Brad Johnson knew that his son, Noah, was musically gifted. That buoyed Brad and his wife, Melissa, as they sought to give their son — born 15 weeks premature and legally blind — every opportunity. Updated Aug. 30, 2014
“Duets” is an occasional feature that celebrates unique relationships between two people. Gail Rosenblum writes the words, and Jim Gehrz takes the pictures. Send ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 612-673-7350. Please put "Duets" in the subject field.
David, left, accompanies Mike on his delivery route.
You also have to be circumspect about whom to tap when the doctor says you can’t lift more than 15 pounds for a month. Mike knew he needed help to haul milk, ice cream and frozen meat on 50 stops a day, four days a week, in St. Louis Park, Edina and Minneapolis. He knew he needed David Nelson.
“My parents have been served by Mike since before I was born,” says David, a 20-year-old exercise science student at the University of Minnesota Duluth.)
Peggy Mansur works in the admissions office at St. Thomas Academy, where she has been invaluable in assisting Don Kim, a student from South Korea, through many challenges.
As a freshman at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights four years ago, Don Kim dropped by Peggy Mansur’s office three times a week. Or five. Peggy was always happy to see him.
Twin Cities runners Allison Luse and David Munn ran in the Boston Marathon this year.
Allison Luse of St. Paul finished the 2014 Boston Marathon in an impressive 3:29:53. Anyone who knows her running buddy, David Munn of Minneapolis, immediately knew his finishing time, too: 3:29:53.
They began as an 8th-grade reading buddy and a budding kindergarten reader, but as the year wraps up at Carondolet Catholic School, Leni Kuhn and Caroline Monchamp have become far greater buddies.
Leni Kuhn, 5, leaps from her art table, races into the kitchen and presents a drawing to her mother, Hannah. The Crayola artist has drawn two stick figures — one tall, one small. Both have blonde hair, blue eyes and big smiles. Leni doesn’t title her piece. She doesn’t need to.
Shirley Walsh (getting hugs, right) and Betty Stranberg (far left) greet friends and relatives at their “90th-X-2” birthday. The women graduated from high school together in 1942 and are neighbors.
On warm summer days for 20 years, Betty Stranberg has walked out her back door, strolled down the alley, jogged slightly to the left and arrived at the home of Shirley Walsh for coffee and conversation about their favorite topic: grandchildren.
Yoga instructor Matthew Sanford (in wheelchair) conducted a class with students, who included Bruce Kramer (on table). ] (JIM GEHRZ/STAR TRIBUNE) / November 8, 2013, Minnetonka, MN ‚Äì FOR DUETS COLUMN
Chris Henningsen, left, gave part of his liver to former bandmate Aaron Kaercher. The pair recently returned to the U of M Medical Center two weeks after the surgery for a “thank-you” performance.
Friends Bev Atkinson and Piyali Dalal enjoyed each other‚Äôs company while baking together. Atkinson was Dalal‚Äôs adviser in college and the pair have remained friends.
The freshly baked pumpkin pie luring visitors into the sunny kitchen of Bev Atkinson’s northeast Minneapolis home is no ordinary pumpkin pie to Piyali Dalal.
JIM GEHRZ • Star Tribune Friends Betsy Peak (left) and Lisa Marie Borchert volunteer as ushers at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis.
Writer Gail Rosenblum and photographer Jim Gehrz are the people behind Duets.
A little more than seven years ago, Star Tribune staff photographer Jim Gehrz and staff writer Gail Rosenblum walked into a Minneapolis barbershop to launch a feature called Duets. It was the brainchild of Lisa Clausen, the late features design director, who challenged Jim and Gail to capture, in a single photo and short prose, the essence of a friendship between two people. Jim and Gail are still at it. Today, as the popular monthly feature marks its 50th installment, we revisit three Duets pairings — Sophia and Alexander, Pete and Leo, and Leah and Peter — plus a new one, Gail and Jim.
Linda Wicklund (in red) tours the American Swedish Institute with longtime friend, Maiia Zuieva at her side.
Arms locked like teenage BFFs, Maiia Zuieva and Linda Wicklund walk the hallways of Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Academy, where Maiia comes upon something she’s never seen in her native Ukraine. It’s Pajama Day and the students are wearing their comfy best.
Jordan and Aaron
Aaron, 3, reaches for his favorite book, opens it and runs his tiny fingers across a silky square of fabric.
Joey Ziegler, 33, and Pete Muscala, 92, meet for a friendly but competitive game of cribbage at the Our Kitchen diner in south Minneapolis.
Joey Ziegler shakes seasoning salt onto a thick piece of steak, throws it onto a sizzling grill and turns toward the counter to face Pete Muscala. Now Joey’s really feeling the heat.
Best friends Marthe Herbert, left, and Jil Ocel displayed a raccoon named Fingers to a group in Shakopee.
Nancy Cohen works with Brian Walsh on job skills.
Ella, left, and Bella enjoyed an afternoon play date at Bella’s home.
Friends for 47 years, Jane Klein, facing camera, left, and Linda Klein, right, have created a safe and supportive space for women with Stage IV cancer.
Laughter is not what one expects to hear at this gathering of a dozen women seated around a conference table at St. John's Hospital in Maplewood.
Annabelle Dale, 100 (right) and friend Joyce McCarthy have teamed up t...
Glen Lake Elementary School fifth grade teacher Elizabeth Ogren (foreground) and Hannah Swaden (glasses, burnt-orange blouse) worked with students on a project that involved planning a mock city, from the basic layout to housing, commerce and government.
Marilyn Jenkins walks Blossom every morning at 8.
On a recent trip to the skating rink with Kim Deprenger, right, Aga Ayana helps 6-year-old friend Feanan put on his skates before they take a spin.
Judy Nobles, left, and Annie Schmitt.
Every week for nearly three years, Judy Nobles, 70, has wheeled Annie Schmitt , 97, into her St. Paul senior center's lounge for an organ lesson. They make beautiful music together.
Charlotte De Vaughn, 11, and her friend, Carter Holmes, 62.
While training for the World Masters Track & Field Championships four years ago, Carter Holmes, 62, had a massive heart attack, then a stroke. He walks now, largely thanks to 11-year-old Charlotte DeVaughn.
For 30 years, Barbara Galambos, 80, and Margaret Mason, 81, have shared birding adventures. Every Tuesday at 9 a.m., after consulting the birding hot line, the friends drive to area nature centers.
Brooke (right) and Katie Ylitalos.
Katie and Brooke were friends. Then they were sisters. And then the honeymoon was over -- until the Twin Cities girls took a groundbreaking trip to India together.
Mark Zingerman, right, and Dale Hulme
Dale Hulme and Mark Zingerman have been swimming together for 38 years. Their story began when a spiritual drifter found direction with the help of an autistic boy.
Shirley Ungar (left) and Sherley Unger.
Three years ago, Shirley Ungar moved into a second-floor condominium in Falcon Heights, causing quite a stir. That's because Sherley Unger already lived there -- directly above her, one floor up.
Don Morrison, left, and Susan Fritz.
Grocery bagger Don Morrison, 77, brightens everyone's day at the Bloomington Rainbow store, especially that of retired school secretary Sue Fritz, 65.
Aaron and Elijah Blasingame, both 7 and identical twins.
Friends of jazz and each other.
Diane Mosel (left) and Soraida Palacios
Social worker Diane Bias-Mosel and Hispanic outreach coordinator Soraida Palacios form a dynamic duo that has been humming for 16 years at Sibley East Schools in Gaylord, Minn.
Owner Dick Kramer, right, with customer Scott Reeves, at Dick's Sports Barbers in Edina.
Dick Kramer, 64, and Gene Tuftin, 58, are traditional guys, which means you won't find them on Facebook or Twitter. Their social network is called good old-fashioned, customer-is-always-right service at their Edina barbershop.
Cathy Bratter, drumming under the guidance of teacher Al Dworsky.
Bob Dalton and Ann Hinrichs
Fredda Schobey worked for years to help get Genet Habtemicael’s two daughters out of Eritrea.
Fredda Scobey, executive director of the Riverside Plaza Tenants' Association, helped Genet Habtemicael reunite with family in Eritrea -- and found a friend.
Joyce Gustafson and Diana Cumming.
Julie Clemons explains the lost and found area to Hunter Knettel.
Hunter Knettel, 6, had the usual back-to-school jitters in early September, but his fears were eased by a special secret. Hunter's first-grade teacher, Julie Clemons, also taught his father, Chris.
Anne Noonan (left) and Lisa Grant
Anne Noonan still loves to go to her mailbox to get the latest postcard from Lisa Grant, her friend since the women were 3, living one block apart in St. Peter, Minn.
Larry Rolf, Denny Daniels
Muzamil and Sharon.
Brothers David and Michael Gair.
Social worker Sue Johnston and Mike Passig, Plymouth police officer.
Mike Passig is one of 60 trained volunteer first-responders who reach out to peers traumatized by what they see on the job. Passig partners with Sue Johnston, 53, a Minneapolis social worker.
Joyce and Lane: Lessons end, friendship begins
Lane Christianson, 44, was at his childhood elementary school in Maplewood when he saw a name on a classroom door: Mrs. Bell. He wondered, THE Mrs. Bell? He wrote an impromptu note: “I don’t know if you remember me …”
Angie Andersen and Susan Lacek
Angie Andresen was leaving Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis nine years ago when she saw a woman step slowly out of her car. In Susan, she recognized that familiar brand of grief, fresh and raw.
Eleanor and Carol
For 3 1/2 years, Kristina has special-ordered yellow roses for Bill, who comes into the grocery store and picks out his favorite to place on his late wife's grave.
Judy Blaseg and Quentin Moore
When Quentin Moore's mom died of cancer, Judy Blaseg moved into his life. The two have developed a surprising, and especially sweet bond.
Cori Linehan has been a nanny to Amanda Ling since birth.
Yes, she is too old to have a nanny. But Amanda Ling, whose 16th birthday falls on Leap Day, isn't ready to leap into independence just yet. Neither is Cori Linehan.
Stan and June
Stanton Berg guides his wife June's rolling recliner into the chapel of the Benedictine Health Center at Innsbruck in New Brighton for reflection and prayers. He is remembering for both of them now.
3-year-old Alexander and almost-2-year-old Sophia.
3-year-old Alexander and almost-2-year-old Sophia relate to each other, moving through the world less like the siblings they are, and more like one being.
Deeq Shaklane drives veteran Betty Meservey to the Twin Cities.
Student Logan Stelten communicates with special-ed paraprofessional Frank Condon.
Peter Elsham embraces girlfriend Leah Neubeck.
Owen Luterback, 8, chats with Bob Palmehn, 77.
Jack Dean, 60, has worn an MIA/POW bracelet since 1972.
Server Bonnie Jones, 71, and manager Shawn Schmitz, 35.
Leo Odden, 70, cuts the hair of Peter Berglund, 62.