» Obituaries this week for comedian Phyllis Diller mentioned that she often referred on stage to her dressmaker, “Omar of Omaha.”
It sounded like a gag name, but her seamstress, Gloria Johnson, actually was from Omaha. The pair met at a New Year's Eve party when Phyllis was in town for a show, and they hit it off.
Before that, according to a 1970 World-Herald article, Gloria had made a dress for a large woman and quipped to friends: “I feel like Omar the tent-maker.”
Gloria had sewn costumes for local theater in Omaha. For five years after the chance meeting, she mailed dresses to Diller — in a style the comic called “frilly-dilly.” She made some “worst-dressed” lists, but zaniness was her whole point.
The Omahan then moved to Los Angeles and, with Diller, started a line of clothing called — what else? — Omar of Omaha.
» Vicki Nixon of Denison, Iowa, gamely tells her “pitiful tale,” in which she slept through a visit last week by the president of the United States.
President Barack Obama landed at Offutt Air Force Base on Aug. 15 before starting an Iowa campaign swing in Council Bluffs. His bus then traveled up Highway 30 to Denison, stopping at Summer Magic Tropical Sno for a treat — flavored shaved-ice.
It's called “Hawaiian ice,” and the native of the Aloha State autographed his order form with a note: “Great shaved ice, as good as Hawaii.”
Earlier, Vicki, whose husband, Drexel, is a Denison dentist, had taken a break from housework to read. She fell asleep but was awakened by cheers outside.
She looked out and saw cars, buses and emergency vehicles in front of her home. As she stepped outside, the crowd was leaving and she asked people what was going on.
“They looked at me with wonder, as if I had just landed from another planet,” she said. “They told me the president had just spent the last 30 minutes shaking hands and parked in front of my house. I missed the whole thing!”
In her 54 years, she said, “I can honestly say I have not had one regret — until that darned day.”
» Rent.com has named Omaha one of the top 10 metropolitan areas to raise children. The website included cost of living, crime rate and graduation rate, but didn't rank the Top 10 in order.
“Outstanding public schools, a consistently low crime rate and a lower cost of living make Omaha a great city, especially for parents valuing education,” the website said. “With many museums and performing arts, the Old Market historic neighborhood and the Heartland of America Park, Omaha will keep your kids engaged.”
Also on the list: Austin and Dallas, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and San Diego and San Jose, Calif.
» The first team from Nebraska to play in the Little League World Series was met upon arrival last week by an older gentleman in a University of Nebraska jacket.
He is Creighton J. Hale, 88, retired president and chief executive officer of Little League, and a native of Hardy, Neb. He is known for developing the batting helmet worn at all levels of baseball. He was an associate professor of physiology, with a Ph.D. from New York University.
According to the Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot News, Hale told the players, from Kearney, Neb., he could not openly root for them because he still sits on the Little League board of directors. But his Husker jacket showed where his heart was.
» Mike Miller, who played keyboards with widely known musicians, has died in Las Vegas from pancreatic cancer. He was 56.
His sister, Mary Pat Flanagan of Omaha, said Mike was very talented but never wanted the spotlight. “He was a kind and gentle soul,” she said, “with a wonderful smile and a dry sense of humor.”
Survivors include his wife, Bea, sons Shalen and Michael; and his mother in Omaha, Marnie Miller. A memorial service is set for 10 a.m. next Saturday at St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Omaha.
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