Year in review: Reflecting on some of 2010's most memorable people
Coming up with my favorite stories for 2010 was a fairly easy task this year. All of the stories involve people doing incredible things.
While this job frequently has me talking with people who do amazing things, this year seemed to have more of them than normal.
Rosemount has been blessed with lots of talented and giving residents. And it's an honor to be able to write their stories.
Every Tuesday afternoon John Morrison sets up in Rosemount's Caribou Coffee with a Cribbage board. If someone wants him to, he will teach them to play. Otherwise he just has a cup of coffee.
The Navy veteran loves to play cribbage. And he loves to teach others how to play. He has taught hundreds of people, of all ages. He even taught me how to play one random Thursday afternoon.
Morrison is a great teacher. He explains things simply but clearly. By the end of my time with him I knew how to play cribbage. Over Christmas I even beat my sister, who plays all the time.
Morrison started playing cribbage while serving on a naval patrol boat in 1950. Some of the other sailors, who were playing, offered to teach him and so began a 60-year love affair.
"It's a good military game. When you're out at sea for 35 days it's a good monotony breaker," Morrison told me when I wrote a story about him in August.
His willingness to share stories makes him a joy to talk with. He's at Caribou Tuesday afternoons and at Suzie's Kitchen on Thursdays.
I would encourage anyone who wants to learn to play cribbage to seek him out. Even if you know how to play cribbage I'd encourage you to meet John Morrison because he's one of Rosemount's treasures.
I don't usually get profanity past my editor but for LTC Mark Weber's story I did. The words used weren't meant to be obscene but rather to illustrate the spirit Weber has in fighting the cancer that has invaded his body. And sometimes there is just no better way than to use a shocking word or two.
An Army man through and through Weber has gone about fighting cancer the same way he would fight any other enemy, with determination. He even gave his fight a name, Operation True Grit. Weber, who was supposed to serve a tour in Afghanistan with Gen. David Petraeus this year, learned he had cancer when he was getting ready to deploy this summer.
Fighting cancer, the husband and father of three boys, has been through hell and back. Despite everything he has kept good spirits and humor. Meeting Weber was a pleasure. He was honest and sincere about his plight.
I've kept tabs on Weber through his Caringbridge updates and he's a talented writer. Saturday Night Live should hire him.
Since I wrote about Weber in October he has learned that his first diagnosis was wrong. He was put on a new drug and is hopeful it will make the difference. He still has a long, hard fight a head of him but out of all people Weber is the man to win this battle.
Weber is a good man and while I met him under the worst of circumstances I am so glad that I got the opportunity.
Diane Tapper is a pretty cool lady. The leader of Rosemount's chapter of Operation Minnesota Nice has a heart for deployed soldiers and over the last year has dedicated a lot of her free time to making sure they know someone at home appreciates their sacrifice.
Tapper started the Rosemount chapter this past spring. Each month the chapter sends comfort and love to deployed soldiers all over the world. The group meets monthly at the Rosemount American Legion to put together the packages. Each member of the group brings an item to put into each of the boxes. They can put additional items in their own soldier's box if they want to. In addition, each box contains a letter to the soldier.
After the box is filled, the members are then responsible for shipping their soldier's box.
Tapper organizes the meeting each month, which includes getting the boxes and making sure soldiers are paired up with a group member.
The soldiers who receive boxes have been picked to receive them by their commanding officers because they don't get much from their families.
Recently, Tapper also planned a special Christmas event in which, the group sent more than 70 care packages to deployed soldiers for the holidays.
While Tapper is humble about it, she really has done an amazing thing. She's taken the time and initiative to support the troops in a way that matters and is meaningful.
She's a gem and I'm so glad I got to meet her this year.
I like writing stories about people who follow their heart to do unconventional things and Ali Fletcher fits that mold. The Rosemount resident decided her calling in life was to serve God and she set out to do that with the Capuchin Sisters of Nazareth.
To become a nun, though, Fletcher had to be debt free, which mean she needed to pay off her student loans. Her dad, a member of the Rosemount Knights of Columbus, asked if the group could help her out and they did.
The Knights of Columbus held a pancake breakfast at St. Joseph's Church in August and raised enough money to help Fletcher pay off her debts.
Fletcher left for Pennsylvania in September to join the Capuchin Sisters of Nazareth. For her first year Fletcher will be an apostolate. The year will be dedicated to learning the community's way of life.
During her second year Fletcher will be considered a novice, which she compared to an engagement period. She said she will learn more about the group and become more involved in their way of life.
At the completion of the second year there will be a big party and she will become a full fledged member of the community.
Fletcher, who spent the month of June with the community, said she chose the group because of their core beliefs of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Fletcher's story struck me because she was so passionate about her beliefs and was willing to give up conventional way of life to pursue something better for herself. I also was struck by the generosity of people in Rosemount to make her dream come true.
Fletcher is someone Rosemount residents should be proud of. In return, I hope Fletcher is proud of the place she came from.
Mandy Mulder is another person who is doing unconventional things. The 22-year-old Rosemount woman has a heart for helping the poor and wants to make sure others know their plight.
This spring Mulder will set out to visit the poorest areas in the 48 contiguous United States and will document her journey. She has named the project Mission America 2011. She will visit shelters and food shelves to see how the poor live. Additionally, she will leave each place she visits better through donations and service.
Recently the Star Tribune ran a story about Mulder and people on a message board had some unpleasant things to say. I don't know why someone would want to discourage a young woman from helping people, but I don't know why people spend hours on message boards either.
Mulder has a heart of gold. I believe her intentions are good and that positive things will come out of her odyssey.
To Mulder, I pray you have safe travels and get the experience you hope to get. I can't wait to see what comes of it all.