Etcetera - 9/5/12


The enticing prospect of returning to her family and her teaching job is aiding in Walla Walla native Ann Bierwagen Ledezma's miraculous recovery.

Ann's back and neck were broken during a severe thunderstorm July 21 at Priest Lake.

High winds caused a tree to fall on the pickup in which Walla Wallan Gary Bierwagen was driving wife Mardel, daughter Ann and her 21/2-year-old son Robby, and Mardel's mother Maxine Swank. Gary died.

Also sustaining spinal cord injuries, Ann spent two weeks in ICU at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane before she was transferred to St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute for intensive physical, occupational and other therapies, according to Mardel.

"All indications point to a recovery that will allow Ann to be back teaching in her junior high classroom in Connell (Wash.) in the future," Mardel said.

Born and raised here, Ann graduated in 1997 from Walla Walla High School and in 2001 from Pacific Lutheran University.

Since 2002, she has taught English as a second language and junior high-level language arts classes in Connell.

Gary was also a native, lifelong Walla Wallan, Mardel said.

He graduated in 1964 from Wa-Hi and in 1968 from PLU, then served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and Germany.

Gary was a retired banker and Mardel, a longtime area teacher, retired from Sharpstein Elementary School.

A memorial service for Gary will be at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in October, with the date to be determined by Ann's recovery time.

Independent senior living community Park Plaza will have something for everyone while benefitting students during its School Days weekend celebration and supply drive Friday-Sunday.

Admission is free but guests are asked to donate school supplies for local children in need. There will be a 3 p.m. wine social Friday; 3 p.m. ice cream sundae social Saturday; and 12:30 p.m. School Days luncheon Sunday at 1400 Dalles Military Road, Walla Walla.

Those attending should RSVP at 509-525-6513.

Walla Walla Public School Superintendent Mick Miller is going digital each month to share his messages, the first one about going back to school for the new year.

His "The Pulse" video series can be watched at or on the district's YouTube page. School board President Max Carrera, Walla Walla High School Principal Pete Peterson and Wa-Hi ASB President Michaela Stalder are featured on the video series.

Through The Pulse, Mick will inform parents, students, staff and community members about district issues.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or afternoons at 526-8313.


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