Dark eyes squinted out from his swarthy complexion, and he looked angry. But he didn’t see well. Omar was born with cataracts 14 years ago and struggled to see my face. I would soon learn that the vision his eyes failed him was sharpened by his heart and soul.

In early June of 1994, my wife, along with our German exchange student, Laura Koepke, drove a friend and me to the airport to head out for the 50th anniversary of the Allied landing on the Normandy beaches during World War II. Laura had spent the previous 10 months with us, attended the scho…

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I’m a retired English teacher. I know that language use changes, but I still react a little to hear “I laid down for a nap” or “between she and I.” Yet speakers I’ve heard using those include fellow English teachers, college professors and distinguished TV reporters.

Growing up, my first exposure to pets was the nondescript dog Spot, white with black markings, and his buddy, Puff, the orange marmalade cat, in the Dick and Jane primer reading series of the 1950s.

With the state’s unemployment rate hovering around 4 percent, many area businesses are finding it harder and harder to hire skilled workers they need to compete and grow. This is particularly true in health care, manufacturing and other important industries to the area.

Some 40 years ago, I came across “Scared Straight” (1978), a controversial program to steer young people away from prisons that was directed and produced by Arnold Shapiro, who won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1979.

Recently, my wife, Julie, and I drove north from our home in Champaign with the intention of spending two days enjoying the company of friends in Wisconsin, followed by three days of leisurely biking on the Root River State Trail in Minnesota.

It’s been nearly five years since my caregiving role to my sweet papa ended and just short of a year since retiring from the best of positions at the finest of companies. It feels like identity theft two times over. Good grief, I say. Whatever am I to do now?

It’s not uncommon for a community our size to have several major educational projects under way. New schools and new additions are necessary and important to give children the best start possible. Recently, I thought back over my own early school experiences and the moments that have stayed …

I like flying. But I especially enjoy train travel. I’ve lived my entire adult life in Champaign-Urbana, always within earshot of the railways. In fact, I’m distracted from my writing right now as I hear the whistle of the northbound Amtrak, running a few minutes late, according to my clock.

History is chock-full of dictators from divinely appointed monarchies to benevolent types who swept into power promising to be the peoples’ champion. For one reason or another, even the seemingly virtuous leaders developed a less-than-magnanimous streak leading to a usurpation of power, oppr…

Recently, with some disappointment, I heard Loren Tate describe the Chief Illiniwek controversy as “not solvable.” Certainly, Mr. Tate is entitled to weigh in on this issue, without doubt the defining debate of the past several decades for the UIUC community. Unfortunately, in this case, Mr.…

By ROSEMARY LAUGHLINAnyone who has flown can recall unpleasant seat mates. I have a very memorable opposite.Chicago was our conversation starter. Bob Oliver grew up and worked there. He unfolded this story.Divorced and lonely, Bob socialized through his church. He met a lovely woman with a 6-year-old daughter.


By DEBRA KARPLUSNo matter where you live, you're bound to encounter unwanted, sometimes pesky animals, large or small.For example, the summer I spent in Upper Peninsula Michigan in a beautiful cabin on Lake Superior. One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, I was warned about dangerous black flies and aggressive bears.

By JAMES F. BURNSA bullet pinged past the soldier's ear as he crouched behind bushes near the frontlines. A soldier near him suddenly lurched forward, letting out a horrible scream as he crumpled to the ground and died. All gave some; some gave all.