Missouri River flood photos taken between Onawa and Blencoe, Iowa, on June 22, 2011, as well as photos taken west of Onawa and at Decatur Bend in rural Monona County.

Click on first photo for slideshow of larger photos with descriptions.

All photos by Jody Ewing.

 

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Sire, the 5-month-old American Bulldog killed by his owner, Bobby Loggins

Sire

His name was “Sire.”

The 5-month-old American Bulldog’s short life came to an abrupt end on June 9 when he urinated on a carpet while his owner, Bobby Loggins of Sioux City, Iowa, entertained friends.

Despite three witnesses who say otherwise, Loggins pleaded “not guilty” today to having inflicted 30 blows to Sire’s head, causing the puppy’s death. Even had Loggins pled guilty, Iowa’s current animal cruelty/torture laws would have allowed no more than aggravated misdemeanor charges being filed in his case.

The horrific puppy-killing case has drawn both statewide and national attention to animal abuse and animal torture legislation, and websites and bloggers across the U.S. are demanding change. Several focus on one key plea: those outraged with Iowa’s law should write Sioux City’s County Attorney Patrick Jennings asking that charges against Loggins be amended to reflect a crime far more serious than a simple traffic violation.

Dog Killer Bobby Loggins

Bobby Loggins

For many, Loggins’ “not guilty” plea to the misdemeanor charge only added insult to injury.

Sioux City’s KMEG 14 — who had the only crew inside the courtroom Thursday morning when Loggins pleaded not guilty — said Loggins plans to hire his own attorney before the July 21 pre-trial hearing.

Regarding the aggravated misdemeanor charge — which carries a sentence of up to two years in prison and a $6,000 fine — Siouxland Humane Society Executive Director Jerry Dominicak said, “We’re hoping for the maximum, but we would like to see the animal laws in Iowa be stronger.”

Dominicak and his staff have given out thousands of flyers asking people to flood the Woodbury County Attorney’s office with letters. “The citizens in Sioux City and the Siouxland area need their voices to be heard,” he said.

Those voices are sounding off — loud and clear.

At Monday night’s Sioux City Council meeting, local animal lovers spoke about the dog’s beating death, and the Iowa Voters for Companion Animals talked with the city council about changing city ordinance to keep convicted dog abusers from owning animals in the future.

Under “Education for Responsible Pet Ownership,” Pit Bulls for Justice began an article with “One word for Bobby: MURDERER” before reporting the crime and offering the quote: “We can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats animals, children and the elderly.”

In Lincoln, Neb., one concerned citizen called the Woodbury County Attorney’s office only to be told they would not take phone calls expressing outrage over the incident but would accept “letters for their files.” Undeterred, the Nebraska caller not only wrote and sent the letter, but posted a copy of it — along with the Woodbury County Attorney’s mailing address — to Pet Enthusiast Magazine, imploring others to write letters, too.

The Daily Hobbit’s “Beyond the Shire” also has noted the pup’s merciless killing. The article invites reader comments and prominently displays the Woodbury County Attorney address.

RunningForaPaws posted what they called a “Simple but Very Important Request” asking readers to contact Jennings and ask their letter be added to the file.

KTIV-TV reported Wednesday on the Siouxland Humane Society’s letter-writing campaign encouraging the Woodbury County Attorney to seek the toughest penalties possible.

The blog “For the Love of the Dog” — which also listed the county attorney’s address — didn’t bother mincing words. “Please, please, please…post and crosspost. Let’s get the word out and the letters and calls in!” the site reported, concluding with the final directive, “Don’t let this heartless bastard walk with just a little fine after brutally beating this defenesless little puppy!!”

Under the dogster.com forum “Dog Laws & Legislation,” there are pleas to read about “Sire’s” death and “do something!”

The Woodbury County Attorney’s address — along with, not surprisingly, more comments — shows up on the care2 make a difference site as well.

KCAU-TV in Sioux City reported today that, if convicted, Loggins could spend 2-years in prison and pay a $6250 fine. His trial is set for August.

PiddleTails took time to weigh in on what Sioux City Police Chief Doug Young called “a heinous crime.”

In addition, KPTH FOX News re-emphasized today the Humane Society’s push for stronger animal laws in Iowa and, of course, director Dominicak’s letter-writing campaign.

And, the Sioux City Journal’s June 11 article on the dog-beating death now leads the site’s “Most Commented” upon news story, with 104 angry comments — and still counting.

There are more. In fact, far more accounts of outrage than I can possibly include in this post. But, my hope is that some of the above links will provide a glimpse into a nation’s response to a particularly senseless, cruel and brutal act, and (in this case) a defendant who clearly has shown no remorse by pleading “not guilty” to a crime already defined well below the scope of its severity.

While I find the county attorney letter-writing campaign absolutely worthwhile and certainly worth pursuing, there’s still another Iowa address conspicuously missing from these appeals; it’s the one for your state legislator.

Sharpen your pencils. It’s time for change in Iowa.

Feb. 18, 2010 update: Read Jody’s latest post on this case

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HSUS Felony Cruelty Map

Don’t let the map fool you.

While the Humane Society of the United States has made enormous strides state by state in animal cruelty legislation over the past several years (due largely, in my honest opinion, to current HSUS President & CEO Wayne Pacelle’s tireless dedication and ongoing efforts), we as a civilized country still have a long way to go.

As of May 28, 2009, only four states remain without felony animal cruelty provisions, but don’t let all the others lull you into believing they don’t tolerate unspeakable crimes; many states hiding beneath the red-colored designation (meaning they have “felony legislation in place”) won’t bring about felony charges until a second or third offense. See where your state stands.

Another crime? Seeing the word “misdemeanor” in the same news article that details how a defenseless dog was beaten to death by its master for urinating on the floor.

First, though, let’s head to New York. There’s someone there you need to know.

Meet Cheyenne Cherry — sociopath-in-training

Cheyenne Cherry, a 17-year-old New York teen, was arrested June 3 after admitting she threw her former roommate’s two-month-old female kitten, Tiger Lily, into an oven and roasted the animal to death. The reason she gave for torturing Tiger Lily to death: “I hate cats.”

According to ASPCA officials, Cherry brushed the incident off as “a practical joke.”

ASPCA official Joe Pentangelo says the animal suffered “an agonizing death.” Cherry and an accomplice left the apartment as the kitten cried and scratched at the oven door, Pentangelo said.

The tragedy was discovered by neighbors who noticed smoke and a foul odor coming from the apartment. When firefighters arrived, they found Tiger Lily’s smoldered remains. Investigators say the kitten was burned so badly, a necropsy had to be performed to determine the kitten’s sex.

It wasn’t the first time the kitty-killing Cherry had used the term “practical joke” when it came to abusing or killing other people’s pets. Cherry was charged in the armed robbery dog-napping of a teacup Yorkie in a Bronx park last June, police said. And, Cherry said it was also “just a joke” after her arrest for robbing a man of his iPod at gunpoint. She’d pleaded guilty to robbery and got five years probation.

Despite Cherry’s June 2008 arrest for larceny and extortion — along with two other busts — Cherry was released into her mother’s custody without bail; this after she was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, burglary, arson, reckless endangerment and criminal mischief for burning alive her friend’s kitten.

Cherry’s community, outraged by her latest gruesome act and her dismissive attitude towards the crime, is asking that the 17-year-old be charged as an adult. An online petition has been set up requesting a modification of the charges, with petition signatures and comments being forwarded to the judge by month’s end. Though the site’s initial goal was 2,500 signatures, more than 13,000 incensed citizens already have signed — a vast majority also taking time to comment on Cherry’s barbaric crime. Sign the Petition Here.

Fast forward to Sioux City, Iowa

Meet Bobby Loggins: Prefers Killing Own Dog vs. Someone else’s Pet (also prefers house guests who will lie — albeit conflicting stories — about dog’s death)

Bobby Loggins, 35 and intoxicated, was upset. His young American bulldog, whom he obviously hadn’t taken the time to fully train, had just urinated on the carpet during Bobby’s house party at 1611 23rd Street in Sioux City. Instead of leading the dog outside as any responsible pet owner would do, Loggins punched his own loyal dog in the face approximately 30 times — in front of several witnesses, no less. Police reports confirmed the dog was bleeding from the facial area, and animal control officers said the dog died before help could arrive.

If that weren’t bad enough, Loggins, as well as one of his “guests,” lied about what happened.

Loggins told police he “accidentally” slammed the dog’s head in the door. And, according to Sioux City Police Sgt. Mike Post, an unnamed witness told police the dog had been hit by a car.

One witness, however, had a conscience; Post said 34-year-old Chad Peterson was one of the witnesses and reported the incident to police.

On the other hand, the man-without-a-conscience-dog-killing Loggins has been charged with animal torture and filing a false police report, both of which (do-I-really-really-really-have-to-use-this-word?) are misdemeanors. Loggins will likely be ordered to get some psychological counseling. Perhaps even do some community service. Meanwhile, a young unschooled dog met a horrendous death at the very hands of the man he trusted most.

Loggins was released from jail on bond about two hours after being taken into custody.

Misdemeanors? But what about That Map?

Are you asking yourself the same question I’ve asked myself a thousand times? “How can this animal torture/cruelty crime be a misdemeanor when the map clearly shows Iowa has statutes in place to make this crime a felony?”

The answer, my friend, is in the fine print. You’ll find it in Iowa Code 717B.3A under Animal Torture. What it means is that the Bobby Loggins of Iowa can relentlessly beat and kill a family pet with 30 hard punches to the face and still answer to no more than misdemeanor charges — until their second offense, that is, when that animal’s death matters and it becomes a Class D Felony.

It could be worse. In Alaska, one has three opportunities to torture or kill the family pet before being charged with a felony. Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota and North Dakota have no felony provisions at all.

Shame on those state legislators.

One need not be a dog lover or cat lover or animal lover of any kind to possess the simple knowledge that animals experience pain no differently than human beings. But does placing the value of a human life over that of an animal preclude legislators from understanding the parallels in violent behavior exhibited by those who would inflict such pain and/or death on either?

It isn’t enough to just ask questions; we must demand answers, action and accountability. Our lives — and the animals with whom we so lovingly share those lives — depend on it.

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A Man, His Dog, and a Neighborhood’s Loss

On May 10, 2009, in Pets, by Jody Ewing

On a typical block in a small town neighborhood, houses form two rows, back to back, their front doors facing outward and in opposite directions from the homes behind them.

This doesn’t mean one doesn’t come to know his or her neighbors. Especially if the neighbor has a dog, and particularly if that neighbor walks his dog once, twice, and often three times a day down one sidewalk and across a block’s end and up yet another narrow concrete path on the circular route toward back home, stopping to visit with whomever might happen to be outside at any given time, regardless of whether a warm sunny summer morning or frigid cold afternoon with snow flurries swirling overhead.

Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson

Jim Johnson was that kind of neighbor. Luther was his small terrier and constant companion.

Jim loved to stop and talk politics. Or tell us about our 100-year-old home’s fascinating history and the people who’d once lived here. Or ask us if we’d read the latest book he’d just finished. He never stopped smiling. Everything in life, it seemed, always had a happy ending.

And while we’d chat and catch up on daily and neighborhood news, Luther always inched them both closer to our chain link fence’s south gate, sniffing the grass while pretending not to notice our two big brown dogs on the fence’s other side, or even that small brown feisty one everyone called “Oh Cocoa!” Luther would wait patiently for the walk to resume, knowing the instant his master rounded the corner that those three brown dogs would retreat inside. He’d show those brown dogs. Tomorrow. Today, though, he and Jim still had stops to make. Other neighbors to visit.

In the nearly five years I’ve lived on this block, I’m quite certain Jim and Luther circled my home thousands of time. A few short days ago, they made their last trip. Mid-morning. A beautiful day. A brief conversation…”See! Cocoa’s not so tough after all!”

The next day the sidewalk lay quiet. Empty. One small rain cloud rumbled discontent, dropped down a bucket of tears in our yard, and then retreated just as quickly as it arrived. For the next two days, the sun fought hard to shine.

Today I learned the news. Jim will not walk our block again. He was 61. And we are less of a neighborhood because of his passing.

Then there’s Luther.

I am saddened beyond words to learn of Jim’s death, but can only imagine that small dog’s sorrow. Jim wasn’t just his neighbor or friend. He’d been his lifetime companion. They’d spent all those quiet nights together. Taken a thousand walks in the rain and snow and sunshine.

Surely, he must be waiting, even now, to walk with Jim again.

We’ll keep walking. We have to. But we’ll see you again, Jim. We’ll pick up where we left off. We’ll meet you near the fence, the south gate. You know the one. Cocoa won’t even pretend to growl, so you may have to look close. But he’ll be sitting there, right between the two big brown dogs and your Luther.

And on that tomorrow, we’ll all go for a walk. You can show us around the new neighborhood.

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We Are as Great as…

On September 1, 2008, in Crime, Family, by Jody Ewing

I greeted today with unexpected feelings. All kinds of tangled roots of hope.

We are as great as the dreams we dream.

It’s been one year, you know. Already. A year ago today since Dad Earl succumbed to burns he received after copper thieves raided a rural country home and, in the explosion that followed, stole from an entire family a major force in all our futures.

As great as the love we bear.

Dad Earl may not have survived, but we did. He’d already taught us all how to do so.

Earl Thelander's headstone My mother had the poem “We are as great as the dreams we dream” inscribed in the headstone she will share with Earl.

As great as the values we redeem.

He taught us all about responsibility. Accountability. Values. We will not forget.

And the happiness we share.

We’re still a family. No explosion can tear that apart.

We are as great as the truth we speak.

He taught us to speak only the truth. Hard truths — no matter how difficult — are always easier to bear.

As great as the help we give.

He gave it freely. One never even had to ask…he was just there.

As great as the destiny we seek.

He sought none for himself, only recognizing that in others.

As great as the life we live.

He lived a life most of us could, and can, only hope to mirror.

Dad Earl, above all else, was a humble and giving man…quick to point out what he perceived as his own insignificant role in other’s successes…while all those blessed to be in his life rose to all he’d told them they could be.

Dad Earl had big dreams. Ours. He redeemed our values. He shared our happiness. He spoke our truths. He helped us all, and he gave freely of himself. He helped us seek our destinies. And he lived a great life defined by making a difference in those lives fortunate enough to have crossed paths with him.

We miss you, Dad, Earl. Dad. Earl. Honey. Grandpa. And even to some, Mr. Thelander. You were so much to so many.

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[flowplayer src=’https://jodyewing.com/videos-files/please-support-hsb-660.flv’ width=512 height=384 splash=’https://jodyewing.com/videos-files/please-support-hsb-660-splash.jpg’ autoplay=false]

 

This used to be a home. That was before copper thieves came in the night and cut propane lines and let it fill with gas to later explode with a man inside. That man was my stepfather, Earl Thelander.

My grandparents used to live here. After my grandfather died, my folks purchased the rural home from my grandmother (who’d come to live with them in town after Grandpa died) and fixed it up as a rental property. This is how my folks earned their living; they worked hard fixing up homes and apartments for those needing housing in this small community where everyone knows everybody else.

They’d recently installed new insulation and put permanent siding on the house. They cared for their tenants’ homes the same way they cared for their own, making sure everything always worked properly and that families who lived in their rentals were comfortable and happy.

Now, it’s nothing but a pile of rubble . . . a haphazard scattering of bricks, nails, metal pipes, a tumbled-down chimney and ashes laid out in layers like a melted accordion.

Earl had gone to install a new water pump. After authorities were notified of the break-in and the property had been aired out, Earl returned several hours later to begin work. He died trying to make life better for others.

Despite a $5,000 reward for information on those responsible for his death, there has been no arrests in the case.

The Iowa Legislature, however, now has House Study Bill 660 assigned to a Judiciary Subcommittee. I pray this bill will become law. For Earl. And for the thousands of other lives affected financially and in countless ways by what has now become a nationwide problem.

Copper Thieves Steal Lives.

Please join me in supporting Iowa House Study Bill 660.

A Message from my mother …

On November 7, 2007, in Crime, Family, by Jody Ewing

The post below is a message from my mother — as only she could write — in regard to what led up to and what happened immediately following the copper theft home explosion that claimed my stepfather’s life.

Two months after Earl’s death, Mom wrote this letter by hand and asked me to post it on my blog for her. I did take the liberty, however, of adding one of my favorite pictures of the two of them. They were still this much in love and so very happy right up until the day the copper thieves stole Earl’s life from him and from us.

Here is what my mom, Hope Thelander, wanted people to know.

Earl and Hope, the early years Earl Thelander and Hope Ewing before they married in 1982. A few months shy of their 25th wedding anniversary, Earl died from burns suffered in a house explosion after copper thieves stripped propane lines from a rural home the couple were renovating and let the home fill with propane gas. Earl and Hope had been working daily at the home  — which formerly belonged to Hope’s parents — and had reported the burglary and gas leak to local authorities earlier that morning. After all officials left the rural residence and Earl returned later that day to install a new water pump and tank, the home exploded when he plugged in a squirrel cage blower to help dry water from the basement floor due to water lines the copper thieves had also cut and stolen.

November 1, 2007

Two months ago today, my husband of nearly 25 years passed away at Clarkson Burn Center in Omaha of burns he suffered from an explosion at my parents’ old home in rural Onawa. Earl and I had purchased the home and had been finishing up work there after one of my daughters and her husband moved out.

Since the accident on August 28, and Earl’s subsequent death four days later, my family and friends have taken all interviews in order to protect my feelings at such a terrible time. There have been several newspaper accounts of that day, and though I am extremely grateful for the media’s help in keeping this investigation in the forefront, as Earl’s wife I feel I need to address some misinformation as to what actually took place.

Earl had turned off the propane at the tank when he first arrived at about 8:30 a.m. He then had me call the sheriff’s office to tell them of the break-in.

Between approximately 10-10:15 a.m., Sheriff Pratt and Officer Joe Farrens arrived to take a statement. At that time Sheriff Pratt, Joe Farrens, Earl and myself, my brother-in-law, Dave Anderson, and my daughter, Kysa Ewing, went through the house opening windows. (We later were told we didn’t have the explosion then because the oxygen level was too low.)

We all came back home to Onawa, having left open all windows and doors to ventilate the house.

At approximately 11:30 a.m., Earl went back to the farm to hook up a new water pump and tank in the basement. Ordinarily, I accompanied him when he was working at the farm, but he insisted it wouldn’t take long and that he would not be too late for lunch.

My nephew, Norman Johnson, arrived at our Onawa home shortly after that, bringing Earl and me some lunch.

Shortly after 12:00, Earl came in the door with his burned shirt hanging around him in shreds. He was badly burned and said the house “exploded” when he plugged in a squirrel cage blower to dry the water on the floor that had leaked after the water lines on the water heater had been cut. (Not to air any remaining propane fumes as has been mistakenly reported in the media.) Norman and I – not the ambulance – took Earl to the hospital where Dr. John Garred Jr. called for life flight to take Earl to the Clarkson Burn Center in Omaha. Dr. Garred explained to us the prognosis of someone Earl’s age surviving the vast scope of the third-degree burns was not good — despite Earl being otherwise quite healthy.

Four days later, after being kept in an induced coma to prevent pain, Earl passed away. At his side to say last goodbyes were his children, stepchildren, grandchildren, and myself.

We have been through anger, frustration, grief, loneliness and disbelief that he is gone, particularly because he was taken away so suddenly and there was so much more he wanted to do with his life. I miss him so much.

I miss the coffee breaks (every 15 minutes).

I miss him watching Bill O’Reilly’s “No Spin Zone” at 7 p.m.

I miss seeing him fill the bird feeders and calling me to see a cardinal whenever they would fly in.

I wanted so badly to have him see that his three puny tomato plants produced literally hundreds of tomatoes.

If there is anything to be thankful about over this, it is that he didn’t have to endure months of painful treatments for his burns. In addition:

I’m thankful he didn’t know I was diagnosed with breast cancer six days after his funeral.

I’m thankful he was able to get out of the basement and drive home to me.

I’m thankful that he woke me up at 4 a.m. August 28 to look at the eclipse of the moon with him in what we didn’t know then had just become our last morning together.

I’m thankful that instead of five children, I have 11 to help me with the things he’d always insisted on doing himself.

Yes, he was a good man, a good friend, and a wonderful husband and father.

We will all miss him, but we will work together to solve this senseless and needless crime.

In Earl’s memory

Respectfully yours,

Hope Thelander

The “H” Word

On October 22, 2007, in Crime, Family, by Jody Ewing

We weren’t supposed to say the word out loud, let alone put it in print.

The surreptitious nature of the secrecy confused me at first, but others were quick to provide reasons why: anyone seeing that word would be less inclined to come forward with new information about the copper theft explosion that killed my stepfather, Earl Thelander. And, even the guilty party’s so-called friends or associates might also be reluctant to get involved and come forward, lest they, too, somehow be held accountable for the information they’d possessed but had chosen to suppress.

So, when I stood in my mother’s kitchen the same day she found out her breast cancer had metastasized and I saw the spiral-bound book lying right there on the table with the H-word written as big as the hole it left in all our hearts, I felt relieved there was someone — albeit the Iowa Department of Justice — willing to call what happened by its real name: Homicide.

“A Guide to Survival: Information for the Family and Friends of Homicide Victims,” it was called.

Homicide. Yes. Exactly. Finally. Did it mean we now could utter the “m” word, too?

Sounds of Silence

On October 8, 2007, in Crime, Family, by Jody Ewing

It’s a strange sort of silence that’s settled over all our lives.

It’s not just the absence of “Dad” Earl. Or the soft tone of his voice. Or even the echo of Mom and Earl’s combined laughter that reverberated through a room in such a finely tuned harmony it sounded more like a symphony.

It’s something akin to a world sitting slightly off its axis, frozen in time, waiting to move once again but wary of doing so lest one squeaky turn unleash a thousand vociferous cries and the chokehold they’ve had around our hearts.

It’s a strange sort of silence that’s settled in tonight, despite today’s laughter as my siblings and I gathered ’round our mother at the hospital as nurses inserted IV lines for Mom’s 9 o’clock mastectomy and others arrived to wish her the very best and said the front desk told them just-follow-the-noise-and-you’ll-find-her-room and Mom kept telling us to hush because after all, this is a hospital and you know how your voices carry and we laughed and told more stories while carefully steering clear of one of the last jokes Earl had made in the very same hospital only one month earlier when Mom brought him in with those third-degree burns and he’d joked about everyone thinking he was “trying to steal the attention away from Mom” since her breast surgery for the biopsy was scheduled for the very next day.

It’s a strange sort of silence that follows fear but has deep roots in hope.

Tonight, I’m listening close to Andy DuFresne … trying to remember, perhaps not perfectly, the words he spoke to ‘Red’ in “The Shawshank Redemption” ….

Remember … hope is a good thing. And no good thing ever dies.

I’ll Remember You

On September 4, 2007, in Family, Videos, by Jody Ewing

[flowplayer src=’https://jodyewing.com/videos-files/ill-remember-you-dad-earl.flv’ splash=’https://jodyewing.com/videos-files/ill-remember-you-dad-earl-splash.jpg’ autoplay=false]

I’ll Remember You, Dad Earl

In big families there is no lack of celebrations.

On February 7, 2007, I had my first opportunity to “film” one of these events with my new Digimax camera (with built-in Movie Clip mode) I’d received for Christmas from my son Bill and his wife Jen. I had no idea what a priceless gift this fruit would bear: the only video footage of my stepfather — “Dad” Earl Thelander — I ever got to take before he died from third-degree burns he sustained when a cowardly burglar exchanged $15 worth of copper propane gas piping for a good man’s life.

This video, however, is intended to celebrate the countless happy times my family and I shared with him…the way I most remember “Dad” Earl.

The event is my sister Kysa’s birthday, held in my 100-year-old home despite kitchen and dining room renovations. That’s the great thing about a large, loving family, as you’ll see; they’ll gather to celebrate a birthday or special occasion, and, in the midst of all the have-more-cake-and-ice-creams and kids and dogs and laughter and love, they’ll somehow overlook the make-shift kitchen counters and yet-to-be refinished hardwood floors poking out beneath a host of mismatched area rugs.

They know what’s important.

Despite my amateurish (and first ever) attempt at video recording, I managed to put together a short movie encompassing the event, and then, later, extracted sections from that for the five-minute clip you’ll find above.

There are no “official” rolling credits, though I hope Grayson Hugh will understand my using here his lyrical and poignant “I’ll Remember You” composition. There simply was no runner-up.

Sort of like Earl.

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