Sunday, October 21, 2018

Former BJ artist John "Derf" Backderf, a graphic novelist ("My Friend Dahmer") and pioneer underground cartoonist (visual arts), on Sunday received the Cleveland Arts Prize’s Mid-Career Award at the Cleveland Museum of Art ceremonies.

“My Friend Dahmer” was made into a movie released in 2017. Alex Wolff played Derf. Ross Lynch played Derf’s classmate at Revere High School.

Derf is married to former BJ reporter Sheryl Harris, who migrated to the PD as a business writer.

Former national poet laureate and Akron native Rita Dove, author of "On the Bus With Rosa Parks," was the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

879,889 !

Pageviews on this BJ Alums blog!!!

Ol’ Blue Walls expatriots all over America check this web site to see how their former co-workers are doing.

We’re all in this together.

If you have information you would like to share with other BJ folks, past and present, email John Olesky at .

And, please, add jpeg photos in the email of your travels, special family events, wedding anniversaries, deaths of former BJ workers. With full identifications, of course.

Thank you.

John Olesky

BJ 1969-96

Assistant State Desk Editor
Makeup ManElectronics Coordinator

Television Editor



Thursday, October 18, 2018

BJ daughters connect in Indiana

Do you have a photo of Lou Albert to give his daughter?

Remember Lou Albert?

Dawn Wilson, the late BJ Action Line editor Craig Wilson’s daughter, has an interesting story to tell that is linked to memories of Lou.
She emailed me a week ago but I was in The Villages, Florida where I didn’t have access to my computer.

Lou left the BJ in 1984 to become display advertising manager for Fort Wayne Newspapers Inc. He came to the Beacon Journal in 1973.
Craig trained many a reporter in Action Line. The investigative skills later sent to the newsroom Connie Bloom and Betsy Lammerding, among others.

Here is Dawn Wilson’s story (she is a chip off the block when it comes to writing):

Hi John - -

This is Dawn Wilson, Craig Wilson's elder daughter.

I would appreciate if you could put this post on the BJ Retirees blog to ask for copies of pictures people might have of former ABJ employee Lou Albert:

Hi.  I am Dawn Wilson, Craig Wilson's elder daughter.  I worked for Portage Newspaper Supply from 1977 to 1982 and then moved to Fort Wayne Newspapers in 1982, where I worked until 1987. 

I wanted to share a little story you might enjoy and also make a request for pictures.

I still reside in Fort Wayne and the heritage and camaraderie of the Akron Beacon Journal and its great employees and family members continues to live on here.  

Recently I made a new friend through a mutual friend.  A few months later, upon looking at her Facebook account, I simultaneously saw her maiden name and picture, and the dots connected.  I immediately called her and asked if her dad was Lou Albert. (Just had to be; she looks just like him.)

Oh my, yes. How did you know that?

Well, your dad and my dad worked at the Akron Beacon Journal together, and then I got to know your dad when he moved from the ABJ to Fort Wayne Newspapers in the 80's. 

Who would have believed this?   Now my new friend, Jen Albert Dillon, and I had even more in common, and all sorts of stories to share about being little girls brought to work with our dads at their newspaper jobs.

One thing Jen has shared with me is how few pictures of her dad she has. Evidently, he was not a fan of being photographed. 

Jen and I have an event coming up in about 3 weeks for which it would be extra special to give her a picture or two of her dad; if anyone has an old photo of Lou they'd be willing to share with me to share with Jen, I would be very grateful. 

Many thanks.


Thank you, John. 


Dawn E Wilson, CPA, CGMA, MBA
5207 Hopkinton Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46814

If you have photos of Lou Albert, you have Dawn’s address in Fort Wayne. And her phone number.

Detroit native Craig passed away in 2007. The late Connie Bloom, one of Craig’s proteges, wrote his obituary for the BJ. His first wife, Ella Leonard Wilson, predeceased him in 1992.

Craig and his second wife, Elizabeth Bendall Wilson, were chosen 2004 Outstanding Citizens by the Barberton Community Foundation. Elizabeth worked for the Social Security Administration for more than three decades. Dawn Wilson and Andrea (Dan) Korow of Cedaredge, Colorado are their daughters.

Craig was chief librarian and then Action Line editor at the BJ for 40 years, then contributed freelance to the 44 E. Exchange Street newspaper for another 11 years, mostly with his Book Talk column.
He was one of many characters at Ol’ Blue Walls during my 26 years there, but a great trainer of future newsroom reporters. He was a member of Mensa so he was no dummy. Aggravating, just like Pat Engelhart, but brilliant, too, just like Pat.

As wife Elizabeth put it, “Craig and I locked horns on a regular basis and every now and then stepped on each other’s toes. Maybe he stepped on yours, too, once or twice. But I can assure you that Craig Wilson is the finest man I have ever met. He had a pure heart and a genuine concern for his fellow man and his surroundings. I am honored he chose me as his wife.”

I love this line from Craig when he was reminiscing about his BJ days:

“I spent the first 18 months of my career as a reporter in the Ravenna office in what seemed like a retired chicken coop.”

During my days as BJ assistant State Desk editor under the whirling dervish, Patrick Englehart, the late Ray Redmond was the Portage County bureau chief stationed in Ravenna.
Portage County prosecutor Ron Kane trusted Ray so much that he left the FBI report on the 1970 Kent State shootings by the National Guard on his desk and walked out of the room so that Ray could “discover” and read it. The FBI report said the Guard was not in enough danger to begin firing.
It started the BJ, with Pat whipping everyone into shape, on its way to the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the four killings and nine injured by the unnecessary hail of National Guard bullets.

Craig was in the Navy during World War II and a University of Michigan School of Journalism graduate. He worked his way through college as a Yellow Cab driver.
A fervent Cleveland Indians fan, Craig named his dog Omar Vizquel Wilson for the famous Indians shortstop. The canine was listed as one of his survivors in Craig's obituary.
That was so Craig.

After this article appeared, Dawn Wilson wrote this email to me:

Hi John -

I received your Voicemail and looked at the Blog.  A huge thank you for posting it and also adding the pictures and so many nice things about my dad.
And, I appreciate the compliment on my writing; I was never a fan of writing as a kid but it became a necessary skill as a manager, and as a CPA for the last 25 years.  I suspect I was one of dad's trainees, too, and just did not realize it!

The pictures of Lou are great.  I so appreciate Mike Williams digging these out.  And I appreciate your willingness to send them to me.  I know Jen will love them!!  My thanks to you and Mike for making this happen.  I'll look for them.

I also love the old picture of my co-workers and me from Portage Supply and had not had a copy of it.

Thank you, John, for all of this and overseeing this Blog.  Please feel free to post this on the Blog for others and to let Mike know of my appreciation.

Ken Krause sent the head shot of Lou Albert. Mike Williams sent the other photos.


PD and former BJ pop culture critic Mark Dawidziak, my TV critic when I was Television Editor inside Ol’ Blue Walls for the final 16 years of my 26-year career there, won first place at the 32nd annual New York Book Show for his “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in The Twilight Zone” book cover.

To be precise, it was for the hardcover nonfiction cover/jacket category.

Writes Mark:
“One of the major gripes you'll hear from authors is about the covers publishers put on their books. But I've always been enormously fortunate in this regard -- a point that was driven home in delightful fashion last week.
“I don't get to take the bow, since all credit goes to designer Rob Grom and illustrator Phil Pascuzzo (and my daughter, Becky, for taking the author's photo). Still, it's a grand high-profile victory for ‘The Twilight Zone.’ Carousel rides all around!”
The carousel reference is to the 1959 “Twilight Zone” episode about advertising executive Martin Sloan, played by Gig Young as the adult Sloan, injuring himself while falling off a carousel after he is transported to his childhood and learning a life lesson to stop looking back in nostalgia but forward in anticipation to still more enjoyment and pleasure in your life.
I’ve followed that advice all of my life. I remember my past fondly in most cases, particularly growing up in the coal mining town of Monongah, West Virginia where I could run the hills all day as long as I came home when the street lights came on and where the residents all over town were my parents’ volunteer babysitters.
If I did something wrong, when I walked in the door at home my parents let me know about it. It DID take a village to raise THIS child.
Mark also is renown for his knowledge of another Mark, humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, whose pen name Mark Twain came from a Mississippi River boatman term of measuring the depth of the water.
Famed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns once wrote: “Nobody gets Mark Twain the way Mark Dawidziak does.”
Hell, Mark looks more like Twain than Twain did, now that he’s aged from stage makeup to real-life beard color.
His multitude of books include “Columbo,” Peter Falk’s famous detective series.
I still remember fondly the day that Falk called the BJ and asked for Mark, who was writing the book about Falk and his rumpled raincoat character.
After telling Falk that Mark wasn’t there, I said: “Oh, one more thing.”
Falk dutifully laughed as if his famous Columbo line hadn’t been repeated back to him in real life a zillion times. Well, Falk was a great actor.
The co-star in Mark D.’s life is Sara Showman Dawidziak, both on stage and in marriage. Their Largely Literary Theater Company performs works linked to Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens and anything else they can think of.
They first met in Tennessee in 1981 when they appeared together in Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor.”
A year later they were married in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Another year later, Mark began his marvelous adventure at 44 E. Exchange Street.
After I “trained” him well enough, he took his talents to the PD.
Mark and Sara live in Cuyahoga Falls with daughter Becky, who is never without a camera in her hand to memorialize her father . . . and mother.
Mark’s email address combines tributes to H.L. Mencken and Groucho Marx, two guys who were fantastic, too, when it came to sarcasm and criticism.
Mark is justifiably in the Cleveland Press Club’s Journalism Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

From left: Paula Tucker, John Olesky, Sharon Downing
Sharing memories with Sharon Downing

Paula Tucker and I had another enjoyable dinner and chat with Sharon Downing, former BJ printer Hugh Downing’s widow, in The Villages, Florida.

Paula is there for October and November. I popped down for a week while the West Virginia Mountaineers were NOT in Mountaineer Field, where I’ve had season tickets for more than two decades (I watched the Iowa State disaster in Ames, Iowa on TV with Paula). I still haven’t recovered from the worst WVU offensive display in 30 years. After a 5-0 start and #6 national rankings, too. It may take a while for that pain to subside.

Anyway, Paula and I get together for dinners with Sharon during our stays in The Villages. Previously, it was Paula, Hugh, Sharon and me. Also, Hugh would set up tee times for former BJ State Desk reporter Bob Page, himself and me for years. We got to play a lot of the 47 executive courses in The Villages that way.

Sharon is doing well. She still gets regular visits from her four sons, and journeys north to visit them.

Hugh and Sharon’s sons are Mark Downing, who lives in Erie, Pennsylvania; Ben Downing, who lives in Toledo; Chris Downing, who lives in Hudson; and Jonathan Downing, who lives in Vienna, Virginia.

Hugh’s siblings are Barbara Downing Roelle, Bert Downing, Colleen Downing Elliker, James Downing, Judy Downing Johnston and Karen Downing Yochem.

Hugh passed away in 2016. He had been married to Sharon for 56 years. Both were from Galion, Ohio but didn’t meet till Hugh showed up in her parents' home in Florida.

Hugh started working for the Galion Inquirer at age 14 as a paperboy and worked his way to typesetter before leaving the Inquirer in 1962. After a move to Florida, Hugh worked for the Pensacola News Journal until 1964 before "heading home" to Ol' Blue Walls. Hugh retired  in 2000 after 37 years at 44 E. Exchange Street.
I retired in 1996 after 26 years at the BJ as part of my 43-year newspaper career that took me to the Williamson (WV) Daily News, Glendive (Montana) Daily Ranger (don't ask), Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, St. Petersburg (Florida) Times and the BJ.
I was a sort of wandering troubadour, except my fingers plucked keyboards instead of guitar strings.
It was God's way of guiding me to America's best newspaper owner, John Shively Knight, who left his Miami Herald office for the Kentucky Derby every year on the first Saturday in May.

Then JSK continued to the BJ. When Ohio weather became less inviting than Florida sunshine, Mr. Knight returned to the Herald to continue his cyclical life pattern.
Meriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of the Lewis of the famous Lewis and Clark explorers, started the Kentucky Derby in 1875 after his trip that included taking in England's Epsom Derby.
That makes The Run for the Roses the oldest horse race in America. It's the first race in the Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. The Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York follow.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Playwright Neil Simon came up with “The Good Doctor,” built on the foundation of writings by legendary Russian Anton Chekhov, in 1973.

Frances Hussy Sternhagan (know-it-all, know-nothing mailman Cliff’s mother in “Cheers”) and Rene Auberjonois (later, Odo in “Star Trek”) won Tony Awards for their performances.

In 1978 Edward Asner, the formidable Lou Grant and, in real life, formidable union leader; Richard Chamberlain, king of miniseries; and Marsha Mason, Simon’s wife and in the 1973 stage premiere as all 3 of the Three Sisters, resurrected “The Good Doctor” for a TV movie.

In 1981 Mark Dawidziak and Sara Goodman were cast in a Tennessee production of “The Good Doctor.”

A year later, Mark and Sara were married in Johnston City, Tennessee, where Mark was working on the Kingsport Times-News. Or, as Mark calls it, “a run-of-the-play contract.”

Two years later, the kid who grew up on Long Island brought his bride from Tennessee as he came to the BJ to fall under the excellent tutelage of – ahem! – me!!! I was Mark’s TV Editor. As Humphrey Bogart said to Claude Raines in “Casablance,” “It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” He have stayed in touch ever since, 22 years after my retirement from the BJ, including reunions with fellow BJ escapees at Primo’s Deli.

He succeded David Bianculli, who took off for fame at the New York Post after never meeting a deadline he didn’t ignore at Ol’ Blue Walls. David and I gave birth to Channels, the BJ’s television guide which since has disappeared after a technology tsunami overwhelmed it.

Today, the PD and former BJ culture critic Mark and still his co-star Sara are celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary and are co-CEOs of their Largely Literary Theater Company.

Mark is superb on stage doing Edgar Allan Poe (the family cat is named “Poe,” Mark Twain and Charles Dickens but his best role is with Sara and their daughter Becky and the animals that find their way into their home in Cuyahoga Falls. Paula and I have witnessed Mark and Sara’s performances at libraries in Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Massillon and Hudson.

And, to keep from resting on his laurels, Mark has written more than a dozen books about Columbo, Twain, The Twilight Zone, Dracula – you name it.

Before the BJ & the PD, Mark's career took him to the Kingsport Times-News in Tennessee,
the Bristol Herald Courier in Virginia, the Associated Press’ Washington bureau and Knight-Ridder Newspapers’  Washington bureau.

Mark was born in Huntington, New York (think Long Island), on September 7, 1956, a son of World War II Army Air Corps captain/navigator Joseph Walter Dawidziak, buried after his 2016 passing away in Calverton National Cemetery on Long Island, and Claire Dawidziak. Later, Joe married Bernie Dawidziak.

So were siblings Joe, Jr., Jane, Aileen and Michael.

Mark’s email address --    -- includes tributes to humorist H.L. Mencken and comedian Groucho Marx.

Mencken’s most famous quote seems Nostradomas-like today with Donald Trump in the White House: “On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Mark is justifiably in the Cleveland Press Club’s Journalism Hall of Fame. And forever in my memories and heart. Right alongside the supreme Sara.

Monday, October 08, 2018

A Memorial Mass for former BJ reporter Bill Canterbury will start at 9:30 a.m. Friday, October 26 at St. Sebastian Church. Bill’s widow, Paula, and her family will receive friends 30 minutes before the Mass.

There will be a reception at the O’Neil House after the Mass. The memorial Mass was scheduled for October because the clan will be in Akron for a family wedding later that day.

St. Sebastian is at 476 Mull Avenue. The O’Neil House is at 1290 W. Exchange Street.

Paula explains:

“I am having a short reception afterward and we are due for pictures for my nephew’s wedding at 12:30 at Stan Hywet.  Weddings and funerals, John.  It will be quite the day.” 
Gloria Irwin, because Mustard Seed charges a rental fee for its private room, will “just grab a table in the cafĂ© about noon” for any of Bill’s co-workers and friends who want to go there after the Mass and O’Neil House stops.

Former BJ religion writer Laura Haferd, who plans to attend, noted that “Bill sang in the St. Sebastian Choir for many years, so the choir will be there. At least those who don’t have to be at work on a Friday morning.” 
Others who say they will be at the reception are former Ol’ Blue Walls occupants Betsy Lammerding, Ann and Roger Mezger, Marilyn Miller, Dave Scott, Gloria Irwin, Bob Springer, Chuck Montague, Mary Beth Nord Breckenridge, George “Bing Davis and wife Merleen, Kathy Byland Gardner and Greg Gardner and Charlene Nevada.

Robin Sallie is a maybe. Katie Byard and Jim Carney will be out of town and will miss the event. 
And me. I wouldn't miss a farewell to Bill for the world.

But not Paula Stone Tucker, 1970s State Desk reporter, who is in The Villages, Florida while I’m in our Tallmadge home staring and yelling at our TV set or in Mountaineer Field cheering on my alma mater’s football team.

In 2009 my Paula and I ran into Bill and his Paula at the annual St. Sebastian Church Thanksgiving dinner on Mull Avenue in Akron. Bill was with Meals on Wheels, still being the good guy helping others. 

Bill’s Paula is an Ellet High and University of Akron graduate. Bill and Paula had moved to Fort Myers, Florida, where Bill passed away May 1. Their children are Eddie Canterbury and Lyn Pfordresher. Bill’s sisters are Ann Canterbury and Helen Westneat.

In Fort Myers, Paula said, her Bill “was playing tennis and swimming in the Gulf of Mexico in February!" He also was an avid tennis player, painter, musician, skiier and a dedicated naturalist. Quiet but good man, our Bill.

Bill once wrote:

I remember Paula. So now we both have a Paula in our lives. Lovely name, beautiful people attached to them.”

Indeed, Bill. And you are at the head of the class when it comes to beautiful people.

Here’s an example of Bill’s writing that, like him, was simple, heart-felt and moving, from a 1985 article:

"The dead still rest in peace in a hilltop cemetery in rural Holmes County. But to their survivors, the scenic, century-old burial ground has become a matter of unrest."

Simple and classic. That’s our Bill.

Bill was a member of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winning team for “A Question of Color.”

Bill and I have an extra bonding. We are both West Virginia natives. Bill grew up in Wayne County, which shares a border with Mingo County, where my late wife, Monnie Turkette Olesky, grew up in the Cinderella coal camp adjacent to Williamson. I met Monnie on a baseball field in Williamson when I was sports editor of the Williamson Daily News, my first job after my graduation from the West Virginia University School of Journalism.

While Paula Canterbury and I were discussing Bill’s Memorial Mass and publishing information about it on this BJ Alums blog, Paula wrote:

You are such a kind man and remind me so much of Bill. A true gentleman with a wry sense of humor and a full heart.”

That probably is the greatest compliment I have received in my life.

Other WVU J School alumni who prowled Ol’ Blue Walls include Scott Bosley, Tom Melody and Bonnie Bolden.

George “Bing” Davis, who I think still writes for the BJ, has known Bill since 1964 “when I succeeded him at the Lynchburg (Virginia) Daily Advance and got his apartment, too."


Sunday, October 07, 2018

Want to cover Akron for WKSU?

WKSU, Kent State’s public radio station, is looking for a reporter to write about people stories in Akron’s 24 neighborhoods.

Requirements: “A reporter who can embed her/himself in Akron” and tell stories you won’t get from covering City Hall or corporate power centers.

WKSU wants someone who is curious and will go to the people in the neighborhoods for human interest stories, as we called them in my dinosaur days at Ol’ Blue Walls.
Such as individual or family experiences with economics, education and the shift from rubber shops to high-tech startups.

WKSU’s Akron prowler would create stories for PBS’ “Morning Edition,” “Here and Now” and “All Things Considered.”

Since the BJ alone nudged at least 150 out the door in this decade, there should be plenty of talent for WKSU to choose from.

WKSU was born in 1950 with a 50-foot pole propped against a chimney of Kent Hall and a 10-watt signal. A lot has changed over the years.

For more information and to apply go to  

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Naples newspaper is hiring; interested?

In case any of my friends who got shitcanned by GateHouse Media are interested:

"Hi friends! Naples Daily News is hiring a breaking news editor.

"I believe we're also hiring one more photographer/videographer. I'm attaching the link to the editor position, but you should be able to find the photographer position through that website, too.

"I hope to see somebody down here soon! "
I can tell you from my 30 years of winterizing that the weather is nice there in the winter and the Everglades are really handy.
Seriously, you could do worse than live in Naples, which is really upscale and on the Gulf of Mexico.
So, if you’re interested, you have the URL.
Good luck!