The Year in Review
Our peek in the rearview mirror to remember the 12 months of 2012
by Jocelyn Murray and Bill Donahue

With the calendar having flipped to 2013, it’s time for us to take our annual peek in the rear view and consider the entirety of the past 12 months. In the following pages you will find our salute to all that 2012 brought to bear—the highs, lows and points in between. In doing so we’ve updated some of our top stories from the past year and also conveniently repackaged the year’s Best of the Best, Top Physicians, Top Dentists and Awesome Attorneys lists. Lastly, we’ll take a look at the year ahead and listen to other people’s thoughts on the challenges and opportunities up ahead, both in our own backyard and throughout the rest of the world.

Click here for our 2012 Awesome Attorneys.

Click here for our 2012 Top Physicians.

Click here for our 2012 Best of the Best.

We rang in the New Year amid another promising season for the Philadelphia Flyers, by catching up with the newly added gritty forward Max Talbot. Talbot, who previously played for (and won a Stanley Cup with) the Pittsburgh Penguins, was one of the league’s hottest commodities when he became available as a free agent and subsequently signed a six-year contract with the Orange and Black. “I wanted to go to an organization that’s known for being good to its players, and I saw potential here,” said Talbot. He was part of an overhauled Flyers squad, which included newly signed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, among other additions, that made some pundits suggest the Cup would be coming back to Broad Street. Unfortunately, after a second-round playoff loss to the New Jersey Devils—and a 2012-13 NHL season that started in limbo—Talbot is still waiting for his moment as a Flyer.

For our annual Golden Fork awards, we introduced the 25 best dishes in the suburbs, from appetizers to desserts, to keep suburbanites salivating for months to come. We also sat down with funnyman (and Haverford College alum) Dave Barry to talk about his various projects, including the rock band in which he plays with horror master Stephen King, as well as another Main Line icon: longtime Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright. Throughout his tenure, Coach Wright has not only led the Wildcats to a Big East regular season championship (2006) and an NCAA Final Four appearance (2009) but is also responsible for helping cultivate the supportive and spirited culture for which ’Nova is known.

With the recent ado over our nation’s drive to elect a new leader of the free world, the focus now turns to the direction of our economy. In March we connected with several manufacturers right here in our backyard that are helping to spur the economy, including West Chester’s Schramm Inc.—a manufacturer of portable drilling rigs for land-based applications that was responsible for making some of the rigs used to rescue the 33 trapped Chilean miners in 2010—as well as Dublin-based Kelchner’s, Bethlehem’s Just Born Inc. and RxSport, the Norristown manufacturer of Chandler bats. Speaking of bats, we also had an eye toward nicer weather, by having the Phillies Ballgirls model our favorite fashions of the spring season.

In November 2011, the Phillies signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50-million contract, making him the highest-paid relief pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball. Despite his 38 saves—third best in the National League—Papelbon couldn’t help the injury-plagued Phillies lineup claw itself out of a hole it had dug for itself early into the season. As a result, for the first time in six seasons the Fightin’ Phils saw themselves on the outside looking in when the playoffs began. In this issue we also shared the inspirational story of businessman Fred Pirkle, a Warminster-based entrepreneur who, despite battling Lou Gehrig’s disease, was doing his best to jumpstart the economy by pledging $25 million toward building an engineering technology program at Sam Houston State University. Pirkle lost his battle with the disease died shortly before the issue went to press.

Martha Stewart is an American treasure, having made headlines for everything from preparing unforgettable meals to decorating a home to running a thriving and ever-expanding empire. Our May issue featured an exclusive interview with the Nutley, N.J., native to discuss her newest book, “Martha’s American Food,” (she has penned more than 70 tomes so far) and what it is like to be one of America’s most successful entrepreneurial icons. However, for Stewart, her most important role is sharing knowledge and inspiration with those around her. “I feel being a teacher is my role in life,” she said. “Free advice is so hard to come by these days, and I’m in the business of imparting information to the broadcast audience.”

This month we caught up with tennis great and equality pioneer Billie Jean King, general manager of World Team Tennis’ Philadelphia Freedoms. She shared her tales about her high-achieving family and her friendship with a guy who apparently has a pretty good forehand, Elton John.  Also, unknowingly, our annual Best of the Shore feature would come to hold a special place in many hearts for what would happen five months later. In late October, a “superstorm” known as Hurricane Sandy tore through the Eastern Seaboard, devastating much of the New Jersey coastline that many readers call home (if only during the summer season). While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is doing his best to help to rebuild a part of the world that has become an adopted home for so many, we hope our favorite seaside mainstays—and the people who call them home year-around—will be back to normal as soon as possible.

Every four years the world pauses to watch the world’s greatest athletes go head to head in summertime games. The 2012 Summer Olympic Games held in London were no exception, with the U.S. Olympic team stirring pride and bringing countless medallions of gold, silver and bronze stateside. Many of the U.S. athletes competing at this year’s games got their start in the Philadelphia area—Nicole Barnhart (women’s soccer), Kobe Bryant (men’s basketball) and Lauren Crandall (women’s field hockey), among them. We also had the opportunity to catch up with the man formerly behind the mask of one-time Sixers mascot (and Olympic hopeful) Bill Roth, as well as Bethlehem’s Jack McCallum, the venerable basketball writer whose most recent book, “Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Challenged the Game of Basketball Forever,” documented the colorful personalities of the U.S. Olympic basketball squad from 20 years ago that, well, essentially changed everything.  

We caught up with a woman who goes by the name “The Cycrone”—Jocelyn Jenik of the Philly Roller Girls—as well as Jenne Massie, defensive end for the women’s professional football team, the Philadelphia Firebirds, for our “Hit like a Girl” story about suburban women playing rough-and-tumble sports. We also connected with Delaware County resident Don Lessem, who has become something of a real-life Indiana Jones, unearthing fossils and unique historical artifacts from around the world and then educating others about their significance. “Dino Don,” as he’s known, is most notably responsible for the excavation and reconstruction of some of the world’s largest dinosaur skeletons, though he has also gained notoriety for Dino Don’s Dinosaurium, a dinosaur-themed exhibit at Media’s Granite Run Mall; he has also crafted sophisticated traveling exhibits that take center stage at some of the world’s most respected museums. 

Ed Rendell has made a career out of shaping Pennsylvania and the lives of the people who call it home. Elected as mayor of Philadelphia in 1991 and then governor of Pennsylvania in 2003, Rendell has been instrumental in strengthening the region’s backbone. We spoke with “Hizzoner” on a variety of topics, including his recently released his book “A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great,” which reflects on not only his tenure serving the regions but on the past, present and future of the U.S. government. Even though Rendell told us he hoped that this season’s Eagles team would “go all the way” this time around, the team—which included wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, whom we profiled in this issue as well—underperformed to the intense dislike of fans.

This month we were lucky enough to meet with local women who have become superstars in their respective fields. Whether it is fighting for a cause (such as Montgomery County DA Risa Vetri Ferman), overcoming a major obstacle (such as breast-cancer survivors Missy Stein, Jackie Roth and Debra Kimless-Garber, M.D.), inspiring and advocating for others (such as Back On My Feet founder Anne Mahlum) or simply just making this region a better place to live (Sharon Pinkenson of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office), these women proved resilient and inspiring. We also interviewed one of Hollywood’s leading ladies in Norristown’s own Maria Bello. A superwoman in her own right, Bello has become a prominent philanthropist and activist for women’s rights. After a trip to Haiti in the wake of a brutal 2010 earthquake, for example, Bello and three other activists started We Advance, a women’s rights organization focused on rebuilding efforts there.

Dr. Mehmet Oz—one of the most recognizable names on television—has transformed the lives of many individuals looking to improve their lives physically and emotionally. Dr. Oz, who went to school in Philadelphia and married a Montgomery County native, is now the host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” a nationally syndicated talk show distributed to more than 100 countries worldwide. Dr. Oz urges individuals to challenge themselves with endless possibilities for their lives. Another prominent man, though for entirely different reasons, is Pete Ciarrocchi Jr., the president and CEO of Chickie’s & Pete’s. Like Dr. Oz, Ciarrocchi has helped shape the lives of people throughout the region and beyond; lucky for us, ESPN recently named Chickie’s & Pete’s North America’s best sports bar.

As the natural complement to our Superwomen feature, this month we recognized our “Men of the Year”—local men who have a positive effect on the lives of those around them. To accent this feature, we sat down with local TV star David Boreanaz. Now on FOX’s “Bones” (and formerly of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame), Boreanaz not only acts in and produces popular television shows in Hollywood but also hangs out with some other famous Philadelphians—namely, his friends “Claude and Danny” (as in Giroux and Briere) of the Flyers. We also caught up with another prominent male, Bucks County-based children’s author Mike Berenstain, who’s building upon the Berenstain Bears legacy started by his parents.