Kelly: A little thing like the Pacific won't stop Husker fan -
Published Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 1:00 am / Updated at 1:20 pm
Kelly: A little thing like the Pacific won't stop Husker fan

As Omaha businessman Joel Alperson boarded a flight for China on New Year's Day, he asked if the pilot could relay updates on the Nebraska-Georgia bowl game.

The pilot said sure, adding that he, too, was interested. With a smile and an extended hand, he disclosed why: “University of Georgia, '77.”

Joel, who imports retail display fixtures, is a University of Texas grad. But he said in an email from the city of Guangzhou: “My heart has always been with the Cornhuskers.”

He eventually learned that NU had defeated Georgia, 24-19. After landing in China, he chatted with the pilot.

”He was great about the loss,” Joel said, “and even told me that his mother is such a big Georgia fan that she uses a walker she named 'Herschel.'"

As in the All-America running back from Georgia in the 1980s — Herschel Walker.

Don “Fox” Bryant, a 35-year member of the NU athletic staff from the Bob Devaney-Tom Osborne coaching era, spent parts of December in a hospital with pneumonia.

But on Wednesday, he cheered on the Huskers from his home in Lincoln.

“I'm back walking and battling,” the 84-year-old told me by phone Friday. “I'm getting better.”

Fox, the former sports information director at Nebraska and retired assistant athletic director, still keeps an office in the athletic department. His son, Bill, plans to take him there this month, and possibly to watch a Husker basketball game in the new Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Fox has remained in touch with close friend Keith Jackson, the old network broadcaster who called many Nebraska games. The pair are fellow former Marines.

Reta Meyer of Tekamah, Neb., traveled the 40 miles to Omaha over the holidays to see Alexander Payne's “Nebraska,” and ended up enjoying more than the movie.

She was also pleased that someone had found her wallet — before she even knew she had lost it.

As she got into her car after the film at the Majestic Theater, 144th Street and West Maple Road, a woman who was parked next to her noticed her out-of-town license plates and put two and two together.

“Are you from Tekamah?” she asked. “Is your name Reta?”

The woman's sister had found Reta's wallet on the floor in the theater and turned it in to the manager.

“Needless to say, I was extremely grateful,” Reta said. “What are the odds that of all the cars in that parking lot, we would be parked next to each other?”

Reta said she regrets not getting the names of the women, but they reaffirmed her belief that “there are angels among us.” She hopes to find a way to pay their kindness forward.

Another story of the kindness of strangers involved an auto accident in Omaha — and a chase after the driver who caused it.

An Omahan named Judy, who asked that her last name not be published, last month donated $200 to the World-Herald Goodfellows charity in honor of the people who helped her.

Waiting at a red light at 50th and Center Streets, she was struck from behind by a young man in his 20s who was talking on his cell phone. He backed up, turned into a parking lot and onto another street.

OWH Columnists
Columnists Michael Kelly, Erin Grace and Matthew Hansen write about people, places and events around Omaha. Read more of their work here.

A young couple with three children had stopped alongside Judy. The mother rolled down her window and said, “Stay put! We're going after him.”

They got close enough to read his license plate and called 911. Police later arrested him.

The car belonged to the man's girlfriend, and her insurance paid for the $2,200 damage to Judy's new car. Fortunately, Judy was not injured.

She got the names of the couple and others who assisted, and all refused gifts or rewards.

Next weekend's fourth annual Skate-a-thon for Parkinson's will include something new — 10 people attempting to skate all 24 hours.

Among them is retired dentist John Seminara. He and the others will take breaks of only a few minutes each hour.

The event, open to the public at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's outdoor rink, starts at noon on Friday and ends at noon on Saturday. (You can skate for only a few minutes or not at all.) It raises money for Parkinson's Disease research as well as for an exercise program for patients.

This will be the first year for the event without one of the founders, Colleen Wuebben, who had Parkinson's and died last year. Her husband, Ted, and other family members will help carry on the tradition.

It's easy for fast-typing fingers to confuse similar words — like Omaha and Obama — and most often typos are fixed prior to publication.

But the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, in the island town where President Barack Obama came of age and has visited over the recent holidays, wrote in advance of last night's University of Hawaii Rainbows basketball game:

“UH (10-4) is off to its best start through 13 games since the 2004-05 season. The 'Bows conclude nonconference play against Nebraska-Obama on Friday.”

Politically, Republican-dominated Nebraska isn't exactly Obama country. But he did win a 2008 electoral vote in the 2nd Congressional District based in Omaha.

Contact the writer: Michael Kelly    |   402-444-1000

Mike writes three columns a week on a variety of topics.

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