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updated: 8/18/2012 8:17 PM

Batavia woman wanted what was best for VFW

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  • The "Rain Man" statue in downtown Geneva is missing its umbrella.

      The "Rain Man" statue in downtown Geneva is missing its umbrella.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer


Ardath Paris of Batavia died nearly three weeks ago, but it would be a great injustice if I did not share the story of how Ardath's persistence helped shaped my career as a newspaper reporter and editor in this area for the past 35 years.

It's not that Ardath was a great fan of mine and stroked a young editor's ego when our paths first crossed in about 1984, the year I switched gears from the sports desk to the news desk.

On the contrary, she could be, shall I say, a challenge.

Ardath was a key supporter of the St. Charles VFW Post 5036 in those days, serving as a leader of the post's Ladies Auxiliary.

But, much to my chagrin, she was also in charge of publicity for the VFW. She did that job with a fiery passion I had never before encountered. That's a nice way of saying she was relentless in her pursuit of getting VFW news in the paper. I will go to my grave saying Ardath would call and complain that you didn't publish her news release, when you could actually pull out the paper and prove her wrong.

I now believe she was hoping she could get her news in the paper an extra time by complaining about it.

We may not have seen eye-to-eye in all instances, but Ardath was nice on the few occasions we would actually see each other at local events.

Ultimately, she helped me understand something really important: People in the Tri-Cities area were extremely passionate about their communities and its organizations, schools and churches.

It would have been easy to hang up the phone on Ardath, and just write her off as a small-town annoyance. Instead, we learned how to coexist and do what was best for the newspaper readers and the VFW.

In the meantime, a young editor learned a lot more about the people he was serving because of a persistent VFW member.

Needs his umbrella: Hopefully, the "Rain Man" sculpture on Third Street's public plaza near the train station in Geneva will soon have his umbrella back. Without it, he simply looks like he wants a handout.

When it was discovered about a month ago that someone apparently had damaged the umbrella, the Geneva Public Works Department took up the complicated task of trying to fix it. As of this writing, the "Rain Man" still has no protection from the rain.

After all, the umbrella is a key part of the water fountain sculpture by artist Miles Metzger. But without it, the "Rain Man" suddenly turned into the "Begging Man." Rather than holding out the palm of his hand checking on the rain, the "Rain Man" now looks like a reflection of our current economic times, as if to say, "Mister, can you spare a dime?" Of course, in 2012 that famous Great Depression expression might be more like "Can you spare a few hundred bucks?"

Another umbrella need: The "Rain Man" wasn't the only fellow recently wanting for an umbrella. I had become so used to not dealing with rain this summer when going into downtown Chicago for work, I forgot I didn't have one in my briefcase.

I found out, of course, when it recently started to pour about halfway through my walk of five city blocks to my office.

Another big concert: Paul Ruby is looking for those big crowds again at the Concert for a Cure. Something tells me he'll get them, as area residents continue to support his bid to fund Parkinson's research and find a cure for the disease he has battled for years.

This year's sixth annual event takes place from 2 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at Tanna Farms in Geneva. Twelve bands are scheduled to perform, with Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts getting some extra plugs from event organizers.

In addition to raising funds for a great cause, you can say this about the Concert for a Cure: No other event in this area jams so much music into an 8-hour time slot.

Tickets are available at Geneva History Center, Kiss the Sky, Fagan's, the Herrington Inn, Mill Creek Market, Pockets (both Aurora locations), and Ace Hardware in Geneva.

For the animals: Festival of the Vine in Geneva has become a favorite community festival in these parts. It has always given the Anderson Animal Shelter a chance to take advantage of big crowds in town to raise money through its Jewelry Faire, this year set for 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 7 and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Geneva American Legion, 22 S. Second St.

Support the event while strolling around Festival of the Vine -- and help animals at the same time.

Hardworking author: It's always worth noting when a writer gets a book published.

Especially when that writer is a fellow with a familiar name in these parts. Former St. Charles schools Superintendent Fran Kostel has written an e-book with a pretty lengthy title: "A Baby Boomer's Decision Making -- A Reflection on Relationships and God for Today with a Guide for Tomorrow."

It tells the story of Kostel's "best and worst decision-making" through various experiences in his life. Check out his website at to learn more.

Another hard worker: Maybe a romance is a romance, whether it is paranormal or contemporary. Just ask Batavia author Bev Nickelson.

Nickelson, who works at Little Traveler in Geneva and writes under the pen name Nicki Elson, has signed a publishing agreement with Omnific Publishing for her second novel, with a tentative title of "Divine Temptation."

Nickelson calls her new book "a paranormal romance," which she considers a departure from her first novel, "Three Daves," a contemporary romance story.

Those who enjoy romance novels will have to wait until the early 2013 publishing date, to learn more about a paranormal romance.

The court conditions: I have a question for tennis players. What would be considered ideal, or at least decent, playing conditions?

I'm curious, only because during my weekend morning walks at Wheeler Park in Geneva when the weather is seemingly perfect, the tennis courts can be packed, or completely empty.

Are there certain mornings when you know the courts will be slippery and they need time to dry out?

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