Merv Habenicht (1935-2012)Our community lost one of its treasures, former Bettendorf football coach Merv Habenicht, on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, after a prolonged battle with pulmonary fibrosis. For many of us, we lost a surrogate father and/or lifelong friend.

Nearly 45 years ago, when I left private school to attend Bettendorf Middle School, I was befriended by its most popular cheerleader, Nan Habenicht - Merv's and Eveyln's firstborn - and was unconditionally inducted into the Habenicht family from day one. I wish I had a nickel for each time I bravely huffed out on my own family to brave the cold, cruel world for the several blocks to the Habenichts, where I nestled in until I wore out my welcome.

Most of the time, I had to get in line, literally, because Merv and Evelyn had an open-door policy for their children's friends, and Merv's students and team members. It has remained so until this day. They truly are like second parents to me and to many others who had the incredible good fortune to find their fold. I could not love them more, and losing Merv is a blow that no amount of time will ever completely heal.

Nora DeJohnOn May 21, Nora DeJohn's children will bring their mother back to Davenport for burial. Nora died in Pennsylvania on January 10 after a five-year battle with breast cancer. This will be a funeral to remember with a mass at St. Ambrose Chapel, Celtic bagpipers leading the way to the cemetery, and live Celtic music at an afternoon luncheon/reunion at the German American Heritage Center.

Her early career as a public-school teacher, community organizer for Eastside Development Corporation, and nutritional counselor for the Iowa State Extension service took her to all corners of the central city and familiarized her with many diverse public causes. Friends from a broad spectrum of community groups will be attending her Davenport memorial to help celebrate the indelible mark she left upon our town.

Ray VossIt's not just anyone who is able to manage an annual jazz festival. Ray Voss, as president of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society, had a unique ability to ensure the continuing success of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival.

He was a committed fan of the traditional jazz style of the 1920s and '30s, and in particular the music of Leon "Bix" Beiderbecke. Starting with that musical interest, it was natural that Ray would join the volunteers responsible for bringing the annual festival to life on the banks of the Mississippi River. His first assignment, a modest one, was in the late 1980s, when he volunteered to coordinate the festival's handicapped-parking area.

Ray volunteered each successive year in a variety of roles, willing to serve anywhere he was needed. In 1993, in recognition of his commitment to the festival, Ray was asked to join the Bix Society's board of directors. For the 1994 festival, he served as assistant festival director. The following year, he was appointed festival director, a job in which he was responsible for managing four music venues, 25 festival committees, and 200-plus volunteers. Voss was elected president of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society in 2002, a position he held until his death on February 22, at age 82.

William M. Johnson

William M. Johnson was my maternal uncle, who joined his wife of 62 years, Carm, when he passed quietly on December 30, 2010. He was 88 years old, and a treasure to me who, over these past four years, shared a rich and detailed view into my family's history. His perspectives and memories of his generation's era are invaluable.

Bill led a charmed life. He was a Depression-era child in Rock Island and fondly recalled how he used to join dozens of neighbors hunting worms at night in Longview Park so they could fish for their suppers from the Mississippi. Decades later he retired from Deere & Company, having served for 36 years as executive pilot, coming on board at the genesis of Deere's aviation department after World War II. Bill is survived by two sons and daughters-in-laws - Bill and Neva, and Tom and Kathy - 16 grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. And me and my husband, Todd. We could not have loved him more.

Cathy Bolkcom and John KileyEditor's note: John Kiley, a well-known community leader and lifelong Quad Citian, died of natural causes on February 15 at the age of 58. The eulogies that were read at his funeral are published in their entirety at

So many things have been said or written over the past two weeks about John Kiley and his huge role in the life of our community. Stories, snapshots in time, memories. "Remember" is from the Latin (so fitting) for "recall to mind." One of the things that weighs heavy on my heart is that John has become part of memory. I share what I remember, the mindfulness of John in my life and the lives of the friends who were so important to him.

John's life was like a Venn diagram of intersecting circles: lifelong friends from his days at Holy Family and Assumption, the Saint Ambrose mafia, the Youth Service Bureau (YSB) crowd, the running world, music and film lovers, the public-service circles, and above all Kathy, Joanne, and Julia.

The Quad Cities' lost a treasure on February 15, 2009 when community leader John Kiley died at the age of 58 years young.

On Wednesday February 18, his great friend Randy Richards soothed the full house at Sacred Heart Cathedral with an insightful eulogy -- seasoned appropriately with song lyrics from the soundtrack of Kiley's life.  Kiley touched too many souls to count in his career as a social activist, culture and music fan, marathon runner, United Way leader, teacher and most recently development director at the Catholic dioceses.  Richards deftly summarized the challenge with reconciling all that Kiley accomplished in his life, explaining that in his estimation, Kiley had to really be 108 years old to have achieved so much and touched so many people. He had in fact been lying to us about his age.

Especially poignant was Richards' call to prize and praise Kiley's life as well lived.
"Praised for his courage. For when courage goes, honesty is the next casualty and soon after we witness the death of integrity."

Our world needs more Kileys with his courage and integrity.  May we all recall Kiley's smile, laughter, words and deeds often in our own efforts to do what Kiley did every day -- make our community and world a better place to live.

Another of John's great friends, Victoria Navarro, shared her poem about John. It too elicited both tears and laughter and was equally as insightful about John Kiley and all the roles he played in our lives.

Richards' eulogy and Victoria's poem are both reprinted below, in their entirety, with the authors' permission.
In addition, Linda Cook authored a fine memorial to John Kiley, in her piece in the QCTimes.
Photos may be submitted for the gallery to the right by emailing

Kim Paulsen, a longtime supporter of Davenport riverfront concerts and festivals, passed away on Friday, March 16. She was 46. Kim loved attending the Bix Fest, Blues Fest, Ribfest, and all other activities at LeClaire Park that involved good music, good food and drink, and, above all, good times. If it was possible, Kim would have had a lifetime pass to all things LeClaire Park.

585_andyp3 Steven Andrew Ontiveros, also known as Steven Andrews, passed away Sunday, June 11. He was 52 years old. Steven Andrews, a longtime fan of the arts and music, had friends in all corners of the Quad Cities, as he was well known for his hair-styling salon Steven Andrews Hair Design located in Moline. Steven loved all things outdoors, especially kayaking. He could be found at many an estate sale and was a consummate forager for unique materials and collectibles, many of which he would share with his artist friends for inspiration to create works of art. Steven is survived by many friends and family. A memorial celebration, called "A Beautiful Day," will be held this Saturday, June 17, at 2 p.m. (until the cops are called) at the River Music Experience in Davenport, Iowa. Donations made will go toward one of Steven's favorite causes, Living Lands & Waters. Live auction items will include Steven's plants, so friends can keep a little love in their hearts and homes.

Alto saxophonist Jack Scott and his singer wife Gwen gave up chances for worldwide fame in the jazz world to raise their family - three boys and one girl. Scott, who was born in the Quad Cities and spent much of his life playing here, died in Gilbert, Arizona, on January 22.
On December 16, the Quad Cities lost a fine and loving mother when Laverne Williams passed away while sitting in a chair in her Spencer Tower apartment in Rock Island. She celebrated her 91st birthday on October 15.