In memory of Earl Ma, 1971-2007

It is with great sadness that I announce that Earl Ma has died after a long battle with cancer. In addition to being a lovely guy with vast stores of energy and passion, Earl was instrumental in the campaign to save his beloved 76 Balls.

It began with his interviewing Nathan Marsak and myself for a feature in Check the Oil! magazine, but he soon became the go-to guy whenever another journalist covering the campaign needed to put Union 76 into its proper historical context. Earl knew everything about the brand, and was always generous responding to anyone’s questions. And in his spare time, he made an effort to videotape every 76 Ball, ideally spinning, that he could find and shared those tapes on Youtube so future generations could see lost balls in situ.

I only met Earl once, for a breakfast and Philippe’s in downtown LA with fellow 76 Ball geeks J. Eric Freedner and Nathan, but recognized him immediately in his Union 76 regalia. We all had a great visit, with no idea it would be our last.

I greatly appreciated Earl’s intelligence, kindness and reliability. He was a true gentleman, and it’s some small consolation to know that he left this plane knowing that the 76 Ball lives on in large part thanks to his efforts.

Godspeed, Earl, and thanks for all your good work and friendship.

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Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper is the creator of 1947project, the crime-a-day time travel blog that spawned Esotouric’s popular crime bus tours, including The Real Black Dahlia. She is the author of The Kept Girl, the acclaimed historical mystery starring the young Raymond Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe, and of The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles. With husband Richard Schave, Kim curates the Salons and forensic science seminars of LAVA- The Los Angeles Visionaries Association. When the third generation Angeleno isn’t combing old newspapers for forgotten scandals, she is a passionate advocate for historic preservation of signage, vernacular architecture and writer’s homes. Kim was for many years the editrix of Scram, a journal of unpopular culture. Her books include Fall in Love For Life, Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, Lost in the Grooves and an oral history of Neutral Milk Hotel.

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