Lives Remembered 2016

Sister Mary Bede Betz

By Cleveland Dietz II

Sister Mary Bede Betz wasn’t alone when she passed away Dec. 12. Another sister was with her.

It was the end of a journey that began when she entered the habit in 1943 at Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Ind. She was 18 years old. Seventeen years later, she moved with 112 other nuns to Beech Grove to help establish Our Lady of Grace Monastery.

She taught elementary school — between first and sixth grade — for 52 years.

Sister Bernardine Ludwig recalls teaching with her in a public school in southern Indiana. The school’s open floor plan meant teachers could hear each other over the wheeled bulletin boards that divided the classrooms.

“Any teacher that has ever taught and had to do traditional teaching in a wall-less class area — they’d be the first ones I’d canonize,” she said.

Ludwig lasted two years before moving to another school. Betz stayed for decades.

“The fact that she had the patience and the love to put up with that for all those years, to me, was pretty heroic,” she said.

After Betz retired, she remained at the monastery in Beech Grove. She turned her attention to helping the homeless and poor. Between 2008 and 2014, she sewed 692 quilts from “scraps of material people gave her,” according to Sister Mary Luke Jones. Betz kept a record of the quilts with the date each was completed and a short description.

St. Vincent de Paul distributed the quilts. She never knew who they went to in the end, but she sewed a blessed medal into each one. The medal, Jones says, was intended to protect those who used them.

Both Jones and Ludwig describe her as “prayerful.” Ludwig says she could spend an hour in prayer at times.

“I wasn’t there when she took her last breath, but I was there shortly after,” Ludwig says. “When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was that she had a smile on her face.”

It wasn’t a common sight, but Ludwig calls it an appropriate one. “She brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people.”

William J. “Bill” Bowers

By Marianne Coil

The word “passionate” comes up when Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley describes his late friend, William J. “Bill” Bowers, who passed away in March.

Bowers was already serving on the Beech Grove Fire Dept. when Buckley joined in 1980. He called Bowers passionate about his family, and about public safety and fire prevention. “He would do whatever he could to help anybody.”

“A lot of the young firemen looked up to him for guidance,” Buckley said.

Bowers influenced untold numbers of elementary school children through the Learn Not to Burn programs. Throughout the community, Bowers was unstoppable in his pursuit of fire safety, especially in the business world.

“He taught me that if you lose a business, you lose tax dollars,” Buckley said, noting that Bowers was aggressive in conducting annual inspections. His successors have carried on, according to an annual report by the Beech Grove F.D., which said it completed 348 inspections in 2015.

After Bowers retired from the Beech Grove department, he worked as a deputy fire marshal for the Indianapolis Fire Dept. and also gave 20 years of service as a safety supervisor at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Buckley would shoot pool at the department with Bowers, who would come in and assist with fires when he wasn’t assigned to a shift. He rarely missed a day, Buckley said, praising his friend’s work ethic. When Buckley was fire chief, he promoted Bowers to battalion chief.

But not all was firefighting – Bowers slipped away every year to Daytona Beach around the Fourth of July. An avid auto racing fan, he joined friends each year in Daytona, and they posted messages on social media to comment on how they’ll miss him.

Bowers was “old school,” Buckley said. “Just a good guy.”

His fellow firefighters thought so, too, and they sent an honor guard to the funeral home.

Dan Challis

By Cleveland Dietz II

When Beech Grove police officers remember former chief Dan Challis, they remember an even-tempered professional.

Challis served as Beech Grove’s police chief for 11 years. He also served as a member of the department’s pension board. One of the people he hired was current chief Mark Swartz.

“He never raised his voice or yelled at anybody that I ever heard of,” Swartz says.

Beech Grove officers Lt. Mike Treat and Maj. Tom Eagan, each of whom knew Challis for more than a decade, echo the sentiment. They call Challis easy to talk to, down to earth.

Challis was an avid golfer. Eagan recalls the worst thing about playing with him was the practice swings. He’d take seven or 10 before hitting the ball. He says he used to joke with Challis that he was wasting all his energy on them.

Still, Treat calls him a “dead-eye” on the golf course.

After retiring, he tended bar one day a week at O’Gara’s Irish Pub and held a crew position on the Sarah Fisher Racing Team in the Indy Racing League.

Lifelong friend John O’Gara and his son, racing team manager Andy O’Gara, fondly remember spending time with Challis at the races. Especially after the team’s first win in 2011 at the Kentucky Indy 300.

“We kind of took off running toward victory circle, but we didn’t know where it was,” John says. “We were jumping fences. It was crazy.”

“I think he was probably happier for Sarah and me,” Andy says, adding that it was special “to see how much joy that brought him and celebrating in victory lane and later at the team party.”

Eagan says Challis was a “community-oriented chief.” Among other things, he, along with John, helped with the Carz ‘r’ Us car show. It remains one of the largest funders for the police department’s Shop with a Cop program.

It was the kind of community dedication, Eagan says, that comes from a hometown guy. 

“He never asked for anything in return and would always help out someone in need,” Treat says.

Kara A. Haynes

By Haleigh Inscore

Though she only graced this earth for 17 years, Center Grove High School student Kara Haynes had a tremendous impact on her community and the lives of her peers. Her best friend, Ciara Phillips, describes her as genuine and says that even from the beginning of their friendship, the two were able to trust each other and talk about anything. In fact, Ciara says, if any of her friends were going through a difficult time, Kara would drop everything to serve as their support system.

One memory that Ciara says she will treasure is when Kara joined her family on a road trip to Florida and the two of them played the song “Walk of Shame” by Meghan Trainor over and over during the car ride. Kara had an inherent gift for working with children and people with special needs, and she interacted well with Ciara’s older sister Kristin, who is autistic.

“She completely understands me and my family,” Ciara says.

Over the past few years, Kara opened up about how personal struggles and a negative self-image had led her down an uncertain path. After receiving treatment for depression and self-harm, she started a non-profit called Project Hope. Her goal in establishing the organization was to erase the stigma that surrounds mental illness and to help fund counseling and rehabilitation for other young people who are affected by it. Kara recognized how many obstacles keep people from seeking treatment, and hoped that through her efforts she could at least remove the financial hurdle.

In her spare time, Kara became involved in her life group at Stones Crossing Church, and she partially attributed her recovery to a renewed relationship with God. She was also an avid reader and dedicated fan of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Ciara remembers that during Kara’s funeral, or around that time, someone had said, “She didn’t want to live one life, but many; that’s why she read.”

Kara passed away suddenly on Jan. 27, 2016 of natural causes. Her family and friends will carry on her legacy by continuing to raise money for young adults suffering from mental illness, whose voices seek to be heard. To contribute to Kara’s cause, visit theprojecthopefoundation.com or facebook.com/honoringkarahaynes.

Rita Norwood 

By Marianne Coil

Rita Norwood was bold. When fire devastated her church in 1999, she told Pastor Wayne Murray that God had big plans for them. The refurbished building had represented progress, but a lightning strike challenged the roughly 150 members to persevere. They rebuilt the Grace Assembly of God in New Whiteland into a membership of 1300.   

Rita, a Greenwood resident who died this year, and her husband, Jim, were lifelines to the sinking Pentecostal church when Murray arrived with his wife, Traci, in 1997. He called Rita the church’s “primary spiritual leader.”

A year or so after he took over, Rita told him that God had given her a vision of a home for young women with crisis pregnancies, and that she was to make the vision a reality. A compassionate nursing supervisor, “She’d seen a lot,” Murray said.

According to friends, the instruction to build came after two weeks of Rita’s private encounters with the Holy Spirit, who arrived in the form of a breeze. Moved to silent readiness, she eventually heard a voice tell her what to do, according to Yadi Garcia, her friend and protégé. Over the years, Rita fostered the creation of a non-profit board for Angelcare, Inc., which purchased land in Trafalgar and began to build the house, still under construction.  Information about the nonprofit can be found at angelcare-inc.org.

The first move-ins will occur late next summer, but a pregnant teen who was beaten at home has already contacted Angelcare, Garcia said. In helping the broken 19-year-old, Garcia had a chance to practice what Rita preached – to express that each is loved by God.   

Rita’s “word for the Lord” could be loud, Murray said. Exhortations included requests for help to enable the long-childless Garcia to conceive. And a year later, she gave birth to twins, she said.      

Garcia said if Rita could be here when the house is finally ready, her typical reaction would be to shout, “Wooooo-hoo!”

*SST File Photo: July 2015

Joseph “Joe” H. Schaub

By Nicole Davis

Two years, six months, five days.  Africa, Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Czechoslovakia, and parts of Austria.  79th Division, 313th Infantry, Charlie Company.”

Ask Joseph Schaub about his military services, and that’s what he would repeat. Proud of his military service, Joe once told The Southside Times that he was even more thankful to return home.

Born July 9, 1919, Joe grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from Cathedral High School. He passed away in April 2016. His obituary described him as “the kindest, most gracious, and generous gentleman that you ever met. He always had a smile and a twinkle in his blue eyes. His infectious laugh was truly one of a kind. If he sensed there was a need in someone’s life, he would fill it.”

Joe enlisted in the Army on May 13, 1942, serving during WWII in five invasions, three campaigns and spearheaded for the 9th Army at the Rhine River.

“There was a war coming up,” he had said. “I decided that everyone else is going in there. I might as well give it a try myself. Boy, did I give it a try.”

Upon returning home, Joe married Louise (Schniepp) Schaub who survives. He retired from Haag Drug Company in 1965. He lived near St. Roch Catholic Church, where he was a parishioner. He spent 31 years helping at his son, Gregory’s business, EM Company in Southport. Joe said he was always a bit ornery, from playing pranks on his fellow soldiers, to telling jokes to employees and customers at EM Company. He would hand out his own business card, with the job title, “Registered Bullologist, President of the N.B.A.A. (National Bullologist Association of America).”

*SST File Photo: Aug. 2014

Jane McCarty Zimmer

By Nicole Davis

David and Jane Zimmer. SST File Photo: Aug. 2014

Before Madison Avenue was the business destination it has grown to become today, it was a two-lane residential area, home to many longtime Greenwood families. Jane Zimmer and her late husband Bill purchased their house just behind Madison Avenue in 1956. Jane passed away at 91 years old in April of this year, and those who know her say Greenwood lost a lot of history along with her.

Jane opened the first business along that strip of Madison Avenue in 1966, Ms. Jane’s School, a preschool where she taught for three years. La Trattoria Italian Restaurant is housed in that location today.

Jane was born July 12, 1924 in White River Township and attended Center Grove Schools, later attending Indiana University. Jane told The Southside Times back in 2014, that the piece of property which now houses La Trattoria was wearing down, and if she wanted to remain in the area, she knew they had to purchase it, which they did in 1966. Not everyone was happy about having the school in the area, as it was primarily residential, but she had the backing of her students’ parents.

In 1976, Jane and Bill purchased the property which is now The Flower Market and continued to buy a connecting piece of land each decade, forming The Village Shoppes. She, Bill and their sons worked on the houses to improve them.

Madison Avenue has continued to grow. Jane’s son David is now the landowner for The Village Shoppes. David sets up a vegetable stand in front of The Flower Market each growing season, and Jane would often be found sitting on the front porch, enjoying the weather, visiting with friends and sharing stories. She remained an active member of the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, and attended city events as often as she could.

“Over a period of years, Madison Avenue has improved and I don’t think it’s through yet,” Jane said, in 2014.

What she didn’t emphasize, humbly, was the hand she played in helping it get that way.