Volume XI, Issue 25 ~ June 19-25, 2003

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Dock of the Bay

The Admiral’s Last Stand
Navy’s NBA star towers over competition for second title and final game

The US Naval Academy in Annapolis has been the home of one president, 18 members of Congress, four governors, three chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 33 Rhodes scholars, 50 astronauts, one Nobel Prize winner and thousands of successful men and women we’ve never heard of.

photo by Phil Hoffmann
David Robinson came to Annapolis in 1983 as a lanky six-foot-four-inch freshman and left a seven-foot-one-inch powerhouse destined for NBA fame.
Oh yes: and one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game.

David Robinson, a 1987 graduate in mathematics who’s known as The Admiral from his days in Annapolis, finished his career June 15 with his second NBA championship.

Robinson is the only player in NBA history to win the Rebounding, Blocked Shots and Scoring titles — plus Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and MVP.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the only other player to have won the Rebounding, Blocked Shots and Scoring titles.

A 10-time all-star, Robinson was named to the All-NBA First Team four times, the Second Team twice and the Third Team three times. He was named to the All-NBA Defensive First and Second Teams four times each, becoming the only player in league history to be named to both the All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive teams in his first seven years. He was named the NBA Player of the Week 15 times and NBA Player of the Month four times.

If that isn’t enough, he is the United States’ all-time leader in Olympic history in career points, rebounds and blocked shots. In 1996, he was named one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the game. And the NBA’s citizenship award has been renamed the David Robinson Award.

In 1999, The Admiral reached the pinnacle of his profession, winning his first NBA title. He handled that crowning moment in typical David Robinson fashion, taking a backseat and letting teammate Tim Duncan be the superstar.

“I just figured winning was more important than anything else I could do for the team,” Robinson said at the time.

All that Robinson accomplished on the court has its match in his grace and dignity off the court.

Robinson donated $5 million to found the Carver School, an inner city San Antonio school and to date has given over $9 million. He’s helped feed homeless people and needy families through his organizations Feed My Sheep and the Ruth Project. “These aren’t sacrifices for me. If I’m clutching on to my money with both hands, how can I be free to hug my wife and kids?” he told Sports Illustrated in 1999.

Robinson came to Annapolis in 1983 a lanky six-foot-four-inch freshman and left a seven-foot-one-inch powerhouse destined to be a first round draft pick in the NBA.

“The four years at the Naval Academy have been a long road for me,” Robinson said after his final game. “I got so much more from the past four years than I ever expected.”

His final game as a Midshipman in 1987 was a loss in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Robinson led the team that season to the second-winningest record in school history.

At the time, Joe Gross wrote in The Capital: “The greatest basketball player ever to wear a Navy uniform played his final game for the Naval Academy last night.”

In that loss, Robinson shined. After scoring an amazing 50 points Robinson took full responsibility for the loss. “I really didn’t play as well as I could have today,” he said.

Robinson ended his storybook, two-decade career with a brilliant performance (13 points, 17 rebounds) and his second world championship. As the telecast played on, the announcers listing his accomplishments and what he’s meant to the game, as his teammates spoke and as the fans cheered him, one message was clear: David Robinson inspired everyone he touched.

“The friendships I’ve made are the most valuable things I have,” Robinson said at the end of his Navy career. “Basketball is great, but one day the lights will stop shinning, and I know that when that day comes the friendships and the memories will still be there.”

As the final seconds ticked down on a Father’s Day in June 2003, as the confetti fell to the court, as the music played, as the players hugged and cried and as his parents looked on, David Robinson ran across the court, grabbed his son and held on for dear life.

“I’ve been blessed!” he smiled.

— Louis Llovio

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Back to the Future
No happy ending for Chesapeake Bay

photo by James Clemenko
CBF President Will Baker warned a gathering of Bay-area dignitaries that achievements in cleaning the Chesapeake have been few.

Kent Narrows, Maryland, June 16, 2003 – “If we cannot save a national treasure, what hope for the planet is there?” asked William C. Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, in a ceremony commemorating former senator Charles ‘Mac’ Mathias’ initiation of Chesapeake Bay restoration in June of 1973.

No champagne was drunk, but dignitaries were abundant. Former Maryland governor Harry Hughes and senator Bernie Fowler; U.S. senators Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and John Warner (R-VA), congressman Wayne T. Gilchrest (R-MD) and former EPA administrator Russell Train were on hand.

Falling short of expectations and funds, the fate of the Chesapeake Bay hangs in the balance. Of the estimated $19 billion to restore the Bay, only $6 billion has been found. Achievements over the last 30 years have been few, Baker said: rockfish restoration, oyster farming and reductions in toxic chemicals.

— James Clemenko

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Marion Warren Turns 83
Governor — and new book — proclaim him a state treasure

photo by Mark M. Odell - Governors Press Office
First Lady Kendel Ehrlich, philanthropist Anna E. Greenberg and Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. greet M.E. Warren during an event in his honor at Government House in Annapolis. Warren celebrated his 83rd birthday.

Marion Warren, the man who taught us to see the life of Chesapeake Country and the sparkle of its waters, celebrated his 83rd birthday June 18. “Thank you for showing the beauty of our state,” said Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who, with his wife Kendel, threw the early party in Warren’s honor. “A lot a residential real estate agents owe you a commission,” the governor joked.

Warren said nothing; cancer has stolen his voice. But his smile radiated as he accepted the congratulations of 50 well-wishers invited to Government House not only to honor Warren but to prepare for the arrival of his seventh book.

WaterViews, it’s called, and it blends the talents of three longtime friends in reflections on Chesapeake Bay. To 48 of Warren’s landmark photos, Bay Weekly columnist Steve Carr adds 25 essays of nostalgia and warning. Cartoons by Eric Smith of The Capital contribute a cutting edge.

Publication of the 160-page hard-cover book is set for August 1 and benefits South River Federation. Contributions are tax deductible. Contact Katherine Burke at Annapolis Publishing: 410/280-1414 • www.mewarren.com.


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Wish-A-Fish, Catch-A-Fish, Kiss-A-fish
30 families of special needs children shared the delights of fishing

When five-year-old Brighton went fishing last year, he kissed his first fish. He thought he was on a Kiss-A-Fish expedition, not Wish-A-Fish. This year, Brighton Ditter, who has Down syndrome, knew better, but he decided to kiss one anyway.

photos by Eric Smith
Brighton Ditter with first mate Kevin Farrell shows off a rockfish before releasing it during this year’s Wish-A-Fish expedition.
The lucky fish was a little spot Brighton reeled in with the help of first mate Kevin Farrell of Sandy Point. Lending their skill and their equipment were Farrell, Captain Dan Adams of D.C. and 20 more captains and mates. In the fourth annual Wish-A-Fish event, about 30 families of special needs children shared the delights of fishing in near perfect weather.

“Wish-A-Fishers, we’re catching some perch over here over the pipe,” Captain Dan radioed from his boat Old Yeller. “My boy Brighton’s already got two.”

“I got two,” Brighton smiled proudly, clutching his new neon fishing pole. Between fish he took a turn at the controls, spinning the wheel and honking the horn.

“We try to give him every opportunity we can find,” said his dad, Michael.

Brighton’s glee is contagious, as the smiles of Kevin, Dan and Michael testify.

Wish-A-Fish’s mission statement is “to provide a little relief for a family from the daily stress of having a child with ‘special needs.’”

Life with a special needs child may be stressful, but good comes of it, too.

“My other son is on a whole different level of understanding when it comes to handicapped kids, certainly different from the one I had,” Brighton’s father explained. “He’ll approach a kid in a wheelchair and talk to him and you think, ‘that’s nice he’s taking time to do that.’ But he isn’t thinking that way. He doesn’t see the wheelchair. He’s talking to this kid because he’s got a Nintendo in his hand.”

A few hours, a half-dozen fish, and a nap later, Brighton’s crew was ready to return to port. But first Dan and Kevin had a surprise: a huge rockfish they caught earlier in the morning and saved for Brighton in the live-well. Brighton gets the honor of setting the whopper free. “Bye-bye fish,” he waved. Its tail tickled the surface as it disappeared into the Bay.

“I think it said thank you,” Ditter said.

“Thank you,” Brighton echoed. Farrell and Adams heard him, too. For these few hours, through their efforts, Brighton and the other Wish-A-Fishers have been released, freed to explore an element that is usually off limits. Freed to catch a fish. Freed to give a kiss.

— Eric Smith

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The House that Hospice Builds
Robbie Miles Memorial 5K covers $8K in race for hospice house

In May, hundreds of pairs of feet pounding the pavement kicked up $8,500. In April, staying home brought out $18,000 from foolish folk willing to pay to avoid going out. In November, holiday-lovers pay for the artistry of hundreds of volunteers who decorate dozens of Christmas trees. Three days of admiring the trees, Santa visits and holiday shopping brought in $56,000 last November.

Month by month, the nest egg grows. By autumn of 2004, Calvert Hospice hopes that egg will have grown large enough to make a final home for Calvert citizens.

In 10 years — through the Robbie Miles Memorial 5K Run/Walk, April Fools and the annual Festival of Trees — the Hospice Friends have raised over $620,000

The latest mission is a hospice house for Calvert County. Now that Gov. Robert Ehrlich signed into law a bill to thwart the efforts of The Washington Home (formerly Medstar Health) to monopolize hospice care in the state, Calvert Hospice can establish its own community-based hospice house.

The new hospice house will specialize in end-of-life care, providing patients and families support that Hospice’s Melissa Simpson describes as “all-inclusive care: It’s not just the medical end, but also the spiritual and emotional parts,” she explained.

“As of this year, any fundraising the Friends do is earmarked toward the hospice house,” said Simpson. Calvert Hospice also hopes the community will donate in-kind gifts and will volunteer to make this home a reality in time for Calvert Hospice’s 20th anniversary in the fall of 2004.

Hospice fills a growing need. As more elderly move into Calvert County, which promotes retirement living, space to make the most of life’s last moments charges a premium: wait time. Nursing homes and Calvert Memorial Hospital often have no available beds, forcing many to seek end-of-life care in hospices in Annapolis and Baltimore.

The new hospice house will most directly benefit people without a full-time caregiver who need around-the-clock care. But it will also, said Simpson, alleviate some of the pressure felt by “dual-income families who, with their lives being so full, feel they must put their lives on standstill to take care of a family member.”

Calvert Hospice provides end-of-life care to people of all ages who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses. When patients no longer seek to be cured, hospice professionals and volunteers step in to manage pain and bring quality of life into the final days. Services are for fee, but they are also provided regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Hospice also holds bereavement services and grieving support groups.

Sounds grim? Not if you listen to the stories of Calvert Hospice volunteers. They’ll tell you that some of life’s brightest moments come during its darkest hours.

“Jerry lived a lonely lifestyle by choice, so it never occurred to him what somebody would do for him. But at the end, he really truly wanted to have someone there,” said Hospice volunteer Jan Heaton. During this hospice patient’s last days, Heaton spent hours a day at his bedside.

Now, in addition to the Friends of Hospice’s usual fundraising events, Calvert Hospice has launched a “full-fledged campaign to raise the funds to both construct and sustain the new hospice house,” said Hospice director Lynn Bonde.

Using proceeds from the 2002 Festival of Trees, the Friends of Hospice most recently contributed $56,000 to the hospice house fund. The 2003 Robbie Miles Memorial 5K Run/Walk will contribute all but expenses from the $8,500 grossed in May. Robbie Miles was a young Calvert hospice patient who died from complications resulting from an uncontrollable seizure disorder. His parents, Kate and Tom Miles, organized the first race on the one-year anniversary of their son’s death, at the age of 15, on May 6, 2000.

With the foundation already laid, Calvert Hospice hopes that community support, a few more decorated Christmas trees and some additional miles run will help bring this home to life.

— Lauren Silver

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Way Downstream …

At Virginia Beach, there’s a shipwreck mystery at the Lynnhaven Inlet. A vessel at the bottom may be a privateer or a pirate ship, and authorities soon may know for sure as they remove wreckage during reconstruction of the navigation channel. Cannons dating back to the 1700s were brought up earlier, the Virginian-Pilot reported …

In New Zealand, a 38-year-old man trying to free a 50-foot-long humpback whale caught in the ropes of a lobster pot is missing and presumed dead after being struck by the whale’s tail, police told Reuters this week …

Our Creature Feature comes from Belgium, where an ex-lawyer has defied the odds to create a bird paradise in a cold and rainy land. But Eric Domb has succeeded, carving out the 135-acre Parc Paradisio in Belgium’s French-speaking southern region at the site of an old abbey.
Among the birds living on the grounds and in tropical forests recreated in greenhouses are toucans, scarlet ibises and Siberian cranes. The park, visited by a half-million people last year, was a joint venture with the World Wildlife Foundation. In an understatement, Domb told Reuters: “I am passionate about nature.”

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Last updated June 19, 2003 @ 3:22am