2016-10-06 / Columns

Omena News: Lakeshore artist enjoyed Omena visit

Also, Judy will be missed
By LESLIE DISCH
Phone/fax 386-5686


DEBRA HOWARD, artist-in-residence at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, paints en plein air DEBRA HOWARD, artist-in-residence at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, paints en plein air Debra Howard, who is the artist-in-residence at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park through Oct. 15, visited her long-time friend, Jim McCord, in Omena last week. Les and Debby Disch enjoyed a cup of tea with them at the Blue Lotus Café, and were fascinated to hear about the adventures that finally led her to visit Leelanau County. Debra grew up in Miami where she discovered her love of painting and sailing. She studied at the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota. She then left the Atlantic for the Pacific Ocean and began her career in design in San Francisco. She also wanted to learn even more about sailing, but back in the 1980s it was hard for a woman to find positions crewing. So she took up racing instead. She was one of the first women to compete in the International Offshore Rule (IOR) and Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF) category races.

She was also a distance swimmer, making the six-mile Oakland to San Francisco swim, and the Lanai to Maui swim, which was an all day undertaking. After making her way back to the East Coast, she lived on her 44-foot sailboat, Ling Ling. As a side note, “Ling Ling” means very beautiful.

In 1994, Jim McCord’s sister, Maril, was living in Honolulu where she was a massage therapist. One of her clients was Debra’s mother, who mentioned one day that Debra was moving from Chesapeake Bay to a warmer clime, and needed someone to crew. Maril contacted her brother, who grew up sailing in Grand Traverse Bay, and he ended up crewing on a wonderful trip that landed Debra in Charleston, S.C. Later, she and her husband spent three years living on Tangier Island, Va., – a fascinating story in itself — and they now live in Maryland, back on Chesapeake Bay.

Debra and Jim kept in touch over the years, but he could never convince her to visit Omena — until last year. And, not surprisingly to most of us, she fell in love with it. As a person who had always lived on the ocean, she was amazed at the beauty and size of Lake Michigan. She returned this year as part of her Plein Air Painting Competition tour, and secured the artist-in-residence position for this month at Sleeping Bear. She was also at Leelanau UnCaged doing her Plein Air painting.

For the next week, you can find her painting at Sleeping Bear, or visit her website, www.artistdebrahoward.com to see her work and learn more about her.

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For the past 30 consecutive years, Dennis and Kim Armbruster have traveled to Stratford, Ont. to attend theatrical performances at the Stratford Festival. This year was no exception — they recently returned after seeing five plays in three days. Two were musicals and one was the North American premier of “Shakespeare in Love,” which was very entertaining. They are already reviewing the schedule of performances for next year.

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Immediately after returning to Omena, Kim left for a three day weekend of golf with her long-time lady golf friends. This is the 19th year for them. They stayed at Shanty Creek Resort and played a number of the near-by courses. And of course, they spent some time catching up on the latest news.

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Mardi Jo Link was the guest speaker at the September Omena Women’s Club (OWC) meeting. She is author of “Drummond Girls: A Story of Fierce Friendship beyond Time and Chance,” and discussed that book and others that she has written. It was a very interesting presentation with lots discussion afterwards.

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We were very sorry to hear of the death of Judy Southwell recently. Judy was married to Randy Southwell, who grew up in Omena on the Southwell farm. She was the sister-in-law of Bob and Gail Southwell Koch. Our sympathies go to all of her family.

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This Saturday, there is a Leelanau Conservancy hike at Houdek Dunes at 10 a.m. The fall colors should be starting to really show by then.

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The upcoming performance of the Northport Community Arts Center (NCAC) will be a delightful comedy, “The Dixie Swim Club.” The performances are October 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7 p.m, and matinees on October 9 and 16 at 2 p.m. Call the NCAC office, 386- 5001 for more information or tickets.

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The annual CROP Walk will be held Sunday, starting at the Omena Presbyterian Church. Registration is at 1:30 and the walk around Omena Point begins at 2 p.m. CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by local congregations or groups to raise funds to end hunger at home and around the world. The Leelanau County walk is sponsored by local churches. For more information, go to crophungerwalk.org.

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Happy Birthday to Becky Kalchik, Bill Krusel, Jeff Bosco, Bill Renz, and Jim Browning. October is another popular time for weddings. Happy Anniversary to Mark and Marian Electa Powell, to Ed and Caroline Oberndorf, and to Dick and Nana Kennedy.

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