Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Van Richmond, former Plain Dealer "Page One" editor

Van Richmond, who died Dec. 22, 2010, retired from the Plain Dealer in Cleveland in 1994 after a behind-the-scenes career that was crucial to the presentation of the daily news.

Former colleagues have penned obits that explain Richmond's job and the affection and respect his peers held for him.

Read all about it in "Recollections of Plain Dealer Page One Editor Van Richmond" on Bill Lucey's "The Morning Delivery" blog and in the obit that Michael Sangiacomo wrote for the Plain Dealer obit page.

Patch Work, North Canton: Lawrence Wright, Hoover Co. retiree, musician

My obituary for Lawrence Wright, who used some of his initial earnings from the Hoover Co. in North Canton, Ohio, to purchase an accordion, appears on the newly launched North Canton Patch.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Patch Work, Beachwood: Alan D. Bennett, leader in Jewish eduation

My obit for Alan D. Bennett, who helped found National Association of Temple Educators and retired as executive vice president of Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, won't be available to the masses until the Beachwood Patch launches next week.

And yet Mr. B's obit has been posted on Beachwood Patch's Facebook wall! How cool is that?

Patch Work, Mentor: June Lund Shiplett, romance novelist

Here's the neat thing about There's no waiting for a press run to get something published. The sites are updated as the news comes in.

I submitted an obit for June Lund Shiplett, romance novelist, this morning (Dec. 23, 2010), and it's already been published on the Mentor Patch.

Patch Work, Kent: Loris Troyer, longtime Record-Courier editor

I wrote an obit last week for the Kent Patch about the late Loris Troyer, who died Dec. 9, 2010, at age 96.

It showed up online today -- Dec. 23, 2010 -- with the Kent Patch's launching.

But it's okay that it wasn't online right away. After all, Loris Troyer's status has not changed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Patch Work, Mentor: Bob Malinowski, Mentor resident, assistant Willoughby fire chief

An obituary for the late Bob Malinowski, who lived in Mentor and served with the Willoughby Fire Department for 28 years, is the first to be posted on the newly launched Mentor Patch.

Patch Work, Cleveland Heights: Franklin D. Krause, pulmonologist

An obituary for the late Franklin D. Krause, a pulmonologist who treated patients at his offices in Cleveland Heights and Willoughby, appears on the newly launched Cleveland Heights Patch.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Patch Work, Brecksville: John Lupai and Vonnie Anter

Visit the newly launched Brecksville Patch at to read obits for John Lupaj, an architect responsible for the designs of many Northeast Ohio churches, schools and community centers, and Vonnie Anter, who coordinated events for the Brecksville Recreation Department.

Patch Work, Avon Lake: Howard Flynn and Mary Coughlin

Read about the late Howard Flynn, 1970 Avon Lake Jaycees Man of the Year, and Mary H. Couglin, who volunteered and later worked at St. Joseph School in Avon Lake, on the Avon Lake Patch, which went "live" today, Dec. 21, 2010.

Here's the link to Avon Lake Patch:

Patch Work, Cuyahoga Falls: Albert Brunner and Virgie Farris

Obits for Albert Brunner, a General Tire and Rubber retiree, and Virgie Farris, cafeteria manager for Cuyahoga Falls schools, can be read on the newly launched Cuyahoga Falls Patch.

Click here to explore the Cuyahoga Falls Patch.

Patch Work, Stow: Leonard Bartow and Milan Hayden

The newly launched Stow Patch has obits for Leonard Bartow, telephone lineman, and Milan Hayden, industrial arts teacher.

Explore the Stow Patch at

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dash Between: Herman Frankel, owned three Elyria movie theaters

Herman Frankel owned three movie houses, located within a few blocks of one another in downtown Elyria, from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s, before television and the newly opened Midway Cinema at the Midway Mall drew away audiences and cut into his profits.

During one particular week in 1960, movie fans could see the Doris Day romantic comedy, "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," at Frankel's Capitol, watch Jerry Lewis in the zany "Visitor to a Small Planet," at the Rivoli or view "Samson and Delilah," a biblical epic from 1949 starring Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr, at the Lincoln Theatre.

Frankel also offered cartoons and kid-centric Saturday matinees and special showings of spooky movies.

Click here to read about "The Dash Between" Aug. 6, 1922, when Frankel was born in Cleveland, and Nov. 8, 2010, when he died at age 88, which was published in the Dec. 19, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

The Lorain County Historical Society provided this photo of the Capitol Theatre. It's from a collection of movie-related photos that Herman Frankel gave the society in 2005.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Patch Work, Lakewood: Obits for George Dobrea and Dr. Mary Anne King

The Lakewood Patch is live and has my stories about two local folks, who have died: George Dobrea, Northeast Ohio's honorary consul general of Romania, and Dr. Mary Anne King (Kilroy), diagnostic radiologist.

More Patches will be launching in the coming days. Go to to keep track of which ones are "coming soon" and which are "new."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Patch Work, Fairlawn-Bath: Obits for Frank D. Martion, Karen Kleinfeld

My first two obits for the Fairlawn-Bath Patch, which launched Dec. 14, 2010, are for Frank D. Martino, retired International Chemical Workers Union president, and Karen Kleinfeld, retired Akron Children's Hospital administrative lab director.

Martino lived in Fairlawn, Ohio. Kleinfeld was a resident of Bath, Ohio.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Patch Work, Strongsville, Ohio: Obits for Springsteen fan and a businessman

Joanne Connolly, a library clerk and bigtime Bruce Springsteen fan, and Alva Stone, an independent sales rep and tax review board official, are the subjects of the first two obits on's news site for Strongsville, Ohio.

Strongsville Patch launched Dec. 13, 2010. Explore it at

Patch Work, Avon, Ohio: Bill Hricovec and Henrietta Straub

Bill Hricovec, who owned Tom's Country Place, and Henrietta Straub, retired Heinen's cashier, were the first people to have obits posted on's community news site for Avon, Ohio.

Explore the Avon Patch, which made its online debut Dec. 13, 2010, at

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dash Between: Warren Powelson, worked on the railroad

My "Dash Between" for the late Warren Powelson, a retired freight train conductor, was published in the Dec. 5, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Writing about Mr. P stirred memories of my own childhood, when my dad, who had worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, used to take me to the railroad tracks to wave at the guy in the caboose in the 1950s.

I think most people of my generation were taught to pay their respects to the caboose and the railroaders inside it. What a thrill when the trainmen waved back!

Click here to read about the Dash Between June 11, 1916, when Warren Powelson was born in Amsterdam, Ohio, and Oct. 11, 2010, when he died at age 94.

Dash Between: Bev Hall, Secret Santa, Medina Wal-Mart greeter

Bev Hall, who greeted customers to the Wal-Mart in Medina, Ohio, since it opened in the mid-1990s, anonymously gave money, food, school supplies, toys and loads of other stuff to folks in need.

She could best be described as a Secret Santa, no matter what time of year she was performing her good-deed doing.

Click here to read the story from the Dec. 6, 2010, edition of the Medina County Gazette about "The Dash Between" April 19, 1940, when Bev was born Beverly Heilman in Lodi, Ohio, and Oct. 14, 2010, when the lifelong Spencer resident died of complications from a stroke.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dash Between: Howard O. Jones, internationally known evangelist with the Billy Graham team

Howard O. Jones joined the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) as its first black evangelist and voice of its "Hour of Freedom" radio broadcast in 1958.

He continued doing broadcasts and speaking on behalf of BGEA after retiring in 1993. In 1995, he became the first African American to be inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Rev. Jones, who lived a large portion of his life in Oberlin, Ohio, helped organize crusades and rallies around the world. Along the way, he broke down racial barriers in both Christian and secular circles.

He shared details of his life, his family and his ministry in his autobiography, "Gospel Trailblazer: An African-American Preacher's Historic Journey Across Racial Lines," with the help of writer Edward Gilbreath in 2003.

Click here to read about the Dash Between April 12, 1921, when Rev. Jones was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and November 14, 2010, when the retired evangelist died in Seattle, Wash., at age 89, in the November 21, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dash Between: Turk Vargo made Hungarian noodles and more at Magyar UCC

Turk Vargo, whose Hungarian-immigrant parents named him Julius Eugene Vargo, volunteered with the Dorcas Guild's weekly noodle-making operation at Magyar United Church of Christ in Elyria, Ohio.

The former production manager, who retired from the Cleveland Alloy Castings division of Lindberg Corporation in Berea, Ohio, was known for baking scrumptious tortes, stuffed cabbage, paprikash and other Hungarian dishes.

"He was a fabulous cook," said his sister, Vilma. "He could have opened a restaurant."

Turk learned about cooking from his mother.

"We always watched our mother cook," his sister said. "She would wake up in the morning and say, 'What are we having for dinner?' She'd order the best meat in town. She'd always buy good food. I would come home from school. She would have the entire dining room filled with six different kinds of noodles. She baked every day. She died in ’67, and people still talk about her cooking."

Turk grew up in the Hungarian enclave of Elyria's Western Heights neighborhood.

Learn how Turk got his nickname, the many ways in which he helped others and how he met his wife, Eleanor, in "The Dash Between" feature in the November 7, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Click here to read about "The Dash Between" July 8, 1930, when Turk was born in Elyria, and August 14, 2010, when he died at age 80, and view more than 20 photos provided by his family.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dash Between: Uncle Ed Riley and his Wonderful World of Music

Ed Riley, known as "Uncle Ed" to viewers and listeners of WCTV, the community television station in Wadsworth, Ohio, began a career in radio in the early 1960s when he was 18.

He was like a radio journeyman, spinning records, doing remote broadcasts, announcing the news and pitching products for advertisers -- all for short stints at many Ohio radio stations, including WNCO in Ashland and the former WTOF in Canton.

About 20 years ago, he settled in at WCTV, where he hosted "The Wonderful World of Music." The videotaped program showed Ed punching in music, graphics and video on a computer, rather than putting vinyl records on a turntable.

WCTV posted a video tribute to Ed online. To access it, click here.

Click here to read about "The Dash Between" Dec. 21, 1944, when Ed was born Stanley Edmond Riley in Wadsworth, and Sept. 30, 2010, when he died at a Wadsworth nursing home at age 65. The story appears in the Nov. 1, 2010, edition of the Medina County Gazette.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Dash Between: Teddy Witt, Elyria's first woman patrolman, Lorain County Community College academic advisor

Teddy Witt told her family that God directed her life. She, in turn, helped guide troubled youngsters toward become responsible citizens, nontraditional college students on their journey in higher education and victims of rape and domestic violence on a path toward healing.

She prayed about becoming the first woman to hold patrolman status with the Elyria (Ohio) Police Department. Once convinced this was part of a divine plan, Teddy took the job in 1973.

While on the police force, the 1965 Lorain Admiral King High School graduate met and married fellow officer Larry Witt, divorced father of two preschoolers. Teddy raised Larry's kids from a previous marriage along with their biological son in Grafton, Ohio.

“She always treated us as her own children; we never felt otherwise,” said daughter, Jennifer Tipple. “She once told me she knew she was to marry my dad. She prayed about it and felt that was where God wanted her to be. Lucky for us that was the case, because we would not be the people we are today without her.”

Teddy continued her education, earning a bachelor's degree from what is now Ashland (Ohio) University, and becoming an academic advisor at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio.

In May 2008, Teddy was told she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

"She couldn’t hold a pencil in her right hand," her husband said. "She got to the point where she couldn't write a note with her hands."

The disease progressed so quickly that within a few weeks she had to leave the college. She gradually lost her ability to walk, stand and talk. She communicated with friends, family and former colleagues with the aid of a computer with eye control, until she could no longer master her eye movements. The illness eventually took away her ability to breathe.

"She dealt with (ALS) by surrendering to God," her husband said.

Click here to read about the Dash Between Dec. 3, 1947, when Teddy Witt was born Theodores Zestoki in Lorain, Ohio, and Sept. 25, 2010, when she died at age 62. The story was published in the Oct. 24, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Dash Between: Paul Dziak received Bronze Star Medal in 1945, Clearview High School diploma in 2003

Paul Dziak, who was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism in World War II and served with the volunteer fire department in Sheffield Township, Ohio, in the 1950s and '60s, received his high school diploma in 2003 -- 20 years after retiring from the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. power plant in Avon Lake, Ohio.

He officially graduated from Clearview High School in Sheffield Township at age 80 through a program that allows school boards to give diplomas to veterans who left high school early to serve in WWII and the Korean War.

Click here to read the feature in the Oct. 10, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram about The Dash Between January 25, 1923, when Paul was born in Cokeburg, Pa., and Sept. 28, 2010, when he died at age 87.

Please note: The photo above, showing Paul with his precious diploma, came from the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram's files.

Paul's family is unsure where the photo on the right, showing him as a wartime soldier, was taken, but the name engraved on the wall -- A.V. Fawcett -- suggests it was taken in England. If you recognize the site, please let us know.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Dash Between: Vic Nicholas, Brunswick High shop teacher, storyteller

Victor A. Nicholas, a man of many talents, taught woodworking to Brunswick High School students, told humorous stories to fellow teachers and could fix anything.

"I mean anything," said his son, Vic L.

Friends raved about Vic A.'s ability to weave colorful stories about commonplace events in a manner reminiscent of Mark Twain and Will Rogers. Yet when their attempts to repeat his stories failed because they could capture his folksy delivery and comedic timing.

His ability to address just about any topic likely stemmed from his varied life experiences and interests.

Vic grew up and began running a drilling rig at strip mines for the Tasa Coal Company in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

He lived in Grove City, Pa., while managing regional mining operations before moving to Hinckley Township, Ohio, and taking a teaching post in Brunswick, Ohio.

Click here to read about "The Dash Between" Oct. 18, 1928, when Vic was born in Bristol, W.Va., and Sept. 2, 2010, when the industrial arts teacher died at age 81, in the Oct. 4, 2010, edition of the Medina County Gazette.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Dash Between: Marie Stang Burrer, 4H Club advisor, farmer's wife

Back in 1965, Marie Stang Burrer wrote her thoughts on being a 4H Club advisor for the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. The piece was published on March 8, 1965.

Marie wrote:

I am a 4-H advisor because believe in young people and the democracy-in-action practices in 4-H. This is a very wide program to fit most any interest a youth might have.

I have enjoyed working, playing and growing with our 4-H Club. There have been many rewarding experiences gained by advising a 4-H group and I find the program well worth the time spent. You will find youth very responsible and responsive.

Busy hands and minds that "Learn To Make The Best Better" and learn to play and carry out a well-rounded 4-H program including emphasis on Head, Hands, Heart and Health don't find time to get into serious trouble.

Devilment, yes; big problems, no; little problems, of course. But this makes it more interesting for all concerned.

Being a 4-H advisor helps keep one young, even if only in spirit. It also keeps one on his toes to keep up with the concerns of youngsters from the 4th grade to 19 years of age these days.

Marie was featured again in the Elyria paper -- this time as the subject of "The Dash Between" -- on Sept. 26, 2010.

It's the story of The Dash Between May 28, 1921, when she was born Marie Telzerow in Elyria, Ohio, and Sept. 6, 2010, when the farm wife and 4-H Club adviser died at Autumn Aegis Nurs­ing Home in Lorain, Ohio, at age 89.

Click here to read Marie's story and view photos showing her at various times in her life. The photo below shows Marie with three of her four children: Wayne Stang, Gary Stang and DeAnn Wernert. Her fourth son, Dennis, died in a traffic accident in 1974.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don Bean's Self-Penned Obituary

(Don Bean, retired Plain Dealer reporter and all-around nice guy, wrote his own obit a few years ago. Here's his entire auto-obituary, edited only slightly. It includes some of his personal and sometimes politically incorrect opinions. Sorry about that. Most of the photos posted here were copied from the PD Alumni News. John Tidyman recently took the picture of Bean golfing.)

DON BEAN (1928-2010)

Don (Donald L.) Bean was an ink-stained wretch straight out of the pages of Ben Hecht’s “Front Page” who gathered and wrote the news of the day during a 40-year Cleveland news career.

Bean, who always said, “There wasn’t a day that I didn’t want to go to work,” was employed at all three daily newspapers: The Cleveland Press, The Cleveland News (both now defunct through no fault of his) and The Plain Dealer.

In addition, he worked for International News Service, which later became United Press International, and for radio stations WGAR, WERE and WTAM plus several weekly newspapers.

In his 33 years at The Pee Dee, Bean mostly covered what he dubbed the “worm news” -- that is, the crimes of the day, the perpetrators, and the victims and what became of them.

He covered many major news events including the Dr. Sam Sheppard case and -- Sorry, Sam Reese Sheppard -- remained convinced at his death that Dr. Sam was guilty of bludgeoning his pregnant wife, Marilyn Reese Sheppard, to death in their Lake Road home in fashionable Bay Village on July 4, 1954.

Bean also covered the so-called Hough Riots of 1966, the Glenville shootout of 1968, the Judge Robert Steele case in Euclid and countless others.

Bean, 82, who died Sept. 19, 2010, is survived by his wife Olga (nee Fedorovich), to whom he was married for more than 54 years; daughter, Dr. Nadine M. Bean-Bianchini of West Chester, Pa.; sons, Matthew M. of Wickenburg, Ariz., and Scott A. of Parma, Ohio; six granddaughters: and a great-granddaughter. He resided in Parma from 1957.

He was born in Northfield, Ohio, on August 16, 1928, to Henry L. and Myrtle M., both deceased. He had four brothers: John R., Floyd H., C. James and R. Paul. (Don Bean pointed out that one of the brothers was so short he needed special golf clubs.)

Bean graduated from Northfield High School (now Nordonia Hills) in 1946. He served as a high-speed-radio operator in the Army Air Corps from 1946 to 1949, during the period when that division of the Army was established as the Air Force.

He graduated from Kent State University in 1954 and worked in newsgathering from then until 1994, when he retired from The Plain Dealer.

Bean was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was inducted into The Press Club of Cleveland’s Hall of Fame in 1995. He was a past president of the former UMACC (United Methodist Alcohol and Chemical Counseling) of Berea and an elder and trustee at Church in the Valley in Peninsula.

Reputation, courage, sobriety

Bean was a colorful, irrepressible, irreverent newsman. Some said he was unlettered, and all said was unfettered. Whatever he was called, he was always a staunch, dedicated defender of the people’s right to know and who held elected and appointed officials responsible for fulfilling their duties to the public.

Covering a murder in Shaker Heights, Bean felt the then-chief of police was being too protective of a teenaged white suspect and ignoring the rights of a black victim’s family.

Sitting in the chief’s office, Bean noticed a motto on the chief’s desk: “Our Men Serve All Men.” With disdain, Bean suggested the chief remove the sign for not living up to it. Outraged, the chief lunged across the desk and clutched Bean’s throat. Bean gave credit to Lt. Joseph Gardener for calming the chief down and saving Bean from serious injury or worse. It turned out the suspect was mentally ill, a fact the chief had been reluctant to share with the media.

It wasn’t the last intervention that would subsequently save Bean’s life. In 1980, his wife witnessed what Bean’s self-destructive, drinking lifestyle was doing to him and his family. She arranged for an intervention. With full support of The Plain Dealer and then-executive editor David Hopcraft, Bean went to alcoholism treatment and never had another drink of alcohol, One Day at a Time.

In addition to being chief police reporter, Mr. Bean was an assistant city editor, feature writer, a criminal courts reporter, and an obituary writer. Indeed, he wrote the draft of this obit.

In his career, Bean was shot at, pushed and shoved, tear- and pepper-gassed, and had his legitimacy questioned often.

He rarely, however, was accused of violating a confidence, except when the late, famed criminal defense lawyer Thomas A. Shaughnessy, a former reporter and newspaper owner, unjustly charged Bean with violating a confidence involving one of his clients.

Bean recalled that Shaughnessy said, “Bean, I’ll give you a good story, if you promise not to use my client’s name, for she is a call girl and if her mother, who has a bad heart, sees it in the paper, it will kill her.”

“Tom,” Bean remembered having replied, “I don’t need you to find out her name. It’s a matter of public record and well within the purview of the people’s right to know.”

In checking the records, Bean discovered the call girl was charged with possession of a criminal tool. The supposed criminal tool was a condom she had placed on a night table at the motel in which she was arrested prior to fulfilling her call.

Shaughnessy was right. It was a good story about the law overreaching. The woman was acquitted. Bean used the story.

“The call girl’s mother did not die from embarrassment,” Bean wrote for this obituary. “Shaughnessy, a bombastic, loud talker, often said that Bean couldn’t be trusted with a confidence. Not true. Bean often explained why that was in error.”

Bean had a stormy shouting confrontation with George Steinbrenner, best known as owner of the New York Yankees, after three employees of his Steinbrenner’s American Ship Building Co. died in an explosion aboard one of his ships being built at the Lorain shipyards. Marsh Samuel, Steinbrenner’s public relations manadvisor, told the media the victims’names would not be released although the families had already been notified.

“Let me talk to George,” Bean requested. Ushered into the owner’s spacious office, Bean pounded on the huge desk and told Steinbrenner, “You, sir, are suppressing free flow of information.” The names were released.

All of these things really happened and many more.

Another time, while covering a trial, Bean mixed up the names in a murder case. He mistakenly said the victim, the dead man, had been sent to prison for 15 years.

At work the next day, Bean answered the phone to hear former assistant county prosecutor Kathy Peterson say, “Hey, Bean, the Bureau of Prisons wants to know what they are supposed to do with a stiff for the next 15 years.”

Bean received a very unpleasant phone call next from the very angry and displeased mother of the victim.

Bean was at his best, most times, during pressure of deadline, and he was at his worst when times were slow on the police beat.

Twice at slow times and on different occasions, Bean assigned reporters to go to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square to interview the Mother of the Unknown Soldier. Not only did they go, they waited for more than an hour for the “mother” to show up.

One April Fools Day, after waiting for one hour at the monument, a male reporter called the city desk and told the then-city editor, Ted Princiotto, “Ted, she didn’t show up.”

“Who didn’t show up?” Princiotto asked.
“The mother of the unknown soldier,” the reporter replied.
“Who sent you down there?” asked Princiotto.
“Bean did,” said the reporter.
Incredulously, Princiotto replied, “You damn fool! Don’t you know what day this is?”

Another time, Bean sent a beautiful, blonde woman reporter on the same absurd assignment. After she had waited more than an hour on a hot, muggy August night, she called Bean to ask, “Bean, how long must I wait for the mother?” Sarcastically, Bean told her, “Until she is identified.” With that, the reporter gasped and shouted, “Bean, you bastard!” Maybe I was, but it was fun.

The legend of Johnny Pott

Another slow time, Bean created the legend of a modern day Johnny Appleseed. He named his fictional character Johnny Pott and dressed him in a black derby hat, yellow sandals and a madras sport coat and even adorned him with a tattered, mailman’s pouch that was filled with marijuana seeds. The happy, high, hippy, Johnny Pott, Bean wrote, traveled the United States planting the seeds for his hippy friends.

Pott would crash (sleep the night) at apartments of his hippy friends and leave maps of his plantings, and when the plants ripened, the friends would happily reap the harvest.

Russ Kane, a wonderful and talented city editor, called Bean at the police beat after he had read the story. “Bean,” said the knowledgeable editor, “this sounds like a three-martini story to me.”

Quickly, Bean replied, “It’s not, but I can’t reveal my sources.”

The editor happily said, “On your word we’ll run it.”

The fictional story ran on the front page and in newspapers around the country.

A good reporter and a lucky one

During his career, Bean wrote many obits of late persons. There was a hot July day in 1959 while working for The Cleveland News when he almost became late himself, half a century before his time.

Bean often told the story.

“It was early morning. I was sitting at my desk. Breathing softly, just trying to stay alive and keep a low profile. I was suffering the granddaddy of all hangovers.

“The then city editor, the late Mr. John W. “Johnny” Rees, looked at me and barked, ‘Bean, get out to W. 93 St. and Lorain Ave. Shots have been fired in a bank.’

“Thankful to get out of the city room and into what I mistakenly thought would be some fresh air, I jumped into the car of the late News photographer Jerry Horton,and we sped to the scene.

“When I got out of the car, the tear gas was thick as fog and painful as salt in an open wound. Police were shielded behind their police patrol cars. Gunshots were being fired from the bank and at the bank. I walked down the middle of the street. A hunched over policeman, with gun in hand, was behind the fender of his black and white. Then came an officer’s shout: ‘Get down you, damn fool. You want to get shot?’

“Still upright, I calmly replied, ‘I’d be a hell of a lot better off.’

“As I choked and gagged and almost hurled, I stooped beside the cop. I noticed the officer had a tiny razor-type tear on his right hip pocket where a bullet had grazed him.’ It turned out he was the first on the scene. I interviewed him and had another scoop.”

Bean would often modestly say, “I was not only a good reporter, I was a very lucky one.”

It turned out the bank robbers had kidnapped the bank manager at his west side Cleveland home and taken him to the bank while other gang members held his family hostage at the home. As bank employees reported for work they too became hostages. It was the first of its kind in the nation of bank robbers taking hostages, much like Al Pacino’s movie, “Dog Day Afternoon.” The whole thing turned out well with no one injured and all the robbers captured.

On another occasion, after Bean did have one of those famed three-martini lunches with the late gossip queen, Mary Strassmeyer, and dropped her off at the Pee Dee building, he headed back to the police beat at the Justice Center. He was driving the police beat car west on St. Clair Ave. when at E. 13 St., where new roads were under construction, Bean drove the car into very, fresh cement -- right up to the rocker panels.

Construction laborers turned the air blue, screaming oaths and curses at Bean, who coolly replied, “Don’t you yell at me. You don’t see any barricades knocked down.”

Mollified, they had a nearby construction truck pull the car out. It was dripping with fresh cement. From that day on, colleague Lou Mio called Bean, “Medusa wheels.”

Bean prided himself on meeting deadlines. Rarely did he miss a story. However, his dedication at one point cost the Plain Dealer $10,000 in an out- of- court settlement when he pocketed a picture from the counter of the Cleveland Police Department’s Scientific Identification Unit. He thought it was the photo of a wanted murder suspect, but the photo turned out to be that of a man with the same first name, same middle initial and same last name. Oops, wrong man.

Newspaper Guild

Bean was active in The Newspaper Guild labor union. He was, in his own words, “beloved” past president of Local #1, the first local in the then-33,000-member international union.

It was in this capacity during the newspaper strike on Oct. 2, 1972 that Bean attempted unsuccessfully to dissuade a police captain from deploying horses from the police mounted unit against a newspaper picket line at The Plain Dealer.

Bean failed in his effort, and six mounted policemen charged their horses into a united, densely packed picket line. During the melee of horseflesh pushing against human flesh, Bean was knocked to the ground by a blow to the back of the head delivered by a Teamsters Union business agent. As he fell, the self-described “athletic” Bean whirled in mid-air to discover his attacker advancing on him, seeking to do more bodily injury. Reflexively, Bean lashed out with his feet, breaking the agent’s leg.

Television reporter Paul Sciria later asked the agent how he sustained his injury. With a straight face, the agent replied, “A horse stepped on me.” The incident was precipitated by a long-standing dispute between The Guild and The Teamsters on how best to prosecute a labor dispute.

Cleveland citizens and labor leaders were outraged at the use of horses against humans during a peaceful, lawful strike action. Thanks to pictures made by Pee Dee reporter William F. Miller and his testimony before City Council, an ordinance was passed,banning the use of horses in labor disputes.

Perhaps the bill’s passage was aided by the outrageous behavior of one of the mounted policemen, whose tasteless behavior was exceeded only by one of the horses that had relieved itself on the sidewalk during the horse charge. The crowd had settled down. All was at peace when the mental giant of a policeman noted the presence of the road apples and suggested to one of our prettiest and youngest women reporters, Susan Stranahan, “Why don’t you pick that up (road apples) and eat it?” That remark almost started an attack against the policemen and the horses they rode in on. It did, however, cost the policeman a transfer out of the unit after Bean complained to the police chief.

Practical joker

Most times when Bean pulled one of his hoaxes, he remained undetected and anonymous. If caught, he was more often than not forgiven.

One time his fun and games backfired on him. It was a time when one of Cleveland’s more notorious, infamous mobsters was indicted for murder. The mobster was using a newly acquired girlfriend, a young schoolteacher, as his alibi at his trial. Every reporter in the city was panting for an interview with the beautiful moll for his defense.

Bean had a woman friend call James Naughton, then the Plain Dealer politics writer, in the city room. She told Naughton she was ready to spill her guts, would no longer be an alibi for the hood and invited Naughton to meet her at a local bar. Naughton thought he had the scoop of his life.

Then the night city editor, who was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs, called Bean at the police beat and ordered him to accompany Naughton and watch his back.

Bean spent a couple of uncomfortable hours in a cold car while Naughton sipped drinks inside a warm bar awaiting the arrival of Miss Tell-It-All. That was one time the joke was on Bean.

Another prank for which he was forgiven was when he and colleague Pat Garling moved the staff’s favorite fawner’s desk from the city room into the Women’s Department. In those archaic days, the women were separated from their male counterparts and generally limited to covering women’s news only.

Mr. Fawner came by his name rightly as he was a celebrity hound, a table-hopping type who could never keep his hands off the famous nor pass up a chance to fawn over them.

Take the case of the erudite, prolific author Don Robertson, who had written numerous novels including, “The Three Days,” “The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread,” and “Flag Full of Stars.” In addition, Don had numerous television scripts to his credit. He had just returned to a writing job at The Plain Dealer from New York, where he had been writing soap operas. Don was famous. He was also a grouch.

Mr. Fawner spotted Mr. Famous in the city room. He rushed to him and gushed to him, “Oh, Mr. Robertson, it is such a thrill to meet you. I have read every one of your books and loved them all.”

And then the Fawner said, “What’s the matter, couldn’t you make it in New York?”

It was instant hate. Robertson turned the air blue with obscenities. They did not talk to each other for the next five years.

So, you understand why Bean and his cohorts just had to move Mr. Fawner’s desk. Pat Garling agreed. They moved it with little effort. It worked better than anyone could have dreamed. The next morning a delegation of women were in the office of Executive Editor Bill Ware, pounding on his desk in rage and shouting they would not put up with that man’s working in their department. Poor Mr. Ware had no idea what they were yelling about.

As Bean reported for work that night, he was told City Editor Ted Princiotto wanted him in his office. As Bean entered, Princiotto was negatively shaking his head from side to side and said, “You don’t know anything about a desk being moved last night? Do you?”

Bean lied and replied, “No.”

“I didn’t think so,” Princiotto said, “Get the hell out of here.”

On the beat

Bean’s career was not all jokes and laughs although when he began his career in 1954 the profession was then known as the newspaper game. Today, when a laugh is heard in the city room heads lift to see what the strange sound is.

In 1959, while working for The Cleveland News, Bean was assigned to cover a New York Central passenger train crash in Wellington, Ohio, that killed nine persons. The crash took place around 9 p.m. Bean was called at home and arrived on the scene about 3 a.m. By 3:12 a.m. he knew the cause of the crash as he overheard two railroad employees discussing how the engineer was speeding 70 miles per hour through the 35 mph area.

Bean identified himself as a reporter, but the employees refused to go on the record. Bean confirmed the fact through another source. Once again, he could crow, “Not only a good reporter but a lucky one.”

Bean had just begun working for The Pee Dee in 1961 and was at the police beat when a raging fire broke out in a six-story tenement building. Almost every piece of firefighting equipment in the city was battling the blaze.

Bean stood under a nearby railroad bridge and discovered that the woman standing next to him not only lived in the building, she was the rent collector. She provided information that the fire broke out in the stairwell of the only exit from the building and numerous fire code violations were ignored by the owners.

As Bean was hastily scribbling notes, the roof of the building collapsed with a loud crash. Heat from the flames could be felt. The woman grabbed Bean’s arm in a vise-like grip and would let go only after being assured she was not in harm’s way.

During the early days of the Vietnam War, reporters on the police beat were assigned to obtain pictures and interview next of kin of servicemen killed in battle. As this difficult and heart-wrenching task continued for a very long time and protest against the war became more frequent, Bean later recounted, “It was one of the very few times I departed from objectivity. We were taught at Kent State: ‘Objectivity above all.’ I began asking surviving parents if they thought perhaps the war was not in our best interest. I did not receive any responses against the war.”

Lawsuits and threat of lawsuits are an occupational hazard. However, lawsuits can be a very good learning tool. While Bean was employed at International News Service in 1957, Louis B. Seltzer threatened to sue INS and Bean for a million dollars.

“I was crushed, I was devastated, I thought my career was over,” Bean said.

It turned out that Bean had written a story that Seltzer, editor of The Cleveland Press and a powerful man known as Mr. Cleveland, had apologized in open court to a lawyer who had filed a libel lawsuit against the newspaper when Seltzer wrote that the attorney did not have enough money to file a writ of mandamus. Seltzer’s apology was delivered during a recess, not when court was in session. Bean quickly called the powerful man, who told Bean, “Check both sides, young man. Check both sides.” The suit was dropped and a career was saved. And Bean checked with both sides – no, with all sides -- for evermore.

It's all in the game.

It was newspaper tradition to pull the leg (hoax) of the reporter who was taking his first stint as obituary writer, a job nearly all reporters. A job we all had to do at one time or another.

One night in the late ’70s, Bob Holmes, a talented, athletic, broad-shouldered Englishman who had emigrated to Cleveland from Liverpool, was on the obit desk. Bean couldn’t wait to get to work to pull a hoax on him. It nearly caused Bean to be fired.

Upon arrival at the police beat, Bean found that fellow police beat reporter Ed Kissel, a prankster in his own right, had prepared a fake obit about a German World War II ace whot had purportedly shot down 18 Spitfires during the Battle of Britain.

Bean lauded Kissel for his originality but believed Holmes would not fall for it and said, “Perhaps we can do better.” Bean should have left well enough alone as it turned out.

After some thought he called Holmes about 7:30 p.m., some hours before deadline, and said, “This is the Donald B. Johnson Funeral Home in Northfield, and we might have an obit for the paper.”

Before Bean could say anything further, Holmes said,” I can’t talk to you now. I’m too busy.” He then hung up.

Bean bided his time and called back at 10:30 p.m. -- right on deadline. He told Holmes again that he was the mortician from the Northfield funeral home. “I tried to talk to you earlier on but you were too busy. We do have the body of Cyrus Eaton in here.”

Eaton was a great Cleveland industrialist, millionaire and railroad owner, and his death would be front page news any time it happened.

Holmes, between a swit and a sweat, panicked. Bean could hear him as he shouted to the night city editor, Vern Havener, a pipe-smoking, no-nonsense WWII11 veteran, “Vern, oh. Vern!”

In his excitement, Holmes hung up the phone before Bean could tell him it was a joke. Within minutes, the entire city staff sprang into action and just about everyone in the newsroom was busy on the fake obit. All the phone lines were tied up as the staff called notables for comment, worked to update the standing Eaton obituary on deadline and contact the funeral home for confirmation of the death.

Failing to get a line into the city room, Bean knew he had to rush to the city room from the Central Police Station to stop the story from seeing the light of print. And also to try to save his job and to at least prove he was sober.

Bean liked to recount that as he approached the city desk with his hat in his hand -- and he didn’t even wear a hat -- dense clouds of smoke rose from the pipe of a very angry night city editor.

“What do you know about a Cyrus Eaton obit?” Havener asked in the coldest, iciest voice Bean ever had heard.

Bean said, “I know everything about it. I was trying to pull Bob Holmes’ leg.”

Havener replied, “You’ll be pulling your leg on the street.”

To his everlasting credit Vern never filed a complaint against Bean.

The near firing did not deter further pranks. It was, after all, called the “newspaper game.”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Dash Between: Sue Kerchmar, Elyria bartender, daughter of Slovak immigrants

Sue Kerchmar adopted the motto and rallying cry "Push and Pray" in her later years to express her determination to use her walker-on-wheels to get from one room to another and to continue to live in her own home despite physical limitations.

The same phrase could be used to describe her lifelong philosophy. Throughout her life, the Elyria great-grandmother took matters into her own hands to achieve positive outcomes. She devised plans, took actions toward making things happen, then prayed that she would achieve her goals.

In 1942, the former Sue Sklenar traveled to Colorado, where John Kerchmar Jr. was stationed with the Army Air Forces, before John was sent overseas for service in World War II.

When she found out that her visually impaired son, John III, could learn to read Braille in the city of Lorain, Sue called a radio program seeking a listener who would give her son a ride to the classes. She later enrolled him in a school for the blind in Columbus. She wanted him to be self-sufficient.

Click here to read about The Dash Between June 5, 1923, when Sue was born Susan Sklenar in Elyria, Ohio, and August 10, 2010, when the former Kerchmar’s West Side CafĂ© bartender died at age 87, in the Sept. 12, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bob Emery, visionary who built Loyal Oak Lake Park in Summit County in 1955

In 1955, Bob Emery turned what seemed to be an unusable plot of land in the Norton area of Summit County, Ohio, into a popular recreation area called Loyal Oak Lake Park, where families could swim, play baseball, picnic and camp.

Thirty years later, Bob upgraded, redesigned and transformed the neglected Ridge Top Golf Course in Medina County, Ohio, into a state-of-the-art facility that continues to attract a faithful following of golfers.

He co-owned both recreation areas with his wife, Darlene, and another golf facility -- Oak Knolls Golf Club in Kent in Portage County, Ohio -- with friend Phil Baker.

The Dash Between Feb. 17, 1932, when the 12th of 16 siblings was born in Copley Township, Ohio, and July 1, 2010, when the Wadsworth, Ohio, grandfather died at age 78, was featured in the Sept. 7, 2010, edition of the Medina County Gazette.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eva Mae Pugh, prize-winning Tupperware lady

Eva Mae Pugh earned enough points in Tupperware sales to receive a van to haul her products to Tupperware parties -- an amazing feat for someone who did not drive.

"Eva was a good seller," said Tupperware colleague Nora Ritter. "She earned lots of free stuff -- big and little -- and earned good money."

The Dash Between April 19, 1924, when Eva was born a coal miner's daughter in West Virginia, and July 24, 2010, when the Tupperware lady of Lorain, Ohio, died at age 86, appears in the Aug. 22, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Barbara Shea Baldwin, Youngstown native, managed gas stations in Lorain County

Barb Baldwin, who graduated from Ursuline High School in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1957, became a pioneer of sorts for Sohio (Standard Oil of Ohio) in the 1970s.

She began managing gas stations in Lorain County, Ohio, when handling such a job was unusual for a woman.

Barb managed one of the first Sohio gas stations in Amherst, Ohio, which was converted into a self-service operation after pump-your-own-gas facilities were legalized in the state in 1977.

In many ways, it was like a family business.

Barb, whose maiden name was Shea, met her husband, Dick, at a Sohio station in Youngstown, where he was a mechanic. He later became an auditor for the company.

Each of their three sons worked for the oil company at some point in their lives.

Click here to read about "The Dash Between" Feb. 3, 1939, when Barb was born in Youngstown, and July 13, 2010, when she died at Amherst Manor Nursing Home at age 71, in the Aug. 8, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Billy Ray, Medina County volunteer, Parma autoworker

Billy Ray volunteered with and served on several social service agencies and community service organizations in Medina County, Ohio, after retiring from the General Motors plant in Parma, Ohio, in the early 1990s.

This list of organizations includes:

Billy, pictured here receiving an award from the Medina Noon Kiwanis Club, was recognized many times for his community service. He was well-known throughout the Medina area for his good-deed doing, yet shied away from the spotlight.

Billy posed for the photo on the left for a United Way campaign.

Read the Aug. 2, 2010, edition of the Medina County Gazette for "The Dash Between" June 26, 1927, when the longtime Medina, Ohio, resident was born Billy Wray in College Grove, Tenn., and June 26, 2010, when he died at Southwest General Medical Center in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, on his 83rd birthday.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Julanne Rotta, piano teacher, owned Bell Studios in Elyria, Ohio

Julanne M. Rotta, pictured here with her husband, Donald, taught students to play piano and keyboards at Bell Piano Studio on the second floor of the Driscol Music building on Broad Street in Elyria, Ohio, from 1978 to 2000.

She retained the name of the business after purchasing it from its founder.

After moving to Huron, Ohio, Julanne commuted to Elyria several times a week to continue giving lessons to her students, most of whom lived in Elyria.

She estimated that she taught more than 2,000 students – from young children to retirees – during her teaching career.

In order to keep students interested in their lessons, Julanne had them practice music they liked - from classical to pop to country - in addition to scales and other basics.

Julanne died of complications from cancer on July 25, 2010, at Concord Care Center in Sandusky, Ohio, at age 60.

She was born Julanne Marie Isabelle, the eldest of three siblings, in Marquette, Mich. Her father was an iron ore miner; her mother, a schoolteacher.

"Jules," as she was known to many, played piano at an early age. At 4, she began playing piano for church choirs in Marquette.

When she was 5, she appeared on television with several other young pianists in a segment of the "Ed Sullivan Show" featuring piano prodigies.

Julanne graduated from Marquette Senior High School and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, where she majored in piano performance.

In recent decades, she occasionally played piano at Zion Lutheran in Huron, according to her husband. She also played for fellow Concord Care residents and for church services conducted by local ministers at the nursing home.

She and Donald were married on April 12, 1986, at Messiah Lutheran Church in Marquette.

In addition to her husband, Julanne is survived by her sister, Mary (Terry) St. Pierre of Escanaba, Mich.; brother, Henry J. Isabelle of Fredonia, Wis.; and a nephew.

She also is survived by her husband’s sons, Christopher (Gwen) Rotta of Amherst, Ohio, Stephen (Laura) Rotta of Riverview, Fla., and Jeffrey Rotta of Woodstock, Ga.; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Henry Wilfred and Julanne Marie (nee Honkavaara) Isabelle.

Arrangements were by Hempel Funeral Home of Amherst, Ohio.

Dixie Slaughenhaupt, former Elyria RN, always looked for ways to help others

Even after Dixie Slaughenhaupt lost the ability to control her balance in the 1980s and depended on an electric wheelchair to get around, she acted as an advocate for fellow patients at Amherst Manor nursing home, coached young nurses and volunteered as a reading tutor for elementary school students.

Dixie, who died June 15, 2010, at age 68, had mobility issues for most of her life.

As a child in the 1940s, she had surgeries to correct scoliosis or curvature of the spine, which doctors believed was caused by undiagnosed polio during infancy.

Years later, the results of tests performed at the Cleveland Clinic identified Chiari malformation, a structural defect in the part of the brain that controls balance, as the culprit.

"She overcame so many physical obstacles in her life," said her neighbor Muriel Koepp. "She never let it get in the way of her doing the things that she wanted to do."

Mainly, Dixie wanted to help others.

"She was an incredible person, so insightful to problems and situations, always focusing on the positive, interested in everything," Koepp said. "I just know she was put here on Earth by God to be a shining example of courage and faith to each one of us."

Click here to read more about the "Dash Between" January 8, 1942, when the Elyria Township, Ohio, resident was born Dixie Cole in Galion, Ohio, and June 15, 2010, when Jim Slaughenhaupt's wife died at Aristocrat Berea, in the July 25, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bernie and Virginia Plus 13

Bernie and Virginia Schalther lived most of their respective 90 years together, producing 13 offspring during the first 18 years of their marriage.

Eyes turned when the couple took their kids on Sunday drives in their 9-passenger station wagon in the 1950s and '60s.

“When we’d come to a red light, you could see the people next to us counting us in the car,” said Jeanne Frey, their 4th-born child said.

A special "Double Dash Between" was published in the July 11, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram for Bernie, who died May 21, 2010, and Virginia, who passed a few weeks later on June 26, 2010.

Both were born in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, and lived in Elyria, Ohio, since 1948.

Click here to read their "Dash Between" and view 20 photos of them at various phases in life, including this family portrait from 1961:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mae Pulaski Dillworth's "Dash Between"

The story of the "Dash Between" July 16, 1922, when Mae Dillworth was born Maria Agnes Pulaski in the North Hill section of Akron, Ohio, and June 20, 2010, when the grandmother and longtime resident of Granger Township, Ohio, died at Hospice of Medina County at the Inn, appears in the July 5, 2010, edition of the Medina County Gazette.

The daughter of Polish immigrants worked for many years as a teller at First National Bank of Akron.

Mae married Verne Dillworth, who served in the Army Infantry in Europe during World War II, on Oct. 17, 1942, at St. Hedwig Catholic Church in Akron.

She once served as president of the Polish Legion of American Veterans Ladies Auxiliary Chapter in Summit County. Her husband, who is of Irish descent, is a past president of PLAV Post 32 of Akron.

Mae and Verne raised two children, Jerry Dillworth and Veronica Hayes, on a farm in rural Medina County.

Click here to read the full story in The Gazette.

At the top, Mae is pictured with her parents and older siblings at her First Holy Communion. Below is a photo of Mae, center, with other PLAV Auxiliary officers.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rose and Fred Ketchum married in a furniture store window 100 years ago

Rose Herman, a resident of Litchfield, Ohio, in 1910, married Fred Ketchum, who lived all his life in Elyria, Ohio, were married in the display window of the Harry H. Smith Co. furniture and home furnishings store in Elyria on July 4, 1910.

Storeowner Harry H. Smith devised the wedding-in-a-window as a promotional gimmick. The Ketchums, both in their 20s, were chosen for the holiday event after answering an ad that promised free furniture to a couple who would get married at the store in front of thousands of folks who spent part of Independence Day in downtown Elyria following a parade.

The couple also had to ride in the parade on the furniture store's float -- a horse-drawn wagon, specially decorated for the occasion.

Fred Ketchum died Nov. 10, 1964. Rose followed on Jan. 15, 1967.

A fuller account of this unusual holiday story appears in the July 4, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. Click here to read all about it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

D.C. Patel: Elyria physician, world traveler, loyal to friends and sports teams

Dr. D.C. Patel, who settled in Elyria, Ohio, more than 30 years ago, was born in Uganda, but was of Indian heritage.

He was comfortable wherever he traveled in the world. He spent time in China, France, New Zealand, Mumbai, Tanzania, Italy, Bahamas, Egypt and Australia.

Patel also traveled domestically. He took his family to Disneyworld, Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, D.C., and Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tenn. He golfed in Arizona and other states with a group of physician friends.

He was proud of his Indian heritage, professional sports teams in Cleveland, Ohio, and his wife, Minal, daughters, Rachna and Rakhee, grandson, Eli, and the rest of his extended family.

Click here to read more about the "Dash Between" May 1, 1946, when Patel was born in Wobulenzi, Uganda, and May 18, 2010, when the Elyria physician died of complications from prostate cancer at age 64, in the June 27, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

In this photo, D.C. Patel and his wife, Minal, standing, participate in the Hindu wedding ceremony of their daughter, Rachna, and her husband, David Fruchbom, as daughter, Rakhee, right, observes.