Cruise Brings Amazing Encounter

When Rachel Sincavich of Wheeling went on an Alaskan cruise this summer, an encounter that began as a potential local coincidence turned quickly into an amazing encounter with an internationally known figure.

One day during the cruise, Sincavich and her niece, Mary Martin of Charlotte, N.C., joined their fellow passengers in debarking from the cruise ship and heading onto seven-passenger vans for a private wilderness excursion.

After Sincavich had settled into a seat on the van, a man wearing a ballcap and a woman entered the van, and the man sat next to the Wheeling traveler. The man looked vaguely familiar, and Sincavich thought he resembled Bridgeport Mayor John Callarik. Intrigued by the possible coincidence of running into someone else from the Ohio Valley in the wilds of Alaska, she asked the man, “Is your name John?”

“No,” the man replied, then asked, “Who’s John?” Sincavich explained that “John” was John Callarik, the mayor of Bridgeport, Ohio. Emboldened, she asked the man what his name was. “Don,” he replied.

Moments later, Sincavich was startled when other passengers on the van asked the gentleman in question, “Can we take your picture, Mr. Rumsfeld?”

Immediately, the Wheeling woman realized that the man whom she had mistaken for John Callarik actually was Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense in the administrations of Gerald Ford and George W. Bush. Sincavich, who was “very embarrassed,” apologized profusely to Rumsfeld for confusing the two-time Secretary of Defense with the mayor of Bridgeport, Ohio. Rumsfeld was very gracious in accepting the apology and even posed for a photograph with Sincavich when they got off the van at their destination. “He was very nice,” she said.

Sincavich said Rumsfeld and his wife were “just like ordinary” tourists in the group. “They were so gracious and nice,” Sincavich remarked.

You can see for yourself in the accompanying photograph how “ordinary” the former Secretary of Defense looked as he and the Wheeling tourist posed for the camera. “It’s my only brush with celebrity,” Sincavich quipped.

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It’s not too late to enter the Marti Wood Stephan Ovarian Cancer Awareness 5K Run/Walk that begins at 3 p.m. today, Sept. 18, at Bridge Street Middle School in Wheeling.

The non-competitive, fun run and walk is designed to bring awareness to ovarian cancer, a disease that Marti Wood Stephan, a dedicated Wheeling runner, is battling. Stephan, who has competed in several Ogden races and the Boston Marathon, is a true trouper and an inspiration to many runners, both women and men.

There is no race fee, but organizers ask that participants in today’s event make a donation. They said that 100 percent of the entry proceeds will go to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.

The race begins and ends at the middle school, located at 19 Junior Ave. in the Elm Grove section of the city.

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No doubt area fans will be streaming to bookstores when Glen Dale native Brad Paisley’s first book, “Diary of a Player,” is released on Nov. 1.

Paisley, the current Country Music Association entertainer of the year, salutes “the guitar gods” in the book, being published by Howard Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster.

Publicists for the publisher noted that Paisley, at age 8, received his first guitar from his grandfather. By 12, Paisley had written his first song and, a year later, had begun opening performances for country stars at the Jamboree.

“It is a love letter to the guitar,” Jonathan Merkh, Howard Books vice president and publisher, said in a news release. “The book pays homage to an instrument that Paisley realized was his only real constant no matter how he changed and evolved.”

When life gets intense, Paisley said in the same release, “There are some people who drink, who seek counseling, eat, or watch TV, cry, sleep, and so on. I play.”

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: