Happy Birthday today to my hero! My dad!

Dad and Mom in Krakow
[photo above: Mom & Dad in Krakow Poland]

Happy Birthday today to my hero! My dad! Daniel Arthur Kolke, Sr. is 85 years young today. I took this first picture of my parents in Krakow Poland on a family trip to trace our roots. My dad was born in southern Poland 85 years ago today. When he was a boy his family lost everything in the invasion of Poland at the start of WWII. They were relocated to Germany as part of an “ethnic German relocation” (picture attached).  

[Photo of Ethnic German Relocation]

He spent the war working on a farm in central Poland until a soldier knocked on the door and told them to grab their weapons and defend their town from the advancing Russian troops. While my grandfather said okay, he shut the door and instead had everyone grab what they could and they fled west in horse drawn wagons. The picture of the church attached the Nazi’s had converted into one of their community centers, so my dad had never seen this building as “a church” when he was there as a boy. It was so amazing to see it restored.

[Church in Biala Poland]

[Church courtyard in Biala Poland]

And you know what? And believe it or not, this is not the most horrible thing my dad has been through. As an immigrant working in a lumber camp, someone accidentally pushed dad, while he was holding a lamp.  Dad fell, with the lamp on two cans of kerosene.  Dad bursted into a “living torch.”  All dad remembers was throwing himself on a bed, while covering his eyes with his hands and screaming, “Ich bin verloren” (I am lost).  This was December 20, 1951.  

[My dad when he left Germany after WWII]

He spent more than eighteen months at Toronto General hospital with burns covering most of his body.  His hands and face is all reconstructed.  Dad had 20 surgeries by Dr. Farmer (top burned specialist).  Severely debilitated, he struggled with survival and whether or not life as worth living. He was visited by local German speaking church youth group. Desmond Eagle was one of these young adults, an immigrant himself. Des and my dad became best friends for decades. My dad became a Christian and devoted his life to God.

Dad went back to school and finished not only his high school but went on to study at several universities including Princeton. Eventually earning several degrees, my dad was knighted Sir Reverend Doctor Daniel Arthur Kolke. How is that for a title? He is a real live theologian and a knight. Awesome! He also knows Greek, Hebrew, some Russian, of course German, some Polish… Oh yeah, English. But he struggles with pig latin.

My dad spent his career as a Baptist minister helping hundreds of people, even thousands. I remember the many nights he spent at hospitals and community events giving all he had. My dad is truly amazing. I am so proud to be his son. And so amazed by the life he has lived. He is a real survivor. A real encourager. A real lover of people. And the type of person that I believe God wants us to be.

I love you dad! Happy birthday… 

[My dad at Boxley’s. Helping us remodel… sort of. ]


This is what it’s all about…

Some people just don’t get why it’s a big deal…

On the eve of the fourth annual Jazz Walk I am reflecting on two conversations that I just had with two patrons of Boxleys while at Pioneer Coffee – the local morning hang.

Within 5 minutes, 2 people came up to me.

The first person had some suggestions to help us compete with the Bar & Grill down the street.  His suggestion was about expanding the bar area – more space away from the music so it can be in the background, “…but people can talk.”  Obviously they want Boxleys to be successful.  They were focusing on the ambiance.

Hmmm.  This is not the first time that this idea has come up, and it’s not that I haven’t thought it myself.  How do we “compete” with other places?  “How do we make everyone happy?”

As I sat in my chair thinking about these suggestions, the the next person came up to me and said, “…thank you so much for last night. We loved watching those students perform.  Watching them point at eachother for solo’s, learning how to lead the band.  Developing their confidence…”  they continued, “… I think I would rather see that than the professionals.”

That’s it. Right there.  That’s the magic of Boxleys.

It’s about the music people.  It’s about the students. It’s about the community.

Not that we don’t want people to have a place to talk. But is that what we want to “compete for?”  I think we want to focus on the music. Focus on the students.  Keep lifting them up.  Keep encouraging them.

Everybody is different.  But what makes Boxleys different and most special is not the food.  It’s the music.  It’s making it accessible for young students to play. And also be mentored and encouraged by musicians with decades more experience.  

You can get better food.  You can get better service.  You can’t get Boxleys anywhere else.

Middle School student Jason Berquist playing with Legends Ray Price and Michael Barnett

North Bend celebrates ’embarrassment of riches’ in volunteer spirit with the Kolkes, Nela Cumming

Originally posted
by CAROL LADWIG,  Snoqualmie Valley Record Editor

Jan 16, 2013 at 12:14PM

Citizen of the Year Nela Cumming, Director of Pediatric Therapy at Encompass, was recognized at the Jan. 15 North Bend City Council meeting, where Mayor Ken Hearing presented her with the award.  - Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Citizen of the Year Nela Cumming, Director of Pediatric Therapy at Encompass, was recognized at the Jan. 15 North Bend City Council meeting, where Mayor Ken Hearing presented her with the award.

— Image Credit: Carol Ladwig/Staff Photo

Citizens of North Bend celebrated their own Tuesday night, with the announcement of the city’s Citizen of the Year and Business Owner of the Year awards.

Danny and Robyn Kolke, owners of Boxley’s Place, were less-than surprised to be named Business Owners of the Year.

“I kind of knew the jig was up when I started seeing saw all my customers walking in,” said Danny Kolke, laughing.

“Hey, they’re my customers, too!” Mayor Ken Hearing, who presented the award, reminded him.

Actually, Kolke was very surprised and overwhelmed by the honor, saying, “We did not set out to win awards, in fact we didn’t set out to do youth programs, we didn’t set out to improve our community… I just love jazz, and I love food.”

Among the Kolkes’ many contributions to the city, Hearing listed their restaurant, their work with the school district including his directing the Twin Falls Jazz Band 2, establishing the Boxley’s Music Fund to support jazz education and the Future Jazz Heads program giving students a chance to play with professional musicians like himself, the couple’s dedicated support of community events like the Downtown Block Party, and their creation of new events like last September’s jazz walk, and a proposed blues walk for this spring.

Citizen of the Year honors went to Encompass Director of Pediatric Therapy Nela Cumming, who did her best to avoid the spotlight — one of the traits Hearing mentioned in his presentation.

“She has worked tirelessly to help other in many ways without seeking recognition for herself,” Hearing said. “She is a very caring, selfless person who is working to make the community a better place for all of us.”

Cumming accepted the award and a friend’s bouquet with little fanfare, but when she saw her good friend Ellie rolling toward her, she said “Ellie!” and quickly emptied her hands to give the girl a warm hug.

Not only does Cumming help families through her work, she often volunteers at schools during her lunch breaks, and serves as a translator for local Spanish-speaking families. She is a long-time resident of the city, is active in community organizations, and, Hearing said, sets “a shining example of giving.”

For City Administrator Londi Lindell who started with the city in May, the celebration was her first for Citizen of the Year. She told the council following the awards that North Bend has “It is truly an embarrassment of riches, the volunteerism in this town.”

Nela Cumming gives a big hug to her friend Ellie, who came to congratulate her on being named Citizen of the Year.

Danny and Robyn Kolke, owners of Boxley’s Place, received the North Bend Business Owners of the Year Award for 2012, with Danny’s father, Daniel.


My No-News News Report

Since I have been on a recent news media diet; I duct-tapped my business hat to my forehead and started grinding my nose as hard as I could in an effort to turn my own economies around. I’ll update you later on what I have been up to more specifically.

Meanwhile, today I thought to myself, “I wonder what I am missing out there.”  Let me see if I can guess at it.

On Politics:

  • Congress is proposing more fees and programs to collect fees to help cover increasing costs of government programs.
  • Congress is looking to expand government programs and increase the number of people that are on government entitlements.
  • 35% of the country thinks this is a good idea, 30% are undecided and 35% are opposed.
  • Congress’s approval ratings continue to plummet.
  • The President’s approval ratings are declining but people are hopeful that things will turn around.
  • Someone shot someone today and violent crimes are on the rise.
  • Experts are surprised that the economy is still stalling and conditions are worse than they expected.
  • Congressional hearings are being held about big businesses role in something and the problems they are causing.
  • Little grandma’s and kids and victims are being paraded to capitol hill for their PowerPoint presentations – so politicians can get sympathy plays for their lobbyist pet legislation and hide their true motives.
  • The world will end in 10-25 years if we don’t act quickly.
  • The country will go bankrupt – if it hasn’t already, although they can just print more money and cause hyper deflation so technically it’s not possible.
  • Everything is someone else’s fault and no one will accept responsibility for their stupid decisions.

On to the World of Software:

  • Google announced something, it’s going to revolutionize the world of software. Microsoft is skeptical and Gartner says it’s not sure how effective it will be in the market.
  • Apple announced something, it’s users are really excited about it and can’t wait to get it but it will take 6-9 months before it’s available in the Apple stores or for purchase on iTunes.
  • MSFT is announcing that something will be happening soon, by 2010 at the latest and it’s committed to doing the same sort of stuff that other companies (like Google) are doing but theirs will work better – when they release it.
  • Experts say that the internet and web based applications and solutions (now called cloud based – because we need new terms to keep analysts interested) are on the rise.
  • Revenues at enterprise software companies are down. It’s the economies fault, not that there is a shift in how solutions are being used on the web and the economics of software are transforming how software is developed, distributed and consumed.
  • Twitter users continue to grow.
  • Users are speculating that Facebook is buying somebody – if they haven’t already bought somebody.
  • Yahoo is still in trouble and still talking with MSFT.

How am I doing so far? Did I get anything wrong? Not sure I really want to know.

General Interest Stories:

  • Caffeine is either good or bad.
  • Local politicians want to pass a bag tax, as if that’s going to help anything other than increase revenues.
  • Exercise is healthy but not too much exercise.
  • Wine is good but not too much wine.
  • Believing in God leads to longer life.
  • Smoking kills but may have certain health benefits; ask Mable who is 104 and smokes cigars and drinks whiskey.
  • People are getting by with less but maybe happier.
  • Schools are suffering with the down economy, but who isn’t.
  • Someone did something great with no self serving interest and we close the news with this story because it demonstrates that there are good people out there and they still do good things.

That’s the no-news for this morning.

How did I do? Did I get it right? Am I close on anything?  Am I close enough?

Why am I on a media diet right now? Seems like the best thing I can do to turn things around is to take action on my own. So that’s what I am up to.  Perhaps you should do the same?

Go out and do something to make a difference. Pursue something you are passionate about and start living the life you were given to live.