Tuesday, May 12, 2015

R.I.P. Gordon Thomas Pratt (July 17, 1945 - April 6, 2015)

Via Skin & Ink magazine, October 2007

My friend Gordy Pratt, an entrepreneur turned self-taught graphic artist, died last month at the VA Hospital in Milwaukee, the city where he was born and spent most of his life.

The photos above are from a three-page article and photo spread I helped arrange that was published in the October 2007 issue of Skin & Ink, a hip tattoo arts magazine.

Via the article by British journalist and documentarian Tim Coleman:
There can't be many stranger or sadder tattoos than those adorning the body of Gordon Pratt. The words and pictures depict the terrible saga of a Milwaukee father's grief, the loss of custody of his three daughters and a trail of systematic abuse. Today, only one of the daughters is alive. "Getting tattooed," he says, "was a way to make sure l'd never forget what my children went through - the living and tormenting hell with their mother."

...In 1968, Pratt married his wife, Carol. It was the worst decision he ever made. During their 13 years of marriage, they had three daughters, Carlotta, Christina and Ciprina. It was only after their divorce in 1981, when the courts awarded Carol custody of the children, that the abuse began. In his many pages of recollections and illustrations, Pratt catalogues the horrors that Carol and her new partner, David, meted out to Christina.

...As well as abusing her children, Pratt's former wife, now remarried as Carol Spizzirri, has lied about her background. According to Pratt, she lied about having a college education, being trained as a nurse and having a Bachelor of Science in nursing. He also states that she perpetrated a scam on the state of Illinois by setting up a not-for-profit organization called the Save a Life Foundation (SALF), whose stated aim was to teach first aid to the nation's children. According to Pratt and a local TV news station, which investigated SALF, President and CEO Spizzirri's credentials are completely bogus.

...Perhaps the saddest chapter of this truly terrible story ended when, in 1992, Christina's troubled life finally came to an end. Intoxicated and not wearing a seatbelt, she accidentally lost control of her car, rolled it over and was flung onto the road. She died, about an hour later, in the hospital. Not content with the suffering she had caused when Christina was alive, Pratt says, "Carol manipulated the circumstances of her daughter's death for financial gain. She falsely claimed," he asserts, "that Christina died on the highway and could have survived, if she had received emergency aid. She then used this bogus claim as a way of boosting funding for the Save a Life Foundation."
Click here for the compilation page on my website of dozens of print and broadcast media exposes about  SALF, Carol Spizzirri's now-defunct nonprofit that's reportedly the target of an ongoing investigation by the Illinois Attorney General.

Spizziri -- once the darling of prominent officials, Illinois media, and my father(!) -- is also a defendant in a wide-ranging federal civil rights lawsuit filed by former SALF employee Annabel Melongo.

By providing documents and information to reporters and criminal justice professionals about his ex-wife (reportedly a twice-convicted adult shoplifter who now lives in a trailer park in Southern California), Gordy's efforts significantly contributed to both cases and to the downfall of her bogus nonprofit. 

Gordy told me that after making two small fortunes -- the first in commercial real estate, the second in speculating in the silver market -- he became an artist as a means to tell the story of his experiences.

Pages from The Oh No! Book reproduced in the October 2007 Skin & Ink article

Besides designing the tattoos that adorned him from the waist up, he created a handful of dynamic and engaging self-published graphic arts books.  

His most intimate work is the 285-page Oh No! Book, which chronicled the issues discussed in the Skin & Ink article. (Click here to download a pdf copy -- patience, it's a big file.)

Gordy is survived by: his daughter Ciprina Spizzirri Nugent (an actress and former Director of Communication's at SALF) and her husband Brian K. Nugent (a special effects artist in the film industry) both of Los Angeles; his sister, Sandra Marie Powers, and her daughter, Dawn Marie Ridgewell, both of Oconomowoc, WI.

Per Gordy's March 1, 2011 "informational data sheet" below, along with his sister and niece, Gordy named his longtime friend, Joseph A. Santoro of Milwaukee, a former restaurant owner, as his successor representative and agent. (As a courtesy, I've redacted their addresses and phone numbers, but I can share that information with interested parties. Click here to download the page.)

I'd welcome hearing from anyone who knew Gordy, including any reminiscences for possible publication in a future blog item. Click here to e-mail me.