Kelly: Mother's star status carried on by twins - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 2:57 pm
Kelly: Mother's star status carried on by twins

The mother of adult twins who live in Omaha died this week in New York, where she lived her entire life as a celebrity.

Ever since her days as a child star, her many fans have known her as “Pattycake.” Indeed, from the day she was born, the New York Times said, “she earned a superstar's distinction.”

When she was injured as a youngster, it became “one of the best-known broken arms in history. The public hung on every ensuing development.”

Over her life, Pattycake drew millions of admirers. On one birthday, news coverage told of her banana layer birthday cake. Two books were written about her.

The twins were born in New York on Aug. 8, 1994, and have lived in Omaha since 2001.

They have grown big and strong — Tombo weighs 394 and Ngoma 384. You can see them at Hubbard Gorilla Valley at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.

Pattycake, the first gorilla born in New York City and long one of the Big Apple's most acclaimed tourist attractions, died Sunday at the Bronx Zoo, apparently from natural causes. She was 40.

A woman named for the northwest Nebraska town of Chadron has never visited her namesake city but plans to do so this summer.

Her name is Shadron Henery, and she lives in Neligh, 288 miles east of Chadron.

“My dad named me after the town,” she said, “but changed the first letter.”

Her children have promised to make the visit happen. It's about a 4-hour drive west on Highway 20 from northeast Nebraska to the beautiful Pine Ridge area.

Though spelled differently, her name is pronounced the same as the town — Shadd-r'n.

In her 70 years, she has never met anyone else with her name. Friends and relatives, though, know her by her long-vowel nickname — Shady.

Shady, a very nice lady, seeks no fanfare. “I just want to see the town I was named after.”

Omaha native and Central High grad Harry Friedman has received another honor: entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

His record is most Emmy Awards —11 — and most Emmy nominations — 37 — for a game-show producer. He is executive producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune.”

I called Harry in Los Angeles after learning of the honor from his sister, Felicia Schrier of Omaha. He noted that “Wheel” hostess Vanna White also is in the Guinness Book — as the world's most frequent clapper.

“Vanna had been in the book before, and Guinness decided to update it,” Harry said. “It's surprisingly rigorous. They asked for copies of episodes, counted the number of times she clapped and extrapolated it based on her 5,800 episodes. It's something like 3.5 million claps.”

Jack Benedick, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran who lost the lower parts of his legs when he stepped on a land mine but later became a noted snow skier, died recently in Denver. He was 70.

A 1960 alum of South High, he graduated from Omaha University, where he was a varsity wrestler. He suffered his leg injuries during his second tour of Vietnam, in April 1968.

Benedick received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Valor and other awards, including the Cross of Gallantry. After recuperating, he took up amputee skiing and eventually became director of the U.S. disabled ski team.

Paul Kracher of the South High Alumni Association said Jack was inducted last fall in Omaha as a Packer Sports Great. Also inducted at that ceremony was Emil “Bud” Gember of Omaha, a six-sport athlete at South in the 1930s.

Bud, who served in World War II and the Korean War before working 27 years for the Metropolitan Utilities District, died in December at 96.

Once a sorority sister, always a sorority sister — even at 103.

Alpha Delta Pi on Tuesday celebrated the birthday of Mildred Moss of Papillion, who joined the sorority at Boston University in 1929. Sorority sisters from four collegiate chapters in eastern Nebraska delivered gifts, photographs and more than 175 birthday cards from sisters in 25 states, Canada and Italy.

A former physical education teacher at a YMCA in Massachusetts, Mildred retired to Florida before moving to Nebraska to be close to family.

Said Cathy Born Kuhl of the sorority's Eastern Nebraska Alumnae Association: “Mildred has a magnetic personality that radiates zest for life.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1132, michael.kelly@owh.com

Contact the writer: Michael Kelly

mike.kelly@owh.com    |   402-444-1000

Mike writes three columns a week on a variety of topics.

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