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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Know Your Neighbors

29 Nov 2017
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He’s a champion wrestler, a medal-winning runner and a concert pianist. One other thing about Mike Zorick: He’s blind. Zorick, 70, has been an Indio resident since 1980, and has overcome obstacles that would surely have stopped others. Shortly after his premature birth, in Hartford, Conn., a medical technique used at that time led to an overdose of oxygen and left him blind. Zorick’s parents, wanting him to escape discrimination, sacrificed and saved to afford him the best possible opportunities to overcome his disability. “People would look at my eyes and see nothing else,” he recalls. He was educated at Oak Hill School for the Blind through high school. In the fifth-grade, Mike began wrestling. “I was kind of forced into it by the recreation coach,” Zorick says. “He said, ‘If you don’t wrestle, you can’t come to PE anymore.’ I ended up beating an undefeated champ and won the…
15 Nov 2017
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Cathedral City’s Lynne O’Neill has been in the Coachella Valley for only a year and a half—but in that small amount of time, she has already made a large difference. Born in New York, the middle child in a family with four brothers, O’Neill moved here from New Jersey, where she practiced family law. A graduate of Springfield College in rehabilitative counseling, she also had a stint with an all-girl band, Lilith. O’Neill, 63, came out as gay two years after the Stonewall riots in 1969. “I spent the 1970s driving around talking about politics,” she says. “Then I was in an auto accident and broke my back. I knew I would never be a rock star. My dad was a lawyer, and he wanted me to go into law. I was third in my class in my first year and became editor of the law review. I was lucky…
01 Nov 2017
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Why is a standup comedian pawing through boxes of old family letters—and being so serious as he does it? Why does his wife say she’s the funny one in the family? And how do two Los Angelenos adjust to living in the desert full time? Meet Tom and Casi Parks. Tom Parks, 67, was born in Washington, D.C. The eldest of three kids, he went to grade school in South Carolina and high school in New York before spending time in Texas, and ending up in Los Angeles. He studied journalism at the University of Florida—and before long was hosting Not Necessarily the News on HBO. “To my mom,” he laughs, “doing comedy about the news was doing the news, so I hadn’t totally wasted my education.” How did Tom end up with a career in comedy? “My mom loved broad slapstick. She roared when my brother hit me in…
18 Oct 2017
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Pamela Kershaw Cole is one of those rare people who always seem to be in a good mood. Every encounter I have with her leaves me smiling. One of the reasons for her infectious mood is her husband, Chet. “He first asked me (to marry him) when I was only 44,” says Cole with a laugh, “but I thought I was too young!” Now, after six years together—almost five married—they have matching tattoos, his on his arm, and hers on her back, commemorating their wedding date: 12/12/12. Cole was born in San Francisco in the “Summer of Love,” 1967. After some moves, she began eighth-grade in the Coachella Valley, graduated from Palm Springs High School, and currently lives in Cathedral City. Cole graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, with a degree in education; received her master’s degree in education administration from Azusa Pacific University; and earned her doctorate in…
04 Oct 2017
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Ron Celona got bitten by the acting bug in the first grade. “I played a spider in Little Miss Muffet … and refused to take off my costume afterward,” he says. “I walked all the way home from school in my spider costume, and have been on the stage ever since.” Celona, 59, the founding artistic director of the Coachella Valley Repertory theater company, is a Rancho Mirage resident, along with his husband and partner of 32 years. Celona was born and raised in Philadelphia. He and his older sister lost their mom when Ron was just 7. “My father was a tenor-sax player,” he recalls, “and although he gave up his career to have a family, he always encouraged me to follow my dreams.” Celona’s professional career began when he was in the sixth-grade, after he had already performed in many theater projects at school and at his local…
20 Sep 2017
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The Coachella Valley is a place where retired celebrities, in some ways, are taken for granted. Among us are retired movie and television stars, business tycoons, writers, NASA scientists and sports professionals—including Shirley Spork, one of the 13 original founding members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), and a renowned sports-education professional. Spork, 90, is a long-time resident of Palm Desert. The red-haired girl from a working-class family would go on to, through personal determination, break ground and help make a lasting contribution for women in a sport that had never been friendly to females. Spork was born and raised in Detroit, the only child of parents who did not play golf. At one point in her early childhood, the family lived next to a golf course. “There was nothing much to do in the neighborhood,” she says. “I saw the boys caddying, but I wanted to play the…
06 Sep 2017
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Dana Saks was born in Palm Springs, and raised in Cathedral City, where she graduated high school. “I’ve always loved the desert,” says Dana, now 37, and always upbeat and vivacious. “There’s something about it. It’s quiet here. My soul is at peace here, in a way that it isn’t anywhere else.” I first met her at a pro-choice rally when she was 14. She wanted to make a difference, even at that young age. “Politics and activism were always discussed in my house,” she recalls. “My cousin, Anita Richmond, was very active in local politics, serving on the Rancho Mirage City Council. My mom was pretty liberal in her attitudes, my dad less so, so we used to have lively discussions whenever the family got together. “I guess I had an innate sense of justice, and I didn’t like it when things were unjust. My first letter to the…
23 Aug 2017
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Photographer Arthur Coleman has lived in the Coachella Valley for more than 50 years, and his stunning work is known throughout the area and the world. He’s also known for helping develop the tantalizing dining section of Palm Springs Life. “This is the place with the best light in the world,” he says. “I call it ‘sweet light.’” Born in Seattle, Coleman—he prefers not to disclose his age (“The number is too big now!” he says)—had what he calls “an interesting childhood,” albeit a good one. Coleman’s father ran a hotel, while his mother was “a true housewife.” “She was involved in Scouts, coaching, everything I did,” he recalls. “She was charismatic and knockdown beautiful—kind of Betty Boop beautiful. My dad worked nights, so (my younger brother and I) got him during the day. “You know, I’ve had all these people in my life with horrendous childhoods. Not me. If…
09 Aug 2017
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Rose Mallett is known for her singular voice, her striking appearance, and her frequent appearances in local clubs and theaters. The Moreno Valley resident has entertained throughout Southern California, in Las Vegas, and onscreen, and she can be seen locally at both Woody’s and the Purple Room in Palm Springs, and will be at Vicky’s of Santa Fe in Indian Wells once season begins again. Born and raised in Chicago, Mallett, 70, knew from a very young age that she could sing—although there was concern that she would make it at all, after she was born two months premature. She weighed just 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Her parents owned a tavern in Chicago, so Mallett grew up around music. “Music just filtered in,” she says. “I first got interested in the stage from watching puppet shows when I was young. I started singing in the fourth-grade in the school chorus,…
26 Jul 2017
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They say you should write about what you know—and I know that as I age, a lot of my friends are beginning to worry that they have Alzheimer’s disease. A few of my friends have talked to their doctor about their fears, or taken a test. Two friends have been diagnosed; they are being treated and so far have not lost control of their lives. I can relate. I’ve given up on remembering names, constantly make lists, forget the word I’m looking for in the middle of a sentence, and occasionally can’t find things that I always keep in the same place. Memory lapses can be both aggravating and frustrating—but they may only be due to the overwhelming amount of information that is being taken in by an aging brain, and not a brain disease. Some people I know assume the inevitable because of a family history: a grandparent, father,…

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