Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lacy McCrary has stroke

Former BJ reporter and Philadelphia Inquirer retiree Lacy McCrary, who celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary Dec. 5 with Colleen Christy McCrary in the Vanderbilt mansion, the 255-room Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, had a stroke shortly afterward.

Lacy McCrary
By Dec. 18 he recovered enough to return to Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, where they live. He’s in Waccamaw Hospital undergoing swallow tests and on pureed food and tiny sips of liquid.

Murrells Inlet is 18 miles from Pauleys Island, South Carolina, where retired printer Dick Latshaw and his wife Pat live. Dick and Pat live two blocks from BJ business department retiree Harold McElroy’s widow, Linda. Retired printer Sid Sprague, who also lived near them on Pawleys Island, moved to Loveland, Colorado with his new bride several years ago after former Cuyahoga Falls resident Sid’s first wife died.

Kathy Rash McCrary is with Lacy and Colleen.

Since this is a somber article, I tried to find a photo of Lacy NOT smiling. No luck. Nearly a dozen photos, and Lacy has a wide smile or laugh in all of them. I think that’s the way he rolls.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

General Schwarzkopf dies

General Norman Schwarzkopf
Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the American-led Operation Desert Storm forces that crushed Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and became the nation’s most acclaimed military hero since the midcentury exploits of Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, died Thursday in Tampa, Fla. He was 78.

“Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf orchestrated one of the most lopsided victories in modern warfare, a six-week blitzkrieg by a broad coalition of forces with overwhelming air superiority that liberated tiny Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, routed Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard and virtually destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure, all with relatively light allied losses.

Three months after the war, he signed a $5 million contract with Bantam Books for the world rights to his memoirs, “It Doesn’t Take a Hero,” written with Peter Petre and published in 1992.

Between battles, he listened to Pavarotti, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan.

His father, New Jersey’s first state police superintendent, investigated the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping.

Monday, December 28, 2015

George "Meadowlark" Lemon, the "Clown Prince of Basketball" who entertained fans as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters for 24 years, died Sunday in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 83.

Lemon, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, joined the Globetrotters in 1954 at age 22 and stayed with the traveling show until 1978, appearing in more than 16,000 games in more than 100 countries.

He is among five Globetrotters to have their numbers retired since the team was founded in Chicago in the 1920s.

Former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Marques Haynes, the dribbling magician, died in May.

Lemon thrilled millions of fans around the world with his long hook shots, no-look passes, ballhandling skills and his ability to make fans laugh with the Globetrotters' bag of tricks -- including throwing buckets of confetti on unsuspecting fans as Lemon chased the referee with what was thought to be water.

Lemon left the Globetrotters in 1978 over a contract dispute and formed his own traveling teams -- the Meadowlark Lemon's Bucketeers, the Shooting Stars and Meadowlark Lemon's Harlem All-Stars -- as he continued to play well into his 70s.

He later formed Scottsdale-based Meadowlark Lemon Ministries, traveling the country to provide a message of faith to children in basketball camps and in youth prisons.

Aside from Lemon's No. 36, other Globetrotters to have their numbers retired are Wilt Chamberlain (13), Fred "Curly" Neal (22), Haynes (20) and Reece "Goose" Tatum (50). Washington Generals founder Red Klotz also had his number retired.

Tatum also played first base with a giant glove for the Indianapolis Clowns traveling baseball team, usually against local all-star teams.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

EnvisionRx is the BJ’s prescription drugs vendor for 2016.

Like most companies, the BJ seeks bids each year to lower its cost for health care.

EnvisionRx has the advantage of being local, which makes it easier to deal with than the 2015 out-going vendor Express Scripts out of St. Louis.

EnvisionRx is in Twinsburg, 2181 E Aurora Road, phone (330) 405-8080.  

The mail order branch – Orchard Pharmaceutical Services -- is in North Canton, 7835 Freedom Ave NW. The Orchard web site is The phone number is (800) 909-5171.

As with Express Scripts, the mail order prescription can be for 90 days, but if you use your local pharmacy (in my case, Walgreen’s), the prescriptions are limited to 30 days.

You save one-third the co-pay cost for 90 days by using Orchard rather your local pharmacy.

For those still alive who won the 2012 healthcare lawsuit against the BJ, getting their retirement day medical and prescription coverage restored to no less than their retirement-day coverage, the cost is minimal -- $2 to $5 for 30 days, or a savings of $2 to $5 for 90 days via mail order.

Former BJ Composing chief Dave White, who filed the original lawsuit in 2009 on behalf of retired printers, is deceased. His widow, retired BJ printer Gina White, still lives in their Venice, Florida home, where they moved after decades of living in nearby Sarasota.

John Olesky filed on behalf of Guild retirees.

45 retired printers and 5 Guild retirees won the lawsuit.

BJ retirees can get one free glucometer through EnvisionRx, which was created in 2001 and charges businesses a flat monthly fee per employee for its services.

Kevin Nagle is EnvisionRx’s chief operating officer.

Express Scripts, headquartered in St. Louis, has five buildings that occupy enough land for six football fields. Only 3% of its 110,000 prescriptions a day are handled by humans. Robotics never sleep, never take bathroom breaks and don’t require health care (ironic, huh?) or pensions.

EnvisionRx is a transparency operation. Businesses are told what discounts EnvisionRx is getting because of volume.

Express Scripts is not a transparency operation, and claims it is “the voice for 100 million customers.”

Determining actual drug costs is like plunging headfirst deep into quicksand without goggles. But the bottom line is: Handling your prescriptions brings in $250 billion a year for the companies that do it. Those pills you take make a lot of fat cats very happy. And, to be fair, they help keep you healthy.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Painful time for Susan Miller

Susan Miller, with the BJ more than 25 years when she left the Advertising Art Department in 2009, has been dealing with pain for more than a week in her Canton home.

Susan Miller
She misses her Laundry Express job. Not for the money, which helps, but because it gives her a chance to chat with the customers.

Susan says “I feel like Diane Chambers on ‘Cheers’ (the TV sitcom set in a bar). They listen to my stories, my boss accepts my crazy humor and I get the chance to touch many lives peripherally.

“Please pray that I can get back to work soon.”

Susan was a graphics designer at Ol’ Blue Walls. The Canton Lincoln High School and Miami of Ohio in Oxford graduate was a regular winner in the Ad Art department cover design competitions and was active in Toastmasters.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Cathy Strong flies more often than Mary Poppins

Cathy Strong with new grandson

Cathy Strong, the 1970s State Desk reporter who is on the Massey University faculty in Wellington, New Zealand, has more frequent flier miles than I do, and I’ve been to 53 countries and 43 states.

Cathy is in Massachussetts visiting her daughter, Penelope, and the latest grandchild courtesy of Penelope and her husband for the holidays.

A few months ago, Cathy visited Cathy’s sister, Janet Mullins, who lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Cathy’s daughters Rebecca, Amanda and Penelope all have contributed to her pile of grandchildren.

Rebecca is married to Dion Hewson. Both are in the New Zealand Navy. Rebecca and Dion have three daughters and a son. They were married in 2005 in the tiny historic Pukekaraka St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Otaki, New Zealand.

Amanda married Jeff Shima near Waiouru, New Zealand in 2013. They have a daughter.

Penelope married John Wayne Pint in Martinborough, in the wine country of New Zealand in 2014. She’s the new mother of the grandchildren Cathy is holding in the photo.


Friday, December 18, 2015

BG editor fired for trying to take on the NRA

Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune editor Jan Larson McLaughlin was fired over an editorial she wrote – that was NOT published – suggesting that moderates should take over the National Rifle Association in light of all the mass shootings in America.

Sentinel Publisher and Vice President Karmen Concannon, who parents own the newspaper, killed the editorial and subsequently declined to discuss the matter with staff members who asked her to reconsider publishing it.

Mrs. McLaughlin said the rejected opinion piece called on responsible gun owners to reclaim control of the NRA in the wake of recent mass shootings across the country.

A Sentinel reporter for 29 years, including 23 years as county editor, Mrs. McLaughlin was named editor in May, 2013, following the death of longtime editor David Miller.

People posted their support for Mrs. McLaughlin on the Sentinel-Tribune’s Facebook page, and one reader posted the NRA editorial, which was later removed. Mrs. McLaughlin said she didn’t know him or how he got a copy of the editorial.

James Foust, a professor in the department of journalism and public relations at Bowling Green State University, said Mrs. McLaughlin has taught classes and given presentations at BGSU over the years, and was well-liked by students and faculty.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Before Jim Carney became the super reporter for the BJ, he was a radio guy.
Now that he’s retired, he still subs on radio talk shows for someone on vacation.
This WHLO crew in 1977 includes Jim.
And Dave Lieberth, who recently retired after a long time on Vesuvius-like Mayor Don Plusquellic’s staff.
And a lot of other names that most of us remember who have been around Akron for a while.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Kovatches are Villages resident, too

Retired BJ printer Hugh Downing isn’t the only escapee from Ol’ Blue Walls who moved to The Villages, Florida.
John Kovatch, once BJ vice president/finance and administration, and wife Carolyn Pople Kovatch bought a home in The Village of Charlotte in October. They also live in Green.
Hugh and Sharon Downing have lived in The Villages for 15 years.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hugh and Sharon Downing with Paula Tucker and John Olesky

There’ll be a lot of ho-ho-ho’s in the Downing home

Retired printer Hugh Downing and wife Sharon, married since 1960, moved from Medina to The Villages, Florida 15 years ago.

They’re getting ready for some serious family reunions for Christmas.

Their sons Chris, Mark, Ben and Jonathan will be showing up for Christmas. Hugh will be running a shuttle (the family car) to and from Orlando Airport to pick up and return family members.

As usual, 1970s State Desk reporter Paula Tucker and John Olesky got together with the Downings for a chew and chat at Ruby Tuesday’s in the Spanish Springs section of The Villages.

Even though John is only in The Villages for 8 days, before flying to Ohio with Paula, Hugh and John managed to play golf at Briarwood executive golf course.

Paula liked The Villages so well that she bought a home there.

The Downings lived in the city of Medina during Hugh’s BJ days. They had three houses, one at a time, including one they built on three-fourths of an acre.

Then came the lure of The Villages, where you have to be 55 years old to buy a house, and where every day is playday – golf, free concerts and dancing in several town squares every night of the year, card games, pickleball (ping pong paddles on a tennis court), 2,200 clubs for every hobby imaginable.

There are 114,000 residents with 50,000 golf carts that are used to get around the town and on the 47 golf courses.

Sharon grew up in Galion, Ohio and is active in several sports in The Villages. There are more than 300 activities listed on the calendar EVERY day.

Son Chris Downing lives in Hudson. Mark, Ben and Jonathan reside in Toledo, Vienna, Virginia, and Erie, Pennsylvania. The four sons – with their wives’ help, of course – have given Hugh and Sharon seven grandchildren.

Hugh and Sharon have another reason to be happy. They were among the retired printers in the health care lawsuit against the Beacon Journal. A judge’s preliminary injunction restored their prescription co-pay benefits, made the BJ reimburse them for their extra prescription costs above the retirement-day co-pays and reinstated secondary insurance coverage, which usually pays the 20% of the costs that Medicare allows but doesn’t pay. Medicare pays the other 80%.

Only those printers named in the lawsuit got their $5 co-pay prescription benefits back.

Plus 5 Guild retirees, including Olesky who filed the lawsuit on their behalf, are saving thousands of dollars a year under the terms of the successful lawsuit.

If you want to contact Hugh and Sharon, their phone number is (352) 789-7481. Their email address is Their U.S. mail address is 17900 S.E. 87th Bourne Ave., The Villages, FL 32159.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

John Olesky, Hugh Downing: Fun & golf in the sun
They’re at it again

As they do every time John Olesky winterizes in The Villages, Florida, which is Disneyland for adults 55 and older which qualifies them to buy a home there, retired BJ printer Hugh Downing lined up tee times for the two them.

This outing in sunshine and 75 degree weather was on the Briarwood executive golf course, one of 47 links in The Villages for 114,000 people (free for everyone who owns a home there, as Paula does now).

The scores were 42 and 46. In my case, about 2 strokes over my Florida average despite FOUR lost balls (NONE in water of woods; just disappeared when we thought they would be easy find).

I’m using my backup golf clubs that I leave at Paula’s Florida home. I could have used my good club freezing in Ohio. Maybe.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Former BJ reporter Lacy McCrary, who retired from the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Colleen Christy McCrary celebrated their golden (50th) wedding anniversary at the 255-room Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. That’s the Vanderbilt mansion and estate. I’ve been there. Amazing library!

Lacy is a Kent State graduate involved in some of the BJ’s Pulitzer Prizes.

Lacy spends a lot of time in Colorado these days and he’s an Air Force Academy fan, because he studied there. Lacy and Colleen live in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

Murrells Inlet is only 18 miles from Pauleys Island, South Carolina, where retired printer Dick Latshaw and his wife Pat live. Dick and Pat live two blocks from BJ business department retiree Harold McElroy’s widow, Linda. Retired printer Sid Sprague, who also lived near them on Pawleys Island, moved to Loveland, Colorado with his new bride after his first wife died.

Lacy's daughter Kathy Rash McCrary writes:
“Happy golden wedding anniversary to my mom and dad. What they have taught me about love, companionship, compassion, compromise and perseverance cannot be measured. We are truly blessed!”

Connie Bloom, Hertzes are crime victims

Former Beacon Journal features department editor/columnist Connie Bloom and former BJ page lines-drawer Beth Thomas Hertz and former BJ business editor David Hertz were crime victims.

Connie was the victim of a break-in thug who has hit Summit Artspace several times. It was Connie’s Quilting Arts Studio’s turn to be hit.

Windows shattered. Damage all over the place. It happened Tuesday night.

Beth and husband Dave Hertz had their Copley property vandalized.

Writes Beth:

“Second time in less than a month to wake up to find our house had been vandalized. Instead of eggs this time, they spray-painted our big rock, our lamp post, a cat statue and trees throughout the yard. And of course, TP, along with much plastic cutlery, balloons and wrapping paper. Again, we could laugh off the TP and other debris but not the spray paint everywhere. Grrr.”
Connie quips:

“Note to the bandit: a VISA credit card sign on the window means there is NO MONEY inside. Duh.”

To see a video of the break-in suspect taken from surveillance cameras, click on

Connie has a 350 square foot studio as the resident quiltmaker in Summit Artspace on the third floor at 140 E. Market Street. It’s next door to the Akron Art Museum.

She is publisher/editor of QSDS (Quilt Service Design Symposium), a quarterly online magazine about fabric art.

Connie was part of the 2008 BJ exodus that saw more than 400 years of experience walk out the door.

Other artists in Summit Artspace are Joan Colbert (printmaking); Cari Miller (mixed-media); Terry Klausman (sculpture/drawing); Carolyn Lewis (painting); Katina Pastis Radwanski (painting/sculpture); Bradley Hart (photography); and Ron White (sculpture/drawing).
Dave Hertz started at Ol’ Blue Walls in 1991 and was night Metro editor, deputy business editor, region editor, business editor, metro editor, enterprise editor and then business editor again. There was a crowd from the BJ when Beth Angela Thomas and David Ralph Hertz were married on Saturday, October 23, 1993 in the Akron Civic Theatre.

Beth was at the BJ from 1991 to 1995 in several jobs including page layout and design. She left to become managing editor in the Communications Department at the Cleveland Clinic.

Retired BJ librarian Diane Wright is enjoying Florida sunshine on Siesta Key, which is where the late Bill Gorrell once had his rental complex that drew BJ printers by the dozens every year.
Writes Diane:
“Eating oysters outside again with a band playing. Doesn't get better than this!”

Ah, but all good things come to an end. Diane will be whisked back to Canton on Sunday, Dec. 6. That means, Diane, you'll go from 80 degrees to 37 degrees. So it'll take more than a bikini when you land in Ohio.

That's Stan, her man, with Diane.
As someone who has spent 20 winters in Florida, nearly every one of them on Siesta Key with the likes of Dave White, Don Bandy, Don Pack and Terry Dray, all deceased now unfortunately, and Hugh Downing and wife Sharon, who live in The Villages, Florida, where Paula and I will be spending this winter since Paula, former State Desk reporter, bought a home there.

My oyster bar preference is Captain Curt’s, which is closer to Gorrell’s old hangout than the Siesta Key Oyster Bar, which is in Siesta Village part of the island.

Diane is a 1995 University of Akron graduate who spent 23 years as a BJ Librarian before joining the mass exodus in 2008 that cost the BJ 345 years of service. She is a widow living in Canton. She came from Martins Ferry, Ohio to the Akron-Canton area.

Friday, December 04, 2015

From sunshine to funshine

Tom Moore and the train ladies
BJ newsroom retiree Tom Moore, fresh from a month in Florida helping former BJ sports editor Tom Giffen run the Roy Hobbs World Series for older baseball players in Fort Myers, is working on the railroad all the live long day again.

That would be the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Polar Express.

Writes Tom:
“Back on the Polar Express for the first time this year after a month in florida . . . as usual a great trip. Turns out we had only two elves for the car, so trainman and Jeff and myself filled in, helping with the refreshments. And these two ladies out-did themselves with the story and entertainment. You should have seen the looks on the kids’ faces when Santa showed. Great job, ladies.”
Moore has three loves in life: Florida baseball, Polar Express and his wife, Dot. They have four children, including three daughters who were copygirls at the BJ.
As for Roy Hobbs, he is the mythical character played by Robert Redford in “The Natural,” a baseball movie.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

‘Pain in the neck’ and Don Roese seem to go together

There are some who might say that retired BJ photographer is a pain in the neck because he is outspoken rather than politically correct. But that’s what I’ve always liked about him.

Don and wife Maryann and Paula and I have crossed paths with Don, in New Zealand when we both visited 1970s State Desk reporter Cathy Robinson Strong, on the Massey University faculty in Wellington, New Zealand; in Florida, although Don hangs out on the Atlantic side and we’re partial to the Gulf of Mexico side; and at Papa Joe’s for years, at the monthly gathering of BJ retirees (which no longer happens because so many who attended are in permanent residence below ground).

This clever lead gets me to Don’s current predicament: A pain in the neck.

Don explains:

“Arthritis causing disk problems in the neck. Seems to run in the family -- Jim, John and now me. Trying this treatment for pain, so far surgery is not an option. I tell you, this old age just ain't for sissies.”

As I said, Don has a way with words. He doesn’t sugarcoat or whitewash it.

Don added:

“Arthritis has a bunch of vertebrae messed up. Getting a couple of sessions of diagnostic injections in preparation for radio frequency burning of small nerves. This is being done at the pain center at Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls.

Good luck, Don.