ALONG THE WAY: David Dix

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Retired Realtor Bob Meeker, several weeks ago, called to my attention the fact that former Akron area attorney Bedford Biles had died at the age of 92 in late July and we had published nothing about it.

"Go to the website," Bob advised. "I knew he was a World War II hero, but he never said much about all he did."

Belatedly, I followed Bob's good advice and my reaction is the same. I knew Mr. Biles was a genuine World War II hero, but I did not know much he deserved that honorable designation.

He was known to many in the area because his wife, Fay Biles, was vice president for public affairs and development at Kent State University in the 1970s, the first woman vice president of any publicly supported university in the state of Ohio. Fay was very hard-working and one of KSU President Glenn Olds' best appointments.

She and her husband resided in Sugar Bush Knolls. In 1989, Bedford retired from his successful law practice that focused mostly on personal injury cases. The two of them relocated to Marco Island, Fla. There, Fay continued numerous high profile activities, one of which included helping found Florida Gulf State University, which has named her one of its Foundation Fellows.

An unassuming man, Bedford in 1942 was a sophomore playing quarterback for the Duke University football team. He left school his sophomore year to enlist in the U.S. Army. He became a paratrooper in-training at Camp Wheeler in Georgia, after which he trained in demolition at Fort Benning.

Assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, Bedford parachuted into France on D-Day. He was one of 18,000 Allied paratroopers who jumped that day and 12,000 of them became casualties, either killed or wounded.

He was a survivor and after 30 days, Bedford and others in the 101st Airborne earned a short respite back in England. After that, they parachuted into Holland as part of General Montgomery's effort to push into Germany and on to Berlin.The Allied forces in Montgomery's move got bogged down at Arnhem and fought the German army for 73 days during which nearly a third of the Allied forces were lost. This battle was memorialized in the Cornelius Ryan book, "A Bridge Too Far," that was turned into a Hollywood movie.

After a two-week rest in France, the 101st Airborne on Dec. 18, 1944, had to again parachute, this time into Bastogne in Belgium where the Battle of the Bulge was raging. In Bastogne, the Americans were besieged by a much larger German force. Outnumbered 5-1, the Americans held firm and were finally relieved when General Patton's Third Armored Division broke through.

For his valiant service in those and other battles, where he was wounded three times, Bedford Biles received three Purple Heart Medals, the EAMET campaign Medal with four bronze service stars with one bronze service arrow head, the American Defense Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Distinguished United Badge with One Oak Leaf Cluster. A few years ago, in ceremonies at the American cemetery in Normandy, the scene of D-Day, the French government bestowed the French Legion of Honor medal on Bedford.

After World War II, like so many members of what newscaster Tom Brokaw labeled, "The Greatest Generation," Bedford Biles quietly returned home, completed his college education at Duke, which is where he and Fay met, and got on with his life. He obtained his law degree at the University of Akron law school, after having worked for Roadway Express. He then developed his law practice while Fay went on to one success after another in higher education.

He was welcomed back to the University of Akron in 2008 as its Akron Law commencement speaker.

A global perspective

Although he's in his first term, this is actually the second time Joe Bica has served as mayor of Ravenna.

He served for one day back in 1985 during Student Government Day in Ravenna when Joe was a junior at Maplewood Vocational School, where his emphasis was electronics.

Talk about a diverse background!

After Maplewood, Joe graduated from Terra Technical College in Fremont with a degree in Industrial Electricity and Robotics/Integrated Manufacturing. Then, while working, he enrolled in Malone College in North Canton, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business in 2008.

Recently the mayor obtained a Master's in Business Administration through Kent State University's College of Business, where his emphasis was International Business.

Joe and his wife, Dona, have a daughter, Kara, in her second year at the University of Mount Union, who is studying Chinese with a major in National Security and Foreign Intelligence Analysis.

Joe said they've advised their daughter to obtain a law degree.

In business prior to becoming Ravenna mayor, Joe had the good fortune of traveling and doing business in 38 countries during a period of 20 years.

"I hope Kara has the same and better opportunities to see the world and appreciate other cultures as I have," he said.

Gallery Ten looks to holidays

Although it's not without challenges, Gallery Ten, the Kent art gallery featuring the paintings of 10 outstanding area artists hosted by Ron Burbick, is attracting visitors and selling artistic works, Jan Hatch, one of the 10 artists, told me.

"I've sold two of my paintings and others have had sales, too," Jan said.

The 10 artists are planning a holiday Christmas season show with smaller paintings at very attractive prices.

"We'll soon announce the details," she said.

Gallery Ten is located at 138 E. Main St., but is more easily accessed from the back, off Burbick Way.

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