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Opinion >  Column

Huckleberries: A mighty contender leaves the arena

UPDATED: Wed., April 11, 2018

Carnie and Donna McArthur (Courtesy photo / Courtesy photo)
Carnie and Donna McArthur (Courtesy photo / Courtesy photo)

Carnie McArthur died March 16, lost in the fog that traps victims of Alzheimer’s. In Carnie’s case, the disease robbed him of the last decade of his nearly 67 years.

But back in the day, Carnie was something, a driven Coeur d’Alene firefighter who nearly won the eight-event “Toughest Cop Alive” competition at the World Police Fire Games. This, despite his diminutive size, 5 feet 4 inches and 125 pounds.

In 1985, at age 34, Carnie finished third in the Games’ open Toughest Cop competition and in his weight division for wrestling. He was competing against larger men more than 10 years younger. Unhappy with the result, he redoubled his workouts and lobbied successfully with others to change the name of the Toughest Cop event to acknowledge the presence of firefighters.

His widow, Donna, tells Huckleberries that Carnie began training with North Idaho College wrestling coach John Owen and enlisted daughter Jessie to help him with the swimming portion of the Octathlon. Jesse was training to be a lifeguard. “Swimming was the biggest challenge for Carnie,” Donna said.

In 1987 (San Diego) and 1989 (Vancouver, British Columbia), Carnie won gold in his age division of the redubbed “Greatest Competitor Alive” event and of the wrestling competition. All this while protecting his community as a firefighter.

Even in death, Carnie will serve his fellow man. His brain was donated to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. His widow hopes that the gift will lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s.

A memorial service is scheduled for the Coeur d’Alene Mighty Mite at 10 a.m. May 5 at the Fallen Heroes Plaza of Coeur d’Alene Fire Department No. 3 on 15th Street.

Ric Clarke, RIP

Ric Clarke, 68, who died March 22, was a formidable competitor in the “North Idaho Newspaper War” of yesteryear. Decades ago, The Spokesman-Review and the Coeur d’Alene Press were locked in a battle royal for circulation and advertising dollars. Ric led the Press news team as a reporter and editor. A good example of Ric’s work can be found in a Sunday column he wrote for the Press 25 years ago this week. In it, he exposed then-Mayor Ray Stone’s habit of dining on the city dime. Wrote Ric: “On any given day, there’s a good chance you’ll find the mayor wolfing down at his favorite haunt – Henry’s restaurant. Often at our expense.” Ric went on to say that Stone regularly picked up the tab for lunch guests and council members, also at city expense. Again, Ric jabbed that the mayor “didn’t want to give a penny of city money to St. Vinny’s campaign to house the homeless, yet we afford to fill ravenous Ray’s plate.” OK, it isn’t Pulitzer stuff. But Ric’s reporting was well-read and enjoyed. Even by his S-R competitors.


Poet’s Corner: “Tiny buds of pink/baby blooms of white/little Robin Redbreast/singing his delight” – Tom Wobker, The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“April”) … Quotable Quote: “I took the studded tires off my van today (Monday). A major spring snow storm is likely,” warns Dave Townsend, of Coeur d’Alene. (Hey, it’s funny, even if you think studded tires are “of the devil”) … Sign of the Times (on the lunchroom refrigerator of Chatters Metzger CPA firm of Coeur d’Alene less than a week before Tax Day): “Counting to 10 only makes it premeditated” … Bumpersticker (on a Toyota Tacoma with a Disabled Veteran license plate on Coeur d’Alene’s Government Way on Tuesday): “Veterans Lives Matter” … Fifty years ago, according to the Press, Coeur d’Alene’s finest were collaring 14-year-olds guilty of inhaling nasal spray, which resulted “in the sensation of being intoxicated.” Don’t you wish that we could turn back the clock? … Another Sign of the Times (on the readerboard of Coeur d’Alene’s Davis Donuts): “Never grow a wishbone where your backbone ought to be.”

Parting shot

Among other matters, Kellogg police were called to the Silver Mountain gondola, where a motorist claimed that “the feds” had caused his car battery to die. The responding officer blamed the dead battery on corrosion of the terminals, according to Paul Twidt’s Roll Call report. And, as a result, was added to the delusional driver’s long list of make-believe “feds.”

D.F. (Dave) Oliveria can be contacted at

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