Tom Dorais 1921 - 2003

Tom Dorais, 82, beloved husband, dad, grandpa and friend died on Thursday, August 7, 2003 in Madison, Wisconsin, after a brief illness with cancer.  He was surrounded by his family.

Tom was born January 25, 1921 in Spokane, Washington.  He attended the University of Notre Dame and the University of Detroit.  He married the former Mary Kay Dilworth on September 2, 1944 in Detroit, Michigan.  Tom was a lieutenant in the Marine Corps in World War II and served in the Battle of Okinawa.  He was personnel director for the Pontiac Division of General Motors.  Tom was a longtime and avid Detroit Lions fan.  He was a member of St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Middleton.

Tom is survived by his wife, Mary Kay; children, Susan (Mike) Serafa of Schaumburg, Illinois, Diane Broome of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Tom (Terri) Dorais of Kingston, Arkansas, Nancy (Jim) McDonald of Thousand Oaks, California, Mary Dorais of Tucson, Arizona, Patty Adolphs of Madison, Wisconsin, Bob (Molly) Dorais of Malvern, Pennsylvania, Kathleen (Steve) Klei of Pleasanton, California, and Karen Dorais of Madison, Wisconsin; 28 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.  He was preceded in death by his sons, Jimmy and Chuckie.  He is further survived by a brother, Bill (Helen) Dorais of Wabash, Indiana; and a sister, Joan Robinson of Bozeman, Montana.

A memorial service will be held at St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Middleton, Wisconsin on Monday, August 11 at 10:30 a.m., with Monsignor Douglas Dushack presiding.  There will also be a memorial service at Holy Cross Catholic Church on Beaver Island Thursday, August 14 at 11:00 a.m.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Don and Marilyn Anderson HospiceCare Center.

Tom was a long time summer resident of the island, and much loved.  Always willing to lend a hand, he was a huge help at the island post office during the remodeling of the interior.  He had a ready smile for all.  Although his voice is now silent, his spirit will echo for years to come.  Our sincere sympathy goes to Mary Kay and family.

Between Iraq and a Hard Spot ~ Part Two

With my brother, 1SG Ron Gregg, fresh home from Iraq, I've asked him to tell us about some of his adventures.  What follows is his article for this week along with a photo.  Thanks so much Ron, for sending this and for giving us some insight to the Iraqi people.  Thanks also go to Ann, Tom and Kay who kept the home-fires burning for all the months that he was overseas.

Sheik Ibrihim

Ron and Shiek.jpg (100224 bytes)I first met Ibrihim toward the end of a long day that brought us to his village.  The previous day, my company arrived by helicopter at a village about four miles to the west.  After staying the night there we headed to the village of Talul An Nasir (pronounced “Tull Nah-sir”).  It was a straight shot on a nicely paved road. 

We made good time walking to Talul An Nasir, and arrived some time in the late morning.  Because the children and well-wishers were so aggressive, we found ourselves in desperate need of a compound in which to separate ourselves from them.  It wasn’t that we feared them, but rather we did not wish to put them at risk in the event we drew fire from some hidden enemy.  After circling the town, we discovered an abandoned school.  The local headmaster came to us and unlocked the gate and invited us to take refuge from the crowd within the school.  We didn’t hesitate to accept his offer. 

Our protective gear is very heavy, and can become quite hot while walking around, so the protection of stone walls and buildings was very welcome.  It gave the men a chance to take their gear off and cool down a bit.

I guess we were there about an hour when the Headmaster returned with this gentleman in his forties or early fifties, sporting the full traditional attire of a sheik.  Really, the only way to really differentiate the sheiks is the gold trim on the fringes of their robes.  I won’t even pretend to remember all of his names, but Ibrihim was what he answered to.  He spoke broken but passable English, and we were able to learn that his grandfather founded the town many years ago.  He was now the mayor or Mucktar of Talul An Nasir.  He also explained that the people here were poor, and that most of the crops grown here were whisked off to Baghdad, with little or none left for those who tended and harvested them.  Most of the people here belonged to a tribe that had fallen out of favor with Saddam in the wake of a failed coups a few years ago, and they have suffered ever since.  With broken English and a modified game of Pictionary on a chalkboard, we were able to establish that the Americans would be here to assist in a variety of ways like getting the schools repaired and the crops harvested for the people.

That afternoon was the first of many meetings.  A few days later we set up our company command post not far from this school.  Once that was established, Ibrihim visited twice daily.  As time went by, he and I became good friends.  His generosity and humor combined with his absolute dedication to the people of his village was admirable.  As a mayor, he received no income.  He was and still is a poor man.  What he has, is given him by those in the village who can provide it.  Even with that, he provides shelter and food for those in need.  He even provides for those who seek assistance from far away villages.

I learned that his surname is Nassir, hence the name of the village.  Also, in English Talul An Nasir means “The Hills of Nasir”.  Talul An Nasir overlooks the western bank of the Tigris.  Between the town and the river is some of the most beautiful bottom land in the region. 

Although he fed me more cigarettes than I care to remember smoking, I enjoyed every minute of conversation with this fine gentleman.  It was good to see some of our small successes take place in Talul An Nasir like rebuilding the Medical Clinic and repairing both schools. 

Of course no good deed goes unpunished…a few short weeks ago the sulfur mine just north of Talul An Nasir caught fire.  U.S. and Iraqi firefighters have been working around the clock to extinguish it, but it’s been an arduous task with no short-term solution.  Mishraq Sulfur Mine had nearly two million tons of pure sulfur stored on the grounds.  Additionally, Mishraq is an open-pit mine so the very pure, exposed ore also ignited.  The result was an enormous gas cloud that swept through the neighboring villages, and reached cities 50 miles away.  The gas is very uncomfortable to breath, and killed all plant life after minimum exposure.  We were able to evacuate many of the people of the villages to a make-shift shelter, but even that became engulfed at one point.  To the local folks, like Sheik Ibrihim, this is just another hardship.  Many of them remember a similar fire 20 years ago.  Through our efforts there were very few casualties.  Even so, it was heartbreaking to see these people continue to suffer.

I said goodbye to Ibrihim on a day that the wind was keeping the smoke out of Talul An Nasir.  I hated to leave, not knowing how he and his people would fare.  It is one thing to help folks through the issues they face, it is quite another to leave them in the midst of hard times.  I take heart in the fact that Ibrihim will never lose his faith or devotion to his people in spite of all he’s lived through.  It was extremely difficult saying goodbye to such a great man.  He wept and embraced me just before I departed, and I was honored that he considered me a friend.   He is just one of the many Iraqi people that give me hope for a potentially great nation.  I’ll never forget him.

I was unable to attend last night's meeting of the BIRHC and have heard nothing from the board to print in the Beaver Island News on the 'Net.  The Concerned Citizens Group was kind enough to provide me with their summary notes from the meeting, which it seems was not entirely accurate about this particular meeting.  Therefore I have removed it and just left links to other info.  From now on I will only accept minutes from the organization who holds the meetings and not from others.

Next scheduled meeting of the BIRHC Board is August 19th at 7:00 p.m.  Write it on your calendar.

Links to information from the Concerned Citizens Group

NOTE: The BIRHC is welcome to submit any information they desire to this website.  Individuals wishing to make comments may do so on the Forum.  All Forum comments must be signed or they will be deleted.

This Weeks' Pictorial View of the New Rural Health Center

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From Squirrel Wars to Chipmunk Battles

Some of you may remember the Squirrel Wars from a previous News on the 'Net.  It seems that Phil Gregg has down-sized for 2003 and has entered the Chipmunk Battle.  With his bird feeders temporarily safe from the squirrels the tiny chipmunks were out of luck because if the larger furry critters couldn't get to the food, they probably couldn't either.  However, one day there appeared on the horizon a new breed... Super Chipmunk, who by climbing the stone chimney was able to take a flying leap that included some creative body twisting and land head-first into the sunflower feeder.  Needless to say, the Red-wing Blackbirds, Grackles, and Jays weren't too pleased and didn't give the enterprising chipmunk a score of 10, but they have learned to simply ignore him.  Phil says that there won't be any problem IF the amount of feed doesn't go down too fast.  In the meantime, the squirrels have been taking note and have discovered that if they stand on the reel for the garden hose they can come pretty darn close to those delicious seeds.  We can't help wondering who will win these skirmishes, the critters or Phil.

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