Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Dave Scott, BJ regional issues reporter and deputy Business editor before the April 2014 BJ buyouts exodus, posted on Facebook about the late BJ reporter Dick McBane that I will just make into an article on this blog.

Dave lives in Copley with wife Jane Gaab Scott. They met on a blind date arranged by Jane’s sister, Katie Gaab-Shaw, widow of former BJ newsroom reporter Webb Shaw, and former BJ reporter and Guild chairman Rick Reiff and wife Diane.

Jane is manager of the Fairlawn-Bath Library.

Thanks for letting me “steal” your post, Dave.

Dave’s Facebook post:

I’ve been amused by the perceived eccentricities people have mentioned in comments about the late Richard McBane. I’m sure Dick would have gotten a chuckle out of it, too.

Yes, he always seemed considerably older, more conservative and religious, and less concerned with current styles than the rest of the Beacon Journal staff. I guess that’s what you must do to stand out in that group.

In many respects, Dick was one of the most normal people I ever met. He cared deeply about our government, courts, religion, family, and, of course, baseball. But I can only remember a couple of times when he said or did anything that reflected anger or resentment. It didn’t offend him that someone or something was different.

The term was not current when we knew him, but Dick reflected what business folks later came to call emotional intelligence. He cared deeply about fundamental principles, as any Presbyterian elder or Midwestern American might. But he was able to understand and relate attitudes and practices I’m sure he could find no reason to approve. As a court reporter, he learned of the worst behavior Akron could produce, some of it on the part of officialdom. He put what he could in the paper and rarely offered any “tidbits” in private conversations. He also managed to remove any trace of resentment toward terrible behavior. If he made judgments, he made them without the anger and condemnation you might expect.

Many of you know that Dick and I shared an extreme love of baseball. It included vacations to visit minor-league teams for a couple of weeks in several summers. In most cases, we’d spend a single day in each little town. In most cases, we would scan the skyline of a town like Elmira, N. Y., for the stadium light towers before finding our next tiny, homey motel. The days were spent traveling or walking around town, often seeking out landmarks telling their part in local history. Dick often could provide lengthy details of how those places played roles in the Revolutionary War.

The trips were a joy. Also along were Chuck Kirkwood, the former law professor and prosecutor, and Ted Lukcas, a linguist Dick met in his Washington, D. C. days. The conversations were rich and I’d love to recreate them for you but we would never have space and I fear I could no longer do justice to the subtlety of points by those three great friends.

At the center of every trip was the Replay Money League of which we were all members. It remains a league of mostly middle-age and older men playing a baseball simulation game, but that hardly does it justice. Even in the days when the game was played with dice, we played 162-game schedules with up to 26 teams nationwide. (We did have at least one owner stationed in France and, later, Australia). We added up all of the stats and reported them by mail about twice a month.

I was commissioner of that league for a short time and one of the smartest things I ever did was to give up that job, which as a young father I found overwhelming, and begged Dick to take it over.

That’s when I saw those characteristics that I have called Emotional Intelligence. These were 26 men who were convinced they knew a lot about baseball and had strong opinions about how the league should be operated. The league constitution was about 10 pages long and kept growing. We all had tremendous egos, even Dick, and we used it to study minor-league and even high school and college players who might be draft to our teams.

You might wonder how we kept all of these details straight. It turns out Dick and Marilynn didn’t spend their Washington days looking at monuments. They worked for the National Security Administration. That’s where they met Ted. It was the time when computers were the size of gymnasiums and Washington’s team was the Senators. We used to tease Ted about how his job was to read messages from foreign embassies and conclude that the ambassador was ordering lingerie. They offered virtually no details of their days as intellectual spies. But Dick and Ted both shared their strange affection for Griffith Stadium.
Later those skills came in handy. Dick, and I believe mostly Marilynn, wrote from scratch the Apple II code need to input, collect and report statistics. Remember, we had 26 teams and most had 30 major-league players and up to 50 minor-leaguers. It ran smoothly until Strat-O-Matic produced a game for the computer.

Dick once worked in the editorial department and from what I learned about him later, he would have been ideal for that job. Yes, he was far more conservative than I was but I would trust his ability to consider any point I made and represent it well. I have no idea why he moved on from there.

As courthouse reporter, he was a legend. Whenever I went to the courthouse, I always talked to him first to get the proper background. And if sources learned I knew him well, they usually followed with a compliment for Dick.
So it might seem strange for a non-athlete to wear an elastic band for his eyeglasses. His clothing might have seemed a couple years outdated and selected by a person who cared little about appearance except to avoid drawing attention to himself.
You might be surprised that he rode the bus to work most days. But in his own world, in the context he chose for himself, he was the most normal guy you could know.

Joe Cocozzo passes away

Former BJ market research analysist Joe Cocozzo, a Stow High graduate whose newspaper career included San Diego and other California stops, Indiana, New York, Michigan, Massachussetts and Michigan, and Hamilton and Lake County in Ohio, passed away Wednesday, May 15.

Joe Cocozzo
He began at the BJ in 1970. He was publisher of the Lake County News-Herald from 1988 to 1999.

He was a superb golfer, playing at famous courses around America, and played baseball for a Pittsburgh Pirates farm team.

For a tribute to Joe, go to

Joe’s impressive obituary:

Joseph A. Cocozzo

Joseph A. Cocozzo, 75, of Concord Township, passed away May 15, 2019 at University Hospital Geauga Medical Center. Joe’s final voyage began suddenly March 27, with a lung infection and complications of atrial fibrillation at TriPoint Hospital. He improved and reached his second port, Regency Hospital, where again improvement allowed him to sail on to Heather Hill Rehabilitation facility to regain his strength. This was not to be as he was called to home port by God.

Born in Cleveland August 10, 1943, his family moved to Stow in 1958 to a split level home that his father, brother, himself and several relatives who were tradesman had built. He attended Stow High School and was an outstanding athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball which was his greatest love. He later played center field for a Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm team until his knee “blewout” again which ended those career hopes.

Joe worked at Morgan Adhesives in Stow, was a tow motor driver for the Twinsburg Chrysler Stamping Plant, then underwriter for Summit National Life Insurance Company in Akron where he was encouraged to enter college by the Chief Medical Officer of one of the major tire companies. Joe entered Kent State University and graduated in 1969 with his Bachelor of Business degree. He earned his Masters’ Degree, (Summa Cum Laude) in 1970.

Joe’s newspaper career began as a Market Research Analyst at the Akron Beacon Journal and continued at the San Diego Urban Newspaper Group as marketing director.

He was promoted to head the ad department of the Pacific Beach Sentinel and two years later became the co-publisher and general manager of the four Star News operations headquartered in Chula Vista. His last position at the SUN Group of Harte-Hanks Communications was as President of the Group in 1980 and he retained his Publishing duties of the Star Newspapers. Remaining with Harte-Hanks, he became Publisher of the Daily Journal News in Hamilton, OH for four years. In 1986 he was hired by The Journal Register Company who owned the two papers in Anderson, Indiana. Joe forged a Joint Operating Agreement of the morning and evening papers into one named The Herald - Bulletin which won Indiana’s Blue Ribbon Award for daily newspapers that same year. Still with JRC, he then advanced to Publisher of The News-Herald in Lake County, Ohio in 1988. During his time as publisher, it was one of the fastest growing daily newspapers in Ohio. Joe retired from there in 1999 at age 55.

He continued his relationship with JRC as an interim publisher in Fall River, MA and various consulting duties at papers in New York and Michigan. Joe also was a consultant to Lake Health and lobbied for the township vote to erect TriPoint Medical Center. He was a poster patient for the Orthopedic services of back and knee replacements in their Best of Health publication of July/August 2011.

During his time at various newspapers, Joe was involved in fund raising as a loaned executive for the United Way and United Fund-Red Cross in Akron, YMCA in Chula Vista, and as a United Way general chairman in Hamilton and Lake County. Joe served a term as leader of the Lake County Grand Jury and having been an Eagle Scout, hosted the annual fundraising Boy Scout Breakfast for 10 years. For this service he was presented with The Silver Beaver Award. Joe received several proclamations and awards; 1982 Citizen of the Year from Chula Vista, and at his 1999 retirement; the Board of Lake County Commissioners, The United Way, City of Mentor, City of Willoughby, a Certificate of Congressional Recognition and Achievement as well as Lakeland’s Distinguished Service Award in 2010. He was proud to be a member of the Founding Board of Governors for Quail Hollow Country Club and his work with Cleveland Golf Charities and the Nike Tour.

Joe’s fore (pun intended) most athletic endeavor was as a golfer. He took up the game in his early twenties and carded a hole-in-one early on. His travels included playing some prestigious courses; Doral, The Copperhead, Rivera, Pebble Beach, Firestone, Sea Island, PGA Sawgrass, The Green Brier and Arnies’s home course in Latrobe. Joe seldom had to buy golf shirts, balls or gloves as he won various putting and long drive contests which supplied him with those items. His favorite was the Palumbo Family annual outing with his brothers and cousins. His name is inscribed on the family plaque many times.

Joe was a loving husband, father, brother, friend and colleague as well as a compassionate and caring individual to all who knew him.

Survivors are his wife of 49 years, Donna Jane Cocozzo; son, Tony Cameron (Sarah) Cocozzo; his brothers, Anthony (Leslie) and Richard (Elizabeth) Cocozzo; brothers and sisters-inlaw, Marcia (Buster) Parker and Grace (Ed) Thornhill, Diana Taylor. He leaves behind three nieces, two nephews, five great nephews, a great g p g niece and aunt and many fun loving cousins. He was preceded in death by a stillborn daughter in 1976; parents, Joseph and Clementine (Dena) nee Palumbo Cocozzo; parents-in-law, Willie (Hannah) Taylor; and brothers-in-law, Everet, Earl, Donald and Rodney; sister-in-law, Cindy; many aunts, uncles, cousins and wonderful colleagues and friends. I cannot leave out Joe’s furry companions, Shadow (deceased) whom Joe taught to fetch a ball and put it in his shoe and Smokey who visited him at the Heather Hill facility.

The family will receive friends to celebrate Joe’s life from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at the Lakeland Community College, 7700 Clocktower Dr., Kirtland, OH 44094. A memorial service in honor of Joe will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Lakeland.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Lakeland Foundation or to the Lake Humane Society, 7564 Tyler Blvd., Mentor, OH 44060.

Arrangements entrusted to the Brunner Sanden Deitrick Funeral Home & Cremation Center, 8466 Mentor Ave., Mentor, OH 44060.

Please offer condolences


Monday, May 20, 2019

Thrity, Giffels finalists for Ohioana Awards

Former BJ columnist Thrity Umrigar’s novel, “The Secrets Between Us,” is a finalist for the 2019 Ohioana Book Awards in the fiction category.

Former BJ columnist David Giffels’ book, “Furnishing Eternity,” about helping his father build a casket for dad, is a finalist in the non-fiction category.

Winners will be announced in July and the awards will be presented at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Thursday, October 17.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Mark Dawidziak, John Olesky



I go to concerts and wind up having reunions with former BJ co-workers.

First, Paula and I ran into Editorial Board retiree Sarah Vradenburg and we had a chat and a reunion.
Sarah Vradenburg

Several days later we encountered Mark Dawidziak, PD and former BJ pop culture critic who was there with his wife Sara and daughter Becky. The Moonlight Serenaders (think Glen Miller music) were performing on the Grandview United Methodist Church lawn in Cuyahoga Falls.

And at our third concert in less than a week we ran into Sandy Bee Lynn, the Doylestown delight, who once worked as a BJ librarian. I call that a perfecta trifecta. Sandy also was a librarian in Wadsworth and Orrville.
Sandy Bee Lynn
Mark will have the 25th book he’s involved with published September 1 by Rowman & Littlefield’s Lyons Press. It’s "The Shawshank Redemption Revealed: How One Story Keeps Hope Alive," tied to the 1994 movie that brought Morgan Freeman an Oscar nomination. The film is based on  the 1982 Stephen King novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.”

The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield was used as the setting for the movie.

Tim Robbins is the murderer sentenced to life in prison. Bob Gunton played the nasty warden.

I was Television Editor when Mark replaced David Bianculli as my pop culture critic at Ol’ Blue Walls in the 44 E. Exchange Street building.

Friday, May 17, 2019

PD and former BJ pop culture critic Mark Dawidziak continues his dizzying carousel of books and performances with "The Shawshank Redemption Revealed: How One Story Keeps Hope Alive," which Rowman & Littlefield’s Lyons Press will publish September 1 after an August 16-18 premiere at the Mansfield reunion.

Mark’s latest effort got an enthuastic endorsement from Bob Gunton, who played the warden in “The Shawshank Redemption.”

Mark also is renown for his books and performances tied to humorist Mark Twain. Dawidziak was in Elmira, New York for a symposium based on "Mark Twain and Youth: Studies in His Life and Writings" at the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College. Dawidziak has performed Mark Twain in Elmira, where Twain is buried. I’ve visited Twain’s grave there.

Dawidziak’s Twain books include “Mark Twain’s Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness,” "Mark Twain in Ohio," "Mark My Words" and "Mark Twain on Writing." 

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns wrote: “Nobody gets Mark Twain the way Mark Dawidziak does.”

Mark gives Hal Holbrook a run for his money when it comes to Twain impersonation.

Dawidziak began reading Twain as a pre-teen.

Other Dawidziak books – I lost count at a dozen -- include “The Columbo Phile: A Casebook,”  “The Night Stalker Companion,” “The Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Dracula” and "The Barter Theatre Story: Love Made Visible," about the famous Virginia theater that took anything – including food -- for audience members who didn’t have cash for admission.

Sara and Mark also perform “Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War”; “Ghosts By the Tale,”  spooking their audiences;  “Twain By Three,” a two-act adaptation of humorous sketches by Mark Twain;  “The Tell-Tale Play,” a two-act collection of poems and stories by Edgar Allan Poe; their version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”; and  “The Mystery of Dashiell Hammett,” the author of Sam Spade stories.

Mark was born in Huntington, New York, on September 7, 1956.

He came to the BJ from the Kingsport Times-News in Tennessee in 1983 as David Bianculli’s replacement for TV critic when David headed for the New York Post and living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

In 1999 Mark joined the BJ exodus to the PD.

Previously, Mark's career took him to the Kingsport Times-News in Tennessee, the Bristol Herald Courier in Virginia, the Associated Press’ Washington bureau and Knight-Ridder Newspapers’ Washington bureau.

He is married to Sara Showman Dawidziak, who often performs with Mark when they’re not in their Cuyahoga Falls home. They founded the Largely Literary Theater Company. Mark and Sara met in Tennessee in 1981 when they appeared together in Neil Simon’s “The Good Doctor.” A year later, there was a Mark-Sara wedding in Johnston City, Tennessee, when Mark was at the Kingsport Times-News.

Their photos, in many instances, are taken by their daughter, Becky, who may have a career in photography art.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Bill and Anna Nitz enjoying Myrtle Beach sand and sun
Late BJ security guard’s husband passes away

Bill Nitz, widower of former BJ security guard Anna Nitz, passed away.

Cheryl Scott Sheinin, retired after 45 years in the BJ Finance Department, attended the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina ceremony for the final resting place of Anna Nitz in 2012.

Albert Nitz, Bill's cousin, drove Bill to Myrtle Beach for the ceremony.
She was born in Akron on October 28, 1931, to the late Gerald and Anna Rezack.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Dick McBane, the BJ’s expert on minor league baseball, passed away Tuesday, May 7 at home in Lilburn, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb five miles from Stone Mountain State Park,

He came to the BJ from the Marietta, Ohio Times after a brief time at the Garrettsville Journal during his Hiram College days. Dick got his master’s degree at Michigan State.

Dick and wife Marylyn, married 56 years, moved to Georgia in 2004.
He was an excellent news reporter but his main writing love was minor league baseball, including visiting dozens of minor league ball parks.

Dick’s book, “A Fine-Looking Lot of Ball-Tossers: The Remarkable Akrons of 1881,” was published in 2005.

Dick and the late Don Bandy both retired from the BJ June 11, 1997. Don passed away in 2011.

Dick’s son, Roderick McBane, lives in Pearland, Texas. He is assistant head of the math department at Houston Community College. Roderick married Cindy Wagner in Albany, Louisiana amid the havoc of Hurricane Katrina.

Another son, Lachlan McBane, is an Atlanta Symphony violinist.

The McBanes have six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Speaking of his Beacon years, Dick once told me:

“At the old BJ we worked for the best newspaper in the country (and I really do mean that) at a time when it meant something.”

Dick was among the five Guild retirees who won the healthcare class-action lawsuit filed by John Olesky that restored benefits to retirement day, the $2 prescription co-pay, plus Medicare primary and AARP secondary coverage, with all premiums paid by the BJ as part of the settlement.
45 printers also won the healthcare lawsuit restoring their retirement day coverage for prescriptions. That one was initiated by the late BJ Composing foreman Dave White.

The lawsuit came years after John S. Knight ended his ownership of his thirtysomething newspapers and a few changes of ownerships after Black Press reneged on the retirement-day promises made in writing to match an offer proposed by JSK during negotiations with the printers.

Dick’s obituary:

Richard Laughlin McBane, 83, passed away Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at home in Lilburn, Ga. after a struggle with Alzheimer’s.

Richard was born on August 17, 1935 to John L. and Mary (Russell) McBane in Salineville, Ohio. He received degrees from Hiram College and Michigan State University and retired after a long career as a reporter and editorial writer at the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal.
He served for many years as an elder in the United Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), at Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Atlanta and also as Moderator of the PCA Presbytery of the Ascension.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Marilynn (Morton) McBane; sons, Lachlan (Cheryl) McBane of Lilburn and Roderick (Cynthia) McBane of Pearland, Texas; grandchildren, Sean, Huell, Liam, Dorothy, William and Connor McBane; and great-granddaughter, Fiona McBane.

Visitation will be at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. The funeral service will follow at the church at 2:00 p.m., with burial at East Shadowlawn Memorial Gardens in Lawrenceville.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

BJ’s Bob Dyer, my former Blue Room lunch partner for decades, has been named best newspaper columnist in Ohio for the zillionth time.

They might as well change the name to the Bob Dyer Award.

This time the honor was bestowed by the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors. Other annual choices came from the Cleveland Press.

Check out Bob's other awards (and this was only by 2013 before Bob 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; he repeated in 2017):

In 2008, he was voted Best Columnist in the Nation and in 2013 he was voted Best Humor Columnist in the nation by the National Society of Professional Journalists.

Best Columnist in the Nation, National Society of Professional Journalists, 2008.

One of lead writers, Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, 1994.

            Contributor, Pulitzer Prize for General News Reporting, 1987.

            Nominated for Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, 1993 and 2004.

Finalist, Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary/Column Writing,   American Society of News Editors, 2012

Third place, General Commentary, Society for Features Journalism, 2011

Third place, Herb Caen Award, National ociety of Newspaper Columnists, 2010.

Third place, Multiple-Topic Columns, National ociety of Newspaper             Columnists, 2009.

Third place, General-Interest Columns, National Society of Newspaper   Columnists, 2008.

Fourth place, Multiple-Topic Columns, National Society of Newspaper

 Columnists, 1996.



            Best Columnist in Ohio, Associated Press, 2012.

            Best Columnist in Ohio, Press Club of Cleveland, 2012.

            Best Columnist in Ohio, Associated Press, 2011.

            Best Essayist in Ohio, Press Club of Cleveland, 2011.

            Best Columnist in Ohio, Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, 2010.

            Best Columnist in Ohio, Press Club of Cleveland, 2010.

            Best Columnist in Ohio, Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, 2009.

            First place, Political Commentary, Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, 2012.

            First place, Consumer Reporting, Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, 2012.

            First place, General-Interest Column, Press Club of Cleveland, 2011.

            First place, Newsmaker Profile, Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, 2011.

            First place, General-Interest Column, Press Club of Cleveland, 2010.

            First place, Personality Profile, Press Club of Cleveland, 2005.

            First place, Feature Writing, Ohio Associated Press, 2001.

First place, Feature Writing, Press Club of Cleveland, 1993.

            First place, Arts/Entertainment Writing, Press Club of Cleveland, 1987.

            First place, Arts/Entertainment Writing, Press Club of Cleveland, 1986.

            First place, Investigative Reporting, Women in Communications, 1986.

            First place, Newspaper Series, Women in Communication, 1986.


            Second place, Best Columnist in Ohio, Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, 2012.

            Second place, Media Criticism, Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, 2012.

            Second place, General-Interest Column, Press Club of Cleveland, 2012.

            Second place, Essay, Press Club of Cleveland, 2012.

            Second place, Column Writing, Ohio Associated Press, 2008

            Second place, Newsmaker Profile, Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, 2005.

            Second place, Personality Profile, Ohio SPJ, 2000.

            Second place, Public Service Journalism, Ohio SPJ, 1998.

            Second place, Sunday Magazine Human Interest Story, Press Club of Cleveland, 1995.

            Second place, Arts/Entertainment Writing, Press Club of Cleveland, 1990.


            Third place, Best Columnist in Ohio, Associated Press, 2010.


            Third place, Feature Reporting, Ohio Associated Press, 1993.


The BJ’s Marla Ridenour was named best sports feature writer, the Beacon's sports pages were named best daily sports section among Ohio's largest newspapers (circulations of 60,000 or more) and the BJ’s high school football preview was named best special section.

All the judges were from outside Ohio.

Canton Repository executive editor Rich Desrosiers was elected the AP group’s president.

Other Beacon Journal winners included:

Phil Masturzo was second for best photographer and third for a best sports photo.

Mark J. Price was third for best headline writer.

Ridenour was third for best sport enterprise reporting for her story 1971-1972 Zips Formed a Bond that Will Never be Ripped Apart article.

Former BJ education writer Theresa Cottom-Bennett wa third for best explanatory writing for 'Mother-to-be Seeks New Life After Battling with Addiction.'

The Beacon Journal's Ohio.com was named third best online presence in the state. Its sister paper, The Columbus Dispatch, placed first.