by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL What follows is a story we’d like to do in depth but quite simply are lacking in words (maybe a first). The prologue to this story has already been written by one far more accomplished than ourselves. We refer you to a story written by Tom Rademacher in the Nov. 7, 2010 edition of the Grand Rapids Press—from www.mlive.com—that leads off with the rhetorical question: Where do I start? It is the story of a Rockford family, the McGees, living in the eye of a firestorm of adversity. It is a story of love and selfless devotion to one another in the face of unimaginable tragedies of health and ensuing circumstances. Kelly and Sarah McGee and their two sons, Luke, 9, and Evan, 7, reside in a quiet neighborhood on Rockford’s west side. Both boys suffer from a mitochondrial disease of the brain, the youngest most seriously. There is no cure. Both parents—who, between themselves, work four jobs to stay financially afloat—have a multitude of health issues of their own. Sarah deals with ever-painful fibromyalgia on a daily basis. Kelly is dealing with a second round of skin cancer, suffers recurring kidney stones, and has recently recovered from surgery for a hernia caused by having to constantly lift his son, Evan, from place to place within their home. In spite of all this and more, they persevere and say they are blessed beyond measure. Needless to say when every waking hour is spent either on the job or caring for their two boys, the upkeep of their home’s interior has had to take a backseat. Both the kitchen and the home’s main bathroom were almost nonfunctional and in need of serious attention. In addition, the front porch and its stairway also needed life support. When Luke’s Valley View Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Megan McCall became aware of the plight of the family, she and other teachers spearheaded a series of fundraisers to help the McGees financially. She also reached out to area charities for any assistance they might be able to provide. “Aside from the fundraisers, nothing much really happened until the Tom Rademacher column appeared in the Press,” said McCall. “Then the ball really started to roll.” So it […]
December 23 2010
Berta featured on NPR’s ‘What Do Ya Know’ by BETH ALTENA Jerry Berta is well known in Rockford for his dining-car fame, having purchased and operated Rosie’s Diner for years. Now in the hands of owners Randy and Jonelle Roest, the diner is still associated with Berta. Less well known is that Berta was once interviewed on National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) show “What Do Ya Know” with Michael Feldman. Berta, along with his wife, has managed the difficult task of earning a living as an artist and works in ceramic and neon. Now “newbies” or old hands at ceramic art can learn from Berta in his new Rockford Community Education (RCE) class, which is held at Rockford High School. Rosie’s Diner, located on M-57 in the CedarRock business district, is nationally known for the Brawny “Quicker Picker Upper” commercials featuring Nancy Walker as Rosie the waitress. Rosie’s Diner wasn’t Berta’s first, however. Berta has been a lifelong fan of dining cars and used to travel to the country’s east coast where the old mobile restaurants were more common. Berta found Michigan’s last remaining diner in Flint in 1987, built by the Jerry O’Mahony Dining Car Company. He purchased it for $2,000 and moved it to a lot on 14 Mile Road in Rockford and used it for his art studio. Despite a neon sign that read “No food, just art,” people still wandered in, hoping to sit down for a meal. Berta was out east, admiring a dining car, when the owner came out to talk to him. He discovered that Berta already owned one diner and asked if he’d like to own two. A minute later, Berta had purchased Rosie’s, which was built by Paramount Dining Car Company in 1946 and was originally called the Silver Dollar Diner. The restaurant was 700 miles from Rockford, however. After four days, 10 flat tires and one fire, the diner was in Rockford where it continues to be a landmark and has served well over a million meals. Berta’s work as an artist in neon may be related to his dining-car interest, but he is also known for his ceramic work, which is featured in the RCE classes. With both experienced and new artists in […]
Mrs. Anna Cavanaugh Ellen, age 100, of Rockford passed away on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010. She was a 1927 graduate of Rockford High School and member of the Golden “R” Club. Anna was also the oldest living member of Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church. Family was important to her, and she was delighted to have her children close to her. Besides being a farmer’s wife and mother to her children, her home was always open for one more. For 35 years she worked for Wolverine World Wide, worked as a secretary at Our Lady of Consolation Church for Fr. Paul Milanowski, and later worked for Molesta Floral. She also volunteered at North Kent Service Center and at Gleaners. Her devotion to her family was unconditional. She welcomed her daughters’ husbands as sons of her own. Anna is survived by her loving daughters and their husbands, Sally and John Norton of Greenville, and Nancy and Scott Hobart of Rockford; grandchildren, Larry and Judy Norton, John and Amy Norton, Lynn and Rick Peters, Marcie and Darrel Demorest, Mark Norton, Connie and Bob Szymczak, and Amy and Jeff Haney; 10 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren with another one on the way; nieces and nephews; and an adopted son by love, Harvey Hulett. She was preceded in death by her husbands, John “Jack” Cavanaugh and Russell Ellen; her great-grandson, Nicholas John; her brothers, John DeBoer and Garret DeBoer; and her sister, Tina Morman. The mass of Christian burial for Mrs. Ellen was offered on Monday at 11:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Consolation Church with the Rev. Tony Russo presiding. Interment was in Assumption Cemetery. The Rosary for Anna was prayed at the funeral home on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church. Arrangements were made by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford.
It’s Christmas! Many Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before Christ was born: the 12 days of Christmas, the bright fires, the Yule log, the giving of gifts, carnivals (parades) with floats, carolers going from house to house, and holiday feasts—all can be traced back to the early Mesopotamians. The holiday that has evolved into Christmas is the most cheerful time of the year. We know a good thing when we see it. A bishop of Rome, Julius I, chose December 25 as the observance date. This was in 350 A.D. No matter what the origins, our current celebrations are good for us. We can all wish each other “Merry Christmas!” with all the good will that goes with it. Parenting Becoming a parent changes everything. Parenting also changes with each baby, as many of us have discovered on our own. Clothes. First baby: Mom starts wearing maternity clothes as soon as the doctor confirms the pregnancy. Second baby: Mom wears regular clothes as long as possible. Third baby: Maternity clothes ARE the regular clothes. Preparing for the birth. First: Mom practices the breathing religiously. Second: She doesn’t bother practicing because last time the proper breathing didn’t do a thing. Third: She asks for an epidural in the eighth month. The layette. First: All the newborn’s clothes are color-coordinated and folded neatly. Second: Parents check to make sure the clothes are clean and discard the ones with the darkest stains. Third: Boys can wear pink, can’t they? Worries. First: At the first sign of distress—a whimper, a frown—the parents pick up the baby. Second: They pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake the firstborn. Third: They teach their three-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing. Pacifier. First: If the pacifier falls on the floor, the parents put it away until they can go home and boil it. Second: When the pacifier falls on the floor, they squirt it off with some juice from the baby’s bottle. Third: They wipe it off on a sleeve and pop it back in. Diapering. First: Parents change the baby’s diapers every hour whether they need it or not. Second: They change the diaper every two to three hours, only if needed. Third: Parents try to change […]