CHUCK DAMP

​​​​There are people with "big hearts," and then there are people with HUGE hearts; Memorial graduate, Chuck Damp, falls into the latter category, in my book.  I will tell you why in a moment.

Chuck remembers best "the awesome architecture, the auditorium and the gym" at the Sophomore Division.  He also remembers having lunch in the auditorium where "a guy named Rex played the piano and we loved it."  He also thought having "open lunch was cool."  Didn't we all!

He has been a busy man since graduating in 1974.  He worked at Blessing Company, Conversions by Gerring and a few other jobs.  In 1979 he joined the Air Force and served until he retired in 1994.  He then worked fifteen years designing modular buildings; now he works contract jobs while attending Ivy Tech for a dual degree in Architectural Design and Mechanical Design, and tutors AutoCAD.  Chuck is a life member of the DAV, a member of the Bristol American Legion and a very active member of the Indiana Patriot Guard (http://www.inpatriotguard.org).  He is an avid Indianapolis Colts fan and has been a season ticket holder for over 15 years.  He also coached his daughters' and granddaughters' Little League softball teams for 13 years.

Speaking of kids...Chuck has a bunch! He had two sons with his first wife and her then 3 year old daughter.  That marriage ended and Chuck was a single dad to his two sons and first wife's daughter until he married his current wife of 20 years, Jill.  Their blended family included Jill's 5 children, Chuck's 3 children, and then they had a daughter, Laura, together who is now 18 years old and heading to college soon.  Do the math- that's 9 kids!  The family has expanded to include spouses and partners (and their kids), and grandkids- Chuck's grandson, Tyler, lives with them and attends IUSB.  Here is where Chuck's huge heart really steps up- his home becomes home to any kid who needs a place to stay.  If a kid is having problems at home- Chuck takes them in and treats them as his own- he loves them, guides them and keeps them safe.  Chuck never seems to tire of stepping up in time of need, whether it's to organize or help coordinate a fundraising benefit for a friend battling cancer, to riding with the Patriot Guard to pay tribute at a military funeral, to answering a request on Facebook for help moving (ME!!), to working on the EPIC 40th Reunion planning committee.  Chuck is chairing the Veteran's Tribute and organizing a motorcycle ride as one of the Saturday events- he is looking forward to reconnecting with classmates and hopes to hit the road with a few for a nice, easy day on motorcycles. 

With everything Chuck juggles, his philosophy "be flexible in everything you do," keeps him- and his huge heart-

always at the ready to lend a helping hand.  Thanks Chuck!!!

Written by ~  Sandy Robison McCarthy


                                                                                         Mike Dandino

​Having asked Mike about his favorite memories from the sophomore division, his comments were as follows: "meeting so many new people…more than ever in my life…having come from a parochial school and all." In addition, his fascination for the old yet beautiful architecture of the sophomore building itself, was awe inspiring! “The sunken gymnasium was the greatest” was his comment when remembering the lunchtime basketball games.

Another one of Mike’s fondest memories is when he discovered Girls, Rock-n-Roll, his love for Music and the Electric Circuit! In that order… He is quoted as saying “That was pretty much it for me” with a big smile on his face!! The YWCA on Lexington was also a favorite hangout place that offered live music and dancing galore! In 1973 Mike, his brother Pat, Tom Stevens and Jeff Wise formed their own band and played at the YWCA for many adoring fans! They called themselves “Freedom.” So appropriate for that time and age! They dazzled their peers with rock-n-roll fun through 1975! To this day Mike still plays his guitar on a daily basis.   

After graduation from Memorial, Mike spent one year at IUSB. After that, he packed his bags and headed south to finish up his college degree on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington. Mike, of course, belonged to a fraternity known as “Joe College.” His time spent in Bloomington was fun, “a bit crazy” and enlightening to say the least. He declined to offer much detail on the “a bit crazy” part... Hmmm… All who are curious can pull Mike aside at the reunion and take this topic to the next level…

During the mid-70's, Mike made every effort to be a part of our country's military force. To his great disappointment, he was not inducted. He has regret for not having been able to travel overseas and defend his country.
Such a solid citizen he is. Mike’s accomplishments also include his education at Vogue Beauty College in Mishawaka. From 1983 to 1998, Mike owned and operated his own hair salon in Elkhart. He made quite an impression with the ladies of Elkhart at that time! His expertise resulted in many satisfied customers who spread the word simply with their amazing hairstyles, thanks to this talented man!

Mike also ventured into the restaurant world during the late 90s.  Along with his wife at the time, he was the owner and operator of Dantinis Restaurant. Many will remember the location of this fine dining restaurant on the north side of Elkhart, near Simonton Lake. This experience for Mike dovetailed into his present restaurant located in Elkhart, called Dino's! 

A favorite for many, Dino's offers a yummy selection on its lunch and dinner menus…along with an atmosphere that offers great service as well as relaxation! Not to mention fun throughout the weekends...with bands that continue to rock the house! By the way, the spiced tilapia is simply amazing!! Located on the north side of Elkhart as well, Mike has been the owner of Dinos since 2001.

Mike sparkles as he speaks of his 11-year old daughter Carmella. Although she resides with her mother in Ft. Myers, Florida, Mike visits Carmella on a regular basis and maintains a close relationship with her. His cell phone buzzes on a continuous string as Carmella phones or texts her father often to share tidbits of her daily life. Mike’s goal is that Carmella’s emotional welfare is cherished and protected. Her social development is of utmost importance to him as well. Mike’s current challenge is navigating his role as the father of a budding adolescent! He talks about the many surprises he encounters with his beautiful young daughter with each visit!  The two of them share many joys together. Carmella enjoys countless trips up to Elkhart as well, spending ample time with Mike and his family throughout the year, including extended summer visits and holiday reunions. For that, Mike is grateful!

When asked what is one of Mike’s favorite quotes, his reply is as follows:

 “Anywhere you go…there you are!” 

….Something to ponder…

We applaud you Mike Dandino…one of our very own Spotlight classmates of EHS 1974!!

Written by ~ Jody Froelich



                          "TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN, MUCH IS EXPECTED"
When planning the 40th reunion began, I personally asked Lora Minichillo to head the Fundraising Committee; I knew she would bring a lot of creativity and commitment to the position because I’ve seen her “in action” and believe me, she has excelled in bringing the Epic to this reunion—having raised more than $20,000 for this and future reunions! This Alumni Spotlight is longer than others we’ve published because she deserves it and I am honored to highlight one of my “oldest” friends for the outstanding job she has done for the Epic 40th Class Reunion, but more so, to highlight the outstanding person she is.

​Lora and I have been friends since third grade at Mary Feeser—we were cheerleaders for the Feeser Hurricanes and did the Twist to Chubby Checker at third grade Talent Night.  At Memorial, we worked onGenesis together and got caught skipping school together (our first and only time—well, my first and only time).  We took different paths after graduating from Memorial. I didn’t really know much about Lora’s life after high school until I interviewed her for an assignment in my IUSB Women’s Studies class (in 2011). I got an “A” on the paper and the professor wrote a note, “Wow! What an interesting woman!” It’s true.  

Lora went to IU Bloomington to study Journalism; she graduated in 1978 with a B. A. in Forensic Studies (Pre-Law), instead. Lora became interested in law after writing a series of investigative articles about a non-traditional church (that did not believe in medical care) that resulted in a church member/medical professional losing her license. Lora was an intern at the Elkhart Truth when she wrote the series. She then enrolled in paralegal school at Roosevelt University in Chicago from June until September 1978, moved to Chicago, and began her career as a litigation paralegal. Five years later, she entered John Marshall Law School and worked full time during the day while going to law school full time at night. She graduated with her JD in 1986. She became an associate with a medium-size Chicago law firm in 1986 and matriculated to partnership in six years – two years ahead of the norm. In 2001 the firm merged with the second largest firm in Wisconsin and Lora continued as an equity partner in the larger law firm. The 1980s and 90s were significant periods of growth and gain for women and women’s rights; Lora was in the right place at the right time, so to speak. However, she told me stories of inequality, harassment, and blatant sexism she personally experienced while building her career in the male-dominated profession of Law—I see a very interesting book waiting to be written!

In 1999 her life and career were impacted by the diagnosis of Friedreich’s Ataxia, a genetic, progressive, degenerative neuro-muscular disease, and rare form of Muscular Dystrophy (see curefa.org). She continued to work for years after her neurologist urged her to retire and minimized the affect of her symptoms as best she could, especially in her professional life. As it became increasingly difficult for Lora and for her secretary of twenty-two years to manage her condition, she reduced her hours and kept restructuring her work days; finally, three and a half years after her neurologist urged her to stop working, she retired, “I held on by my fingernails,” she says. She returned to this area in 2005 to be closer to family because she knew that as her mobility diminished it would be harder to enjoy Chicago, “Chicago is a walking town,” she explained. It was a shorter career than she had anticipated but a good career. She did a lot of things in a short amount of time that other lawyers do not ever get to do. Lora argued a case before the Illinois Appellate Court only months after being sworn in as a lawyer, and was the first lawyer in Illinois to file a plaintiff class action case against Ford and Firestone in the well-known Ford/Firestone tire controversy of 2000. She also litigated a number of multi-district litigation and product liability cases across the U. S. and authored articles and taught litigation and product liability topics. Lora blazed the trail to partnership for other female attorneys in the firm to follow, and in the end she won the respect of her male counterparts within the firm and on the opposing side, both in the courtroom and out.

Lora strongly believes in two philosophies: “To whom much is given, much is expected” and “Pay it forward.” I know personally how generously Lora gives her time and resources to others. She refuses to allow her physical limitations to limit her, if she can help it, “Use it before you lose it,” she says. Lora has always volunteered - teaching classes or running a YLassie club at the YWCA; tutoring; mentoring young female lawyers; and spending time with sick children at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She was on the Board of Directors of the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago doing policy work and fund raising for ten years. Since retiring and returning to this area, she coordinated and completed a Women Build landscaping project for Habitat for Humanity; I was a member of the crew along with several other classmates—on the hottest day of the summer, Lora worked longer and harder than anyone else. She has volunteered as a docent at Ruthmere, raised funds for a local woman in need of a heart transplant, done fundraising for the National Ataxia Foundation and the Freidreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance; and was actively involved in the Chicago Area Ataxia Support Group steering committee to host the 2010 National Ataxia Foundation annual conference in Chicago.  In 2012 Lora was instrumental in organizing the first annual “Turn the Page on Literacy” fundraising gala for the Literacy Council of North Central Indiana. She personally arranged the appearance of best-selling author, Adriana Trigiani, (Big Stone Gap, The Shoemaker’s Wife, and others) as the guest speaker. It was a wonderfully entertaining and successful evening. Most recently she has volunteered to create and teach a newly structured Citizenship class at St. Vincent’s Catholic Church to documented immigrants who want to become US citizens. Lora created her own textbook for the course. She believes she gets more than she gives teaching Citizenship, as her students’ drive and determination are inspiring to her.

Many of us are now caring for aging or ailing parents; Lora is caring for her father in addition to everything else she is committed to. Where others would throw in the towel and cut back on commitments (like planning a reunion), Lora digs in, steps up, and does whatever needs to be done to get the job done even if it takes her time to “recover.” Lora wants to know that after Friedreich’s Ataxia makes it impossible to be active, she has done everything she wants to accomplish.

It’s been a long two years of planning the 40th reunion and Lora has put in countless hours of work—you should see the number of emails she’s sent during the wee hours of the morning! As much as all of us have enjoyed working together on this Epic project, we are looking forward to the end. Some of us are planning vacations and other enjoyable activities that took a back seat to reunion planning. What are Lora’s plans for her “free time” after the reunion? Schedule the shoulder and knee surgeries she’s put off until after the reunion. Doesn’t two weeks in Maui sound better – and then the surgeries?? Lora? Are you listening??

                                                                                                                         Lora Minichillo

​Written by ~  Sandy Robison McCarthy                                                                                                                                                      

                        DO YOU KNOW THIS MASKED MAN?  ... HE'S YOUR CLASSMATE!

Many of us visit OSMC, either for doctor appointments, or for rehab/physical therapy.  Rather than rush 
through the lobby and hurry to check in at the registration desk, take a moment to stop and look at the roster of physicians. See anyone you know?  Of course you do, because Dr. Mark Klaassen is a classmate and a 1974 graduate of Elkhart Central High School!

You say you know Mark as a classmate?  Well, how well do you really know the orthopedic surgeon? His background may surprise you!  You may know that the good doctor has a top reputation for his joint replacement skills, performing upwards of 300 joint replacement surgeries a year, including surgeries on Gayle Sayers (former NFL Chicago Bears running back) and Terry McMillan (NHRA drag racer). You may have seen Dr. Klaassen, or his famous clients on a television commercial, or on a local billboard.

But, did you know that Mark, who was born in Goshen, moved to Columbia, South America when he was a young boy?  Mark's parents were missionaries who lived and worked in humble surroundings in South America for years.  When Mark was 15 years old, he returned to Indiana with his family, during a furlough. Mark never returned to the southern hemisphere.  Rather, he enrolled himself at Elkhart Central in college-prep courses, got a full time job at the Chicken Coop restaurant, and rented his own apartment.  At Central, Mark was President of the National Honor Society and shared Class Valedictorian honors at graduation.

After Central, Mark received his medical degree from the Indiana School of Medicine at Notre Dame and Indiana University Medical Center.  He joined OSMC in 1987.  He also lectures extensively on total joint replacements and other orthopedic-related topics, and acts as a consultant and developer of orthopedic devices for manufacturers in the orthopedic industry.
While Mark says he would not trade his worldly childhood for another, he and his wife, Sue, chose to raise their family close to family.  Sue, from Wakarusa, met Mark between high school and college.  The Klaassens have two grown sons and live in Syracuse.  For recreation and leisure, Mark is active in water sports, winter sports and boating on Lake Michigan.

Click this link to view an article on a new technology used at Elkhart General Hospital by Dr. Mark Klaassen.

Written by ~ Lora Minichillo                 


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                                                                             LUCKY FOR A LIFETIME

It might happen.  If you're lucky.

You may not even know it's happening, or why, or how.  But, it does.  It happens.  You make a friend for life.

The beauty of the Class of 1974 is that so many of us have known classmates for decades.  From Elementary School. Or before.  "I met her in third grade", one will say.  "I've know him since t-ball", says another. 
Perhaps we took the span of years for granted.

Until March 2013, when you opened The Elkhart Truth, and as you turned to page two, you found Bob Bieber's tribute to a life long friend, Randy Scott.  It made your heart swell.  It made you think of your first grade protector, the boy you "married" under the third grade tree, the girls who always played with you at recess when you were the "new kid" in school.  It made you proud to be a member of the Class of 1974.

The ad came to Bob when he heard of plans for a reunion. Bob's memories flashed to a friend who meant so much to him, even after all these years. 

"As arrangements are being made for our fortieth class reunion, it is sometimes necessary to make a public announcement to convey just how much someone means to you", began the display ad, topped with Bob and Randy's 1963 Osolo Elementary School photo, complete with bow tie, horn rim glasses, and crooked smiles, akin to most first graders at the time.

"Almost 50 years ago, while I was being bullied and kicked to the floor in the boy's restroom, a gentle voice said, "Let me help you up" continued Bob's story, creating a visual each of us could picture from our own elementary settings.  "That voice became my very best, lifelong friend, Randy Scott."

"Please forgive me for not telling you more than I do, I love you Brother Scott. Thank you for helping me through the toughest parts of my life," Bob concluded. The announcement came naturally to Bob. He wanted to let Randy know that his act of kindness was never forgotten, always treasured. That, even almost 50 years later, his gesture was meaningful and important.

The announcement came as a complete surprise to Randy. Having moved from Elkhart years ago, Randy and Bob had not been in regular contact for a few years.  But, as adults, the two separated geographically and contact became more irregular over the years.  Life got in the way.  Since March, the Reunion Committee put Bob and Randy back in touch, and they have telephoned each other, talking for hours.

Bob reached out to Randy--in a very public way--to remember and celebrate their decades of friendship, to invite Randy to return to the area for the 40th Class Reunion, and to remind Randy that he has a friend. 
For life.


      ​​​Written by ~  Lora Minichillo                                                            



                                                                                                                                 Brent Curry

Elkhart Memorial Class of 1974 classmate, Brent Curry received the Indiana NAACP labor award in October.  The presidents of the state and the local Elkhart organizations presented the award during the Indiana convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Brent is in his second term as a member of the Elkhart's City Council, representing the 5th District.

Congratulations Brent!

Bob Bieber

Welcome...to our ALUMNI SPOTLIGHTcolumn, which will periodically highlight the recent activities

or accomplishments of members of the United Class of 1974....we're still going strong! If you have a   suggestion of a classmate to spotlight, please contact:

                                                                 Lora Minichillo, Editor  



​                                                                          ALL THAT -- AND MORE


                                                                                                                                                       Ron Smith

If you asked me during our high school years to describe Ron Smith, I would have said, “athletic”, “cute”, and “seems nice”.  I didn’t know Ron well at Elkhart Memorial, but for two years enjoyed watching him kick ass on the basketball court, win tennis matches, and play shortstop on the Charger baseball team.  After all, who could miss a three-year starter and a three letter sports stand out?

After chatting with Ron at the 40th Class Reunion,  doing my  Google research in preparation for my interview, and talking to Ron on the telephone for 45 minutes, I realized one thing:  He’s all that -- and more!

 Everyone is familiar with Ron’s outstanding high school athletic resume, but it didn‘t start out so easily.  As a 9th grader at Pierre Moran, it was Ron‘s dream to play on the Blue Blazer varsity basketball team.  Every day after school, he practiced hoops down the street from his house at the familiar courts of Roosevelt Elementary.  But, his parents had other plans, and a move across town after attending the Sophomore Division landed Ron in Charger, not Blazer, country.  Initially, the transition was difficult for Ron, as most of his friends were at Central.  However, Ron made many friends at Memorial and quickly became an integral part of Charger athletics.  Ron cites the influence of Coaches Powers (basketball) and Siler (baseball), and his many hours of free throw and jump shot practice with teammate Jim (“Jimmy”) Powers as help in the transition.  Like many accomplished individuals, Ron is self-motivated, and  “harder on myself than anyone else could be”.  He acknowledges that he’s had challenges in his life, but still created a happy life because he had great support from teachers, coaches, family and friends.







In 1974 after high school, Ron was drafted in the 9th round by the Texas Rangers, but chose to attend Furman University in Greenville, S.C. instead.  “My Mom would have killed me if I didn’t go to college!”  Ron continued to excel in sports.  While earning his B.A. in political science at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., he also continued his basketball and baseball careers.  Ron was a four-year basketball starter and team captain who led his team to two NCAA tournaments.  In 1975, Ron was named all-regional shortstop by the American Baseball Coaches Association, besting players in five states.
Ron was drafted in 1977 by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 9th round, signed, played that summer, then returned to Furman for his senior year of basketball and to graduate. He participated in the Phillies  farm system and, between 1978 and 1981,  advanced to Triple A baseball.  Ron retired from baseball in 1981, and in 1982 managed the Phillies’ minor league teams in Florida and Montana.  He also retired his tennis racket in the 1980’s.  Now, his passion -- besides baseball and his family -- is golf.  “I would play golf every day if I could!” admits Ron.

While a pro, Ron substitute taught in the off-season, and in the early 1980’s he became a full-time educator and head basketball coach at Miami University in Middleton, Ohio.  He enjoyed his time at Middleton, as it was “a lot like Elkhart:  a close-knit community that supported its students and athletes”.  There, in addition to being a teacher and assistant principal, Ron coached basketball for 5 years and baseball for 3, earning three basketball conference titles and being named Basketball Coach of the Year in the Greater Miami Conference.

 In his “spare time”, he earned a Master’s Degree at Miami (Ohio) University in educational leadership.  “I consider myself, first and foremost, an educator”, said Ron.  He became a teacher, he explained, because of the enormous influence some of his teacher’s had on him, including Tom Surface at Roosevelt Elementary School, Bill Betz at Pierre Moran Junior High School, and Coe Strain at EMHS.  Coe Strain, I asked?  You were an athlete, I suggested, somewhat surprised by his last selection.  According to Ron, Mrs. Strain involved him in drama
and the Madrigal Singers.  He soon came to realize that being in a play cast was no different than playing a sport: “it takes just as much preparation and teamwork,“ explained Ron. He recalls one curtain call when the late Peg Strain told Ron that he was holding her hand so tight it hurt during the final bow.  “I was pumped up!” laughed Ron, acknowledging his complete commitment to all his work.

In 1993, Ron returned to his college alma mater to become the head coach of the Furman Paladin baseball team.  It was a tough decision to leave basketball behind in Ohio and focus exclusively on baseball, but Ron was intrigued by the challenge of improving the college’s baseball program, describe in the media as “moribund”, before his arrival.  Under his direction, the program has improved!  Ron attributes the improvements to the four goals he sets each season:  1)  each student athlete will graduate on time; 2) each player will develop as a person, (“become a grown up“); 2) each athlete will improve on the field, and last but not least, 4) the team will win championships! 
To help accomplish these goals, Ron developed the Ron Smith Baseball Camp, including a summer day camp for boys age 6-14, and a weekend camp for high school baseball players, a recruiting tool.  During the high school camp, he looks first at the students’ grades, and gets to know them as young men and athletes.  Then, he looks at their sports acumen and skills. It’s about relationships, explained Ron.  And, there are lots of relationships to foster.  Each week, the Paladin coach calls at least one supporter to help raise money for their program.
And, with those relationships, the Furman program continues to improve and thrive!  Prior to his arrival at Furman, the university received few scholarships for baseball.  Now, the baseball program receives its full allotment.  In 2013,  Furman dedicated it’s new, multi-million dollar Furman Baseball Complex, including Latham Stadium, and will soon be adding enhancements, including a new scoreboard, press box, and additional permanent seating.  Although some might consider the Complex, “the house that Ron built”, our classmate may demur.  “It’s not the amount of business you have or the income you make,“ explained Ron, “it’s the influence you can have on kids” that is his measure of success.  And, during his teaching and coaching, Ron has influenced thousands of students and athletes.
Ron’s most cherished accolades are the accomplishments of his athletes when they leave his tutelage. At Middleton High School, while coaching the basketball team, every senior who played on Ron’s team at least started college.  At Furman, 17 players Ron recruited have been drafted and signed by pro baseball teams.  The Paladins also have the Southern Conference’s highest average NCAA graduation success rate. 
Ron also measures his success by the continuing relationships he enjoys with former students and athletes, including  telephone calls and visits with the ol’ coach.  Each year during Furman’s homecoming festivities, former players gather at the stadium to visit with Ron, hit some balls, and relive their Paladin days.  The day Ron was interviewed for this article, he was anticipating the imminent arrival of his first Furman recruit (who played pro ball), scheduled to visit Ron that afternoon. 
Ron and his players are active in philanthropy, as a way to grow as adults and to give back to their community.  The coach and players annually raise funds for a local children‘s hospital and to support pediatric cancer research, even shaving their heads to support cancer patients.  In fact, Furman is first among 120 college baseball programs to raise money for charity.  “To watch young men grow up, and to have a part in that,” said Ron, “is as rewarding as anything”. 
Ron has also influenced his own children, along with wife, Beth.  Together they have four thriving young adults, Emily, Devon, Blake and Peyton. Ron continues to be richly rewarded.  In March 2014 Ron was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.  Accepting his award in front of a thousand people, Ron noted that he was “very, very grateful” for such an “extraordinary” event.  “I’ve been very fortunate”, said Ron.
No, Ron, those you teach, you coach, you befriend, they are the fortunate ones -- that and much, much more!

Written by ~ Lora Minichillo

Babette Arbogast Boling recently participated in "Still Dancing in Elkhart", to benefit the Samaritan Center Health and Living Center in Elkhart.  

Babette was one of 9 Elkhart residents who learned various ballroom dances, competed with other dancers at a sold out performance, and earned money for Samaritan by having her voters pay for each vote to support their favorite dancer.  

Way to go, Babette!

                                                                                “GIVE UNTIL IT HURTS”

One of the high points of becoming involved on the 40th Class Reunion Planning Committee is having the opportunity to re-connect with many of our ’74 classmates.  Especially, classmates making a difference in their communities and beyond!  What a blessing it has been to RE-UNITE with classmates, such as our previous Alumni Spotlight, Bob Bieber, who connects with his students through art and pottery and gives back to Riley Hospital for Children, through his annual Potter’s Marathon.   

Another classmate who has made an amazing difference in the lives of others is John Shafer.  John attended the Sophomore Division (Memorial) and later returned to receive his GED.  He attended Holy Cross College at Notre Dame and received his Associate Degree in Arts and Letters.  He previously worked for Gaska Tape, until 2009.

John is single, with no children and resides in Nappanee, IN.  He has directed his passion for helping others to meeting the needs of the homeless in our local communities of Elkhart, South Bend and the streets of Chicago.  John visited Chicago frequently for many years.  However, it was a holiday shopping trip to the Windy City in 2012 that led John to foundChicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless, Inc., a nonprofit group dedicated to helping the homeless in downtown Chicago and closer to home in Michiana.

“I have always tried to give to others, but when I saw the homeless being ignored in downtown Chicago and many freezing on the streets in the cold winter, I knew I had to do something,” John said.  “They’re here trying to fight to survive and they’re seeing all these shoppers with money and nice clothes.  Many people don’t even notice them or they don’t want to notice them.”  Imagine sleeping on the cold cement sidewalk in front of a building.  John felt moved by their plight and wondered, “What’s going to happen when it gets colder?” 

                                                                                                                                                                   John Shafer

His next trip started with 25 blankets handed out to the homeless on the streets of Chicago. “Then it started to grow from there,” he said. “We started returning twice per month and bringing more items that could meet their basic needs!”  John said, “I chose to have our group start helping in Chicago first, due to a growing homeless population of 166,000.  Everyone was so appreciative and their need was so great!  It means we get to make the lives of the homeless just a little more bearable and maybe save a few from frost bite or even death, by providing coats, blankets, warm hats, gloves and clothing.”

He estimates that his group has helped over 500 homeless in Chicago in one year.  In addition, they have helped provide supplies to over 13 local Michiana shelters.  They take clothing by the truckload to Faith Mission of Elkhart and The Center for the Homeless in South Bend, among others.  John’s story has been told in several local newspapers and television news programs.  Chicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless anticipates doubling their efforts to help the homeless and local shelters in 2014. 

John lives by the mantra,“GIVE Until It Hurts!”  He is inspired most by, “every caring role model who has helped the needy.”  As we enter this season of thanksgiving, WE are thankful for and inspired by so many caring classmates who have continued to make a difference!  As we contemplate re-uniting for our 40th Reunion, it serves as a reminder that who we were in high school does not define us.  Rather, it was a stepping stone in our 40 year journey to become the leaders, mentors and role models of today. 

To make a donation o
r find out more, please visit: www.facebook.com/chicagofiveforthehomeless 
                                    “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
                                 E.E. Cummings

Written by ~  Linda Minix Sellers


Editor's Note:  There are more than a dozen couples in our class that met as fellow students in elementary, junior high or high school, got married along the way and remain partners today. Periodically in this column, we will spotlight one of those couples whose anniversaries number almost as high as our class reunions! We hope you enjoy learning more about our "School Sweethearts" as well as other classmates we spotlight on our website! 


                                                      IT ALL STARTED WITH A FEELING

Sandy Robison McCarthy was "overwhelmed by how excited everyone was to see their classmates," as a guest at the Elkhart High School Class of 1972 reunion.  "I wanted to experience that feeling with my own high school classmates."

At that moment, Sandy realized she had to begin planning an EPIC reunion for the United Class of 1974 of Elkhart Central and Elkhart Memorial High Schools.  Sandy sees the planned August 2014 gathering as a "Sophomore Division Reunion", because the Class of 1974 was the last class to go through the old High School building downtown, a/k/a The Sophomore Division, before beginning Elkhart's history as a two-high school city.  Sandy is the founding chair of the Reunion Committee.

"There was something special about being in that building (the Sophomore Division) because we were all united together, in our own world", said Sandy. As a Sophomore, Sandy was in the percussion section of the marching band.  After 10th grade downtown, Sandy became a member of the second graduating class of Elkhart Memorial, and traded her drumsticks for a typewriter.  Her favorite class at Memorial?  Journalism. Her favorite thing to do?  Work on the Genesis Magazine, an award winning high school publication.

After high school, Sandy married and started a family.  She had three boys:  Derek (33), Shaun (28) and   Trevor (23).  After raising her family, Sandy decided to do something she's always wanted to do...go to college.  In fall, 2010, Sandy entered Indiana University-South Bend.  Currently a Sophomore at IUSB majoring in gender studies and religious studies, Sandy's name is a mainstay on the Dean's List. "It is stressful", she admitted, when discussing entering college in her 50's, but "it is rewarding!"

She also wants the 40th Class Reunion to be a rewarding experience for all of her classmates.  She hopes to accomplish, "a sense of connecting with each other, especially with a person you didn't really connect with in high school.  We've all had our battles in life, but we can enjoy each other as people, put aside whatever was bad, and bond

over what was good."

Written by ~  Lora Minichillo


For two of our long-time married ‘74 classmates, it all began in the hallowed halls of Mary Feeser Elementary, with a little girl crush on a red-haired, freckle faced young boy! Jim Sellers and Linda (Minix) Sellers journeyed from Mary Feeser to Brookdale Junior High and the Sophomore Division together as friends, classmates and fellow athletes.

Linda recalls in Junior High, “Jim and I traveled together to track meets across

the state in track competitions. We both competed in high jump, as well as Jim in the

pole vault under the tough, but inspirational coaching of Marshall Sellers (no relation). 

At the time, prior to Title IX and the explosion of girl’s athletics in 1972,

the girls were only “scissor-kicking” over the bar in high jump and I complained

that it was hard to reach “new heights.”

Jim teasingly helped Linda learn a new high jump technique made famous by Richard (Dick) Fosbury. Dick was considered one of the most influential athletes in the history of track and field and revolutionized the high jump event by winning a gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics. His unique "back-first" technique, now known as the “Fosbury Flop” is adopted by almost all high jumpers today. In the midst of her Sophomore year in High School, Linda’s family moved to Fort Lauderdale, where she continued her high school track career competing successfully in city and state meets in Florida, and attended Broward College.


As the Brookdale recipient of the Jim Eger 9th grade athlete “Sportsmanship of the Year” award in 1971, Jim continued his athletic career at Memorial High School. He attended Ball State University, joining the Sigma Chi fraternity where he trained for Bike-a-Thon over spring breaks in Fort Lauderdale. Still, their paths never crossed at the popular spring break destination. While they both separately enjoyed the next several years in high school and college, their stars never aligned again for almost ten years. Linda remembers reminiscing “a time or two” about her first crush and wondered if they would ever meet again.

As luck and fate would have it, on the last night of a vacation back to Linda’s home town of Elkhart, they re-connected again in their early twenties, after living over thirteen hundred miles apart! Her red-haired crush was now sandy blond and the freckles had faded, like their memories of each other over time. Still, she recognized the blue eyes and funny young boy she remembered from her youth! Jim recalls looking at his former gangly young friend who was now tall, tanned and all grown up and he jokingly “Fosbury Flopped” over a row of hedges, as a friendly reminder of their old track & field days together!

Linda flew back to Florida the next day and they continued to communicate miles apart.

Several months later, she followed her heart and moved back to the “city with a heart”

to be closer to her roots and family. Following a few years of dating, they married at

Trinity Lutheran Church on June 9, 1984.

Their love of athletics continued in their marriage with volleyball, tennis and water sports,

living on Simonton Lake for over 25 years... just a few houses down from the lake home

where Jim grew up as a young boy. Two of their three daughters (Jessi and Loren)

graduated as Crimson Chargers from Memorial HS and Indiana University, Bloomington.

Loren recently completed her Doctorate at IU School of Dentistry as a Dentist (DDS) and

has returned to her hometown in Elkhart to practice. Their youngest, Taylor just completed

her Freshman year as a Purdue Boilermaker (yes, a house divided!). The apple doesn’t fall far

from the tree and their daughters also enjoyed being active in track, volleyball and tennis in high school and college.

Jim, Vice President and General Manager has been employed with Brill Seating (formerly Carlton Mfg.) in the furniture manufacturing industry for over 40 years. Linda has been a Regional Sales Manager for over 35 years. The past fifteen years she has worked with a South Bend manufacturer and travels in the Midwest region. They both look forward to staying active and continuing to work several more years, before traveling and retirement. Linda enjoys volunteering and was formerly on the Memorial HS Dollars for Scholars Board and a past PTO President for many years at their old alma mater, Mary Feeser. Currently, she is President of Northridge High School Dollars for Scholars Community Advisory Board.

They have been blessed with three grandchildren (Kaylin, Kendal and Reid) and look forward to celebrating 35 years of marriage next year, prior to our 45th Reunion. On re-connecting as childhood friends...Jim is fond of saying, “Thank God for unanswered prayers!" Linda is thankful her path crossed again with that little red-haired boy and they look forward with hope to many years ahead reaching for “new heights” as soul-mates and best friends!


​                                                        Happiness Started in High School
                                  Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.
 -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Most people tell high school kids that young love doesn't last, "it's a phase", they often say.  But for many in the Class of 1974, they found love and the key to happiness with a classmate.

One of those couples is Jim and LuAnn (Walters) Powers.

​We remember Jim as one of the top athletes in our class.  At Memorial, he lettered in basketball, baseball and tennis.  His record for the all time single season scoring record still stands at Memorial, four decades later!  He played basketball at Furman University, ultimately transferring to DePauw University to earn his degree in economics. Jim became a CPA.

We remember LuAnn as a happy, creative, top student who was friendly with everyone.  LuAnn did not participate in sports, but was involved in cheer block and supported Memorial's Athletics.  Although Jim and LuAnn started dating their senior year, they went their separate ways for college.  While Jim headed south, LuAnn headed for Purdue, later transferring to Indiana University South Bend where she graduated with a degree in dental hygiene. 

Jim and LuAnn both agree that being at different colleges brought its long-distance dating challenges. "I figured if we can survive those years, this must mean something," analyzed LuAnn.  Indeed it did, as the two decided to marry shortly after college graduation, in December 1978.

The Powers' returned to Elkhart after college, as Jim was hired to work at the Elkhart office of the national accounting firm now known as Crowe Horwath, and is currently a Senior Partner in the firm.  While in Elkhart, LuAnn worked as a dental hygienist and became active in philanthropic efforts.  LuAnn was a founding member and President for Elkhart Memorial's Dollars for Scholars program.  She also became active in the Philanthropic Education Organization (PEO), an organization that supports women who want to continue their education post-high school.

The Powers' moved to Carmel, Indiana six years ago, but Jim continues to regularly visit his hometown, serving clients in the area.  As an added bonus, Jim also visits his parents while in Michiana.  (Jim's father, you'll remember, was a coach and Athletic Director at Memorial.) 


LuAnn ended her professional career when they started a family, which includes Katie, now 30, and Michael, now 26. Both are IU grads and married IU grads, and they currently live in the Carmel area.  Katie and her husband Tom, however, are moving to Louisville in June, a few months before the expected arrival of the Powers' first grandchild.
The Powers' may be empty nesters, but their nest is far from empty.  Jim and LuAnn adopted three dogs ("rescue mutts", says Jim, with love) and two cats.  "We still have kids!" exclaims LuAnn, as she identifies her four-legged children. 

Additionally, the Powers are active as a couple and family, and in their community.  Jim is on the Board of Directors of the Indianapolis Zoo (treasurer), St. Vincent's Health, and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.  Several years ago, Jim followed his father as an inductee into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.  Jim was also inducted into the Elkhart County Athletic Hall of Fame.  LuAnn continues to work with PEO, and also works with Tony Dungy's (former Indianapolis Colts' coach) foundation, improving literacy through a group called Read Up.

So, what is the secret to a 35 years-and-counting marriage?  Jim answers first, explaining that, "it's all about LuAnn; she makes it work.  Family is important to her."  LuAnn adds, "He's being humble -- we care about each other and support each others' interests". 

Jim and LuAnn also enjoy spending time with their children, pets, extended families, and traveling.  The Powers' are big Pacers and Colts fans, and they like to exercise together, including indoor spinning, and walking together (with the dogs, no doubt!)  And, they both enjoy golf, although LuAnn admits her love of the dimpled ball is not as strong as Jim's!  International travel highlights include a safari in South Africa, many trips to faraway points in Europe, Singapore, and Rio, with more to be planned in the future.

We look forward to seeing the Powers' and the other married classmates who passed the gates of happiness at the Reunion in August!



​              Jim and LuAnn (Walters) Powers


Written by ~ Lora Minichillo



                            ​                         ​CINDY CLEMENT ANDREWS


For many of us from the Class of '74, a favorite high school memory is the Sophomore Division.  Central graduate, Cindy Clement Andrews, is one of those who "loved the old building and its architecture...it was like an adventure," she says.  Cindy also loved being able to walk downtown for lunch with friends at Woody and Irma's and remembers the dances at the "Y" and Ideal Beach where she could see and hear her big brother, Jeff, play lead guitar with the bands.  Mrs. Fahey was Cindy's favorite English teacher--she loved writing but her shyness got in the way of enjoying Speech class (does anyone ever "enjoy" Speech class?).

Cindy studied Elementary Education at Ball State after high school but decided to move with her parents to Florida in 1976.  She stayed in Florida for one year and returned home to Indiana and "her love," Greg, who has been her husband for 31 years. Their "funny and sweet" daughter, Emily, was born in 1984. 

Working in an art store rekindled her love for art.  She later joined her husband and his brothers in their art and framing shop, Designed Frames, where, she says, "We worked together many, many years."  Two summers ago, Cindy was able to combine her love of painting, drawing and collaging with her love of working with children, and taught art to 2nd graders at Hawthorne Elementary School for the summer.  Cindy's enthusiasm for both art and teaching children is evident.  She considered it a privilege to teach the children art using recyclables and things from nature, "I loved teaching them art. It is my passion. I am thankful for the positive experiences and the challenging times I have working with kids...every day my eyes are opened to something new!"  She lives her personal philosophy, which is "to enjoy something every day...especially nature, family and friends."

As soon as word got out about forming a reunion planning committee, Cindy was among the first to respond. Her calm, gentle nature and creativity have been a great addition to our group.  The "Angel" artwork below on the class website's Remembrance page is one of Cindy's original pieces and she graciously donated a piece of artwork to the silent auction held at our very successful fundraiser, A Night in Clay.  

​One of her favorite sayings is by Henry James.  "Three things in human life are important.  The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." Cindy naturally communicates kindness--through her

personality and through her whimsical child-like artistic style.

When asked what she was looking forward to the most at the reunion she responded, "I can't wait to see friends from near and far at our EPIC 40th (yikes!) Reunion!"  Many of us are right there with you, Cindy!
Written by ~  Sandy Robison McCarthy


                                    UP FRONT TALENT & BEHIND THE SCENES WORKER


                                                                                        ANNE STUTSMAN GEE


The "to do" list for preparing for the reunion activities seems endless...there's a lot of work to do!  Not only are the committee members working tirelessly, but out of town classmates are also volunteering.

One such volunteer is Anne Stutsman Gee, a classmate from Memorial now living in Colorado.  Anne generously agreed to create and donate the name tags for the weekend!  Anne plans to travel to Elkhart for the EPIC 40th class reunion next August.  The trip will also give her a chance to visit with family who still live in the area.

After Anne graduated from Memorial, she majored in interior design at Purdue.  The day after her 1978 college graduation, Anne moved to Colorado to pursue her career.  She became involved in graphic design and opened an antique/vintage shop.  Her graphic design expertise and love of all things vintage will be reflected in the name tags Anne designed for the reunion.

Anne met her husband Tom at a Denver Broncos game.  They have two daughters, both in their 20's and out of college.  One daughter is about to be married...another opportunity for Anne to show her talents and flair.

Anne and Tom love dogs, and currently have 3, a small Yorkie, a German Short Hair and a chocolate Lab.  Both daughters also have dogs, including one rescued from the Carribbean!

In high school, Anne's passion was horseback riding.  She had her own horse named Strawberry, and had several friends who also loved all things equestrian.  Anne purchased Strawberry for only $95.00 and rode him home from the place they bought him, since they didn't have a trailer.  Anne recalled, "Strawberry was very skinny and I rode him bareback all the way home...a little over 3 miles.  Ouch!  My horse needs were simple and I was in seventh heaven!"

Now, in addition to spending time with her dogs, Anne enjoys pastel painting, golf, antiques, gardening and travel.  You can find some treasures Anne has uncovered at her website, www.trufflepigantiques.com.

Written by ~ Lora Minichillo



                                                       A New Beginning         

Dear Classmates,

Monday morning, as I sipped my coffee and reflected on the wonderful reunion weekend and the past two years of planning for this EPIC 40th, I had that anticlimactic feeling...you know the feeling, when the party's over!  I had the same feeling after our two daughters’ weddings. The afterglow, the Monday morning quarter-backing and the inevitable let down when everyone packs up and goes home.

Then, it dawned on me; it's really not over...it's a new beginning.  Our team had a goal to be as inclusive as possible and include classmates who had never been invited, or attended a previous reunion. We had a vision of building our database of classmates, like myself (formerly a guest of my husband, Jim) and search back to our Sophomore year, to welcome all our former friends and classmates. Those who attended school with us on our history-making journey through tenth grade, as the last class to attend the 100 year old Sophomore Division, prior to the two schools splitting.

People contacted us often to see if we could help locate an old friend they remembered from school and we were happy to try to help connect them. Lifetime friends like Bob Bieber and Randy Scott, who had drifted apart and we helped re-connect for our 40th reunion! 

We all have a story to tell.  I journeyed with the Class of '74 from grade school at Mary Feeser, to Brookdale and on to the Sophomore Division. In the middle of my Sophomore year, my parents shared excitedly..."Our family (with my five siblings) is moving to Fort Lauderdale, Florida!"  After a moment of stunned silence, I said "No thanks, I'm not going!"  I was almost 16 and I wanted to stay where my roots and friends were. A few months later we packed up, with tears streaming down my face and drove away on a new journey. 

I'm not going to lie and say Fort Lauderdale isn't a fun place to live and go to school:), but it wasn't home!  I missed our city with a heart... the changing seasons, the Midwestern culture and my friends. This was home and Class of '74 was MY class, in my heart. Ten years later, I returned to my roots. 

I recall a comment made to me by a classmate this weekend, Nancy Brotherson Banks, who said, "Linda, we are very lucky.  We have a very special class and it's always been special!"  I couldn't agree more.  What makes this class special is our willingness to embrace diversity, philanthropy, unity and acceptance (ok...and WE ARE FUN)! Reaching out and "adopting" classmates like myself and many more, who didn't graduate with the class, but were proud to be a part of our past journey together. 

It's a new beginning... old friends reconnecting, new friendships formed and new memories in the future to be made. On behalf of our entire planning committee, we would like to thank everyone who came from near and far, as we look forward to connecting again with our very special Class of 1974 in 2019!

Linda Minix Sellers

United Planning Committee ‘74 



 From Politics To Pure Water

         In reading a yearbook’s “most likely to_____” entries, there has never been a choice called “Most Likely to be Mayor”, but if there was, James (Jim) Perron’s picture would be placed there.

         After graduating from Elkhart Central in 1974, Jim attended Indiana University South Bend. Shortly after enrolling in college, Jim became friends with a sitting member of Elkhart City Council who also became a mentor to Jim. When the Councilman did not run for re-election (because he was moving from Elkhart), Jim, at the tender age of 23, became the Interim Councilman and was voted onto the Elkhart City Council at the next election. Serving as Councilman fulfilled a goal of Jim’s, as he had worked on many campaigns, was active in the Democratic Party, and was “always interested in politics”.

         After graduating from IUSB and testing the political waters, Jim ran for Mayor of Elkhart in the 1984 election, and won! He served as Elkhart’s chief executive officer from 1984 until 1999. 

         In fact, Jim remains the youngest person to serve as Mayor - or in any other public office in Elkhart - as he was 28 years old when he took the mayoral oath. Jim also holds the record for being the longest serving Mayor, having held the top office for four consecutive terms. Jim is the ONLY mayor in the history of the City to be elected to a third and a fourth term!

According to Jim, he applied three guiding principles in running the City:

1)  Maintain sound fiscal policy;

2)  Provide a high level of municipal services; and

3)  Have a vision for the future.

         During Jim’s mayoral tenure, he effected  each of these principles and moved the City forward,  creating Civic Plaza and the Tolson Center, beginning plans for the Riverwalk and the revitalization of Downtown, and opening the New York Railroad Museum.  It was during Jim’s years in office that the City purchased and began renovating what was then known as the Elco Theater, and is now known as the Lerner Theatre, the centerpiece of Elkhart’s Arts & Theater District.

         As Mayor, Jim spent time in the national spotlight. In 1997, he testified on environmental issues before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Commission on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, an organization that represents 1,100 cities with populations of 30,000 or more.

         Before Jim left office, he married his wife, Kathy, and the two have enjoyed raising two daughters and becoming grandparents to four grandchildren. 

         About 10 years ago, Jim started a consulting firm, representing companies that provide services to municipalities. “As a former Mayor”, explained Jim, “I could relate to their challenges.”  He commuted frequently to Indianapolis to meet with clients, and eventually, it made sense for the Perron’s to move to the state’s capitol.

         In 2005, Jim merged his consulting firm with a client, and Jim became the Director of Product Development of United Water Company, a management firm representing municipalities and other entities that contract for wastewater and other environmental services. As Mayor of Elkhart, Jim gained experience in environmental issues, including wastewater plants, ground water contamination and similar projects. With that experience, Jim “gained a passion for the safety of our water.”         Although Jim no longer heads up a city as Mayor, he uses his knowledge, expertise, and talents from that experience to work with cities across the country, protecting the safety and purity of

the water and environment in those cities.

Written by ~  Lora Minichillo