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Happy belated birthday '15 Minutes'

February 17, 2014 - Mike Donahey

Overlooked during Friday's excitement was “15 Minutes” birthday.

The popular weekly Times-Republican column turned five years old while dozens and dozens of flowers and candies were being purchased and bestowed on sweethearts and lovers.

15 Minutes debuted in the Central Iowa Today section on Feb. 14, 2009, a Saturday.

And the column has run in that section and the same space nearly every Saturday since, with all but one or two having been compiled by this writer.

While I have recruited the large majority of subjects, co-workers, family, friends and readers have suggested candidates as well, which has been appreciated.

I must credit the Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin for the column's idea. My better half mentioned that her sister, a Rochester resident, had appeared in a PB column, like 15 Minutes, but with a different name, which drew my attention.

I shared the idea of doing something of like manner in the T-R with then Managing Editor Ken Larson. Larson, to his credit, wanted to know more.

We agreed on a set of questions, set a date, and moved forward.

His successor, Abigal Pelzer, has allowed me to continue, for which I am grateful.

We’ve tweaked the questions over time, but much of it remains as it was five years ago.

I’m estimating we’ve run approximately 257 subjects including Mary Giese of Marshalltown, who took honors as the first subject.

Then, Giese was director of the Arts & Cultural Alliance, a position she still holds. Giese was followed on Feb. 21 by Denise Case, also of Marshalltown, and still a resident. On Feb. 28 was Stacy Loftus.

At the time, she was relatively new in her job as dietitian — also a brand new position to the Marshalltown’s Hy-Vee store. The personable and energetic Loftus moved away sometime later, when her husband took another job.

We’ve featured a wide range of folks — teens, men and women, young, middle aged and seniors, from every county and from many walks of life in our readership area. That includes Hardin, Jasper, Marshall, Story and Tama counties.

And we are still looking for more. It is easy — the question and answer format lends itself be completed or read in 15 minutes or less. To submit a name for consideration, or to participate, contact me at 641-753-6611 or



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