A publication of the
WESTSIDE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION SPRING 2017
Westside Connections to the Old Market
People began to refer to the area as Old Town, but Judy and friends didn’t want that ...
Clockwise from left to right: Judy Youngman Wigton (‘57) in 1957 and today, Wilson & Washburn, owned by Jeff Luby (‘91) and his wife Faith, Mark Donovan (‘76) and Katie O’Connor (‘90) & Kirk Anderson (’83).
For nearly 50 years Omaha’s residents have known and loved Omaha’s Old Market District. The old-fashioned brick streets lined with unique shops, galleries, restaurants, bars, bookstores, theaters and living spaces have made it Omaha’s primary entertainment destination, a place to see and be seen. Few know the Old Market story better than Judy Youngman Wigton (’57). Judy grew up in the Loveland area, and after graduating college returned to Omaha in 1962. She wanted to open a shop selling finer merchandise, much like the shops and boutiques she encountered in her travels across the US and overseas. She soon met Cedric Hartman, an acclaimed lighting and furniture designer who shared her appreciation for high quality material. Together they opened an art gallery and design store called The Afternoon selling crystal, china, silver, furniture and home décor items located in the mid-town area. While on a buying trip to Chicago, they visited Old Towne, an area of quality shops in unique, older repurposed buildings. That inspiration eventually led
them to discover Omaha’s fruit and vegetable market district around 10th and Howard Streets. Most of the independent wholesalers had left the area due to the expansion of large chain stores, and many of the buildings were vacant. Judy said that, “People were afraid to go to the area. Almost always some drunks were lying on the sidewalks. But the cast iron storefronts were still there and the high-ceilinged spaces inside, lighted by the tall windows, were very beautiful – and to us they looked promising.” A “For Rent” sign prompted Judy to call Mercer Management, who owned several Old Market buildings. Judy recalls, “On a very cold day in December 1964 we met Sam Mercer. He showed us the property. We indicated it wouldn’t work if we were the only ones down there. We wanted there to be a number of shops. He seemed very doubtful about our idea for a community of shops and restaurants.”
During the next three years, Judy and Cedric continued to sell their vision for the area to Sam Mercer. Through these meetings all three became good friends and eventually Sam began to share their retail vision. Judy then raised awareness of the project by hosting luncheons at the Omaha Club. Sam presented the idea to politicians, the Chamber of Commerce, journalists, potential investors, local movers and shakers, and virtually anyone who would listen. “Finally at a dinner party, I found the first tenant, The British Import Shop.” As more tenants followed, they decided they needed a signature restaurant to anchor the area. “Perhaps it really began to come together when the French Cafe was born in 1969.” She recalls, “There was a special opening night dinner to which we invited the mayor, city councilmen, the county commissioners and all kinds of people we felt would become customers and spread the word. It was a huge success.” Continued on page 2
Westside Connections to the Old Market People began to refer to the area as Old Town, but Judy and friends didn’t want that. “I thought we should call it exactly what it was, the Old Market. The following week a political friend was holding a press conference. He encouraged me to come along and tell the press what we wanted it to be called. I did and from then on everyone DID call it the Old Market. I’m still amazed at how simple it had been to change the name.” But things weren’t always simple. Through a tenant, she found out that the city was going to do them a “favor” by covering the brick streets with asphalt later that day. She jumped into action and saved the brick streets. It was the “eleventh hour and 59th minute” when Judy, Sam Mercer and Cedric Hartmann learned that the building that houses today’s Le Bouillon Restaurant was going to be torn down the next morning at 7:00 a.m. They appealed to the owner’s daughter who stopped the demolition order. Without a little luck and their quick action, the Old Market would look very different today. 50 years later, Warrior alums continue to make their mark on the Old Market. When Katie O’Connor (‘90) and Kirk Anderson (’83) opened O’Connor’s Irish Pub and Grille in 2001, they were no strangers to the Old Market district. Both had worked at M’s Pub and Mister Toad’s Pub, before Mike Moylan and Pat Goebel inspired them to open their own Old Market business. They love being their own boss and they enjoy the “family” environment where business owners often frequent other Old Market establishments. Katie thinks O’Connor’s biggest impact on the Old Market is that they have succeeded in a location that had previously seen other businesses fail. Located at 1217 Howard Street, O’Connor’s is an established hot spot at the Western edge of the Old Market. O’Connor says that business has slowed throughout the Old Market since the devastating M’s Pub fire in January 2016. The fire gutted several businesses, including Old Market Habitat, a flower shop owned by Kyle McGill Robino (‘88), and The Market House where Benjamin Maides (’04) had worked as a chef. (See “Warriors in the Kitchen”, Spring 2016 “W” ). As business owners, Katie and Kirk credit Westside for giving them an early lesson in time management. She recalled that her teachers and administrators were always there for her. Katie also said that it was at Westside where she first learned how to ask for help After a 15-year career at various New York City bars, Jeff Luby’s (‘91) Westside and Omaha connections brought him and his wife back to Omaha. Wilson & Washburn was designed to “fill the void between college bars and the high-end cocktail establishments”.
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Their cozy pub serves craft beer and made-from-scratch comfort food on the edge of the Old Market at 1407 Harney Street. He says he loves the diversity of their clientele, serving people from every walk of life, including business travelers, and actors and crew from the nearby Orpheum Theater. Jeff recalls having “a little too much fun” at Westside. As an upper classman he took advantage of “open campus” to head to Big John’s Billiards for free lunch and pool. He said that, as Senior Class Vice President, he really enjoyed making his class’ video. For Brent Crampton (‘02), DJ, event planner and partner in The Berry & Rye, his fascination with the Old Market began his senior year of high school. He loved its “urban tick” and deejayed downtown and in the Old Market, including at Bob Eisenberg’s (‘74) Bar 415. Before The Berry & Rye, he co-owned and operated House of Loom just south of the Old Market. It was an event venue/night club that promoted an eclectic array of events that encouraged multiculturalism and inclusivity. He says that he discovered his natural inclination to bring people together when he was at Westside. “I preferred to transcend social groups and instead try to blend them together.” He loves the Market because it is “a version of NYC’s SoHo before their SoHo existed.” He describes The Berry & Rye as “Omaha’s first dedicated craft cocktail lounge. Head Bartender Luke Edson has really helped to put Omaha on the national map of credible cocktail spots.” The Berry & Rye is located at 1105 Howard Street. As for the future, he would love to see the neighborhood businesses and leaders work more closely together to make fun stuff happen, like shutting down Howard Street on the weekends for a big street festival. His favorite memory of high school is that it’s where he met his wife, Micah Ellis (‘01). They have one daughter. Thanks to Mark Donovan (’76) and his Magical Journeys Carriage Service, the clip-clop of horses’ hooves on the brick streets has been an essential part of the Old Market experience for nearly 40 years. “When people think of the Old Market, they think of old buildings, brick roads and horse drawn carriages. I have added life and romance to the Old Market.” Donovan loves the Old Market and sees the area as its own unique community within the larger city. He also foresees even more residential space located above the retail tenants in the future. Mark credits Westside for his “can-do attitude and the creativity” to start his own business. His favorite Westside memories include speech and cooking classes, modular scheduling, and great, compassionate teachers. You may still see Jeff, Kyle, Brent and Katie around the District. Jeff and his wife live in the Swanson neighborhood. Kyle and her family live in the Oakdale area. Both Brent and Katie live in the houses where they grew up; Brent in Hillside and Katie in Loveland. The pioneering vision and entrepreneurial spirit of Judy Youngman Wigton and other Westside alumni has made the Old Market what it is today, a vibrant entertainment district and an essential Omaha destination poised for even more growth in the future. The Westside Alumni Association honors and recognizes all deceased alumni. Visit:
New Development Director
The Hanna Family at The Masters in Augusta, Georgia
We are proud to welcome Terry Hanna to our team as the new Development Director at the Westside Foundation. Terry grew up in the District, attended Sunset Hills Elementary School, Arbor Heights Junior High and graduated from Westside High School in 1992. When approached about the role, Terry described the shared opportunity he saw, “It was perfect timing with my kids in the district, and a place in my career to help District 66 think big. I wanted to take my professional experiences since high school and work with the Westside community and leadership. It is exciting to be part of a district-wide strategy that will give kids the skills to go wherever their passion leads them in their career”. Terry went on to describe the pride and culture of Westside, and the importance of connecting the network of current students, alumni and district leaders to that brand. A true family man, Terry has three kids in the District; with 7th grade twin girls Kaitlyn and Karly who are involved in golf and basketball, and volleyball and dance respectively, and 2nd grade Tyler who is living large at Prairie Lane Elementary School. Terry is raising funds for the many priorities at Westside Community Schools that will impact students across the district. Above all, Terry is devoted to working with our community to continue to make the future bright at Westside Community Schools. E-mail: email@example.com
“YOUR FUTURE IS WHATEVER YOU MAKE IT, SO MAKE IT A GOOD ONE.” DOC BROWN
SAVE THE DATE
Westside VI-VI 2017 is in your Future
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2017 6:00 pm Cocktails & Silent Auction 7:30 pm Dinner | 8:30 pm Live Auction Omaha Design Center 502 Cuming Street | Omaha, NE
EVERY STUDENT, EVERY SCHOOL
Proceeds from Westside’s VI-VI 2017 will be used to invest in the f uture of our students by providing funds for the continuance of educational excellence and innovative learning opportunities.
To Westside alumni and families, My staff and I recently received an e-mail from WCS administrators regarding District news coverage for the month of February. Westside Community Schools was positively featured 23 times; more than half were about WHS students or graduates. Maybe you saw Margaret Larson, who just showed her first collection to a sold-out crowd at Omaha Fashion Week. Perhaps you read about Darlondo Hill, working all season to win a wrestling state championship for Westside. And if you come back to visit us sometime soon, maybe you’ll see one of the 133 pieces recognized this winter with a Nebraska Scholastic Art Award; Westside High had the most awards in the state. Behind every success story and headline-grabbing achievement, there is a proud teacher and successful program here at Westside High School. Fashion Teacher MaryJo Losen has guided five promising Omaha Fashion Week designers; her program averages 100 students every semester. When Darlondo stood on top of that podium at the CenturyLink Center, Head Coach Mike Jernigan had not one, but two state champions after 16 years of tryouts, practices and meets. Art Department Chair Erin Lunsford mentors countless WHS students every year and recently partnered our school with the Kaneko Foundation and Artist-inResidence Therman Statom. We are Westside Community Schools, and the ‘community’ exists as much here at Westside High as it does throughout our District. Our students fuel our drive and passion constantly through their eagerness to learn and pursuit of their goals. Our teachers, sponsors and coaches offer the lessons, support and tools these young people need to make those dreams reality. Our school also relies on you, our alumni and stakeholders to help our exceptional teachers go the extra mile. We humbly request you consider a donation to our Alumni Association or Westside Foundation to fulfill WHS educators’ requests, investments that directly impact young people like Margaret, Darlondo and our talented artists. Du Bois once said ‘Education must not simply teach work - it must teach life.’ Everyday, our educators offer countless young people the guidance and resources to become well-rounded members of our community who offer priceless talents and gifts to the world. We fuel their passions, whatever those interests may be. And when our students succeed, we all as a community celebrate those victories. Thank you for your support of WHS to continue the legacy of personalized learning and success we see everyday in Westside Community Schools. Jay Opperman Principal, Westside High School
REUNIONS 1957: 60th Reunion | September 15-17
1987: 30th Reunion | June 23-24
Friday, June 23, 7:00 pm Cedar Bar in Countryside Village. Cash bar and food truck.
Friday, September 15 1:00 – 11:00 pm: Our Hospitality Suite, Marriott Hotel - Gather and chat (whenever one arrives); light food and drink available. 6:00 pm: Transportation to WHS stadium to watch football game and return to Marriott (option). After game, continue gathering and chatting. Saturday, September 16 Morning: Westside High School Tour (option). Our Hospitality Suite at the Marriott Hotel will be open all day for you to come and go as you please. Mid-day: Lunch on your own, River City Star Missouri River cruise (option). The rest of the afternoon is open. Evening: Class Dinner Formal End of Reunion Sunday, September 17 Morning: Breakfast option, Marriott Hotel NOTE: Marriott Regency is the “preferred hotel.” A number of rooms have been “blocked out” for our usage, with a special 60th Reunion rate. Please make your own reservation: 1-800-228-9290. Committee members: Julia Harvey, Rex & Carol Rehnquist, Dave Humphry (Chair), Joan (Wolfgram) Neubauer, Carolyn (Evans) Kalinski, Rita (Benesch) Glass, and Ed Zschau 1967: 50th Reunion | June 9-10 Cost is $89.00 per person for both nights. Friday, June 9, 6:00 -11:30 pm Regency Tennis Club, 606 Regency Parkway, Omaha Featuring Zemog’s Mexican buffet and cash bar. Saturday, June 10 10:00 am: Westside High School Tour Noon: Golf Outing hosted by Guy Ingles, 12:00 pm Tee-off $45.00 for 18 holes and a cart. $25 for 9 holes. Contact Guy Ingles at 402-333-9829 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register. 6:00 pm: Oak Hills Country Club, 12325 Golfing Green Drive. Cocktail Hour at 6:00 pm, Dinner at 7:00 pm and dancing to follow with DAYBREAK ROCK & ROLL SHOW. There will also be a cameo appearance by The Rumbles. To RSVP and pay: reuniondb.com OR mail check to: Westside Class of “67”, c/o Kris Goodman, 17206 Fairway Drive, Omaha NE 68137. More information on Facebook: Omaha Westside Class of 1967. For any other questions contact: Kris Goodman at email@example.com, 402-934-4844 OR Thom Neese at firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-709-1222 1977: 40th Reunion | July 28-29 Friday, July 28 at DJ’s Dugout, 777 N 114th St, Omaha Saturday, July 29 at Mammel Hall, 6708 Pine St, Omaha Committee Members: Robert Westphal, Mark Estey, Lisa Jo Becker Brunkhorst, Cheryl Albright Classen Atkisson, Barbara Moore Brand and Kelly Spires Williams email@example.com.
Saturday, June 24 10:00 -11:30 am: Westside High School Tour Saturday, June 24 Noon: Omaha Outward Bound School, 4242 N. 49th Ave, Omaha The Omaha Outward Bound School is pleased to host the 30th Westside High School reunion! Create new interactions and future memories over barbecue and through our high ropes challenge course and indoor rock wall experiences. In the case of poor weather, we can still eat and rock climb! 12:00-1:00 pm: 1:00-4:00 pm: 1:00-2:30 pm: 2:30-4:00 pm:
Lunch & Lawn Games ($15) Open Rock Climbing (Free) High Ropes Challenge Course Option 1 ($35/person) High Ropes Challenge Course Option 2 ($35/person)
Trenton B. (Tony) Magid firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-510-5263 Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ groups/47213069136/ 1997: 20th Reunion | August 4-5 Friday, August 4, 7:00 pm Join us at Cedar Bar in Countryside Village. We will be seated outside with plenty of room for people to get caught up! Cash bar. Saturday, August 5 10:00 am: Tour of Westside High School. If you haven’t been back since graduation, you will be amazed by the changes! Please RSVP with your total number of guests to email@example.com if you plan on attending. 11:00 am: Golf Outing at Stone Creek Golf Course. Cost is $50 for 18 holes, includes cart. Please e-mail westside1997@yahoo. com if you have a foursome or request for people you would like to play with. 7:00 pm: Liv Lounge in Aksarben Village. Lounge with patio seating serving sophisticated cocktails in a polished atmosphere. $25 early bird ticket price. Cash bar, heavy appetizers included with ticket. *Please note there is plenty of parking behind Liv Lounge. To pay online visit: https://westsidereunion.wordpress.com/ payments/ Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ groups/357054978011242/ 2007: 10th Reunion | August 2017 (tentative date) Hello class of 2007! We are planning our 10-year high school reunion. If you would like to join us on the planning committee, please message Shea Compton, Casey Ochs or Joshua Orr. The date and venue are to be decided, but so far, we are thinking August 2017. We will be in touch as we determine more of the details. In the mean time, please like and follow our Facebook page and invite others from the class of 2007 to like and follow. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ WHSClassof07Reunion/?fref=nf Email: Shea Compton at firstname.lastname@example.org or Joshua Orr at Jorr2007@gmail.com
Valley View Junior High Reunion
September 9, 2017 In the spring of 1987 the last students walked the halls of our beloved Valley View Junior High. Now some of us will be coming together again to remember. This past year, through the medium of Facebook (of all things) the alumni of Valley View Junior High School have “rallied the troops,” and started an alumni association for District 66 students who attended Valley View. We have almost 500 members now, and are encouraging anyone who feels a tie to Valley View and the neighborhood, to come and join us. As part of this we have rented the gymnasium at the old school for the night of September 9, 2017. The reunion will start at 6:00 pm, and will run until 10:00 pm. We will be at the old school decorating and getting ready after 4:00 pm. Included in the reunion will be dinner, guest speakers and the opportunity to tour the building and see the beautiful recent remodeling project. We want this reunion to be inclusive. This will be an all-school banquet for students, staff, teachers and administrators. Residents who attended junior high in the Rockbrook area when the junior high school grades were still at Oakdale are also enthusiastically invited to come and join us as neighbors and honored guests. We also invite students who would have attended Valley View in the seventh grade class of 1987 (had the school remained open). The price of a ticket for your meal will be $25. If you would like to register or would like to help plan the reunion, you may send correspondence to: email@example.com, or to: Valley View Reunion Committee, 2652 Marvin Circle, #1, Alliance, Nebraska 69301 phone: 308-655-0694. Kent Steinke (‘92) Reunion Organizer
With grateful thanks to Rose Marie Reifschneider (’56) for her estate’s generous bequest to the Westside Alumni Association. Rose transferred from Benson High School when she was a senior. She was in Drill Squad, Girl’s Athletic Pep Club (G.A.P.) and was Shield Staff Art Editor. The 1956 Shield has been added to the online yearbooks in Rose’s memory. Please contact the Westside Foundation at www.wcsfoundation66.org for information regarding planned giving.
UPCOMING EVENTS May 21
Westside High School Graduation Baxter Arena, 2:00 pm
The Westside Open Presented by The Hawkins Sisters
Annual Alumni Homecoming Tailgate
WESTSIDE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION 909 South 76th Street Omaha, NE 68114-4599
the 2017 westside open presented by the hawkins sisters
MO NDAY, JUNE 2 6 , 2 0 1 7 4-Person Texas Scramble SHOTGUN START: 7:30AM OR 1:00PM Awards Banquet begins at 5:30pm
NONPROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 861 OMAHA, NE 68124
ALUMNI SUPPORT THE “W” NEWSLETTER If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to the Alumni Association, please mail your gift to: WESTSIDE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION 909 South 76th Street Omaha, NE 68114-4599
909 South 76th Street Omaha, NE 68114-4599 402.390.2183 (Voicemail) | 402.390.2177 (Fax) firstname.lastname@example.org
Please make checks payable to: “Westside Alumni Association”
2017 BOARD OF DIRECTORS President: Jason Hellman (’90) Vice-President: Meagan (Davis) Van Gelder (‘88) Treasurer: Marc Lowe (’76) Secretary: Phyllis (Donaldson) Choat (’65)
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The Players Club
12101 DEER CREEK DRIVE OMAHA, NEBRASKA sponsorship and registration available online
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WESTSIDE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
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Directors: Steve Achelpohl (‘68) Ricky Anderson (‘05) Rick Berkshire (’72) Mark Dudley (’73) Mike Guinane (’74) John Hoich (‘76) Curt Huston (’81) Rob Laughlin (’75) Beth (Williams) Leach (’98) Kristin Lynch (’89) Rob Owen (’87) Mark Sempek (’80) Denise (Haber) Swanson (’80) Tom Thompson (’83)
Spring 2017 Newsletter