Wednesday, November 30, 2016

TV giant Grant Tinker passes away

Producer Grant Tinker, who formed MTM Enterprises named after Mary Tyler Moore, his wife at the time, passed away at the age of 90.

Grant Tinker
His resume is incredible:

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (#1 in ratings for 7 seasons; 29 Emmys; gave birth to “Lou Grant,” propelled Betty White to a long career) #19 all-time in Hollywood Reporter rankings.

“The Bob Newhart Show” #92 all-time in Hollywood Reporter rankings.

“Family Ties” #99 all-time in Hollywood Reporter rankings.

“St. Elsewhere.”

“Hill Street Blues” #63 all-time in Hollywood Reporter rankings.

“Marcus Welby, M.D.”

Personally, as the BJ TV editor for 16 years, I would put MTM, Newhart, St. Elsewhere and Hill Street in my top 25 of all time.
So one guy, in my opinion, came up with 4 of the best series in TV history. Pretty impressive body of work.

Tinker was born in Stamford, Connecticut and was a Dartmouth College graduate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Black (and blue) Friday for Dale Allen’s hip

Former BJ Editor Dale Allen learned the hard way the warning that is implicit in the term, Black Friday.

Dale Allen
Dale reports:

“I tripped, fell while changing TVs. Tripped into City Hospital for a total knee replacement. All is going well. I was just told that I am getting out of hospital today to begin therapy and healing. Moral of story: Don't shop on black Friday.”

Later, Dale corrected himself. It was his hip, not his knee, that was replaced. You know, the bone higher up than the knee.

Dale blamed the error on being drugged out. I find that a completely justifiable excuse.
I still remember my first experience with Black Friday, in Dayton when I was at the Dayton Daily News. I was lined up outside the door before opening time, prepared to get the bargain of a lifetime. The doors flew open, and octogenarian ladies with bluish white hair damn near took me down as if they were Steelers defensive lineman and I was the latest Cleveland Browns quarterback on the sacrificial altar.

Lesson learned. I’ve avoid Black Friday mob openings ever since. Perhaps I should have told Dale about this before he went for the TV.

Dale, Jim Holan and I were the midwives for Channels’ birth in 1980. A few years later, Dale had me slow down the BJ computers while Knight-Ridder representatives were in the building to determine if Ol’ Blue Walls needed more mainframe power. I did. KR folks went back to Miami and the BJ got its upgrade to superpower mainframe.

Who says management and labor can’t work together for the good of the company?
As for Dale's store-bought hip, I've had my right knee for years and it's improved my golf game by 6 strokes for 9 holes. Dale's a fisherman so I'm not sure what that will do for the trout as his target. Plus, it's his hip -- got that! -- and not his knee.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Katie Byard fusion ‘going well’

Retired BJ reporter and occasional radio talk show sub host Jim Carney reports that wife and BJ reporter Katie Byard’s spinal fusion surgeries on her neck are going well. She’s had three – in April, May and June.

Jim reports that KT “should be in the hospital tonight and home by tomorrow. She'll be updating folks on her status later. Thanks for all the prayers and love.”

Former BJ features writer Bill O’Connor has published his third novel, “The Era of Long Thoughts” ($21 for paperback version via
He went to his experience well for this one since it’s set in an Akron newspaper with a troubled reporter, although, Bill insists, “I’d like to stress that the novel is not autobiographical.”

Well, with one exception.

Quips Bill:

All the characters are creations, except for one minor one. BJ colleagues might guess who Guy Daynor is.”

The blurb about Bill’s novel:

“Matthew Fox is a veteran newspaper reporter. The year is 1990. He sees a trend in favor of softer reporting and he resists efforts to write such stories. His own life is in crisis. He is a loner, with no real friends. His only close contact is sexual and fleeting. Now, in his 50s, his own unhappiness leads him to consider a damning story about the origins of an obscure chapel at a mental hospital. The consequences of such a story would bring unhappiness to a gentle group of idealists.”

As for Bill in real life: He joined the BJ in the spring of 1979.

The blurb about author Bill:

“Bill O'Connor was born and raised in South Philadelphia. He's been a Franciscan friar, a college professor and a reporter with John S. Knight's flagship newspaper, The Akron Beacon Journal. He's also unloaded ketchup cases from a conveyor belt, been chained to a stamping press, delivered furniture and failed miserably as a door-to-door salesman. He is the father of four children. He and his wife Elsbeth live at the edge of a woods and sometimes drink wine in the Alps.”

Bill and Elsbeth throw some Gatsbyesque parties at their 1108 Ramling Way home in Bath Township, too. I know because I’ve been to some.

Bill married his Swiss miss in 2002. They both have four grown children from previous marriages.

Bill was at a momentous BJ reunion in Primo’s Deli in Akron in 2010. At the same table were BJ television critics whose Ol’ Blue Walls efforts spanned three decades: David Bianculli (1980-83), David’s successor, Mark Dawidziak, who slinked off to the PD for even greater success; and Rich Heldenfels, who replaced Mark and eventually dropped his insistence on keeping the off-putting R.D. byline.

Also at the lunch were the late Joan Rice, super nova food writer Jane Snow, former PD and BJ classical music critic Don Rosenberg and John Olesky, who was TV Editor for Bianculli, Dawidziak and Heldenfels and made them all better writers for it. Yeah, right.

Bianculli lives in Cherry Hill, NJ, which is across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, where O'Connor once lived.

Bill did his undergraduate work at St. Francis College and got his Master's degree at Bowling Green University. He spent 10 years as an instructor of English and drama with Montana University.
His previous novels are “Bums and Hershey Bars,” which began as a master’s thesis at Bowling Green, published in 1965, and “The Legend of Horn Mountain,” an adventure story written for those in their early teen years, set in Montana where Bill lived for eight years. Bill’s email address is interesting.
I don’t think it’s a comment on his mental condition, but his clever way of slicing up BillO’Connor in the middle to get “loco.”
Whimsy does not escape Bill. Or my 84-year-old editor eyes.

After reading this article, Bill explained why he is “loco”:

“You're right about my email name - loco2732. But remember when we had to sign on at the paper with the section we worked followed by the beginning of our last name? Being in Lifestyle at that time, I signed on as loco so often that when I got email for the first time I used loco. By then I had forgotten what loco meant to people who weren't signing on as we did back then.

“Maybe it's appropriate, the loco thing for me. A lot of people think so, especially my wife.

"Thanks again. Reading your blog is like hearing about family.”

Family, indeed, is what we are, Bill, no matter how long ago we put out that fine newspaper together.
And thanks for explaining why working in
L ifestyle and being named
O'CO nnor made you loco. I'm caused a few people to go loco in my time, too.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Barbara Galloway Mudrak, a reporter for nearly two dozen years at the BJ till her 2001 buyout, is celebrating her 41st wedding anniversary to Pete Mudrak, a Columbiana County farmer.

The Mount Union College graduate from Garfield Heights, who grew up in the home her parents built in 1948, teaches English and Journalism at Alliance High School in Stark County.

 Barb also is the adviser for the Red and Blue Flyer at Alliance High. Barb and Pete have two sons who got their educations at Kent State and Auburn.

Barb’s grandfather, sculpture Andrew Galloway, left evidence of his talent in churches all over the Cleveland area.

Barb is a movie star, albeit in a local film, “Minerva Monsters,” about the creatures reportedly roaming the Minerva area. The movie premiered appropriately at a Bigfoot Convention, in Salt Fork State Park.

I hope that Barb and Pete didn’t celebrate at Bricco’s Restaurant on Exchange Street at Main in Akron. A waitress who “looked sick” handled the food before Barb and other BJers came down with the flu or something akin to it after eating there in March.

Barb's email address:  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

We sat side by side for 16 years. Eventually, we'll do that again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Joan Rice obituary in the BJ

Joan A. Rice

Joan A. Rice loved to read. She spent every childhood summer devouring as many books as she could. Classics like “Little Women” and “Jane Eyre.” It was only natural then that she was drawn to the field of journalism. The written word. The excitement of a newspaper newsroom. She left us on November 18, 2016 to join the staff of the great newspaper in the sky. God is her editor now.

Joan was a reporter and editor at the Akron Beacon Journal for over 35 years. She loved “The Beacon.” She had immense respect for her boss Pulitzer prizewinning Executive Editor and Publisher Ben Maidenberg. She said the tireless taskmaster, who loathed inaccuracy, modeled the professional code of ethics taught to her by her journalism professors at Kent State University where she earned her Bachelor of Fine and Professional Arts degree.

Joan was just a junior at Kent State when the Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier hired her. It wasn’t long before Betty Jaycox, the long-time lifestyle editor at the Beacon Journal, noticed her work and her career took off. Joan had many “beats” in the ensuing years: fashion, teens, religion and consumer. She then moved into the job of Assistant Features Editor.

As a forever-young rock ‘n roll fan of Elvis, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, she particularly enjoyed an interview with Dick Clark. She said he was surprisingly open with details about the “Bandstand Regulars,” the popular teenage dancers on Clark’s “American Bandstand.” And she delighted in saying she went to Woodstock 25 years later in 1994 for an historic update story.

Joan was preceded in death just 12 days ago by her loving husband of 36 years Lawrence J. Momchilov. Joan met Larry on a news assignment for a story on the martial art of Jiu-Jitsu training. A devout Catholic, Joan and Larry were long-time members of the Kent State Parish Newman Center.

Joan is survived by her identical twin, Marie Rice; sister, Nancy (Bill) Crouch; stepdaughters, Diane (Dennis) Bueker, Christine (Richard) Klempay, Susan (John) Yonkin; and stepson, Lawrence “Butch” Momchilov, Jr. She is also survived by nephews, Chad Crouch and Delvin Pickett; niece, Sierra Rice; and great-nephews, Bryce and Zachary Pickett; and great-niece, Alliya Pickett.

She was also preceded in death by her parents, Nancy B. and John B. Rice and brother, John B. Rice, Jr.

Closest to Joan’s heart was her love of the family homestead. When you grow up on a farm, a love of the land becomes part of your soul. It was the place where Mom taught us to be grateful, joyful, spiritual and productive. As a child, Joan loved to read books perched way up high in the lofty branches of the front yard’s prized cherry tree. We know Joan has found a cherry tree in the Lord’s garden, where she is at peace with loved ones until we can all be together again.

A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 11 a.m. at the Kent State University Parish Newman Center, Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel, 1424 Horning Rd., Kent, OH 44240 with Rev. Steve Agostino officiating. Calling hours will take place one hour earlier at 10 a.m. at the Parish Newman Center. Graveside services will be held at Homeland Cemetery in Rootstown. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Parish Newman Center building fund.

Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at . 330296-6436 (Wood-Kortright-Borkoski, 330-296-6436)
Marilyn Miller article about Joan Rice


Joan Rice wrote for newspaper

Ex-ABJ assistant editor, fashion/teens reporter was strong role model

Joan Rice
By Marilyn Miller

Beacon Journal staff writer

Joan Rice — a former Beacon Journal reporter and assistant editor who wrote about fashion, teens and was the face of Enjoy magazine for many years — died of cancer on Friday. Her death came 12 days after her husband, former Summit County Sheriff’s Deputy Capt. Larry Momchilov, died. Both were hospitalized at the same time at Akron General Medical Center where they both died. The couple was married for 36 years. “There’s no way to put into words what it’s like for a twin to lose a twin, especially your identical twin,” said her sister, Marie Rice. “When she passed away my first thought was, I don’t know what I’m going to do without my twin.” They were born in Akron, but moved to Rootstown at age 3. They had two other siblings, John Jr. and Nancy Crouch.

All four had property on the family’s 150-acre farm in Rootstown. Joan and Larry built their home in 1981. Marie built a home next door. Sister Nancy also built a home there and John Jr., who also died of cancer in 2012, renovated their parents’ home on the homestead.

Marie, who is two minutes older than Joan, said they were inseparable growing up and always made a point to be together on their birthday. They loved music and saw Elvis Presley perform two or three times and the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen numerous times, once celebrating their birthday at a Springsteen concert.

“We even ended up going into the same field. Joan and I both became reporters. I was always the talkative one and Joan was quieter,” she said. “I guess that’s why I went into broadcast journalism, the spoken word, and Joan was into the written word.” Both graduated from Kent State University.

Marie said only two or three of their friends could actually tell them apart. “People would say hello to me or her and we would have no idea who these people were, but we were always friendly because we figured they knew one of us,” she said.

“Our whole life we rarely heard our names, we just heard “Twinny” or “Ricey” or “Hey, you” because we looked so much alike and if you only knew one of our names, you couldn’t guess the other’s name.” Marie said she was named after her Aunt Marie, her mother’s sister.

“My mother promised she would name her first born after my aunt, but my parents couldn’t find a name to rhyme with Marie, so my mom told my dad to name the second child, and Joan was the closest female version of his name, John,” Marie said. “People seemed disappointed after learning our names were so different, but we do have the same middle name, Ann, so we’d tell them that.”

Those who knew Joan Rice remembered her infectious smile, her great sense of fashion and her personal style. She wore bright colors and silver rings on every finger. They described her as a feminist, a strong career woman and a role model with a devotion to quality, a fast talker and a kind person.

Elaine Guregian, a former Beacon Journal colleague, said her former boss was a “consummate professional” and a joy to work with in the newsroom.

“Joan had the highest ethical and journalistic standards, which she put to work every day in her job as assistant features editor. She was also a deeply compassionate and engaged person who was up on every social, cultural and political trend,” Guregian said. “Joan was one of the most fun colleagues you could imagine, with a fashion sense that could put a much younger person to shame.” Another former colleague, Betsy Lammerding, said she and Joan sat within inches of each other for more than 25 years in the Beacon’s features department. “I admired everything about her. She was a mother hen, big sister, mentor, role model and friend. To know Joan was to love her,” Lammerding posted on a memorial blog. Joan worked at the Beacon from 1966 to 2001, when she took a buyout to care for her mother who had heart problems. Her mom, Nancy, died in 2004. Her father, John, died in 1979 after suffering several strokes.

“We never used the word retire, we always said retire was for old people. We liked to say gratefully bowed out or bailed out or resigned,” said her twin sister, who also resigned about the same time as her sister after spending 40 years in Buffalo, N.Y., in time to take care of her brother and eventually her twin sister. Joan’s funeral will be Saturday at the Kent State Newman Center Parish, 1424 Horning Road, Kent. Calling hours are at 10 a.m. followed by an 11 a.m. Mass.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Forecast: Goddard’s final show tonight at 6

Dick Goddard
Dick Goddard, a friend of woollybears and family pets, will issue his final weather forecast on WJW-Channel 8’s 6 p.m. news show tonight  – Tuesday, November 12.

Goddard has been the meteorologist that Northeast Ohio turned to the most when it wanted the straight scoop on the weather. He did it for 55 years. He’s 85 years old.

WJW-Channel 8 news director Andy Fishman said: “It’s going to be a big celebration.” Expect a lot of well-known personalties to show up.

Goddard grew up in Green and lives in Medina.

Goddard vows to continue his animal advocacy role.

He created the annual Woollybear Festival in 1973 in Vermillion that draws up to 100,000 people.

Goddard began his long Cleveland career in 1961 with KYC-Channel 3.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Joan Rice, a class act at the BJ from 1966 through her 2001 buyout, passed away Friday, November 18.

She had been in Akron General Hospital for several weeks with cancer, which she had battled over the years.

Joan’s funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Newman Center Parish in Kent, with calling hours beginning at 10 a.m.

Only 12 days before Joan’s passing, her husband of 36 years, Summit County Sheriff’s Deputy Capt. Larry Momchilov, predeceased her.

Joan and I had desks next to each other in the BJ Features Department for 16 of my 26 years at Ol’ Blue Walls. She was always a great help to me in dealing with the inevitable problems of putting out a newspaper.

Former BJ arts and culture critic Elaine Guregian, who left 44 E. Exchange Street in 2008 to be Development Officer for Corporate and Foundation Relations with the Summa Foundation and later Northeast Ohio Medical University as Assistant Director of Public Relations and Marketing, posted an eloquent tribute to Joan:

“Joan had the highest ethical and journalistic standards, which she put to work every day in her job as Assistant Features Editor.

“She was also a deeply compassionate and engaged person who was up on every social, cultural and political trend.

“Joan was one of the most fun colleagues you could imagine, with a fashion sense that could put a much younger person to shame.

“She was a consummate professional who challenged all of us in Features to do our best work. I am proud to have worked with her and will really miss her.”

You are on the mark in every evaluation of Joan, Elaine. I would add that she is one of the reasons that I ran to work every day because it was a joy to work at the BJ.

Retired BJ outdoors and parks writer Bob Downing also nailed it:

“Joan was a great editor and an even better person.”

Betsy Lammerding, in the BJ Features Department with Joan and me, wrote:

“My heart is aching today. Joan and I sat within inches of each other for more than 25 years in Features. I admired everything about her. She was a mother hen, big sister, mentor, role model and friend. To know Joan was to love her.

“It was a pleasure to work with her for three decades.”

Indeed, Betsy. And with you, too.

PD and former BJ TV critic and pop culture writer Mark Dawidziak wrote:

“Just heartbroken. Joan was a terrific editor but, more importantly, a wonderful friend. Take all of the marvelous things being said about her, multiply it by a thousand, and you'd still be in the realm of understatement. Godspeed, old friend.”
Elaine, Betsy and Mark, like me, worked side by side with Joan day after day. We knew each other as well as we knew our own families.
Joan was about as special as any person can be.
Roger Mezger, who was in both the BJ and PD newsrooms, after calling Joan “one of the finest people I’ve ever known,” also pointed out that Joan was classy with more than just her clothing and personality:
“One really neat thing about Joan was how much she loved to drive. She indulged in that passion by driving a Porsche. Very classy.”

Notice than Joan and classy are synonyms? That’s no accident.

Retired BJ TV and pop culture critic Rich Heldenfels wrote:

Joan was always great to work with and a good friend.”

Former BJ Deputy Features Editor Lynne Sherwin wrote:

“So very sad. I’m sorry I’ll be out of town this weekend but I will be wearing my fuchsia tennis shoes in her honor.”

Joan brought class to everything she wore and to everyone she worked with.

Former all-everything at the BJ Stuart Warner wrote:

“Joan was one classy woman and journalist.”

Joan is survived by her identical twin, Marie Rice.
They look and sound and dress so much alike that they spent a lifetime of people calling one by the other’s name.
When I went to Kent’s Newman Chapel for Larry’s calling hours and I couldn’t find Joan, I walked up to a table where family members were chatting and said: “You must be the other Joan Rice.”
Marie’s answer, after decades of dealing with this: “Why, yes, I guess I am.”
You have to look really close to tell the difference: Marie has a small beauty mark on her right cheek.
That explains a lifetime of double-takes when both are in the same vicinity.

A Buffalo News article said the twins were born two minutes apart in rural New Milford, Ohio, but Joan spent her entire life in Rootstown, a few miles away. Joan was two minutes younger than Marie.

Joan’s brother, Michelin executive vice president John Rice, passed away in 2012. Besides Marie, her other sister is Nancy Rice Crouch. They are the children of Nancy and John Rice and grew up in Rootstown.

Larry was born in Barberton and was a Norton High graduate.

RIP, Joan. I will miss your infectious laughter, your heart-warming smile and your Triple-A quality as a human being.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hugh Downing’s four sons were among those who greeted the former BJ printer’s friends and family at The Villages, Florida home of their mother, Sharon Downing, for a Celebration of Life on the Downing property at 17900 S.E. 87th Bourne Avenue.

Hugh in his favorite chair
Hugh and Sharon’s sons are Mark Downing, who lives in Erie, Pennsylvania; Ben Downing, who lives in Toledo; Chris Downing, who lives in Hudson; and Jonathan Downing, who lives in Vienna, Virginia. The 4 sons are the fathers of 7 children.

Hugh’s favorite chair, where he sat in the Florida sunshine, was left empty for the guest of honor at the memorial. Hugh passed away Wednesday, November 9. He was 77.

Hugh and Sharon, married for 56 years, moved to The Villages in 2000. The Downings lived in the city of Medina during Hugh’s BJ days. Both are from Galion but didn’t begin their romance till they met at the home of Sharon’s parents in Florida.

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

Among those attending Hugh’s memorial was 1970s BJ State Desk reporter Paula Stone Tucker, who has a home in The Villages only a few miles from the Downing residence and shares a second residence in Tallmadge with BJ newsroom retiree John Olesky.

Condolence cards may be sent to Sharon at

17900 S.E. 87th Bourne Ave.
The Villages, FL 32159

Sharon's email address is 
Bob Batz health report

Bob Batz, at the BJ from 1966-1970, is “in failing health,” emails his son, also Bob Batz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor-writer who began in 1986 with the Pittsburgh Press after a stint with the Dayton Daily News.  

Bob Batz, Sr.
“Nothing imminent,” son Bob wrote. But he wants memories about dad Bob’s days at the BJ.

Writes son Bob, who switched to the Post-Gazette after it bought the Press in 1993:

It saddens me to report that my father is in failing health. While nothing is imminent, it occurred to me that I should get going on starting his paid obituary at least. When he does die, he may well merit a news obituary in the Dayton Daily News where he worked as a columnist for decades. 

“I'm writing to you because of your BJ retirees blog. I wonder if there might be anyone still around who remembers my dad from his BJ years -- specifically anyone who could tell me what role if any he had in the paper's Kent State coverage?
"My dad always told me he was on campus working for Akron while also courting the Daily News, but it was never clear to me if he contributed to the coverage in Akron or not.

“I will keep you posted on my pop.

“Bob Batz Jr.

“Pittsburgh Post-Gazette”

As for his BJ years, Bob Sr. called it “such a neat place. (Wife) Sally and I had fond, fond memories of the BJ.” Sally passed away in 2009.

Bob wrote for daily newspapers for a half-century.

Pop Bob is a Flint, Michigan native who was at the Dayton Daily News (1970-2007) before he retired. He taught writing classes at the University of Dayton for more than two decades and was a volunteer firefighter and Public Information Officer with the Brookville Fire Department (just north of Dayton) for three decades.

Bob and Sally, Brookville FD administrative assistant who was among the first six female paramedics in Montgomery County, have four children – Bob, Jr., Laurie Batz Fryman, Jackie Batz Erbaugh and Chris Batz -- seven grandchildren and a 150-year-old house in Brookville.

In 1981, Bob was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper series on Alzheimer’s Disease, which he later turned into a play called “Long Goodbyes” that was performed by a local theater group.

Bill Hershey, a reporter at both the BJ and the Dayton Daily News, recalled:

“His dad, Sid Batz, and my dad, Clark Hershey, worked together at Fisher Body in Flint for many years and bowled together.

“I think bob graduated from same high school as me -- Flint Central -- now closed.”

Send your memories of Bob Batz the pop to Bob Batz the son, who lives in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mount Lebanon, at:

Bob Batz

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

358 North Shore Dr., Suite 300

Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Or phone Bob’s son at 412-263-1930

Or email him at

I also would appreciate copies of any memories you have of columnist Bob Batz at Ol’ Blue Walls. I will use them in the BJ Alums blog.