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TERRE HAUTE — Margaret E. Wise, 96, of Terre Haute, passed away on Jan. 2, 2011, at her home. She was a member of Covenant Church of Jesus Christ where she served on the Mother’s Board.

She was preceded in death by her husband, John Dallas Wise Jr.; eight sisters; four brothers; two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

She is survived by sons, John Wise and wife Sherry of Fairfield, Calif., Alonzo Wise and wife Cindy of Clinton, and William Wise of Waldorf, Md.; daughters, Martha Joyner of Terre Haute, Betty Williams and husband Bobby Joe of Terre Haute, Mary Ellen Wise of Sacramento, Calif., and Shirley McClure and husband Greg of Spencer; 19 grandchildren; 37 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; and several nieces, nephews other relatives and friends.

Services are noon Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, at the Saints Home Church Of God In Christ, 2210 North 13th Street with Pastor Clarence DeBow officiating. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the church. Burial will be in the Grandview Cemetery. Final Arrangements have been entrusted to Stuart Mortuary, Inc.


January 4, 2011

C. Kenneth Cottom

TERRE HAUTE — C. Kenneth Cottom, age 89, of Terre Haute, passed away Jan. 1, 2011, at Southwood Rehabilitation Center. Born Oct. 3, 1921, in Blackhawk, he was the son of Floyd E. Cottom and Ethel (Hoff) Cottom. He married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Archibald, on Feb. 14, 1942. She passed March 18, 2008, after 65 wonderful years of marriage. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II in the Pacific, and also during the Korean War at Inchon. He taught chemistry, physics and biology at Gerstmeyer High School and Honey Creek High School. He became principal at Gerstmeyer and later became the Superintendant of Vigo County Schools. He finished his career as the principal at Riley Elementary, which he said was the job he liked the best in the school corporation. He had many hobbies including gardening, flowers, particularly roses, fishing, planting trees and traveling. He had homes in Canada and Florida where he enjoyed these hobbies. He was a lifetime member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 972.

Survivors include a daughter, Mary Ann Schnake and husband Don of Grosse Ile, Mich.; a son, Jim Cottom and wife Patty of Terre Haute; grandchildren, Bethany Hensley and husband Izek of Indianapolis, Nate Cottom of Terre Haute, Donna Wycoff and husband Jon of Ypsilanti Mich., Mark Schnake of Grosse Ile, Stephanie Argyle and husband Morris of Provo, Utah, Christy Epsy and Leesa Miles, both of Birmingham, Ala.; six great-grandchildren; a son-in-law, Gordon Miles of Gadston, Ala.; a sister, Bettie Smythe and husband Clarence of Seelyville; uncle, Dale Cottom of Evansville; and one niece. He also was preceded in death by his parents; infant son, Stephen Cottom; and daughter, Sandy Miles.

Visitation will be Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Roselawn Funeral Home. Services are Friday at 10 a.m., with the Rev. Theresa Highus officiating. Burial will follow in Roselawn Memorial Park. The VFW Post 972 will perform military burial rites at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.


November 13, 2010

Mary Louise Nicoson Laswell

TERRE HAUTE — Mary Louise Nicoson Laswell, 84, left this world to be with her Lord and Savior and long departed husband. Mary passed away Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010, in Terre Haute Regional Hospital.  She was born Dec. 8, 1925, to Edgar and Estella Brill Nicoson.  She married Edward Eugene Laswell on Jan. 2, 1942, and he preceded her in death on March 29, 1991.  

She was a homemaker, and devoted wife and mother in the Riley area most of her life. She enjoyed cooking and sharing meals with her family and friends.  She enjoyed time fishing in Canada and playing euchre with her husband and sister Mildred Collins and her husband Bill as well as good friends Evelyn and Dick Hansel. She was a member of Oak Hill United Methodist Church till her later years when she became a member of Dunlap United Methodist Church, in Dennison, Ill. She resided at Bethesda Gardens for the last seven years and had many friends there among them, Elizabeth Thompson. 

Survivors include her eight children, son, Ron Laswell and his wife Janice of Terre Haute; daughter, Judy Jarvis and her husband Terry of Terre Haute; son, Joe Laswell and his wife Linda of Terre Haute; daughter, Linda Cremer and her husband Miles of Terre Haute; son, Steven Laswell  and his wife Debby of Terre Haute; daughter, Mary Hansel and her husband Robert of Marshall, Ill., daughter, Debra Fay Laswell of Bloomington, Ind.; and daughter, Kim Osborne and her husband John of Terre Haute; 18 grandchildren, Sharon Taylor, Wayne Laswell, Carol Snowden, and Sarah Gossett, Mary Doti, Dee Sandhop, Dennis and Edward Jarvis, Laura Cremer, Rustin and Jason Laswell and Jennifer Hamilton, Edward Brady Hansel, Julie Bender, Megan Hansel, John, Andrew and Abby Osborne; a sister who will soon be 100, Mildred Collins; 34 great-grandchildren;  and several nieces and nephews.  

She was preceded in death by her husband of 49 years, Edward Eugene Laswell; her parents;  three brothers Cyril, George and Paul Nicoson; and a sister, Norma Yaraschefski.   

Funeral services are 4 p.m. today, Nov. 13, 2010, in Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home, 605 South 25th St. Burial will follow in Grandview Cemetery. Pall bearers will be her grandsons. Due to the amount of blessings Mary Laswell received with healthy children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren Mary’s wishes were that memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, St. Jude Tribute Program, P.O. Box 1000, Department 142, Memphis, TN 38148-0142.

Lillian Sarah Dumes Zoll

TERRE HAUTE — Lillian Sarah Dumes Zoll, formerly of Terre Haute, was born in 1922, and passed away in her sleep on Oct. 23, 2010. Lillian was the beloved wife of Samuel L. Zoll for 68 years, and the devoted mother of Cyril-Ann, Deborah and Richard, Reid and Marianne. She will be remembered as adored “Bubby” of grandchildren, Meredith, Barry, Erin, Zachary, Beth, Joshua, Kimberly, Rebecca, Lauren and Matthew, and great-grandmother to Sidney, Maxwell and Dylan. Lillian was favorite aunt to many nieces and nephews. Lillian also leaves her brother William and his wife Elaine Dumes of Ohio; sisters-in-law, Fanny and her husband Jack London of Florida, and Babs Zoll of Indiana.

Among many contributions, Lillian lived a life of service to her Terre Haute community and synagogue, where she was president of its Sisterhood, and served on the board for 35 years. She taught Sunday school, and held offices in the National Council of Jewish Women, and was a lifelong member of Hadassah. She was president of her local PTA, and was a Brownie Scout leader. Lillian became loving caretaker for her husband, Samuel, when he became ill in 1983.

There will be a 10 a.m. service today, at Eternal Light Chapel, 17250 W. Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach, Fla. Graveside services will be at Highland Lawn Cemetery on Wednesday at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to United Hebrew Congregation, 540 S. Sixth St., Terre Haute, IN, 47807-4312. Arrangements are under the direction of Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home, 605 S. 25th St.


October 24, 2010

Dorothy J. Robbins

TERRE HAUTE — Dorothy J. Robbins, 86, of Terre Haute, passed away Oct. 23, 2010, in Union Hospital. She was born Oct. 10, 1924, in Burnett, to Worley Darnell and Myrtle King Darnell. She was retired from St. Louis Children’s Hospital as an ambulatory supervisor.

She was a member of the Terre Haute First Church of the Nazarene. She enjoyed writing song lyrics and poems. She also enjoyed working puzzles, reading and making noodles for her family and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and her husband, William Robbins, who passed away in 1971. She also was preceded in death by a grandson, James Swanson; two sons-in-law, Gary Shaffer and Paul Daley; a sister, Esther Fulford; a brother, Russell Darnell, and a half brother, Jim Darnell. She is survived by one son, Robert Robbins and his wife Debbie of Terre Haute; two daughters, Kay Shaffer-Daley of Terre Haute, and Karen Swanson and her husband Daryl of Brazil. She also is survived by eight grandchildren, Michael Shaffer and his wife Kim, Teri Shaffer Price, Scott Hines, Christopher Swanson and his wife Kim, Scott Swanson and his wife Micki, Jeff Swanson, Courtney Robbins, and Lindsay Sanders and her husband Reggie; 17 great-grandchildren; a special niece, Phyllis Fulford of Terre Haute; and other nieces and nephews.

Funeral services are 1 p.m. Tuesday at Greiner Funeral Home, 2005 North 13th Street, in Terre Haute. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. until service time on Tuesday with the Rev. Neva McFarland officiating. Burial will be in Roselawn Memorial Park.


Robert R. Herner, 58, of Terre Haute, died Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010, in Bethesda Gardens. He was born April 21, 1952, in Terre Haute, to Olin M. Herner and Virginia R. Larr Herner. Robert was a geologist in Phoenix. After a heart attack that led to a traumatic brain injury, he returned to Terre Haute to enjoy life and care at Bethesda Gardens.

Survivors include two brothers, David Herner and his wife Jodie and Dr. Keith J. Herner, both of Terre Haute; two nephews and one niece, Chris Herner, Cory Herner, and Kelly Herner, all of Indianapolis; and a great-nephew, Griffin Herner of South Bend. He was preceded in death by his parents; and a brother, Stephen R. Herner in 2001.    

Robert graduated from Gerstmeyer Tech High School and received his master’s degree from Indiana State University. He was a talented artist and enjoyed sports, and the St. Louis Cardinals. Robert enjoyed spending time with his family and friends. 

August 18, 2010

Muriel Dolores VanVactor

Muriel Dolores VanVactor, 92, of Terre Haute, passed away Aug. 17, 2010, at Terre Haute Regional Hospital. Born May 7, 1918, in North Terre Haute, she was the daughter of Charles E. Killion and Lena (Latta) Killion. Muriel had worked as a telegrapher and also a night manager for Western Union. She also had worked at Eastern Motor Express.

She was a member of Grace Temple Church. Her hobbies included playing the piano and singing for many area churches.

Survivors include her children, Muriel White and husband Dale of Indianapolis, Paul E. Wells Sr. and wife Donna of Brazil, Charles F. VanVactor and wife Cathy, Joseph V. VanVactor and wife Donna, William VanVactor and wife Janice, all of Terre Haute, and Renee Liffick of Prairieton; 13 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren; a sister, Lolita Bernhardt of Clayton; and many nieces and nephews.  She was preceded in death by her parents; first husband, Charles James Wells; second husband, Russell C. VanVactor; son, Charles James Wells Jr.; sister, Ruby Laverne Clements; and a brother, Charles E. Killion Jr.

Funeral services will be Friday at 2 p.m., at Roselawn Funeral Home, 7500 N. Clinton St., with Pastor David Fleetwood officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to services. Entombment will follow at Roselawn Memorial Park.


Evelyn Ruth Jeffers

TERRE HAUTE — Evelyn Ruth Jeffers, 81, went to be with the Lord on Sunday, July 18, 2010, at her residence in Riley. She was born Oct. 16, 1928, in Terre Haute, to Pearl Stephens and Christina Mueller Stephens.

Evelyn is survived by her daughter, Mary Corthum and husband Ronnie; her son, Gregory Jeffers and wife Karen; special niece and caregiver, Eula Stephens; dear sister, Edna Franklin of Fort Myers, Fla.; special great-granddaughter, Haley Jane Corthum; granddaughters, Heather Mikesell and Holly Clouse; a special double cousin, Betty Touchton; a special friend, Lela Copeland; along with many other nieces and nephews that she held close to her heart. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband of 67 years, Hale Jeffers; two sons, Tony Hale Jeffers and Darwin Dale Jeffers; her only grandson, Kirk Hale Corthum; sisters, Mary Alice Fagg and Eula “Auntie” Fagg; brothers, Richard Stephens and Virgil Stephens.

Evelyn was a loving mother and wife. She took great pleasure in spending time with her family and friends. For 41 years, along with her sisters, daughter, and nieces she owned and operated the J&F Market in Riley. She She took great pleasure in spending time with her family and friends. For 41 years, along with her sisters, daughter, and nieces she owned and operated the J&F Market in Riley. She cherished the time spent serving the people of Riley. She attended Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church.

After battling cancer for the past 10 years she is finally at peace with the Lord.

Services will be Wednesday, July 21, 2010, at 11 a.m. Visitation is today from 4 to 8 p.m. They both will be held at Mattox-Fox Funeral Home in Riley. The Revs. Aaron Wheaton and Rick Swan will officiate. Burial is at Oak HIll Cemetery. Pallbearers are Ryan Hughes, Greg Hughes, Joe Jacob, Bob Weil, Steven Field and Denny Jarvis.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church.


TERRE HAUTE — Charles “Leo” Dean, 89, of Terre Haute, died Sunday, June 13, 2010, in Springhill Village. He was a retired service manager for Firestone. He was born June 22, 1920, in Vigo County, to Charles A. Dean and Allie All Dean.

Survivors include three daughters, Wilma Harden and husband Eric, and Norma Bartlett, all of Terre Haute, and Anita Smothers and her husband Kenneth of Jasonville; a brother, Raymond “Earl” Dean and his wife Henrietta of Washington State; five grandchildren, Cynthia Thompson and her husband Kevin of Noblesville, Cristina Godwin and her husband Kenneth of Plainfield, Kevin Harden of Terre Haute, James E. Tryon III and Kenneth Smothers, both of Jasonville; eight great-grandchildren, Ashley, Amanda, Christian and Kayla Thompson, Abigail and Matthew Godwin and Haylee and Cody Harden; his former wife and best friend, Frances L. Dean of Terre Haute; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife of 30 years, Pauline Brenton Dean; a son, Darrell Wayne Dean; four brothers, Arthur Dean, Lawrence Dean, Leslie Dean and Nelson Dean; five sisters, Hazel McAnally, Annie Henderson, Mary Myers, Nellie Eddy and Eathel Dean; and a son-in-law, William Bartlett.

Leo served with the U.S. Navy during World War II, and was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 972. He was a member and had worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps in Worthington.

Funeral services will be conducted at 3 p.m. today in Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home, 605 S. 25th St., with Pastor Bill Williams officiating. Burial will be in Fletcher Chapel Cemetery in Pimento, with graveside military honors conducted by VFW Post 972. Visitation is scheduled prior to services from 2 to 3 p.m., in the funeral home. If friends so desire, memorial contributions may be made to the family.

Marts, Margaret Louise
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Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010, at Cobblestone Crossings, our beloved mother, Margaret Louise Marts, departed from this Earth to be with Jesus in His Kingdom. Margaret was born Feb. 5, 1928 to Myrtle Marie Garloch and Henry Pearly Fry. Her youth was spent in Farmersburg, Ind.On June 8, 1946, she married Frederick Laverne Marts and began her family in Terre Haute. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; and brothers, Jimmie and Bill Fry. Her love will be missed by her daughters, Patty Woods and husband Garry, and Rosemary Hubbard and husband Ward. Her legacy will be carried forward by four grandchildren, Bradley Woods and wife Angie, Brian Woods and wife Jessy, Courtney and Anne Hubbard; and great-grandchildren, including Ethan, Kelsey, Kaylee, Hunter and Olivia Woods, and Madi Unger. She is also survived by one brother, Earl Fry and wife Edna; one sister, Betty Robinson and husband George; a sister-in-law, Modena Fry; and many nieces and nephews.All of our hearts are burdened by her passing but enlivened by the knowledge she is at peace.Funeral services will be conducted at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 11, 2010 in Callahan and Hughes Funeral Home, 605 South 25th Street, with Pastor Mark Grayless officiating. Visitation is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday in the funeral home. Burial will be in Roselawn Memorial Park.
Published in The Tribune Star from 1/7/2010 - 1/8/2010

Wodicka, Cleota M.
Cleota M. Wodicka, 91, of Terre Haute, died Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009, in Davis Gardens Health Center. She was born July 25, 1918, in Cory, to Roy Morgan and Chloe McCullough Morgan. She was principal of Fayette Elementary School from 1967 to 1988. Cleota was married to Edward J. Wodicka Jr. on June 17, 1939, and he preceded her in death in 1997.Survivors include a son, Steve Wodicka and his wife Kathleen of Greenwood; a daughter, Dr. Susan M. Wodicka of Nashville, Tenn.; five grandchildren, Kathryn Franssen and her husband Jeff, Elizabeth Geryak and her husband Chris, John T. Tidwell, Melissa Stugart and her husband Reuben, and Gregory Tidwell; and a great-granddaughter, Karolina Franssen. Cleota was a very active member of First Baptist Church, Altrusa, National Education Association, Town and Country Square Dance Club, and Colonial Dames. She also was a graduate of Cory High School and Indiana State University. Funeral services will be conducted at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009, in First Baptist Church, with the Rev. Bernie Jackson officiating. Visitation is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, 2009, in Callahan and Hughes Funeral Home, 605 S. 25th St., and one hour before services Saturday, in the church. Burial will be in Oak Hill Cemetery. The family kindly requests that memorial contributions be made to First Baptist Church, 4701 E. Poplar St., Terre Haute, IN 47803.

Clingerman, Betty E. Keiser "Granny"
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Betty E. "Granny" Keiser Clingerman, 87, of Terre Haute, passed away on Nov. 26, 2009, at Union Hospital. She was born in Clay County, on Sept. 8, 1922, to Oscar L. Keiser and Estelle Telgemeyer Keiser. She was a homemaker and loved raising her family. She was a loving mother, grandmother and friend to many. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, John Clingerman, who passed away April 15, 2007; four brothers, and three sisters. She is survived by two sons, John Shields and wife Lisa of Terre Haute, and Paul Clingerman and wife Susan of Terre Haute; one daughter, Mary Lou Modesitt and husband Jim of Brazil; seven grandchildren, Brenda James, Pamela Grooms, Lisa Ann Fineis, Amy Clingerman, Mike Clingerman, Kelly Alford, and Kyle Alford; 13 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. Memorial services are scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5, 2009, at noon, with visitation from 10 a.m. until service time, at Greiner Funeral Home, 2005 N. 13th S., with Pastor Tom Simmons officiating. Cremation is scheduled. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to 14th and Chestnut Community Center, 1403 Chestnut St., Terre Haute, IN 47807. Contribution envelopes will be available at the funeral home.

Jennings, Cecelia L.
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Cecelia L. Jennings, 92, of Fairfield, Ohio, and formerly of Terre Haute, passed away Friday, Nov. 6, 2009, in Fairfield. She was born Oct. 14, 1917, in Terre Haute, to Walter A. Bridges and Mainetta Dahlen Bridges. She was a former office manager for Dahlen Roofing and Guttering, and a homemaker. Her husband, Clarence E. Jennings, preceded her in death.She is survived by a son, Clarence Jennings Jr. and his wife Paula of Terre Haute; two daughters, Terri Calvert of Chicago, and Susan Schermer and her husband Bill of Fairfield; a brother, Richard Bridges of Terre Haute; four grandchildren, Michael Jennings and his partner Loretta Roberts, Spencer Hobson, Edward Schermer, and Aarin Calvert and his wife Jennifer; and one great-grandson, Michael.Services are 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Chapel of Memories at Roselawn Memorial Park, with Pastor Marilyn Smith officiating. Burial will follow at Roselawn Memorial Park. Visitation is noon until services Tuesday in the chapel. Greiner Funeral Home, 2005 N. 13th St., is in charge of local arrangements.

Linnabary, Betty L.
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Betty L. Linnabary, 87, of Terre Haute, passed away Thursday morning Sept. 10, 2009. She was born on July 20, 1922 to George and Agnes Fields. She is survived by three daughters: Donna Weger, Sharon Hensley, and Vicki Zanandrea; seven grandchildren: Brandy Norris, Marco and Maranda Zanandrea, Mandra Garrard, Meredith Moon, Macrea Mitchell, and Courtney Weger and 10 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents; a brother: Donald Fields, and her husband Donald Linnabary who died October of 2002. She was a member of the Woman's Auxiliary. Funeral services are 11 a.m. Monday in DeBaun Springhill Chapel, 85 E. Springhill Dr., with the Rev. Chris Wilbur officiating. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery. Visitation is from 2 until 6 p.m. Sunday in the funeral home. Pallbearers will be: Danny Hensley, David Weger, Phillip Garrard, Chris Moon, Marco Zanandrea, and Justin Mitchell.

Hayes, Helen Marie
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Helen Marie Hayes, 58, of Terre Haute, passed away Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009, in her home. She was born on Sept. 12, 1950, in Terre Haute, to Charles and Anna Josephine (Todd) Gentry. She was a former employee of Bemis, and then went on to work as a teaching assistant. Helen was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion. She loved spending time with her grandchildren and also she enjoyed antiques, gardening and scrapbooking.She is survived by her husband, Doug Hayes of Terre Haute; children, Brian Gosnell and his companion Barbara Bendekovich of Terre Haute, Larry Rutledge and wife Chris, Leslee Elliot and husband Hugh, and Laurie Hammond and husband Nate, all of Fort Wayne; grandchildren, Brittany Bendekovich, Monica Adams, Carl Adams, Sarah Gosnell, Dalilah Gosnell, Nicky Gosnell, Kayla French, Kole Rutledge, Kyle Rutledge, Austin Elliott, Leah Elliott, Kennedie Hammond and Londyn Hammond. Also surviving are stepbrother, Don Hart and wife Sharon of Tuscola, Ill.; and stepsisters, Ruth Hart of Tuscola, and Linda Cooksey of Rialto, Calif.She was preceded in death by her mother, Jo Ann Hart; and stepfather, Earl Hart.Services are 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21, 2009, in Roselawn Funeral Home, 7500 N. Clinton St., with Pastor Bob Roush officiating. Visitation is 4 to 8 p.m. today, in the funeral home. Burial will follow services in Roselawn Memorial Park.
Published in The Tribune Star from 8/18/2009 - 8/20/2009

Dowen, Scott Martin
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Warrant Officer Scott Dowen, USMC, died unexpectedly Thursday, July 30, 2009, in San Diego. He was born on March 3, 1974, in Hamilton County, the son of Frank S. Dowen and Janie Daley Dowen. He attended Lost Creek Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Middle School, and graduated from Worthington High School in Columbus, Ohio, in 1992.Immediately after graduation, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, doing his basic training at Paris Island. After basic training, he was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C.; Okinawa, Japan; New Orleans, and then back to Camp Lejeune. He was then sent to Camp Miramar in San Diego, prior to his deployment to Iraq. While stationed in Iraq, he was promoted to warrant officer. He graduated from warrant officer training in May 2007, in Quantico, Va., then back to Camp Lejeune for the balance of his warrant officer training, graduating in October 2007. From October 2007 until now, Scott was based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego.Scott loved coming home in the summer to go fishing and playing golf with his favorite fishing and golfing buddy, his dad. Also he enjoyed driving the Camaro Z-28 as fast as it could go.He was preceded in death by his grandfathers, James G. Dowen and Alfred Daley; and aunt, Margaret "Meg" Stark Dowen. Survivors include his loving daughter, Kori Dowen of Lawton, Okla., Kori had just returned from two months in San Diego with her dad and his fiancée Jennifer Anderson. Scott also is survived by his loving parents, Frank S. Dowen and Amy Dowen, and Janie and David Hensley; his beloved Jennifer (Jen) Anderson of San Diego; sisters, Amy S. Connally and her husband Stan of Nashville, Tenn., Ashely N. Dowen, and Elizabeth G. Dowen, both of Fishers, Alexandra Renschler of Worthington, Ohio, and Lisa Behringer and her husband Mike of Terre Haute; grandmothers, Mary C. Dowen and Olivene (Benie) Daley; special grandfather, Papa Ernie Woods; aunts, Carole Nasser and husband Abe and Kathy Wilcoxon and husband Rick; uncles, James Dowen, Mike Daley and wife Debbie and Woody Woods and wife Brenda; and very special nieces and nephews, Doran Smith, Mya Smith, Shelby Behringer, Elizabeth Behringer and Brandin BehringerScott loved his family, country, the U.S. Marine Corps and will be missed by all.Services are pending at DeBaun Funeral Home, 85 East Springhill Drive, Terre Haute.
Published in The Tribune Star from 8/1/2009 - 8/3/2009

Ream, Jeffery Warren
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Jeffery Warren Ream, 58, of Terre Haute died at on Tuesday, June 16, 2009, at Union Hospital. He was born in Terre Haute, Ind. on July 31, 1950, to Bobby Warren Ream and Madonna Elaine Banyas Ream. He was a systems software analyst at Columbia House for 40 years. He married his lifelong love from the age of five, M. Susan (Susi) Olmi Ream on Oct. 28, 1972. He adored his family and enjoyed spending time with family and friends. He was an avid motorcyclist, car buff, recently found a new love in camping and was an active supporter of the National Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation. He is survived by his wife; one son, Sam Ream and his wife Keturah of Clinton, Ind.; two brothers, Bradley Ream and his wife Kay Haripold of Catlin, Ind., and Danny Ream and his wife Donnie of Terre Haute; one brother-in-law, Ray Olmi and his wife Cindy of West Terre Haute; two sister-in-laws, Sherry Pound of Terre Haute and Becky Stoehr and her husband Mike of Dennison, Ill.; nieces and nephews, Kate Vannoy of Southport, Ind., Maggie Rife of Mooresville, Ind.; a niece who was a daughter to us, Jamie Williams and her husband Paul of Amo, Ind.., Ray Olmi Jr. of West Terre Haute, Eric Olmi of Kissimee, Fla., Brian Williams of Amo, Chelsea Williams of Amo, Stephanie Stoehr of Dennison, Blake Stoehr of Houston, and Chris Stoehr of Noblesville, Ind.; aunts and uncles, John and Betty Ann Ream of Terre Haute, Jack Myers of Terre Haute, Trilby Reagin of Terre Haute, and Wilber and Jo Ann Ream Moore; several cousins; Susi's mother who he considered a mother, Ruth Ann Olmi, and a dear friend, Peggy DeLong and family. Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m. today with services at 1 p.m. on Saturday, at Greiner Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 2005 North 13th Street. Burial will be at Roselawn Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers the family suggests that contributions be made to the National Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation, envelopes will be available at the Funeral Home.
Published in The Tribune Star from 6/18/2009 - 6/19/2009

I just got off the phone with
Frank Skidmore and learned that his oldest brother passed away on March 2nd. There was no obituary. Our belated thoughts and prayers go out to his family.


Baron D. Mitchell Sr., 58, of Terre Haute, entered into Heavens gates peacefully on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009, at 8:55 a.m., at his residence in the presence of his loving family. He was born May 30, 1950, in Terre Haute, to Vertner Mitchell and Doris J. McConnell Mitchell. He was a 1968 graduate of Gerstmeyer Technical High School. He was the former owner of Sadhanna Jewelry and Mom’s Fine Food. He was a certified silversmith.Survivors include his wife, Laresa Y. Anderson Mitchell; sons, Baron D. Mitchell Jr., Cyrus L. Mitchell, LaVane V. Mitchell, Maron E. Mitchell, and Brandon L. Mitchell, all of Terre Haute, and Troy M. Washington (Trisha) of St. Louis; daughters, CieAna M. Gomez of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Amber N. McKinney of Terre Haute; mother and stepfather, Doris J. Huff (Walter) of Terre Haute; brothers, Elder Curtis L. Mitchell Sr. (Nicole) of Terre Haute, Brenton C, Mitchell (Karen) of Lincoln, Neb., and Prentiss A. Huff of Terre Haute; sisters, Ila R. Churchill (Brian Blakemore) of Terre Haute, Brenda Huff of Evansville, Angela R. Caruthers of Terre Haute, and Judith Russell; six aunts; eight grandchildren; and host of nieces, nephews, and other relatives. He was preceded in death by his father; and brothers, John M. Mitchell and Clinton D. Mitchell. Services are 11 a.m. Tuesday at Saints Home Church of God in Christ, 2210 N. 13th St., with interment at Stewart Lawn Cemetery. Visitation is 5 to 8 p.m. Monday, at the church. Final arrangements are entrusted to Stuart Mortuary Inc., Indianapolis.
Published in The Tribune Star from 2/28/2009 - 3/2/2009


Deloris May Woods

Deloris May Woods, 79, of Avon, and formerly of Terre Haute, died Saturday, Feb. 14, 2009, at Lakeview Nursing Home in Indianapolis. She was born Dec. 18, 1929, in Bismarck, N.D., to the Rev. Marvin C. Miller and Marie B. (Heltne) Miller. She worked as a secretary at DeVaney School for 15 years. In addition, she was a longtime member of Kings Highway Tabernacle in Terre Haute, also played the piano there, and was active with the youth group. Upon moving to Avon, she became a member of Crossroads Church in Mooresville. Survivors include her husband, Robert A. Woods, whom she married Sept. 4, 1948; daughters, Linda White and husband the Rev. Curtiss White of Avon, and Rhonda Peters and husband Richard of Mishawaka; a brother, David Miller of Louisiana; a sister, Lois Shute of Florida; seven grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her son, Bradley Woods. Visitation is 5 to 8 p.m. today at Crossroad Church, 210 Wheeler St. in Mooresville, and 11 a.m. until noon Monday at Kings Highway Tabernacle, 2901 S. 7th St. in Terre Haute. Services are noon Monday at Kings Highway Church. Burial is at Oak Hill Cemetery in Riley. Memorial contributions may be made to Crossroads Church, 210 Wheeler St., Mooresville, IN 46158. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Carlisle and Son Funeral Chapel in Mooresville.

Published in The Tribune Star from 2/14/2009 - 2/16/2009








Truitt, Joan C.


Joan C. Truitt, 78, a noted Indianapolis psychologist and educator, died Monday, Jan. 5, 2009, after a short illness. Dr. Truitt began her professional career as a family education and assessment specialist in the Oak Lawn and Chicago school systems and with Operation Head Start. From 1965 to 1968, she served as dean of women at DePaul University. She then moved to Indiana, where she served as director of student development at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. She earned her doctorate in psychology in 1974 from Indiana State University, and worked at the Hamilton Center in Terre Haute, before moving to Indianapolis in 1986 and opening a private practice.Over the years, she served on the adjunct faculty of the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, Indiana University School of Medicine, and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Personology and Psychopathology in Coral Cables, Fla. She also co-founded the Personality Studies Institute in Indianapolis with Dr. Harlan Higgins, who called her passing a great loss to the city’s mental health community.“Dr. Truitt will be remembered for her pursuit of knowledge, particularly in the study of personality theory, and above all her compassion for people and the vagaries of the human condition,” he said.She was predeceased by her first husband, Harvey Kelly, a Chicago businessman; her second husband, John Truitt, vice president of student affairs at Indiana State University; and a son, Joseph Kelly.She is survived by a sister, Carol Stumpe; son, James Kelly; daughter, Kathleen Kelly; stepson, John Truitt; stepdaughter, Cheryl Olsen; six grandchildren, Bradford, Patrick, Joseph and Kevin Kelly, Cullane and Connor Horne, five stepgrandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and Godchild, Darla Sacopulos.Visitation will be Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009, from 4 to 8 p.m. in Leppert Mortuary, Nora Chapel, 740 E. 86th Street, Indianapolis. Funeral services will be private.

Published in The Tribune Star from 1/7/2009 - 1/8/2009

Laxen, Ruth Ann Poland
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Ruth Ann Poland Laxen, 102, formerly of Terre Haute, died Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. She was a longtime resident of Terre Haute for 85 years. She was a former teacher at Warren Elementary School, and was principal at Crawford Elementary School. She was the beloved wife of her husband of 63 years, Rexford Laxen, who preceded her in death.She was the devoted mother of Barbara R. Boyd and Richard Laxen. Also survived by four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.She was a member of World Gospel Church and Order of Eastern Star.Entombment will be 2 p.m. Friday at Roselawn Memorial Park. Vorhis and Ryan Funeral Home, 310 Dunn St., Cincinnati, assisted with arrangements.
Published in The Tribune Star from 1/6/2009 - 1/8/2009


President George W. Bush will leave behind a legacy of Bushisms, the label stamped on the commander in chief's original speaking style. Some of the president's more notable malaprops and mangled statements:


• "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." — September 2000, explaining his energy policies at an event in Michigan.

• "Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?" — January 2000, during a campaign event in South Carolina.

• "They misunderestimated the compassion of our country. I think they misunderestimated the will and determination of the commander in chief, too." — Sept. 26, 2001, in Langley, Va. Bush was referring to the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.

• "There's no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail." — Oct. 4, 2001, in Washington. Bush was remarking on a back-to-work plan after the terrorist attacks.

• "It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber." — April 10, 2002, at the White House, as Bush urged Senate passage of a broad ban on cloning.

• "I want to thank the dozens of welfare-to-work stories, the actual examples of people who made the firm and solemn commitment to work hard to embetter themselves." — April 18, 2002, at the White House.

• "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." — Sept. 17, 2002, in Nashville, Tenn.

• "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." — Aug. 5, 2004, at the signing ceremony for a defense spending bill.

• "Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." — Sept. 6, 2004, at a rally in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

• "Our most abundant energy source is coal. We have enough coal to last for 250 years, yet coal also prevents an environmental challenge." — April 20, 2005, in Washington.

• "We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job." — Sept. 20, 2005, in Gulfport, Miss.

• "I can't wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbors back into neighborhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs." — Sept. 5, 2005, when Bush met with residents of Poplarville, Miss., in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

• "It was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship. After all, 60 years we were at war 60 years ago we were at war." — June 29, 2006, at the White House, where Bush met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

• "Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die." — Dec. 7, 2006, in a joint appearance with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

• "These are big achievements for this country, and the people of Bulgaria ought to be proud of the achievements that they have achieved." — June 11, 2007, in Sofia, Bulgaria.

• "Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit." — September 2007, in Sydney, Australia, where Bush was attending an APEC summit.

• "Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech." April 16, 2008, at a ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to the White House.

• "The fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there's jobs at the machine-making place." — May 27, 2008, in Mesa, Ariz.

• "And they have no disregard for human life." — July 15, 2008, at the White House. Bush was referring to enemy fighters in Afghanistan.

• "I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office." — June 26, 2008, during a Rose Garden news briefing.

• "Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13 small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people." — July 4, 2008 in Virginia.

• "The people in Louisiana must know that all across our country there's a lot of prayer — prayer for those whose lives have been turned upside down. And I'm one of them. It's good to come down here." — Sept. 3, 2008, at an emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, La., after Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast.

• "This thaw — took a while to thaw, it's going to take a while to unthaw." Oct. 20, 2008, in Alexandria, La., as he discussed the economy and frozen credit markets.


Newman, Classo Lucille
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Classo Lucille Newman, 87, of Terre Haute, passed away Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008, in her son’s residence in Terre Haute. She retired from Midland Glass in Terre Haute after 17 years of service. She was born on Sept. 28, 1921, in West Terre Haute, to Conrad Allen and Bessie Graham Allen. Her husband of 56 years, John Edward Newman, whom she married on July 14, 1939, preceded her in death in 1995.Survivors include four children, John C. Newman and his wife Mary Alice, Edward E. Newman and his wife Nancy and Judy Brown, all of Terre Haute and James L. Newman and his wife Jeanne of Michigan; 12 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and a brother, Conrad Allen and his wife Marilyn of Terre Haute.She was also preceded in death by a brother, George Allen; and a sister, Opal Hicks.She was a member and Past Worthy Matron of the Order of Eastern Star Chapter 43 in Terre Haute, Rebecca Lodge, and Amaranth Lodge. She loved bowling and had been very active at this until age 86.Funeral services are 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in Fitzpatrick Funeral Home, 220 N. Third St., in West Terre Haute, with an Order of Eastern Star memorial service by OES Chapter 43. Burial is in Bethesda Memorial Park. Visitation is 9 a.m. until service time Wednesday. There will also be a gathering after the services for food and fellowship and to further celebrate her life at the Shadow Auction Barn, 1517 Maple Ave., Terre Haute following the services. The family suggests that if friends so desire, memorial contributions may be made to the Shriners Crippled Children’s Hospital with envelopes available in the funeral home.
Published in The Tribune Star from 12/15/2008 - 12/16/2008

Snell, Vivian J. Orth
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Vivian J. Orth Snell, 89, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008. She was a beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother (G.G.). She was born on Dec. 27, 1918, to the late Vivian Sorrels and John Johnson in Jackson, Miss.Vivian will be missed dearly by her daughters, Carol Harrah and husband David of Terre Haute and Paula Schenck and husband Dan of Clarkston, Mich.; stepsons, Ron Snell and partner Jimmie Williams of Minneapolis, Alan Snell and wife Terry of Indianapolis, Tom Snell and wife Linda of Arden, N.C.; stepdaughters, Deanna Wells and husband Larry of Greencastle, Joyce Thompson and husband Ray of Bargersville; 18 dearly loved grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren; her sister, Ann Duncan; and two brothers, John Johnson and Emery Johnson.Vivian is preceded in death by her parents; and siblings, Ike Johnson, Phil Johnson and Frances Ash.Vivian was married for 29 years to the late John Paul Orth. They enjoyed spending the summers at their cabin on Diets Lake with their daughters and friends. Paul passed away in 1967. In 1975, she married the late Maurice Kibbe Snell. They were “snowbirds” traveling to Lakeland, Fla., every winter to enjoy numerous recreational activities with friends and family.Vivian was a longtime member of First United Methodist Church. She loved church and expressed her faith by teaching Sunday School and serving on various committees. The past 10 years she was a member of Northside United Methodist Church. She was a skilled seamstress and enjoyed making clothes and treasures for all of her family. She was an avid reader, loved playing cards and dominos. Everyone always looked forward to a game with Vivian or receiving a sweet note in the mail from her. Visitation is 4 to 6 p.m. today, in Roselawn Funeral Home, 7500 N. Clinton St. Services are immediately following with the Rev. Alan Rumble officiating. Burial is in Roselawn Memorial Park. Contributions, as expressions of sympathy, may be made to the 14th and Chestnut Community Center, 1403 Chestnut St., Terre Haute, IN 47807.
Published in The Tribune Star on 12/8/2008



Patsy Beatrice (Thompson) Butts

CLAY CITY — Patsy Beatrice (Thompson) Butts was called home Thursday morning, Aug. 21, 2008, to be with the Lord following a brave battle with cancer. Patsy was born May 21, 1930, in Missouri, the daughter of Marvin and Rosa Thompson. She was a longtime resident of the Clay City area, and a graduate of Clay City High School class of 1948. While in high school, she was a four-year varsity cheerleader. In recent years she was a resident of Riley. Patsy spent 28 years working for United States Postal Service. She was appointed postmaster of Prairieton, in 1974, a position she held until her retirement in 1998. She was a longtime member of Clay City Order of Eastern Star. She was connected to Blackhawk Community Church through Pastor Jeff Lee. He had the privilege of baptizing Patsy with family by her side. Her family members were her treasures here on earth. She was a wonderful mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. It brought Patsy much joy to attend the many activities in which her grandchildren participated.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and her husbands Paul “Gene” Lowe and John Harlan Butts.

Patsy is survived by two sons, Jack Lowe and John Butts and wife Lisa; two daughters, Debby Laswell and husband Steve and Cathy Dayhuff and husband Jay. They were very devoted to their mom in her time of need. She also is survived by her loving grandchildren, Whitney Butts, Callie Dayhuff, Courtney Dayhuff, Jason Laswell and wife Melanie, Jennifer Hamilton and husband Kurt, Rustin Laswell and wife Stacy. This wonderful woman also leaves behind eight beautiful great-grandchildren, Elyssa, Alexis, Tyler, Mason, Lane, Kody, Lucas, and Nathan. Her trusted companion, Delilah, will miss their walks. Patsy was grateful to have so many special friends. She appreciated their helpful ways, especially Davina, Kelly, and Chris. She will be greatly missed and forever in our hearts.

Services will be at Schoppenhorst Funeral Home in Clay City, Monday, Aug. 25, 2008, at 11 a.m. with Pastor Jeff Lee officiating. Burial will follow at Maple Grove Cemetery with pallbearers John Butts, Steve Laswell, Jay Dayhuff, Jason Laswell, Rusty Laswell, and Kurt Hamilton carrying her to her final resting place. Visitation will be at the funeral home Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Patsy would want to help others in need, especially the children.

Bellinger, Winifred Rose
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Winifred Rose Bellinger, 78, died at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 10, 2008, in her residence. She was born Sept. 30, 1929, in Vigo County to James Higham and Blanche Hoskins Higham. She graduated in 1947 from Glenn High School. She worked at CBS and was a group home manager.She is survived by one daughter, Nancy Bellinger of Indianapolis; three sons, Pete Bellinger and wife Suzi of Terre Haute, Pat Bellinger and wife Denise of Yuccipa, Calif., Jeff Bellinger and wife Patty of Terre Haute; four grandchildren, Jenney Bellinger-Baugh, Chris, Kyle and Kevin Bellinger; two great-grandchildren, Carson and Peighton Baugh; and several nieces, nephews and great-nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews.She was preceded in death by her husband William A. Bellinger in 1988; one son, Mike Bellinger; one daughter, Susie Asbury; one brother, Jim “Popcorn” Higham and one sister, Marguerite Leach. She was a member of Barbour Avenue United Methodist Church and Dietz Lake Association. She was very active in many activities in her children’s lives and in the community. Funeral services are noon Saturday at Callahan-DeBaun Funeral Home, 2425 Wabash Ave. in Terre Haute with Pastor Aaron Wheaton officiating. Visitation is 4 to 8 p.m. Friday in the funeral home. Burial will be in Roselawn Memorial Park. If friends desire, memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of the Wabash Valley or Huntington’s Disease Society of America, Indiana Chapter (HDSA) – Mike Lewis, PO Box 2101, Indianapolis, IN 46206

Huffenberger USAF, Ret., Tech. Sgt. Lester A.
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Tech. Sgt. Lester A. Huffenberger, USAF, Ret., died Friday morning, April 11, 2008, in Union Hospital. He was born March 30, 1919, in Springfield, Ohio, to Berge A. Huffenberger and Gertrude Jordan Huffenberger. Survivors include his wife of 61 years, Mary E. Craffets Huffenberger; a daughter, Sue Boehler and her husband Chuck of Terre Haute; three sons, Roger Huffenberger and his wife Flo of Cannon City, Colorado, John Huffenberger and his wife Elaine of Denison, Texas, and Michael Huffenberger and his wife Michelle of Midlothian, Texas; nine grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers; and one sister.Lester was a graduate of Springfield (Ohio) High School and with his military career was a veteran of World War II, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam. He also had worked for and retired from the Pillsbury Company.Graveside funeral services will be conducted at 9 a.m. Monday, April 14, 2008, in Calvary Cemetery with Father Richard Kaley officiating. Military Graveside Honors will be provided by VFW Post 972 and the U.S. Air Force. There is no visitation. Arrangements are under the direction of Callahan and Hughes Funeral Home, 605 South 25th Street. The family kindly requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the charity of your choice.Wabash Valley
Published in The Tribune Star from 4/12/2008 - 4/13/2008.
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Chilton, Ernestine
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Ernestine “Tinie” Chilton, 83, of West Terre Haute, passed away at 9:40 p.m. Thursday, March 20, 2008, in Union Hospital. She was born Aug. 29, 1924, in Vigo County, to Walter Barnhart and Stella King Barnhart. Her Husband, William Charles “Bill” Chilton, preceded her in death on Nov. 18, 1980.Survivors include her children, Raymond Chilton and his wife Patsy, Carolyn Frye and her husband Larry, Sam Chilton and his wife Becky, Pamela Glenn and her husband Faron, Chuck Chilton, Johnny Chilton and Dianne Chilton; two brothers, Lorenzo “Pug” Barnhart and Coen “Barnie” Barnhart; 23 grandchildren; 37 great-grandchildren; and six great-great-grandchildren; a special friend, Aileen Campbell, whom she considered a sister; and several nieces and nephews.She was preceded in death by her husband, a son, Kenny Chilton; two daughters, Janice Chilton and Linda Chilton; three brothers, Gerald “Skinney” Barnhart, Russell “Rut” Barnhart, and Clifford “Bifty” Barnhart; and three infant children. She attended Concannon High School and Second Praire Creek Baptist Church where she was baptized in 1988. She loved music, dancing, playing card games, bunko, and phase 10. She was famous for her noodles and had made pies for MCL Cafeteria.Services are 1 p.m. Monday in Fitzpatrick Funeral Home, 220 N. Third Street, West Terre Haute, with the Rev. Wiliford Fagg officiating. Visitation is 11 a.m. until service time Monday. Cremation is scheduled after services with her ashes to be buried in Barnhart Cemetery at a later date.
Published in The Tribune Star on 3/22/2008.



When musicians around Midwest need a harmonica player, they call Steve Rusin

By Mark Bennett
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE Steve Rusin’s musical future could’ve ended, been erased and lost in an Air Force barracks trash can in Thailand.

A fellow serviceman was about to discard a few unwanted items. Curious, Rusin rescued them.

“He had a ‘Paul Butterfield Blues Band’ album laying on his bunk,” Rusin recalled of that moment in 1969. An old harmonica and a how-to-play tape sat nearby. “He was just gonna chuck ’em, and I picked ’em up.”

Rusin quickly taught himself to play, and he never stopped. In the 39 years since then, Rusin has played harmonica on numerous recordings by regional artists in a variety of genres — blues, rock, country, bluegrass, gospel and jazz. His skill ranks with players far beyond the Midwest, insists former Nashville session guitarist Dave Kyle, a Wabash Valley native.

“I’ve played with lots of musicians, including the great Charlie McCoy, and I can vouch for the fact that Steve is world class, with the emphasis on class,” Kyle said. “He’s a musical encyclopedia and knows exactly where to place his pitch-perfect notes.”

That puts Rusin in lofty company. McCoy’s harmonica virtuosity is renowned in Nashville, where he’s recorded with Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Paul Simon and Ringo Starr, among others.

Outside musicians’ inner circles, though, harmonica players go unheralded. The greats who influenced Rusin aren’t household names — Buddy Green, Paul deLay, and, of course, Butterfield. That debut album by Butterfield, the same one Rusin found on his Air Force buddy’s bunk, helped introduce the blues to white America, according to music historians.

Yet the late Butterfield’s fame as a blues pioneer is mostly recognized by aficionados of the genre.

Even those who’ve mastered the small, hand-held instrument seldom bask in the spotlight.

“That’s why they don’t get hired into bands, because nobody wants to pay a harmonica player,” explained Rusin, who’s regarded as an understated guy himself. “But they like to hear ’em.”

Though he’s a veteran of many styles of music, the 57-year-old Rusin is well-known for his blues work. It began shortly after Rusin returned home from his Air Force duty overseas, where he served as a plane-crash firefighter. By then, he’d obviously practiced on that reclaimed, old harmonica.

“Steve introduced me to the blues,” Kyle said. “As a result, the band we formed, Kid Lizard, introduced much of the Wabash Valley to live blues. People like Johnny Wright and Rudy Ross were playing it for the black community long before we did, but in the early 1970s absolutely no white groups were playing blues music anywhere around Terre Haute.”

Rusin started playing rock ’n’ roll in the mid-1960s as a bassist for Terre Haute band The Creepers. Though he still plays bass and a few other instruments, it was that accidental connection with the harmonica that gave him a unique niche.

Harmonicas, invented in Austria in the early 1800s, became popular in the United States during the Civil War era. Abraham Lincoln carried a Hohner harmonica during his presidency, and wrote that German company to tell its craftsmen how he would relax by blowing on his harp.

Nearly 150 years later, Rusin has an endorsement deal with Hohner Harmonicas. He favors two Hohner harmonica models, the Marine Band and the Special 20. The Special 20’s plastic reeds allow players to slide up and down the holes faster, Rusin explained.

There are also two methods of playing a harmonica, by puckering the lips almost as in whistling, and by blocking all but the desired note-holes with the tongue. Rusin is a “tongue player,” rather than a “pucker player.” He respects players using either embouchure.

The harmonica gained mass appeal in the 1970s, when “Saturday Night Live” cast members Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi created their Blues Brothers act. Aykroyd came onstage, chained to a briefcase, which he would unlock to pull out his harmonica and play. Their 1980 movie “The Blues Brothers” and soundtrack album featured Aykroyd playing harmonica alongside Belushi, the singer, and an all-star cast of blues and R&B musicians.

“He became fair to decent [on harmonica], and he turned a lot of people on to it,” Rusin said of the exposure Aykroyd gave the instrument.

“The briefcase and the chain, those were cool,” Rusin added, with a laugh.

Rusin, who works as a printer at Ivy Hill Packaging, is still doing his share to keep blues harmonica popular. His most recent recording work includes a 2007 album by Atlanta-based blues guitarist Mark Cook. That CD, called “Blue Voodoo,” is the third album by Cook, a former Terre Haute resident who was introduced to Rusin through Steve’s younger brother, George, a veteran Terre Haute drummer. Of all the musicians who have recorded with Cook, Rusin is the only one who’s appeared on all three albums.

Cook brought Rusin down to Atlanta for the “Blue Voodoo” sessions.

“Steve is the only common denominator on all my blues CD projects,” Cook said. “His true passion for the blues music, and his great friendship, have kept me very dedicated to working with him on all my blues recording projects. Steve has always been, and always will be, my biggest inspiration and drive to keep doing what we do best — making the music that we love.”

It’s no coincidence that Cook used the phrase “doing what we do best.” That’s the title to a song they recorded together.

Rusin is a musician’s musician, with a sense of history. His collection of old 45-rpm records by other Terre Haute-area performers led an East Coast author of an upcoming book about Indiana garage bands to seek Rusin’s help. Rusin also discovered that Johnny Wright, who died in the 1980s, had an illustrious background and made some collectable recordings. Years later, when Wright told co-workers about his glory days, Rusin heard about it and got curious.

“I did a little research, and he did what he said he did,” Rusin said. Wright once played with Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famer Ike Turner.

Rusin’s own skills shouldn’t be a secret around Terre Haute, either, Kyle said.

“Anyone who knows him realizes that his is the true description of a humble genius. That’s no exaggeration,” Kyle said. “Anyone who doesn’t has no idea what they’re missing.”