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updated: 11/3/2012 5:16 PM

Mary Barth and her random act of kindness

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  • Even though Mary Barth, the widow of William Barth -- one of TriCity Family Services' Founding Fathers -- passed away in a Nashville nursing home seven months ago, she was front and center when the agency honored Carolyn Sprawka of Batavia with the annual Barth Award.

      Even though Mary Barth, the widow of William Barth -- one of TriCity Family Services' Founding Fathers -- passed away in a Nashville nursing home seven months ago, she was front and center when the agency honored Carolyn Sprawka of Batavia with the annual Barth Award.
    Courtesy of the Barth Family


Friends of Mary Barth likely weren't surprised when they heard the "coat story."

Even though Mary Barth, the widow of William Barth -- one of TriCity Family Services' Founding Fathers -- passed away in a Nashville nursing home seven months ago, she was front and center in the Tri-Cities when the agency recently honored Carolyn Sprawka of Batavia with the annual Barth Award for her volunteer work to aid the homeless. At that dinner event, the agency presented a video tribute to Mary Barth, thus the "coat story" popped up.

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It was not hard to remember that Mary remained active and supportive of the agency well after her husband's death. But some may not have heard the story about the Filipino lady without a coat. It is well worth sharing the story that Mary's daughter, Karen Copeland, retold to those who attended the Barth Award ceremony.

Copeland was just a young child when she witnessed her mother's incredible kindness as the Barth family was returning home from an overseas trip.

A young woman from the Philippines was standing outside of the international terminal, having just landed. It turned out she was in Chicago to look for the father of her child, but she terribly underestimated the extreme cold of a Chicago winter -- and had no coat with her.

"My mother gave this young woman her coat, and there was no arguing with my mom about that," Copeland said. "And, on top of that, she brought the woman home and helped her find that man, who was in Milwaukee."

You hear a story like that and ask yourself if you could have possibly done the same thing. Sadly, most of us likely might struggle with such a notion.

Mary Barth was a different breed of person in that way. In sharing that story, hopefully more of us will engage in random acts of kindness for no other reason than knowing it is the right thing to do.

The ultimate challenge would be to do so for a lifetime, as Mary Barth did.

More eats in Batavia: If Italian food rates as your favorite, you'll want to hang out in Batavia more often in the coming weeks.

Sam Abdelnour plans to reopen his popular Fantastico Italian restaurant at 227 W. Wilson St. by the middle of the month, and a new spot called Bella Olivia Italian is preparing to open at the former CiCi's Pizza location at 2014 W. Wilson St.

Fantastico has bounced around Batavia a bit, after operating on North River Street for years and then settling into new digs at the Wilson Street location before closing last year. After Charm Thai shut its doors in August after taking over that spot, the door was literally opened for Fantastico to re-enter the Batavia cuisine world.

On the sidelines, area residents continue to monitor Golden Corral, which recently posted its "now hiring" signs, and the buildup of the Chick-fil-A restaurant at the southwest corner of Randall Road and McKee Street near the former Wickes Furniture location.

Learn about Lincoln: It's perfect timing for Lincoln buffs and those interested in politics in general.

With a new Lincoln movie from Steven Spielberg coming to theaters in less than two weeks, and Election Day unfolding Tuesday, the Geneva History Center couldn't have offered a more interesting follow-up with its Brown Bag Lunch session for noon Nov. 13 at the center.

Dan Van Haften of Batavia and David Hirsch of Des Moines will talk about the research they put into their book, "Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason."

I wrote about the book and its authors nearly two years ago, and I found it fascinating that these gentlemen were able to make a correlation between Lincoln's writing and speeches with that of Greek mathematician Euclid, who lived from 325 B.C. to 265 B.C.

Yes, it's a fairly complex project as to how the two are related. But you'd have to attend the session at the history center to find out how.

In addition, regardless of whether Barack Obama is still president or not by the time of this Brown Bag Lunch presentation, the authors will show how Obama has generally used the same methods in his speeches.

More information is available at the history center at (630) 232-4951.

Extra effort needed: With Avenue Motors out of the picture after closing its doors, the Batavia Rotary Club has to work harder to sell tickets for its 24th annual Corvette Raffle to benefit numerous local charities and Rotary projects.

"Avenue Motors had always supplied the car, if that was the prize selected (rather than $40,000) and John Clark and his dealership would sell a significant portion of tickets," Rotary member Dan Hoefler pointed out.

"People knew to stop in there because it was the place where the drawing was held," Hoefler added.

Because Batavia no longer has an auto dealership, the drawing will take place Nov. 17 at the Moss Funeral Home. The club got its car from Bob Jass in Elburn this year, and had sold about 65 percent of the 1,000 $100 tickets as of earlier this week, Hoefler said. Other prizes, ranging from $200 to $1,500 are also possible for participants to win.

With less than two weeks before the drawing, the club needs extra effort and lots of interest from the community. Picture yourself tooling around in a new Corvette, and then visit the website to request a ticket or call Hoefler at (630) 406-7884.

Office perfect for Arcada: It was on my "to do" list, and I finally stopped in at The Office in St. Charles for a plate of fish 'n chips last week. The menu had all sorts of tempting sandwiches, for sure. But my taste buds longed for fish 'n chips.

The food was quite good, but the place sure has changed since my last visit a few years ago -- watching a rock band blast away when the location was McNally's Irish Pub.

The Office certainly benefits from the Arcada Theatre being a block away, as it attracts preshow diners on a regular basis.

If Arcada owner Ron Onesti had it do over again, I would guess he would have opened his own restaurant near the theater. As it was, the Onesti Steakhouse in the former Old Church Inn location may have been just a bit too far, and maybe a bit too fancy, to serve as the opener for shows at his theater. As it was, Onesti had to close his eatery to devote more time to the theater.

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