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December 17, 2012

‘Pie Lady’ drives to Connecticut to give comfort, healing — and pie

ELDON, Iowa —  

A gut reaction to the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., has turned into a mission of healing.

Beth Howard, known as the “Pie Lady,” was one of the many shaken by the murders of 26 children and adults at their elementary school.

On a whim, Howard posted on Facebook: “Overwhelmed and heartbroken by (Friday's) tragedy, I feel like packing up my pie supplies into my RV and driving to Connecticut. If making pie and sharing it with the citizens of Newtown would help ease their pain I would load up a hundred cases of apples and start driving right now.”

That single post turned into an outpouring of support and encouragement. Quickly, several people commented that they would love to donate money for gas and pie supplies. Less than two hours later, $1,000 had been donated and by the time she left her southeast Iowa town Saturday morning, the total had risen to more than $3,000. She said any extra money she receives will be donated to Newtown for grief counseling.

“I felt so helpless, like so many people did [Friday],” Howard said. “I have the time, the resources, an RV and pie-making skills. I know from experience how helpful it is. I wrote a whole book about how pie heals grief. If anybody knows, it’s me.”

This set in motion a plan to drive her RV, dubbed “The Beast,” to pick up Mike Nahra, a friend in Chicago,  so they could trade driving duties throughout the nearly 18-hour trip to Flanders, N.J. There they will meet up with Howard’s good friend, Janice Molinari.

After Howard’s husband, Marcus Iken, died unexpectedly at the age of 43 three years ago, she wrote “Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie,” which details her battle dealing with Iken’s death, the unexpected road trip she took across the country,  the documentary that ensued and how she eventually found her way back to Iowa.

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