Friday, October 31, 2014

Former BJ Features Department editor/columnist Connie Bloom will have birthday visitors Saturday, Nov. 1.
Posted Connie: “The TV camera crew and hosts will be visiting my studio tomorrow-- my birthday.”
More details were given on The Penthouse Artists of Summit Artspace’s Facebook page: “New Day Cleveland” (WJW-Channel 8) is doing a story on Connie Bloom's quilt art and will be visiting her studio just in time to see the completion of Magic Realism II, on view at Saturday's Art Walk at Summit Artspace,” 140 E. Market Street,  downtown Akron.
Connie is an Ohio quilt art guru and publisher/editor of QSDS (Quilt Surface Design Symposium), a quarterly online magazine about fabric art for Ohio.
Connie has a 350 square foot studio as the resident quiltmaker in Summit Artspace on the third floor. It’s next door to the Akron Art Museum.

Her phone number is (330) 472-0161. Or you can email her at

David Moss and Natalie Herbick host “New Day Cleveland.” No air date was given for Connie’s masterpieces to be on the show.


Well, State Desk Editor Pat Englehart, the man with the ever-present DeNobil cigar, had a passion for getting the news, and getting it right, that I didn’t see anywhere else in my career to such an extent. Oh, I worked with a lot of good newsmen, and John S. Knight was the most remarkable owner to allow me into his tent. But the fire in Pat was unstoppable. If a siren went off in a vehicle passing the BJ building, Pat grabbed the phone to find out what was up. And he pushed and even threatened his reporters to do the same. It was easier to placate Pat rather than to face him if you handed in a “horseshit” story.

That trickled down to everyone on the State Desk, from Pat’s assistant State Desk editors like Harry Liggett and myself, to the reporters in Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit and Wayne counties. Pat had the entire staff as persistent in pursuing information as chipmunks were in making Swiss cheese of my former Cuyahoga Falls lawn that surrounded The Pool That Channels Built. There was a spine-tingling pride in putting together a story that Pat liked.

It was this same incessant pursuit of journalistic quality that made Pat the perfect point man for the Beacon Journal’s coverage of the 1970 Kent State shootings by James Rhodes’ National Guard. Managing Editor Bob Giles had Pat leave the State Desk to Harry and the others while the Englehart energy focused on the KSU tragedy.

The boxes of evidence piled up, with Pat cracking the whip and assigning reporters to check this angle and that angle. There should have been a special place on the BJ’s Pulitzer for Pat’s name because it was his drive that made it inevitable.

And you had to prove your stance to Pat every day. The verbal fire was fast and furious. But both sides had the same goal: The best dadgum stories we could ferret and write. And there was no resentment over the journey. Once the job was done, we would go across the street to the Printers Club and have a beer together and laugh about it all.

It was fun. I ran to work every day. It felt that special.

There was Frances B. Murphey – her retort was “Go to Hell!” in a way that made you feel appreciated – with her nearby clutter. But if Fran wanted something, she could reach into the seemingly disorganized pile and pull out the one piece of paper that she sought.

When I was put in charge of handling one of the many newsroom furniture and wall-moving reorganizations, Managing Editor Scott Bosley, a fellow West Virginian and WVU School of Journalism graduate who retired to Kalamazoo, Michigan, told me to “find a wall” away from the third-floor elevator so that visitors wouldn’t see what looked like carnage surrounding Fran.

I did, arranging Fran’s desk so that it was ensconced within three walls. Hey, I had to give her a place to get in and out; otherwise, there would have been four walls and a private dumbwaiter to get her in and out of her estate.

People like Bill Hershey and Jim Ricci, who went on to larger and bright spotlights in the journalism world, still marvel and revel at the electricity and magic that Pat created.

As the Russian folk song belts out lustily:

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose

However . . .

Oh my friend we're older but no wiser
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same

Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end.

But they did, in 1974. That was the day the journalism fireworks died at the BJ.

The wake for the State Desk was EIGHT hours of partying at Sanginiti’s. We laughed forever and a day.

With apologies to Gene Raskin, the Limeliters and Mary Hopkin.

The excuse was to create a Super Desk. But I suspect the real reason was to break up the empire that Pat had built. He evoked such loyalty from his staff that I think others in management were threatened by that.

Pat was given a small office that is the JSK Room today, isolated from the newsroom and anyone who didn’t want to deal with his firebrand journalism.

Harry got shunted to Makeup Man.

I was assigned to the Copy Desk, got a lot of late-night shifts that no one else wanted and was called into Managing Editor Bob Giles’ office with Al Fitzpatrick as a witness while Giles suggested it might be better if I found employment elsewhere (my response was to join the Guild, since management had broken the covenant I made with Ben Maidenburg, and be a union thorn in management’s side by doing exhaustive research of mostly retirement issues when contracts talks loomed; and, today, being the only Guild retiree who risked his own money to file a lawsuit that BJ management settled that restored retirement-day benefits to 50 retired printers, editors and reporters) for, in my case, a savings of about $4,000 a year in my out-of-pocket healthcare costs, including $2 co-pay for each prescription.

The breakup was complete.

And that magic never happened again.

Nothing seemed the way it used to be – again, from “Those Were the Days” song.

Pat died in 1995 in Florida to a cancer that even his Mogadore fighting spirit couldn’t defeat. His wife, Marge, later moved to the Elks National Home retirement complex in Bedford, Virginia. She’s doing fine, last time I talked to her.

Fran, who began her newspaper career by tagging along with her mother, Marie Thompson Murphey, as a child, died in 1998. There’s a rest area in I-77 in Bath Township just south of I-271 with her name on it, which is fitting considering her penchant for outhouses.

My daughter, LaQuita, who does stained-glass work, once gave Fran a stained-glass outhouse which Fran kept on her desk for weeks, then submerged it into the Boston Heights mess of her Murpheydale house.

Harry and I were retired for 18 or more years, and dabbled in blogs, such as this one, and our high school blogs, when Harry passed away Jan. 24, 2014. The great love of Harry's life was Helen Smolak Liggett, daughter of Czech immigrants. She passed away June 26, 2010. The gruff Harry we all knew at the BJ evaporated when he was around Helen.

I visited Harry for the last time during one of his assisted living stays. In the midst of a conversation with me, he yelled out “Mae! Mae! Come and get me!” She did.

I’ve traveled to 52 countries, 43 states and been on 11 cruises with Paula Stone Tucker, who as a reporter experienced the State Desk chaos, euphoria and creativity in 1971 and 1972.

Those were the days, my friend. Too bad they came to an end.

RIP, Pat, Fran & the state desk . . . 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

PD tries to hush Abe Zaidan
The Plain Dealer/Northeast Ohio Media Group has threatened to sue retired BJ political columnist Abe Zaidan for publishing a short clip of a 40-minute video that the paper had shown online - and then removed. Abe put it on his liberal Internet blog, Plunderbund.
The flap involved the PD's editorial board's group interview of Gov. Kasich, Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald and Green Party candidate Anita Rios.
The BJ did the same thing to Harry Liggett and John Olesky when the BJ Alums blog told the world about now-retired reporter Jim Carney’s 3-day suspension over his dealings with a person involved with one of his stories. It’s a way for the big bad companies with attorneys to frighten little guys disseminating information they don’t like.
So they use copyright laws, and they’re within their rights to bully little people with it, to keep others from doing to them what newspapers do to other businesses in newspaper articles. 
Interesting, huh?
I ran into the same thing with a bad construction company, which threatened a slapsuit if I didn’t recant my complaint to the Better Business Bureau about its shoddy work. They can afford the legal fees cost; they know you can’t. The company went out of business a year or so later.
It’s the cost of tilting at windmills, which I have done all my life.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cathy Strong, a BJ State Desk reporter in the 1970s who lives in New Zealand, is used to Beacon visitors like the late Fran Murphey, retired BJ photographer Don Roese and BJ newsroom retiree John Olesky showing up on her doorstep, but this is a whale of a tale.

Let Cathy tell the tale of the whale:
Huge humpback whale washed up to beach this morning. Ngati Atiawa elders perform karakia (incantations) around it. It is belly-up, poor thing. I couldn't help myself getting a close look.”
The whale washed up three miles from Cathy’s home near Te Horo Beach on the Kapiti Coast. Cathy lives about an hour away from Wellington, where she is on the Massey University journalism/media faculty.
Cathy’s daughter, Rebecca, is a hydrographer, which means she’s used to measuring oceans, rivers and such, not beached whales. Rebecca is in the New Zealand Navy. So is her husband, Lt. Dion Hewson. They married in 2005.
Cathy is more accustomed to dealing with earthquakes. Kiwis get about 20,000 a year. Most of them, fortunately, are minor although 200 a year provide enough shaking to be felt.
Cathy and her New Zealand neighbors are sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is geographically active. You think?

Wellington gets the most shaking, rattling and rolling. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jerri Combs’ obituary

MOGADORE -- Jerri J. Combs, 61, passed away peacefully October 25, 2014, surrounded by her family.

She was born in Akron and was a graduate of Ellet High School. Jerri lived in Mogadore the past 40 years and attended Hartville Brethren Church.

Jerri Eady Combs
She retired from the Akron Beacon Journal as an administrative assistant after 25 years of service.

Jerri enjoyed playing euchre but her greatest love was her grandchildren, whom she looked forward to singing with every Saturday.

Preceded in death by her mother, Virginia, she is survived by her loving husband of 43 years, Ron; son, Derek (Heather); daughter, Sheila Combs; grandchildren, Asher and Evelyn; father, Hoyt Eady; brother, Kevin (Jill) Eady; sisters, Vikki Eady, and her twin, Terri (Jim) Jenkins. She will be missed by many other nieces; nephews; relatives and friends.

The family will receive friends 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Hopkins Lawver Funeral Home, 547 Canton Road (Route 91), Akron, Ohio 44312. Graveside services and burial will be held Thursday 11 a.m. at Greenwood Cemetery with Pastor Anthony DiMarco officiating. The family suggests memorials to Haven of Rest Ministries, P.O. Box 547, Akron, OH 44309-0547 or charity of your choice .

AKRON, 330-733-6271

To see earlier BJ Alums blog articles and photos about Jerri, click on

BJ newsroom retiree Thomas C. Moore is in Fort Myers, Florida with his annual six-week job of publishing the newsletter for former BJ sports editor Tom Giffen’s Roy Hobbs World Baseball Series for older players.

This time there’s a third BJ retiree, advertising makeup’s Mike Williams, with him.
Writes Tom:
“Back in Florida with the Roy Hobbs 26th World Series. And I've got a good buddy with me --long-time friend and retired co-worker, Mike Williams. And, of course, it's almost like the old Akron Beacon Journal, working with former sports editor Tom Giffen. We have 240 amateur baseball teams from all over the country, Russia, Canada and the Dominican Republic.”
Richmond, Virginia native Tom, who came to the BJ from John Knight’s birthplace, Bluefield, West Virginia, has been Giffen’s right-hand man at the Roy Hobbs World Series in Fort Myers, Florida for 11 years.
Maybe Mike is helping Tom with the newsletter for the older baseball players, which includes interviews and reports on the games.
The series is divided into age divisions---youngest group is 28-plus and oldest is 70-plus.
Giffen, now 65, in 1990 formed a four-team league of adult men playing out of Akron. The next year the league grew to 11 teams and joined Roy Hobbs Baseball, which was owned by Ron Monks of California. In 1992 Monks sold Roy Hobbs Baseball to Giffen and his wife, Ellen.

For several years, Giffen ran Roy Hobbs Baseball out of his basement and continued to work at the Beacon Journal. In the mid-1990s, as the organization brought in more and more teams, Giffen resigned from the BJ to work full time at his business.

Roy Hobbs is the fictional hero of Bernard Malamud's novel, “The Natural,” and the movie starring Robert Redford as Hobbs.

Tom quips:

“No, our wives are not with us. My wife says this is her vacation.”


Tom Giffen (standing, in shorts) at Roy Hobbs staff meeting; Tom Moore (standing, in red)

Dyer 7-0 as Ohio's best columnist
Livingston has 3 1st in Ohio contest
Bob Dyer
The Beacon Journal’s Bob Dyer was named Best Columnist in Ohio for the 7th consecutive year in the 2014 Ohio’s Best Journalism contest sponsored
by the Society of Professional Journalists chapters in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.

The BJ’s Doug Livingston won three first places in K-12 education, children’s issues and explanatory reporting.
Since joining the Akron Beacon Journal in 1984, Bob’s stories and columns have won 60 regional and national awards.

In 2008, the National Society of Professional Journalists voted the Cleveland native Best Columnist in the Nation. In 2013, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists named him Best Humor Columnist in the Nation.

He was a lead writer for A Question of Color, a yearlong examination of racial attitudes in Akron that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994.

Bob has written three books. One of them, Omar! My Life On and Off the Field, an autobiography co-written with Cleveland Indians baseball star Omar Vizquel, spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 2002, peaking at No. 27 among hardcover nonfiction.

The same publisher released a collection of Dyer’s best columns, Blimp Pilot Terrorizes Akron and Other Hot Air

Monday, October 27, 2014

Jerri Combs passes away

Jerri Combs
Jerri Eady Combs, an administrative assistant in the BJ Finance Department before she became Human Resources manager and administrative/executive assistant at the W.L. Jenkins Company, has passed away.

Cheryl Scott Sheinin posted the sad news:

“R.I.P. Jerri Combs. Our prayers are with your family.”
Jerri had been seriously ill since January.

Cheryl retired after 45 years in the BJ Finance Department.

BJ Alums condolences to Jerri’s family. We’ll post her obituary her once it’s printed.
Sheryl Harris
Sheryl Harris on WCPN Thursday

PD consumer columnist Sheryl Harris, who had the same role at the BJ, will be on “The Sound of Ideas” at 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 30 on Cleveland public radio’s WCPN (90.3 FM).

The Ohio State grad who lives in Cleveland posted:

I'm going to be on with Michael K. McIntyre talking about customer service.”

Of course.

Maybe John Backderf aka Derf the former whacky BJ cartoonist will call in?

Friday, October 24, 2014


Author Thrity Umrigar, former BJ reporter, will be reading from her native India-setting 6th novel, “The Story Hour,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11 in the Market Garden Brewery, 1947 West 25th Street in Ohio City, Cleveland.

The other reader for the Brews + Prose event will be Kevin Keating, famed sports autograph collector and author of “The Natural Order of Things,” a novel that features the abuse of animals, prostitutes, handicapped children and about every husband and wife in town.

·        Keating visited Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn at the lefty’s Broken Arrow, Oklahoma home, got his autograph and had his picture taken with the other half of Spahn and (Johnny) Sain and pray for rain of the Milwaukee Braves heydey. Spahn died a few days later in 2003.

Keating was Spahn’s player memorabilia agent for years.

Keating and his wife also were at the White House with President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.

Thrity has been in the Brews + Prose spotlight before. Former BJ columnist and author David Giffels and PD Pulitzer winner Connie Schultz have appeared at the events, too.

Bombay, India native 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).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

There was a crowd from the BJ when Beth Angela Thomas and David Ralph Hertz were married in the Akron Civic Theater. That was Oct. 23, 1993.

Two children later (Alyssa and Josh), Beth and David are celebrating their 21st anniversary.

Facebooked Beth:
“21 years ago today I married my sweet hubby David Hertz. Can't believe how young we look! As he famously wrote in a poem for the occasion, ‘The joy of years together starts with the faith of youth.’ “
Ah, that Dave. He’s not Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but he’s in the same league. Well, the Triple-A version.

Responded Dave:
“Yes, 21 years ago today I married this cute redhead copy editor from the Akron Beacon Journal. Not much has changed, except we have two kids, two cats, sit through band competitions, attend Boy Scout campouts, swim meets, social media escapades, oh, and someone gets foot rubs on a semi-regular basis. I won't say who. Yeah, not much has changed in 21 years, and I wouldn't have it any other way.”
In 2006 Dave left the BJ, where he helped bring one of four Pulitzers to Ol’ Blue in 1994, to be vice president in media relations at Cleveland’s Dix & Eaton.

Beth, at the BJ 1991-1995 in page layout and design, became managing editor at the Cleveland Clinic Communications Department. After six years, she left to be a full-time freelance writer.

The Hertz household huddles happily in Copley.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

 Presidential Medal of Freedom for Bradlee in 2013
Post's Ben Bradlee dies

Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post’s executive editor when investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were bringing down President Nixon and the Watergate plumbers, died.

Jason Robards won an Oscar for portraying Bradlee in “All the President’s Men,” about the 1974 downfall and resignation of Nixon. Deep Throat took on a new meaning that it didn’t have in the XXX-rated movie of that name.

In 1971, Boston native Benjamin Crowninshield "Ben" Bradlee approved publication of the Pentagon Papers, which revealed that the Vietnam War was not going as political leaders portrayed it.

President Obama, who last year honored Bradlee with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, said that Bradlee “set a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting.”

Bradlee was the Post’s executive editor from 1968 to 1991.

He was married three times and had four children.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Nose cells make paralyzed man walk, drive a car again

Polish surgeons used nerve-supporting cells from a 38-year-old man paralyzed from the waist down that made his broken tissue heal his spinal cord enough so that he can walk with the aid of a walker. And drive a car.

Darek Fidyka, a Bulgarian injured four years ago, is believed to be the first person in the world to recover from complete severing of the spinal nerves. Sensation has returned to his lower limbs.

The surgery was performed by a Polish team led by Dr. Pawel Tabakow, from Wroclaw Medical University, and involved transplanting olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) from the nose to the spinal cord.

OECs assist the repair of damaged nerves that transmit smell messages by opening up pathways for them to the olfactory bulbs in the forebrain.

Relocated to the spinal cord, they appear to enable the ends of severed nerve fibres to grow and join together – something that was previously thought to be impossible.

Don’t believe it? Click on