In Memoriam – Winter 2022

Donna Dennis Long, class of 1939, died September 6, 2021 at St. Anne Home in Fort Wayne.  She was a dedicated member of Salem United Church of Christ and a member of the Claudia Circle.  Donna was known as the “Cookie Lady” by her family and friends.  She is survived by her children, Sandra Bobay, and Michael Long; and seven grandchildren.

Ralph R. Herb, class of 1941, passed away October 2, 2021 at Golden Years Homestead Hospice in Fort Wayne.  Ralph served during World War II in the U.S. Army.  After his service he went on to graduate from Valparaiso University with a degree in accounting.  After graduation, he worked as an apprentice for Philo Farnsworth in Fort Wayne and later at Magnavox, Bowser, and American Hoist.  He was a scout leader at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and served on various church boards.  Ralph is survived by his wife of 70 years, Ruth; four sons, Mark, Philip, David and Daniel; ten grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.

Dorothy KoomjohnEscosa, class of 1943, died October 17, 2021 at her home in Fort Wayne.  She earned her Bachelor’s in Music from St. Louis Institute of Music.  She was a concert pianist and piano teacher in SWAC and St. Francis College, as well as serving as pianist and organist at Grace Presbyterian Church.  Dorothy was one of the founders of Fort Wayne Ballet.  She is survived by her children, John Escosa, Ann Griffin and Carla Escosa; four grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and her brother, John KoomjohnSS’50.

Donald C. Brames, class of 1945, passed away November 15, 2021 in Fort Wayne.  Donald served in the U.S. Navy as a Seabee.  He retired from International Harvester after 45 years.  Donald is survived by daughters, Laura Gerardot, Gwen Niedermeyer, Margo Brames, and Melissa Jeffries; sons, Scott, Curt, and Richard Brames; sister, Phyllis Brames Fitzgerald SS’44; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Nadine Peigh Wagner, class of 1946, died October 18, 2021 at Van Wert (OH) Manor.  Nadine worked as a telephone operator at Convoy Telephone, Gene’s Bar and Grill, and retired from Aeroquip in Van Wert.  She belonged to the Fidelis Guiold at Trinity Lutheran Church in Convoy.  Cooking, vacations, fishing, bingo and bowling were her favorite hobbies.  Surviving are her sons, Richard and Dan Wagner and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Wilmer J. “Jim” Hettler, class of 1947, passed away November 10 in Fort Wayne.  After graduating from Ball State Teachers College, he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.  Jim served as a Physical Reconditioning Technician involved in the treatment of the returning wounded at various army hospitals.  After his service, Jim spent 33 years in public education in Michigan and Indiana.  Jim is survived by three children, Ronald, Celia Holte, and Amy Yoder; 15 grandchildren; 35 great-grandchildren; and his sister, Edith Hettler Marsh SS’45.

Bobbette “Bobbie” Ryder Ridenour, class of 1947, died November 26, 22021 at Grace Village Retirement Community in Winona Lake, IN.  Bobbie continued her studies at Fort Wayne Bible Collee (later Taylor University).  Bobbie was a longtime member of Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church and involved in church activities.  She worked most of her life as the secretary of the C.E. National Brethren Fellowship and the Herald Bookstore.  Her survivors include two sons, Randy and Tim Ridenour; four daughters, Julie Day, Kim Cripe, Amy Travis, and Krisi Edmiston; seventeen grandchildren and twenty-one great-grandchildren.

Doris Lee Johnson, class of 1949, passed away November 18, 2021 in Sun City, AZ.  She was a gifted homemaker for decades while raising her family and also worked as a secretary for “A Touch of Glass” in Phoenix.  Doris loved bowling in leagues with her late husband, Wilbur, and playing cards.  She is survived by her sons, Randy and Rick; daughter, Karen Tankersley; three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Dorthy Hollman Knuth, class of 1949, died December 5, 2021 at her Fort Wayne home.  Dorthy started working at Lincoln Life shortly after graduation.  She also worked at Rogers Markets in Waynedale.  As her family’s historian, she organized a 200+ family cookbook.  Dorthy is survived by her children, Denise, Mark and Erica Knuth; one grandson and a great-granddaughter; brother, Larry Hollman and two sisters, Eileen Hollmann Keesler SS’51, and Joan Hollman BoslerSS’56.

Dorothy Ledford Bassett, class of 1949, passed away November 16, 2021 at The Townhouse Retirement Community in Fort Wayne.  Dorothy earned her Bachelor’s degree from Fort Wayne International Business College and worked at IPFW.  She is survived by her children, Clifton, Allan and Wendy; four grandchildren and dix great grandchildren.

Nicholas J. Lebamoff, Sr., class of 1950, died September 10, 2021 in Fort Wayne.  Nick served in the U.S. Army after graduation and then graduated from the IU School of Dentistry.  He spent his entire career in private practice.  Nick was an avid car collector and enjoyed watching Indiana sports teams play.  Children, Stephen, Cynthia, and James Lebamoff, and Teresa Alt survive him as well as 11 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.

Ronald E. Smith, class of 1953, passed away November 28, 2021 at Sacred Heart Village in Avilla, IN.  Ron was employed at Essex for 25 years working in Tool and Die.  He was a member of the Albion Eagles and a former school board member at Zion Lutheran School in Fort Wayne.  He is survived by his wife, Marlene; daughters Kimberly Phares, Ronda Lortie, and Jody Gaff; son, Mathias Smith; 13 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren.

Robert R. Strodel, class of 1953, died November 20, 2021 at his son’s home in Chester, VA.  Robert attended IU and remained a lifetime supporter of their athletic teams.  He and his late wife, Marilyn, moved to Los Angeles, then Chicago, and Fountain Hills, AZ.  Bob is survived by his daughter, Karla, two sons, RossSS’76 and David; and several children and great-grandchildren.

Donald A. Jones, class of 1954, passed away July 29, 2021 in Dry Ridge, KY.

Barbara Evans Lauer, class of 1954, died September 28, at her Fort Wayne home.  Barb received her Bachelor’s degree in education from the University ofIllinois and a Master’s degree in education at the University of St. Francis.  She was a kindergarten teacher for many years and worked for the Indiana BMV after retiring.  She and her late husband, Don, enjoyed living at Round Lake in Kendallville after retirement and spending winter months in Florida.  Barb was a proud member of the DAR and enjoyed drawing and painting with watercolors.  Survivors include her sister, Nancy Evans Graham Sites SS’55; stepchildren, Debra Adams and Donald Lauer; nine grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

Ronald L. Wichern, class of 1955, passed away November 14, 2021 in Fort Wayne.  Ron attended IU majoring in education.  After graduation from IU, he attended the Naval War College in Newport, RI.  He then served as an Engineering Officer on Destroyer Escorts and was stationed in Texas and RI.  Following discharge as a Lieutenant JG, Ron returned to Fort Wayne after a year teaching in RI.  He was a social studies teacher for FWCS for 30 years.  He also coached the cross-country team at Snider H.S. leading them to a state championship in 1974.  Ron found time to earn a MS degree from the University of St. Francis and an EdS degree from Purdue/Lafayette.  Time at the lake and enjoying sports filled his retirement years.  Ron is survived by his wife of 41 years, Dianne; daughters, Angela King and Wendy Wichern; two grandchildren and foster daughter, Cherie Rumple.

Harold D. Bobeck, class of 1956, died September 23, 3021.  Duane attended IU and found great mentorship and guidance from his Real Estate School professors.  Duane started his real estate career his senior year building three single family homes in Bloomington.  After college, he sold “PreFab” homes and served in the U.S. Army Reserve.  Duane turned to commercial realestate brokerage and founded and managed Bobeck Real Estate.  He developed Jefferson Pointe and Covington Plaza in Fort Wayne as well as Covington Creek condominiums. In 2000 Duane and his wife, Janis, spent much of their time in St. Croix, Virgin Islands where he continued to involved in redevelopment/revitalization efforts.  Besides his wife, Janis; Duane is survived by his children Peter Bobeck and daughter Suzannah Dubuque; as well as six grandchildren.

Margaret Schell Frazier, class of 1956, passed away October 10, 2021 in Fort Wayne.  Margaret earned her Bachelor’s in Nursing from Purdue University and was a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital for several years.  She was also the Department Chairperson for the Medical Assistant Program at Ivy Tech and authored college textbooks.  Margaret was a member of First Congregational United Church of Christ and the Eastern Star.  She is survived by her children, Pegi Boswell, Mischelle Rose, Mary Adomaitis, and Mark Frazier; six grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Sarah Sheiman Kitch, class of 1956, died November 24, 2021 in Fort Wayne.  Sarah received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado and taught elementary school in Denver and Valparaiso, IN.  She was a member of the Fort Wayne Junior League and Fort Wayne Country Club.  Sarah and her husband, Dan, has celebrated their 50th anniversary in July.  In addition to Dan, Sarah is survived by her sons Michael, William and John; and 10 grandchildren.

Rebecca “Becky” Brinkroeger Stark Vincent, class of 1956, passed away November 14, 2021 after a courageous battle with dementia.  Becky expressed her creative side through her home, crafts, and artful letters.  In the 1950’s she worked as a secretary for a manufacturer and banking industry.  Becky also worked for the president of Gripco Fasteners and retired in 1995 from Lincoln Life.  Classmates may remember her as a gymnast at South Side and she continued her athletic endeavors including running, canoeing, swimming, and boating.  Becky is survived by her second husband, Allen Vincent; children, Holly McCammon, Jill Start, and Jack Start, Jr; four grandchildren; two stepchildren; and four step-grandchildren.

Russell “Russ” E. Johnston, class of 1957, died November 8, 2021 at his home.  Russ attended Purdue University after graduation from South Side.  He worked for International Harvester for 52 years.  He met his wife, Margaret Eager, while working at IH and they were married 41 years.  Car Racing, reading, walking, biking, traveling, working in his yard, and watching historical documentaries were favorite past times.  Russ is survived by his wife, Margaret, sons, Mark and Jeff; granddaughters, Lindsay and Hannahlee; and sister, Kathleen Johnston AllweinSS’72.

Lynn Odier, class of 1957, passed away September 29, 2021 in Fort Wayne. Lynn worked for many years at North American Van Lines before relocating to Bloomington in 1973 and starting his own moving business.  Lynn spent many seasons in Assembly Hall and Memorial Stadium cheering on the Hoosiers.  Lynn is survived by his sons, Marc and Darin, four grandchildren; and two sisters, Sharon Odier WinansSS’54, and Barbara Odier Hayes SS’66.

Joseph W. Thomas, class of 1957, died November 22, 2021 at his home in Fort Wayne.  Joe attended Purdue University and then returned to Fort Wayne and joined his father and brother in the family business, Ridge Co. Auto Parts.  He was the active CEO until his passing.  He and his family grew the business to include 14 NAPA Autho Parts stores and a real estate company.  Family, faith, and work were his passions.  Joe was a member of Trinity English Lutheran Church where he was united in marriage to Mary Louise Koehler SS’59.  Their children, Matthew and Andrew, joined them in the family business after graduating college and worked alongside him every day. Joe is also survived by grandchildren, Sage, Drew, Hudson and Weston.

Janice L. Burgette, class of 1958, passed away November 5, 2021.  She was a paralegal and office administrator with Attorney Glenn W. Bordner and the successor firm of Bordner and Felger for over 40 years.  She is survived by her brothers, Ronald, Dennis, and Gerald.

Josephine D’Angelo Durnell, class of 1958, died October 4, 2021.  She started Jo’s Beauty Nook in 1966 in her home and never stopped.  Joe actively participated in many aspects of the local Democratic Party and was a member of Daughters of the Nile 60 and Embroidery Guild of America.  Surviving family include her husband of 59 years, David; sons, Danial, Michael, and Philip; 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Charles R. Putt, class of 1959, passed away December 6, 2021.  Charles attended IUPU in Fort Wayne and worked for 45 years in the mortgage lending business.  He was a devoted Notre Dame football fan and IU basketball fan.  Charles is survived by his wife of 52 years, Susan; children Nicole and Gregory; two granddaughters and a great-granddaughter.

Ronald W. Flickinger, class of 1960, died October 2, 2021 at Visiting nurse Hospice Home.  Ronald graduated from Heidelberg College where he was a member of the Excelsior Men’s Society.  He earned an MBA from IU.  Ron served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, primarily in the Medical Service Corps.  He attained the rank of Captain and was honorably discharged in 1970.  After discharge, he joined his parents in running the family business, Flickinger Industries, Inc, manufacturers of pneumatic and hydraulic cylinders for automation.  Family travel was a passion and they visited many places around the world.  Ron and his wife, Karen, helped start and build The Canterbury School and Christ Our Treasure Fellowship.  He is survived by his wife, Karen, sons, Ron and John; sister, Ann PlambeckSS’63, and brother, Dan SS’69.

Robert A. Engelmann, class of 1961 passed away November 8, 2021 at his home.  He worked at International Harvester/Navistar for over 48 years.  He is survived by his wife, Linda; children Brian and Chad Guy; a grandson, Charlie Guy; and three siblings including his sister, Beverly GloydSS’59.

Daniel W. Dentzer, class of 1963, died October 3, 2021 at Majestic Care of West Allen County.  For 32 years he worked for NIPSCO, Fort Wayne.  He was a member of the South Whitley Lions Club and a former member of the Washington Twp. Volunteer Fire Department.  Watching NASCAR, working on cars, and hosting hog roasts were some of his interests.  Daniel is survived by his wife of 55 years, Rita; children Margaret Cash and Joshua and Dale Dentzer; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Martha Scott Barker Kuehner, class of 1963, passed away September 6, 2021 at her home.  She retired from Laketronics in Cromwell.  Martha attended Plymouth Congregational Church in Fort Wayne and was a member of the Ladies Auxiliary American Legion Post #157.  She is survived by her five daughters, Billie Desormeaux, Tonya Warner, Tammy Kinsey, Shannon Benson, and Kim Shinn; three sons, Lloyd Barker Jr., David and Keith Kuehner; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Hillard F. Butcher, Jr., class of 1964, died July 12, 2021.  Frank was a former 40-year-member and elder of First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Cookeville, TN and was currently a member of Cloyd’s Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Mt. Juliet, TN.  Frank loved the Boy Scouts, having attained the rank of Eagle Scout.  He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and member of the Tyler Cates American Legion Post #281.  He retired from Upper Cumberland Orthopedic in Cookeville where he worked as a Physician’s Assistant for 35 years.  Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Barbara; children, Katherine Patch, Kristina Crocker, Rev. Kenneth Butcher, and Kelly Leak; six grandchildren and brothers, Steve SS’66 and Jimmy Butcher.

Jesse Lee Brown, class of 1965, passed away December 15, 2021 in Fort Wayne.  Jesse was an Army veteran and worked at Wayne Home Equipment for many years.  He also owned Portside Galley & Pub in Hamilton, IN.  His spare time was spent woodworking, time at the lake with family, and playing poker.  Survivors include his wife, Martha; two sons, Preston and Bryan; daughter, Amy Yeager; six grandchildren; and brother, Arthur SS’69.

Ronnie L. Guiff, class of 1965, died December 18, 2021 in New Haven.  Ronnie is survived by his wife of 52 years, Esther; mother, Loretta; brother, Ray; children Dawn Marion and Darren Guiff; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Daniel A. LaGrand, class of 1965, passed away March 9, 2019 in Las Vegas, NV.

N. Keith Parrot, class of 1965, died December 6, 2021 in Fort Wayne.  Keith retired in 2009 as the Resource Center Manager for the Indiana District LCMS after 25 years.  He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Judi; son Scott; two grandchildren; and siblings, Kathy DoellSS’67, Karen Andrews SS’69, Kevin Parrot SS’70, and Becky Seward SS’72.

Rise Procise Purdue, class of 1965, passed away October 23, 2021.  Rise retired from GTE/Verizon after 50 years starting as an operator and becoming one of the first female linemen in Indiana.  After earning her degree in electrics, she finished her career as a programmer.  Rise enjoyed volunteering at Allen County SPCA.  She is survived by sons, Sean and Andrew Hayes; two grandchildren and a great-grandson; and siblings, Renee Procise Gilbert SS’68; Dan ProciseSS’72; and Becky Procise.

Carol Rice Queen, class of 1965, died December 18, 2021 in Fort Wayne.

James W. Dunkin, class of 1966, passed away October 21, 2021.  Jim studied at Purdue University and was a U.S. Army veteran serving in the Vietnam War.  Jim was self-employed as a caterer and ran several food establishments in the Fort Wayne area before retiring in 2005.  Model car building, buying, selling and collecting was his pastime.  He is survived by three siblings, including his brother, Duane SS’63.

Leslie L. Marks, class of 1966, died October 22, 2021 at his daughter’s home near Columbia City.  Leslie honorably served his country from 1964-1968 in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.  He fought in two tours of duty and was a Purple Heart recipient.  Leslie was employed with BAE Systems and was a member of the American Legion Post #241.  Leslie was a patriarch member of the Pimyotahmah Clan and former tribal council of Miami Nation of Indiana.  At the time of his death, he was a current member of the Miami Nation of Oklahoma.  Survivors include his wife, Sharon; daughter, Tami Langston; Son Sean Marks; five grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and brothers, Michael SS’68 and George SS’75.

Michael L. Morrissey, class of 1966, passed away October 29 2021.  Michael attended IU for his undergrad before receiving his Juris Doctorate from IU Law School.  He held several offices with the Steuben County Bar Association and served on numerous boards and community endeavors in Steuben County and Northern Indiana over the years.  His wife, Cathy; children Michael W. Morrissey SS’88; Aimee Black, and Jennifer Degitz, and five grandchildren.

Dennis A. Coplen, class of 1968, died October 12, 2021.  His family brought him great pride and joy.  He also enjoyed his Shelby cars, travels, and Notre Dame football.  Dennis retired as a Supervisor at the Allen County Highway Department in 2008.  He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Rosalie; daughter Heather Smith; two grandchildren; and his sister, Catherine Coplen Crandall SS’66.

James W. Kizer, class of 1971, passed away September 10, 2021 after a short illness.  Pastor Kizer enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after graduation.  James then worked at International Harvester until the company relocated.  He was also employed at the VA Hospital where he remained until taking the leadership role as head Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church.  He leaves to cherish his memory his devoted Wife, Jacqueline; three sons, Damonn Burns; and Micquail and KantrellKizer; eight grandchildren; four brothers, including Michael KizerSS’77; and three sisters, Shirley Adkins SS’72; Rose Hamlet SS’75, and Retta Tyson SS’78.

Beverly L. Linsky, class of 1971, died October 13, 2021.  Beverly was an active member of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and served a full-time mission for the church.  Surviving is four of her siblings and many nieces and nephews.

Deborah Brown Pepple, class of 1971, passed away November 10, 2021 at her home.  Deb was married to her husband, David, from 1972 until his death in 1993.  She worked at North American Vanlines as a dispatcher.  Deb enjoyed sewing and crafts as well as bowling.  Surviving is her son, Ron; Grandson Andrew; and sister, Kimberly Brown.

Sherwin “June” Underwood, class of 1971, died October 7, 2021 where he was a standout basketball player.  June was employed at various manufacturing companies across Fort Wayne.  He was a gifted painter and his favorite pastime was cooking and taking care of his home and lawn.  June is survived by his wife, Susan; children, Tyesha and Bryesha Underwood, Lakeisha Rice, Sherwin Underwood, Valerie, Brandy, Justin, Survear, Ivory and Domonic Holliday and several grandchildren.

Michael W. Gillig, class of 1972, passed away August 30, 2021 at Silver Birch Assisted Living in Fort Wayne.  Mike worked at Van Dyne Crotty, National, and UniFirst linen companies; and DeBrands Chocolates.  He was an avid sports fan and enjoyed the White Sox, Cubs, Colts, Packers, and Notre Dame.  Mike also completed several marathons.  He is survived by his daughter, Nicole Gillig; and two grandsons.

Carolyn Banks Morrison, class of 1973, died October 26, 2021 at Lutheran Hospital.  She worshipped at the Summit City Church of Christ for over 40 years. Carolyn leaves behind four children, Mingo “Dick” Morrison III; Donishia “Missy” Morrison, Jennifer Hollis, and Tiffany King.

Susan E. Howard, class of 1979, passed away October 20, 2021 in Fort Wayne.  Susan graduated from Syracuse University in 1983; John Hopkins University in 1985; and was pursuing her PhD at Bowling Green State University.  At the time of her death, Susan was an Assistant Professor of English and Program Chair at Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne.  She is survived by her siblings, Sandra Baker SS’68, Janet BakerSS’73, Cozey Baker SS’70, and James (Willodean SS’64) Howard.

John H. Manske, class of 1979, died December 1, 2021 in Fort Wayne.  John worked as a groundskeeper at Foster Park Golf Course for several years before working at Sears Telecatalog and Lutheran Hospital.  Despite having to deal with physical adversity, he was able to live life to the fullest.  He loved his Wisconsin fishing trips, weekly card games and spending time with friends.  John is survived by his sisters, Jen ManskeSS’75, and Linda PsotaSS’77.

Vernon A. Martin, Sr., class of 1979, passed away October 7, 2021 in Memphis, TN.  Vernon was accepted to Illinois University where he continued his football career and began coaching and teaching.  He coached and mentored many under privileged children. He also coached and taught at Portage and Kekionga Middle Schools, and Elmhurst and Wayne High Schools before moving to Indianapolis to coach and teach at Pike High School and Snacks Crossing Elementary.  Survivors include his wife, Carol; his children Vernon Jr, Shayla, Marques and Verrika Martin and Tyesha Richards; five step- children; 13 grandchildren, and seven step-grandchildren.

Bradley W. Brown, class of 1980, died November 20, 2021 in Fort Wayne.He joined the U.S. Army after high school and was stationed in South Korea. Brad worked at Northeastern REMC after returning to the U.S.  He raised his three kids on his own, Amanda Chase, Chrissy Nagel and Jeremy Brown. He is also survived by three grandchildren; and sisters, Susan Stewart SS’77, Lisa Cushing SS’79, and Kelly Powell SS’81.

Roger Van Meriwether, class of 1980, passed away November 13, 2021 in Dallas, TX.  Roger is survived by his significant other, Cynthia Johnson; son, Ryan; brother RodSS’81; and sister DeaSS’85.

Dean L. Mossburg, class of 1981, died October 9, 2021 in Fort Wayne from COVID.  Dean earned a B.S. degree from Purdue University and worked as Meter Specialist for Indiana Michigan Power Company.  During Lockdown he taught English to children in Vietnam. Dean loved traveling, kayaking, and attending concerts with his nephew, Jason.  He is also survived by his companion, Han Vo of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and brother Ronald Mossberg SS’78.

Jeffrey L. Timmons, class of 1981, passed away September 26, 2021 in Fort Wayne.

Kathleen Westropp Litchfield, class of 1982, died October 16, 2021 at her home in Fort Wayne.  Katy graduated from Purdue University and was the Account Manager at Lincoln Financial Group.  She is survived by her husband, David; children, Mary-Kate, Peter and Jackson; mother Rosalie Westropp and sisters, ElizabethSS’79 and AnnSS’82 Westropp.

Keilan M. Moreira, class of 2018, passed away August 25, 2021 in Fort Wayne after being struck by a hit and run driver while crossing the street.  She worked as a Special Needs Child Care Assistant. She loved painting, collecting crystals, and being 0utside.  Survivors include her parents and a sister, Emily.