Tuesday, September 16, 2014

John S. Knight
JSK, a colossus among giants

Bob Dyer wrote a fabulous tribute to John S. Knight, who took an in-debt Akron Beacon Journal in the depths of the Great Depression and forged a 33-newspaper Knight Newspaper empire.

The most common complaint about the BJ and newspapers today is that Jack Knight “would be spinning in his grave” over it.

Jack Knight was by far the greatest newspaper owner I worked for in my 43-year career that spanned the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, Williamson (WV) Daily News, Dayton Daily News, Nelson Poynter’s St. Petersburg Times and the BJ.

To read Bob’s article, click on

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dawidziak Skypes into national spotlight

Current Plain Dealer and former Beacon Journal TV critic Mark Dawdiziak is a weekly regular on the national “Coast to Coast” video chat, which is handled via Skype.

He’s joined by moderator Dave Walker of the New Orleans Times-Picayune and NOLA.com, Vicki Hyman of New Jersey's Star-Ledger and NJ.com and Kristi Turnquist of The Oregonian.

The first video lauds Ken Burns' "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," which began Sunday and continues nightly through Saturday on PBS.

Mark is the ghostly face on the right. He calls “The Roosevelts” Ken Burns’ “best work.”  

Mark is known nationally for his writings and live performances of Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens with his local Largely Literary Theater Company.

Wife Sara Showman performs with him. They live in Cuyahoga Falls.

KSU objects to May 4 sweatshirt
Kent State University statement said Urban Outfitters' production of and sale of one “blood-stained” sweatshirt about the May 4, 1970 Ohio  National Guard killing and wounding of its students “is beyond poor taste and trivializes a loss of life that still hurts the Kent State community today.”
The KSU release continued: “We take great offense to a company using our pain for their publicity and profit. We lost four students that day while nine others were wounded and countless others were changed forever.”
Urban Outfitters also produced a drunk Jesus sweatshirt.

To see the story about the shirt published in Business Insider, click on

Said Urban Outfitters in its Monday apology:
It was “part of our sun-faded vintage collection” and the “blood” was “discoloration from the original shade of the shirt and the holes are from natural wear and fray.

 “We deeply regret that this item was perceived negatively.”

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Jazz Crusaders lost two co-founders in five months. Joe Sample, 75, pianist, keyboard player, composer, died Friday, Sept. 12 in Houston, Texas of heart failure. Trombonist Wayne Henderson, 74, died April 4 in Culver City, California. Sample had heart attacks in 1994 and 2009.

Flutist Hubert Laws and drummer Stix Hooper are all that’s left of the core reunion group, which went by the Modern Jazz Sextet while playing at Houston’s Wheatley High School.

Joseph Leslie Sample (February 1, 1939 – September 12, 2014) is one of the founding members of the Jazz Crusaders, the band which became simply The Crusaders in 1971, and remained a part of the group until its final album in 1991.

Since the early 1980s, he has enjoyed a successful solo career and has guested on many recordings by other performers and groups, including Miles Davis, George Benson, Jimmy Witherspoon, B. B. King, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan and The Supremes. Sample incorporates jazz, gospel, blues, Latin and classical forms into his music.

Sample began playing the piano when he was five years old. He was a student of the organist and pianist Curtis Mayo.

In high school in the 1950s, Sample teamed up with two friends, saxophonist Wilton Felder and drummer "Stix" Hooper, to form a group called the Swingsters. While studying piano at Texas Southern University, Sample met and added trombonist Wayne Henderson and several other players to the Swingsters, which became the Modern Jazz Sextet and then the Jazz Crusaders.

The group made its first recording, “Freedom Sounds,” in 1961.

In the 1970s, Sample as a Los Angeles studio musician appeared on recordings by Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Tina Turner, B. B. King, Joe Cocker, Minnie Riperton and Anita Baker.

The Crusaders, after losing several key members, broke up in 1987 but would join to record periodically over the years.

Some of Sample’s works are heard on The Weather Channel's "Local on the 8s" segments.
Sample’s bassist son, Nicklas, is a member of the Coryell Auger Sample Trio featuring Larry Coryell and Barry Auger.

Thoughts of death prompted Sample to bring his decades-dormant band, the Jazz Crusaders, back to life in 2011. Henderson had been listening to old Jazz Crusaders albums, Sample said. "He realized we were all at that age where any one of us could possibly go." 

Their old band, it seems, had at least one crusade left in it. Not any more.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thanks for the $1.6 million, BJ!

It’s good to realize that paychecks and pension checks are not all that we get from our days at the Beacon Journal.

Health care, as everyone in America knows, is a tremendous perk.

In 2013 the BJ spent $1,632,402 on health care for its employees and retirees. That’s $1.6 million.

Fair is fair, even from a rabid union man like me.

Detroit native Richard Dawson Kiel, the 7-foot-2 steel-toothed cable-chomping villain in two Roger Moore James Bond movies, died at age 74 in Fresno, California.

Kiel broke his leg a week ago.

Kiel's height and features were a result of a hormonal condition known as acromegaly.

He suffered from acrophobia (fear of heights) and, during the cable car stunt scenes in
“Moonraker,” a double was used because Kiel refused to be filmed on the top of a cable car at more than 2,000 feet high.

In 1992, Kiel suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, which affected his balance. He had to walk with a cane.

Current PD and former BJ TV/movie critic Mark Dawidziak wrote:

“Met him when we were both guests at a horror convention about 12 years ago. He actually played two monsters on ‘Kolchak,’ but was unrecognizable as the swamp creature in the better of the two, ‘The Spanish Moss Murders.’ “
Kiel was Jaws in 1977's "The Spy Who Loved Me" and 1979's "Moonraker." The producers spotted Kiel in the William Shatner western TV series “Barbary Coast.”

Kiel also was the bullying golf spectator Mr. Larson in "Happy Gilmore," lethal Dr. Loveless's assistant Voltaire in "The Wild, Wild West" and extraterrestrial Kanamit in "The Twilight Zone." 

He also reprised the character of Jaws for several James Bond video games.

He was born September 13, 1939. His wives were Faye Daniels (1960-1973) and Diane Rogers (1974-2014). Besides Diane he is survived by four children and nine grandchildren. 

He made his acting d├ębut in a 1960 “Laramie” TV series episode. His first movie was “The Phantom Pilot (1961). From 1963 to 1965 Kiel worked as a night school math instructor in Burbank, California.

He co-authored "Kentucky Lion," a biography of abolotionist Cassius Marcellus Clay.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Former BJ publisher Bill Ott’s widow dies

Elizabeth Manning (Bettie) Ott
Bettie Ott

1924 - 2014

Elizabeth (Bettie) Manning Ott, 89, Macon, Georgia, passed away September 7, 2014, following an extended illness.

Born September 14, 1924, in Moultrie, Georgia, she was the only daughter of Nora Gibbs Manning and Ambrose Haulsey Manning. Bettie was preceded in death by her husband William Anthony Ott, Sr., former Publisher of the Akron Beacon Journal, her son, Robert Haulsey Ott and her granddaughter, Mary Frances Ott.

She will be deeply missed by her loving family, including children, William Anthony Ott, Jr. (former spouse Mary Kay Bryan) of Macon, Georgia, J. Warren Ott (Claire) of Atlanta, John Manning Ott (Lisa) of Monroe, Georgia, Joseph Henderson Ott (former spouse Wendy Keith-Ott) of Decatur, Georgia, Bettie Ott Negley (Cary) of Savannah, and Carolyn Ott Curran (Bill) of Penfield, N.Y. Bettie leaves behind 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Bettie graduated from Agnes Scott College with a double major in math and physics. She and her future husband, Bill Ott, fell in love when they both worked at their hometown newspaper, The Moultrie Observer. She and Bill married on June 9, 1951, and lived in several areas of the United States as they raised their family and followed Bill's promotions with Knight-Ridder Newspapers.

Bettie cherished her seven children and their families. As a generous member of numerous boards and philanthropic organizations during her life, she had a positive impact in every community she was a part of. She enjoyed traveling, genealogy, reading, journaling, and walking.

A Funeral Service will be held on Sunday, September 14th, 3 p.m. at Vineville United Methodist Church, Macon Georgia. The family will receive friends beginning at 2 p.m. at Vineville UMC on that day. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that remembrances be made to the charity of your choice.

Register online at www.hartsmort.com

Hart's Mortuary and Crematory, Cherry Street, has charge of arrangements.

Published in Akron Beacon Journal on Sept. 10, 2014

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Final ‘Adventure Road’ for Jim Doney

Jim Doney, 1962-75 host of WJW-Channel 8’s daily "Adventure Road" filmed travelogues, died in Florida of bladder cancer Monday at the age of 88.
Jim Doney, left, Neil Zurcher

"He was the godfather of my One Tank Trips," said Neil Zurcher, who started his Channel 8 travel segments in 1979.

Cleveland native Doney was a 1944 graduate of Garfield High School.

He worked at WKB in Youngstown, WSRJ in Cleveland Heights,  and WTAM before he joined  WXEL, which became WJW, in 1952.

When "Adventure Road" went off the air in 1975 and news anchor no longer was a comfortable fit, Doney moved to Hawaii and started a 20-year run at the Honolulu CBS affiliate. He acted in four episodes of CBS’ "Hawaii Five-0."

Doney married Florence “Pinky” Calvin in the '50s. They were married for 47 years when she died in 1998.

Catching up with  . . . Bob Rosen

The former BJ district manager has been busy lately.

The 1963 Akron South graduate, married to Cindy Rosen:

Sold his Uniontown house in three days and bought a retirement home. Bob and Cindy’s new home, starting Oct. 11, will be 2082 Wise Road, North Canton, OH 44720.

Walked his granddaughter, Amanda, down the aisle Aug. 19 for her wedding to Josh Mason. Amanda is the daughter of Bob’s daughter, Wendy, who lives in Green and works at FirstMerit Bank.

Saw his daughter-in-law’s black Saturn damaged in The Chapel at Chapel Hill Church when someone backed into it after a service.

Learned that Sandra Adams, a family friend and 1981 Kent State graduate, moved from Akron to live permanently in Eastbourne, East Sussex, England. 

Have we missed anything, Bob?
Check your Home Depot credit card activity

If you have a Home Depot credit card you might want to keep a close watch on its activity when you see your statements.

The Atlanta-based company’s credit card information was stolen by hackers and sold on the internet black market.

While the breach happened months ago, officials only became aware of the situation earlier this month. Suspicious bank transactions began appearing in May. Nine more batches of information have been released in recent days.

If you have any questions, please call Home Depot Customer Care at 1-800-HOMEDEPOT (1-800-466-3337).

Home Depot customers filed a class-action lawsuit against the company Thursday.

British comedian gets 'Late Late Show' job

British actor, writer and comedian James Corden will replace Craig Ferguson on CBS’ “The Late Late Show,” according to The Wrap, which usually focuses on movies.
Corden created the British sitcom, “Gavin & Stacey,” wn a 2012 Tony Award for “One Man, Two Guvnors” and was in the Hula comedy, “The Wrong Mans.”

 Corden is 35, which makes him at least five years younger thabn any other incoming major network late-night host.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Thrity in Hudson on Thursday

Former BJ reporter Thrity Umrigar, the Babe from Bombay, will be reading from her latest book, “The Story Hour,” Thursday in the Hudson Public Library:

Writes Thrity:
“Hi ABJers--Well, I've fantasized about a reunion but that hasn't happened. So. . . wanted to tell you guys that I'm reading at the Hudson Public Library on this Thursday, Sept. 11. If you're not too exhausted after work, maybe some of you can come? Would LOVE to see some of your beautiful faces there. It's at 7 p.m.”

Thrity’s previous novels are “Bombay Time” (2002), “The Space Between Us” (2007), “If Today be Sweet” (2008), “The Weight of Heaven” (2010) and “The World We Found” (2012), and all set in the country of her birth, as was her memoir, “First Darling of the Morning”  (2008).

Thrity teaches creative writing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.