Gone, but not forgotten

These Southside community members left a legacy of service in our community when they passed away in 2021

Dr. Howard M. Alig

Compiled by the staff of Little & Sons/Dignity Memorial

Dr. Howard M. Alig, 78 of Indianapolis, passed away on July 4, 2021. He was born Sept. 12, 1942 to the late Mary and Howard Alig. Dr. Alig was an ophthalmologist for over 50 years. 

“He served our community for many years and was loved by all the people who knew him,” said Kay Denning of Little & Sons/Dignity Memorial.  “He went above and beyond for his patients, making sure they received the very best care possible. He was a kind and caring soul and showed compassion for all his patients. He always made you feel at ease for everything you were going through. I know he is missed by all who knew him.  Great men live on in our memories and are not forgotten.”

He was married to his childhood sweetheart and love of his life, Diane Alig for over 50 years; she preceded him in death. He was a loving father and grandpa who enjoyed golfing, auto racing and spending time on the beach watching the sunset.  Dr. Alig was a generous member of Holy Name Catholic Church.

He is survived by his children, Bryan (Stephanie) Alig, Rachel (Michael) Montgomery and Libby Haug; grandchildren, Madison, Caden and Gavin Alig and Ava Grace Montgomery; siblings, Joe Alig, Rosemary (Doug) Woolery, Bill Alig, Cindy (Chuck) Morgan and Ben (Debbie) Alig.

Richard Wendell Brewer

Compiled by the staff of Singleton and St. Pierre Funeral & Cremation Services

Richard Wendell Brewer, 86, of Indianapolis, passed away the morning of Nov. 21, 2021. He was born July 8, 1935, in Torrent (Wolfe County) Kentucky to Dillard Lymon and Nannie (Spencer) Brewer. He was a barber at U.S. Male in Greenwood for many decades. His barber shop was located at Greenwood Shopping Center – before it became Greenwood Park Mall – and then for several more years across Madison Avenue from the mall. Wendell enjoyed meeting his buddies for breakfast and golf (each spring he went with several of his golfing buddies on an annual pilgrimage to Myrtle Beach). He also enjoyed bowling, clogging and square dancing with Frances. He lived through fellowship as a member of Greenwood Christian Church.

Dick was pre-deceased by his wife of nearly 64 years, Marjorie (Margie) Frances (Smith) Brewer. He is survived by his children, Richard (Susan) Brewer and Terri Atkinson; grandchildren, Allison Brewer, Alexandra Atkinson, Evan Brewer and Colby Atkinson; and his great-grandchild, Addison Becker. One of nine children, he is also survived by a sister, Betty Greenhouse.

William “Bill” Jackson

Compiled by the staff of Wilson St. Pierre, Greenwood Chapel

William “Bill” D. Jackson, 76, of Sumrall, Miss., formerly of Greenwood, passed away Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021.

Bill was born in Greencastle, Ind. on March 13, 1945, a son of Vera Jackson and the late Claude Jackson. He graduated from Bloomfield High School in 1963 and went on to attend Indiana University. He proudly served his country as a member of the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. After his time in the service, he met his wife, Sandra Lucas and married her on June 28, 1969.

Bill worked for the Indiana Department of the American Legion, and then the National Headquarters, serving veterans for 27 years altogether. After his time with the American Legion, he was appointed as the director of Veterans Affairs for the State of Indiana. He finished his working career as the director of Human Resources for the City of Greenwood, retiring in 2008.

He was very active in his community, serving as president of the Greenwood Police Merit Board, and the Greenwood Airport Board. He was also a former president of Greenwood Little League, the director of Hoosier Boys’ State for over 30 years and was part of the selection committee for the U.S. Military Academies.

He was preceded in death by his father, Claude Jackson; his sister, Bonita Weaver and a nephew, Billy Dean Yutzy. Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Sandra; son, Brian Jackson; mother, Vera Jackson; sister, Mary Ellen (Stan) Misiaszek and several nieces and nephews. 

Vivian Lashbrook

By Jonie Gates

Once a Kentucky farm girl, Vivian Lashbrook earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Louisville and became a prominent teacher and guidance counselor in the Beech Grove area. While community leaders are saddened by the sudden passing of Lashbrook, 97, the lessons and love she provided has enriched many schoolchildren.

Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley is forthright about the late instructor, saying she has been a part of his life since third grade. “She was always very supportive of me,” he said, noting that as a child he struggled with comprehension. “She taught me how to read; what a gift.” 

Laura Heston Collins, a teacher at South Grove Intermediate School, said her memories of Lashbrook also go back to her third-grade year. “She was a dear soul.”

Lashbrook was the middle school guidance counselor for the young Heston. She recalls Lashbrook’s office as being dimly lit, kind of comforting. Lashbrook, she said, had a slightly gravelly voice but was nurturing and supportive. Heston (now Collins) said her home life had changed with her parents’ divorce, and she found herself in Lashbrook’s office on more than one occasion.

“I was a good student, but I had a lot of baggage. In her office, I could sit down and gather myself.”

Lisa (Rosebrock) Brewer, a former student, also paid tribute to Lashbrook. She said the little red-haired guidance counselor brought new hope to her life when she lost her dad to cancer in 1983. 

“I was only 13 years old. … I had many dark days,” she said. Lashbrook contacted her regularly; talking helped ease the pain. “You were a light of hope,” Brewer said in tribute to Lashbrook. It was Lashbrook who helped her “strive for the best so my dad can be proud of me in heaven. I will never forget your caring heart,” Brewer said. 

James Compton, a former student and current asphalt contractor in the Indianapolis area, said Lashbrook changed his life. Compton readily admitted he had some short-term memory challenges that were misunderstood back then. Lashbrook had the understanding he needed.

“She said something like I was different than other kids; I had a creativity and that I should embrace who I was, and things would work out for me,” he said. “I think about that moment often. That was probably the most encouraging day I have ever had in my life.”

While working, Lashbrook raised her three children, Tommy, Mark and Dana. She was married twice but lost both spouses to cancer. In her later years, she had grandchildren and great-grandchildren to occupy her time. But she never stopped reading and learning. It was common for her to read five or six books a week, work crossword puzzles and play in the dirt as an advanced master gardener. 

Just when she retired from teaching remains a mystery to most. She was a constant in students’ lives – a legend in the school district. Buckley said there’s only a handful of people in Beech Grove that could have possibly touched as many lives as Lashbrook. “If you ask me, I would say she taught ‘forever.’”

Jason Mueller

By Jacob Musselman 

Jason Mueller, or “Big guy” as his wife, Hannah called him, passed away surrounded by his family on July 22, 2021. 

Jason was a Center Grove graduate, along with Hannah. In high school, he played football and baseball. Fast forward several years: Jason became a teacher, Hannah’s daughter’s teacher at West Grove Middle School, to be specific.

After Jason and Hannah went through separate divorces, Hannah started coaching the high school dance team. On Friday nights, the dance team would perform during halftime, which is how Hannah met Jason.

“He was 6-foot-3 (inches) and 216 (pounds). He was just a big man,” Hannah said jokingly. “But his personality was even bigger.”

Hannah said Jason was involved with his community just as much as he was involved with his family. 

“He made everybody feel so special,” she said.

She said she never realized the magnitude of who he was as an announcer. He would meet with players and coaches before games to make sure he knew how to say everybody’s name and to learn little things about them. 

Brian Proctor is principal of Walnut Grove Elementary School, where Jason taught.

“When we opened up the building, Jason was instrumental in bringing his energy,” Proctor said.

Proctor said although he was “The Voice of the Trojans,” Jason was more than that. He was a family man who carried a lot of pride. 

Proctor referred to Jason’s battle with cancer as David and Goliath.

“He may not physically defeat Goliath but spiritually and mentally, he was winning,” Proctor said. 

Throughout Mueller’s treatment, Proctor said Jason showed his strength to those around him.

“I think one of the most incredible pieces of this whole thing with Jason is he wouldn’t want to be considered a celebrity or an icon at Center Grove,” he said. 

Proctor said the bigger message about Jason was taking some of the things he did and applying it to other people who were going through struggles in their lives. He said Jason would want everyone to make sure they invested in their community.

Scott Knapp, Center Grove athletic director, said Jason connected with the kids immediately, especially the student athletes. When those kids grew up through middle school and high school, he stayed connected with them. 

“He’s irreplaceable,” Knapp said. “He was a special, special talent.”

Prior to becoming the athletic director, Knapp worked as the assistant athletic director, and part of that role was to create the script for the PA announcer. He built that relationship through working on the script throughout the week.

“He knew those kids and families which made it special and unique,” Knapp said. “It’s not just a guy up there announcing names. He knew who they were.”

After his passing, his wife said she received stories from a lot of people from students, coworkers and various members of the community about how Jason helped them and made an impact in their lives.

Hannah said he was like Santa Claus because he was there for everybody. He’s been planting seeds for 20 years, as a teacher and now Hannah gets to watch those seeds grow.

Richard K. “Rick” Myers

By Gus Pearcy

Richard K. “Rick” Myers, 59, co-owner of Grow Local Media, died Oct. 14 at his Avon home surrounded by family following a long illness. He was the publisher of the Hendricks County ICON, Hendricks County Business Leader, Center Grove ICON and The Southside Times and a dedicated public servant to many Central Indiana communities.

Myers was a visionary with an unbridled passion for newspapers. He believed content was king. He encouraged new ideas but generated many assignments through his conversations with people in the community. He instinctively knew what people wanted to read and delivered it each issue.

But his heart was with his wife, Catherine and family.

Born Oct. 22, 1961, in Indianapolis to the late Robert and Mary Ellen Myers, Rick grew up just outside of Haughville in Wayne Township. When the family went on vacation, the first thing he would do is ask his dad for money to go buy a local newspaper.

“I learned early on that the newspaper was a mirror of the community,” Myers said in a podcast recorded in April. Listen to the entire recording at myhcicon.com/podcast-episode-13

As a senior at Crispus Attucks High School, he worked in The Indianapolis Star and News mailroom and moved up to copy boy before he was a sports clerk taking scores by phone on Friday nights. 

Myers graduated from Vincennes University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a photography emphasis from Ball State University. Later, he earned a master’s degree in youth development from Kansas State University.

He worked as a sportswriter at then new The Greenwood Gazette where he met his longtime friend and business partner Brian Kelly. 

“No one had a greater passion for our industry than Rick, and that’s why he was so successful,” Kelly said. “Nothing made him happier than serving the community, his customers and his readers.”

After Greenwood was sold to Central Newspapers, Myers eventually transferred to the former Hendricks County Flyer. In 2005 he and Kelly launched the Hendricks County Business Leader under the corporate publishing group Times-Leader Publications. The company also purchased The Southside Times, a publication that served southern Marion County and expanded to northern Johnson County.

Since then, in an era when many newspapers are shuttering and shrinking, Myers created general news publications, the Hendricks County ICON and Center Grove ICON

Myers was a leader in the Kiwanis Club of Avon, Rotary Club of Greenwood and Knights of Columbus St. Malachy Council 12540. He was named Range Line Pioneer (Carmel) in 1995 and received the Avon Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Professional Award in 2009. Leadership Hendricks County recently honored Myers with the Suzanne Whicker Distinguished Service Award.

In 2020, Myers was named in Editor & Publisher magazine’s inaugural “15 Over 50: Honoring the Leaders Driving the News Industry Forward.” He served as board president for Aspire (formerly the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce) as well as the Hendricks College Network.

“I will forever remember Rick as a caring and compassionate individual who had an amazing zest for life,” said Erin Smith, Center Grove resident and owner of Spotlight Strategies. “He knew how important providing accurate and relevant information was to establish a great sense of community.”

Kim Bartram-Van Jelgerhuis

By Nicole Davis

When it came to helping others, Kim Bartram-Van Jelgerhuis didn’t know the word “no.” 

Kim, 62, co-founder of the Trooper Bartram Memorial Foundation, passed away on May 15, 2021.

“She never asked for anything for herself. She just wanted to do for other people,” said Patrick Etter, Master Trooper with the Indiana State Police and president/co-founder of the Trooper Bartram Memorial Foundation. “She would give the shirt off her back if she could. She was always trying to help someone else.”

When Kim’s brother, James (Pat) Bartram, was killed in a car accident while on duty in 1998, she wanted to do something to honor his memory. She began organizing poker runs in 2000 and donated the funds to the Fraternal Order of Police Post 86. State troopers would adopt families with children in need and take them shopping in memory of Trooper Bartram.

Eventually, she wanted to start her own foundation. She filed the paperwork to become a nonprofit, which was approved in 2013. She listed Etter, who had been shift partners with her brother, as president of the organization with herself as vice president. She never wanted to be the face of the organization or receive recognition.

“She did it all in honor of the fallen police officers,” Etter said. “She wanted every bit of recognition going towards them and no one else.”

That first year, the Trooper Bartram Memorial Foundation took 100 children Christmas shopping during its Christmas for Kids event, averaging $150 per child. Eventually, they maxed out at 225, Etter said. The organization would host the event at a different Walmart each year. The crowd of law enforcement officers from all over Central Indiana, children and their families filled the garden center – the event’s staging area. The foundation would also host a separate, smaller event for children with special needs.

“Kim did most of the fundraising because she was retired,” Etter said. “I didn’t have to do a whole lot. She got the Walmart grants, called a lot of businesses to get stuff donated. She was probably responsible for a quarter-million dollars or more (in donations) since we started and being able to shop for at least 2,500 kids on her own. She was committed to the organization. That became her purpose.”

Kim was living in Florida at the time with her husband, Mike Van Jelgerhuis. When it came time to do the bulk of the planning and organization for the poker run, motorcycle ride fundraiser, she would rent a hotel room on the Southside of Indianapolis for weeks, even months at a time to work on it. Eventually, she and Mike moved to Greenwood.

When Kim wasn’t fundraising for the foundation, she was finding other ways she could give back, be it to build a wheelchair ramp for a family in need or to raise money for things local law enforcement agencies could use.

Her health had fallen the past couple of years, but Kim didn’t let that – or the COVID-19 pandemic – stop her. The foundation still took 100 kids shopping in 2020, changing it from a large event to individual officers shopping with families, one at a time.