Monday, August 31, 2009

Catching up with . . . David Bianculli

Those of you who worked in the BJ newsroom in the 1980s probably remember the ebullient David Bianculli, the TV critic when I was TV editor. I asked Mark Dawidziak, Plain Dealer TV critic who succeeded David as the BJ's TV critic, to catch me up on David's doings. His reply:

David is doing remarkably well, teaching full time at Rowan University, still a regular contributor to NPR's "Fresh Air" program and still living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. His daughter is in Florida with a law degree and beginning her career there. His son is in Los Angeles, working as a reader for a Hollywood producer and hoping to work his way up the screenwriting food chain. But the big news from David is that he has finally completed his book about the Smothers Brothers. It's due to be published by Simon & Schuster early next year.


David also has a web site,

where he continues to write about television.

His first paying TV job ($5 per column) was in 1976, for Florida's Gainesville Sun, while a University of Florida student. Other TV critic stints: Ft. Lauderdale News (1977-80), Beacon Journal (1980-83), Philadelphia Inquirer (1983-87), New York Post (1987-93) and New York Daily News (1993-2007). He has been the TV reviewer for National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" since 1987.

David has written two books on television and its impact: "Teleliteracy: Taking Television Seriously" (1992) and "Dictionary of Teleliteracy: Television's 500 Biggest Hits, Misses, and Events" (1996).

If you Google "David Bianculli," as I did, you get 7,980 results.

To see photos of David in his post-BJ years, including one with the Smothers Brothers, click on the headline.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

BJ gets 2 firsts, 8 seconds; web site No. 1

Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer and reporter Bob Downing took first places in the 13th annual Ohio Society of Professional Journalists contest.

Dyer was named the best columnist in Ohio among newspapers with circulations in excess of 100,000. Second place went to the Plain Dealer's Regina Brett, a former BJ columnist.

The BJ-supported was picked as the best online site in Ohio.

Second place awards went to the BJ's Dennis J. Willard, who got three; Stephanie Warsmith (three, shared with others); Rick Armon (two, one shared); Paula Schleis; and the paper's American Dream Project. Downing also shared a second place.

Click on the headline for details.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Personal note from Harry Liggett

Helen and I are almost back home after a catastrophic illness nightmare at Cleveland Clinic for 20 days--mostly in intensive care. Helen had surgery at Akron General Medical Center in April for a ruptured ulcer on the back of her stomach. A scan at that time also showed a mass near the aorta diagnosed as B cell lymphoma. Helen had chemo and 24-7 dialysis. The chemo caused a huge decrease in the mass but there were other problems. Finally on August 17 (Day 20), she was discharged and taken by ambulance to Copley Health Center, 150 Heritage Woods, across from AGMC wellness center for rehabilitation. Room A210. Telephone 330-670-6690. Thanks for all your prayers. Sorry I have been out of touch, but I am devoting all my time to Helen.

Click on headline to read more on my personal blog

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Catching up with . . . Stu Feldstein

When Stuart Feldstein first came to the Beacon Journal I kept calling him “Steinfeld,” transposing the syllables in his name. Just think, if I left the “t” out of my misnaming, Stu could have become a famous and rich comedian.

When I reminded Stu of that by email, he replied:

I didn't even remember the Steinfeld thing. At the BJ, Jim Ricci used to call me Stuberg, and various others called me Stuball, Feldberg, and a few other names I shouldn't mention.

At my request, Stu provided information on his life after the BJ:

I left the BJ in 1977 to join Business Week magazine in its Cleveland news bureau. In 1979, I got transferred to the New York HQ office, where I was editor of one of the news departments.

In 1982, I left the magazine (and daily/weekly journalism) to take a job with a corporate strategy consulting firm. In 1984, I struck out on my own and co-founded a company called SMR Research Corp. in Hackettstown, New Jersey. I'm still working there.

SMR makes an interesting little story for journalists depressed over the declining state of the newspaper and magazine industries. It had occurred to me that while I was at Business Week we did long cover stories about companies and industries, but despite the length, we left most of the material we gathered on the cutting room floor.

I thought to myself, “Hey, what if I took one of those company or industry stories, pumped it up to much larger size with tables and charts, and called it a research study? Wouldn't the company's competitors -- or the participants in an industry -- pay for a study like that? And couldn't I then keep the cash instead of giving it to Harold McGraw or John S. Knight?”

Well, this worked. At SMR we publish research studies on financial subjects, and we do other things as well like statistical modeling. We are well known in very small circles. I've done better financially than if I had stayed in daily journalism, and I get to work for myself. Have a few employees, too.

I got divorced from my first wife, and married a second in 1984 -- a wonderful lady named Carol. She got breast cancer and passed away in 1997. In 2004, I got married a third time (the last, I hope) to Stephanie Fava, whose nickname is Stevie. Met her in India during a trip arranged by a yoga outfit.

As you would imagine, I now have an extended family. I have two children (now in Pennsylvania and Colorado), plus three step-children here in NJ, and two grandchildren. My brother Steve still lives in Akron. My parents passed away some years back.

We live on a 20-acre farm in the northwest corner of NJ, near the PA border. It's the last really wild part of New Jersey, not at all like what you saw on the “Sopranos” series. We have the highest concentration of black bears in the country, and plenty of other wild critters, too. I grow berries on the farm, so encounters with creatures are a daily occurrence. We have a great little dog (a Hurricane Katrina rescue dog) who became a fine farm dog; she chases away the big animals and eats the rest.

That's my life story.


Well, not quite. After a bit of Googling, I found that Stu is president and co-founder of SMR Research Corporation, which has an impressive clientele list.

Stu is a frequent speaker at financial industry conferences with 22 years of experience in financial research and consulting. He once was a Pulitzer Prize nominee for his financial reporting.

Click on the headline to see a photo of Stu and Stephanie on an elephant in India in 2001 during a trip arranged by a yoga outfit.


If there’s a former BJ colleague you’d like to know about, email their email and/or their U.S. mail address or their phone number to me at

and I’ll see what I can do. It doesn’t matter which department they worked in.

Anne Heche rips into ex-KR spokesman's son

You wouldn't think there'd be any connection to what once was Knight-Ridder on "The Late Show With David Letterman." Well, there is.

Wednesday night in a rerun show actress Anne Heche ripped into her former husband, Coleman "Coley" Laffoon, while talking to Letterman. Such words as "lazy-ass" were uttered by Heche.

Coley, born in 1973 in Cincinnati, is the son of former Knight-Ridder vice president of corporate relations and spokesman Polk Laffoon IV. Coley grew up in Grosse Pointe while Polk was with the Detroit Free Press, once a K-R newspaper. Polk made splashes with his 1980's "Who's Running Cincinnati?" series in the Cincinnati Post, which showed that a handful of companies controlled much of what went on in The Queen City. He also wrote “Cincinnati’s Jewish Community” in 1977 for the same newspaper. Polk began as K-R VP of corporate relations in 1994 and added the title of corporate secretary in 1999. He was investor relations officer for Taft Broadcasting in Cincinnati for 17 years and went to San Jose after Ridder basically absorbed Knight.

Heche and former movie cameraman Coley have a 7-month-old son, Homer, from their five-year marriage. Heche pays $3,700 monthly support to Coley for the child. He also got a lump sum of $515,000. She told Letterman that Coley's main occupations are playing soccer and opening his mailbox to get her child-support checks.

Actually, Coley has a job, with Los Angeles real estate company Hilton & Hyland. His reaction? "I wish Anne Heche could see that public bullying isn't good for the soul or positive for her child. It's mean."

Coley attended the University of Florida.

Heche, starring on HBO's "Hung" series, and her former "Men in Trees" series star James Tupper have a baby boy, Atlas Heche Tupper, born earlier this year. She once was linked romantically with comedian/talk show host Ellen De Generes.

My thanks to former BJ reporter Charlene Nevada for tipping me off about the connection.

To see photos of Heche, Coley and son Homer, click on the headline.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Catching up with . . . Kathy Lally

In the early 1970s, the Kathy Lilly byline often appeared on Page A1 of the Beacon Journal. Kathy had a knack for getting the families of American military people killed in Vietnam to pour their hearts out to her during their times of sorrow. It also helped "put a face on" the Vietnam War, making it personal instead of just statistics and ideology. She left the Beacon about 1975, near the time that U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war ended. She reverted to using her maiden name of Kathy Lally and has an impressive career in journalism.

At my request, Kathy provided an account of her life and career since she left the BJ. Here it is:

I have been at The Washington Post for the last four and a half years. I'm deputy business editor.

I left the BJ around 1975 and went to the Baltimore Sun, where I edited a weekly news section, then was weekend metro editor and then features editor. I spent eight years as education reporter, and I was Moscow correspondent from 1991 to 1995 and 1997 to 2001, working with my husband, Will Englund. He won a Pulitzer in 1998 for investigative reporting for a series on shipbreaking. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The Baltimore Sun series by Larry Cohn and Will about how the Navy disposed of unneeded ships caused the Navy to change the way it handles the shipbreaking.)

I was deputy foreign editor of The Sun before coming to The Post.

Will and I have two daughters: Kate, who is a photo editor for Getty Images in New York and was married in October 2008, and Molly, who graduated from Emerson in theater and is saving money to go to grad school in playwrighting.

Will left The Sun in January 2008 and is covering the White House for the National Journal, and we're still living in Baltimore and commuting to Washington.


I emailed Kathy again, asking for identifications on the photo that Kathy, at my request, provided. I ended the message with:

I guess I could have just scribbled:

"See me."

That would have reminded us both of the wonderful, frenetic days with Pat Englehart. I still miss him. And Fran Murphey.

Kathy’s reply:

Oh, I miss them too. They were wonderful -- and memorable -- people.

Both Pat and Fran, of course, are deceased. And legends among BJ oldtimers.

Click on the headline to see a photo of Kathy and Will along with daughters Molly and Kate at the October 2008 wedding of Kate.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Want to be an author for History Press?

As a former Repository reporter, I must tell you how much I love “BJ Alums.” It’s an absolutely brilliant way to keep in touch with former co-workers.

And I’m hoping it’s an absolutely brilliant way for me to find potential authors in the Akron area.

I’ve recently accepted a commissioning editor position with The History Press, a publisher of local and regional history books based in Charleston, SC. It’s my duty to find authors/ historians in Ohio who are interested in preserving the rich history of the Buckeye State.

I’d love to get a title or two underway in the Akron area, and I’m hoping you guys may be able to hook me up with the right authors.

We publish several core series of books, including Brief Histories, American Chronicles and Vintage Images. We’ve also found a considerable amount of success with our works that focus on an area’s seedy past – and really, every place has one. These books generally run as one of three series: Murder and Mayhem, True Crimes or Wicked.

In Brief Histories, the history of a town or county is presented in a straightforward, readable style that will be accessible to all readers. The books are typically between 30,000 and 40,000 words long and contain around 50-100 pictures.

American Chronicles books are compilations of history articles or historical vignettes about interesting people, places and events in an area’s past. They are between 25,000 and 35,000 words long with 25-75 images. This is a great project for the local newspaper’s history columnist or blogger, as these works of tremendous local historical value can put together with surprising ease.

The Vintage Images series are visually driven books that present the history of an area through a collection of historic images. There are three different types of Vintage Image books:

-The “Lost” series comprises collections of images that document elements of a town’s history that have been lost to time. The number of images depends on the book’s layout but ranges from 140-200. Introductions and captions combine for a total of approximately 15,000 words.

-The “Picturing the 20th Century” series is similar in format to “Lost” books, but focuses on images of a town or county as it has grown and changed through the 20th century.

- Finally, our “101 Glimpses” books are smaller, gift books that show the highlights of an area’s history. As the series name indicates, these books have 101 pictures – as well as a short introduction and captions.

The History Press is a traditional publisher and handles all parts of the publishing process, including financing, sales, editorial, design and printing, and compensates its authors with royalties. For more information about us, please visit our website at

I would greatly appreciate any help you can offer as I look for book projects in the Akron area. I would be delighted to hear from you and answer any questions about our program. Again, “BJ Alums” is a truly beautiful blog.



If you're interested, call Joe at the phone number in this posting.

If you want to check on History Press, click on the headline.

Joseph Gartrell
Commissioning Editor
The History Press
18 Percy Street
Charleston, SC 29403
Office: 843.577.5971 Ext. 156
Fax: 843.577.6712

Olga O'Neal, Classified retiree, dies at 77

Olga Buzek O'Neal

Olga Buzek O'Neal, 77, passed away August 22, 2009.

Born in Greensburg, she was an area resident all of her life. Olga, a loving wife, mother, and grandmother, retired from the Classified Dept. of the Akron Beacon Journal. After retirement she enjoyed working for the Sanctuary Golf Club and Danbury of North Canton.

She was preceded in death by her husband, James; brother, Paul; and sisters, Julie and Anne. Olga is survived by her children, David O'Neal, and Linda (Chris) Cowley; grandchildren, Elizabeth, David, and Melissa; great-granddaughter, Kimberly; brothers, Dan and Sam; sisters, Rosanne Burian, Betty Provost, and Karrie Guenther; many nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held to celebrate her life Thursday 3 p.m. at the Hecker Funeral Home in Uniontown, with Dean Miller officiating. Memorials may be made in her name to her children.

Hecker, 330 699-2600.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Knight-Ridder video tablet was ahead of its time

Did Knight-Ridder foresee the Amazon Kindle and Kindle DX? Or perhaps the inevitable tablet renaissance that will be sparked by Apple’s upcoming launch of a tablet device?

In a K-R promotional video made in 1994, the K-R laboratory predicts newspapers being replaced by sleek black tablet devices that allow people to consume media on the go.

Why did the project fail to get off the ground? Screen technology, said former K-R laboratory head Roger Fidler (and later Kent State journalism professor) in an interview this year – screens were too heavy and sucked too much power.

Click on the headline for the link to the video.

(Thanks to Mizell Stewart for this goodie via Facebook.)

-- Ken Krause

Mark leaps onto the Twain track again

At my request, former Beacon Journal and current Plain Dealer TV writer Mark Dawidziak provided me with this information:

I'm just up for air after helping to run the 103rd International Dickens Fellowship Conference in Cleveland (we did our three-person Mark Twain show, "Twain By Three," for the Dickensians) and delivering a paper on the importance of Hal Holbrook's "Mark Twain Tonight!" at the State of Mark Twain Studies Conference at Elmira College. Editor's note: In New York state.

Hal made good on his promise to get to Elmira to hear the paper. A friend from Thousand Oaks was in the audience and made the following clips from the video function on his digital still camera. He then posted them on Youtube. Watch the first one to the end (the others are optional viewing).

I started teaching the Reviewing Film and Television course at Kent State University this past spring. And Kent State University Press has issued the first two reprints by the lost Ohio author Paul Bauer and I have been researching for, oh, about 17 years: "Shanty Irish" (with a sublime foreword by "Matewan" director John Sayles) and "Circus Parade" (with a foreword by Harvey Pekar).

For a brief rundown on Tully, go to:

He worked briefly for the Akron Beacon Journal around 1908.

Links to the reprints:

And our biography of Tully will be published by KSU Press, with a foreword by Ken Burns, in 2011. We just finished it, so it has been an incredibly packed summer.
Updates as they occur,
All best,


Ken Burns, of course, is the guy who has produced some of PBS' finest series. Burns' works include "Mark Twain." And there's “Baseball,” “The Civil War,” “Frank Lloyd Wright,” “Huey Long,” “Lewis and Clark,” “The Statue of Liberty,” “Thomas Jefferson” and “The West," to pluck a few from a long, long list.

To watch Hal Holbrook's chat, click on the headline, and watch to the end to see Holbrook hug Dawidziak, our Mark, who also puts on an excellent Twain show in local venues along with his wife, Sara Showman.

If you want to see other YouTube bits from the Twain gathering, which are all of Dawidziak talking about Holbrook, go to these four other YouTube sites:

The BJ lost a boatload of talent to the Plain Dealer as the BJ wound down from the dominant quality newspaper in Northeast Ohio to the McClatchy financial fiasco to the Canadian Black Press.

A sorry state, indeed, for the newspaper that began John S. Knight's climb to journalism immortality.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stuart Warner becoming Case Western Reserve full-timer

Former Beacon Journal and Plain Dealer newsroom dynamo Stuart Warner will begin as a full-time lecturer at Case Western Reserve University on Monday. He will be teaching introduction to journalism and literary journalism.

Stuart came to the Beacon Journal after 10 years with Knight-Ridder's Lexington newspaper. He was at the BJ from 1979 until 1998. He left the BJ for the PD in January 1999. By the time he took a PD buyout on Oct. 13, 2008, he was writing coach and projects editor.

Stuart, a bit of a mad hatter as a BJ columnist, edited Connie Schultz's Pulitzer-winning columns and Pulitzer finalist articles by Connie and former BJ columnist turned PD columnist Regina Brett. He was a busy guy at the PD, editing material that brought more than 40 national awards to the PD.

He also did his own freelance writing, editing and coaching for Gray Publishing,, Key Bank, the Beacon Journal and Marcus Thomas LLC. He's chairman of the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame, which will induct Regina in October.

Stuart's first book, "JOCK: The Quickest Thinking Coach in America," is scheduled for publication by Wind Publishing in Kentucky early next year.

When pressed for more information by me, Stuart admitted that "mostly I'm riding my bike and walking my beast, Tyrone, who was supposed to be a beagle, but is now upwards of 60 pounds."

Wife Debbie Van Tassel, another BJ expatriate, is Assistant Managing Editor/Features at the PD. Daughter Denise is a producer of AOL's entertainment site,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Falls mayor outed by Abe

Abe Zaidan, former BJ political columnist who taught other BJ writers how to write, zinged Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart a good one the other day. The air that whooshed out of Robart's posturing was a carload of hypocrisy.

Robart, being a good Republican, took to task all that money that Washington was flinging at automakers and other ne'er-do-wells. Abe pointed out that Robart gladly accepted money that pumped up various Falls ventures. And ignored summer jobs for more than 13,000 young Ohioans, 73 Akron teaching jobs that were saved and more than 1,000 Lordstown workers returned to work through the Washington money machine in recent weeks.

Abe's web site is called "Grumpy Abe." After 40 years, Abe still has the write stuff. If you want to read his incisive writings, click on the headline.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Regina Brett in Cleveland Hall of Fame

Columnist Regina Brett, one of at least a couple of dozen Beacon Journal writers and editors who left for the Plain Dealer, will be inducted into the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame on Oct. 28.

Regina has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary for the past two years. The American Bar Association and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association both recognized her efforts in establishing open discovery in Ohio this year, honoring her with the Silver Gavel Award and the Liberty Bell Award, respectively.

In 1999, Regina won the National Headliner Award for her columns on her breast cancer. Ten years later, she won the award again for her columns about passing the gene on to her daughter.

She also won the James Batten Medal in 1999 for columns championing underdogs and ordinary folks, and she was a finalist again for the medal this year. She has been named best columnist in Ohio by The Press Club of Cleveland, Ohio SPJ and the Associated Press Society of Ohio.

Regina is a Kent State University graduate and a native of Northeast Ohio.

Also in the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame Class of 2009 will be:

WKYC-TV Channel 3 sports director Jim Donovan, the radio play-by-play announcer for the Browns since their return to the NFL in 1999. His 1992 report on the Browns won a regional Emmy.

Former Cleveland Press and Plain Dealer reporter Walt Bogdanich, a three-time Pulitzer winner at the New York Times.

Former Plain Dealer photographer William Wynne.

Former Channel 3 investigative reporter Paul Sciria.

Channel 3 managing editor Dick Russ.

Two 2008 choices who didn't make it to last year's ceremony will be inducted this year:

Former Cleveland Press and Plain Dealer reporter Walt Bogdanich, who won three Pulitzer Prizes -- in 1988 for his Wall Street Journal reporting on substandard medical laboratories; and at the New York Times in 2005, which examined the railroad industry's safety record, and in 2008 (with colleague Jake Hooker) for their stories on toxic ingredients in products shipped from China.

Plain Dealer Editorial Director Elizabeth Sullivan.

Click on the headline to get the full Cleveland Press Club announcement.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bill Berger's widow dies

Virginia Berger, widow of Bill Berger, who worked with Ralph Iula in the Beacon Journal promotions department, died. Below is her obituary. If you want to express your condolences to the family, click on the headline. If you want to pay your respects in person, the family will begin greeting friends at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, an hour before a memorial service.

Virginia's obituary:

Mrs. William E. (Virginia M.) Berger (nee Clark)
SILVER LAKE -- Mrs. William E. (Virginia M.) Berger (nee Clark) died of natural causes at her home in Silver Lake Village, Ohio on August 5, 2009. She was 86.
Mrs. Berger was born and raised in Akron, Ohio and was a graduate of Garfield High School.
After high school, Mrs. Berger worked at the M. O"Neil Department Store in downtown Akron, before marrying William E. Berger in 1949 and becoming a homemaker.
Mrs. Berger was a long-time resident of Silver Lake and had been a member of the Silver Lake Garden Club and the Chautauqua Club of Silver Lake. Mrs. Berger was a very vivacious woman who loved being around people and socializing.

Married to the late William E. Berger, who worked for many years at the Akron Beacon Journal, she and Mr. Berger for many years were among the escorts for the Beacon Journal-sponsored annual Thanksgiving Holiday New York City Theater Tour. She and her husband also escorted on many occasions the local Akron Beacon Journal Spelling Bee champ to the Nationals held in Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Berger at one time was an active member of St. Luke"s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and for a number of years taught Sunday school there during her younger years.

Preceded in death by her husband, William E., she is survived by her son, Gerald W. of Akron, Ohio; her brother, Lewis P. Clark, Jr. of Azle, Texas; her sister, Kathleen L. Bennett of Coventry Township, Ohio; nieces and nephews.

The family wishes to thank Nurse Sharon and all of the other staff of Hospice of Summa who assisted with Mrs. Berger"s care at the end of her life, and also Amy and Mary Lou and Dr. Susan Jekielek of Hudson Family Practice and Dr. Massood Babai. The family especially wishes to thank Carol and Lyn Andrick, who took care of Mrs. Berger in her home for many years.

A memorial service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 22, at St. Luke"s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2121 Sixth Street, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio 44221, Pastor Robert E. Linsz officiating. The family will greet friends for one hour prior to service time. A private interment will be conducted at Oakwood Cemetery. Memorials may be made to her church in her memory.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The bottom lines about today's newspapers

It isn't news that newspapers are in a major financial freefall. Tony Ridder could buy back the Knight-Ridder empire for pennies on the dollar.

But those newspapers that switch to online versions eliminate about 85% of a newspaper's costs for such things as presses, paper, ink and trucks. And nearly 67% of homes have an Internet connection. The Plain Dealer is among the papers expected to push its readers from reading the printed paper to looking at its product online.

About 80% of newspaper revenue comes from advertising, which has plummeted amid competition from the Internet and zillions of local stations and cable channels. Newspaper profit margins have dropped from the 20% to 30% of the golden era to 10%, which still is a profit margin that many businesses would kill to have.

Based on current newspaper values, the $5.4 billion that Rupert Murdoch paid in 2007 for Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones could buy Gannett, McClatchy, New York Times Co., Washington Post Co., A.H. Belo and E.W. Scripps and still have $750 million to spend on other projects.

Click on the headline to read the entire article.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gary Jackson's son dies

Gary Jackson, former Advertising sales manager at the BJ who lives in Northfield, sent this email to Harry Liggett:

I have some sad news. Our youngest son, Kevin, passed away on August 4th. He leaves behind Margaret,7,and Charlotte,5,our precious granddaughters. Kevin was divorced from his wife, Susannah, about a year ago. The girls live with their mother and Kevin would see them on weekends. We had a memorial service for him at our church on Tuesday of this week and now we are trying to recover as best we can. If you want to see his obituary, it was in the Sunday, August 9 Akron Beacon Journal, Cleveland Plain Dealer and Columbus Dispatch.
-- Gary and Marsha

The obituary:

Kevin A. Jackson, age 38, beloved father of Margaret and Charlotte; devoted son of Marsha (nee Weeks) and Gary; dear brother of Todd (Linda) and Steve (Ann); loving companion of Ainslee Adkins; former husband of Susannah; loving uncle of five and friend to many, passed away August 6, 2009.

Family and friends are asked to gather at The United Methodist Church Of Macedonia, 1280 E. Aurora Rd., Macedonia OH, 44067 for a Memorial Service Tuesday at 11 a.m. VISITATION 10 A.M. UNTIL TIME OF SERVICE.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the Jackson Childrens' College Fund, c/o ParkView Federal Savings Bank, 497 E. Aurora Rd., Macedonia, OH 44056.

Arrangements by Ferfolia Funeral Homes, Sagamore Hills, 330-467-4500.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Meandering in Michigan

Paula and I spent eight days in Michigan Aug. 4-12. We put 1,641.6 miles on my van.

We stopped in Detroit for a day and visited the Motown Museum, also known as Hitsville U.S.A., where founder Berry Gordy Jr. created his empire, using a garage converted into a recording studio. Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and others endured the cramped quarters to record No. 1 songs.

We visited Bob Kasper, my friend since we were in first grade at Sts. Peter and Paul School in Monongah, West Virginia (population 939). Bob has a summer home on Grand Lake, which is two miles from Lake Huron and 76 miles southeast of Mackinac Island.

Bob and I played twice at Rogers City Golf Club. The second time, Bob used a homemade utility club that subs for a 5-iron on a 142-yard drive for his first hole-in-one ever. It was my first time to watch a ball go from tee to cup in one stroke. We celebrated.

We attended two Polish festivals, in Rogers City and in Boyne Falls. It was buttonbox Heaven. The food brought back memories of my childhood and my Polish grandmother’s cooking. The Rogers City adventure included watching Ottawa and Chippewa do tribal dances.

The three of us took a ferry on Lake Huron to Mackinac Island, where autos are prohibited. You either walk, pedal a bike or use a horse. The 1887 Grand Hotel really is grand. We strolled around Mackinac Fort and watched reenactors play soldier.

After we left Bob, we drove the 20-mile “Tunnel of Trees” from Cross Village to Harbor Springs. The curves-filled road, which has no center line, is barely wide enough for cars to pass each other while going in opposite directions. Overhead, the trees form a solid canopy that blocks your view of sky and countryside beyond the trees.

We used Traverse City as a base while we drove to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore and climbed a dune that was 1,000 feet plus above sea level. The sandy reward was a view of Glen Lake.

We drove through the grounds of Interlochen’s School of the Arts, where Paula’s nephew once studied music.

It was my 55th trip since my 1996 retirement from the Beacon Journal.

Click on the headline to see photos of our trip.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tom Moore gets pacemaker

I got this email from Tom Moore in response to my request for more information on his brief, earlier email:

I was scheduled to get a pacemaker next Thursday, so Monday I went in for preliminary tests. My heart rate was so low that they wouldn't send me home. Instead the doctor sent me to the Emergency Room.

Tuesday morning I had emergency surgery to put in the pacemaker. I got home about 10 a.m. today (Wednesday). My heart rate was down to 20 and that just ain't exactly good.

This is the second time that I've gone in for tests at the hospital and was surprised. When I had my quadruple bypass six years ago, I was in only for a stress test. Or so I thought.

But at least both times the doctors came through and probably saved me a lot of pain -- or even worse.

-- Tom Moore

Editor's note: For those who don't know, the pacemaker shoots electrical impulses to the heart when the body doesn't do that job properly. It keeps your ticker ticking. And that's a very good thing.

Faithful 7 at BJ lunch bunch

There were 7 at Papa Joe's for the monthly BJ lunch bunch:

Joe Catalano Composing
Cal Deshong Composing
Tim Hayes Newsroom
Al Hunsicker Composing
Gene McClelland Composing
Carl Nelson Composing
John Olesky Newsroom

The talk was mostly about our travels, new and long ago, and health care coverage. As usual, it was punctuated with laughter. These guys know how to enjoy their retirement years.

Seven is the lowest total since April 2009. Previous attendance totals:

July 8, 2009 ……………………. 10

June 10, 2009 …………………. 10

May 14, 2009 ………………….. 8

April 8, 2009 …………………… 5

January 14, 2009 …………… 3

December 10, 2008 …………… 8

November 12, 2008 …………… 6

October 8, 2008 ……………… 8

August 13, 2008 ……………… 9

July 9, 2008 …………………… 23
(Sandy Levenson, Bob Pell memorial)

June 12, 2008 ………………… 8

May 14, 2008 ………………… 12

Feb. 13, 2008 ………………… 11

Dec. 12, 2007 ………………… 8

Sept. 12, 2007 ………………… 16

August 8, 2007 ……………… 7

June 13, 2007 ………………… 12

May 9, 2007 …………………… 14

April 11, 2007 ………………… 15

March 15, 2007 ……………… ??
(no story & photos no longer available)

January 10, 2007 …………… 14

December 13, 2006 ………… 18

November 8, 2006 …………… 13

October 12, 2006 …………… 11

September 13, 2006 ………… 12

August 13, 2006 …………… 15

July 12, 2006 ………………… 10

June 15, 2006 ……………… 12

May 11, 2006 ………………… 11

April 12, 2006 ……………… 11

March 8, 2006 ……………… 13

February 8, 2006 …………… 11

January 11, 2006 …………… 13

For photos of the Super Seven, click on the headline.

23 ex-BJers went to PD. Any more?

When I returned from 8 days in Michigan with Paula as we visited my friend from first grade in tiny Monongah, West Virginia, I got an email from Roger Mezger updating information on BJ folks who switched to the Plain Dealer.

Donna Robb Miller, an intern at the BJ, is with the PD.

And Desiree Hicks, who left the BJ's Washington bureau for the PD's Washington bureau, is no longer with the PD, Roger emails.

Cliff Pinckard and Traci James, two of the last people that Stuart Warner hired at the BJ for the copy desk, both left for the PD shortly after Stuart left. Cliff is still at the PD on the sports copy desk. Traci, an Akron native, moved on to Philadelphia.

So that makes 23, including the 6 no longer at the PD (17 at the PD today were once at the BJ). They are:

Gone from the PD, too:

Stuart Warner
Mary Vanac
Bob Paynter
Terry Oblander
Desiree Miller
Traci James

Still at the PD:

Regina Brett
Mark Dawidziak
Reggie Fields
John Funk
Sheryl Harris
John Horton
Tim Leonard
Butch Maier
Roger Mezger
Donna Robb Miller
Cliff Pinchard
Terry Pluto
Don Rosenberg
Debra Adams Simmon
Mary Lou Sneyd
Debbie Van Tassel
Brian Windhorst

If anyone knows of others who fit the BJ-to-PD category, email me at

Or you can add the information by clicking on "Comment" for this post. I'll add the names when I see your comment.


John Olesky

Join us at Papa Joe's today

The monthly gathering of BJ retirees, buyouts, etc. will be at 1 p.m. today (Wednesday, Aug. 12) at Papa Joe's Restaurant at Portage Trail Extension and Akron-Peninsula Road. There's a lot of laughing and remembering. If you can handle that, show up. We get together at 1 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month.

See you there.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bob Reese signs out at BJ security desk

Weekend visitors to the Beacon Journal no longer will be greeted by Robert N. "Bob" Reese, a fixture at the lobby security desk for 11 years. Reese has accepted a new assignment with Atlantis Security and will work Saturdays at the former O'Neil's Building at 222 Main St., and Sundays at the National City Building, 1 Cascade Plaza.

"I have great memories of the Beacon Journal and always will. I loved that place," said Reese, pictured here at the Main Branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, where he also once worked.

If you happen to see him at one of his new posts, be sure to say hello. - Ken Krause

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Cleveland Phillips obituary

Cleveland (Bookie) Phillips

(330) 535-1543 www.stewartcalhoun.comCleveland (Bookie) Phillips

Cleveland (Bookie) Phillips passed away on July 21, 2009 after a brief illness at Akron General Hospital.

Born to Henry and Ethel Kate Phillips on December 12, 1926, he lived in this community all of his life.

He was a member of the United States Army, and he worked at the Akron Beacon Journal for more than 20 years, from where he retired.

He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Henry and Ethel Kate Phillips; brother, Ira Phillips; sisters, Amelia Bady, Effie Christian, and Olivia Allison; son, Ricky Phillips; daughter, Catherine Taylor; and niece, Penny Tucker.

He leaves to mourn his passing son, Chucky Flowers; daughter, Shamarrow Sibley; grandchildren, Tia Taylor, James Taylor, and Marcia Hightower; great nephew, David Jenkins; and a host of other relatives and friends. Special friends, Janice Faye Davis, June Flowers, and Wanda Matthews. He will be missed by all who loved and cared for him.

Rest in peace Cleveland (Bookie) Phillips. The family of Cleveland Phillips would like to thank everyone for your love and support during their loss of a loved one. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. May God bless all of you. The Family of Cleveland Phillips

Services will be held Friday, August 7, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. at Stewart & Calhoun Funeral Home, 529 W. Thornton St., Akron, OH 44307. Minister Dorsey Matthews, Jr. officiating. Friends may visit at the funeral home from 10:00 a.m. until time of service. Interment Ohio Western Reserve Cemetery. Procession will form at 30 W. Mildred Ave., Akron, OH 44310 and condolences may be sent to 1017 Stadelman Ave., Akron, OH 44320.

[ Cleveland worked in maintenance, if I recall correctly. - Ken Krause ]

Saturday, August 01, 2009

BJ folks to PD -- up to 20. More?

Stuart Warner, Mary Vanac, Bob Paynter and Terry Oblander are gone from the Plain Dealer after leaving the Beacon Journal and making the switch to our northern neighbor. But there are plenty of BJ expatriates left at the PD.

Regina Brett
Mark Dawidziak
Reggie Fields (Columbus bureau chief)
John Funk
Sheryl Harris
John Horton
Tim Leonard
Butch Maier
Roger Mezger
Terry Pluto
Don Rosenberg
Debra Adams Simmon
Mary Lou Sneyd
Debbie Van Tassel
Brian Windhorst

And Desiree Hicks left the BJ Washington bureau for the PD's Washington Bureau. But Gloria Irwin isn't sure if she's still with the PD.

That's 16. Twenty if you count the four that also left the PD.

The BJ became a farm team for the PD. When I first came to the Beacon the salary scale for the BJ actually was higher than the one for the PD.

Everything evolves. Not always for the best.

Stuart Warner came up with the most startling and saddest statistic:

Former BJ people have written, edited or supervised efforts that have won more than 70 national awards at the PD in the past decade.

My thanks to Stuart, Gloria, Mark Dawidziak and Ken Krause for providing names for this list.

Anyone else missing from the list?

John Backderf posts that he was one who went from the PD to the BJ. Derf was at the PD from 1986-1989 and in the art department at the Beacon from 1990-2000. Artists Rick Steinhauser (still at the BJ) and Terence Oliver did the same a few years after Derf switched. Derf, Chuck Ayers, Dennis Balogh and Art Krummel had the fabulous exhibits of their art work under the umbrella title of Four Guys in May at the Upstairs Gallery, 20 N. High St, in the Mocha Maiden and Musica building in downtown Akron.

The most famous PD to BJ switch, I think, was Terry Pluto, at a time when the BJ, as Bill O'Connor points out, was considered the more prestigious paper. Terry, of course, switched back amid an avalanche of PD promos bragging about the return of its prodigal son.