Monday, February 27, 2017

Mark’s book is The Good Book

Mark Dawidziak
Free-lance writer Wendy Wright writes a glowing review of PD and former BJ pop culture critic Mark Dawidziak’s book, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone.”

That, of course, was after I taught him everything he needed to know from his TV Editor at the BJ. Yeah, right.

Mark has written so many outstanding books that I’ve lost count. He is my favorite student.
To read Wendy’s words of wisdom about Mark, click on the blue

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oplinger, Hoffman retiring; BJ offers buyouts

My sources tell me that BJ Managing Editor Doug Oplinger and editorial writer Steve Hoffman are retiring.

And the BJ is offering buyouts again to forestall layoffs.

Doug Oplinger
The word I get is that 3 reporters, 1 copy editor, 1 page designer and 1 photographer will take the buyouts.

But I also got word from a reliable source that we won’t know the total till management sees how many commit to the buyouts.

I remember when Doug first showed up at the Beacon Journal, baby-faced under his John Deere cap and still in high school when Bill Hershey recruited him at a Springfield School Board meeting, and into the world of Pat Englehart, the Tasmanian devil whirlwind of an editor, and Harry Liggett, a guy with a gruff exterior who set traps for any reporter who tried to bullshit her way in defense of an article that H.L. was editing.

Pat and Harry taught me, who came to Ol’ Blue Walls at the age of 38, way more about being an editor than I had learned before I came to 44 East Exchange Street.

And taught Doug, too. Lessons I’m sure that helped him as managing editor in a stressful and difficult time for newspapers.

At its peak there were about 250 in the BJ newsroom. Today, according to the staff list, there are 63 if you include vice president/editor Bruce Winges, Doug and everyone with a title and the reporters.

And that number will get perilously close to 50 by the time the buyouts are finalized.
Those remaining will not have an easy task on a newspaper that earned four Pulitzer Prizes.
Trumpsters detain Holocast historian

The latest victim of Donald Trump’s “keep out the terrorists” policy is – ready for this – French Holocaust historian Henry Russo.

Rousso is an Egyptian native and French citizen. But he was detained for 10 hours when he landed in Houston on a flight from Paris.

Why? Paranoia about anyone with "Muslim" skin color, apparently.

The Texas A&M president got Fatma Marouf, who played a major role in shooting down Trump’s ban against refugees, to get the detention lifted.

Rousso was released to give his lecture.

Rousso, a Jew, was exiled from Egypt in 1956 under Nasser’s anti-Semitic regime.

Rousso said: "It is now necessary to deal with the utmost arbitrariness and incompetence on the other side of the Atlantic. What I know, having loved this country forever, is that the United States is no longer quite the United States."

The Post’s new tocsin

The Washington Post’s new motto, under its masthead:

“Democracy dies in darkness.”

With Trump’s full-court suppress the press tactics, it’s a timely warning.

Thomas Jefferson put it bluntly:

"The press [is] the only tocsin of a nation. [When it] is completely silenced... all means of a general effort [are] taken away." 

For those who don’t know, tocsin is a warning bell.

When a leader calls a free press “the enemy of the people,” it’s take to head for the ramparts of public opinion and head off the dictatorship.

Hitler hated a free press. Stalin hated a free press. South American dictators hated a free press. Trump is in some frightening company.
To read the article about the Washington Post added its tocsin slogan, click on the-washington-posts-dark-new-motto-is-pure-branding-genius

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Jan Leach on Trump banning of some media

If you want to watch the video of Jan Leach talking about the Trump White House banning media that doesn’t worship the ground he walks on, click on

As most of you know, Jan is on the Kent State faculty after being Editor of the BJ.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Trump policy: Genuflect or reject

WTF time at the Trump/Bannon White House

The White House blocked a number of news outlets from covering spokesman Sean Spicer’s question-and-answer session on Friday afternoon. 

Spicer held an off-camera “gaggle” with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the traditional on-camera briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.  

Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were news organizations President Trump has singled out for criticism, including CNN. 

The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News were among the other news organizations not permitted to attend.

Journalists from several right-leaning outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart, the Washington Times and One America News Network. 

A number of major news organizations were also let in to cover the gaggle. That group included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters, Bloomberg and McClatchy. 

Reporters from The Associated Press and Time magazine were allowed into the gaggle but refused to attend. 

The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) sharply criticized the decision. 

Journalists gathered in the briefing room to await the gaggle. When aides came to gather the pool, those who were not selected were turned back by Grisham in the West Wing hallway leading to Spicer's office. 

After some reporters voiced their frustration with the arrangement, Grisham asked a uniformed Secret Service officer to tell them to leave the hallway. 

The incident escalated Trump’s long-running feud with the media.

The president repeatedly slammed the “dishonest media” earlier Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, while also saying he respects the First Amendment. 

“I love the First Amendment; nobody loves it better than me. Nobody,” he said. 

“But as you saw throughout the entire campaign, and even now, the fake news doesn't tell the truth,” he continued. “I say it doesn't represent the people, it doesn't tell and never will represent the people, and we're going to do something about it.”

I wonder what John Knight, who refused to vote for Richard Nixon because he was so corrupt, would do today.

Thomas Jefferson disagrees with Trump and Bannon.  Jefferson said a free press, even when its writes things that politicians don't like, is essential to a sound democracy.

This sure sounds like "The Emperor Has No Clothes" conundrum. Genuflect or eject is the order of the day. Breitbart, to the right of Attilla the Hun, gets in, but CNN doesn't.

Adolph Hitler is dancing on his grave.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

View from Moscow: Trump is Putin’s puppet


Mikhail Fishman is the editor-in-chief of the Moscow Times, an English-language weekly newspaper published in Moscow. The paper is critical of Vladimir Putin; indeed, it was targeted twice in 2015 by Russian hackers and has been attacked repeatedly by pro-Kremlin pundits.

He describes President Trump as Putin’s puppet.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dick Gresock’s wife passes away

Lorraine Gresock, wife of BJ Composing retiree Dick Gresock, passed away Friday, February 17.

They were married 58 years.

Dick, the late Kenny Wright and I were a Composing/Newsroom partnership that ushered in the computer age in the newsroom and back shop.

Lorraine Gresock
Dick and I did a lot of formatting work together before the computers were improved enough so that every editor and reporter could do it without formatting.

Pat Englehart was the BJ’s first newsroom electronics coordinator. I succeeded Pat and trained the first person in the newsroom on the first terminal in the newsroom. Then my techie skills made me the TV Editor because Channels was the most complex formatting required.

Dick and I often shared monthly BJ retirees gatherings at Papa Joe’s in the Valley. Ken also showed up a few times.

Lorraine’s obituary:

Dick Gresock
Lorraine Gresock

Lorraine Gresock, age 82 of Granger Township, passed away on Friday, February 17, 2017 after a brief battle with cancer; her loving family was by her side. She was born on July 10, 1934 in Indiana, Pennsylvania to Earl J. and Marie (nee Krug) Lieb. Richard (Dick) Gresock and Mary were married on June 20, 1959.

Lorraine was a homemaker and a devoted wife, mother and a friend to many. She enjoyed playing cards, Bunko, bowling and traveling.

She will be dearly missed by her husband, Dick; children, Marie (Robert) Elium, Richard (Jackie) Gresock, John (Teresa Holland) Gresock, Kathy (Jeff) Yarian; grandchildren, Jacob (Jen) and Elizabeth Elium, Logan, Lauren Gresock, Joshua, Adam, Tricia Holland-Gresock, Tyler, Nathan and Evan Yarian; brother, Earl John Lieb; sister, Connie Davis; and a wide circle of friends.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, February 19, 2017 from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at Carlson Funeral Homes & Cremation Services, 3477 Medina Road (corner of River Styx & Rt. 18), Medina, Ohio 44256. Mass of Christian Burial on Monday, February 20, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. (please meet at church). Holy Martyrs Church, 3100 Old Weymouth Road, Medina, Ohio 44256. Fr. Stephen Dohner officiating. Cremation will then take place.

Published in Akron Beacon Journal from Feb. 18 to Feb. 19, 2017
Woody Williams passes away

William “Woody” Williams, who spent 42 years at the BJ, in the mailroom packaging department, passed away February 13.

Woody’s obituary:

Woody Williams
William "Woody" Williams

William (Woody) Williams passed away peacefully on February 13, 2017 surrounded by his family. He was 93 years old.

Woody was preceded in death by his wife, Gerry; son, Jack; parents, Richard and Kittie; and brother, Jack Williams. Woody was a kind and loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. For those of us who knew Woody we are all the better for it.

Woody was a graduate of East High School, and an employee of the Akron Beacon Journal for 42 years. He loved to bowl, golf, and play euchre at the Jednota Club. His main love was horse racing.

Woody is survived by his children, David (Irene) Williams, Patty (Tom) Tubbs, and Steven (Robin) Williams; grandchildren, David, Mark, Trisha, Eric, and Kelly; great-grandchildren, Matthew, Michael, Allie, Kendall, Hailey, Mya, Kylee, and Brody; and many dear friends. The family would like to thank the entire staff at Green Village for their kind and loving care.

In keeping with Woody's wishes, there will be a private memorial service for the family. Dads hold our hands for a little while and hold our hearts forever. In lieu of flowers, if you wish, please make a memorial donation in Woody's name to Green Village Activity Fund, 708 Moore Road, Akron, Ohio 44319. (ADAMS MASON FUNERAL HOME AND CREMATORY, 330-535-9186)
Published in Akron Beacon Journal on Feb. 19, 2017
Rosa Parks’ rent angel dies

The guy who quietly paid Rosa Parks’ rent in Detroit for more than a decade passed away Friday.

That would be Mike Ilitch, the Little Caesars founder and Detroit Tigers owner.

For more than a decade, Ilitch paid for Rosa Parks' Riverfront Apartments rent in downtown Detroit, according to CNN affiliate WXYZ.

That story came to light thanks to Damon Keith, a Detroit native and federal judge.

"They don't go around saying it, but I want to, at this point, let them know, how much the Ilitches not only meant to the city, but they meant so much for Rosa Parks, who was the mother of the civil rights movement," Keith told WXYZ.

Read More
Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon, died in 2005.
Her refusal to move to the back of the bus so whites could have a better seat sparked the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. Parks later moved to Detroit.
Guess who's coming for dinner at the Kovatch house?

Ol’ Blue Walls retirees are gator magnets

Former BJ vice president/finance and administration John Kovatch had interesting “company” show up on his propety.

Let John explain:

“The neighborhood gator was sunning himself today and sharing the shoreline with a couple of birds. I decided to swim in the pool, rather than the lake.

Carolyn and John Kovatch without the gator visitor
At least John’s alligator isn’t as bold as the one who spent the night in the garage of retired BJ printer Dick Latshaw. It seems Dick didn’t close his garage door sufficiently so the gator took that as an invitation to look around the Latshaws’ Pawleys Island, South Carolina home.

Wife Pat’s understandable admonition to Dick: “Always close the %$$# garage door.”

The Kovatches own homes in The Villages, Florida and in Green. John and Carolyn bought a home in The Village of Charlotte. Paula's house is in The Village of Silver Lake.

John’s career included University of Akron associated vice president/controller, Knight-Ridder vice president finance and administration, Ernest & Young CPA, and currently JEK Accounting Service before his Kent State and Euclid High days.

He’s from Massillon, Ohio.
The alligators live wherever they want.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ernie Pyle, America’s #1 war correspondent

Ernie Pyle, war casualty
Sorry I missed it but the most famous war correspondent in World War II, Ernie Pyle, died 72 years ago yesterday.

It was February 18, 1945.

Pyle, who interviewed the grunt soldier rather than the generals, was killed by Japanese machinegun fire on the island of Ie Shima in the Pacific.

Pyle was born in Dana, Indiana, and earned his Pulitzer Prize while dodging enemy fire. He was imbedded before it became a national term.

Sharon Downing, her son Jonathan, his daughter Piper, John Olesky
meet on street in The Villages, Florida   
-- photo by Paula Tucker
Bumping into BJ memories

Even though there are 120K living in The Villages, Florida, it feels like a tiny town of 500 when you go to events.

We regularly run into people we know. I run into fellow Mountaineers from my native West Virginia.

First, former BJ State Desk reporter Paula Tucker and I encountered a couple from Keyser, West Virginia. I asked them if they knew the BJ’s most famous Keyser imports, former managing editor Scott Bosley (today a Kalamazoo, Michigan retiree) and former contrarian sports columnist Tom Melody (still lurking in Akron, I think).

Keep in mind that both are in the Keyser High School Hall of Fame in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, where some of its scenery is described by John Denver in “Country Roads,” which has been proclaimed as the official state song (Denver sang it at the 1980 opening of the new Mountaineer Field and WVU fans sing it after every WVU sports victory, which happens a lot these days).

The response of the kouple from Keyser: “Well, there’s a Melody Music Store.”

I guess newspaper fame doesn’t make you a legend in Keyser.

On our way to the parking lot after the Spanish Springs Arts & Crafts Festival (there’s one every 37 minutes somewhere in The  Villages), Paula and I met Sharon Downing, widow of long-time BJ printer Hugh Downing; their son, Jonathan Downing of Toledo, Ohio;  and Jon’s daughter, Piper Downing (which reminded me of my VERY exciting ride with 200-foot drops and rises in a Piper Cub in Florida during my sportswriting days; it couldn’t get enough rpm’s to take off safely from Gainesville after the Gators’ football game, so we switched to a Comanche, a much larger plane by comparison, for our return to St. Petersburg and the safety of Nelson Poynter's Times).

Hugh – who had lived in The Villages for a couple of decades -- arranged the tee times every Thursday during the winters (a different course every time since there are about 70 to choose from) for former BJ State Desk reporter Bob Page, who works for God now as a minister, and me, the free-spirit Polish-Italian-American Mountaineer.

I rarely go anywhere without my WV shirt and WV cap and WV socks and WV underwear without running into another Mountaineer – including my travels to 55 countries and 44 states and 13 cruises.

West Virginia has only 1.8 million people, who are its #1 export.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

John Stolfo passes away

John Stolfo, who worked at the BJ till his retirement at the age of 70, passed away Tuesday, February 14.

John’s obituary:

CUYAHOGA FALLS -- John F. Stolfo, 97, passed away peacefully on February 14, 2017, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

He was born on December 7, 1919, to Nicholas and Florence Stolfo. John grew up in Akron, Ohio, where he sold the Akron Beacon Journal on the corner of Market and High Street when he was 10 years old. Little did he know then that he would go on to work for the Beacon all his adult working years, retiring at the age of 70. John served in the Army during World War II as the First Sergeant of the 501st Maintenance Ordinance. His company followed General Patton across Europe repairing tanks and other equipment. They were regarded as an elite ordinance and in high demand. John was very proud of his days in the service and the fact that he took very good care of his men.

After the war, he came back to Akron and married his wife of 69 years, Marguerite Sipe. Aside from raising seven children and his work at the Beacon Journal, John liked working with wood and building things, including the three houses that his family lived in over the course of time. He was well liked in the community and was always ready to help family and sometimes perfect strangers when they needed a helping hand.

John was preceded in death by his son, Patrick; and his brothers, Lorenzo and Vito. He is survived by his wife, Marguerite of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; his children, David of Akron, Ohio; Rita (Rodney) Ditto of East Sparta, Ohio; Paul of Akron, Ohio;

Raymond of Lake Worth, Florida; Carol (Thomas) Stegall of Desoto, Missouri; and Michael of Akron, Ohio. He leaves behind many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Kristen (Bailey, Auden) of New York, Shannon (Journey, Marley) of Arizona, Erin (Lincoln) of Florida; Sam (Adrianna , Jax) of Akron, Ohio; Robin (Barry, Ryan, Beau, Holly); Brandianne (Max, Zoie, Joni); Meranda (Calliope, Quincy); Jessica

(Andrew, Chelsea) of Canton, Ohio; Johnny of East Sparta, Ohio; Charles (Mytchel, Maci) of Cedar Hill, Missouri; Sarah (Jackson to-be) of Camdenton, Missouri.

A heartfelt thank you to all his nurses and aides at National Church

Residences, especially

Jackie, Sonni, Laci,

Stephanie and nurses Kelly and Kim who did an outstanding job caring for John.

A brief memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 18 at the Clifford-Shoemaker Funeral Home, 1930 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44221. A military memorial service will be held at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery at an unspecified future date. To view tribute video, send condolences or sign the guest book visit

Published in Akron Beacon Journal on Feb. 16, 2017 - See more at:

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dave Hess report

Former BJ Washington correspondent and later Knight-Ridder national correspondent Dave Hess got a visitor to his assisted-living facility in Worthington, Ohio.

Bill Hershey, who also served Ol’ Blue Walls as Columbus and Washington correspondent, reports:

John - I went to see Dave today and he was in pretty good spirits. He was resting when I got to his apt. about noon but got more animated as we talked.

“I know he'd like to hear from old ABJ friends. He was Washington correspondent for ABJ before me and then was a national correspondent for Knight-Ridder.

“Like you, he is a West Virginian. I'll try to keep you posted if there are new developments.”

Dave had strokes in 2006 and 2013.

Dave's address:

    Sunrise of Worthington

    6525 N. High St.   Apt. 3302

   Worthington, Ohio, 43085


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Warning from an historian

Ron Rosenbaum, a New York City Jew, writes a frightening and fascinating comparison of the rise to power of Donald Trump and Adoph Hitler.

Rosenbaum’s peg is the Munich Post defying Hitler and the Nazis till the newspaper was forcibly shut down by a Hitler finally in charge of Germany.

He is the author of “Explaining Hitler.”

To read Rosenbaum’s article, click on

Monday, February 06, 2017

Remember Bob Page?

For those who were at the BJ in 1968-73, this evening Paula and I went to dinner with former State Desk reporter Bob Page and Vicky, his wife of 9 months.
Bob Page and John Olesky

Both were widowed.

Bob has been an associate pastor since 2013 at the Live Oaks Community Church in The Villages, Florida, where Paula and I spend our winters to escape our Tallmadge winters.

He’s doing fine. And anxious for the new building for the congregation, which will include a drive-in theater-like outdoor space for church-goers praying in their golf carts.

Since there are about 60,000 golf carts for the 119,000 residents, the golf cart “pews” should be full.

To read an earlier blog article about Bob and his recent marriage, click on

Saturday, February 04, 2017

PD farewell for Regina Brett

Regina Brett, who has written more than 1,800 columns for the PD since 2000, typed her final column for That Newspaper North of Akron.

Before that, of course, Regina was a BJ columnist for 7 years.

Regina Brett
Her book, “God Never Blinks,” has been published in 20 languages.

Regina was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2008 and 2009. She also hosted a couple of area radio shows.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988, she wrote about her experiences and won national awards for the columns.

Her farewell column includes a thank-you tribute to Stuart Warner, writing coach among other job titles at the BJ and PD before slinking to Arizona with wife Debbie Van Tassel, another BJ expatriate who drove north to the PD.

Carolyn Pope Kovatch & John Kovatch

28 years for John & Carolyn Pope

John Kovatch, once BJ vice president/finance and administration, and wife Carolyn Pope Kovatch are celebrating their 28th wedding anniversary.
They own homes in The Villages, Florida and in Green. Paula and I spend the winters in her Villages home when we’re not in our Tallmadge residence.
The lovebirds wrote:
“Happy Anniversary to my wonderful wife Carolyn. It's been a great 28 years together and I look forward to many more. Love you with all my heart!”
She responded:

“You're the sweetest and the absolute best! Love you, too!!!”

Last winter we caught them dancing the night away in The Villages’ Spanish Springs, one of three squares in The Villages which have live music and dancing every night of the year.

John and Carolyn bought a home in The Village of Charlotte. Paula's house is in The Village of Silver Lake.

Spanish Springs is my favorite of the three Villages squares. It feels more like down-home West Virginia.
John’s career included University of Akron associated vice president/controller, Knight-Ridder vice president finance and administration, Ernest & Young CPA, and currently JEK Accounting Service before his Kent State and Euclid High days.
He’s from Massillon, Ohio, where Paul Brown began his fabulous coaching career.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Prostate surgery for John Dunphy

Former BJ reporter John Dunphy, who has done an excellent job of combatting esophageal cancer, will undergo surgery for his prostate cancer.

Writes John:

“I was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. Not unusual for a man of my age. The doctor used the word aggressive and recommended surgery to remove the gland.

“That will happen as soon as they can arrange a surgery slot. Hospital stay will be 2 days, with 6 weeks of recovery after that (oh joy).”

John and wife Rebecca Allen Dunphy lives in Lakewood, California. They have been married for 9 years.

John is contributing editor at Southland Golf and a former reporter for the Orange County  Register in California. John is a Cincinnati Xavier University graduate from New York City.

At Ol’ Blue Walls, with the late Pat Englehart cracking the whip, John was a key reporter in the BJ’s coverage of the 1970 Kent State killings by the National Guard that brought the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize.

John’s other siblings are Harry Dunphy, Sister Patricia Dunphy, Maureen Dunphy Welling, Paul Dunphy, Peter Dunphy, Dennis Dunphy and Christine Dunphy Barnett.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

After 127 years, no Dix newspapers

Dix Communications,  whose newspapers included the Record-Courier in Ravenna, in my opinion the best smaller paper in the BJ’s 5-county area, has been sold to Pittsford, New York-based GateHouse Media for $21.2 million.

The Dix family has been in the business for a long time, and had staff members on many news-source boards and groups, which gave them an inside track of what was about to happen.

Also sold was Dix’s printing facility in Wooster and more than 30 daily and weekly newspapers, online-only publications and specialty publications. Its larger newspapers are the Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier, The Daily Record in Wooster, the Ashland Times-Gazette, The Review in Alliance and The Daily Jeffersonian in Cambridge.

GateHouse Media owns The Columbus Dispatch, The Canton Repository and about 50 other Ohio publications and websites. It operates in more than 520 markets in 35 states and owns more than 125 daily newspapers and more than 300 weekly newspapers, along with other publications and websites.

Dix also owns four radio stations in Wooster and the Gainesville/Ocala area in Florida.

I am sorry to see the Dix family get out of the newspaper business. But, in these difficult times for newspapers all over America, I understand why.

Since 1890, five generations of the Dix family have handled their media holdings.