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Paul Rolly: Teacher saves a life in Delta

Published September 17, 2008 12:06 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Delta High School football coach Russ Henrie was teaching boys' health Tuesday morning when a woman suddenly burst into his classroom and said an elderly gentleman was having a heart attack across the street.

Henrie, who has taught the fundamentals of CPR and first aid in his health classes, told a student to get the defibrillator kept in the school's front office, then ran to the yard across the street where the man had collapsed while trimming his trees.

Henrie performed CPR until the student arrived with the defibrillator, which he used to restart the man's heart. The victim was then rushed to the Delta hospital, where he regained consciousness.

Meanwhile in Delta: The school celebrated its homecoming last week, culminating in the football game Friday night against South Summit.

But the game itself became, at least for a while, an afterthought.

During the traditional homecoming ceremonies at halftime, the crowd in the small western Utah town rose as one and burst into a loud ovation when the names of the homecoming king and queen were announced.

Both winners, elected by their peers, are special-needs students.

Vice Principal Teresa Thompson said the king, Jared Nell, and the queen, Tess Greathouse, won by large margins - among the largest in school history. When they were brought before the student body and much of the town, a witness said there were few dry eyes in the stadium.

Delta, by the way, won the game, 17-0.

Hidden treasurers: A small group of "community organizers" (with apologies to Rudy Giuliani) today celebrate the 100th anniversary of a Salt Lake City service organization whose work shares a heroic quality and odd anonymity with its namesake.

Not many Utahns know of the Andrew S. Rowan Reading Room for the Blind. But then, not many modern-day Americans know about the man, since President Theodore Roosevelt - not Rowan - is most associated with the little-remembered Spanish American War.

But Rowan was immortalized in the essay "A Letter to Garcia" by the turn-of-the-century columnist and magazine publisher Elbert Hubbard, whose story about Rowan's heroics sold millions of copies and was translated into more than 40 languages.

Lt. Rowan was given an assignment by President William McKinley to deliver a letter to "Garcia," a leader of the Cuban insurgents hiding in the jungles of Cuba. The goal was to get the insurgents into an alliance with the Americans against the Spanish occupiers.

Hubbard's point was that Rowan didn't ask how he was to find a rebel hiding in the jungle; he just did it.

That same spirit was magnified in 1908, when Rowan was stationed as a colonel at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City and his wife, Josephine, started a reading room for the blind at the Salt Lake City Library.

It may be the longest-running uninterrupted service project in the city's history. Thousands of visually impaired people have come for readings, to learn Braille and enjoy books in Braille and, later, use Braille-style typewriters.

It also has become a social club for the visually impaired, where they come three days a week for food, entertainment and company. Throughout the century, volunteers have kept the project going.

The celebration will be at the Cottonwood Country Club from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

prolly@sltrib.com