From catastrophic weather and triumphant recovery to teenage wunderkinds, the fiercest female and the for-real housewife of Dallas, here’s an update on some of the most intriguing neighborhood stories and photos of 2019.

Richie Whitt contributed to this report.


THEN: The day after the tornado hit Oct. 20, Sara Miranda stood in front of her home on 7827 Midbury Drive. Windows and walls were missing. Miranda spent the day salvaging her belongings while construction workers did their best to clear debris. In the midst of the devastation, the mailman made his way through the fallen trees and trash to deliver an Amazon package. Miranda had ordered treats for her German shepherd, Cisco. It was a much-needed sign of normalcy.

NOW: “It’s not bad, and it’s not great,” Miranda says. “I’m realistic.” She’s living in a rental home near St. Michael’s with Cisco, who weathered the tornado with her in a bathroom. Miranda’s home had leaks in every room except one, so she had to move out all of her furniture. She expects to be able to return to her home in about a year. “People are moving on with their lives unless their house was devastated.” She emphasizes how difficult it is to pick up glass, shingles and insulation from the yard. This was a good day, she says. She put on makeup. “For weeks, I had been wearing the same thing then going to the house and getting dirty. Today I’m taking my mom to the doctor’s and getting out. Woo-hoo!”

2. The fiercest female of all

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

THEN: The George H. W. Bush documentary “41 on 41” features George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama — and Sarah Jackson, a 2011 graduate of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. After stints as a press secretary in the U.S. House of Representatives and a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of State, she began work for the Dallas Citizens Council in 2014. One of her goals was to visit every continent by the age of 40. She achieved that on New Year’s in Sydney, Australia.

NOW: Since our story, Jackson:

  • Co-chaired the Texas Lyceum Meeting, focusing on “Are We Taking Our Democracy for Granted?”
  • Served as Vice President of Policy Fellowships and led the presentation and policy brief of Texas Lyceum Fellow James McKenzie on voter turnout in Texas.
  • Attended Bush-Cheney Alumni Reunion as a member of the Presidential Leadership Scholar Alumni Committee.
  • Was appointed to the national board of directors for Power to Decide.
  • Serves on three Dallas ISD boards and committees.

3. The for-real housewife of Dallas: Cary Deuber

Photography by Danny Fulgencio

THEN: Cary Deuber, of the “Real Housewives of Dallas,” showcased her remodeled home on Strait Lane in the April Advocate. Her $300,000 kitchen layout mimics Eleven Madison Park in New York City, a restaurant with three Michelin stars. The room’s centerpiece is a $75,000 French-made blue Molteni stove. But Deuber called her padlocked closet, fashioned after the Highland Park Fendi store, “my wonderland.”

NOW: Deuber shed the drama of RHOD by becoming a “friend” to the show instead of a regular cast member. She’s also uber buff from eating clean and committing to a consistent exercise routine. (Removing herself from the RHOD crazies probably doesn’t hurt, either.) “If I can, you can,” she wrote on Instagram. “My current fitness routine is pretty simple: Do yoga and [Barry’s Bootcamp], don’t eat ridiculously high calories, and #EmSculpt to boost your results!”

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

4. The teenage storyteller who humanizes borderlands

THEN: When we profiled Ekansh Tambe in May, the St. Mark’s School of Texas freshman had used his Nikon D5500 to photograph more than 8,000 images of conflicts on five borders across four continents. In addition to the U.S.-Mexico border, Tambe explored the border between North and South Korea, the borders of Israel and Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Gaza. He watched as Gaza militants fired rockets. He could see charred fields and a tank rolling in the distance, and he could hear gunfire. “My mom was sitting in the car when we heard that. She rolled down the window and said, ‘Get back in!’’’

NOW: Over the summer, Tambe explored Colombia and photographed its borders with Peru, on the Amazon River, and Venezuela. In addition to tackling his sophomore year at St. Mark’s, he spoke at STORY 2019, a national storytelling conference. In the spring, he will be a keynote speaker at the National Youth Leadership Conference and at an entrepreneurial conference in Sydney, Australia.

5. ‘My parrot, Josie, is my sister’

THEN: Cassie Evans Decker starred in our pets issue as foster mom to two cavalier king Charles rescues, Bucky and Rusty, and bunnies, Thumper Thumperton and Hoppy Hopperton, but we overlooked the true star of the family: Josie, the parrot.

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

NOW: Decker’s dad is an obstetrician/gynecologist, and he accepted Josie as a form of payment on a hysterectomy in the early 1980s. Since Decker was born in 1981, she considers the parrot a sister. “I’ve grown up with her, and now she’s aunt to my daughter, Hattie Pearl,” Decker says. Josie prefers women over men, sings backup for “I Could Have Danced All Night” and can mimic a belly laugh. Since our story, the family has moved into a new home and added two members: guinea pigs Sophie and Snowbelle. “My daughter is such a loving little mommy to them.”

6. He’s a knockout

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

THEN: When we interviewed Derrick James in January, he trained boxers Errol Spence Jr. and Jermell Charlo, as well as celebrities Ross Perot Jr., Daryl Johnston and Clarice Tinsley. When not at Cooper Fitness Center, James spent 2019 nurturing his two champions at his new gym on the Trinity River. In 2009, James began coaching Spence. In 2019, the boxer became an undisputed champion, and his mentor flew to New York to be honored as the Boxing Writers Association of America’s “Trainer of the Year.”

NOW: James is again a finalist for BWAA “Trainer of the Year.” Spence beat Mikey Garcia in March at AT&T Stadium and Shawn Porter in Los Angeles in September to run his record to 26-0 and strengthen his grip on boxing’s welterweight title and his position as one of boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters. But at 2:53 a.m. on Oct. 10, Spence’s white Ferrari 488 Spider crashed and flipped in a single-car accident just south of Downtown. The 29-year-old boxer, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, was ejected but survived, suffering face lacerations. Spence spent six days in the hospital and was recently charged with DWI. He posted – then deleted – a post-accident Instagram that read: “No broken bones. I’m a savage!!”

7. NorthPark’s piano man: Play ‘Star Wars’ for me

THEN: Brad Hanson is best known as the man behind the piano at NorthPark Center. Hanson took on every genre of music, including video game theme songs. He also composes his own music and mash-ups of songs. “I’ve met Ross Perot and gospel singer Kirk Franklin. I’ve played for actor Dennis Quaid, businessman Mark Cuban, former First Lady Laura Bush and several local news anchors and politicians. It’s electrifying and a little scary to play in front of celebrities, but above all else, it’s just cool.”

NOW: Hanson describes himself as a husband, dad, performer and instructor. “I love our incredible God and my amazing family. Music is a part of every area of my life,” he says. “I consider myself honored and blessed to be a part of Dallas’ cultural scene, talking to and entertaining the people who walk through NorthPark and learning about and assisting the gifted musicians that are my students.” Hanson, who enjoys hiking with his family, appreciates the connections he makes through song. “I’ve played ‘Let It Go’ about 300 times.”

8. Art saves: Hook ’em horns

THEN: Leticia Rincon was a senior at W.T. White High School who described herself as a shy freshman. That is, until she discovered art. The youngest daughter of Mexican immigrants, Rincon’s paintings display elements of her heritage, whether it’s bright colors or religion. Beginning with her junior year, Rincon started winning awards. She won first in the Dallas Veterans Day Art Contest two years in a row. Her 24-by-36-inch self-portrait was showcased at the Dallas Contemporary as part of the youth art month exhibit.

NOW: Rincon completed her first semester at the University of Texas at Austin. She’s pursuing her career in advertising and hopes to enter Texas Creative. Rincon joined Diversity in Advertising and Public Relations, which expanded her knowledge of the insight she can bring to any workplace. “I’m very proud to have pushed through new experiences,” Rincon says. “My family remains my source of motivation — my everything.”

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