorporated into their Scriptures. When she knew she was dying after a long illness several years ago, she called the Church’s Advanced Organization and asked for help. They refused to send a minister. Word passed among her friends and one of them came to counsel and prepare her, for which she was very appreciative. After her passing, the Church claimed that she died as a result of his faulty processing. A paragraph was published honoring her contributions (which was more than any of the others got). No official service was held.
S for Luzette Sparrin – This elegant Victorian lady in her 90s was heralded as “the oldest Minister in the Church.” She was almost blind and had no money. To her last she was writing to L. Ron Hubbard, asking for the return of money she had loaned him when he was poor and she an affluent opera singer. The letters were never acknowledged. When her house burned down in the 70’s no help from the nearby Church was given and she moved into a sleazy downtown hotel, until her final days at a welfare convalescent home. The Church had an official group called “The Gerus Society” which visited convalescent homes to cheer up the non-Scientology elderly, promoting the Church’s “charitable” ideals. When asked to visit Luzette they refused, stating it was “not our purpose.” Luzette had spunk, even to her last week talking of going back on stage. No official Church service, or even mention of her passing was ever done.
T for Lavina Timmons – this gracious former Executive of the New York C of S for years, active for decades, developed a rash under her arm while taking Advanced Ministerial Studies at the Church. She went to a doctor,who said she had cancer. She asked the church for help and as reply was declared “an illegal PC,” then refused further help or even further study. She went home and cried, passing away in 6 months with no Church support. Private friends gave her limited counselling and a private memorial. She had no family.
Corrections, further information and new entries welcomed. In particular the Editor would like further information about cause of death where this is referred to officially as “natural causes”. In practice this has been found to include uncontrolled diabetes and cancer.
27 November 2010