"The nation's leading Web site for information about patriotism, the Medal
of Honor and military history."
Billionaire Pushes for Cancer Cure
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - To catch a fly, chemical magnate Jon Huntsman explains,
you have to know where it's headed.
The 61-year-old billionaire leaps to his feet to prove his point on an
unsuspecting insect. First calculate its trajectory, he whispers. He kneels
down on the plush carpet, then snatches the air where the bug should be.
A swoop and a miss. The fly gets away.
Huntsman shrugs and settles back into the couch. Failure is just part of
the process, he says.
``Always shoot ahead of the target,'' he says, reciting lessons learned as
a naval gunner. ``You have to use your imagination.''
It's a philosophy that works for the man who built the world's largest privately
owned chemical company from scratch and is embarking on his next mammoth
task: finding a cure for cancer.
Last week, he officially opened the Huntsman Cancer Institute, a six-story
addition to the University of Utah campus.
With $151 million out of his own pocket and a pledge of millions more each
year, Huntsman built a center that looks more like a corporate headquarters
than a hospital and staffed it with 300 researchers lured from the top
laboratories in the nation.
His priority is to focus on the precursor genes that could help doctors predict
cancers, and he envisions inoculations in the not-too-distant future that
would protect high-risk patients.
For Huntsman, the bottom line is simple: End human suffering.
It's a goal he has carried since his youth in rural Idaho, since receiving
a scholarship to study at the University of Pennsylvania, since he started
donating $50 of his $320-per-month naval salary to the poor decades ago.
He found the means when he created the Styrofoam egg carton and the famous
McDonald's clamshell burger container, then went on to found his own company
He claims he is building a massive petrochemical empire just so he can give
the proceeds away. With April's purchase of four divisions of London's Imperial
Chemical Industries, Huntsman Corp. is expected to nearly double its revenues
to $7.5 billion per year. Forbes magazine calculates Huntsman's personal
wealth at $3.2 billion.
``It's such a joy to give money away and it's such a privilege, and it's
even more than a privilege - it's an absolute duty in life,'' Huntsman says.
His company lists charitable giving in its mission statement, and its 16,000
employees regularly top fund-raising lists for the United Way and other causes.
The cancer institute - an attempt to single-handedly revolutionize cancer
care - is a personal mission for Huntsman. His mother, father and stepfather
died of cancer, and he has fought off prostate and mouth cancer.
But, he insists, his goal is not to protect his own nine children and 40
grandchildren, whose framed pictures cover every inch of a table in his living
``I don't think you can move science forward or provide resources for science
for your own personal edification. It has to be for the general good,'' he
As an example, he points to Michael Milken, who co-chairs a prostate cancer
association with Huntsman and has given at least $45 million to cancer research.
Huntsman praised Milken's dedication, but suggested his colleague's goal
of curing his own acute prostate cancer may be myopic. The same goes for
those entrepreneurs who wait till their death to give their billions away.
But then, he admits, most moneymakers have shareholders and heirs to answer
to. Huntsman says that's why he has kept Huntsman Corp. private, despite
a ``phenomenal'' buyout offer from a top American company in recent months,
By keeping the company in family hands, Huntsman has the control he craves.
Eldest son Jon Jr. heads the cancer institute, second son David runs the
company from Brussels, and all of his children except his youngest son, who
is mentally disabled, work in the business. Each family member is self-sufficient
and none rely on his largesse.
Down the hall, a phone rings. Huntsman glances out at the Salt Lake Valley
spread below his sunken living room - he's not usually home during the day,
he says, and he's enjoying the novelty. Above the fireplace is his favorite
painting, a scene of pioneers camped by a stream.
A reproduction by the same artist welcomes visitors to the cancer center,
where Huntsman's own pioneers work in the lab. To some, it seems a gamble.
Not to the man who never takes notes into acquisition meetings, and who says
success - like catching flies - is just a matter of staying ahead of your
``It's hard to see inside each other, what makes us tick and what motivates
us to take risks,'' he says. ``But I don't think I've ever taken a risk in
89-Year-Old Woman Walking Across US
WEATHERFORD, Texas (AP) - There are a few things you ought to know about
Doris Haddock before taking a walk with the 89-year-old woman.
No. 1: Despite her age, severe arthritis and her recent recovery from emphysema,
she keeps a brisk pace.
No. 2: She waits for no one.
And No. 3: She walks with a purpose.
The soft-spoken, 5-foot ``Granny D'' is nearly halfway through a 3,055-mile
walk across the country to call attention to campaign-finance reform.
She set out from Southern California on New Year's Day and expects to finish
in Washington in January, walking six days a week, 10 miles a day. This week,
she made her way down U.S. Highway 180 in the Texas summer heat.
Ms. Haddock said the cross-country trek was her idea, but she is making the
walk with the backing of Common Cause, the Washington-based interest group
that advocates campaign-finance reform.
The former secretary and shoe factory worker, whose only past political activity
was participating in protests of nuclear tests in the 1950s, said political
offices are, in effect, up for the highest bid.
``Our system has broken down,'' she said while walking along a hilly stretch
of highway in Weatherford, 30 miles west of Fort Worth. ``To run today, even
an honest man has to sell his soul to the big corporations to compete. And
it's getting worse all the time.''
The Dublin, N.H., woman is so serious about taking her message to Congress
that she braved the Mojave Desert - she was hospitalized four days for
dehydration - and tapped her bank account for the trip.
She said she is trying to avoid taking money from Common Cause or other groups
and tries to save cash by staying with people she meets along the way.
So trudges on with her backpack canteen strapped on and a big straw hat on
her head, her son Jim and daughter-in-law Libby trailing her in an old Dodge
van with a bed in the back. It usually takes four to five hours to make the
10-mile hike each day, including several 10-minute breaks.
The arthritis requires her to wear a brace that causes her to walk hunched
``I think it's great that some people want to take the country back,'' said
Jerry Kershman, who broke from mowing his grass along the highway to greet
Granny D and offer her a few dollars. ``I don't think our kids would be the
way they are if they didn't see all this corruption in government.''
She is backing legislation to limit so-called soft money donations in federal
campaigns. The measure died last September in the Senate.
``Nothing's happening because people are too afraid to stand up and say it's
got to stop,'' she said. ``Everyone in Congress was elected under this system
and they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.''
She was making her way through Texas on Wednesday when the Texas governor,
presidential candidate George W. Bush, announced he had raised a record $36
million in his first six months on the campaign trail.
Ahead of Ms. Haddock lie Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West
Virginia and Virginia. She plans to reach Washington by her 90th birthday,
Strangers Unite To Save Twins
MIAMI (AP) - For Claudia Cox and her 22-month-old twins, a weekend vacation
nearly ended in tragedy before it had even begun.
Ms. Cox, her infants and two friends were driving from Miami to Naples across
``Alligator Alley'' - a highway cutting through the Everglades bordered by
canals teeming with gators and other wildlife - when the right front tire
on their car exploded.
The four-door car careened out of control, smashed through a chain-link fence
and flipped, landing upside down in a canal.
Within seconds, a torrent of murky water filled the car.
``The only thing going through my mind was 'Oh God, my babies,''' said Ms.
Cox, a 23-year-old Miami resident.
The twins, Kendia and Kenisha, were strapped to their child seats, trapped
Guy Burnett, his wife Hanna, and their two children also were headed west
on Alligator Alley that Sunday, June 13, for a day trip to Naples.
Burnett, a former lifeguard, saw people standing on the side of the highway
and thought they were just looking at an alligator.
Then he saw the car, its tires and a sliver of the chassis breaking the surface
of the water.
After nearly five minutes underwater, one of the passengers, Simone Hyatt,
emerged from the canal and staggered onto the bank. Swallowing water and
struggling upside down in the front passenger seat, she had managed to open
The car's driver, Tashana Brown, followed her out.
Another minute passed before Ms. Cox surfaced, screaming, ``My babies! My
Kendia and Kenisha had been underwater for nearly six minutes.
Burnett heard the mother's pleas and dove into the canal. Two other men who
had stopped also dove in.
After first struggling with one of the front doors, Burnett managed to open
the rear passenger door, reaching underneath and upward through the half-open
window to reach the door's latch.
``I got the door open, but we couldn't see the babies,'' he said. ``They
were completely underwater.''
Burnett and one of the other men went back under and inside the car and
frantically pulled at the child seat holding Kenisha.
``We could see her ... she was flapping around like a rag doll,'' Burnett
The two men pulled Kenisha out in a little over a minute. She was not breathing.
Her face was bruised, her body stiff.
Burnett stayed in the water to go after Kendia while the two other men carried
Kenisha to shore. Ms. Brown, a flight attendant, performed CPR on the girl.
Going on seven minutes now, Kendia remained underwater, strapped in her seat.
Burnett blindly prodded inside the car, trying to feel for the other girl.
Frustrated, he surfaced and yelled for a knife to cut through seat belt straps,
then dove in again without waiting for one.
He managed to find the latch for Kendia's seat and pulled her out.
Kenisha had already begun breathing and Ms. Brown began to perform CPR on
Kendia, before Burnett intervened.
``I popped her neck up so I could get some air into her,'' Burnett said.
``I felt for her pulse and there wasn't anything.''
Burnett placed Kendia on her side and pressed on her belly, pushing water
out. He kept up the CPR until he detected her pulse and saw her gasp for
``I was just saying 'Come on baby, breathe','' said Burnett, 27, of Plantation.
``I'm just glad I was there.''
The infants were airlifted to a hospital in Naples and released the next
day. Still vacationing in Naples last week, Ms. Cox said her children were
being treated for an ear infection, but were well.
``We were singing 'Jesus Is Real' (in the car),'' she said. ``I guess I have
to say that's what saved our lives. That and the guys that were there.''
WWII POW Remembers Who Saved Him
RINDGE, N.H. (AP) -- Ralph Lavoie remembers just how close he came -- twice
-- to being among those honored as America's war dead. And he remembers a
buddy who defied a German guard to keep him alive.
First, as a gunner on a B-17 bomber, Lavoie barely had time to parachute
out of his falling plane before it crashed in December 1943.
Then for 14 months, he faced the fear of death as a prisoner of war at Stalag
17-B in Austria, the camp that inspired a movie of the same name and the
television comedy ``Hogan's Heroes.''
``We heard stories that Hitler said: `Kill all the prisoners,' and we waited
for it to happen,'' the 78-year-old Lavoie said last week. ``There always
was the constant threat that the Germans would say, `Why are we feeding these
Last month, cancer claimed the man Lavoie and other POWs picked to be their
camp leader -- a man they credit with keeping them alive.
He was Kenneth Joseph Kurtenbach of Waterloo, Iowa, a sergeant also shot
down on a bombing run. Kurtenbach, known as Kurt, helped organize the POWs,
was their confidant and their representative to the Germans. He was also
a savior the night Lavoie and fellow POW Jim Proakis tried to escape.
A hail of gunfire stopped them, killing Proakis and wounding Lavoie. A German
soldier, noticing Lavoie had survived, shot him in the shoulder, neck, ribs
and cheek. Lavoie rolled on the ground, trying to dodge the bullets.
``The whole object was to kill us both, then in the morning, at roll call,
bring the boys out and say, `This is what happens. You try to escape, you
die,''' he said.
But ``Kurt and the boys were at the end of the compound, fighting with the
Germans to let him come down and see if either of us was alive,'' Lavoie
said. ``One German hit him in the mouth with a rifle butt.''
Eventually, Kurtenbach came down with a stretcher and helped carry Lavoie
to an aid station. It was an act that Lavoie believes saved his life, though
Kurtenbach had already earned the admiration of fellow POWs by then.
``He was only 19 and I saw him stand up to German generals,'' Lavoie said.
``Because of his forcing them to do as much as he could get them to do to
improve conditions, we survived.''
Lavoie is one of the organizers of an effort to spread the word about
Kurtenbach's bravery and let former colleagues know of his death.
``I'm not the hero of the story,'' Lavoie said. ``I'm proud to be part of
it, but Kurt is the hero.''
In the decades after the war, Kurtenbach's homes in Iowa and Tucson, Ariz.,
saw a constant parade of POW visitors.
``His POW buddies were always his greatest admirers,'' said Kurtenbach's
widow, Myrtle, in a telephone interview. ``Those people were so close. The
fact that he never lost any connection with most of them during the rest
of their lives is amazing to me.''
She said her husband didn't consider himself special, though he appreciated
his buddies' admiration.
``He felt that being elected ... kept him sane and gave him more to do while
in the camp, which made it easier for him.''
Her husband didn't talk much with his children about his war exploits, who
have come to know them from the aging POWs who now gather often to reminisce,
Mrs. Kurtenbach said. But her husband began a written narrative of his
experiences last year, and ``told me to make sure I got it out and gave it
to the kids,'' she said.
Forklift Philanthropist Keeps Going c The Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) -- Matel ``Mat'' Dawson drives an old car and lives in a one-bedroom
apartment. At 78, he still works for Ford Motor Co. -- just like he has for
the past 59 years.
He drives a forklift, soaks up as much overtime as possible and pulls down
around $100,000 a year. Just so he can give most of it away.
With a $200,000 donation to Wayne State University on Tuesday, Dawson has
now donated more than $1 million to schools and charities since 1994.
``I get joy, happiness out of this,'' he said at a news conference, nattily
dressed in a pinstriped suit with a pink boutonniere. ``I can go home and
Dawson got as far as the seventh grade in Shreveport, La., before coming
to Detroit in 1940. He didn't become a philanthropist by winning a lawsuit,
hitting the lottery or collecting an inheritance.
All he's done, he said, is work, work overtime, save and invest.
``No matter how much you make or how little you make, you've got to save
a little of that,'' he said. ``I was raised like that, to help others. I
have more than enough myself.''
For Dawson, who is divorced and has one daughter, ``more than enough'' doesn't
include vacations -- he said making money is more enjoyable. He drives a
1985 Ford Escort and his apartment is in down-on-its-heels Highland Park,
where Henry Ford built his Model T factory.
``A big house, a big car, that doesn't excite me,'' Dawson said.
Dawson earns about $100,000 a year through his base salary of $23.47 an hour,
plus overtime from working 12-hour days. He runs a forklift and is classified
as a ``rigger'' -- a skilled tradesman available for a variety of jobs at
the Rouge assembly complex in Dearborn.
In 1994, years after he could have retired, Dawson began giving his money
away. The first recipient was the United Negro College Fund, which got $50,000
then and has received $180,000 more since then.
He has given $200,000 to Louisiana State University at Shreveport; $112,000
to churches in Detroit and Louisiana; $20,000 to the NAACP; and $10,000 to
The biggest beneficiary by far has been Wayne State, which with Tuesday's
gift has received $431,500. The latest gift, like a $200,000 Dawson donation
in 1996, will go toward scholarships.
Dawson ``stands as an example to all others who thought they didn't have
enough to give,'' Wayne State President Irvin Reid said. Turning to Dawson,
Reid said, ``Your money is very important to us, but your example is even
Dawson said he will remain at Ford and continue his blue-collar philanthropy
as long as he stays healthy. Next year he plans to set up a $100,000 scholarship
fund in Shreveport in honor of his grandparents.
``I won't say I want to give it all away,'' Dawson said. ``But I'll give
the bulk of it away.''
Woman Giving Brother a Kidney .c The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) -- The arrow sliced across the backyard -- unimpeded, unswerving,
from 10-year-old Patty's bow to her kid brother's head.
And then, chaos.
Six-year-old Vincent Campbell stumbled into his mother's arms, an arrow stuck
behind his ear. Patty, fear stricken, fled and hid. Their infuriated dad
chased the neighbor who owned the bow and arrow.
As it turned out, Vinny wasn't seriously hurt. They found Patty four hours
later, cowering in the garbage bin under the house.
The day Patty used Vinny for target practice would become family legend.
In fact, it was an accident -- he had darted in front of her. She never wanted
to hurt him.
``Vinny was always my baby brother,'' she says. ``I kind of always looked
out for him.''
Thirty-three years later, Patty -- now Patricia McDonough -- was still looking
out for her brother. Vinny's health was failing; he needed a kidney, and
Patty had one to give.
But Patty had something else, too: an intimate understanding of the world
of organ transplants. She is a nurse, and for the past six years her mission
has been to ensure that people who need organs get them.
Now, suddenly, Patty was a donor, not a nurse. After all those years of
counseling patients, how would it feel to BE one? Would it happen the way
she had always told the donors? Or would she be surprised?
All of these questions were secondary, of course. Her major concern was helping
her brother cheat death again.
When Vinny was born, a nurse picked him up, her hand behind his head to support
his neck. And that is why, 39 years later, he would need a kidney transplant.
The nurse had a boil on one of her fingers. Staph.
The infection traveled through Vinny's left ear, and he remained in the hospital
for a year. Doctors removed part of his mastoid bone; they bombarded him
with antibiotics. Finally, they sent him home.
``My mother said the doctors told her she was bringing him home from the
hospital to die, that he wouldn't survive his second year, that he would
be dwarfed and retarded,'' Patty says. ``I tell him the retarded part was
The Campbells were a close-knit and devoutly Catholic family; the kids, three
boys and two girls, watched out for each other. Vinny was a sickly child.
But his health problems ebbed when he was 5, and soon he was playing football
and hockey in the streets of Flushing, Queens.
What no one realized was the effect of all those antibiotics. Vinny was allergic
to penicillin, so other, experimental drugs were used. The result: two damaged
kidneys, ticking like time bombs.
Vinny grew up, graduated from St. John's University, went to work at the
New York City Transit Authority as a computer specialist, got married --
all without a clue that he was in less-than-perfect health.
Patty, too, went to St. John's. But only for a while. ``I wanted to take
off a year, and while I was working at Waldbaum's (supermarket), I decided
I better go back to school.''
Without too much thought, she decided to become a nurse.
For years, she worked in coronary intensive care. Then, six years ago, she
shifted direction and went into transplant medicine.
First she went to work as a procurement coordinator. Hearing of a potential
donor -- someone who was brain dead and might offer several organs -- she
would rush to the hospital. She would help supervise the care and would counsel
``You're asking families to put aside their own pain and help somebody else.
... It's really a privilege to work with these families,'' she says.
Then, she would consult a list of those awaiting transplants and call their
doctors: ``I have a 42-year-old man who has a cranial hemorrhage. This is
a heart offer.'' Finally, she would make travel arrangements.
``It's absolutely fascinating work,'' she says. But it is often frustrating,
Sixty thousand people need transplants in this country, 6,000 in New York
alone; they wait, and wait, and sometimes die before acceptable donors --
donors who have living wills or whose families are willing to allow organs
to be removed -- can be found.
``It is unconscionable that in a country like this, there should be so many
invaluable organs going to waste,'' says Dr. Vivian A. Tellis, head of the
kidney transplant program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
Late last year, Mrs. McDonough went to work at Montefiore as kidney transplant
coordinator, interviewing recipients and matching them with donors. ``It's
more than a job for her. It's a calling,'' said Tellis.
She also was responsible for managing Montefiore's list of 975 patients awaiting
kidney transplants -- keeping in touch, making sure their condition was stable.
She was well aware of the condition of one patient on the list: Vincent Campbell.
When Vinny was 30, he underwent routine medical tests and received the surprise
of his life: His kidneys were beginning to fail. Doctors told him that with
a low protein diet, he might slow the deterioration.
It worked for five years, and then creatinine levels in his blood -- markers
of renal failure -- began to rise again.
Vinny and his wife, Trina. resolved not to tell their sons -- Kevin, 5, and
Brian, 8 -- that their father was sick. Trina's father had just died of
complications of diabetes, and had gone through a hellish experience with
dialysis; there was no need to frighten the boys.
``I just had enough steam to go to work and come home and crash,'' says Vinny,
a jocular man who resembles the actor Nathan Lane.
``Don't worry, I'll find you a kidney,'' his sister, the transplant expert,
Last April, Vinny's brothers and sisters and his wife decided to go en masse
for testing to see if any of them might donate a kidney.
The results were good. His sister Judy and brother Christopher were perfect
matches; Pat matched half of the six antigen markers, and Robert and Trina
also matched, although not as well.
Judy was excluded because she suffers from multiple sclerosis. So plans were
set: Christopher would donate his kidney in December.
Except that three days before the operation, doctors determined that Christopher
had three arteries connected to his kidneys, an abnormality that ruled him
out as a donor.
Pat was next in line.
All along, ``There was this little voice inside me that said, `I know it's
going to be me,''' she recalls. And now it was.
Despite all of her seasoning, despite her commitment to transplants, she
had an instant of doubt. ``I kind of had myself a good cry over it,'' she
says, ``and after that, I had this peacefulness, this certainty that everything
was going to be fine.''
Her husband, Terence, a telecommunications executive, was supportive, as
were her three teen-agers, Sean, Terence and Kathleen: ``When a teen-ager
thinks that you've done something cool, it's a very good thing.''
Her patients ``just thought it was the greatest thing. They said, `Maybe
we'll be roommates.'''
Her colleagues did for her what she had done for so many other would-be donors.
``They really did their damnedest to make sure that I was doing this for
the right reason, not just because I was a transplant professional and it
was expected of me.''
The surgery was scheduled for Jan. 13; Vin and Pat were admitted the night
``We laughed a lot, my brother and I. We don't take anything too seriously.
I told him (that with a female kidney), every 28 days, he'd probably get
a little irritable. He might have to buy some Midol. Don't worry about it.''
Then, she tears up. ``There's no way to thank anybody for a body part. So
he just told me that he loved me. And I told him that I loved him.''
They were fully armed for surgery. They were both doused with holy water
from Lourdes. They had rosary beads, and a fragment of St. Anthony's bone,
and Vinny had a friend's scapular.
Tellis performed the operation; it was, he says, uneventful. Vinny felt better
almost immediately. He looks forward to coaching his sons' soccer and baseball
teams, to ``getting back my life.''
His sister intends to use her experience as a transplant recruiting tool.
``I'll show them my scar, if that's what it takes. ... They shouldn't say
no. If I could do it, they should do it.''
She was unprepared for one side effect of the operation -- an incredible,
powerful feeling of bliss. ``It's a really special, emotional thing. We all
kind of live our lives and do the best we can. But to have an opportunity
to do something so right is just outstanding. You feel so good. ... I look
at my brother and think, `I did that for him.'''
Vinny and Patty talk every day now, joking, exchanging news of their respective
recoveries, remembering old times, like that long-ago moment when Patty's
errant arrow lodged in Vinny's head.
``Now we're even, Vin,'' said Vinny's big sister.
``Fine,'' said Patty's little brother.
Texas Man Hosts Stranded Family .c The Associated Press
FLOWER MOUND, Texas (AP) -- Mary was pregnant with child. Her husband Joseph
was worried because there was no room at the inns.
Their two children -- ages 5 and 1 -- didn't understand why the family was
stuck Wednesday night at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. They had
traveled all the way from Germany and found their last flight had been canceled.
Enter Eric Jacobson, who was watching television at his home near the airport
and saw that icy conditions had stranded hordes of travelers.
Before his wife could say no, he jumped in his car and headed to an American
Airlines terminal. There he met the family of Mary and Joseph Bell, whom
he invited back to his home for a good night's rest.
``I was kind of iffy about it,'' Mary Bell said. ``But my husband said God
put him there for a reason.''
The Bell family was headed to Killeen, Texas, where the Army had transferred
them. Joseph Bell recently completed a tour of duty in Bosnia.
Jacobson offered the family a guest room, found them a Thursday afternoon
flight and arranged for Fort Hood officials to meet the Bells at Killeen's
Jacobson, who runs an executive recruiting business, said he ordinarily ``would
never, ever do something like this.''
``God used me,'' he said.
Woman Recognized for Life Reversal
KINGWOOD, W.Va. (AP) -- A low-paid cleaning woman ever since a teen pregnancy
made her a high school dropout, Barbara Thorn held little hope for a better
life when she went to enroll her 4-year-old daughter in preschool.
But when she arrived, a school worker recognized her intelligence and offered
to pay her $20 to try and pass her high school equivalency diploma.
Now helping the poor as director of Family Resource Network of Preston County,
Thorn is the winner of the 1998 Sargent Shriver Achievement Award. The award
is given each year by the National Association of Community Action Agencies
to someone who has turned their life around.
``It just seems that in my life I've had people who were there, people who
gave in one way or another -- love, listening or understanding. I picked
up on what they had to give and clung to it,'' Thorn says. ``I just knew
it would get better. I knew there was life out there.''
The award, which Thorn will receive next month, is named for the politician
who married into the Kennedy clan and was the first director of the Office
of Economic Opportunity. It honors those who achieve independence as well
as the community agency that helps them do it.
Thorn, 43, was in need of a little help the day she walked into the Howesville
Head Start Center.
She grew up in West Virginia coal country in a house with no plumbing, and
at 10 years old her father died in a mine roof collapse.
Her mother lapsed into alcoholism, forcing young Barbara to take over a large
amount of the workload caring for her seven brothers and sisters.
``It was a complete turnaround. We were used to being stable, coming home
every night and finding dinner on the table,'' Thorn said. ``Then suddenly
when we came home, she wouldn't be there.''
Two more children joined the fold, each from a different father. Thorn and
her siblings were abused physically, verbally and sexually.
By age 16, she wanted out. She got pregnant, quit school and married her
While the marriage was a refuge from the drinking and fighting of her past,
her future wasn't bright. Her wages were steady but low, her career options
limited between cleaning houses or cleaning offices.
Her husband had become a disabled veteran and could not work. So when she
was offered $20 to get her diploma, she didn't hesitate.
``Back then, $20 was a lot of money for me and my husband,'' she said. ``That
had been holding me back.''
She passed the General Equivalency Degree exam on her first try, then began
volunteering at the Head Start Center and taking college courses. In 1983
she joined the staff and worked there for more than a decade.
She became the director of the Family Resource Network three years ago, and
sits on the board of directors for North Central West Virginia Community
Action, the Raymond Wolfe Christian Communities Ministry and Food for Preston.
Rodger, whom she married 27 years ago, remains her husband, and the couple
has three grown children. Thorn is also taking a college course or two each
year for a bachelor's degree in sociology.
Her mother has been sober for 18 years, but of the 10 children only three
managed to grow up without a substance abuse problem.
Thorn credits her grandmothers for instilling strong morals and Rodger for
giving her the emotional support she needed to succeed.
``I knew that tomorrow would be a better day. It had to be, because the day
before was pretty bad,'' Thorn says. ``I can't say I'm thankful for the
experiences I've had, but I have used my past negative experience to be who
I am today.''
McDonald's Heiress Donates $80M
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- McDonald's heiress Joan Kroc served up $80 million to the
Salvation Army on Wednesday, the biggest donation in the agency's 118-year
The donation, including 12 acres, will be used for a community center in
San Diego named after Mrs. Kroc and her late husband, Ray, who created the
fast-food hamburger empire.
``I think he'll always be remembered for McDonald's, and that's the way it
should be, because I loved that company,'' said Mrs. Kroc, 70. ``But I think
I'd like both of us to be remembered for giving, because that's what Ray
Mrs. Kroc recalled how her husband used to dress up as Santa Claus during
the holidays and ring the bell for Salvation Army donations on the streets
of San Diego.
``Right now, I bet there's a lot of bell ringing going on with Ray leading
the chorus,'' she said.
Maj. Donald C. Bell, division commander for the Salvation Army, said the
agency was ``deeply moved and inspired by Mrs. Kroc's generosity and caring.''
In March, Mrs. Kroc donated $25 million to the University of San Diego for
a peace studies center. Two years earlier, she donated $3 million for a loan
fund for students.
In February, Fortune magazine ranked Mrs. Kroc 36th among the nation's top
philanthropists, estimating her donations at $15 million to causes ranging
from local theater to cancer research. The magazine put her net worth in
1997 at $2.1 billion, making her the 68th richest person in the United States.
Mrs. Kroc, who lives in San Diego's wealthy Rancho Santa Fe community, was
dubbed the ``Angel of Grand Forks'' after she donated $15 million to flood
victims in North Dakota last year. She made the donation anonymously, but
her identity eventually became known.
Kroc died in 1984, leaving his wife his share of the restaurant chain and
the San Diego Padres baseball team. She sold the team in 1990.
Mrs. Kroc said one of her husband's friends once asked him why he gave so
much of his money away, and he replied: ``Well, I've never seen a Brinks
truck follow a hearse, have you?''
``I loved that!'' she said.
Man Returns $4,170 to Burger King
DELTONA, Fla. (AP) - This isn't what Burger King means when they say you
can get it your way.
Henry Snowden pulled in to the drive-up window at a Burger King for a burger,
some fries and drinks on Friday. Not only did he get his order, he also got
$4,170 of the restaurant's earnings stuffed inside a brown paper bag.
``We looked at the money as we ate. We knew immediately we should take it
back. But I've got to admit I was definitely tempted,'' Snowden said.
Snowden, 31, the owner of a Internet provider based in Lake Helen, Fla.,
returned the money Saturday morning and learned that the restaurant places
the day's deposits in the same bags used for food orders, as a disguise to
The clerk working the pickup window mistakenly gave Snowden the deposit package,
which a store manager had placed near Snowden's food.
Snowden was met with tears, thanks and a free lunch when he returned to the
Burger King. Workers told him a reward may be coming.
But Snowden said he has something better: a choice his conscience could digest.
``I'm not a glory hound,'' he said. ``I'm glad I was able to do the right
thing. And I feel better than I've ever felt.''
Kids Return $23G Found in Restroom
EL PASO, Texas (AP) -- Eight-year-old Seth Brown and his 5-year-old brother,
Sam, don't think they're worth any fuss. They say returning $23,399 that
they found in a shopping mall restroom was just the right thing to do.
``We really didn't do anything special,' said Seth, a third-grader. ``My
brother found the bag. When we opened it and saw all the money, we took it
to my dad. We returned it to its rightful owner, which is what you're supposed
``It was exciting,'' added Sam. ``There was a lot of money. We knew we couldn't
The boys found the bank deposit bag Sunday and their family promptly called
police and turned it over.
Construction contractor Narciso Hernandez had left the bag in a bathroom
stall. By the time he contacted authorities, it was ready for him to identify
and pick up.
Hernandez met with the family Monday night to personally thank Seth and Sam
and give them an undisclosed amount as their reward.
``Loss of this money would have been very damaging to my business,'' said
Hernandez. ``I appreciate the honesty of these boys and their family.''
Police spokeswoman Linda Olvera said this morning that the family has been
overwhelmed by the numbers of calls it has received from people who want
to praise the boys or talk to them.
``This is really something outstanding, because all you ever hear these days
are negative stories about youth,'' Olvera said. ``These are little boys
that apparently are growing up the way every parent wishes. They have good
morals and know what's right and wrong.''
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