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Extraordinary challenges, inspiring stories


These individuals know how far determination, courage and a little bit of luck can go Stories by Vox reporting staff

Photographs by Naveen Mahadevan

HAROLD CARTER recounts his harrowing POW experience


O YOU WANNA SEE A TRICK?� Harold Carter says with a devious grin. Pick a card, any card, and watch as he flips, shuffles and spreads the deck. By the time he does his big reveal –– baring the card originally picked –– he has his audience transfixed. Throughout his 91 years, Carter lived through the Great Depression as a fatherless child, survived a World War II prison camp and was widowed twice. But in a trick more remarkable than the magic he performs in his room at South Hampton Place, he remains positive about his experiences. Carter learned his card tricks from fellow POWs to keep his mind occupied in the chaos of Mukden Camp in Manchuria, China, where he ended his captivity as a prisoner for more than three years in 1945. Now the veteran resides peacefully in his Columbia assisted-living home. 12709."(";*/&$0.r12.06.12

He tells his war stories and wows residents and staff with his magic tricks and jovial personality. Those around him are amazed by how vivacious he is and his willingness to tell his story. But Carter shrugs off these reactions as a misunderstanding of life. Captivity taught him a lesson about survival: move along. “In the war, I learned self-control,� he says. “If I was going to die, I wasn’t going to die worrying. I was going to have the best time I could along the way.� Carter was born in 1921 in Pocahontas, Ark. His father died when he was 6, and he stepped into his lifelong role as man of the house. He married and was widowed by the two loves of his life. He raised three children to be the people he wishes to see in the world. Congestive heart failure limits his independence, but he still holds the stubbornness of a man who knows no captor. On Carter’s bedroom wall hangs a photo illustrating the determination of a 17-year-old ready to defend his country. The eyes looking up at this faded photograph now belong to a man who knows what can happen when the world falls down, when all that is left is survival. Carter sits in an eggplant-colored armchair and winces as he wills one leg to cross over the other. He holds the hands of anyone who stops to listen to what he calls the stories that no one wants to hear. He spent his first night of confinement in a tunnel under the watch of the Japanese soldiers who captured him. Accepting his fate was easy; letting go after a long fight was

difficult. He lay down on the cold rock floor and slipped into the his best sleep since the war had begun. He can still remember marching what the Japanese called the parade of shame seven miles down Dewey Drive — completely naked –– while enemies laughed at his humiliation. Carter notes the day before he turned 21 and how he never thought he’d see morning. He still recalls eating rice for five months as his 5-foot-10-inch body slowly whittled from 165 pounds to a starved 130. He recounts when the Japanese flung his body on the stack for burning because he looked so close to death, and the time he gave half of his already starvation-portioned meal to prisoners of the Bataan Death March when they reached the camp. By the time he was liberated, he hadn’t seen America in seven and a half years due to serving in and out of captivity. The U.S. armed forces sent 16 million of its sons and daughters into the maw of World War II; about 1 percent of those were captured, and 14,072 died in captivity. Only 20,000 POWs were alive in 2008. According to a 2008 Oxford University study, most POWs endure a variety of physical and psychological disorders, but prisoners tortured by the Japanese normally suffer from an excess of post-traumatic stress disorders due to the extreme levels of deprivation, malnutrition and tropical diseases. However, most individuals who make it out of these circumstances alive are pretty content, says Clydie Morgan, national staff officer for the American Ex-Prisoners of War Association, an advocacy group.

Phil Budahn, the spokesman for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, says the heroes’ resilience has always caught him off guard. “It’s hard to imagine human beings with these experiences surviving with their integrity and values intact,� Budahn says. “Or for that matter, surviving at all.� Former prisoners such as Carter are forced to move on after experiencing cruel parts of history some overlook. After that, as Budahn says, it’s not easy to face the present. Carter’s story and spirit astound Columbia’s veteran community. His fellow veterans at the VFW Post 280 regard Carter as a hero among them. Veteran Gary Hahn says Carter has seen some of the worst and that it’s remarkable that he survived to share his experience. “He could teach us all a little something about living,� he says. When Carter drudges up his wartime recollections, he opts for the ones that make him smile, like the time he was

Harold Carter remembers meticulous details of his trip back to the prison camp where he was held captive for more than three years. When he returned in 2005, he was greeted by news trucks and treated like a president, he says.

clever enough to trade corn for cigarettes, or when he made a friend in the barracks of the prison. His smile darkens slightly, though, at what he says is his happiest memory of all — Aug. 20, 1945, when the Russian military liberated the camp, four days before he was marked to be killed on the camp’s death list. Carter remembers his response upon leaving the liberated camp: “I’ve been in prison for five months. I’m leaving this place.� He walked away from his personal hell for the last time before inventory had even been taken –– or so he thought. In 2005, Carter returned to the site of his captivity. A museum sits where the prison once did in remembrance and reverence of the people who suffered and died on

its grounds. Carter and his wife revisited the place where he became a full-fledged adult and re-met the people with whom he had grown up. It was his longawaited closure; it was peace. It was the place where he’d been treated the worst and the best in his life because of Japanese torture he endured there and the respect the Chinese government offered him years later, Carter says. Carter has come from the man whom he wanted to be to the man he is; from the horrors that life dealt him to the cards he deals for pleasure; from the experience that changed his life to the experience that made it worth it. + EMILY ADAMS rVOXMAGAZINE.COM 13

GRETCHEN MAUNE lost her sight at 24 but kept her vision


HE WAS JUST PUTTING ON EYELINER. A simple task. Close one eye, run the pencil across the lid. But Gretchen Maune noticed something was wrong. She saw only a mass of blurry gray objects out of her left eye. A couple weeks later, she began losing vision in her right eye. Within a month and a half, she was legally blind. Two days before her 24th birthday in 2006, Maune was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a rare genetic disease that affects approximately 4,000 people in America. Usually striking in the victim’s early 20s, the disease programs the optic nerves to start dying. “It was devastating,� Maune says slowly. “I thought my life was over.� At 30, her world is now blurs of gray with bits of vivid blue and purple, the only two colors she can still see. It’s as though she is looking through a coffee filter with only a small amount of peripheral vision. Maune had to relearn how to do everyday tasks such as brushing her teeth, putting on makeup and using a computer. She learned how to read and write in new ways and to walk with a cane. With the help of Rehab Services for the Blind and her guide dog, Keeper, Maune slowly began to lead a normal life again. She got an apartment near the MU campus and can tell you exactly the location of everything in her apartment. The square directly across from the couch on the right side of her bedroom is the TV. The large rectangle with small blobs is the bookshelf. 14709."(";*/&$0.r12.06.12

Gretchen Maune’s guide dog, Keeper, is a golden retriever, and she spends time grooming him every day. Keeper was a gift from Leader Dogs for the Blind, one of the many guide dog schools in the United States.

“I didn’t know you could be visually impaired and be really OK and still do stuff.� — Gretchen Maune But recognizing objects around her gets trickier when she is in unfamiliar territory. She’s an avid coffee drinker and ends up with a lot of empty cups to throw away. Maune usually doesn’t have trouble spotting trash cans based on their size and general location. However, one day at the Trulaske School of Business, she leaned over to her friend Kyle and asked if the object in the corner was a trash can. “No, that’s a person,� Kyle said, laughing. Maune spun in the other direction and walked away. Luckily, the person had a good sense of humor. In 2008, Maune made herself go to a Lutheran support group called Circle of Friends. The people she met helped her understand that her condition didn’t define her. “I didn’t know you could be visually impaired and be really OK and still do stuff,� she says. One of the members, Deanna Noriega, sparked Maune’s interest in public policy. Maune had the opportunity to shadow Deanna in Jefferson City. At the time, Deanna was a legislative liaison for Services for Independent Living. Maune calls her a “good kind of lobbyist.� In August 2008, Maune returned to classes. She completed her English degree in 2010. The following fall

she decided to attend the MU Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs. She is currently in her second year of the public policy program. One of 25 blind students at MU this year, Maune is the only one in her MPA program. Learning how to be a student again took time. Reading Braille is time-consuming, so she has her computer read to her through a program called Job Access With Speech. This semester, Casey Parnell and Jennifer Plemons, who are in the same MPA program as Maune, help read class material to her. “We talk about a lot of other things other than the work,� Plemons says. “We became friends really fast.� Parnell and Plemons read printed pages out loud so Maune understands the material better and completes homework more quickly. They help create pictures for her. In Maune’s case, this involves a lot of descriptions of graphs in her public policy classes. Despite the help, Maune says being a blind student is an uphill battle at times. She’s found that much of campus isn’t readily accessible to her. Most professors use PowerPoint presentations that she can’t see. Ellis Library doesn’t have Braille books, and the Rec Center doesn’t have any equipment with Braille, either. But even with these hardships, Maune wants to help people understand that having a disability doesn’t mean their lives stop. That is one of the main reasons she wants to become one of the “good� lobbyists. As she puts it, we all have disabilities; some are just more visible than others. + EMILY KOLARS

JENNA AND TOM MORAN Jenna and Tom Moran, with their two sons, Orion and Westley, use alternative energy for their general store as well as their open-floor plan home. The solar panels at their general store will pay themselves off in about six years.


HICKENS SAUNTER ACROSS THE ROAD in front of Prairie Home General Store. Inside, antique shelves hold juice, freshly roasted coffee and locally made soap. The century-old brick building with vintage windows looks like a scene from an old-fashioned postcard, but an eagle’s-eyeview reveals a modern twist to their tale –– including the roof lined with solar panels. When Tom and Jenna Moran bought the building in June 2011, they worried about the cost of lighting and heating the old structure. They later installed a 10-kilowatt photovoltaic solar system, and they’ve barely paid electric utilities for the past two months. Less than 1 percent of the United States’ energy comes from solar power. Few Missouri homes and businesses are fueled by sustainable energy, but both the Moran’s home and business fall into that tiny percentage. The sun has powered their straw-bale, cozy one-room house since 2004. The Morans wanted to be responsible and forwardthinking in starting the business. The solar power system cost $56,000, which rebates and incentives reduced to about $13,000. Jenna’s grandfather lent them the money they couldn’t immediately spend on the system. However, the system will pay for itself quickly. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Missourians pay an average of

$3,000 per person each year for energy. Tommy Cleveland, a solar engineer at the North Carolina Solar Center (an organization that administers the government solar incentive database) says the price of installations has dropped roughly 50 percent during the past three years. However, the upfront cost remains a barrier. For the Morans, the solar panels represent more than just a good business move. “I was very concerned about having that monthly bill and getting away from what, to me, is important,� says Jenna, who married Tom in 2007 by the small creek that runs behind their home. “Now I can feel better about the store. We’re still living out the way we want the future to look like.� Since he was about 16 years old, Tom wanted to run an old-fashioned general store after walking into one in the small town of Rosebud, Ill. “There’s something about a place where you can go in and buy your grape soda, and they’d make you a sandwich,� he says. “If you believe in previous lives, then I probably had a store back in the 1800s.� The shop brings in about $1,000 per week in sales, enough to break even with expenses. Jenna does customized gardening, and Tom has a home-improvement operation, which makes up most of their income. They also sell their own honey and grass-fed beef from their small farm. “When you realize that you can still live well on so much less, it’s freeing,� Jenna says.

use solar power in a century-old building Tom says it’s nice to be part of the one percent that uses solar energy as an alternative source. “Right at the very bottom,� he says. “You don’t have to worry about anything.� The store is a place where people can stop and chat or sit down with a cup of coffee by the pellet stove. On the table by the window rests Wendell Berry’s book about the industrialized farming crisis, titled The Unsettling of America, which the Morans have read many times. The book inspires them to keep going, even when the health food distributors won’t call them back because their business is so small. Many community members have yet to stop by the store, but neighbors appreciate the effort. Anna Dick, 69, doesn’t have to catch a ride to Boonville for groceries anymore. “If you tell Tom you want something, he’ll try to get it for you,� Anna says. “I wish more people would give them a chance.� The Morans’ hope is to preserve the environment for future generations, especially their two boys, Westley, 4, and Orion, 2. Westley already knows the names of trees, and Orion loves trips to the creek with his dad. “It’s about our children, the future and their lives,� Jenna says. “I love the environment, but I love it because it’s where we live.� “We live in the best place in the known universe,� Tom says. “And I don’t want to ruin it,� Jenna adds. + CAROLINE FEENEY rVOXMAGAZINE.COM 15

DOUG DANIELS has nine holes-in-one on his golf rĂŠsumĂŠ


OUG DANIELS WATCHED THE BALL INCH across the green and trickle into the cup. Just 12 years old, he could not believe he had scored a hole-in-one, and no one was there to see it. The course was empty; a few players on a distant fairway and two men dozing under their baseball caps near the clubhouse were the only souls in sight. They later told Daniels, “If no one saw it, it doesn’t count.� That was 1967. Daniels has had eight more aces, and these days, he has learned to have a witness. For him, though, nothing tops that hole-in-one 45 years ago. “I was so excited,� he says. “I felt like the little boy in the USGA commercial,� referring to the young boy in the pro-golf commercial who scored a hole-in-one when no one was around to see it. He had every right to get excited. The United States Golf Register says the odds of hitting a hole-in-one in any given swing is 1 in 33,000. With those odds, you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime


When Doug Daniels was a kid, he and his brother Bill used to set up trick shots under bushes and play golf in the park near their house. Now, he practices his shot at the A.L. Gustin Golf Course when he isn’t coaching.

(1 in 10,000) than acing any hole in golf. By the looks of Daniel’s golf scorecard, one should steer clear of him during a lightning storm. Now 57 years old, Daniels is the boys’ golf coach at Rock Bridge High School. He first became interested in golf because of his older brother Bill. Four years Doug’s senior, Bill was known in Kirksville as one of the region’s best young golfers. Good golf genes must run in the family because Bill has 10 aces to his name. “I don’t know anyone in my golf circle who has more holes-in-one than I do,� Doug says. “And my brother has 10. I think that’s kind of odd.�

“I was so excited. I felt like the little boy in the USGA commercial.� — Doug Daniels

Besides genetics, other factors work in the younger Daniels’ favor. He plays every weekend during fall, and the more swings a golfer takes, the better the chance of an ace. Professional golfers tend to rack them up. Tiger Woods, for example, has 18 holes-in-one. But for Daniels, training had little do to with his record –– he just had his first formal golf lesson this past spring. The next day, he shot another hole-in-one. “I got my money’s worth,� he says of the lesson. He has a powerful, straight drive, and his accuracy doesn’t hurt either. “I’ve never seen anyone hit the ball as straight as he does,� says Gary Hudspeth, one of Doug’s golfing buddies and witness to one of his holes-in-one. “He gets it close most of the time.� On Saturday and Sunday mornings, Doug rips his signature drives at A.L. Gustin Golf Course. Probability aside, Doug has sage advice for acing a shot. “Aim for the hole,� he says. + JESSICA PUCKETT

HANNAH HARTLEY Hannah Hartley celebrated her 18th birthday at a party arranged by her parents on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Hallsville United Methodist Church. Her father, Rob Hartley, blows out the birthday candles using her breathing tube.


ANNAH HARTLEY’S 18TH BIRTHDAY IS MORE than a teenage milestone; it’s something of a miracle. At birth, she didn’t breathe or move. Limp like a doll, she had no muscle function. Soon after, doctors diagnosed her with centronuclear myopathy, a rare form of muscular dystrophy, and told her parents that she had less than a year to live. Usually found in males, the disease afflicts fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. The fact that Hannah is a female makes the diagnosis even more uncommon. But today, everything is her favorite color pink, from the punch to the balloons and the tablecloths. She is celebrating her birthday in her hometown, Hallsville. Her parents Rob and Donya, family members, friends, nurses and Hannah’s former doctors celebrate and sing an exuberant birthday song. There are smiles, roaring applause and playful exclamations. “Watch out, she’s legal!� Everyone is in high spirits, save a few tears from Donya when she reads Hannah her birthday card and takes her in a motherly embrace. Hannah’s father looks on, radiating pride for his daughter. Her life might not be typical of an 18-year-old’s, but she proves the statistics wrong just by living it. “What amazes me most is her willpower to fight for her life,� Rob says. “She’s stronger than anyone I’ve ever met, and she has fought to do what she can in life. It makes me very proud that she doesn’t give up.�

Hannah uses a wheelchair to get around and perform tasks such as turning on the TV. Basic movements and activity are possible with a controller that Hannah moves with her right thumb. A ventilator and a cough-assist machine help her breathe, and she uses a feeding tube for meals. It’s a freeing experience when she gets out of her wheelchair once a week.

“She’s stronger than anyone I’ve ever met, and she has fought to do what she can in life.� — Rob Hartley On Thursday afternoons in the spring and fall, Hannah rides her favorite horse, Buddy, at the Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center. A sling hung from the barn’s ceiling transports Hannah from her chair to Buddy’s saddle. From there, with a guide sitting behind her for safety, Hannah and Buddy leisurely trot around the barn. Hannah especially loves the connection she has with the horse. “Buddy can feel my pain,� she says. Visiting the riding center and her four-legged companion can turn her

was only supposed to live one year; she’s now 18

day around. Buddy is calm and patient with Hannah, and though he’s a horse, he seems to look at her with a kind of admiration — soft and gentle. Aletta Kyd, who rides behind Hannah, thinks that the communication Buddy and Hannah have is one of a kind. She says they speak to each other through body language. The two have matching lively spirits, and Buddy often rests his head almost in Hannah’s lap. One of Hannah’s cakes at the birthday party had a picture of Buddy on it. Her weekly riding session and listening to her favorite music (Justin Bieber, of course) give Hannah’s life more normalcy, which is what she and her family want. “We’ve all adapted and adjusted to take care of Hannah,� Rob says. Donya agrees, saying, “She’s the princess.� Far from being spoiled, she has lived each day working to overcome her medical struggles. On Nov. 3, Hannah took in the celebration in her honor. She smiled often and playfully said, “Gracias!� to everyone for attending. The day was a testament to her joyful spirit, and positive, encouraging words surrounded her. When she was born and diagnosed years ago, the mood was less optimistic — yet here she is today, blowing out 18 candles on one of her cakes that reads, “Happy Birthday Princess.� + HOPE TIMMERMANN rVOXMAGAZINE.COM 17

MICHAEL MIDDLETON made history as MU’s first black law school graduate


ICHAEL MIDDLETON USED TO DODGE whizzing beer bottles and hear people yell, “Go home, nigger,� as he walked the streets of Columbia. “But that still wasn’t as bad as being kidnapped or lynched, which was what was happening in Mississippi while I was growing up,� Middleton says. He graduated from the MU School of Law in 1971 at the height of the civil rights movement, when Columbia was still very much a segregated town. He was the first black student to enroll in and graduate from the law school. Middleton went on to an illustrious career in civil rights law and eventually came back to MU as a law professor in 1985. Today, Middleton is deputy chancellor of MU, a position in which he aids the chancellor in the day-to-day needs and functions of the university. His office is connected to Chancellor Brady Deaton’s in Jesse Hall, MU’s main administrative building, where Middleton protested for civil rights and against the Vietnam War during his undergrad days at MU. “I used to sit-in in Jesse Hall, and now I sit in Jesse Hall,� he says, clearly amused. But for all the progress made since the civil rights movement, racial diversity in schools remains problematic. Almost 60 years after the Supreme Court officially ended segregation in public schools, some American schools are still heavily segregated, according to a September report from the Civil Rights Center at UCLA. 18709."(";*/&$0.r12.06.12

During his time as an MU student, Michael Middleton protested against racism during the civil rights movement. He became the first black MU law graduate in 1968, and he’s now the deputy chancellor of the university.

The report also says a majority of African-American and Latino students learn in segregated classrooms. Seventy-four percent of black students and 80 percent of Latino students attend schools where the majority student population is white. The study targets charter schools, which fall short of equal education promises nearly six decades after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. The MU School of Law played a nationally significant role in the desegregation process in public education, a history that Middleton helped shape. But Middleton’s story was preceded by a man named Lloyd Gaines. Seventy-four years ago, MU denied Gaines admittance to the law school because he was black. Backed by the NAACP, Gaines took his case against MU to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1938. In the Missouri case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of equal-opportunity education and said that states providing schools for whites must also do so for blacks, or allow them to attend the same school. At the time, it was illegal in Missouri for any public university to enroll black students. In 1939, after the Supreme Court’s ruling in his favor, Gaines went out to buy stamps and was never seen again. Much speculation surrounding Gaines’ disappearance remains, but the mystery was never solved. Middleton graduated from the law school 30 years after Gaines was rejected and 14 years after Brown v. Board took effect. From 1970 to 1971, black students comprised 1.7 percent of student enrollment, according to The AfricanAmerican Experience at the University of Missouri, 1950-1994.

He says he was used to segregation and racism in Columbia both on and off campus. Marching Mizzou used to play “Dixie,� and the Kappa Alpha fraternity on campus would host a slave parade, in which the members would dress in Confederate uniforms and have AfricanAmericans don slave garb and walk behind a truck for Homecoming. Despite him being marginalized and isolated, his parents taught him to be tolerant. “My parents told me that I couldn’t allow racism to affect your understanding of yourself,� Middleton says. “They made sure I knew that racist Southern whites were unfortunate, misguided and ignorant people. It wasn’t about me; it was about them.� He was active in anti-discrimination and anti-war protests during college. Along with his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, Middleton helped found the MU Legion of Black Collegians, a group still in existence today. Middleton landed several dream jobs at the Department of Justice before becoming a professor at MU in 1985. He was also the first black member of the Law School faculty. He stopped teaching 16 years ago and moved up to one of the highest-ranking positions on campus. But still, he doesn’t believe that he has done anything truly significant. “Every black person or any woman in this country near my age has had the same story,� Middleton says. “Everyone who has had some success has suffered similar marginalization, racism or sexism and has overcome it.� + ABBEY DEAN



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