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Feature Story

Who are des moines’ most likeable people?

12/5/2018

Eight men and eight women selected for social networking contest and charity event.

“Mirror, mirror of Des Moines, who is the most likeable central Iowan of them all?” For the third straight year, this was the question CITYVIEW asked its readers as it set out to determine the most likeable man and woman in our area.

Central Iowa boasts more than a half of a million fairly decent people. We are, after all, located in the heart of the state known for being, “Iowa Nice.” So when the contest was announced, it came as no surprise that the nominations came in fast and furious. Some were public figures, some were celebrities, and others were ordinary citizens.

During the ensuing days, weeks and months, thousands of likes were tracked via our Facebook page, and the following eight likeable guys and eight likeable gals were left standing.

Sixteen finalists. Sixteen charities. One night only. Each likeable finalist has selected a cause close to his or her heart, and now each vote garnered will be backed by a $1 donation to that person’s chosen charity.

Attend the final Most Likeable People Party on Friday, Dec. 14, from 6-9 p.m. at Decades Event Center in West Des Moines to vote, assist charitable endeavors and to witness the crowning of the next… Des Moines’ Most Likeable People.

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The final 16 contestants are…

Tricia Rivas

1. Occupation? Hairstylist/Salon Owner

2. City where you live? Southside of Des Moines

3. Who are you? A woman with a vision that cusses like a sailor. Loyal beyond belief. Lover of life. Wife, mom, daughter, aunt, sister, friend and caregiver. Lover of Jesus. Animal lover.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? Camp, travel and shop local boutiques.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Ranch-flavored Corn Nuts and Orange Crush pop

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “Live the life you’ve imagined.” — Henry David Thoreau

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? Flying cars

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “She is a Maniac” by Flashdance

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? The Dream Catcher’s Foundation Inc. We provide complimentary salon services to terminal and chronically ill men, women, children and their caregivers. After volunteering with Hospice, we knew there a was a need for these types of services. The looks on our recipients’ faces after they’ve received something as simple as a haircut is remarkable. You don’t ever forget what that face and feeling looks like.

Gail McGaughy

1. Occupation? Physical Therapist at On With Life — Human Resources Manager for Baldor Industrial Solutions.

2. City where you live? Johnston

3. Who are you? Sassy, fun-loving, energetic wife to one, friend of many, and a mother of two teenage boys who is striving to do the right thing and leave a little mark on this earth.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? Exercise, read, travel and drink wine with hubby and friends.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Hands down… REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUPS.

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “Go BIG or Go HOME!!” — Unknown

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? I predict that we will no longer use cash currency. Everything will be via debit/credit card.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? On With Life’s brain injury facility in Ankeny. OWL is truly a nonprofit organization that serves individuals and their families who have experienced some sort of brain or neurological injury. We offer inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation, long-term care, short-term residential care and supported community living specialists to assist patients and families in getting On With Life. We rely heavily on donations through our foundation to provide equipment, therapeutic outings, gas cards for families, graduation parties for our person(s) served and various other unique needs.

Lu Anne Gafford

1. Occupation? Vice President/Consumer Services Manager for Bankers Trust Company

2. City where you live? Grimes

3. Who are you? A wife, mom, daughter and grandmother who loves to give back to others and loves being with family.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? Being with my husband, Bradley, fishing, hanging out, being with family, crocheting and reading.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Jerky and nuts

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” — Proverbs 4:23

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? I really don’t know what to say here. It seems so far away, but it will be here before we know it. All cars will be electric and self-driving?

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “We’re All in this Together” — High School Musical cast

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? Clive Community Services. CCS is a food pantry, clothing closet, free medical clinic, and it also teaches English as a second language to those in the Clive and surrounding communities. I serve on the board of directors for CCS, and we are growing in our services we provide to the individuals and families that come to us for assistance. We have been in existence for over two years and have already met our five-year plan, and are working on the next five-year plan soon.

Tiffany Menke

1. Occupation? President of the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce

2. City where you live? Ankeny

3. Who are you? I am a mom to four kiddos who I love beyond belief. For the past 14 years, I’ve been blessed to serve Urbandale and members of the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce. It is a labor of love that I am thankful for every day.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? I enjoy spending time with friends and family. In the summertime I enjoy camping and spending time on the water, and in the fall I enjoy watching Cyclone football.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Mustard Gardetto’s and fountain pop

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “Everyone you meet, knows something you don’t.” — Bill Nye the Science Guy

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? Mass automation of industries

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “Mi Vida Loca” by Pam Tillis

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? I am supporting the Urbandale Police Protective Benevolent Association. UPPBA is a nonprofit organization comprised of current and retired officers who support members, citizens and projects during times of need. Through this organization, the Urbandale Police Department donates to local causes such as Shop with a Cop, the Urbandale Food Pantry and the Pink Patch project — where they donated to several local cancer charities — to name a few. Just as important, the organization also helps with officers who are in need. A year ago, our community was rocked to its core with Officer Justin Martin being killed in the line of duty. The community came together to support our officers as they grieved through this horrible tragedy. I selected the Urbandale Police Protective Benevolent Association because this organization supports our officers in need and because the more we can bring together our police department with our community, especially our most vulnerable citizens, the better our community becomes.

Dina Bechman

1. Occupation? I am the owner and COE (chick over everything) at Five Monkeys Inc, a local art gallery, paint-your-own pottery and art studio.

2. City where you live? West Des Moines

3. Who are you? I’m just a girl who likes to make things. There is no better feeling than getting the spark of creativity that consumes you and I LOVE inciting that spark in others. People need it, everyone needs to be creative. You don’t need the mind of an artist to get lost in a project for a few hours and have it result in something that makes your soul smile.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? I love it when all five of my kids (Five Monkeys, get it?) and grandkids are under one roof, so spending time with family. I’m also an avid pool player.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Tough one. It used to be beef jerky, but I don’t eat meat any longer, and I haven’t traveled since then.

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “Kindness, it doesn’t cost a damn thing, sprinkle that [stuff] everywhere.” — Unknown

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? The majority of big box stores will be exclusively online, and the only brick-and-mortar shopping you will have available to you will be at small, locally owned businesses.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “Could Have Been Me” by The Struts

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? City Sounds: The Des Moines Public Piano Project. This is an organization that contributes to a couple of different creative outlets. The artists who paint the pianos, the musicians that play the pianos and the public that may not do either but gets to enjoy that pop of color in their neighborhood. I painted a piano for the 2018 season, which was an amazing experience. I am also the caretaker of the piano in my neighborhood. I experienced the process full circle from the creation to seeing people enjoy playing them.

Jill Bassman

1. Occupation? Real estate broker

2. City where you live? West Des Moines

3. Who are you? I am a freespirited mom of five kids who goes after what she wants and doesn’t like being told “no.” I’m fun, loyal, kind-hearted and love laughing.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? When I’m not working, you will find me on some kind of travel adventure. I don’t sit still very well. I love live music, Jeeping, Corvette rides, boating, surfing, sailing, fishing and volunteering. I also love happy hour and a good patio.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Flamin’ Hot Munchies Snack Mix… And I like to lick my fingers after I eat them!

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever you were going to do anyway.” — Robert Downey, Jr.

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? My kids will have finally put all their clothes away, and their rooms will be clean.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “Young & Crazy” by Frankie Ballard

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? Unravel Pediatric Cancer. A 10-year-old girl in my son’s class, Elayna Sandeen, put up one heck of a fight during her 4-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. Elayna’s mission in life was to see a cure for all types of pediatric cancers. She spent countless hours “fluttering” to raise money for her cause. While she wasn’t able to see a cure in her lifetime, I would like to keep her dream alive by donating to Unravel Pediatric Cancer in her honor.

Kristi Fuller

1. Occupation? Banker

2. City where you live? Adel

3. Who are you? Believer. Wife. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Friend. As a cancer survivor, I cherish every moment. I am passionate about giving tools to others so they can experience joys in life as well.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? Sharing in activities with my friends and family such as volunteering, boating, water skiing, playing ping pong, playing cards, four-wheeling and watching ball games.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Pepsi

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” — Tim Notke

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? All cars will be self-driving, and we will need special permission to “pilot” our own cars.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “We are Family” by Sister Sledge

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? Dallas County Habitat for Humanity. Everyone deserves to have a safe place to live. I have witnessed the impact this has had on people, and it’s amazing.

Addie Rasmusson

1. Occupation? Dental Wellness Plan Outreach and Care Coordination Specialist at Delta Dental of Iowa

2. City where you live? Des Moines

3. Who are you? Des Moines’ Most Likeable Person. Too soon?

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? I try to spend time with friends and family. You can find me at local events and festivals — my favorite is the Des Moines Arts Fest — happy hour, and farmers markets. I also love traveling and baking kringla.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? First and foremost, I will always get a fountain pop on a road trip. After that, either peanut butter M&Ms or Munchies snack mix, depending on whether I’m craving salty or sweet.

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? A couple of years ago, someone said this to me and it continues to resonate so often: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” I come back to that all the time.

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? Gosh, that seems so far away, yet it will be here before we know it. Des Moines will have an IKEA store, I will have won the lottery, and we will have world peace. Maybe I answered this more as wishful thinking…

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? It would 100 percent be Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? I’m supporting Community Youth Concepts. I have been lucky enough to work with CYC since I moved to Des Moines seven years ago. Originally, I worked with them to deliver adolescent health programming to youth across the state, and now I serve as one of their board members. CYC believes that youth, regardless of zip code, parental education level, family situation, or race and ethnicity, deserve access to the key protective factors that will help them succeed in school, work and in life. Our youth are our future and CYC works with 1,000 youth locally and replicates their processes to impact almost 3,500 across the state.

Mark Nichols

1. Occupation? Wells Fargo Community Bank, marketing and customer experience leader for Iowa and Illinois.

2. City where you live? Waukee

3. Who are you? Husband, father of two and an advocate for “giving back” to the community. Yankees and Iowa State fanatic who is sharing my love for the outdoors with my family while being a good friend.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? Besides spending time with my family, I enjoy anything on a bike (road or mountain) and exploring the Colorado mountains.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Dry roasted peanuts and a Jalapeno Slim Jim.

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “A great adventure without success is far superior to a climb where everything goes as planned.” — Tommy Caldwell

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? A cure for cancer.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “Ain’t Life Grand”

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? The American Heart Association. I had heart surgery when I was 5 and can relate to the overall efforts of AHA. Heart Disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and AHA has been fighting this battle since 1924.

Tony Simons

1. Occupation? Photographer

2. City where you live? Des Moines

3. Who are you? I am a father, a dreamer, and a photographer. In that order.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? I love going to concerts. I can’t wait for Slipknot at the Iowa State Fair.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Hot dogs

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “Hard work without talent is a shame, but talent without hard work is a tragedy.” — Robert Half

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? I will have more gray hairs than I do now.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? A polka-style cover of Jay-Z’s “It’s a Hard Knock Life.”

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? I chose “Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Iowa” because it’s important for children to have a role model and someone to look up to, even when they don’t have that liberty at home. BBBSIA is a wonderful organization providing a much-needed service to these kids who are the future of our country.

David Sherry

1. Occupation? Executive Director at YMCA of Greater Des Moines – Y Camp

2. City where you live? Boone

3. Who are you? I am a husband and father who believes in serving Christ through kids and others. I am hopeful for bright futures and appreciative of special todays. I believe we all have worth and a role to play.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? Spend time with my family. I enjoy the outdoors, watching sports and being around family and friends.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Cheese filled potato bites

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” — Proverbs 22:6

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? Every TV show from the 1970s and 1980s will have been made into a new series, and most of the movies will be remade. Or at least I hope so. 

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? It would most likely be a music montage of oldies, classic rock, bluegrass and country. It could be a long theme song.

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? I am choosing the YMCA of Greater Des Moines – Y Camp. Y Camp is very important to me. I have seen the effect it has had on my own children and the thousands of children and families that attend each year. Camp serves a diverse group of people and teaches character, love and appreciation for all. Camp teaches life skills, builds confidence in kids and helps brings families together. It is a place where a kid can feel confident being who they are and practice being the best version of themselves. Kids play along with their parents and build healthy relationships with positive adults and other kids. These relationships often last a lifetime. Camp serves children who come from low income homes, have cancer or siblings or parents with cancer, children with diabetes, kids from the suburbs or from the city and from all around the world. I believe that Y Camp helps us all be better. As you leave camp, you drive under a large sign that says, “Do all the good you can,” and people that attend camp do just that.

Reynolds Cramer

1. Occupation? President and CEO of Fareway Stores

2. City where you live? Ames (previously Des Moines)

3. Who are you? A family man, a grocer, a charitable person, a man of faith and a Cyclone and Vikings fan.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? I love spending time with my kids: Ashley, 19, Zach, 14, and Benny, 10 months. I love attending Vikings and Cyclone games and going to concerts with my wife Sheila. We love trying new restaurants and watching movies. In the summer we also love biking. I enjoy snowmobiling in Wyoming and scuba diving in the Caribbean.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Casey’s pizza

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” — Winston Churchill

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? We will have Fareway Meat Markets in all 50 states.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? Variety Children’s Charity. They do so much good for so many organizations that serve children who are at-risk and with special needs. I’ve been involved with them for a long time, and I’m a past president. My oldest daughter has special needs and has benefitted from Variety in many ways via ChildServe and other organizations. I understand firsthand how raising money for this event will not only help children but the parents, grandparents and friends of those children as they all faces challenges each day.

Bob Tursi

1. Occupation? Restaurateur

2. City where you live? Des Moines

3. Who are you? This is easy. I am a husband, father, grandfather, friend, and a co-worker to many.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? I love to be at my lake house. A favorite thing for me is to cook and enjoy good wine with my friends and family.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? I’d have to say Corn Nuts are a must.

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? The only guarantee is the sun is going to come up in the east and set in the west, so there are no guarantees, you have to make things happen.

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? Amazon will not be the dominating company of online sales.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “I Did it My Way” by Frank Sinatra

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? I support the Catholic Tuition Organization. I am strong in my faith. I feel that if parents want their child to attend a Catholic School, whether they can afford it or not, their child should be able to go.

Dr. Michael Carlisle

1. Occupation? Plastic surgeon

2. City where you live? West Des Moines

3. Who are you? I like to think I’m one of the most chill and “likeable” surgeon personalities out there, but I’ve met some pretty awesome people in my field around the country, so that can’t be true. Professionally, excellence is my mantra, and I’m always trying to improve. I’ve seen so many surgeons become complacent in their “experience” as they age. I’m sure my stamina will decline, but I don’t think my grit and commitment will. At work, I always make fun of my changes by quoting Churchill, who said, “To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.” Personally, I’m a husband to my best friend and rock. I’m a father who loves to be a big kid like my dad was. I’ll always just be a big kid. I’ve always been able to bring that fun-spirited attitude into serious matters.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? Fish and be with my family. Not at the same time. Real fishing is for alone-time.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Sunflower seeds.

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? I love C.S. Lewis who said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.” Since we know this to be true, we have to be vulnerable, honest, understanding and compassionate at the same time.

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? No steering wheels on cars… completely effective self-driving cars.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “Don’t Stop Believin’ ”
by Journey. This song always energizes me. If it doesn’t energize you, we can’t be friends. I mean it’s got a groove, a message of hope… “don’t stop believin’…” Who can’t get on board with that? And, being from Michigan and living in Detroit for some years, Detroit is mentioned in the lyric and key to the writing of the song back in 1980.

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? Can Do Cancer. They work to improve the lives of breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy in the Des Moines area. They do this by providing meals for patients and their families on chemo days, house cleaning throughout treatment, and a support network of breast cancer survivors. I chose them because I have so many breast cancer reconstruction patients who have used their services and some who have become involved with the organization. Breast cancer is such a journey in so many ways, and it is important to have encouragement through the process.

Simon Estes

1. Occupation? Opera singer and professor

2. City where you live? The Des Moines area

3. Who are you? A man of God. A man to whom God has given talents and gifts, and these talents and gifts were given to me to share with other people.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? Trying to become a better person and a better Christian and to help save children’s lives.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? It depends on where one is, but healthy options are preferable.

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? There are actually 10, and in a way there are 11, those are the 10 commandments in the Bible. And Jesus added another commandment, he said to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? My hope is that there is more love in the world and more peace.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? A song I really love, there’s a song called “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” It’s a hymn written by Thomas Dorsey many years ago. His wife was having a baby and he couldn’t be there — if I have the story correct — the wife died, and he was in another city, and by the time he got back the baby had died also. So he stayed up all night and wrote the song.

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? I’m supporting the children in Africa who are needlessly dying from malaria. … I’ve raised $532,000. When I found out how many children were dying in sub-Saharan Africa — every 30 seconds a child was dying, and 90 percent of all malaria deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa — I think the Lord called me to this nation, and I’ve raised that money, and I’ve given it all, every penny of it, to the United Nations foundation, Nothing But Nets. When some other people heard what I did in Iowa, several generous donors pushed the total to nearly $1 million. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved, and I’m still working on that project.

Christopher Maharry

1. Occupation? Owner and photographer at Maharry Photography for 26 years.

2. City where you live? Des Moines

3. Who are you? A bow-tie-wearing, bike-racing photographer who is SO very grateful to have grown up in the city of Des Moines. Now, as a 51-year-old man, I realize the need to try like heck to slow down and embrace my family and the wonders of the people around me.

4. When you aren’t working, what is your favorite thing to do? I have been a bike racer for almost 25 years. Being on my bike, whether it be on the paved trails or mountain bike trails or the secondary roads south of Des Moines, that is where you will find me six days a week.

5. While on a road trip, what is your preferred gas station food guilty pleasure? Peanut M&M’s

6. What is your favorite famous quote, mantra or words to live by? “To whom much is given, from him much is expected.”

7. What do you predict will come true by the year 2040? We will ALL realize that “progress” is not ALWAYS best for the human race. Slowing down might just be a TAD bit more of a solution.

8. If someone made a TV series about your life, what should the theme song be? “Hammer and a Nail” by the Indigo Girls

9. What worthy cause are you supporting with your likeability, and why did you choose it? The Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa. I believe in what they do and HOW they do it. The passion they have to improve the lives of young people in the greater Des Moines area is infectious. ♦

2 Comments

  1. Congrats to Reynolds Cramer

    Great man of the Fareway family

  2. Randall Maharry
    December 7, 2018 8:21 am

    That’s my son

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