Deaths • W.D. “David” Walls, Dr. Kenneth Ellery Riha

W.D.-David-Walls-obitW.D. “David” Walls, 54, died of cancer on Sept. 6 at JPS Hospital in Fort Worth.

Born Dec. 13, 1956, Walls had lived in the Fort Worth area all his life. He graduated from Springtown High School in Springtown, and later from Tarrant County College in Fort Worth.
He owned his own business, and he and Terry Mills were legally married March 26, 2010, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Walls was preceded in death by his father, W.D. Walls Sr.; and his brothers, Terry Walls Sr. and Marvin Walls.

He is survived by his spouse, Terry Mills-Walls, of North Richland Hills; his brother, Trevor Walls of Fort Worth; his nephews, Terry Walls Jr. of Azle and Phillip Steele of Fort Worth; his nieces, Shana Thompson of Azle and Caressa Walls Holland of Trophy Club; his sister-in-law, Ina Walls; his aunt, Dora Walls of Athens, Texas; and his cousins, Jenny Wiles of Bedford, and Kristy and Vance Fincher and Elizabeth Schultz, all of Athens, Texas.

A private memorial service will be held Sunday, Oct. 2, from noon to 4 p.m. in Keller.

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Dr. Kenneth Ellery Riha, D.D.S., 48, died peacefully in his sleep of heart failure on Sept. 6 while celebrating his birthday with friends and colleagues in Cancun.

Born Sept. 10, 1962 in Houston to JoAnn Marie Riha and Ellery Robert Riha, Riha graduated from Klein Forest High School in 1981, received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Texas A&M University in 1986 and earned a doctorate of dental science from the University of Texas Dental School in San Antonio in 1990. He established Dental Solutions in Dallas on June 6, 1997. Riha believed a smile should be the universal language and devoted his career to improving the health, well-being, and self-esteem of others through dentistry. He felt it important to provide a soothing atmosphere, creating an exclusive doctor-patient communication and singular focus by scheduling only one patient at a time.

Ken-Riha-obitRiha was an alumnus of X Psi Phi Dental Fraternity, served as president of the fraternity from 1988 to 1989 and rush chairman from 1989 to 1990. In 1990, he joined the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association and the Dallas County Dental Society. He served on the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Alumni Advisory Board from 1992 to 1995.

Riha served as the clinician host for the Southwest Dental Conference in 2008 and 2009, and was a host committee volunteer at the ADA Session in San Antonio in 2008. He was highly respected by his peers and was very proud to have received Texas Monthly Magazine’s distinguished “Texas Super Dentist” Award in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Riha lived life in a playful manner and had a zest for pulling pranks. His biggest passions were Texas A&M University, travel and charity. He graduated in the Fighting Texas Aggie Class of ’86 and bled maroon. He was a Century Club member of the Texas A&M University Former Student Association and was known to turn his phone off during Aggie football games, so he could watch and cheer without interruption.

He vacationed with family and friends around the world and his favorite destinations were Greece, Hawaii, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the Caribbean Islands. He thoroughly enjoyed skiing the slopes of Beaver Creek, Deer Valley, Park City, Santa Fe, Sundance, Taos, Vail and Vancouver. He also cherished his visits to New Orleans, Lansing and McComb, Miss.

Riha’s door was always open to his family and friends through losses, challenges, disappointments, tribulations, triumphs and celebrations. He was a rock of support for his friends and a remarkably fun-loving, kind, compassionate and giving soul. His drive, tenacity and determination were an inspiration to all who knew him. He believed in helping those less fortunate and gave generously to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital. He co-hosted Blend-A-Rama for many years, with proceeds going to the Bryan’s House and Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS/Dallas.

Riha believed his time on earth was not without predestined purpose and assignment. He came and enveloped people with his contagious smile and embraced them in his infectious laughter. He never met a stranger and celebrated the differences in all he encountered. Though his physical presence is no longer here, you can still feel his gentleness in the calm winds, see his smile in the rising sun, hear his words of comfort in the soft singing of the wind chime and celebrate his life with your next smile.

Riha was preceded in death by his grandparents, Sophie and Robert Riha and Francis and Lawrence Grall.

He is survived by his mother, JoAnn Riha, and Jim Ingham; his father, Ellery Riha, and wife Alice; his sister, Theresa Riha; his brothers, Stephen Riha and wife Bridget, and Michael Riha; his step-brother, Kevin Goss and wife Jody; his step-sister Stephanie Doyle and husband Brian; his nieces, Baileigh Sophie and Peighton Grace Riha, Emily Goss and Madison Doyle; his nephews, Jacob Goss and Christian Doyle; his aunts, Colette Riha, Dolores Kupsh and husband Harry, and Kathy Grall; and numerous loving extended family members and dear friends.

Friends are invited to join the family for a celebration of Riha’s life Saturday, Sept. 24, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dallas World Aquarium, 1801 N. Griffin St. Donations in his memory can be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital (StJude.org), DIFFA/Dallas (DIFFADallas.org) or Bryan’s House (BryansHouse.org.

—  Kevin Thomas

After Senate hearing, DADT repeal still up in air

Service chiefs all say they can implement end to ban on gays

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service

The second and final day of the Senate hearing on repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” has adjourned, and the battle lines are still very much where they were at the beginning, with one exception.

Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown said he’ll vote for repeal, once it reaches the floor. But Brown didn’t say whether he’d be willing to rebuff Republican Party leaders to help bring the measure to the floor.

And there’s the rub. Unless 60 votes can be mustered to call the Defense Authorization bill to the Senate floor, Brown’s statement of support for repeal is of minimal consequence.

Thursday and Friday’s hearing made clear that the military leadership concedes — if not agrees — that the current ban on gays in the military should be repealed. The service chiefs of all four branches of the armed forces, plus the Coast Guard, believe repeal can be implemented without sacrificing readiness and unit cohesion. They believe the Pentagon report released Nov. 30 provides a solid plan for implementation.

But not everyone agrees on timing, and discussion during the hearings went a long way to muddle exactly which timing everyone doesn’t agree on: Timing for implementation, timing for full implementation, and timing for a Congressional vote on repeal.

This much is clear concerning implementation: Army General George Casey said “not now,” Air Force General Norton Schwartz said “not until 2012,” and Marine General James Amos said it should begin “when our singular focus is no longer on combat operations or preparing units for combat.”

“At that point,” said Amos, “then I’d be comfortable with implementing repeal.”

Other military leaders are comfortable beginning the process now. That includes Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, Joint Chief Vice Chairman General James Cartwright, Navy Admiral Gary Roughead, and Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp. It includes at least 56 senators, 234 members of the House, and 50 to 70 percent of Americans (depending on which recent poll you look at). And, according to the Pentagon study, at least 70 percent of servicemembers say repeal would have a “positive, mixed, or no effect” on task cohesion.

The sticking point for senators is the timing of the Senate’s vote on whether to repeal. Republicans, led by Arizona Sen. John McCain, are steadfastly against allowing a vote and have vowed to prevent the underlying Defense Authorization bill to the floor. They say it’s because the nation has more urgent matters — taxes, job creation — with which the Senae should concern itself with in the waning days of the 111th Congress. Others say it’s because they want to stall issues they oppose – such as DADT repeal — from reaching the floor until next year, when they take control of the House and have a stronger posture in the Senate.

Most military leaders expressed concern during the hearings that Congress should take a vote now and they expressed enormous and unanimous confidence that Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen would not sign the necessary papers for repeal implementation to begin until they were certain the service chiefs agreed the military’s readiness would not suffer. Their urgency was driven by concern that lawsuits are making their way through the federal court system now that have the potential to force the military to accept openly gay people immediately. Such a sudden demand, they said, would be seriously detrimental to military readiness.

The focus now shifts back to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and whether they will be able to come to an agreement that will allow the defense authorization bill to the floor. Prior to Dec. 1, such an agreement seemed to pivot on whether Reid would allow Republicans to proffer numerous amendments to the bill, including one to strip DADT repeal from the measure. But on Dec.. 1, McConnell and all 41 other Republicans in the Senate signed onto a letter to Reid, saying they would not vote to proceed on consideration of “any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase. …”

Rep. Barney Frank says the annual defense authorization bill is not one of those bills that fund the government and that the letter is aimed at killing DADT repeal.

Other Democrats and the White House have tried to downplay the significance of the letter, saying it was nothing new and they weren’t going to get hung up on it.

But supporters of repeal have taken the letter seriously.

“If the 42 GOP senators — including several who support repeal of ‘don’t ask’ — stand with their party on process and procedure, their vote will be an endorsement of the discrimination that has cost 14,000 men and women their jobs and put our country’s national security at risk,” said Aubrey Sarvis, head of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

“A clear majority of the service chiefs support repeal this year,” said Sarvis. “Now, it’s up to the Senate. The National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the repeal provisions, must be called up in the Senate early next week under a reasonable approach that insures senators on both sides of the aisle a fair shot at amendments and debate. No debate on the merits of the bill will happen unless a handful of Republicans break off and support funding our troops.”

© 2010 Keen News Service

—  John Wright