Archived Articles

Archived Articles
Most of my more than 150 articles are about people, primarily for Encore magazine of Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. Some are health oriented for the Southwest Michigan Wellness Directory. My adventure and travel articles have appeared in Encore and Michigan Out-of-Doors. My sailing articles have been in several international magazines. Others are on the Internet or in local newspapers.

In the following list, the most recent articles are at the top.

Writer of stories and articles about fascinating people
Writer of stories and articles about fascinating people


You are truly a wordsmith who turns words into art. —Penny Briscoe, former Encore editor

Great Lakes Trekker
Author, adventurer and speaker Loreen Niewenhuis has traversed more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, waterways and islands.
Encore, May 2015

HR for Athletes
Renee Shull, founder of Integrated Play, helps injured professional athletes transition to lives outside the arena.
Encore, January 2015

When Life Is Too Full
Karen Horneffer-Ginter is director of the Integrative Holistic Health and Wellness program at Western Michigan University and co-founder of the Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness. She is also the author of Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit, a guide to finding fulfillment when life is too full.
Encore, December 2013

Singing Praises
Born in Latvia and trained as a classical high soprano in Russia, Svetlana Stone is using her voice to sing praises to God.
Encore, Summer 2013

The Fitness Spot
Carrie Bennett, founder of The Fitness Spot, fulfills her passion to provide a safe place for others to get in shape.
Encore, February 2012

Six articles about international travel:

India’s Magnetic Mystique
This account of India’s contrasts, charm, and culture takes readers to New Delhi, the Taj Mahal, and the high Himalayas.
Encore, Summer 2011

Pushkin, Saint Petersburg, Moscow
In Saint Petersburg, I celebrated the birthday of Dr. Leo Semashko, founder of the Global Harmonious Society. Pushkin, located 15 miles from Saint Petersburg, celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2010, and two dozen folks from sister city Kalamazoo, Michigan, went there to join the festivities. In Moscow, Marina Ilynikh provided a guided tour of the Russian capital’s rich, diverse history.
Encore, April 2011

A Spontaneous Stop in Germany
Having chosen not to fully plan my itinerary, I found, in Bulgaria, that I could not obtain a Eurail pass through Poland, as desired. Instead, I flew to Germany and visited my ancestral home of Kassel, the amazing Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, and a friend in Hamburg. Of special delight was meeting the Gold family in Himmelpforten and reading a bedtime story to their three children.
Encore, March 2011

A Race in Tall Ships
Sailing and crewing aboard the Bulgarian barquentine Kaliakra, I participated in the Historical Seas Tall Ships Regatta from Greece to Bulgaria on the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea.
Encore, February 2011

A Traveler’s Journey: Spain
Malaga, Spain, at the southern tip of Andalucia, is a glorious mixture of culture and pageantry that extends in time to ancient Roman and Arabic cultures. Modern Barcelona, in contrast, is the site of the 1992 Summer Olympics … and the site of the wedding of friends Josep and Chus.
Encore, January 2011

A Traveler’s Journey: Barbados and the Atlantic
This journey began with three days in Barbados, Couchsurfing in the studio of Wayne, a filmmaker and professor of movie production at the University of the West Indies. The main event was a 16-day crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on Royal Clipper, the world’s largest square-rigged tall ship … a luxury ship with five masts and sails. With crew and passengers from dozens of nations, the voyage to The Azores and Spain was delightfully filled with intriguing conversation.
Encore, December 2010

Ghost Hunting in Southwest Michigan
The Southern Michigan Paranormals seek answers for mysterious phenomena beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation.
Encore, October 2009

Las Vegas to Oceanside, Naturally
When Cindy Gremban traveled to her son’s wedding at Camp Pendleton, California, she did so by way of Las Vegas, camping and enjoying nature every step of the way. A highlight for this avid runner was to run with a group of Marines, who were on a training jog on the Camp Pendleton beach.
Encore, September 2009


You are a very gifted writer. —Molly Sheridan

The Keeper of a Legacy
Terry Motycka, author of The Life and Legacy of Peter the Great, intends for her book about horseracing’s most prodigious sire to keep his legacy alive … even as the horse’s progeny continue to win race after race.
Encore, Summer 2009

A Hero in the Sky
Walt Forbes has the unique distinction of having been a combat pilot in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Starting his military service at age 19, he flew biplanes over Europe and evolved to jets in his 28-year career. He was inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame in March 2009.
Encore, March 2009

Peace Is Possible
Rotary International promotes peace through eradication of polio worldwide.
Women in Black
Silent and dressed in somber black, women in Kalamazoo mourn victims of war and occupation.
Encore, December 2008

Eating Locally for a Year
Donna McClurken has kept her family’s food costs low by buying and eating a locavore diet.
Encore, October 2008

Eight articles for Southwest Michigan Wellness Directory, 2008-2009

  • The Energy Between Us (theme feature)
  • Emergency: What To Do?
  • Eating for the Health of It
  • What Happens When a Person Can’t Eat the Bread?
  • Meaningful Activities as a Means to Better Health
  • Get Out and Play
  • Diabetes: The Preventable Disease
  • Don’t Just Do Something—Sit There

Connecting the Spokes to Trailway Access
Jerry Albertson and Toni Thompson, directors of the Kalamazoo Valley River Trailway project, employ grassroots efforts and partnerships with local governments to create public trails that are accessible to everyone.
Encore, February 2008

Leisure Time Is for the Birds
Denise and Dennis Heath, founders of Avian Wonders, are the “parents” of dozens of large pet birds, such as macaws and cockatoos.
Encore, September 2007

A New Twist on Shakespeare
Grace Tiffany, English professor at Western Michigan University, crafts very enjoyable modern novels based on the inspiration from The Bard of Avon.
Encore, April 2007

World Service through PeaceJam
In Denver, Colorado, ten Nobel Peace Laureates directed 4,000 teens to perform “one billion acts of service in the next decade.” In Michigan, the local Great Lakes PeaceJam chapter received direct influence from Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu.
A Global Call to Action
The issues addressed by the Laureates were: water and natural resources, racism and hate, global disease, poverty, nuclear weapons and international arms trade, social justice, women’s and children’s rights, environment, armaments, and human security.
Encore, February 2007

A King of Kings
Joe Rosenhagen, general manager of the Kalamazoo Kings minor league professional baseball team, loves his team, his job, and the fans.
Encore, May 2006

An American Tradition Lives On
Through frequent contra dances, the Country Dancing in Kalamazoo organization fosters traditional American folk dancing that’s patterned after the more genteel English country dancing of the 1700s.
Encore, January 2006

Don Ramlow Keeps Old Time Radio Alive
As producer of All Ears Theatre, radio drama and pulp fiction enthusiast Don Ramlow preserves the Golden Age of Radio.
Encore, October 2005

Planting the Grass Roots for Earth Day
The tradition started by John McConnell, founder of the original Earth Day on the vernal equinox, in 1970 and 1971 continues with Earth Day celebrations at the United Nations.
(Relates to article on the United Nations in Encore, April 2006)
Encore, April 2005

WACO Airplanes … Ask Any Pilot
The famed WACO biplanes, which took to the sky for the first time in 1919, are made today in Battle Creek, Michigan, USA, at WACO Aircraft Corp. … and they’re just as much fun and exciting as ever.
Encore, November 2004

In Marshall, You Can Ride a Magic Carpet
The Marshall Soaring Club takes passengers for an easy glide through the wild blue yonder.
Encore, April 2004

Sailing Devotees Have Heart
The Western Michigan University (WMU) Sail Club competes in two-person dinghies well into chilly October weather.
Chemistry and Water—a Recipe for Success
WMU chemistry professors Marc Perkovic and Brian Buffin describe the synchronistic manner in which they became advisers for the Sail Club … and then competitive offshore racers themselves.
Encore, October 2003

Today, people are just asking Bush to give peace a chance
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, February 14, 2003

A Route Diverted Leads to Rural Paradise
Kensinger and Alice Jones reminisce about their “detour” away from a “freeway life” for a more pleasurable involvement—and home—as land preservationists.
Solving the Dilemma of Open Space Depletion
The Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy works with private landowners and local governments to help stem the rapid conversion of valuable farmland to commercial development.
Encore, November 2002

Five short articles about sailing and tall ships:

A Merry Time in Maritime England

The International Festival of the Sea, held at the Portsmouth Royal Naval Yard in Porstmouth, England, is the world’s largest maritime festival with ships and entertainment galore. The vessels there included sail training tall ships from the Seven Seas, modern naval ships, gaff-rigged wooden boats, thousands of miniature models on display, and some of Britain’s most historic sailing ships (Mary Rose, “the flower of all ships” from the 1500s, Admiral Lord Nelson’s Victory, and Warrior, the first ship to combine steam and sail power and have an iron-plated hull).
The Dark Side War on the Sea
Docents aboard H.M.S. Warrior described life aboard a fighting ship in the Golden Age of Sail … and it wasn’t pretty.
Racing with the Old Gaffers
The Old Gaffers Association held their annual race on Solent Sound (near the Isle of Wight) during the festival, and I was privileged to compete aboard Iseult, a 93-year-old, 53-foot-long (with bowsprit) wooden ketch that displaces 28 tons.
What’s a Porkie?
Gerald and Valerie Fuller own a kiosk on nearby South Hayling Island where they offer fresh-made, while-you-wait donuts and tea in china cups. Gerald also tells “porkies,” which is the British term for white lies or April Fools jokes, which are hard to discern from the truth.
Pride of Baltimore II
Closer to home, I was able to add a local twist by recounting my voyage aboard Pride of Baltimore II for five days on the Great Lakes.
Encore, December 2001

River Expeditions Reveal History and Change
Michigan’s Grand River flows westward to Lake Michigan and the Au Sable wends eastward to Lake Huron; I’ve experienced both over multiple days—paddling a canoe the length of the Au Sable and aboard a French-style bateau as part of the Grand River 2000 Expedition.
Encore, April 2001

Preserving the Past at Tillers
Tillers International is an oasis of old-fashioned lifestyle where people come to learn how to blacksmith, raise barns with mortice-and-tenon joints, and farming with animal power.
Learning to Be an Oxen Drover
My personal account of learning to plow and harvest with oxen at Tillers International.
Encore, October 2000

Music Defines Audrey Lipsey
Audrey Lipsey, violinist and assistant concertmaster for the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, is also a devoted Head Start teacher.
Encore, April 2000


I sincerely love the article. —Audrey Lipsey

Putting Value on Bog Land
Drains and peat mining continue to threaten one of Michigan’s rarest treasures, the Minden Bog, located in Michigan’s Thumb area.
Michigan Out-of-Doors, March 2000

Education for the Arts Enriches Life
The Education for the Arts program sparks creativity in Kalamazoo area school children.
Encore, January 2000

Mom’s strength, persistence taught unforgettable lessons
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, January 4, 2000
(My mom, Marge Weir, died of cancer in 1966 at the age of 50, but first, she outlived her doctor’s predictions by two years so she could attend my high school graduation.)

A Paradox in Purple
Psychologist Morry Edwards, who always wears purple and brings unconventionality to his practice, refers to himself as “The Purple People Treater.”
The Mind and Body Work Together
Dr. Edwards practices psychonueuro-immunology, the interaction between the mind, brain, central nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system.
Healing with Performing Arts
The West Michigan Cancer Center in Kalamazoo introduces a new program, “Creations,” which appeals to all of a patient’s senses in order to facilitate the healing process.
Encore, November 1999

If they work together, humans and nature regenerate each other
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, September 12, 1999

Nature reminds us of the true energy that is bound up in life
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, September 3, 1999

Why can’t Mercy build its clinic and preserve the wetlands too?
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, July 8, 1999


An excellent, poetic column on the Mercy wetlands. —Fred Fuller, St. Clair County drain commissioner

School Renews Natural Bonds
Jim Miller, founder of Willow Winds, utilizes his Michigan Outdoor Skills School (MOSS) to teach others how to work with and survive in nature.
Michigan Out-of-Doors, June 1999


The MOSS article and photo package is very good. —Dennis Knickerbocker, former MOOD editor

Janet Van Valey Lives and Breathes Handbells
The Kalamazoo Ringers have been making music with handbells, under the direction of Janet Van Valey, since 1981.
The Kalamazoo Ringers Speak an International Language
In 1998, they traveled to Japan to ring with a chorus of more than one thousand.
The Ancient Handbell Is Making a Comeback
The first “handbells” might have been sistrums worn by Egyptian women prior to the birth of Christ.
To Play or Not to Play, That Is the Question!
To help me research this article, Janet Van Valey permitted me to practice with The Kalamazoo Ringers; having played saxophone, I can read music, but playing on cohesion with more than a dozen others was a tremendous challenge.
Encore, April 1999

Port Huron-Mac: Window of Opportunity
Just as farmers strive to make hay while the sun shines, sailboat racers need to make miles while the wind blows. Some of the 252 competitors in this race found that wind and some didn’t.
Multihulls, September/October 1998

From One Hull to Three
Sailors with a history of competing on traditional monohulls say that racing a trimaran “isn’t even the same sport.”
Sail, April 1998

Downtown mall’s chainsaw massacre
Kalamazoo Gazette letter to the editor after city government had decided to revert the “Mall City’s” famous pedestrian mall to a vehicular roadway.
April 13, 1998

Rick Shields Preserves Gull Lake History in Postcards
The historical postcards in Rick’s extensive collection shows that “going to Gull Lake [at the start of the 20 century] was a big event, like going to Niagara Falls in the 1950s or on a Caribbean cruise today.”
Encore, March 1998

No-Chainsaw Winter Shelter
Wearing buckskin that he made himself, outdoorsman Dave VanderArk, provides instructions and benefits of shelters made from downed tree branches and pine bows.
Michigan Out-of-Doors, February 1998

WMU Brass Quintet
Since forming in 1966, this five-some of oft-changing horn players demonstrate through words and songs that every performance is an event.
Encore, December 1997

Packing the Pathway
Backpacking on the Jordan River Trail in upstate Michigan leads to scenic rewards.
Michigan Out-of-Doors, May 1997

Images of Hope
Artist Gay Walker combines art therapy with high-tech medicine within a mobile breast care center.
“The Art of Healing”
This exhibit and collection of writings contains poignant messages from people have used art as a creative outlet to help them deal with cancer.
Encore, April 1997

What Symphony Audiences Don’t See
Patrons of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra can easily see principal percussionist Judy Moonert engaged with the variety of simple and sophisticated instruments that she strikes to produce sound; but they don’t see the off-stage machinations she goes through to find just the right sound with just the right object—including automotive brake drums.
The Life and Livelihood of KSO’s Percussion Section
Symphony percussionists describe their off-stage professions.
Encore, January 1997

From Poster Child to Photographer
In his youth, Marc Kelemen was “one of Jerry’s kids,” a muscular dystrophy poster child. As an adult, he’s an amazingly talented portrait photographer who has a knack for asking the right questions, eliciting the perfect facial expression, and pressing the shutterbutton at the precise optimal moment.
Odie, the Golden Retriever, Tells His Story
Odie, in this personification, describes in his own bitter-sweet words what it’s like to be Marc’s working dog.
Encore, October 1996
(My first published article and still one of my favorites; Odie’s sidebar story is a classic.)

The ‘Other’ Kellogg
Brian C. Wilson, a professor of comparative religion at Western Michigan University, has authored a biography of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, “the other Kellogg.”
Encore, May 2015

New Views of Haiti
Keith Mumma, photographer and director of International Child Care, is opening eyes, minds, and hearts about life and health in Haiti.
Encore, December 2014

Learning from a Brain Tumor
An editorial based on my personal experience with an adversarial growth in my cranium and the good that came from that experience.
Encore, October 2013.
Relates to my memoir Brain Tumor.

Building Common Bonds
Steve Olweean, founder of Common Bond Institute, travels the globe to promote compassion and healing.
Encore, April 2013

Four articles for Southwest Michigan Wellness Directory, 2012-2013

  • What to Do … About Water? (theme feature)
  • Water: Essential to Recreation
  • Healthcare Information Is Shifting the Focus of Healthcare
  • Growing Up, Falling in Love

Four articles for Southwestern Michigan Wellness Directory, 2011-2012

  • Oneness—Earth, People, Spirit (theme feature)
  • For Beautiful, Healthy Skin: Take Care of Your Body—Inside and Out
  • Unhealthy and Healthy Internet Social Networking
  • Thyroid: The Body’s Balance Regulator


Wonderful! Packed with information and arranged so nicely. —Marianne Orr, Southwest Michigan Wellness Directory

Seekng Out the Stones
Sniedze Rungis, artist, crafts amazing pieces from natural materials: stones, tree roots, and driftwood.
Encore, April 2011

A Glorious Sound among Friends
The Kalamazoo Male Chorus, which has been performing since 1927, welcomes new singers with open arms.
Encore, April 2011


You have captured the essence of our group. The passion we feel for the music we sing shines right through. —John Leeger, Kalamazoo Male Chorus

Providing Helping Hands
Urban Youth for Africa, located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has a fantastic program through which economically underprivileged teens from the poor side of town travel to Sierra Leone and interact with and aid teens who know deep poverty, war, and violent death of family.
Encore, March 2011


The most thorough, well-written article we’ve ever had done on us. —Caryn Bladt, Urban Youth for Africa

Pushkin Turns 300
Once the Romanov’s summer home, Pushkin is a sleepy suburb of St. Petersburg with a storied history. Thanks to the presence of royal palaces, which were severely damaged during World War II and then restored to magnificence, it is also one of Russia’s most touristed towns.
Russian Life, September/October 2010

Teaming Up for Iraqi Health
Haider Alsaedy and Kathy Murphy, co-founders of Iraqi Health Now, are making “a significant gesture” of humanitarianism in their native communities of Basra, Iraq, and Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA.
Encore, February 2010


By far, the best article ever written about our organization. —Kathy Murphy, Iraqi Health Now

International Connections
The community of Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, enjoys mutually beneficial relationships with sister cities Japan and Russia thanks to several citizen organizations.
An International Cornerstone in Kalamazoo
In 1958 at age 21 aboard a vessel to Britain, David Macleod experienced international exchange with three cabin mates: a Hungarian Jew, an ex-Nazi glider pilot, and a pediatrician from Iraq. He later became a pillar of international cooperation.
Encore, February 2010

A Musical Duo Enriches the Region
Jennifer Barlament, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra’s new executive director, and her husband, Ken Potsic, a bassoonist and bassoon preservationist, bring a new wave of talent and flair to Kalamazoo.
Encore, September 2009

Electricity Is Blowin’ in the Wind
Rich VanderVeen, founder of Mackinaw Power, advocates for wind energy while facilitating development of wind farms.
Wind Turbines in Kalamazoo
John Patten, department chair and director of the Manufacturing Engineering Department at Western Michigan University, utilizes his on-campus wind turbine to power his conversion hybrid Toyota Prius. Meanwhile, Kalamazoo Valley Community College has added wind turbine repair courses to its curriculum.
Encore, April 2009

Exploring the World of Bioethics
Shirley Bach, a professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University, has devoted her life to exploring answers to some of life’s most difficult questions, including death.
Making Decisions on Life and Death
Medical and spiritual professionals meet to discuss real-life-and-death scenarios about end-of-life treatment.
Encore, February 2009

Going the Extra Mile
Lt. Stacey Randolph and Ex. Lt. Vic Ledbetter are proud to serve on the Kalamazoo’s Community Policing Unit, which orients youths to public safety careers.
Feeling Success at Michigan Youth Leadership Academy
Male and female teens learn etiquette and service from classes taught by the Michigan State Police.
Encore, November 2008

Living a Service to the Health of Others
Velma Hendershoot, president and CEO of InterCare Community Health Network, is an active advocate of health among southwest Michigan’s migrant farm workers.
Entrar, June 2008

Pianos, Performance and More
Jane Sytek and Rick Davies, owners of Action Piano Service, play and preserve antique pianos.
Encore, April 2008

The Working Dogs of the Canine Unit
The K-9 Unit of the Kalamazoo Public Safety Department utilizes “ball drive” to train their canines to find missing persons and sniff out narcotics.
Encore, February 2008

Adventure Renderings
In 2003, traditional and digital artist, Fritze Seegers invited imaginative friends to sail aboard the boat he had built on a creative cruise around Lake Superior.
Traditional Woodblock Prints
Trained in the Japanese traditions of woodblock art, Mary Brodbeck captured unique images from the Lake Superior cruise.
Philosophy Etched in Copper
Ironically, Lad Hanka’s base material for etching his images might have been mined from the shores of Lake Superior’s copper country.
Encore, Summer 2007

The Legacy of John E. Fetzer
Founded by radio entrepreneur and owner of the Detroit Tigers from the 1960s to the 1980s John E. Fetzer, the Fetzer Institute fosters awareness of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community.
Encore, February 2007

Southwest Michigan Joins National Campaign for U.S. Department of Peace
Advocates of “peace through understanding” support establishment of a Cabinet-level Department of Peace in the U.S. federal government.
Inside the Zoo, September/October 2006

Growing an Edible Landscape
Ken Asmus, owner of Oikos Tree Crops, propagates seeds to provide nursery stock of indigenous edible fruits and plants.
Encore, April 2006

Finding Her Calling
The Rev. Bobette Hampton, minister of Fresh Fire African Methodist Episcopal Church, extends her ministry beyond the sanctuary by reaching the hand of faith into Kalamazoo’s urban population.
New Year’s Eve at Fresh Fire
As one of Kalamazoo’s downtown churches, the congregation of Fresh Fire Church hosts a Watch Night service just prior to midnight as part of the city’s famous New Year’s Eve Fest.
A White Man at the Back of the Bus
When Rosa Parks was buried in Detroit on November 2, 2005, Bobette Hampton arranged for me to attend the funeral. Mourners rode from an off-site parking area on Detroit city buses. I was the only white person on the bus, and I sat in the very last seat—an ironic situation, considering Ms. Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, an act that started the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
(This was one of my favorite journalistic experiences.)
Encore, December 2005

Powered Parachutes Make Business Sense
Bob Taylor and Jim Medsker, founders and owners of Alliant Aviation, manufacture powered parachutes, a super lightweight aircraft that brings general aviation back to the public-at-large.
Encore, October 2004

If It Acts Like a Wetland
Ducks Unlimited leads a cooperative effort to rejoin 841 acres to the famed Minden Bog.
Michigan Out-of-Doors, November 2003

America’s Volunteer Lifesavers Take Boating Seriously
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, established in 1939, performs valuable search and rescue operations on Lake Michigan, often with privately owned vessels.
Auxiliarists Volunteer Over 2.5 Million Hours
Maritime protection services began during the presidency of George Washington; today, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boasts 33,000 members.
Encore, September 2003

Abbey Farm Tools Reap a Historical Harvest
Kalamazoo-area farmer Carroll Abbey collected over 4,000 historical farm tools, which are now in the hands of Tillers International, an organization that promotes non-mechanized agriculture in the U.S. and abroad.
The Power of a Dream
In 1834, Mrs. John Hascall of rural Climax, Michigan, had a dream about a machine that would harvest wheat in a totally unconventional manner; decades later, other inventors, such as Cyrus McCormick, would craft the combine—the successful fruition of Mrs. Hascall’s dream.
Encore, November 2002

Fighting Diabetes Through Diet, Running
While diabetes is common among Native Americans, John Warren, a former high school athlete and member of the Potawatomi Indians in northern Indiana, curbs the illness through weight-loss, nutrition, and running marathons.
Michigan Residents at Risk
Ways for obese persons to prevent or control diabetes.
A Dietician’s Persepective
Nancy Appel, a registered dietician who worked with John Warren, describes him as a model for others to improve their health.
Encore, February 2002

International Festival of the Sea
A shorter summary of the “A Merry Time in Maritime England” story for …
Maritime Life and Traditions, December 2001

Sept. 11 tragedy helps bring Americans, Canadians closer
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, November 2001

Preserving History at Nazareth
The Sisters of St. Joseph at Nazareth showcase their history, which dates to 1889, in a room of treasures and photographs from the era when the nuns and their neighbors sustained life by tilling the land.
Legacy of a Stonemason
The boundary wall around the Nazareth campus is a work of art crafted by stonemason Charles Blue in the late 1920s.
Encore, November 2001

Sr. Ginny Jones Makes the Environment a Priority
Sr. Ginny Jones, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Nazareth, Michigan, USA, applies ecospiritualism to work with nature trails and Christianity.
Sisters of St. Joseph Has Roots in France
This order of Catholic nuns originated in the mid-1600s and grew rapidly, even during the French Revolution in the late 1700s.
Encore, March 2001

Fuller’s work on Mill Creek saves money, avoids erosion
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, October 5, 2000


I really like Bob Weir’s environmental columns. … They’re nice … real, positive, and very informative. —Port Huron Times Herald reader

The Beauty of God’s Work
Positive Living opinion column, March/April 2000

Resources and life are best consumed in small quantities
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, April 28, 2000

Environmentally concerned groups take hold in Thumb
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, March 30, 2000

Minden Bog remains a natural resource we should preserve
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, February 27, 2000

Fontana: A Fountain of Music and Art
Founded by musician Neill Sanders and artist Ann Meade, the Fontana Concert Society provides a country-esque setting for performing arts.
Encore, January 2000

My dad faces the challenges of old age with grace, dignity
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, December 26, 1999
(I was with my dad, Martin Weir, for the last five years of his life, a time when we talked and gained understanding of each other more than we had in our earlier lives.)

Human nature isn’t rocket science—but it’s not far off
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, November 25, 1999

Kalamazoo County Barns Are Among America’s Country Cathedrals
Left unused, barns, the symbol of American agriculture, will deteriorate; fortunately, a cadre of folks in southwest Michigan are restoring and even converting some into homes.
Why Are Barns Red?
Because German settlers in New England used ferrous oxide (rust) as a natural pigment for barn paint—and the tradition stuck.
Encore, October 1999

Multihulls: Not the First to Fight for Acceptance in Traditional Racing Events
Traditional sailboats have one one hull and are called monohulls; catamarans and trimarans are called multihulls, and traditional sailors don’t like to compete agains them. But, in truth, anything new in sailboat racing has historically been challenged by the establishment.
Multihulls, May/June 1999


The sum total of your effort came out “Perfection”!!! —Ava, former Multihulls editor

Guest Conductors Remind Us to Teach Our Children Music
All five of the candidates vying for the position of music director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra were exposed to music at extremely young ages, including in the womb; they expressed their opinion about how this nurtured their love of music.
Encore, May 1999

Re-creating the Nature of God
Positive Living opinion column, March/April 1999

Tibetan monks’ visit highlights problem of preserving our environment
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, March 14, 1999

Stepping Back through Time on America
In July 1998, the schooner America, a replica of the historic double-masted racing vessel after which the America’s Cup is named, was a companion ship in the annual Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race, and I was privileged to be on board.
Encore, October 1998

He Can Tell You about Old Money
Jack Fisher has an extensive collection of old currency. As an accomplished writer, he has published numerous articles about the history of these old notes as well as the people associated with them.
Encore, October 1998


All comments received to date about the article are favorable and positive. —Jack Fisher

The Mackinac Sailing Tradition
Earth Voyager, a trimaran, is the fastest sailboat on the Great Lakes. I was privileged to be among her crew in the 1997 Port Huron to Mackinac race.
Michigan Out-of-Doors, July 1998

You’ve Got a Friend in the Kalamazoo
In this first-person narrative, the Kalamazoo River tells its own story of severe pollution due to a widespread paper-making industry in the 1800s to its healthy rebound today.
Kalamazoo Friendship Float
For a human touch, ten paddlers braved chilly February weather to enjoy some time with the river whose name, in Indian lore, means “boiling pot.”
Encore, April 1998

Treating Patients in an Individual Way
General Surgeon Jim Babel utilizes his pleasant personality as well as modern technology, such as cameras in laparoscopic surgery, to help his patients get better.
Laparoscopy—It’s Come a Long Way
The first laparoscopic instrument was invented in 1806, and the technology and training have improved significantly since.
Encore, February 1998

The Robinsons Live Up to a Family Pledge
Howard and Robyn Robinson are proud of both their African-American heritage and their uniforms: he as a member of the Kalamazoo Police Department and she as a Kalamazoo County deputy sheriff.
Encore, November 1997

Taking a Radio Break … To Be a Mom
Radio personality Patti Mindock, who has interviewed famous entertainers including Red Skelton, steps away from her microphone to cuddle and coo with her newborn son.
Among Patti Mindock’s most heroic moments was broadcasting from the path of a tornado that devastated downtown Kalamazoo in 1980.
Encore, April 1997

The Lake Is a Lady
Sailor’s love at first sight for Lake Michigan is requited with a two-day sailboat crossing years later.
Michigan Out-of-Doors, February 1997
(This is one of my favorite articles and my first in Michigan Out-of-Doors; it was also the first sailing article that this statewide hunting and fishing magazine had run in 25 years. The article has been reprinted in Sticks & Rags magazine and The Great Lakes Project.)

What’s the FDA?
Tim Hillary, the regional director of the Federal Drug Administration, says, “The general public can’t go into a firm and say, ‘I want to see how clean your operation is,’ so we do that for them.
A fictional interpretation of an actual FDA criminal investigation in which Tim Hillary played a major role.
Encore, November 1996

Power of three is important in Weir’s business
An article about me and my colleagues when we at Bob Weir & Associates wrote training materials and policy/procedural manuals for corporations.
Business Digest, September 1987, by Brian Agne

The Red Sea Pedestrians
The Red Sea Pedestrians, originally a klezmer band, plays a repertoire that defies definition.
Encore, June 2015

Trailing the Tigers
Come springtime, hope springs eternal in the world of baseball — America’s Game. And if you’re a fan of the Detroit Tigers, Joker Marchant Stadium, in Lakeland, Fla., is the place to be.
Encore, February 2015

See More Concerts
An editorial to “go while you can,” to music concerts and to places of interest near or far.
Encore, April 2014

You hit the nail on the head squarely. —Marlin Gerber

The Spirit of Sports
Jeanne Hess, a career women’s volleyball coach at Kalamazoo College and author of Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games, wants to change the way we think about sports.
Encore, September 2013


Your writing is a gift to the entire community. —Jeanne Hess

Eight articles and sidebars about international travel in 2011-2012:

Travel My Way
A summary of India, the Philippines, and Hawaii.
Encore, Summer 2012

From Poverty to Opportunity
Members of St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church contribute money and on-site time to change the lives of children in a tribal village orphanage.
Encore, February 2012

Empowering Calcutta’s Children
Rosalie Giffoniello, co-founder of Empower The Children, provides education to help slum-dwelling children in Kolkata (Calcutta) rise above poverty.
Encore, February 2012

Dalai Lama Attracts Many
A report on teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama at a Tibetan Kalichakra in Washington, DC, and at the Tibetan Main Temple in MacLeodganj, India.
Encore, November 2011

A Visit with the Dalai Lama
Videographers Frank and Paula Jamison describe their encounters and recording sessions with the Dalai Lama in 1992.
Encore, November 2011

Who Are the Tibetans?
In 1949, China invaded Tibet; this sidebar provides some detail about who and where the Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhists are today.
Encore, November 2011

Rebuilding Lives
Rachit Rivastav and Amita Shanbohogue, volunteers with Architects Without Borders, help people in Ladakh, India, rebuild their homes after a devastating flood that killed hundreds in 2010.
Encore, October 2011

The Women in the Moti Market
Merchants who escaped the flood of 2010, many of them women, joyfully continue their commerce.
Encore, October 2011


What a powerful sidebar about the fragility of life. —Penny Briscoe, former Encore editor

Marathon Man
Marathon runner Steve Borchert is on a quest to compete in all 50 states.
Encore March 2010

Louie’s Trophy House
Louie’s Trophy House, one of Kalamazoo’s oldest watering holes is famous for its numerous sports trophies, loyal customers, and country/blues bands. It’s also a starting/ending point for bikers on charity rides and a gathering place for members of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.
Encore, January 2010

Where the Wild Things Are
Documentarian Matt Clysdale takes himself and viewers face to face with nature in his hunt for the overlooked and unexpected. One of his documentaries is “Animals Among Us,” which is about urban wildlife within the city limits of Kalamazoo.
Encore November 2009


Many thanks for seeing a story in my work. Made my day, my month. —Matt Clysdale

Eleven articles for Southwest Michigan Wellness Directory, 2009-2010

  • Seasons, Circles, Cycles (theme feature)
  • Forgiveness Is …?
  • Acupuncture: A Way to Balance Dualities
  • Simple Solutions—Buy Local
  • Sight Adapts to the Stages of Life
  • Helping Our Homes Fit with the Rest of the World
  • Teeth that Last a Lifetime
  • Maintaining Muscle Mass
  • Medical Decisions Based on Medical Ethics
  • Taking Time to Grieve
  • Meds on the Circle of Healthcare

A Tennessee Mission
A small, mountain community reaps the benefits of John Leeger’s giving and adventurous spirit.
The Walk That Wasn’t
In his own words, John Leeger describes his escapade of venturing from Tennessee to Michigan.
Melungeons: An Appalachian Ethnicity
When English settlers came to Appalachia in 1700s, they encountered persons of Mediterranean origin who had been farming those hills since the 1100s. Unfortunately for these Melungeons, the English viewed them as an inferior minority and pushed them higher into the hills.
Encore, January 2009

Open Season on Adventure
Taking calculated risks in natural surroundings has become a way of life for motorcyclist, sailor, kayaker, hiker, and international traveler Bob Kirsten.
Encore, September 2008

On Bangor Farming and History
Small-town living is the good life for Bob Emmert, blueberry grower and preserver of historic buildings.
Encore, May 2008

Opus 21 Heads to Carnegie Hall
After debuting a new composition by composer Frederic Rzewski at the famed Gilmore Music Festival in Kalamazoo, the six-person combo of avantgarde music takes the piece to New York’s premier venue.
Creating the Unique
Opus 21 founder Richard Adams enjoys the challenge of composing modern music.
Encore, April 2008

Makin’ Music with a Kalamazoo Heritage
The luthiers at Heritage Guitar continue the quality of their former employer, Gibson Guitar, after Gibson moved their manufacturing operations to Nashville.
What’s a Guitar Worth?
An Internet notice in 2000 gave Vicksburg’s James Brown information that his long-lost guitar had recently sold for $50,000.
Luthiers of a Different Light
With the influence of Gibson Guitars and Heritage Guitar, many local luthiers practice their craft in various small shops.
Encore, January 2008

Antique Outboards Everywhere at Finch’s Marine
Since the early 1950s, small motor repairmen John and Skip Finch have collected over 600 vintage outboard motors.
Encore, March 2007

Walking in a Mailman’s Shoes
While carrying the mail on one of Kalamazoo’s urban routes, Geno Hinton expresses his philosophy on life, family, dogs, trains, broken steps, and out-of-place mailboxes.
Encore, December 2006

Makin’ It in the Buggy Business
The Andler family, owners of Justin Carriage Company, thrives on what appears to be a thing of the past.
Encore, December 2006

A Kalamazoo Perspective on the United Nations
As a follow-up to an earlier article about John McConnell, founder of the original Earth Day (Encore, April 2005), I wrote this piece about the United Nations, one of the main venues in which Mr. McConnell worked; it covers Earth Day celebrations on the vernal equinox, non-governmental organization (NGO) conferences, and a rare World Summit of the world’s heads of state.
Pursuing Peace in the United States
A dedicated group of Kalamazooans are supporters of the campaign to establish a Cabinet-level Department of Peace in the U.S. federal government.
Encore, April 2006

Voices Joined at United Nations Non-Governmental Organization Conference
A host of 4,500 NGO delegates meet at the United Nations in New York City to evaluate and support the UN’s Millennium Development Goals project.
The Light Millennium, September 16, 2005

These Saws Are Made for Playin’
Lee Derksen bends wood-cutting saws, large or small, across his knee, addresses them with a resined bow, and makes beautiful music.
Encore, January 2005

It’s a Bird, It’s a Crane—and It’s Super!
Mike Boyce, resident manager of Baker Sanctuary and originator of CraneFest, fosters a love of sandhill cranes.
Encore, September 2004

The Modern Michigan Farm
The Leach family, owners of Avalon Farms, harvest traditional field crops but also employ hydroponic greenhouses to produce delicious tomatoes year round; their community supported agriculture (CSA) subscription business is also prospering.
Encore, April 2004

California or Bust … Sunseeker Places Fifth
Sunseeker, a solar-powered prototype car built by engineering students at Western Michigan University, competes in the American Solar Challenge race from Chicago, Illinois, to Claremont, California.
Encore, September 2003

Happy Trails to You
Members of the Chief Noonday Chapter of the North Country Trail do their part to construct the nation’s longest hiking trail: 4,600 miles from eastern New York to North Dakota.
Encore, March 2003

Of Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Bonior stands out
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, July 30, 2002

Barry County Residents Practice Alternative-Energy Lifestyles
A collection of four stories about people who have adopted “unconventional” ways of fueling their homes.
Drawing Heat from the Earth
The Pierce Cedar Creek Institute geothermically heats and cools its several buildings (dorms, offices, meeting rooms, and central structure that includes a 250-seat auditorium).
Using Solar Power NOW
Bob Brown powers his machine shop, which includes a 220-volt welder, almost exclusively with solar power, even on Michigan’s cloudy days.
A Home of Tires and Cans
The exterior walls of Matt and Beth Farner’s home are made of discarded car tires, and the interior walls are of empty aluminum beverage cans—covered with gunite and painted in soft pastels. The house has an inverted roof to catch and channel rainwater into a cistern. The southern walls are passive solar windows, and the north (colder) side of the house is nestled into a berm. With a windmill generating electricity, they live totally off the grid.
Basement Stores Summer Sun
The home designed and built by Dale Anderson looks like a typical peaked-roof home, but that roof is covered with hyudronic solar panels that direct heat from the sun into the basement, which is filled with sand. As the water warms the sand, heat rises, converting the entire floor into a toasty radiator.
Encore, April 2002

Celebrate with the Irish at Irish Fest 2001
On St. Patrick’s Day, “everybody is Irish,” a statement proved by the community of Kalamazoo at the first annual Irish Fest.
Irish Roots and Proud
The Honorable John F. Foley, Judge of Kalamazoo County Circuit Court, and wife, Joan, reminisce about the blind date in 1955 that led to their life together as proud Irish descendents whose grandparents emigrated during the Potato Famine of the 1840s.
Encore, September 2001

Turning Lumber into Watercraft
Wooden boat builder Bruce Hutchinson enjoys speeding across Gull Lake in southwest Michigan in Full Nelson, the vessel he made.
Encore, March 2001

Images of War and Peace
Professional portrait and commercial photographer John Gilroy recounts his introduction to film and photography during the Vietnam War in 1969-70 and his symbolic return to Ho Chi Minh City in 2000.
Encore, September 2000

Neighbors Watch Over Watersheds
Southeast Michigan claims three relatively short urban rivers: the Clinton, the Rouge, and the Huron, all of which pass through the greater Detroit area and flow into the Detroit River. In many places, industrialization has polluted these and force them into concrete channels, but groups and communities are helping them reclaim their natural beauty.
Verlen Kruger to Lead Grand River Expedition
Announcement that internationally known long-distance paddler Verlen Kruger will lead the upcoming expedition on the Grand River, Michigan’s longest river.
Michigan Out-of-Doors, June 2000

A Shutterbug Captures Lighthouses
Darryl Chapman, a pharmaceutical research biologist and amateur photographer, has an extensive collection of high-quality photos of Michigan lighthouses.
Keep the Lights On
For nearly 300 years, lighthouses have graced North American shores as necessary beacons for maritime safety, but now they are in jeopardy of being “disposed of” by U.S. Coast Guard.
Encore, March 2000

Dave Davey: A Quiet Man Who Is Anything But Silent
Dave Davey, executive director of Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan, had polio when he was a boy; today, in a wheelchair, he leads by example.
Barrier Free?
Dave Davey has learned, from experience, that what the ambulatory call “barrier free” isn’t necessarily so.
Encore, December 1999

Area residents need to stop and appreciate Minden Bog
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, October 3, 1999

A conversation with Raymond Harvey
Newly selected music director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Raymond Harvey, relates what he hopes to accomplish with the city’s most accomplished musician.
Passing the Baton: It Began with a Secret
Raymond Harvey replaced the much-loved Yoshimi Takeda, who had secretly a few members of the symphony’s board of directors of his intention to retire a full five years before that event actually occurred.
Encore, September 1999

One Race … with Safety and Fairness for All
The Chicago to Mackinac sailboat race took place with five boats in 1898. Celebrating a century of competition, racers continue the tradition of “fun, sportsmanship, and adherance to the rules” and preservation of the fact that “there has never been a life lost in the Mackinac race.”
Chicago Yacht Club race booklet, 1999


Everybody likes it! —Chicago Yacht Club race committee

Revive 1960s spirit of protest to strengthen the environment
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, May 26, 1999

Mercy Hospital urged to avoid using wetland for constructionb
Port Huron Times Herald opinion column, April 5, 1999

Making Trash Count
Kalamazoo County’s recycling coordinator Steve Leuty has his eyes on the future as he introduces the concept of recycling to area businesses.
Encore, March 1999

Emmett Lions Celebrate 50 Years of Service
The Lions club in the village of Emmett, Michigan, USA, started in 1949 with 37 men who found a way to give back to their community; in 1999, the club was still going strong.
Yale Expositor, March 10, 1999
(My dad, Martin Weir, was the last living founding member of the Emmett Lions Club.)

During the 1998-99 season of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, audiences were given a rare treat of hearing a concert conducted by each of the five candidates who were vying for the newly open position of music directors. I wrote an article for Encore magazine about each of these guest conductors; through these articles, more Kalamazooans were informed about the selection process.

Mark Russell Smith Revels in the Mystery of Musicb
Encore, February 1999

Innovation, Curiosity, and Desire Direct Steven Smith’s Musical Career
Encore, January 1999

Through Good Ol’ American Musical Fun, Barry Jekowsky Finds the Child in His Audience
Encore, November 1998

Dorian Wilson Lets the Orchestra Soar
Encore, September 1998

From Tall Ships to Harborwalk
The Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven, Michigan, USA, employs history and awareness of current environmental situations to save our coastal heritage.
Boat Restoration Could Happen Here
Boat restorers Michael Chiarappa and Kristin Szylvian bring their expertise from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.
Encore, March 1998

Celebrating Human Diversity
Dr. Stephanie Heard describes her path as a teacher, writer, musician and finally to a degree in psychiatry as “circuitous.”
Encore, February 1998

The FBI’s in Kalamazoo
Senior resident FBI agent Jerry Alexander and his staff provide dicey details of closed cases during the federal agency’s 50-year tenure in Kalamazoo.
Encore, January 1998

Slow going to Mackinac
Report on the seventy-third running of the Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race on Lake Huron.
Sail, October 1997

Eleven Multis and One Mono in Open Class
Report on the seventy-third running of the Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race on Lake Huron … with a slant toward multihulls.
Multihulls, September/October 1997

Medical and Evangelical Humanitarianism
With international conflict raging nearby, in inadequate health facilities, amidst long lines of patients and clambering children, Dave and Chris Flagler apply band-aids to the world.
Encore, February 1997

Conversation by the River
Highly entertaining cartoon animator and artist David Baker describes his occupation … and the fun he has creating characters then bringing them to life.
The Toons
Written in the genre of a short story, this piece flies into the creative netherland as David’s characters toss a whiz-bang, rip-roarin’, farm-out party.
Encore, December 1996

Huron-Mac Race
Report on the seventy-first Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race.
Sail, October 1996

Sacred Spaces provide comfort zones for discovery and growth
In this piece, columnist Donna Allgaier Christian describes a particular sacred space (a huge oak tree in a savannah) from her feminine perspective and budding writer Robert (then Bob) Weir describes the same scene from his masculine perspective.
Michigan Women’s Times, January 1995
(My first words to appear in print, coasting on the shirttails of my friend. Thanks DJ.)

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