From the pilot who soared to the family of a young victim who coped — plus the Arboretum’s red-headed stranger — here’s an update on some of the most powerful neighborhood photos and stories of the year.


Pilot, pioneer, neighbor, dad

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Then: Forest Hills resident, husband, dad, civil attorney, author, wind energy pioneer and aviator Steve DeWolf died the same day that an article about him published in our May issue. Entitled “Fly Guy,” we wrote, “He’s vintage Texan, barnstorming our neighborhood in a plane, tilting at windmills and penning novels.” DeWolf flew a PT-17 Stearman that was built in 1943 and a T-6 Texan built in 1942. “Flying is not without dangers, and flying these old planes? It’s more dangerous. At some point, 10 to 15 years from now, I may say, ‘I think I’ve been flying long enough.’” DeWolf and a passenger died April 25 shortly after takeoff in the T-6 Texan when the plane caught fire.

Now: The PT-17 Stearman was donated temporarily to the Frontiers of Flight Museum, where the memorial service was held for DeWolf. The service included a Stearman flyover. Son, Jake DeWolf, is a sophomore at Oklahoma State University, where he’s studying to be a pilot. In August the Stillwater City Council honored Jake DeWolf and his roommates for saving some of their neighbors from a flood.   

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In good taste

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Then: East Dallas native Preston Willms was the horticulture manager at A Tasteful Place, a $12 million development and 3.5-acre display garden at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Featured in our June issue, Willms helped oversee the cultivation of fruit, vegetables and herbs in the garden that was developed as part of a movement to grow and eat local food. The produce is prepared in a test kitchen, where chefs share their creations with guests during daily cooking demonstrations.

Now: Willms left the Arboretum a few months after the article was published and accepted a new job at the City of Dallas. “It seems like we train our horticulture (employees) well, so they are in great demand,” Arboretum spokeswoman Juliette Coulter says. Willms now enforces landscaping ordinances in the city’s northeast district. “I had a good team that I worked with at A Tasteful Place, so I felt comfortable leaving it in good hands.” A Tasteful Place has bloomed and grown under the direction of Jenny Wegley, vice president of horticulture and lead designer of the garden. The fruit and nut trees have matured, and the other trees and plants have also grown, making the garden more mature, Coulter says.   — JAIME DUNAWAY


Hailing and burying Hale

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Then: Cary Mae Parker disappeared in East Texas more than 25 years ago, but local police insisted her family never filed a police report. KETR reporter George Hale’s radio feature about a missing person in Texas was supposed to last two minutes. Instead, Hale dedicated a year to the story that became the investigative podcast “Buried.” Our photographer Danny Fulgencio wanted an image that would symbolize the deep-dive into Parker’s disappearance. He enlisted a few editors to bury Hale in 200 pounds of dirt that was pushed through a parking lot to a bank vault, where our studio is located, via a skateboard.

Now: The 11th episode of “Buried” was released in late November, as well as an extended interview with Jeff Haines, the detective tasked with finding out what happened to Parker. We hate to be cliché, but Hale’s thorough, thoughtful reporting has led to more questions than answers, and we’ve yet to discover where — or — why she disappeared.



Wheelie oversaturated

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Then: They popped up like pimples on what seemed like every corner of Dallas:

Green LimeBikes, orange Spin bikes, yellow Ofos and all the others.

So many dockless rental bikes hit the Dallas market in 2017 that we were knocking them over, moving them out of the way and imagining them as sentient robots here to destroy mankind. Residents demanded something be done about the ever-cluttering bikes, so last summer, the City Council placed fees on bike-share operators in Dallas, including annual licenses and a per-bike fee that gave companies incentives to keep the flood of bikes at bay. After that, Beijing-based Ofo pulled out of the Dallas market, abandoning hundreds and hundreds of its yellow bikes in our city. Most of them are garbage. Some have been claimed by homeless residents or made over with spray paint and Bedazzlers.

Now: Just when rental bikes started clearing the streets of Dallas, along came another convenience/menace: electric scooters. While whizzing around with little effort in the Texas heat is a cool idea, scooter accidents are resulting in serious injuries and deaths across the country. Though the evidence so far is anecdotal, gathered from news stories and trauma-center reports, soon there will be an accounting.

The Centers for Disease Control is conducting a study of scooter-related accidents in Austin.



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