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News Tribune staff selects Top 10 feel good stories for 2022

by News Tribune Staff | December 25, 2022 at 4:01 a.m.
Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: Lincoln University John Moseley addresses faculty and staff during LU's fall institute during which Moseley was pleased to announce that the number of first year students are up and that other student numbers were up.

Each year, News Tribune staff members vote on which of their stories reached them emotionally.

Reporters discovered the joy of a 96-year-old cowboy, who got one last ride.

They shared the pain of losing a colleague.

They were inspired by the example of a judge who challenged others to dream.

And they connected readers with two 88-year-old residents of a nursing facility who found love.

Based on reader responses, these and other stories affected readers as much as they did writers.

Here are the top 10 stories, as voted on by the News Tribune staff, that touched us somehow.

No. 1: Old bronc rides again

Ninety-six-year-old Omer Brisendine got his wish fulfilled when he got the chance to ride a horse one last time. He used to ride horses very often, but hadn't ridden a horse in about 30 years.

Brisendine's hospice care partnered with Healing Horses in Linn to give him the opportunity to ride Carnegie, a specially trained therapy horse.

His family watched with joy as he rode around on the horse. Omer's wife, Inez, said she didn't think he would ever get the chance to ride a horse again.

In September, only about two months after he rode Carnegie at Healing Horses, Brisendine died.

Steve Stacey, Omer's stepson, said the ride was a really special event for the family.

"That's all he ever talked about, after (the ride), was how cool that was to be able to ride again," Stacey said.

No. 2: Sudden death of a friend

Newspapers all too often are places where the tragedy in our lives comes front and center.

But tragic stories oftentimes spur memories or create discussions about the joy surrounding people involved.

We at the News Tribune were devastated at the sudden death of our leader, General Manager David Meadows, who suddenly died of a heart attack.

He was only 58.

Those of us in the newsroom set about telling the community about the man who had left a widow and two sons behind.

What many of us didn't know was that in his short time at the newspaper, Meadows had touched numerous lives outside our little circle.

We discussed the personal connections Meadows had made with each of us. We shared that he saw the banners in photographer Julie Smith's office, congratulating her on 30. "I guess he spent a couple of days trying to figure out who was 30," Smith said. "'I know you're not 30,' he told me. I told him I've been here 30 years."

The Cole County community responded by sharing its condolences with us. We suspect people simply felt good that they got to know Meadows a little bit.

No. 3: Missouri Supreme Court judge challenges next generation to 'dream big'

After growing up on a dairy farm, Mary Russell studied journalism in college. Her coverage of the local courthouse later turned into a fascination with the court system, which morphed into a career in law, and in 2004, she was appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court.

As a Missouri Supreme Court judge, Russell has worked to better understand peoples' views of the legal system while also educating members of the public on what the courts do.

"The courts are probably the least understood branch of government, so I enjoy getting the chance to speak to organizations or schools to explain how we work," Russell said at the time.

Russell called herself a product of the American dream and encourages young people to dream big for their potential path in life.

The position of Missouri Supreme Court chief justice is a rotating one, and Russell will take on the role next summer.

"We have a great chief justice now, Paul Wilson, and he's a native Jefferson Citian, and he will be a tough act to follow," Russell told the News Tribune.

As chief justice, Russell will take on additional responsibilities, including more administrative duties and public speaking duties, such as the State of the Judiciary speech and an annual address to the Missouri Bar.

"It's an honor, and it's a challenging position," she said.

No. 4: 'A light turned on in the room'

Jefferson City's Bible Baptist Church provides ministry to a group few others can reach: Missouri's deaf community.

Pastor Randy Dignan, who has five generations of deaf family members, announced the creation of the church's deaf ministry during his first Sunday service leading the church 24 years ago.

It has since blossomed to include a weekly deaf Sunday school, weekly deaf Sunday service and mixed services with both hearing and deaf members of the congregation, twice per week. Approximately 30-40 deaf people attend the church each week, which is about 10 percent of the church's total congregation.

After leading a typical church service each Sunday, Dignan uses sign language to preach to the deaf congregation. Members said his communication skills have helped them grow in their faith and feel more connected to a community.

"It's like being in a dark room and you're just kind of sitting there; nothing's really happening," Michelle Campbell, who became deaf at 2 years old, said of going to other churches. "When I came here and they explained Jesus, they explained how he died on the cross and I finally fully understood, 'Oh, he did that for me.'"

"And it's like there was a light turned on in the room," she continued. "I was finally able to see there's something that can lead me home instead of just stumbling around."

No. 5: Connecting strangers with their treasures

Readers met Jamie Talken, the "Dog Tag Detective," in early April. Talken spends her free time helping connect lost militaria with the families of the military personnel to whom they once belonged.

Her Facebook page "The Dog Tag Detective" may be found at

When we spoke last with Talken, she was connecting with the family of U.S. Army Private Charles Tramposh, who died in World War II a week after he turned 19. Officials originally listed Tramposh as missing in action, then as killed in action. Officials sent his Purple Heart home to his parents. They died shortly afterward. The medal passed to Tramposh's older brother, then to his niece. Over time, through moves and life changes, the medal was lost.

It later ended up in a police lost and found bin. Police, knowing its value to a family, gave it to a member of the Disabled American Veterans. From there, it arrived in front of Talken. She tracked down Tramposh's family and delivered the medal.

"We got to go up and meet Mr. Tramposh's niece," Talken said. "We're sending her a Christmas card. She was so excited to get her little piece from her family back."

No. 6: Bobby Bostic released from prison after 27 years

Bobby Bostic was released in November after serving 27 years of a 241-year prison sentence. His first stop was the steps of the Missouri Capitol to speak on the effort to free him and his future.

Bostic had been sentenced at 16 years old for taking part in a robbery spree in St. Louis. His release at age 43 was due to years of support from advocacy organizations, family, lawmakers and even the judge who handed down the sentence.

Bostic used his time in prison to learn, earning his GED and several degrees, starting a prison book club and even writing books and poetry during his incarceration.

After receiving parole last December, he underwent courses to ease his transition back into the outside world before being released in November.

He said he hoped to dedicate his time to youths and the St. Louis community and publish his autobiography, using his story to encourage the next generation.

"My story should serve both as a cautionary tale and a message of hope to others serving time to not give up on yourself," Bostic told reporters during the news conference. "It's always possible to get out and turn your pain and regrets and sorrow into making yourself a better person, so that you can become your own best advocate -- because at times, you might be your only advocate."

No. 7: Finding love at 88

Lola and Jerry remain lovebirds.

Although newly married, they still have apartments on two ends of Primrose Retirement Community.

Brandon McIntire, the community's director, says the community is still waiting for a two-bedroom apartment to come available for them so they can move in together.

In August, the News Tribune reported on the smitten couple, which met at Primrose and decided to get married.

Each was widowed. Lola Perrey and Gerald "Jerry" Scarlett met in February, and she pursued him. Jerry joked that Lola was stalking him.

At "Happy Hour," she saw Jerry sitting in the back of the room, and motioned for him to come up and sit beside her.

He ignored her, she said. Finally, she demanded he come over and sit down.

Jerry said he finally relented and spoke with her because he thought she wanted to talk about the area around Springfield, where one of Lola's daughters lives.

He thought she was nice, and something grew.

"... We sort of fell in love," he told the News Tribune. The two connected at social events within the community. Each was 88, but they began going out dancing to country music every Thursday night at Windstone Entertainment.

As soon as they told McIntire they wanted to get married, he began planning and set about creating the "social event of the year."

"Lola and Jerry are doing just fine," McIntire said. "They're loving life over here."

N0. 8: It's a bird! It's a plane!

Four rare World War II planes touched down in Jefferson City on their way to an airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, at the end of July.

Recognizing the distinct aircraft designs as they flew overhead, area enthusiasts flocked to Jefferson City Memorial Airport for a better look. Sure enough, a Grumman F8F Bearcat, a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber and two Grumman F7F Tigercats were settled on the tarmac.

Rod Lewis, a Texas pilot and collector who owns the four planes in a collection of more than 30 WWII aircraft, stopped in the Capital City to refuel and touch base with his crew before they hit rain along their flight path to the airshow.

Lewis, who had never stopped in Jefferson City, said he was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome from area residents.

So much so, he and his crew made a pit stop at Jefferson City Memorial Airport on their way home from the air show a few days later.

No. 9: Community welcomes Minority Business Council

The year 2022 saw the creation of a new group dedicated to minority-owned businesses in the community.

The Jefferson City Area Minority Business Council, a collaborative effort between the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln University and several local businesses, launched in the spring. The new group is meant to help minority businesses certify, develop strategic plans, connect with resources, educate and empower, and advocate for growth opportunities. It was created as part of the chamber's strategic plan to bolster diversity, equity and inclusion in the community.

The community celebrated the council's creation with a ribbon cutting in August, commemorating the new effort. More than 70 business had signed up to be part of the council in its first few months, chamber President and CEO Gary Plummer said.

Lauren Carter, director of the Missouri Small Business Development Center at LU, serves as the council's chairwoman. She said the amount of support the group has garnered so far has been encouraging, and that the council presented a huge opportunity for the community and its minority businesses.

"Basically, we're just here to support, empower and help grow minority businesses in the area," Carter previously told the News Tribune. "I'm happy the Jefferson City chamber is so supportive of us."

No. 10: Pastor shares beer brewing passion at Last Flight

Last Flight Brewing Company hosted Father Jason Doke as a guest brewer in August, allowing him to share his longtime passion with the community.

Doke, who serves as pastor of St. Martin Catholic Church, was on hand at Last Flight as a guest brewer, putting plenty of experience to use. He and the brewery had an existing partnership: While the business is typically closed on Mondays, it opens its doors one Monday a month to a young adult group from St. Martin parish for a "Pews and Brews" fellowship time. Doke said the generosity of the owners, cousins Jared and Mark Cowley, presented a great opportunity for the group, as did the invitation to lend his own brewing skills.

"It's been a dream of mine to brew commercially, but that's not what I do as a vocation. It's been a hobby of mine for so long, and it was great of Jared to invite me over to do this," Doke said. "I really like beer, but I also like the process of making it and how it all comes together. You can play with different things and different styles to create different things."

Doke had been interested in brewing for almost 20 years, even earning a master's degree in food science while making his way through the seminary.

Doke's brew, dubbed the "Devout Stout," was on tap at the brewery the following month, allowing patrons to enjoy its malt flavor and dark roasted tones for themselves.

  photo  Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: Missouri Supreme Court Judge Mary Rhodes Russell steps forward to accept her recognition as the Mrs. William H. Weldon Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. Lonora Adams, left, and Ruthi Sturdevant of the Zonta Club of Jefferson City.
  photo  Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: Judge Mary Russell of the Missouri Supreme Court poses on the robe room/or District 1 Courtroom.
  photo  Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: Visitors and crew around La Patrona, an F7F-3P Tigercat airplane is shown at Jefferson City Memorial Airport during a brief stopover to refuel and to avoid a storm in its flight path.
  photo  Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: Fr. Jason Doke is shown behind the steam created by the beer as it boils at Last Flight Brewery. Doke, who is a brewing hobbyist, was invited to brew a keg of beer, a porter, that was enjoyed in early September by him and St. Martin Catholic Church parishoners as part of Pews and Brews.
  photo  Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: Dressed in blue jeans, a black western shirt and black felt cowboy hat, Omer Brisendine held his black cowboy boots in the stirrup as he strolled around the indoor arena atop Carnegie, a tall, white, well-trained, gentle horse. The contrast of the cowboy in black atop the all-white horse made for a striking image as the 96 year-old Brisendine got to live out a long-time dream at Healing Horses Therapeutic Riding Center in Linn.
  photo  Julie Smith/News Tribune photo: Gerald Scarlett and Lola Perrey are pictured in advance of being married at Primrose Retirement Community. The couple, both of whom are widowed, met at the facility and soon found they really liked each other.
  photo  Submitted photo: Mary Tramposh, left, receives her uncle's Purple Heart from Jamie Talken and Talken's daughter, Reghan, 3, years after the medal had been lost.
  photo David Meadows  

Print Headline: News Tribune staff selects Top 10 feel good stories for 2022


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