Thursday, October 26, 2017

Tribute to Russ Schneider

Former Plain Dealer sports writer Russ Schneider of Seven Hills died Tuesday, Oct  at the age of 89 and sports columnist Bill Livingston wrote this tribute. Photo by Linda Kinsey of

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A diamond is forever? So was a baseball diamond to Russell Schneider.
In all likelihood, all the old baseball men are getting an earful in their sky boxes from Russ today. The long-time Plain Dealer reporter died this morning at 89 after years of declining health.
He probably is looking up Frank "Trader" Lane so he can ask him what in the world was he thinking when he traded Rocky Colavito?
He'll look up George Steinbrenner, too and they can debate what it would have been like had the Boss purchased the Indians, as he had wanted to do, and not the New York Yankees.
This newspaper's Cleveland Indians beat reporter from 1964-78, Schneider was tough, dogged, competitive to the point of combativeness, and my friend.
The friend part took a while. Schneider wanted the columnist job I got in 1984. Eventually, however, we became not only friends, but confidants. Knowing him was certainly one of my great privileges.
Baseball lifer
Schneider also covered the Cleveland Browns for a time in the 1980s and became great friends with former Browns coach Sam Rutigliano.
After Schneider assumed the beat, Browns owner Art Modell said effusively, "Welcome to the family."
"I'm here to cover the team," Russ said gruffly. "Not to be part of your family."
Before that, he realized his life-long dream of covering the Indians because he simply would not give it up. Russ wore down former Plain Dealer sports editor Gordon Cobbledick, beating a path to his door every day from the spring of 1963 until he got the Indians beat in December.
On the beat, he was so competitive he would not talk to rival reporters, zealously guarded his sources, and once almost brawled with former Indians president Peter Bavasi when Bavasi tried to confiscate Schneider's tape recorder during a heated interview at the old stadium.
You won't see those "Front Page" types in the business anymore.
After retirement, he had a second home at the Indians' old Winter Haven spring training headquarters so he could check the prospects out in person.
Tough and passionate
Schneider was a former Marine. And it would take much more than a cold day in May for him to back down from a challenge, any challenge -- and May was often far from a nice day here with ice mantling the Lake Erie shoreline long past Opening Day.
A former catcher, Schneider coached amateur baseball in the area. He approached every game as if it were the seventh game of the World Series. The joke was that umpires around town asked for hazardous duty pay when they had his games.
Last visit
The last time I saw Russ was Oct. 16, a few days after the Indians' lost the divisional series to the New York Yankees.
Schneider's final days were spent in an assisted living facility in Broadview Heights. It was near the Cavaliers' practice building, so I swung by there after their practice session ended.
I had brought a small notebook, hoping to ask Russ about his favorite players and the highlights of his long career. But by then there would be no more interviews in this life for Russ.
He was asleep when I entered his room. I'm not sure whether he knew me or not after I gently roused him. I think there was a gleam of recognition in his eyes and the faintest nod, but I'm not sure. I left a note for him with the nurses.
Before I left, I leaned over and lightly kissed the tough old Marine on the top of his head. It might be best that he never knew about that.
There are worse things to lose than a baseball game.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Bill Wynne's Smoky gets another accolade

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Smoky the war dog was four pounds of talent, determination, courage and love.
The Yorkshire terrier whose exploits during World War II won her international acclaim, and is buried at a memorial in Rocky River, just added another medal to those accolades.
The U.S. War Dogs Association recently presented Smoky with a service award given to military canines who have served in America's armed forces.
The medal, inscribed "faithfully we lead the way," came as a surprise to William Wynne, a native Clevelander who owned and trained the dog that was found in a jungle foxhole in New Guinea during World War II.
Wynne, 95, of Mansfield, said, "I'm very happy because Smoky was always on the outside, looking in, as an unofficial war dog of World War II.
"Now, this (medal) puts her on the same scale as the (military) dogs that are over in Afghanistan, and all dogs going back to the Vietnam war," added the former Plain Dealer photographer. "I feel really good about it."
Wynne was serving with an Army photo reconnaissance squadron during World War II when he bought the little terrier that another GI had found, and forged a special relationship of training and trust.
He named her for her blue-gray color, and began teaching Smoky a variety of stunts including walking a tightrope while blindfolded, balancing on rolling barrels, spelling her name and even parachuting.
In a book he later wrote about his exploits with Smoky, "Yorkie Doodle Dandy," Wynne wrote, "Smoky became a tremendous morale booster. I had much to do in the military but she gave me an escape from the loneliness of the New Guinea jungle."
She was also a life-saver. When communications lines had to be strung across an airfield runway in the Philippines -- a task that would have exposed GIs to enemy fire -- Smoky was drafted to pull a string connected to the wires through an eight-inch-wide, 70-foot-long drainage culvert under the runway.
The dog also accompanied Wynne on 12 aerial combat missions, was awarded eight battle stars, and survived a kamikaze attack and a typhoon.
When Wynne was hospitalized with dengue fever, Smoky charmed the patients in other wards, and later repeated that role in performances at hospitals in Australia, becoming the first therapy dog of record.
In his book, Wynne said Smoky, "the little tyke who shared so much with me, who, unquestioning and courageously, responded to my every command, had become my truest friend. She was a diversion from the demoralizing reality of war. She made us laugh and forget."
After the war, when Wynne returned to Cleveland, they appeared together in a variety of television and theatrical performances until Smoky's death in 1957.
Smoky is buried in the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks, in a .30-caliber ammunition box (appropriately enough) in the base of a marble pedestal topped with a life-sized bronze sculpture of the little war dog sitting in a GI helmet. An inscription reads: "Smoky Yorkie Doodle Dandy and Dogs of All Wars."
Wynne said there are 11 monuments to Smoky in the U.S., three in Australia and one in France.
The most recent medal is one of three she has received, including the prestigious Purple Cross Award of the Australian Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Wynne isn't surprised by Smoky's enduring appeal as the subject of many books, articles and a possible movie.
Part of that appeal was her diminutive size, spirit and ability to surviving some of the worst that war could offer, including military rations.
Wynne recalled, "The food we got was so bad, it was so heavily salted because we were in the tropics, the guys were getting diarrhea every couple days. I didn't have any dog food, so she had to eat our food."
Wynne has owned other Yorkshire terriers since Smoky, but it hasn't been the same.
"Smoky, in anybody else's hands, probably would've been just another dog," he said. "But because of my desire to train her, she became something special."
Special in other ways, too, as Wynne looks back on those days during the war.
"At first, emotionally, I was trying to not get too close to her. I'd lost a couple of buddies and I didn't want to get too close, because the hazards were so great and I'd just get upset all over again," he recalled.
"But as time passed, we formed a special bond, and everything became concentrating on the dog. She came first, and I was doing things for her," he added. "The dog became more of an obsession, to bring her through this, and myself, too. It worked out."
In a sense that bond continues, as Smoky's recognition and honors continue, along with Wynne's involvement with the past.
"She's still very much remembered," Wynne said. "All of these things make up the incredible story of this tiny little dog that just did it day to day, and didn't think about it.
"She just did it."

Time for another lunch

PD Editorial Retirees & Expatriates
Casual unstructured lunch troupe
Gather for lunch on the last Fridays of January,
April, July and October
Spouses and guests always welcome

NEXT LUNCHEON: Noon, Friday, October 27, 2017

PLACE: LiWah, Asia Plaza, 2999 Payne Ave., Cleveland
                         Additional parking off short street along west side of plaza.

MENU:  Order from the menu.

RSVP: Janet French (216) 221-2318 or email by Tuesday, October 24
(JoAnn is recovering from surgery)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Book published

David Clary, a former PD assistant news editor, is on the California road talking about his new book “GANGSTERS to GOVERNORS:The New Bosses of Gambling in America”.  Young Dave, as he was known on the news desk because the late Dave Lake  was there first, is now at the San Diego Union and  a father of two.  "Gangsters to Governors: The New Bosses of Gambling in America," was published by Rutgers University Press on Sept. 28. It explores how and why states seized control of gambling, traditionally an illicit activity dominated by organized crime. The book weighs the consequences of government-sanctioned gambling and addresses current controversies over online and sports betting, he says.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Former PD colleagues meet

Bill Lucey, former PD library aide, ran into a former colleague, Alan Seifullah and his wife,  at the Baseball Heritage Museum in old League Park recently during the annual Hispanic Festival, Pleibol. Former Indian  pitcher Jim "Mudcat" Grant is in the foreground.  Alan is retired from Cleveland Public Utilities. Bill has a web site,

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Lammers dies of cancer

Bill Lammers, a  veteran of the news desk, was a good guy. His knowledge of music, pens, Fiesta, and technology was extra ordinary. His PD friends will miss him.  There were no public services but an outpouring of eulogies on Facebook.

From the Sandusky Register:

Walter William “Bill” Lammers, 60, of Olmsted Falls, Ohio, died Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, surrounded by his family at the end of a brave fight against cancer.
     Bill was a devoted husband and father. The joys of his life were his wife Nancy, daughters Sarah and Christina, and being “Paw Paw” to Logan and Austin. 
     He is survived by Nancy; daughters, Sarah (Umberto) Barbera of Mentor, Ohio, and Christina Curley (fiancĂ© David Beers) of Athens, Ohio; two grandchildren, Logan and Austin; brothers, Guy (Linda) Lammers of Maumee, Ohio, John (Cindy) Lammers of Baldwinsville, N.Y., and Pete (Sueann) Lammers of Danbury; as well as nephew, Kirk Lammers of Westlake, Ohio; and nieces, Jackie (Nick) Savage of Delta, Ohio, and Kaylee and Lauren Lammers of Baldwinsville.
     Bill was the son of Walter R. “Sonny” and Joyce Lammers, of Danbury, who preceded him in death.
     He graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1978, and spent a career in the newspaper business, first as a reporter and then as an editor.
     At a series of newspapers Bill earned a reputation as a smart, creative, fast, reliable editor with a low tolerance for nonsense. At the time of his death he was an editor at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, where he edited stories, designed pages, and wrote about music and technology for nearly 30 years.
     Bill had a curious mind with a passion for movies, history, cooking, technology and, especially, music.
     Private services were held.
     If desired, memorials for Bill can be made to Ames Family Hospice House in Westlake, Ohio, or an organization of the donor’s choice.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Helen Cullinan services

Memorial services for former art critic Helen Cullinan will be
be held Saturday, June 24, at noon, in the lecture hall at the Art 
Museum. She died in early May at age 86.
She is survived by her son Thomas , sister Jean House and nieces and nephews.  There was only a death 
notice in The PD.  Condolences at

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Bob Long died March 19, 2017

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Robert M. Long, a former Plain Dealer executive who helped steer the company through some of its most successful and its most challenging times, died Sunday in Cleveland Clinic. He was 73 and a resident of Westlake.
Here’s the link to his obit on Cleveland. com

April brings lunch April 28

PD Editorial Retirees & Expatriates
Casual unstructured lunch troupe
Gather for lunch on the last Fridays of January,
April, July and October
Spouses and guests always welcome

NEXT LUNCHEON: Noon, Friday, April 28, 2017

PLACE: Der Braumeinster, 13040 Lorain Avenue ( on the corner of W. 130 & Lorain). Park behind restaurant or across the street in the CVS lot away from their door.

MENU: May order from the menu. view the menu at

RSVP by Tuesday, April 25.

Jo Ann Pallant (440) 734-1923 or email
or Janet French (216) 221-2318 or email