Friday, July 01, 2011
10 most memorable Profiles
Whether born and bred in the area or transplanted from other states or countries, an abundance of interesting people call Smith Mountain Lake home. For me, that makes finding Lakers to profile in each issue of Laker Magazine relatively easy.
However, as has been the challenge with all of the other “Most Memorable” retrospectives this year – produced to commemorate our 10th anniversary – singling out only 10 was a difficult task. Ultimately, it came down to the stories our editorial staff believed were the most high-profile, heart-warming or inspirational.
One profile you may recognize as glaringly missing is the one that ran in our May/June issue on best-selling author David Baldacci (pictured left). While it definitely makes the cut as memorable, we thought it was a little too recent to include in this wrap-up. However, as with the 10 profiles noted on the following pages, you can log on to smithmountainlake.com to read the original story.
We asked freelancer Lindsey Wagnon, who wrote several of the original stories, to take a look back and provide an update on these most noteworthy Lakers.
— Andie Gibson, Editor
Click here to read the original stories.
December 2002/January 2003
THEN: Bluegrass musician Dan Tyminski was calling Ferrum home and making the region proud with major music and film accolades. The accomplished guitarist and mandolin player had collaborated with a long list of well-known talent, including Alison Krauss and Union Station, Dolly Parton and Randy Travis. Tyminski spoke about having recently provided the singing voice of George Clooney’s character in the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Shortly after, he won two Country Music Association awards and two Grammy Awards for his songwriting contributions to the film.
NOW: Making his home near Nashville, Tenn., Tyminski has added even more achievements to his resume. He is a 13-time Grammy winner and juggles playing time between his own Dan Tyminski Band, Alison Krauss and Union Station and country superstar Vince Gill’s band. Tyminski is touring with Alison Krauss and Union Station and made appearances in April on the “Late Show with David Letterman” and the “Today Show.” His talent can be heard on “Paper Airplane,” the latest Alison Krauss and Union Station album, as well as his own Grammy-nominated album “Wheels.”
THEN: Lake resident Susie Parrish shared her inspirational story in a profile entitled “A Special Spirit.” At the time, Parrish had beaten breast cancer twice and was a few months past treatment for a third battle. Not only did she fight the disease for herself, she set into motion an event that would raise more than $230,000 for breast cancer research. The Rally for a Cure golf tournament to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation made its debut in 1996 at The Waterfront Country Club. Parrish was awarded the LPGA’s Komen Award for her efforts in 2003.
NOW: Parrish is once again fighting cancer, but her attitude continues to be positive. “I have a wonderful life here at Smith Mountain Lake and I relish every moment I have with my family and my friends,” she said. “I am continuing in this fight to find a cure for breast cancer and to preserve my life the best I possibly can.” Though she no longer organizes the Rally for a Cure tournament, the annual event continues on a smaller scale. Parrish firmly believes her ordeal with cancer is part of a bigger plan. “This is the plan that was given to me. I try to use it to be a good example to anyone else who is suffering and dealing with dying,” she said.
THEN: The spring 2007 issue of Laker Magazine put the spotlight on Karen McNew, news anchor for WSLS Channel 10 and a resident of Smith Mountain Lake. The feature revealed McNew’s journey to the anchor desk and detailed her other interests, including running and involvement with non-profit groups. The story also showcased the many reasons McNew and her husband, Matt McGuire, enjoy living at SML. “We water-ski, especially down at Bull Run Creek,” Karen said. “Matt’s a pretty good wakeboarder; I’m just learning. … And I love just hanging out on the dock or floating on a life belt.”
NOW: McNew is still at Channel 10’s anchor desk on weekday evenings and nights. Her reporting coverage focuses on community service and health issues. Committed to fitness, McNew completed the Richmond Marathon last fall, finished her fourth half-marathon recently and is a regular at the Smith Mountain Lake YMCA. Her on-water skills have improved, too. “I’ve mastered jumping the wake on my wakeboard, which was exciting to me,” she said.
The Cooper Sisters
THEN: Sisters Suzanne, Michaela, Randolph and Caroline shared not only the same last name but similar infatuation with and talent for slalom water-skiing. Our spring 2006 profile covered how the four were introduced to the sport (parents Ashley and Lori grew up skiing) and detailed their competitive accomplishments. Trophies filled the family room and the sisters were attracting national publicity and college scholarship offers. When not practicing technique on Smith Mountain Lake, the girls attended Christian Heritage Academy in Rocky Mount, played soccer and helped around the Cooper family farm.
NOW: Over the past five years, each sister has kept up intensive water-ski activity. When not training or competing, they have lent their skills to coaching or leading a local ski group. Suzanne (22) graduated in 2009 from Auburn University where she was captain of the varsity water-ski team. She recently married and is attending graduate school at Auburn. Michaela (21) is a Rollins College graduate and won first place at the Junior U.S. Open Water Ski Championships in 2010. Randolph (18) is a recent graduate of Christian Heritage Academy with plans to attend the University of Georgia and compete for the Bulldogs’ water-ski team. Still in high school, Caroline (16) earned fourth place in the 2010 Junior Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament at Robin Lake in Pine Mountain, Ga.
THEN: With plenty of military credentials and stories to share, former Air Force general Roger Smith provided an intriguing look into Cold War-era defense tactics. Laker Magazine readers got a glimpse of what it was like for Smith to advance in the Air Force, contribute to military planning, intelligence and systems programming, and ultimately serve as Chief Policy Officer for the Secretary of the Air Force during the transition from President Richard Nixon to Jimmy Carter. In 2003, Smith and his wife, Sybil, retired to the lake and became active with the SML Antique & Classic Boat Society.
NOW: The Smiths are still enjoying life at SML. Roger finished restoring the 1949 racing boat he had been working on at the time of the profile and moved on to a 1940 Chris-Craft named for and belonging to Sybil. The couple is still involved with the SML Antique & Classic Boat Society. “We’re traveling more now to see family. It’s a lot fun when they come here to visit. Our oldest grandchild is 13 and he loves to get out on the water when he’s here,” said Roger. “We still love the lake and we plan to be here many more years.”
Sgt. Karl Martin
THEN: Few people were more closely connected to the happenings on Smith Mountain Lake than Karl Martin, District Supervisor for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The role demanded a wide range of responsibilities, including safety enforcement, accident investigation and safety education. It was easy for Martin to love the job that incorporated so many of his outdoor interests - hunting, boating and fishing. What made it even more appealing, he said, was the knowledge that his job was to help others stay safe while enjoying the lake and its waterways.
NOW: In his 39th year with VDGIF, Martin said the lake has become safer in the four years since the profile ran. “Things are working out very well,” he said. “We can see an improvement in boating safety on SML.” In March, Martin received the SML Water Safety Council’s Karl Martin Water Safety Award, the first of what the group expects to become an annual award named in his honor. Martin said one of his favorite off-duty activities is spending time with his grandchildren. He is especially proud of his oldest grandson, a third-year Marine recently deployed overseas.
THEN: In the profile entitled “Simple Needs, One Solution,” lake resident Steve Huff shared how helping others in impoverished nations requires hard work, perseverance and continual fundraising. The Virginia Western Community College professor’s non-profit organization, World Relief Now, was actively addressing the needs of people in the poorest parts of northern Africa. Huff gave insight into the 2003 trip that inspired the formation of WRN and the many projects that had successfully provided relief to tens of thousands in Third World countries.
NOW: Huff continues to tackle Third World relief from his SML home. World Relief Now is still the link between donated resources and funds and delivery to those who need it most. “We have had some exciting developments in the past year,” he said. “We have delivered large amounts of vitamins to Senegal and Nepal. We have also completed the coloring-book project which was referenced in the 2009 article. Also, a school which WRN helped fund in Storms River, South Africa, has been completed and is now benefitting hundreds of students.”
THEN: Overcoming adversity was the theme of local resident Pam Rickard’s profile. The avid distance runner shared openly about her long struggle with alcoholism and the events that led to her recovery. Three DUIs, seven marathons and three months in the Roanoke City Jail were all part of the journey to her life motto: “It is well with my soul.” Rickard was celebrating three years of sobriety at the time of the article, an achievement she credited to her relationship with God, a supportive family and love for running.
NOW: Rickard celebrated five years of sobriety in April. She has partnered with internationally known runner and Run7on7.com founder Linda Quirk to raise money and awareness for drug and alcohol addiction treatment and long-term recovery services. Rickard, who plans to run her first 100-mile desert race in November, works full time as the Regional Liaison and Alumni Coordinator for the treatment center where she was placed after her third DUI. “My joke is, when I checked into the Farley Center at Williamsburg Place, they took my cell-phone. Now, they pay for it. That’s the power of what real recovery can do,” she said.
Sara Elizabeth Timmins
THEN: The profile “Embracing A New Role” detailed how Sara Elizabeth Timmins had made the risky move from Hollywood actress and film producer to founder of Life Out Loud Films, working to create her first film at Smith Mountain Lake. Timmins’ brainchild, “Lake Effects,” was inspired by a visit to her parents’ house in Union Hall in December 2007. A few days of quiet reflection along its shores inspired the concept of a film on which she immediately set to work.
NOW: “Lake Effects” was filmed mostly in the fall of 2010 and included actors Jane Seymour, Madeline Zima, Richard Moll and Ben Savage. The project completed post-production in May and is in the hands of a distributor. A release date has not been set. “We finished with post-production within budget and schedule, that’s the good news,” said Timmins, who added she is especially thankful for the support from the SML community. “A number of local businesses and people who have donated or volunteered time to the film have been tapped by Hollywood companies to work on other projects or have been asked to put in bids. That’s something I’m very proud of.”
THEN: Miss Virginia titleholder Chinah Helmandollar was profiled and graced the cover of our May/June 2010 issue. That year, the James Madison University graduate also was able to see her theatrical endeavors rewarded with an opportunity to intern with Life Out Loud Films and work on the production of “Lake Effects,” a movie set and filmed at SML. Helmandollar shared details about her days as Miss Virginia, which were filled with travel, speaking engagements and advocacy for her platform, Serving Virginians with Disabilities.
NOW: Helmandollar continues to live at SML and work with Life Out Loud Films as production coordinator. Her work with disability organizations also earned her another title. “The Miss Virginia Wheelchair Organization has a program every year that selects a female representative for the disability community,” she said. “I’ve always volunteered with them and, in the past year, I became co-executive director.” Perhaps Helmandollar’s most exciting life step came in May when she married Bradley Jewell.