Matth Toebben

As a young man who had enough of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Matth Toebben got on a ship headed for America’s Ellis Island with $10 in his pocket, speaking not one word of English and leaving behind his large, loving family to face an unknown future. He did bring with him a fine-honed work ethic and hard-earned skill as a master cabinetmaker.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Thankfully, it’s a fascinating history now told in his own words, thanks to an assist from his friend, retired surgeon T. Milton Mayer, in The Immigrant. The book is available at the Toebben Companies headquarters on Buttermilk Pike in Crescent Springs, Joseph-Beth bookstore in Crestview Town Center and Roebling Point Books in Covington. All proceeds from the book go to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Thanks to the kindness of strangers in New York City, a scared young non-English-speaking man made his way to Northern Kentucky where his sister and her husband had settled. He went to work then ultimately decided to go it on his own, building a successful homebuilding enterprise. He broadened his interests over the years, as well as his community involvement, political influence and philanthropic endeavors. His experience in Hitler’s Germany left him with strong ideas about big government—and his loving family left him with an even stronger commitment to family.

He fell in love at first sight with a beautiful young woman, Laverne Huber, when he still couldn’t speak English much. They were married for 55 years, until her death in 2011. She had Alzheimer’s. Together, they had five children and today there are plenty of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The book chronicles his incredible journey. It gives detail to the picture of a growing Northern Kentucky, and it is fraught with the importance of love and kindness and caring about your neighbors and friends.

Donna Salyers

Donna Salyers grew her facility with a sewing needle into an international fashion house in the heart of Covington. She had great instincts from the beginning, understanding a growing antipathy toward real fur coats and making the best faux-fur coats and accessories she could with high quality materials—and no one could tell the difference.

Her one-person operation has become a major enterprise employing nearly 70 people and serving 4,000 accounts in 46 countries. It recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Along the way, she and her husband of 54 years, Jim, have made a terrific impact on Covington—with more to come.

And you’ll love—as I did—this incredible tidbit: She provides faux bear-fur hats for the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace because Queen Elizabeth II objects to real fur.

Gene Clabes

Taking a personal liberty here to express my heartfelt gratitude for all the kind words and great stories shared on the recent death of my husband, friend and partner, Gene Clabes, after a sad, extended illness. I always thought of us as a team, and after 54 years of marriage, it will be a big change to think differently, but every sweet word and great story uplifts me and my family and helps us focus on the many blessings he brought to our lives.

He died Nov. 29 at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood in the tender and loving care of MICU nurses and teams of doctors and with his two sons, Joseph and Jacob, daughter-in-law Chris, and me at his side. We celebrated his life at Newcomer—and it was a celebration he would have enjoyed (and likely did) with hundreds of friends and well-wishers. Fraternity brothers, Kernel and college buddies, hometown friends, fellow journalists and horse trainers (and horse walkers), neighbors, and more enjoyed the terrific displays of memorabilia representing his life planned and executed by Chris. It was a great and healing way to celebrate his purposeful life—and his amazing life journey.