Editor’s note: This post is Part 2 of “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” a special retrospective revisiting some of the stories Bloom has published since its inception in 2006. The details in these stories have not been changed since they were originally written, but we have provided updates when possible. Each story highlights an individual who contributed to making Bloomington a compassionate, diverse, and creative community. For more stories from “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” click here.
Judy Schad: Capriole Farm, For Cheese Lovers Everywhere
Bloomington Farmers’ Market-goers know Capriole Farm owner Judy Schad well. She’s the one wearing lipstick and pearls on Saturday mornings, with dark, laughing eyes and a fast, chatty drawl. She spears up samples of goat cheese for customers to taste, perhaps with a bit of ripe, juicy peach or rich, red tomato.
For those who know cheese, Schad’s are the cream; they’ve won multiple awards, have been written up everywhere from The New Yorker to People magazine, and they appear on the menus of top restaurants across the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York.
“What I love about my cheeses is that I really believe that they reflect a place and an animal,” Schad says. “Cheese is just the perfect food. … It’s magical.”
Sylvia McNair: A Star Is Re-Born
After a 25-year career as an opera, musical theater, and cabaret star, Sylvia McNair returned to Bloomington to teach at Indiana University, her alma mater.
Hers was a stunning career for a small-town girl from Mansfield, Ohio. She sang in the great opera houses of Europe, won two Grammy awards, and performed for Pope John Paul II, the U.S. Supreme Court, and Hillary Clinton. For four years, she performed with The Metropolitan Opera.
“Opera is so overwhelming and terrifying,” McNair says. “There was never one performance [at the Metropolitan Opera] that I didn’t stop and think, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the Met!’”
In addition to teaching, McNair continues to give solo concerts and perform in musical theater around the country.
Retired from teaching, McNair performs at local fundraisers, tutors at the library, and serves on the board of the Bloomington Refugee Support Network.
Rajih Haddawi: A Volunteer in Medicine
During his long career as an orthopedic hand surgeon, Rajih Haddawi, 65, helped thousands of patients. During those years, Haddawi says he found himself wishing he could help more than one patient at a time.
“Every day I saw patients, very sick people, without any medical insurance, and wished there was something more I could do to help them,” said Haddawi, who was born in Baghdad and settled in Bloomington with his family in 1971.
Upon retiring in 2005, Haddawi began making that wish a reality by becoming chairman of Volunteers in Medicine (VIM), a nonprofit organization that provides quality health care to the uninsured through affiliated free clinics across the country.
In 2019, VIM merged with HealthNet Indy and is now Healthnet Bloomington Health Center.
David Baker: B-town Hero and Jazz Legend
Distinguished Professor of Music at Indiana University and conductor of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, David Baker is at home performing in concert halls, traveling around the world, composing, or playing the cello at late- night jazz bars.
Baker first came to Bloomington as a student in 1949. In 1966, he settled here for good and began what is now a world-renowned jazz studies program at the IU School of Music.
“I think the Civil Rights Movement and the death of Dr. Martin Luther King helped make jazz a degree program,” Baker says. “Schools were just beginning to be integrated … people were becoming very interested in having some awareness of who black people were. We were also among the first people who had street cred to come in and do a jazz program.”
Baker died March 26, 2016.
Bob Hammel: A Revered Hoosier With Still a Lot to Say
Sportswriters from small cities rarely draw national attention, much less the kind of acclaim afforded Bob Hammel, an affable, small-town kid out of Huntington, Indiana.
Hammel, 70, was sports editor for The Herald-Times, nee Herald-Telephone, for 30 years before retiring in 1996. He continued to have a Sunday column in the newspaper for another 10 years.
He has been inducted into three national halls of fame, written 10 books, was the only reporter to interview Indiana University swimmer Mark Spitz at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and has a widely known friendship with former IU men’s basketball coach Bob Knight.
“Bob saw from the beginning that I worked hard,” Hammel says. “He didn’t respect what I did … But he admired the effort at least.”
Samrat Upadhyay: Pride of Nepal
Samrat Upadhyay is the first Nepali-born novelist writing in English to be published in the West.
Upadhyay, who moved to Bloomington in 2003, grew up in a culture that revered writing yet didn’t view it as a vocation. “The Nepalis are very literary oriented, but people do not survive by being writers,” he says.
His first novel, The Guru of Love, was named a New York Times Notable Book. Now a tenured professor, Upadhyay, 44, says he hopes Bloomington will be his permanent home.
“I have a six-year-old daughter and I can’t think of a better place to live with someone young,” he says.
Joe Lee: Clown and Editorial Cartoonist
Spend some time talking and laughing with Joe Lee, book illustrator and Herald-Times editorial cartoonist, and you’re likely to think, “this guy’s a clown.”
And you’d be right. After graduating from Indiana University with a degree in medieval history in
1975, Lee pursued his boyhood dream of becoming a performer by training at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. Three months later, he was offered a contract and began his career as a professional circus clown.
“It was totally thrilling and liberating,” Lee says. Lee is now also an illustrator for Bloom.
Joel Washington: Custodian and Painter
Joel Washington is always struck by a painting hanging on the wall in the Indiana Memorial Union, where he works as a custodian. It’s an arresting portrait of jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, composed in bold lines and vibrant colors, and has special meaning to Washington. He’s the artist who painted it.
“I guess my style is what you’d call ‘jazz surrealist,’” says Washington. “I try to juxtapose abstract images and colors with a central character to give the work texture without obscuring the subject.”
Washington has done several shows in Bloomington and is currently working on a piece for the University of North Carolina. He says it is his ultimate dream to become an established gallery artist in cultural capitals like New York and Chicago.