Street Talk: A lasting legacy


A lot of memories can be packed into a century of living.

Ralph Hauenstein, who passed away last week at the age of 103, will be remembered by members of the Grand Rapids community as a WWII veteran, visionary entrepreneur, leader and philanthropist.

Hauenstein began his career in journalism as the city editor of the Grand Rapids Herald before serving his country during WWII as a colonel and chief of the Intelligence Branch in the Army’s European Theater operations under General Dwight Eisenhower.

He went on to have a successful business career after establishing the Tri-Continental Trading Company in New York City, and then as the owner of the Grand Rapids-based food equipment manufacturer known as Werner Lehara.

As a philanthropist, Hauenstein benefitted a number of organizations and initiatives, spanning both the local Grand Rapids community and beyond national borders.

He was a founding board member of the Van Andel Institute, supported Aquinas College and the construction of the Grace Hauenstein Library, helped establish the Mercy Health Hauenstein Neuroscience Center at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, and provided funding to create the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.

Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies and personal friend and colleague, said Hauenstein’s life of leadership and service is the inspiration for everything the center does.

“He was an effective, ethical leader in every endeavor he undertook. In an age that fixates on celebrity, he was a true hero, the real deal. He always stressed ethics, integrity and service to others,” said Whitney. “He was a dear friend and we will miss our mentor deeply.”

Thomas J. Haas, president of GVSU, said Hauenstein was an extraordinary individual.

“He was a man of great honor, great integrity and all who knew him feel it was a privilege,” said Haas. “His presence in our lives and in this community will be sorely missed.”

The funeral Mass and military honors for Hauenstein took place Jan. 15 at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew.

Rev.David J. Walkowiak, bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, said Hauenstein had a profound impact on the Catholic Church both locally and internationally.

“Hauenstein is an inspiration to us all as someone who lived and practiced his Catholic faith,” said Walkowiak. “He will truly be missed.”

“If you are going to be a leader, if you are going to serve your community and your country, then you must not be timid or resigned to come-what-may,” said Hauenstein upon receiving an honorary doctorate from GVSU in 2004. “You must take the future into your own hands, to the extent that you are able. You must work to turn the odds in your favor. What is needed are courageous, visionary leaders.”

Sing for your supper

A local restaurateur is getting into the music business.

Tommy Brann, president of Brann’s Steakhouse & Sports Grill, recently wrote “Risk,” which is described as “a song about a single mother who takes a risk and opens her own restaurant.”

“I’ve been working hard all my life. I can only imagine what it would be like working long hours and come home to do more work for your children, by yourself,” Brann said.

Brann enlisted local singer Tara Bond to record the song, which was engineered using Vibrance Audio and composed by The Outlaw Legion, of Grand Rapids, which consists of Bond and composer John Kavanagh.

Bond said she found it easy to record Brann’s song because she could relate based on her own struggles.

Bond recently left a secure job in finance saying she “felt like God had something more in store” for her.

She said the opportunity to record “Risk” has helped her to find her voice.

Bond began singing in the West Michigan Academy of Music for Girls and St. Cecilia’s society. She also participated in open mics and joined a cover band.

The song and album, which also includes an acoustic version of “Risk,” will be released on Feb. 8 during a VIP pre-release party being held at Brann’s restaurant on South Division Avenue from 5-7 p.m.

Brann seems to be dipping into his creative side a lot lately. He also recently wrote a book, “Mind Your Own Business,” detailing the ups and downs of small business ownership.

Gaggle of giggle

Gilda’s LaughFest has added a gaggle of new comedians and funny people for this year’s festival, which runs March 10-20 in venues across the city.

David Cross, who Comedy Central named as one of the Top 100 Stand-Up Comedians of All Time, will be appearing March 18 at Fountain Street Church. Cross, an Emmy winner and Grammy nominee, is known for his role as Tobias on the critically acclaimed television series “Arrested Development,” as well as his sketch collaborations with Bob Odenkirk for HBO’s “Mr. Show With Bob and David” and Netflix’s recent show “W/ Bob & David.”

Fans of Miranda Sings, the Internet character known for her big red lips, will be excited to know she’ll be appearing March 19 at Fountain Street Church. This will be her second appearance at LaughFest after her sellout show last year. The character, which has more than 60 million viewers on YouTube, is portrayed by American comedienne Colleen Evans.

New performers also include Hasan Minhaj, best known as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” and Michael Palascak, who finished in the top five of last season’s “Last Comic Standing.” Minhaj will perform 10:30 p.m., March 11, at Wealthy Theatre, and Palascak, who’s performed on a variety of late night shows, will perform on March 18 at Grand Volute in Lowell.

Story hour

The voice of The Grand Rapids Press has landed on his feet.

Tom Rademacher — who endeared himself to readers as a nationally acclaimed columnist for the better part of his 37 years there — has joined Sabo PR as lead storyteller.

“For nearly four decades, West Michigan has entrusted Tom Rademacher to tell its most captivating stories,” said Mary Ann Sabo, president of Sabo PR. “Tom has cultivated an impressive following of readers who have come to depend on his writing and his integrity. It’s no wonder he’s been honored an unprecedented three times with first place awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.”

Rademacher brings a wealth of experience to the SPR team, carved from a lifelong career of sharing the stories of everyday people both struggling and soaring. Since accepting a voluntary buyout from the newspaper in 2009, he’s performed freelance work for clients whose storytelling needs have taken him as close as around the corner and as far away as Africa.

“I’m honored and humbled to serve SPR and the clients that its founder, Mary Ann Sabo, has cultivated over the last 13 years,” Rademacher said. “I’m eager to write stories about people and organizations that exist to make a difference, and the subtle and profound ways they contribute to the common good.”

“His decision to join our team only strengthens our ability to convey our clients’ messages to a community hungry to explore the ways in which we’re all connected,” said Sabo, who also was an acclaimed writer for the Press. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the stories we have to share.”

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