Moline man portrays Walt Whitman at Dead Poets


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Posted Online: May 16, 2013, 6:23 pm
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com
Richard Leddy, of Moline, will portray poet Walt Whitman at 2 p.m. today in a free presentation at Dead Poets Espresso, 1525 3rd Ave. A, Moline.

The 61-year-old Davenport native bears a striking resemblance to Whitman (1819-1892), with a fairly long gray beard. Mr. Leddy has played Whitman since March at Dead Poets, a brick-walled coffee house that boasts large portraits of several, well, dead poets.

"What really got this thing ticking is, I would see the pictures on the wall and thought, 'Somebody should come in and bring them to life,' " he said Thursday.

Mr. Leddy has averaged about one hour-long talk per month, in which he wears period clothes, reads Whitman poems, talks about other writers and events of the day and makes a few jokes.

"He became the American poet," Mr. Leddy said of Whitman. "He was just outspoken; he really described things the way he saw them.

"He was brilliantly talented. His poetry will stand the test of time. That's why I do what I do," he said. "This is poetry for the ages. It's classic poetry -- it's beautiful, it's thought-provoking."

Mr. Leddy's mother was an English teacher and librarian, and he leads a classic book group in the cafe at the Moline Public Library at 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month. He also wants to do presentations on other "dead poets" such as Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson.

"My mother wouldn't want to let it go. I'm doing it in her memory," he said.












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  Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.






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