Friday, November 26, 2010

Southern N.J. Crowd Boosts 'Average Girl' To Miss America By Steven V. Cronin and Gail Wilson

Press Of Atlantic City
September 14, 1997

Anyone who wanted to learn about the new Miss America should have been in old convention hall Saturday - it seemed that anyone who has ever met her was there.

A Moorestown resident who is studying theater and sociology at Northwestern University in Illinois, Katherine Shindle had a boisterous crowd of about 300 supporters on hand to watch her capture the rhinestone tiara.

"She loves the theater. She loves to get on stage. She also loves Slurpees," said David Bigge of Delran, a friend of the new Miss America. "She's an average girl that went on to be Miss America. I guess it's everything Miss America stands for," said Allison Baker, who attended high school French classes with Shindle.

Shindle also must have had some supporters among veteran Miss America workers. She lived in Brigantine from ages 3 to 6, and her father Gordon Shindle volunteered to park cars at the pageant for 15 years. Shindle, however, didn't catch the Miss America bug until relatively late. In a home video shown during the pageant, her father said she never mentioned competing in pageants until her senior year in high school.

Shindle graduated from Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken, Camden County. Her friends seemed to have a little trouble coming to grips with her new, lofty status. "It's like her saddle shoes went to golden slippers and her starched shirt went to an evening gown. It's just surreal," said Derek DelRossi, who sang in the school choir with Shindle.

However, Shindle does seem to be the down-to-earth sort. During the pageant telecast, she frequently communicated with the audience through a series of raised eyebrows and other facial expressions. During her inaugural press conference, Shindle was quick to inform the media she prefers the name Kate, and she has no significant other in her life.

Shindle told the press she plans on wasting no time in beginning her year talking about AIDS prevention and education. "I've been really waiting for this all my life," said Shindle, a senior at Northwestern. "I'm excited to have this opportunity and this job. This week is ideal to present my platform," she said.

Shindle said she wants to promote a program of HIV prevention at all grade levels. She wants to talk to young children about AIDS to raise their awareness of the disease while she will discuss AIDS prevention with older students.

Responding to recent news report that AIDS is no longer the top killer of Americans aged 25-44 youth, Shindle said now is not the time to let up on the fight against the deadly disease. "You can either become proactive and take charge, or (relax and) fight your way back the hard way," she said.

Shindle was crowned in a pageant that brought many changes to the annual spectacle at the old convention hall. The biggest change was the Miss America Organization's decision to allow contestants to wear two-piece bathing suits during the swimsuit competition.

The rule change was made after most of the 51 contestants were selected, and most of the contestants elected to stick with the one-piece style that helped them win their state titles. Only 13 of the 51 contestants chose to wear two-pieces, but five of those women - Miss North Carolina Michelle Warren, Miss California Rebekah Keller, Miss Hawaii Erika Kauffman, Shindle and Miss Louisiana Mette Boving - impressed the judges enough to make it into the top 10.

Some of the two-piece suits sparked complaints the pageant wasn't sticking to its promise to allow only modest suits. Moreover, Miss Vermont Jill Cummings made headlines when she announced she not only had a pierced navel, but that she intended to wear a two-piece swimsuit and show off her navel ring during the competition.

While pageant officials have in the past downplayed the swimsuit competition, this year they unapologetically focused on swimwear, first with the rule change and then in a lengthy pageant production number that had the 41 nonfinalist contestants dress and dance in swimwear popular during the nearly eight decades of Miss America competition.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Obituary - Pfister

MICHAEL PFISTER, 66, of Mount Laurel, formerly of Delran, died Sunday at home. Mr. Pfister retired two months ago from Delran High School where he was a teacher and librarian for more than 32 years. He was a member of the Delran, New Jersey and National Education Associations. He was a World War II Navy veteran, serving on the USS Wisconsin. He belonged to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Medford and the American Legion Post in Riverside. Survivors: his wife, Joyce; two sons, Drew Calandrella and Mark Calandrella, both of Santa Rosa, Calif.; a daughter, Verna E. Nelson of St. Louis, Mo.; four grandchildren; a great-grandchild; three brothers and one sister. Services: viewing, 7 to 9 pm tomorrow, and 8 to 9 am Friday, Schetter Funeral Home; 304 W. Route 70, Cherry Hill; Mass of Christian Burial, 10 am Friday, Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, 99 Burnt Mill Rd., Cherry Hill; burial;

Philadelphia Inquirer - Wednesday, Jul 29, 1992

Obituary - Stone

MELINDA R. STONE, 12, of Delran, died Thursday after being struck by a car while crossing Route 130 in Delran. Melinda was a seventh grade student at Delran Middle School. She was a member of the Marcia Hyland Dance Studio in Mount Laurel and the Play Crafters Theatrical Group in Cherry Hill. Survivors: her mother, Rose A. of Delran; her father, Thomas of Tampa, Fla.; a sister, Melissa R., at home; and her paternal grandparents, Thomas of Tampa, Fla., and Joan of Deer Park, NY, and her maternal grandparents, Sebastian and Rose Garcia of Puerto Rico. Services: Mass of Christian Burial, 9:30 am today, St. Casimir's Roman Catholic Church, 502 New Jersey Ave., Riverside. Perinchief Chapels, Mount Holly.

Philadelphia Inquirer - Monday, Nov 2, 1992

Bittersweet Sale Helps Students Remember The Friend They Lost Delran Middle Schoolers Are Raising Money For A Memorial To A Classmate Killed In An Accident In October.

Source: Posted: February 21, 1993

DELRAN — Sweets in memory of a sweet girl.

The friends of Melinda Stone were selling them Wednesday at Delran Middle School just one day after what would have been her 13th birthday. They were hoping to raise enough money to commemorate the name of the bubbly 12-year- old, whose life was tragically ended last fall on Route 130 South.

Late in the afternoon on Oct. 29, Melinda tried to cross the busy road near the entrance of Holy Cross High School. In what Delran police have ruled an accident, she was killed after running in front of a car.

Her numerous friends at the school have yet to completely shake the shock.

The next school day after the accident, they skipped classes to express their pain in group discussions run by middle school nurse Joan Lewis and a high school counselor. That's where the idea of a fund-raising event, which became Wednesday's candy sale, came up.

Then they collected signatures on a petition demanding that a pedestrian overpass be constructed over the crosswalk where Melinda was killed. They presented the petitions to the Township Council on a night when they could have been watching television or playing games.

When the council voted to request a traffic study by the Department of Transportation, they were there again, pleading with the council for action, hugging Melinda's sorrowful mother, Rose Stone, afterward.

Melinda's kindness and good humor have remained positive forces in their lives. They didn't express any angry sentiments Wednesday, not even toward the driver of the car that struck their friend.

Colleen Maher, 13, called it an accident at "a very dangerous crossing."

It was just that the candy sale, held in the school cafeteria during periods five, six and seven, helped rekindled her spirit even more.

"It's just like she was here," 13-year-old Nicole Kowalewski said. ''Sometimes you can close your eyes and she's right here talking to you."

Nicole had opened the one-day sale by announcing to youngsters over an intercom, "Our goal is $75, so please spend your money."

At a table set up between a fruit-juice machine and a slush machine, she and others handled a steady stream of sweet-toothed schoolmates, who paid 25 cents apiece for fruit snacks and Tootsie pops, 10 cents apiece for Twizzlers and five cents each for Sweet Tarts.

Toward the end of the lunch period, they had collected $38.14, which was held in a tightly guarded cigar box.

They talked of purchasing a plaque "so that people will remember her," said Jenna Lipson, 13.

"She was real nice," sixth grader Justin Brooks said. "She was there if you had a problem."

The construction of a pedestrian crosswalk isn't a lost issue in their minds, though it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Department of Transportation.

Lewis said the youngsters were encouraged when area politicians, who received copies of the petition, wrote them letters describing the efforts they were making to arrange a transportation study.

But the purchase of a plaque is a more attainable goal, and the student council has agreed to donate some of the profits from school dances toward it.

The candy sale was just one more piece in a cathartic puzzle that is

helping the youngsters deal with their loss.

For instance, they spoke excitedly of the forthcoming yearbooks. All three will include special sections with pictures of Melinda.

"It's important that they don't forget," Lewis said. "I think it's made their lives more valuable."

Officials Are Asked For Safe Crossing Of Rt. 130 In Delran A Man Who Was Struck While Crossing The Street Spoke. So Did Friends Of A Girl Who Died Crossing It.

Source: Posted: March 26, 1993

DELRAN — Home from working the Alaska oilfields, Delran resident Tom McConaghy was crossing Route 130 on Sept. 1, 1990.

Two weeks later, he would wake up from a coma to the realization his life would never be the same.

Yesterday, speaking in a deliberate, slightly slurred voice, McConaghy, 29, told a panel of state officials that ways must be found to make it safe for pedestrians to cross the busy highway. He went into the coma after he was hit by a pickup truck while crossing near Hartford Road - at least, that's what his mother told him later, he said.

"I'm not here to talk about what happened," McConaghy said. "I have to say, what's more important, money or a human life? . . . The stuff I have to go through is really bad because of this accident."

While McConaghy is alive, 12-year-old Melinda Stone is not. She was run over and killed last year while trying to cross Route 130 South near the entrance to Holy Cross High School.

Delran police ruled it an accident.

The death of the bubbly, likeable girl mobilized her friends into action. They raised money for a memorial and attended township meetings. They gathered nearly 300 signatures on a petition calling for an overpass and presented it to the township council and to State Sen. Brad Smith and Assemblymen Priscilla Anderson and Jose Sosa, all Republicans.

Those efforts were the impetus for yesterday's panel, which listened and answered questions, but made no promises, though officials did pledge to expedite a Department of Transportation study.

"I think it is very, very evident that we would like to act as soon as possible," said State Sen. C. William Haines, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. "We will help in the legislature to do what we have to do."

"I feel we have a very good chance," said Rose Stone, Melinda's mother, after the hearing.

In addition to Haines, the panel consisted of Sosa, Anderson, Smith, P. Norman Deitch, manager of the DOT's Bureau of Traffic Engineering and Safety Programs, Denise Coyle, executive assistant to DOT Commissioner Tom Downs, and Peter Mangoosian, from the Office of Legislative Services.

Deitch said the Department of Transportation had begun studying traffic on Route 130 and hoped to have a study concluded in several months.

Afterward, about 60 students who attended walked back to the Delran Middle School. They had been given permission to attend partly as a civics lesson, but also to continue their efforts in favor of a safe crossing.

As they walked back, there was sobbing and tears, as groups of twos and threes consoled each other.

"I thought it was good," said Lena Farally, one of Stone's best friends, of the hearing. "We have to get a crosswalk."

Deitch rejected the possibility of building an underpass because it could provide a haven for criminals and could not be easily policed. An overpass could cost as much as $1 million, he said.

At the existing crosswalk near where Stone was killed, there is a pedestrian traffic light can be activated from the side of the road.

Delran police said Stone didn't use the signal. According to Dietch, the current setup could not be made safer.

Some students who spoke before the panel found it difficult emotionally.

"I know I'm only a kid, and my opinion doesn't mean much," said Nicole Kowalewski, 13, while Lena Farally put a sensitive arm around her shoulder. ''We loved Melinda Stone very much."

Said Sosa: "I just want to tell you your opinion does count."