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Spring cleaning the news

The news doesn’t end after it’s reported. So what happened next?

No unwelcomed guests soiled this year's Flower Show. Elizabeth Plepis shows there's no harm in taking a floral-crown selfie. (DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
No unwelcomed guests soiled this year's Flower Show. Elizabeth Plepis shows there's no harm in taking a floral-crown selfie. (DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)Read more

SWEET SPRING breezes will grace us in a week. Let me start the spring cleaning by tying up loose ends on some recent columns.

I am tickled to report that Malcolm Monk has found kin of Joe Gumpper, the World War II soldier he befriended 70 years ago.

Monk was 10 and living with his family in the tiny village of Painswick, England, when they all met Gumpper, a Philly native and U.S. Army technician with the 164th Engineer Combat Battalion. Gumpper became a beloved guest in the Monk home until he was killed in a training mission.

Monk, who now lives in Massachusetts, had vowed to his own Mum that he'd track down Gumpper's family to share the Monks' fond memories of that time. It occurred to him last year that, at 81, he ought to get moving on that. So he asked me to tell his story.

I held little hope for a reunion, given how much time had passed. But then I received an email from one Ann Mason, Joe Gumpper's niece. She had come across my column while doing a genealogy search of the Gumpper name.

"In 1944, I was a child, but remember vividly getting the news of his death," she wrote.

She and Monk are now in touch, to the delight of both.

Speaking of being in touch, a few weeks ago I met with three Comcast executives to discuss the 160-plus complaints from Comcast customers I received after offering to help resolve their most intractable problems.

I'll say this: Regional communications director Jeff Alexander, regional senior VP LeAnn Talbot and senior customer service VP Tom Karinshak certainly do Comcast proud. They're smart, nice and seem committed to fixing Comcast's customer service problems. In fact, they resolved quite a few of the ones I forwarded them and they explained why the most common breakdowns occur.

But there's still a crazy disconnect between the trio's get-it-done professionalism and the tear-your-hair-out problems that torture too many customers.

Example No. 1: One couple was told that, before they could get cable hooked up in their new apartment, they had to pay the unpaid Comcast bill of its prior tenant.

Example No. 2: The business owner whose company phone number Comcast changed, without notice, right after he bought advertising to promote his business.

Examples No. 3 to No. 57: Customers whose Comcast technicians repeatedly never showed for appointments.

These problems won't go away soon. As Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit said last year, fixing the company's broken "customer experience" won't happen soon. "In fact," he said, "it may take a few years before we can honestly say that a great customer experience is something we're known for."

Who has a few years? Not you, I'll bet. So keep emailing me your Comcast nightmares and I'll keep trying to help.

There is hopeful news about the young woman who was in an abusive relationship with a city official and whose story I shared last month (I did not name her). The cruel and demeaning behavior from the man she loved was escalating to violence. She asked me to tell her story, saying it would make her feel like she had a voice.

I agreed, but only if she'd speak with one of the angels at Women Against Abuse. She did, and they have helped her find the courage to break things off with the big, important man who was making her feel so small. She also finally confessed to her family what she'd been dealing with.

"They were mad that I didn't tell them sooner, because we usually tell each other everything," she said.

But they have rallied around her, glad for the counseling that is allowing her to feel stronger than she has in a very long time. Proof positive, once again, that there's nothing like unconditional love to de-fang shame.

It has been nine weeks since Jonathan Rosado, 22, died in his parents' arms after being gunned down on the front steps of their Nicetown home. Sorrow persists for the third- to sixth-graders he coached at Legacy Youth Tennis in Hunting Park, where he taught the kids about fitness, health, leadership and responsibility.

"He was a mentor, a big brother, a confidant, a protector - he even walked kids home after classes," Kareem Bryant, Legacy's director of neighborhood-based programs, told me shortly after Rosado was killed. "To parents, he was a role model."

The kids, who had been inconsolable when Rosado died, are rebounding, Bryant told me yesterday. They're helping with fundraisers for a new scholarship, in Rosado's name, to pay for tennis programs. The $6,000 raised so far will support 160 kids.

And on July 17-19, Legacy Youth will hold the Jonathan Rosado Memorial Tennis Tournament in Hunting Park - an honest-to-God, U.S. Tennis Association-sanctioned event for kids that will take place the same weekend each year. Guests at the inaugural tourney will include tennis great Billie Jean King, and a plaque will be unveiled that day naming the courts in Rosado's honor.

"The kids are so excited about the tournament," said Bryant. "They say, 'I'm going to do really well, because that's what coach Jon would have wanted me to do.' "

And on a final note, this year's Philadelphia Flower Show, which closed Monday, was an unequivocal smash. Attendance hit 250,000 - a 10 percent increase over 2014 - and reviews were breathless.

This year's extravaganza was the first since union workers at the Pennsylvania Convention Center signed new work rules, and there was worry that the two unions who didn't sign - the Carpenters and Teamsters - might disrupt the fun the way they had the Philadelphia Auto Show last month.

The worries were for naught. The flower show's only unwelcome guest was Mother Nature, whose snowstorm put a chill on Thursday's attendance.

If only she'd sign an agreement to behave.

Phone: 215-854-2217

On Twitter: @RonniePhilly