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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Year In Review: Person of the Year

And others who affected 2011


‘Deadly, destructive and relentless’ An odd but compelling choice for Person of the Year: Mother Nature Billion-dollar storms total 12 in 2011 – and the total could still rise

File photos

A storm front passes over north Omaha while Vanderbilt played Florida in the sixth game at the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park on June 20.


The selection of The Daily Nonpareil’s Person of the Year is never an easy task. We review what we consider to be the top events of the past 12 months and, in each case, focus on the individual who was most responsible for making that event a reality. But 2011 was different. It was unusual in many respects. In a sense, it was a numbers game; and a review of “the numbers” made our choice for 2011’s Person of the Year a relatively easy one. By early December – and with nearly a month of 2011 still to come – this nation had smashed the record for billion-dollar weather disasters this year with a deadly dozen. And even at this late date, we’re not – so to speak – “out of the woods.” And so, while we normally try to pick a local individual who has made an important contribution or contributions during the past 12 months, we settled on something more conceptual – but still something familiar to all of us – for 2011. Our selection for Person of the Year is Mother Nature. And when you look back on 2011, it would be difficult to come to any other conclusion. Residents of Council Bluffs as well as residents of other southwest Iowa counties that border the Missouri River bore the brunt of Mother Nature’s rant for more than 100 days this summer as the Missouri flooded or threatened to flood farms and communities throughout the area. And while those who live near or in close proximity to the Missouri River suffered mightily in terms of financial losses and stress for an entire summer that many would like to forget, we were PERSON OF YEAR/See Page 6C

With a few days remaining until the end of the year, officials have declared 2011 to be one of the worst in recent memory in terms of devastating storms that resulted in $1 billion or more in total damages. Here’s the current tally for 2011: ■ Continued spring through fall drought conditions and extreme heat in the Southwest led to a series of historic wildfires across Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, including the most destructive in Texas’ history. Damage was estimated at $1 billion. ■ Drought and extreme heat in the southern plains and Southwest from spring through fall caused at least $10 billion in crop and agricultural losses in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, southern Kansas and western Louisiana. ■ Snowmelt and above-average rainfall caused the Missouri and Souris Rivers to swell beyond their banks across the upper Midwest, forcing thousands to evacuate and flooding thousands of acres of farmland. The NOAA damage estimate is currently set at $2 billion. ■ From early April through late June, a series of six multi-day tornado outbreaks, each claiming a spot among the year’s dozen billion-dollar disasters, devastated Midwestern and southern states, with combined damages estimated at $27.7 billion. On April 4-5, an outbreak in central and southern states included an estimated 46 tornadoes that claimed nine lives. From April 8-11, an outbreak in the central and southern states included an estimated 59 tornadoes. From April 14-16, an outbreak over the central and southern states included an estimated 177 tornadoes. Thirty-eight deaths were reported, including 22 in North Carolina. From April 25-28, an outbreak over the central and southern states DAMAGES/See Page 6C


Above top left going clockwise, flood waters overflowed into neighborhoods in Council Bluffs making it difficult to navigate. This truck tried to clear an intersection after a flash flood on Aug. 22. The Lenox community swimming pool was devastated two tornados that ripped through the community in May. The flooded land near Hamburg and Percival can been seen from a lookout point at Waubonsie State Park near Sidney on July 27. Jeff Felos inspects hail damage to his garage in Mineola Aug. 18.

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2C Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Daily Nonpareil


Roger Frieze, Paul Rolfe take control of county Eagle project There are photos in the Council Bluffs Public Library’s collection of World War I soldiers marching down Broadway as thousands of citizens welcome them home. While the soldiers marched down Broadway, they arrived home by rail and were greeted by large crowds at the Rock Island Depot. Mayor Tom Hanafan’s grandfather was among those returning from the Great War. “The railroad is what Council Bluffs was built on,” Hanafan said. “When World War I veterans came home they landed here (at the Rock Island Depot).” Hanafan said that’s why the Rock Island Depot – which is now known as the RailsWest Museum at 16th Avenue and Main Street – is the perfect place to erect the Eagle of Honor memorial in Council Bluffs. Dozens of veterans and community members gathered Nov. 5 after the Veterans Day parade to see officials and volunteers officially break ground on the project. The Eagle of Honor is a countywide project honoring all veterans of the Armed Forces with a statue of an eagle in every Pottawattamie County city. Two Council Bluffs men, Roger Frieze and Paul Rolfe, have taken control of the local project. Frieze said the Council Bluffs project is titled “Free- Roger Frieze, chairman of the Eagle of Honor project committee, speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 5. dom with Honor,” and will Frieze acknowledged that take on more soldiers, before lot of debate on the location, together to thank the veterfeature a 42-inch-tall bronze bald eagle statue – created a lot of sites were looked at traveling to San Diego via but the final decision will ans who have served the community. by Neola artists Penny and around the city for the memo- Kansas City and Los Ange- best benefit the community. rial, but the depot was a natles. “This now becomes hal“Because these people Russ Christensen – sur“RailsWest is now part of lowed ground in our commu- risked their lives every single rounded by a plaza and wel- ural selection. “We chose this site the Historical Society of Pot- nity,” he said. day, we need to give thanks,” coming area. because of its history,” he tawattamie County and they The Eagle of Honor project he said. “I’ve been asked, Frieze said the memorial is designed to pay homage to said. “A lot of soldiers left this will maintain the monu- started five years ago with ‘Why one in all 14 communithe valor and bravery of vet- depot to go serve their coun- ment,” Frieze added. “That funding from the Pottawat- ties, and not just one?’ Somewas also part of the decision tamie County Board of times you need multiple erans and their families – try; I was one of them.” Frieze boarded a train in to locate it here; they will Supervisors. Supervisor monuments so everyone those who have served, are Omaha in 1966 and stopped maintain it forever.” Loren Knauss said the con- understands how important serving and will serve in the at the Rock Island Depot to Hanafan said there was a cept was way to pull everyone our veterans are.” future.

File photo

Frieze said the committee to build the project just got started this year, and some communities worked for three years to build their monuments. So far about one-quarter of the fundraising has been completed. “We’re just getting started,” he said. “We’re a little behind, but we are trying to pick up steam.”

Ballenger, Honor Flight Network efforts lead to documentary Every year World War II veterans from western and central Iowa board a plane bound for Washington D.C. to see a shrine to their efforts and sacrifice – the World War II Memorial. The Honor Flight Network, whose local chapter started in May 2008, has taken more than 2,000 World War II veterans on eight flights to the nation’s capital – all at no cost to the veterans – according to organization member Jeff Ballenger. The trips are emotional and powerful, Ballenger said. Ballenger helped start the Central and Western Iowa Honor Flight organization to honor his late grandfather, Willard Cox, an Army veteran who took a bullet in the Pacific Theater of World War II, earning a Purple Heart. Cox died in 1996, never able to make an Honor Flight. This past April, Ballenger organized a flight in west Texas, to further honor Cox’s memory. Ballenger said the Western and Central Iowa group has taken veterans from 71 of 99 counties, flying out of Eppley Airfield and Des Moines International Airport. Each flight out of Des Moines cost about $250,000, while Omaha flights were $85,000 to $95,000, with all money accumulated through donations and fundraisers to help veterans who likely otherwise couldn’t afford the trip. The youngest to fly was 83 years old, Ballenger said, while the oldest was 100. According to the Honor Flight Network website, World War II veterans are dying at a rate of about 1,000 per day. “We know time is running out,” Ballenger said. The stories of the Iowa soldiers involved and of their sojourns to the nation’s capital are documented in the new film, “None Less Than Heroes: The Honor Flight Story.” “When we were doing these we thought it’d be a shame not to capture it,” said Ballenger, who spearheaded the project

Ballenger and served as a producer. The film features footage of a pair of honor flights taken in August 2010, along with interviews done with Iowa veterans in their homes. The men and women of World War II relate stories about Pearl Harbor and Omaha Beach, about flying B-17 bombers over the heavily guarded Ploesti Oil Fields and more. Academy Award-nominee Gary Sinise narrates the documentary. “It’s at once heartbreaking and informative and poignant and incredibly important, these veterans’ stories,” said Dean Nolen, a producer on the film. “This is a celebration of the deeds of true American heroes.” The movie is being sold at Casey’s General Stores and Hy-Vee supermarkets, a pair of longtime supporters of the Honor Flights. The producers also seek national distribution and plan to take the movie to a number of film festivals. Ballenger stressed – often – that all proceeds from the film would go to Honor Flights for veterans. “We’re excited, not for us, but for our World War II veterans. This is about them, bringing them the recognition they deserve,” Ballenger said. “We want to help more vets go see their memorial.”

File photo

Southwest Iowa veterans tour the Iwo Jima Memorial. Every year World War II veterans from western and central Iowa board a plane bound for Washington D.C., to see a shrine to their hard work and sacrifice – the World War II Memorial. The Honor Flight Network, whose local chapter started in May 2008, has taken more than 2,000 World War II veterans on eight flights to the nation’s capital – all at no cost to the veterans. The film “None Less Than Heroes: The Honor Flight Story” documents stories of the Iowa soldiers involved and of their sojourns to the nation’s capital. The DVD, at right, is sold at Casey’s General Stores and Hy-Vee supermarkets.

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The Daily Nonpareil

Thursday, December 22, 2011 3C


Gronstal’s up for re-election It what one candidate is calling “David vs. Goliath,� the Iowa Senate race in District 50 will be one to keep close tabs on in 2012. With a closely divided Iowa Senate, Majority Leader Mike Gronstal said in November he will seek reelection. And his unwillingness to bring up the gay marriage issue in the Senate for debate has caused conservatives from across the state to campaign in Council Bluffs for his defeat. Colonel Al Ringgenberg, a Council Bluffs Republican, announced in July that he plans to challenge the Democratic incumbent. “He epitomizes the career politician, how he relates to special interest groups and acting at the behest of these groups,� Ringgenberg said when announcing his candidacy. “I’m confident I’m going to prevail and deal with issues that resonate with the citizens of Council

Bluffs.� Ringgenberg received a Juris Doctor degree from Drake University in 1982 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant through the Air Force ROTC program at Iowa State University that same year. He began his U.S. Air Force career in 1983. Among his highlights was his participation as the senior legal advisor to the NATO Stabilization Force in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 2001. In 2004, Ringgenberg and his family retired to Council Bluffs, though he accepted a number of positions at the nearby Strategic Command Area. “I’m doing this (running for Senate) not to take out an incumbent. I just believe it’s the right thing to do.� Not surprisingly, Ringgenberg was critical of Gronstal’s “blocking� of recent hot-button topics like the later-term abortion ban bill that Gronstal felt would

not stand up in court. Speaking before a conservative-minded audience in Bayliss Park Hall, on Oct. 28, Ringgenberg called Gronstal’s efforts on the issue the “tyranny of elitists.� “He either doesn’t know what he is talking about or is deliberately misleading people,� Gronstal responded. And Ringgenberg has taken offense to Gronstal’s reluctance to seek a public vote on the same-sex marriage issue. However, Gronstal remains steadfast that he will not bring up the gay marriage issue for debate. “I think it’s wrong to put discrimination in the Constitution,� Gronstal said of the gay marriage issue in November. “The Constitution is there to guarantee people’s rights.� The first volleys have been fired in what will likely be a gory election battle.

White stays on to help the city After serving most of 2011 as an appointee to the Council Bluffs City Council, Sharon White won a four-year seat in November. It was a difficult year to – please pardon the pun – get your feet wet on the council after suddenly dealing with one of the biggest high-water events in city history. The recovery will be long, and it has been all consuming for White. White’s background includes serving on the city’s Planning Commission for eight years, and being the chair for the maximum one-year allowed. The commission hears many of the issues that eventually go before the council, including the city’s Capital Improvement Program.

Being a member of that commission, White also gained experience studying business proposals by developers and the economic incentives available. At the same time, she had to study whether there would be significant job growth and a tax base to warrant the granting of incentives. “It’s a balancing act,� White said. “With each individual company, you have to determine how it benefits Council Bluffs. You have to look at the merits.� She has also been a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission and is employed as a residential real estate appraiser with Koestner, McGivern & Associates. White was one of two women chosen from 30 appli-

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal talks with Sen. Dick Dearden, D-Des Moines, left, during budget debate on the floor of the Iowa Senate June 21. Gronstal said in November he will seek reelection. Colonel Al Ringgenberg, a Council Bluffs Republican, announced in July that he plans to challenge the Democratic incumbent.

cants for the council positions left vacant when Scott Belt was elected to the Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors and Matt Schultz was elected Iowa Secretary of State in November 2010. White finished first among six candidates in November’s election. “I’m very happy and very pleased,� White said of her victory. “I want to do what is best for this community.� Dealing with the city’s efforts to recover from this summer’s flooding and seeking more economic development are her main goals for the future. With so much recovery ahead in the new year, White will be instrumental in moving the community forward.


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4C Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Daily Nonpareil


Mark Brandenburg’s tough decision after district change up Republican Mary Ann Hanusa has announced she’ll seek re-election to the Iowa House of Representatives for the newly formed District 16 that will include the Lake Manawa area. This will force fellow GOP member Mark Brandenburg, the other representative from Council Bluffs, to make a decision on his plans, since he lives in that same district. Brandenburg has said he is looking at all of his options. Hanusa currently represents House District 99, which covers much of eastern Council Bluffs, but not Lake Manawa. “District 16 will take in a lot of what I currently represent,” Hanusa said in July. “It will start at Harrison Street going east to Iowa Western Community College and north to the city limits, and will take in Lake Manawa.” The Lake Manawa area is currently in House District 100, represented this year by Brandenburg. The new districts, created as a result of the 2010 census, will take effect after the November 2012 election.

File photo

Redistricting means Rep. Mark Brandenburg, R100th District, pictured above at a ceremony to thank rescue personnel, has to decide whether or not to run against fellow Republican Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, R-99th District in the newly formed District 16.

The state apparently changed its numbering system for House seats by going from west to east, Hanusa believes. Districts 99 and 100 will be in Dubuque along the Mississippi River when they go into

effect, she said. Hanusa, who served in her first year of her first term this past spring, wants to continue to be a voice of fiscal responsibility in shaping a better economic future for the state.

During the 2011 session, Hanusa served on committees dealing with education, economic growth and veterans’ affairs. She voted for the 2012 state operating budget totaling $5.9 billion.

Hanusa’s decision means Brandenburg, should he

2 new Chamber executives to help efforts The Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce named William Stazzoni as the vice president of economic development for the Pottawattamie County Growth Alliance and Amy Recker as the executive director of the Pottawattamie County Development Corporation. Stazzoni will work to actively develop industrial and commercial projects in Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County by implementing business marketing and recruit-



ment programs to increase the number of new, quality jobs. He will also work with the development of small business and entrepreneurial programs

as well as developing a comprehensive workforce development strategy for the region. Stazzoni received a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and business administration from Creighton University and has previously worked in the electric and natural gas utility industry. He previously served as the director of business development for an area construction firm. Recker will be responsible for redevelopment programs aimed at reducing blight, clean-

ing up contaminated sites and repurposing underutilized properties. Recker received a Master of Science degree in management of information systems from the University of Nebraska and a Bachelor of Arts degree in business communications from Nebraska Wesleyan University. She previously served as the executive director of Bio Nebraska Life Sciences Association, supporting technologybased economic development initiatives in Nebraska.

Woodmen of the World reaches out to Southwest Iowa. In 2011,Woodmen of the World endeavored to be a good community partner by supporting these organizations. Iowa Western Community College – Performing Arts Center Micah House Mohm’s Place Food Bank for the Heartland United Way of the Midlands General Dodge House Goodfellows Open Door Mission Salvation Army REBELS In His Hands Ministries ROTC – Abraham Lincoln High School Visiting Nurse Association Prevent Blindness Munroe-Meyer Institute Guild

D0784WOW 12/11

American Cancer Society American Heart Association American Lung Association Boy Scouts of America Girl Scouts of America Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Heartland Chapter American Red Cross Lutheran Family Services Methodist Hospital Foundation Arthritis Foundation Big Brothers Big Sisters Treat the Troops Shelby Volunteer Fire & Rescue Historical Society of Pottawattamie County

decides to seek re-election, would have to either face Hanusa in a Republican primary next year or move his family to a home in the newly formed District 15. Brandenburg and his family live on Thallas Street, while Hanusa and her husband, Charles, live on Huntington Avenue, and both are currently living in the newlyformed District 16. “It’s a serious decision,” Brandenburg said. “It’s not that easy. We’ve been here for 12 years.”


The Daily Nonpareil

Thursday, December 22, 2011



City Council newcomer Nate Watson ready for 2012 As a true newcomer to the Council Bluffs City Council in 2012, Nate Watson will be someone to keep an eye on next year. A Council Bluffs attorney, Watson officially kicked off his campaign with a rally at the renovated Kirn Park, a perfect example, he said, of neighborhoods working together to improve the city’s quality of life. Neighborhoods are the glue that holds a city together. “I believe every neighborhood is important,” he said. Watson, 33, is the cofounder and first president of his neighborhood association, Fairmount Park. He File photo was also the founder of the Downtown Neighborhood Council Bluffs City Council candidate Nate Watson speaks Alliance, the first alliance of during a candidate forum hosted by the Council Bluffs neighborhoods in the city Business Association in September.

File photo

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Matt Walsh, right, will serve a two-year term, so he will be on the same cycle as the mayoral election.

Matt Walsh eyes mayor position While Matt Walsh has already served four terms on the Council Bluffs City Council, he will be someone to watch as he starts his fifth term in 2012. Walsh won’t be serving a standard four-year term this time around, but a two-year term, so he will be on the same cycle as the mayoral election. The mayor’s position, held for years by Tom Hanafan, will be up for election in 2013. “If he (Hanafan) decides not to run again, I might consider running,” Walsh said in August. “This makes for a smoother transition, instead of having someone appointed to the seat.” First elected to the city council in 1995, Walsh doesn’t consider himself a politician, but a community advocate. “I’m active in the community. I get great pleasure working to make Council Bluffs a great place for its residents.” The list of boards Walsh sits on, besides being a council member, is long. He sits on the boards of Keep Council Bluffs Beautiful, Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless, Neighborhood Center, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Crimestoppers and United Way of the Midlands, to name a few. Walsh also serves as the city’s liaison to the Council Bluffs Public Library Board and the Mid-America Center Board of Directors. He formerly served on the boards for the Council Bluffs YMCA and Visiting Nurse Association, to name a couple more. Over the past years, the city has seen much growth, which has contributed to the tax base and what that means to the taxpayer, Walsh has said. “We’ve been able to keep the levy from increasing because of growth.” What’s more, his council experience will be important as the city deals with the aftermath of this summer’s flooding.

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and includes five associations in the downtown area, he said. Watson is also a member of the Mayor’s Neighborhood Cabinet that represents one-fourth of the entire city and is the vicepresident of the metro-wide Neighborhood Center. Watson also has some lawmaking experience working as an intern in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Iowa State Senate, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, and even the British Parliament, while in college. During his campaign, Watson said adequate fund-

ing for police and fire will be a priority. “I pledge I will always adequately fund and support them.” Watson said he would continue to support investment in public areas like the parks to improve quality of life, and the citizens will be heard. He plans to attend a meeting of each and every neighborhood community group at least once a year, and will hold regular office hours to allow all citizens to come and voice their concerns. “I was fortunate to have friends and family who worked hard for me,” Wat-

son said after the votes were counted in November. “I ran on a message of greater participation, particularly in getting folks involved in the community; and I think that resonated with the people. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people, and I’m humbled by their support; and I will try to do my best to earn the trust they have put on me.” Watson said he plans to open an office to allow citizens to meet with him on Saturday mornings twice a month to voice their concerns directly to him. “Active, two-way communication is important in the community,” he said.


6C Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Daily Nonpareil



Mother Nature dominated headlines Prickett to move to Florida in 2012

PERSON OF YEAR/ From Page 1A not alone. Losses here were substantial, but we were not the worst hit. With an almost biblical onslaught of tornadoes, floods, snow, drought, heat and wildfire, our nation, in 2011, has seen more weather catastrophes that caused at least $1 billion in damage than it did in all of the 1980s, even after the dollar figures from 2 1/2 decades ago are adjusted for inflation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration added two disasters to a growing list in early December, bringing the total for the year to 12. The most recently added – additions are made as damage figures reached the $1 billion mark, the benchmark set by NOAA for the worst weather disasters – were the Texas, New Mexico and Arizona wildfires and the midJune tornadoes and severe weather. And with the billion-dollar disaster total stuck at 12 in early December, NOAA officials were waiting for final figures for two more weather events, Tropical Storm Lee and the pre-Halloween Northeast snowstorm that wreaked havoc along the east coast. By early December, the damage total for each of those storms had reached $750 million, with the very real possibility they could top the $1 billion benchmark by year’s end. Extreme weather in Amer-


Floodwaters from the Missouri River surround a farm near Crescent on June 11. ica this year has killed more than 1,000 people, according to figures maintained by the National Weather Service. The dozen billion-dollar (or greater) disasters alone add up to $52 billion in damages. The old record for $1 billion disasters was nine, set in 2008. Once all the damages are totaled, 2011 will probably end up being the third costliest weather year of all time after 2005 (Hurricane Katrina) and 1988 (extreme drought and heat wave). National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes told the Associated Press earlier this month that he has never seen a year for extreme weather like this since he began working as a meteorologist in 1970, calling it “the deadly, destructive and relentless 2011.” Scientists blame an unlucky combination of global warming

and freak chance. They say even with the long-predicted increase in weather extremes triggered by manmade climate change, 2011 in the U.S. was wilder than they predicted. For example, the six large outbreaks of tornadoes in April, May and June – storms that resulted in hundreds of deaths and a trail of damages totaling nearly $28 billion – can’t be attributed to global warming, scientists say. “The degree of devastation is extreme in and of itself, and it would be tempting to say it’s a sign of things to come, though we would be hard-pressed to see such a convergence of circumstances occurring in one single year again for a while,” Jerry Meehl, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., told the AP.

Another factor in the rising number of billion-dollar calamities: “More people and more stuff in harm’s way,” such as in coastal areas, said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. “What we’re seeing this year is not just an anomalous year but a harbinger of things to come,” with heat waves, droughts and other extreme weather. The number of weather catastrophes that pass the billion-dollar mark, when adjusted into constant dollars, is increasing with each decade. In the 1980s, the country averaged slightly more than one a year. In the 1990s, it was 3.8 a year. It jumped to 4.6 in the first decade of this century. In the past two years, it has averaged 7.5. Borrowing a popular phrase, it appears we can’t fool Mother Nature.

The superintendent of the Iowa School for the Deaf will be moving to Florida in June. Jeanne Prickett, the ISD superintendent since 2003, will leave ISD at the end of Prickett the current school year to take the position of president of the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. “She’s one of the nation’s top experts on K-12 education for deaf, blind and deaf-blind students. This is a perfect fit for her background,” ISD outreach coordinator and spokeswoman Cindy Angeroth said. The Board of Regents for the 110-student ISD will begin a search for Prickett’s replacement soon. The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind made the announcement in November and Prickett notified members of the ISD board. “This will be an opportunity to go back to my roots, teaching students who are blind or visually impaired,” while continuing to work with

deaf or hearing-impaired students, Prickett said. “I have degrees, training and experience in both areas (and) this school has a great reputation,” Prickett said. The school has 600 students, many who are deaf or hearing-impaired, many who are blind and some who are both. Christopher Wagner, board chairman for the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, said the board selected Prickett “for her leadership and administrative skills, coupled with her vision for deaf-hard of hearing and blind-visually impaired education. She is an excellent choice.” Prickett has nearly 40 years of experience and will become the school’s 17th president and the first female president in the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind’s 126-year history. Wagner called Prickett “an excellent choice” to succeed L. Daniel Hutto, who has served as the school’s interim president since October 2007 and as president since January 2008. Hutto plans to retire on April 30, 2012. Prickett said her contract won’t begin until the current

Billion-dollar storms total 12 in 2011 DAMAGE/From Page 1A included an estimated 343 tornadoes and 321 deaths, with 240 of those reported in Alabama. The deadliest tornado of the outbreak hit northern Alabama, killing 78. From May 22-27, an outbreak over the central and southern states led to an estimated 180 tornadoes and at least 177 deaths. That outbreak included the tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., resulting in at least 160 deaths – the deadliest single tornado to strike the U.S. since record keeping began in 1950. From June 18-22, an outbreak over the central and southeastern states included an estimated 81 tornadoes. ■ Rain and melting snowpack flooded the Mississippi River and tributaries, resulting in billions of dollars in agricultural losses in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri and Louisiana. NOAA officials estimated the combined losses at $4 billion. ■ The so-called Ground Hog Day blizzard from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3 hit central, eastern and northeastern states and was blamed for 36 deaths. The city of Chicago was brought to a near standstill. The NOAA damage estimate was $1.8 billion. ■ Hurricane Irene struck from Aug. 20-29 and was blamed for at least 45 deaths and damages estimated at $7.6 billion, largely the result of catastrophic flood damage in New Jersey, New York and Vermont.


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The Daily Nonpareil

Thursday, December 22, 2011



Graham’s ‘exciting opportunity’ Although he was sorry to be leaving Council Bluffs after eight years, former Iowa West Foundation President and CEO Todd Graham said the opportunity was, for a variety of reasons, too good to pass up. In October Graham took the reins of the Robins Graham Foundation in his hometown of Richmond, Va. “This is an exciting opportunity for me,” he said in July. “I’ve always wanted to work in – to help improve – my home town.” About half the size of the Iowa West Foundation, which has assets surpassing $330 million, Graham termed the Robins Foundation, with assets of $160 million to $170 million, “a very well respected foundation that has played a very influential role in making the Richmond area a better place to live.” The similarities between the Iowa West Foundation and the Robins Foundation are many, he said. Graham said that while the Robins Foundation emphasis is on early childhood development, the foundation was a major player in a collaborative human services project in many ways similar to the collaborative effort – largely spearheaded by the Iowa West Foundation – that resulted in the Lakin Human Services Campus in Council Bluffs. He said that the Robins Foundation’s focus on scientific and research projects “will be a new area for me,” but it’s one he’s excited to be involved with. “Todd had a specialized perspective and expertise,” said Carol Wood, CEO of Children’s Square, U.S.A. “He helped shape the vision and the mission of the Iowa West Founda-

tion and the community it serves. He helped us hone our own mission. “As a life-long resident of Council Bluffs, I think the Iowa West Foundation has been uplifting for the community. Todd brought a unique perspective, and he will have a lasting impact on the foundation. The Robins Foundation will benefit from his leadership.” “This opportunity is exciting news for Todd and his family,” said Nancy Schultz, vice president of Iowa services for Heartland Family Service. “During Todd’s time at the Iowa West Foundation, he’s really brought a lot more focus to the human and social needs side of our community. His efforts and that focus have been extremely helpful for nonprofits. His departure will be a loss for the Iowa West Foundation, but I wish him all the best.” “Under Todd’s direction, and

in response to a foundationcommissioned community needs study, the foundation was willing to invest significant funding in educational projects that are having a positive impact on students and our our community,” said Council Bluffs Community School District Superintendent Martha Bruckner. “We expect this partnership to continue under Jerry Mathiasen’s interim leadership and into the future.” “Todd did a good job for us and the community,” said Chuck Smith, chairman of the Iowa West Foundation Board. Smith said the board is putting together an internal committee to help with the search for a replacement and will reach out for professional assistance. Jerry Mathiasen, the foundation’s current senior vice president is serving as interim CEO.


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The Daily Nonpareil

TOP STUDENTS Council Bluffs Community School District 2011 graduates with GPA of 3.6 or higher: Kellie Bates Michael Byers Cory Cavallaro Alicia Dubuc Saige Durham Espinoza Gustavo Ethen Miranda Steven Hand Rachelle Harrill Alexander Korner Tyler Kuhl Tiffany Linquist Brittany Odell Stephanie Pimentel Kelsie Skow Emily Storey Abigail Torres Jamie beck Leah Campbell Ashley Cavanaugh Brooklynn Clark Elizabeth Cleaveland Anna Cowan Ashley Cross Colin Dall Morgan Deboer Jena Edwards Brett Frink Diego Godinez Morgan Hively Danielle Hogsed Daniel Hopper Anna Marie Johnston

Christian Kennedy Emily Koontz Jamison Lalk Keaton Leisinger Ronda Long-Birdsall Amber Michael Sierra Nighswonger Matthew Nohr Alex Olsen Alex Opal Connor Reynolds Katherine Reynolds Taylor Rosas Hayley Ross Shannon Smith Jesse St. Clair Kelsey Tekippe Lucas Thallas Angela Vergamini Lauren Wilson Ryan Wood Hannah Zimmerman Iowa School for the Deaf Carly Weyers, senior address Lewis Central Community School District 2011 graduates with GPA of 3.6 or higher: Whitney Androy Brittany Bell Spencer Bradley Jessica Brickey Whitney Clark Rachelle Cole

Nicole Congdon Nathan Connealy Camilla Cortney Leah Erickson Sarah Gates Chase Gibson Kayla Hardiman Meghan Harris Dennis Hendrix Hannah Jacoby Katherine Jacoby Allyson Jensen Stephanie Jensen Taylor Jensen Cole Johnson Taylor Kastrup Michael Kirchner Paityn Korner Taylor Kuhn Jenna Ladd Jordan Leehy Kaitlin Madsen Madison Massey Michael McGuire Ashley Minnick Luke Norville Corrie Oberg Natalie Olberding Madeleine Overholtzer Samantha Poehling Mark Richwine Sara Rudolph Kimberly Ryan Jessica Safarik Rebecca Safarik Samantha Schaefer Matthew Scheidle

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The Daily Nonpareil

Thursday, December 22, 2011



Once-prominent Council Respected veteran died at 95 Bluffs retailer died in July Ross Grego

George “Chub” Beno A once-prominent Council Bluffs retailer died in 2011. George S. “Chub” Beno, former president and owner of Beno’s Department Store, died July 11 at the age of 82. Beno was best known for operating his family’s popular department store, which once stood just east of Scott Street and West Broadway – now a parking lot. The business was established in 1866 and was perhaps the city’s largest retail store until the late 1980s. He was president and owner of the business from 1971 through 1987 and reorganized it into nine women’s specialty stores throughout Iowa and Nebraska. “Beno’s Department Store was kind of the place to go when I was a kid,” Mayor Tom Hanafan said. “It was kind of the icon of the area. Chub was there – he was the man; and he was always there, and he knew what was going on.” As a young man, Hanafan

admired Beno and sought his council while considering a run for the City Council. “I was 32 years old, had no experience running for office, and one of the people I talked to about running for City Council was Chub Beno,” he said. “The guy had a lot of knowledge that other people didn’t through his store and his family … I joined the Rotary, and Chub was the president of the Rotary at that time.” Beno was a leader in the community. He served as chairman of the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce Retail Committee in the mid-1960s, president of the Westfair Board and volunteer or board member for the Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity, the Council Bluffs Senior Center, Iowa Retail, United Fund, Boys & Girls Clubs and The Salvation Army. “He really loved the community,” Hanafan said. “He was just a big supporter of the community.” Beno served on an ad hoc

committee formed by the chamber in 1983 just after Iowa legalized pari-mutuel gaming, said Jerry Mathiasen, senior vice president of the Iowa West Foundation. He was one of the first executive directors of the Iowa West Racing Association and oversaw the operation of Bluffs Run. “First and foremost, Chub was a great guy, but also he was a key person in getting the Iowa West organization to where it is today,” Mathiasen said. “As one of its first executive directors, Chub was at the front of the evolution of Iowa West into one of the largest private foundations and grant makers in this region.” Beno was born in Council Bluffs and graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1946 and the University of Iowa in 1950. He joined the U.S. Army Reserves that year and served two years during the Korean War and 10 years in all, achieving the rank of captain and company commander.

Community champion Devine died at start of 2011 Dennis Devine Council Bluffs said goodbye to a community champion in 2011 when Dennis Devine, 71, died on Jan. 10. Devine, was known widely as the “Purple Martin Man,” or “Johnny Cash’s biggest fan,” but was also a retired Council Bluffs Firefighter, antique dealer and “nipperologist,” a phrase he coined for himself. Devine explained that “Nipper” was the name of the famous RCA dog, and well, he knew a lot about the dog. Nipper aside, Devine spent a number of years devoted to our winged neighbors, especially the Purple Martin. Devine worked tirelessly for 17 years to have Council Bluffs and southwest Iowa named an official Purple Martin Capital. On April 20, 2007, Mayor Tom Hanafan read a proclamation naming Council Bluffs and southwest Iowa a Purple Martin Capital of Iowa, and in June of that same year, Nature Society News – known as the Voice of the Purple Martin – devoted its entire front page to Devine’s successful efforts. “It’s a big sigh of relief,”

Devine provided the author with numerous photos he took during his many years of friendship with the legendary “Man in Black.” Though he had been following Cash’s music for several years before, Devine personally met the singing legend for the first time on Feb. 26, 1960, during Cash’s appearance at the former Paramount Theater in Omaha. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship that became not only the bond between two men, but also the relationship between the Submitted photo country music star and the Dennis Devine died on community of Council Bluffs. Jan. 10 at the age of 71. Through Devine’s efforts, Council Bluffs is one of two Devine told The Daily Non- cities worldwide with a street pareil in June 2007. “I’m vin- named in the singer’s honor; dicated because my quest has and the RailsWest Railroad come through.” Museum has a collection of Johnny Cash and June Cash artifacts. Carter Cash had millions of Devine’s devotion to counfans around the world, but try music led to his promot“there is only one Dennis ing and encouraging performDevine.” ers of all walks of life. That’s how author Peggy In September 2004, Knight described Devine in Devine was inducted into her book, “At Home with America’s Old Time Country Johnny, June and Mother Music Hall of Fame. The cereMaybelle Snapshots from My monies were held at the Old Life with the Cash and Time Country and Bluegrass Carter Families.” Festival in Harrison County.

Hawk died Dec. 19, remembered as ‘great community supporter’ Jim Hawk Council Bluffs lost a great community supporter with the death of Jim Hawk, local officials said. “Jim was a great guy,” Mayor Tom Hanafan said. “He raised a great family, was a great community supporter. He grew up in this town and stayed here. Jim was very supportive of the community.” Hawk, who died Dec. 19 at the age of 87, founded the Jim Hawk Truck Trailer Co. in Council Bluffs, which initially had nine employees involved in the selling, repair and service of semi-trailer trucks. Four decades later, the company has expanded to 400 employees in 10 locations throughout the Midwest, including Council Bluffs. He long credited his success to having the right product, the right people and the right location. Two grandsons now own the company. Among Hawk’s commitments to the community was his help in jump starting the Council Bluffs Police Department canine enforcement pro-

gram by initially purchasing two dogs, and he also donated funds for that cause to the Pottawattamie County’s Sheriff’s Department. “Without his support, we wouldn’t have a K9 program today,” Police Chief Ralph O’Donnell said. “We’re very appreciative of him,” added Sheriff Jeff Danker. A native of Woodbine and raised in Council Bluffs, Hawk served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He and his wife, Beverly, were married 64 years and raised two children. About 20 years ago, the couple initiated the Jim and Bev Hawk Scholarship Fund that annually awards scholarships to Thomas Jefferson High School graduating seniors. They also helped fund the purchase of EKG/defibrillators for Pottawattamie County rescue squads. In 2007, Hawk received the Heritage Award in Business from Alegent Health Mercy Hospital Foundation, and at the time of his death, he was serving as honorary co-chairman of the Midlands Humane

Submitted photo

Jim Hawk, who died Dec. 19 at the age of 87, founded the Jim Hawk Truck Trailer Co. in Council Bluffs Society Campaign Fund. An avid sportsman who loved to hunt and fish, Hawk was involved in Ducks Unlimited and for preserving the habitat of wild game birds. “Jim was just a good, honest man,” Hanafan said.

Council Bluffs lost a veteran, patriot and community volunteer in 2011. Ross Grego, 95, died May 6 at the home of son Larry and Rose Grego. Those active in local veterans organizations have lost a comrade, said Norma Faris, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Auxiliary and friend of Ross Grego’s for almost 20 years. “It’s just a great loss to the veterans in the community,” she said in May. “I’m going to miss him greatly. He was a mentor on veterans affairs. He was a very intelligent man and a lot of fun to work with. He was a great help to veterans in this community, and he will be sorely missed.” Ross Grego served during both World War II and the Korean War but was best known for co-leading a campaign to raise money for the Vietnam Memorial that stands on the east side of Bayliss Park. “That was his passion, once Phillip was killed,” Faris said. Ross Grego’s son, Phillip, was killed in Vietnam in 1966, and Ross talked Omaha sculptor John Lajba into modeling the statue after a photograph of Phillip. Ross Grego was also on the steering committee for Veterans Memorial Plaza, Faris

Submitted photo

Ross Grego, 95, died May 6.“It’s just a great loss to the veterans in the community,” Norma Faris, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Auxiliary, said. said. “He put in a lot of input in the meetings we had for that plaza,” she said. “When it was decided we had to move the Vietnam veterans monument to put it in, they talked to Ross, and he went along with everything they wanted.” “When we worked on the Bayliss Park memorial, we made sure we kept that mon-

ument to the south intact,” said Darlene McMartin, administrator of the Pottawattamie County Veterans Affairs Commission. “It was moved out and then put back in place.” “He was always involved in veterans affairs,” she said. “He always made sure there were wreaths at Veterans Plaza and the Vietnam Memorial.” Ross Grego was awarded a Bronze Star for his service in Europe during World War II as a sergeant in the 156th Infantry Regiment. He worked as a sales representative for Storz Brewing Co. for 35 years, a bus driver for Council Bluffs Community Schools for 27 years and a service driver for the Omaha World-Herald for 12 years. “He was just a smiley man and was always a father figure and felt like all of the veterans from Vietnam were his children,” McMartin said. “We always called him ‘Pops,’ and in my 20 years, he was always there. For many years, he would donate clothing when we had clothing drives for veterans and their dependents. If somebody needed something – some clothes or some shoes – he always had a way of coming up with that.”


Herbener’s death a ‘big loss’ Lloyd Herbener Children’s Square USA lost a longtime employee in 2011. Lloyd Herbener, 82, director of planned giving, died unexpectedly early March 2 at his home in LaVista, Neb. “It’s a big loss for Children’s Square and for Lloyd’s friends Herbener and family,” said Bill Ramsey, who worked with Herbener as a board member and board chairman. He called Herbener a “good friend and quiet hero.” “He’s kind of a quiet hero, I would call him – never seeking any praise for himself, ever,” he said. “It always was in the name of and for the good of Children’s Square. We will all miss him.” Carol Wood, CEO of Children’s Square, said Herbener was “a gentle man in the true sense.” “Family was extremely important to him,” she said. “I always enjoyed hearing the stories of his family and his grandkids.” Herbener joined the staff as director of planned giving on Aug. 11, 1997, she said. “In this capacity, he has cultivated many relationships and assisted individuals and couples in their thinking about charitable gifts both today and as a part of estate planning,” she said in an e-mail message. “Gift planning such as this takes years and years to mature. The seeds Lloyd has planted in his 13-plus years of service in this organization are ones that will be realized in future years. We will miss Lloyd, as will the many friends and donors with whom he worked.” Said Ramsey, “He has done an excellent job of keeping track of our good friends who have been supporting Children’s Square all through the years. I’ve always admired his tenacious abilities on this kind of work. He’s helped in many other ways, as well – a real trooper, in that sense, and very faithful to the mission of Children’s Square.”


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The Daily Nonpareil

Thursday, December 22, 2011



City mourns soldier’s death Sgt. Brent Maher Family, friends and many others turned out April 22 to say goodbye to Sgt. Brent Maher. Maher, 31, of Council Bluffs, died on April 11 in Paktya province, Afghanistan, while on a patrol mission with the 168th Infantry of the Iowa National Guard. About 800 people filled the Thomas Jefferson High School Fieldhouse for Maher’s funeral. Marlin Tillman, a member of the Shenandoah American Legion who served with Maher’s step-father, Mick Tyner, told the crowd “there are days when you just can’t speak. For the family, today is one of those days.” Turnbull read a message from Tyner: “I’m so proud of you, Brent. As time went by I felt you were my own son. Last Christmas, your gift to me was a T-shirt. It read ‘Army Dad.’ That gift made me feel like we’d really bonded. That

Submitted photo

Sgt. Brent Maher, 31, of Council Bluffs, died on April 11 in Paktya province, Afghanistan, while on a patrol mission with the 168th Infantry of the Iowa National Guard. gift made me cry then, as I’m doing now. “I’ll miss you, Brent.” The Rev. Yvonne Marshall of Our Savior Lutheran church, where Brent and his wife, Brenna, attended, offici-

ated the service. Marshall told the crowd “he loved hunting and fishing, country music. And a beer.” “But most important was family,” Marshall said. Maher had three children, Kaitlyn, 9, Matthew, 8, and Hannah, 4, from a previous marriage, whom “he adored.” A number of men and women with the armed forces were in attendance, as were countless bikers. Another 250 people lined 25th and Broadway before the funeral began, waving American flags and holding signs that said “United We Stand,” “Support Our Troops,” and “Silence for the Fallen.” Cars passing by honked, prompting cheers, while motorcyclists revved their engines to put a charge in the crowd. “He was a great hero for this country,” said David Craighill, who stood along the street, miniature American flag in hand. “I came out to pay my respects.” At Garner Township Cemetery, a huge crowd gathered

before the processional arrived. Among them was Loren Knauss, a Pottawattamie County supervisor. “It’s an incredible sacrifice that many truly don’t understand until something like this happens,” he said. Even more incredible is that the brave men and women who willingly sign up to serve their country know that danger and death can come at any moment in battle, Knauss said. “They know the risks and that is what makes it even more incredible in what they are doing.” The burial ceremony included a 21-gun salute, a bagpipe player performing Amazing Grace and various American flags given to his widow. An estimated 700 attended, including Gov. Terry Branstad. Maher’s heroics were later honored for this generation and future ones to admire by having his named engraved on the Veterans Memorial Wall in Bayliss Park.

McMullens died within months of each other Harry and Erma McMullen Council Bluffs said goodbye to an auto industry legend in 2011. Harry McMullen, a leader in the Council Bluffs automobile business for more than 30 years, came to Omaha as a child when his widowed mother opened a boarding house at 29th Street and Park Avenue that catered to Creighton University students and others who agreed to not smoke or drink. Over the next seven decades, McMullen served in the U.S. Navy, learned accounting, worked up to general manager of an auto dealership and eventually owned his own dealership, McMullen Ford of Council Bluffs. McMullen was active in the business until May 2010, when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and began treatment. He died Jan. 4 at

age 84. “He still grilled me on the financial statements up ‘til the very last day,” said Scott McMullen, his son and president of the auto dealership. “He was very proud to be associated with Ford Motor Co., that they elected to take care of business internally and borrow money the normal way rather than going out and taking government money. “He had a very gentle and kind way of leading his employees and also, at the same time, he was very gentle and kind with his customers, which helped build the repeat and referral business that people need to survive in today’s economy.” Scott McMullen said his father recognized talent in his employees and used training and coaching “to bring great results out of people.” Harry McMullen was a philanthropist and a driving force

Harry McMullen

Erma McMullen

in many civic organizations, his son said, working with Omaha Masonic groups. “He loved the fraternity, the fellowship that he had with all the members and the services that these groups provide for other people in the community.” Harry’s wife also passed away in 2011. Erma McMullen died Aug. 2. Scott McMullen described his mother as very much a “behind-the-scenes” woman. Although Erma McMullen was not directly involved with the day-to-day operation of the

dealership, Scott said, “She gave great suggestions about what we should be doing differently. She ran a great household, allowing dad and I to focus on the business.” Scott said his mother and father enjoyed a number of the same interests, including working with the Boy Scouts, their church and the Masonic organizations they were both actively involved with. Erma McMullen was a past Queen of the Daughters of the Nile, the women’s auxiliary of the Shrine. A native of Sidney, Erma McMullen moved to Omaha in 1942 where she met her husband-to-be. While Harry McMullen served with the U.S. Navy during World War II, Erma McMullen served for a time as deputy county auditor for Fremont County before returning to the Omaha area to work in the Martin bomber factory.

Former fire chief died at age 75 Charles “Steve” Johnson A Council Bluffs man who spent more than 30 years serving the city as a firefighter died Dec. 13. Charles “Steve” Johnson died at Alegent Health Mercy Hospital at the age of 75. The former acting Council Johnson Bluffs fire chief loved being a firefighter and was proud of his German heritage, according to current Fire Chief Alan Byers. Johnson was born in Linton, Ind., but moved with his family to Council Bluffs in 1946 and graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1955. After graduating high school, Johnson attended college before joining the U.S. Marine Corps in 1957. He served in the Marines until 1960. Johnson started at the Council Bluffs Fire Department on May 10, 1963. He was promoted to the rank of driver/pump operator in 1966. In 1968, he married Ursula Daugherty, who preceded him in death in 2005. Byers said Ursula’s death devastated Johnson, who he said was always close to his family. “He was a great family man,” Byers said. “I remember his kids and wife being around the station a lot.” Johnson was promoted to captain in the department in 1976, promoted to assistant chief in 1983 and

was appointed acting chief of the CBFD in 1994. Byers would assume the chief ’s position after Johnson’s role as acting chief. “Steve was one of my first captains at the station; he loved and was proud of what he did,” Byers said. “He was well respected by firefighters and the people in the community.” Johnson retired in 1996. He was a member of Saint John Lutheran Church and served on the church board for two terms; served as a trustee in the Iowa Association of Professional Firefighters; pastpresident of CB Association of Professional Firefighters and Iowa Association of Professional Firefighters; and was a member of the German-American Club in Omaha. “He was proud of his German heritage and not afraid to let you know about it,” Byers said. Byers said Johnson recently had some health setbacks, but many people had a chance to visit him before his passing. “A lot of people got to go see him and talk to him one last time – hash over old memories and hear his advice,” Byers said. Byers said firefighters were familiar with Johnson’s unique way of handling questions or concerns. “At the station, whenever there was an issue or a question, Steve would lean back in his chair and cross his arms. When he crossed his arms he was contemplating,” Byers laughed. “You always got a good answer, you just knew it wasn’t going to be fast.”

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Last goodbye: Roll call of some who died in 2011 ATLANTA (AP) – They lived by the sword, both inspiring fear and acts of bloodshed around the world. And in the end, they both suffered violent deaths befitting their fearsome reputations. Perhaps no two deaths in 2011 transfixed the world more than those of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. Bin Laden became the most wanted man in the world after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people. Nearly a decade later, he was shot dead by U.S. commandos in May after being tracked to his hideout in Pakistan. His body was buried at sea. For Gadhafi, the end came after he was captured by rebels, his final moments shown in gruesome, shaky handheld video that was seen across the globe. If relief and even celebration by many greeted their demise, the deaths of other notables in 2011 brought reflection on lives of achievement. The world of science and innovation lost Steve Jobs, the Apple founder who invented and marketed sleek gadgets that transformed everyday technology from the personal computer to the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Science also said goodbye this year to Christian J. Lambertson, Norman Ramsey, William Nunn Lipscomb, Jr., Boris Chertok and Ralph Steinman. Political figures who died in 2011 included R. Sargent Shriver, Warren M. Christopher, Jiri Dienstbier, Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Geraldine Ferraro, Max van der Stoel, Necmattin Erbakan,



Ratu Josefa Iloilo, Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu, Leonidas Kyrkos, Hugh Carey, Garret FitzGerald, Betty Ford, Vaclav Havel and Kim Jong Il. In entertainment, the world lost Elizabeth Taylor, a woman whose sultry screen persona, stormy personal life and enduring fame made her one of the last of the classic movie stars. The year also saw the passing of soul singer Amy Winehouse, whose death at age 27 left many wondering what works of musical bril-

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liance the world might have seen from the troubled, young star. Others in the arts and entertainment field who died include: Peter Falk, Jane Russell, Clarence Clemons, Pinetop Perkins, Annie Girardot, Harry Morgan, Ferlin Husky, Susannah York, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, David Nelson, Sidney Lumet, Richard Hamilton, Bil Keane, Poly Styrene, M.F. Husain, Heavy D, Jackie Cooper, Robert Tear and Betty Garrett.


In this Sept. 25, 1953 file photo, actress Elizabeth Taylor stands on the balcony of the Grand Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. The actress died March 23 of congestive heart failure at age 79.

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The Daily Nonpareil

Thursday, December 22, 2011


In year of cataclysms, a few faces stand out



Seismic jolts shook 2011 – uprisings that set a whole region afire, natural disasters of historic destructiveness, the demise of icons. But again and again amid these world-changing convulsions, the mirror of a single face, or two or three, joyous, tormented, panicked or hopeful, brought the largerthan-life moments back to human scale. There were the taut, staring faces in the White House situation room as America’s leaders strained to take in reports of the raid that was, right then, killing Osama Bin Laden. Youthful faces filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square, triumphant and forward-looking in spring, angry and masked against tear gas in fall. Tears streaked faces in the ruins of tornadoes that scoured towns in Missouri and Alabama. Behind a hazmat faceshield, scared eyes scanned Japan’s quake-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant; in a final portrait, Steve Jobs stared, intense as ever but so thin; through a car window, Joe Paterno frowned distractedly. It’s not hard – and it may be almost necessary – to recall such images as we try to make sense of the relentless buffeting we’ve all been through in this extraordinary year. Not all the faces are downcast. Seven months after she survived a would-be assassin’s shots in January, beaming looks and happy tears greeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on her return to Congress for a vote to avert a government shutdown. And as well-wishers thronged London streets for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Britain’s capital was almost one great grin. Almost, but not quite. As the royal newlyweds kissed on a Buckingham Palace balcony, eyes quickly shifted to the corner of the frame – and the head-in-hands grimace of a little worn-out flowergirl. Think of an unforgettable event in 2011, and you conjure a signature face. “Arab spring” was the term coined for one of the year’s most profound developments, but it was still winter when a street vendor in Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi, tragically protested officials’ humiliating harassment by setting himself on fire. Demonstrators carrying poster-size photos of his youthful face surged in thousands to the seat of power in Tunis, eventually driving out the longtime ruler. It was the first crack in the stone wall of autocracy in nations across the Middle East – and the Arab spring became a year-long struggle to reshape the region. Tahrir Square’s crowds pushed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from office in February and later into a courtroom to answer charges; the crowds returned to the square amid the uncertainty preceding November’s elections. Yemen’s pressured leader agreed to step aside, and other governments were forced to respond to demands for change. In Syria, deadly suppression of a determined


Above, Joplin residents Paula Barnett, left, and Susan Dodson console each other during a memorial service on May 29 marking the one week anniversary of an EF-5 tornado which ripped a six mile long path of destruction through Joplin. At top right, a protestor of the Occupy Atlanta demonstration is arrested after refusing to leave after Mayor Kasim Reed revoked his executive order allowing the protestors to camp out in Woodruff Park in Atlanta on Oct. 26. Britain's Prince William kisses his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, as bridesmaid Grace van Cutsem, left, covers her ears on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Royal Wedding in London on April 29. uprising continues. In ravaged Libya, the capture and shooting of Moammar Gadhafi provided one of the year’s most searing images: his corpse, face bloated, laid out on a bare mattress for queues of spectators to gawk at. Near year’s end, queues of a different kind bloomed in Egypt and Tunisia – as millions of voters cast ballots. On the other side of the world, in the United States, lines of people told another story of 2011. In cities from Atlanta to Los Angeles, job fairs lured throngs of unemployed Americans who snaked forward, single-file, to present their resumes as the jobless rate hovered around 9 percent. Lines of tents filled Occupy Wall Street’s encampment in lower Manhattan, which spread its message of economic disenfranchisement – “we are the 99 percent” – to cities around the nation and the world. The economy’s woes were a theme hammered home as Republican presidential candidates stood behind rows of lecterns for what seemed at times like weekly debates – and near-weekly shifts in the front-runner, from Rep. Michelle Bachmann to Gov. Rick Perry to businessman Herman Cain (who’d later drop out, denying claims of sexual improprieties) to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “Anybody but Mitt,” some in the GOP said, referring to ex-governor Mitt Romney, whose pretty good poll numbers neither dwindled nor let him pull away. On the Democratic side, President Barack Obama geared up for a re-election run amid both economic and political dysfunction. “We can’t wait,” he repeated in speeches, chiding congressional Republicans for blocking administration initiatives on job creation and taxing the wealthy.

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A drawn-out battle in Congress over raising the federal debt ceiling nearly halted government activity and led to the downgrading of America’s credit rating. It also prompted creation of a special bipartisan congressional “supercommittee.” Its job: to find budget savings on a scale not seen before – $1.2 trillion over the next decade. In the end, no compromise emerged in the gridlocked capital. Congress’ approval ratings dropped to historic lows (9 percent, according to a New York Times-CBS poll), which sent wags looking for anything ironic that enjoyed more favorability: “U.S. going communist” (11 percent, Rasmussen poll), BP during the Gulf oil spill (10 percent, Gallup poll). One survey (Public Policy Polling) concluded Congress ranked below Rupert Murdoch, the media baron hauled before Britain’s Parliament to explain revelations of widespread illegal phone hacking by his aggressive tabloid reporters. In Obama’s year, no day proved more eventful than May 2. He had given the order for a Navy Seal operation against bin Laden, the mastermind of 9/11, whom CIA intelligence had traced to a walled house in Pakistan. As CIA director Leon Panetta gave a real-time description of the unfolding helicopter raid, a White House photographer captured the moment: Obama’s eyes burning straight ahead, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tensely raising hand to mouth, others appearing to hold their breath. In 40 minutes, it was over; the commandos vanished into the darkness with hard drives and other evidence they gathered, plus bin Laden’s body, which was hurriedly buried at sea. “We got him,” Obama said.

The man who had held the world in terror was gone – but the Afghan war launched to capture him marked its 10th year in 2011. In Iraq, the long U.S. military involvement was winding down by year’s end. In the war that freed Libya from Gadhafi, European powers cooperated under NATO’s aegis – even as sovereign debt worries in Greece and other nations pulled the eurozone apart, threatening chaos far beyond. What images rise to the surface of this slow-motion crisis? Besides scenes of street fighting in Athens and elsewhere, it’s the faces of France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel, looking awfully tired. Government and corporate leaders in Japan tried to strike a calming tone after a cataclysmic earthquake and resulting tsunami crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March. But dubious safety claims were quickly overwhelmed by surreal news coverage, such as scenes of hazmat-suited workers checking children with Geiger counters. With nearly 20,000 deaths and damage in the hundreds of billions of dollars, it was called the most costly natural disaster in history. And nature’s wrath wasn’t spent. Historic flooding ravaged stretches of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers; Bangkok, Thailand, was inundated. An earthquake shook Christchurch, New Zealand, killing more than 180. And quakes struck in many other places, including some odd ones; a temblor just south of the U.S. capital cracked and closed the Washington Monument. In roaring springtime tornadoes, parts of Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., among other towns, were virtually wiped away. One Missouri newspa-

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per’s full-page array of portraits – a baby’s laughing face set amid the images of dozens of others, old and young – pitifully tallied the local toll. Another 2011 image of innocents who perished: In July, attacks in Oslo and at an idyllic island summer camp nearby in Norway by a man later deemed insane left 77 dead, most of them children and teenagers. Death claimed the famous. Besides Jobs, the genius behind Apple computer and its elegant i-things, they ranged from legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor to former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, from assisted-suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian to inaugural Peace Corps director Sargent Shriver. Something more abstract was mourned after the scandal that enveloped Penn State University’s football program, breaking student and alumni hearts. Here again, a proud

and rock-solid institution seemed for a time to sway on its foundation. It was all unthinkable: the lurid details of a grand jury’s charges that longtime former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was a serial child molester and that some school administrators allegedly failed to act responsibly on what they knew. Paterno, the coach admired far and wide for his high standards, wasn’t charged but his era ended in summary firing. In his storybook college town, bewildered students rampaged. Yet, at a campus rally where candlelit young faces made another memorable image of the year, a larger group of Penn Staters gathered to support the abuse victims – and, as one student said, “to put ourselves back together.” In a shattering year around the world, the comment could have stood for many others.

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