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Features stories of the year

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We lost them in 2013

The following lifestyle and entertainment personalities died this year:

Most notable

Patti Page, 85, Jan. 1, singer
Pauline Phillips, 94, Jan. 16, Dear Abby advice columnist
Dale Robertson, 89, Feb. 26, actor
Van Cliburn, 78, Feb. 27, pianist
Bonnie Franklin, 69, March 1, actress
Fay Kanin, 95, March 27, screenwriter and former president of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Roger Ebert, 70, April 4, movie critic
Annette Funicello, 70, April 8, Mouseketeer, actress
Jonathan Winters, 87, April 11, comedian
George Jones, 81, April 26, country singer
Jeanne Cooper, 84, May 8, actress
Jean Stapleton, 90, May 31, actress
Esther Williams, 91, June 6, swimmer, actress
James Gandolfini, 51, June 19, actor
Karen Black, 74, Aug. 7, actress
Eydie Gorme, 84, Aug. 10, singer
Julie Harris, 87, Aug. 24, actress
Tom Clancy, 66, Oct. 1, author
Marcia Wallace, 70, Oct. 25, actress
Hal Needham, 82, Oct. 25, stuntman and film director
Lou Reed, 71, Oct. 27, singer-songwriter
Paul Walker, 40, Nov. 30, actor
Tom Laughlin, 82, Dec. 12, actor and filmmaker
Peter O'Toole, 81, Dec. 14, actor
Joan Fontaine, 96, Dec. 15, actress
Others who passed
Ned Wertimer, 89, Jan. 2, actor
Sammy Johns, 66, Jan. 4, songwriter
David R. Ellis, 60, Jan. 7, director
Conrad Bain, 89, Jan. 14, actor
Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, 69, Jan. 26, Ohio Players band member
Patty Andrews, 94, Jan. 30, Andrews Sisters singer
Ann Rabson, 67, Jan. 30, co-founder of Saffire — The Uppity Blues Women
H. Stanley “Stan” Liddell Jr., 76, Feb. 4, businessman and owner of Piere's
Reg Presley, 71, Feb. 4, Troggs singer
Robin Sachs, 61, Feb. 6, actor
John Kerr, 81, Feb. 9, actor
Rick Huxley, 72, Feb. 11, Dave Clark Five bassist
Tony Sheridan, 72, Feb. 16, Beatles frontman, singer/songwriter
Mindy McCready, 37, Feb. 17, country music singer
Debbie Ford, 57, Feb. 17, self-help author
Otis “Damon” Harris, 62, Feb. 18, Temptations singer
Cleotha Staples, 78, Feb. 21, singer
Dan Toler, 65, Feb. 25, Allman Brothers guitarist
Richard Street, 70, Feb. 27, Temptations singer
Jewel Akens, 79, March 1, singer
Magic, 37, March 1, rapper
Robert E. Relyea, 82, March 5, film producer/director
William Moody, aka Paul Bearer, 58, March 5, WWE wrestling manager
Alvin Lee, 68, March 7, guitarist
Claude King, 90, March 7, country singer songwriter
Peter Banks, 65, March 7, Yes guitarist
Clive Burr, 58, March 12, Iron Maiden drummer
Malachi Throne, 84, March 13, actor
Jack Greene, 83, March 14, country music singer
Jason Molina, 39, March 16, singer songwriter
Bobby Smith, 76, March 16, Spinners singer
Deke Richards, 68, March 24, Motown songwriter-producer
Richard Griffiths, 65, March 28, actor
Reid Fliehr, 25, March 29, pro wrestler
Phil Ramone, 79, March 30, music producer
Shain Gandee, 21, April 1, reality star
Jane Henson, 78, April 2, Muppets designer
Jesus Franco, 82, April 2, Spanish horror director
Les Blank, 77, April 7, filmmaker
Lilly Pulitzer Rousseau, 81, April 7, fashion designer
Jimmy Dawkins, 76, April 10, blues musician
Chi Cheng, 42, April 13, The Deftones bassist
George Jackson, 68, April 14, songwriter
Richard LeParmentier, 66, April 16, actor
George Beverly Shea, 104, April 16, Christian singer
E.L. Konigsburg, 83, April 19, children's author
Allan Arbus, 95, April 19, actor
Christina Amphlett, 53, April 21, Divinyls singer
Richie Havens, 72, April 22, folk singer
Deanna Durbin, 91, April 30, actress
Chris Kelly, 34, May 1, rapper
Jeff Hanneman, 49, May 2, founding member of Slayer
Cedric Brooks, 70, May 3, reggae musician
Alan O'Day, 72, May 17, singer/songwriter
Ray Manzarek, 74, May 20, Doors' keyboardist
Marshall Lytle, 79, May 25, Bill Haley & His Comets bassist
Jack Vance, 96, May 26, author
Clarence Burke Jr., 64, May 26, Five Stairsteps lead singer
Ben Tucker, 82, June 4, musician
Maxine Stuart, 94, June 6, actress
Slim Whitman, 90, June 19, yodeling singer
Vince Flynn, 47, June 19, author
Richard Matheson, 87, June 23, author
Bobby Bland, 83, June 23, blues/soul singer
Sammy Terry, 83, horror show host
Cory Monteith, 31, July 13, actor
Dennis Burkley, 67, July 14, actor
Talia Castellano, 13, July 15, Internet celebrity, honorary CoverGirl
Poncie Ponce, 80, July 19, actor
Dennis Farina, 69, July 22, actor
JJ Cale, 74, July 26, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter
Kidd Kraddick, 53, July 27, radio host
Cosmo Allegretti, 86, July 26, puppeteer
Eileen Brennan, 80, July 28, actress
Michael Ansara, 91, July 31, actor
Margaret Pellegrini, 89, Aug. 7, “Wizard of Oz” munchkin
Sean Sasser, 44, Aug. 7, reality star
Jon Brookes, 44, Aug. 13, Charlatans UK drummer
Gia Allemand, 29, Aug. 14, TV reality star
Lisa Robin Kelly, 43, Aug. 14, actress
Allen Lanier, 69, Aug. 14, Blue Oyster Cult founder
Lee Thompson Young, 29, Aug. 19, actor
Elmore Leonard, 87, Aug. 20, author
Lew Wood, 84, Aug. 21, “Today” news anchor
Louise Currie, 100, Sept. 8, actress
Patricia Blair, 80, Sept. 9, actress
Ray Dolby, 80, Sept. 12, audio pioneer
Prince Jazzbo, 62, Sept. 12, rap reggae performer/producer
Patsy Swayze, 86, Sept. 16, choreographer
Kim Hamilton, 81, Sept. 16, actress
Marta Heflin, 68, Sept. 18, actress
Richard C. Sarafian, 83, Sept. 18, film and TV director
Gary Brandner, 80, Sept. 22, horror author
Cal Smith, 81, Oct. 10, country singer
Terry Rhoads, 61, Oct. 11, actor
Maxine Powell, 98, Motown etiquette instructor
Ed Lauter, 74, Oct. 16, actor
Charlie Trotter, 54, Nov. 5, chef and restaurateur
Doris Lessing, 94, Nov. 17, Nobel Prize-winning author
Maurice (Mad Dog) Vachon, 84, Nov. 21, pro wrestler
Wayne Mills, 44, Nov. 23, country music singer
Christopher Evan Welch, 48, Dec. 2, actor
Eleanor Parker, 91, Dec. 9, actress
Ray Price, 87, Dec. 16, country singer

— By Sheryl Krieg of The News-Sentinel

Thursday, January 2, 2014 - 1:53 pm

Return of the Raft Race

For years, people have been asking for the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival to bring back the Raft Race.

Once more of a party on the St. Joseph River than an actual race, the event was one of the big crowd attractions at TRF before being discontinued in 1997 because of high insurance costs, declining participation and other concerns.

After a few years of study and planning, TRF brought back the raft race this summer.

The July 20 event included a new course on the St. Marys River and stricter rules, including a brief raft safety inspection, a requirement that all riders must wear shoes and personal flotation devices, and a ban on alcohol on board. The festival also monitored river water to make sure bacteria counts were at safe levels for anyone who fell in.

Early morning rain delayed the start by an hour, but then the race was on! More than 60 rafts set sail from around Swinney Park on their way toward downtown. Most crews just wanted to have fun, while some competed for $14,000 in prize money.

All aboard!

On Oct. 26 and 27, the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society's Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765 chugged through town for the first public excursion runs the engine has made here since 1993.

Nearly all tickets for each day's round-trip run to Lafayette sold within two hours when they went on sale Sept. 1. The grand locomotive pulled about 800 people in 15 vintage passenger cars during each trip, which began and ended along railroad tracks behind the Do it Best headquarters at 6502 Nelson Road between Fort Wayne and New Haven.

Built in 1944 at the Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio, Engine No. 765 originally pulled trains between Fort Wayne and Chicago for the New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, which later became known as the Nickel Plate Road. The engine was taken out of service in 1958 and placed in 1963 as a monument in Lawton Park.

Volunteers from the rail historical society received approval to remove the deteriorating engine from the park in 1974 so they could restore it. They began operating it in 1979 to pull people on excursion or sightseeing trips, but none of those runs originated in Fort Wayne — until this fall.

Active year for the arts

It was a year of change and growth in the local arts scene.

In May, Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne broke ground on construction of the $1.6 million ArtsLab black box theater, which is being built onto the east side of the Auer Center for Arts and Culture, 300 E. Main St. Arts United works to develop, coordinate and support arts and cultural organizations and programs in northeast Indiana.

ArtsLab, which Arts United officials hope will be completed by mid-January, will allow local arts groups to experiment with innovative artistic programming, including small theatrical productions, music and dance performances, temporary art exhibits, and educational programs.

Arts United also searched for a new president after announcing Aug. 9 that longtime leader Jim Sparrow had accepted a job as president and CEO of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County in North Carolina.

Other big arts news in 2013 included:

*The Embassy Theatre announced a $10 million fundraising campaign to pay for renovating four floors of the adjoining former Indiana Hotel and other undeveloped areas of the building. The work would create a two-story-high ballroom and rooftop garden, studio and rehearsal space, classrooms, history center, and improved public access and concessions.

*The Fort Wayne Museum of Art welcomed an exhibit of about 50 smaller pieces by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly during its “Summer of Glass” exhibits June 29-Sept. 29.

*It was a great year for local concert fans, who had the chance to see stars such as Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Elton John, Barry Manilow and Kid Rock at Memorial Coliseum, and the Avett Brothers, Harry Connick Jr., Alice Cooper, Steely Dan and Loretta Lynn at the Embassy Theatre.

Births on high

For the first time in three years, peregrine falcons successfully hatched chicks in the nest box on the roof of One Summit Square. Moxie and her mate, Jamie, jumped right into family life, too, hatching four chicks around May 1.

Moxie, a 2-year-old bird from Canton, Ohio, and Jamie, a 3-year-old male from Port Sheldon, Mich., took up residence in Fort Wayne in 2012, but Moxie was too young to lay eggs.

Their flock soon had names — male Maverick and females Electra, Skyler and Soara — thanks to a naming contest sponsored by Indiana Michigan Power and won by students at Deer Ridge, Harris, Whispering Meadows and St. Vincent de Paul elementary schools in Fort Wayne.

Both the federal government and state of Indiana listed peregrine falcons as an endangered species decades ago because exposure to pesticides caused a steep drop in their population.

Indiana started a peregrine falcon reintroduction program in 1991, and it has been successful. Statewide, a record 44 chicks were checked and banded for identification this year.

Peregrines recovered enough to be taken off the federal endangered species list in 1999. They remained an endangered species in Indiana until the Indiana Department of Natural Resources took them off the list in October.

Book sharing

In late June, the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne, also known as Downtown Rotary, announced a project to seek sponsors to install 100 Little Free Libraries around Fort Wayne as part of the club's 100th anniversary in 2015.

The Little Free Library concept, which started in Wisconsin, operates on the idea of “take a book, leave a book.” People are encouraged to take a book to read and to leave one of their books for someone else to enjoy.

The club hopes to partner with local nonprofit organizations, businesses, schools, churches, families and individuals to sponsor Little Free Libraries around the city. The club opened the first Little Free Library, which resembles a large birdhouse, in front of Washington Elementary School downtown on West Washington Boulevard.

About a dozen Little Free Libraries had been started at various locations by mid-December. You can find the one closest to you by going to our map at news-sentinel.com. We will update the map each time we learn of a new location.

To sponsor a Little Free Library, contact Candace Schuler at 418-6142 or