In honor of everyone who passed away this year, The Southside Times honors these community members who had a significant impact on our community. From officers of the Southport Police Department and war veterans to local business owners, a teacher and a pastor, each one of these Southside residents has made a lasting difference and touched the lives of others fortunate enough to have known them.
ARTICLES BY NANCY PRICE AND BRADLEY LANE
Friends of Southport Police Officer/Public Assistance Officer Joe Baughn remember him for his helpfulness, devotion to his family and commitment to his job, even when he sick.
Joe Baughn, a Southside Indianapolis resident, passed away on July 11, 2018.
“Joe Baughn was a very professional man,” said Lt. Col Larry Ford of the Southport Police Department. “He would come in with a good attitude; he’d help people that needed help. He volunteered all sorts of hours. When he was going through his struggle (illness) before he passed away, he’d still do his job. We’d say, ‘Go home’ and he’d say, ‘No, I’m not leaving.’ He got so sick, he was trying to come in and we’d make him stay home. Those were hard times but he wanted to be here.”
Baughn decided to be a volunteer police officer after he retired because he wanted to experience what his son, James, a lieutenant with the Beech Grove Police Department, did every day.
“He made his son proud when he was sworn in; he wanted to see what his son did and he did it,” Ford said.
Baughn grew up in New Castle and graduated from Walter Chrysler Memorial High School and Ball State University, majoring in English and minoring in journalism and social science. He taught school for two years after college but found his calling with Stanley-Bostitch, where he worked for 30 years.
Baughn was a Master of Prospect Masonic Lodge. He was a member of Southport Lodge #270 and Williamsburg Lodge #6 in historic Williamsburg, Virginia. He and his wife, Sandy, were also members of the Goodwin Society in Colonial Williamsburg. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Culver Historical Society.
A lifetime fan of the Cincinnati Reds, his favorite athlete was first baseman, Ted Kluszewski. Baughn cherished his older corvette that he’d drive in parades.
Spending time with his family, which also included his wife, Sandy, and his other son, Andrew, was important to Baughn. The family enjoyed their second home on the lake in Culver.
“He’d always talk to us about his family,” Ford said. “He was a family man and always made sure that he and his wife would come to everything that was put on by the department.”
Baughn was also friendly and caring with everyone, including his teammates and people in the community who needed help.
“If you’d walk down the hall past him, he’d holler out your name and see how you were doing and ask if there was anything he could do to help,” Ford said. “If someone walked into the department and said they’d been attacked by another partner in their home, they were scared to death. Joe would talk with them and calm them down. That was just Joe.”
Dr. Marion Woodrow Church
Dr. Marion Woodrow (Woody) Church used his God-given gifts to his best potential. His love of Christ and people inspired his friends, loved ones, attendees of a church he planted, Stones Crossing Church in Greenwood, and those he counseled through a biblical counseling center he founded. Dr. Church used scripture to gently encourage those around him who suffered problems in their lives.
“Woody possessed a strong faith in God and in the goodness of God,” said Pastor Scott Luck, Dr. Church’s son-in-law. “Along with this faith, Woody had a profound love of people. He had a gift of expressing that love to you in a way that made you feel like he was your best friend.”
Dr. Church, of Greenwood, passed away on Nov. 3, 2018, at the age of 75. He grew up in Ashland, Kentucky, and attended Asbury Theological Seminary and Lexington Theological Seminary. He was a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam.
Dr. Church was ordained in the United Methodist Church and served in pastoral ministry in the Kentucky Conference. He was the founding pastor of St. Luke UMC in Lexington, Kentucky and the Church of the Savior in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
He moved to Greenwood in 1990 to serve on staff at the Community Church of Greenwood and founded Rod & Staff Ministries in 1996. After retiring, he was the founding pastor at Stones Crossing Church, where Luck is currently a pastor. Dr. Church also planted two other churches in Lexington, Kentucky.
“The fact that he planted a total of three churches in his ministry career is an incredible accomplishment when you consider that roughly half of all church plants do not make it past the third year,” Luck said.
Dr. Church believed that the Bible addressed hurts and problems people face, such as depression, anxiety, marital troubles, physical pain or emotional problems.
“As a result, Woody believed if we would apply the scripture to our lives in our problems and trials, the end result would be joy, peace and victory over those same problems,” Luck said. “He had the gift of encouragement. Because of his loving and gentle spirit, people often felt free to share their problems with him. He would listen intently and then he would share a scripture, a story or a thought with you that left you more confident in God’s goodness and strengthen your faith in God. You left every conversation with Woody feeling inspired and lifted up. The contagious joy he had, he would pass to you.”
Dr. Church also used his gifts of inspiration and leadership to help train others to counsel individuals.
“He started Rod and Staff as a ministry to area churches that would equip pastors and church members alike to encourage and help people through the problems they experience. He has trained over 1,000 people in biblical counseling over the course of 17 years. Biblical counseling is offered in a number of churches in central Indiana because of Woody’s influence. Rod and Staff Ministries continues to counsel and train people to this day,” Luck said.
Due to Dr. Church’s diligence and passion for helping others, he earned the honorary Sagamore of the Wabash award.
“Most pastors influence the people in only their church. Woody impacted people in churches all over the Southside with his knowledge of the Bible in training biblical counselors and his giftedness in helping people solve problems God’s way,” Luck said.
Pastor Luck said that Dr. Church is already missed by those who relied on his guidance in a world of troubles and problems. Dr. Church fulfilled his life’s mission by spreading the message of the gospel and the love of Christ.
“They miss his words of encouragement. You never know how much you are relying on someone else’s encouragement until you don’t have that encouragement anymore. People knew that Woody genuinely loved them,” he said.
As an Athletic Director and boys’ basketball coach for Beech Grove High School, Matt English was spirited. He fought to win the game. He pushed and persevered. Yet those who knew English remember his competitive streak off the basketball court more than on the floor during a game.
For four years, English battled brain cancer. Each time the cancer came back, he fought harder and his team of supporters grew. They were willing to do anything it took for him to win.
He had also been an excellent science and biology teacher. However, his students learned more from his characteristics and conduct than anything taught from a book.
Though English passed away on Dec. 10, 2018, his spirit continues to live and inspire.
“He was a man with a fierce character; this was a fight that he was not going to lose,” said Danny Curry, Teaching Pastor of Park Chapel Christian Church in Greenfield, where English attended. “He won by how he fought and how he inspired people. He saw cancer as a challenge he needed God to help him fight through. He’s a coach and wanted the Lord to be his coach. He knew how to listen to a coach. He wasn’t too proud to ask for help. He wanted to be a real role model to those on the team and he lived that every day.”
English, a Greenfield resident, was hired as a boys’ basketball coach and teacher 10 years ago. His cheerful attitude and servant heart inspired people. He was upbeat; he would greet students, even those he didn’t know, and he would encourage them. Beyond that, he would help take students without transportation to and from practice, give them a meal, or listen to their problems and offer advice.
“There were a number of kids that he made a tremendous impact on in their lives,” said Dr. Paul Kaiser, Superintendent for Beech Grove City Schools.
“It was never about him,” added Melody Stevens, Communications Director for Beech Grove City Schools. “He was always advocating for others in the community.”
His giving and selfless attitude came from a mantra he lived by: “We Before Me.” This mantra is printed on the high school’s gymnasium floor, which was dedicated to English in September.
“He was a man of deep conviction, character and legacy,” Pastor Curry said. “It was God a first, then family, then his passion. As a coach he taught kids to win at life and not just basketball. I believe he was the guy who lived his priorities in his life; not as something said, but someone who lived. You knew his word was his bond. If he said he was going to do something he was going to do it.”’
English was well-known as a family man. Spending time his wife, Angela, and his daughters, Kayla, Taylor and Addison, was a bigger priority in life to him than coaching. His peers, including Ryan Morgan, Beech Grove Middle School Assistant Principal, took notice and were motivated to make changes in their own lives. Morgan said that knowing English’s true character has inspired him to be a better father and leader.
“As true of a leader as I’ve ever known, Matt always took the blame when mistakes were made and always gave credit to others when there was success. He really pushed me to get the most out of myself. He didn’t do it by preaching or anything like that … he did it through his actions, how he carried himself, how he pushed through adversity, his mindset. If you truly watched and you knew him as a person it was impossible not to be inspired. I think it is important to shed light on the way Matt lived his life because he has helped so many people along the way. If we want his legacy to thrive then people must know how he chose to live his life.”
Charles “Chuck” R. Landon, PhD
Friends and acquaintances remember Dr. Charles “Chuck” Landon as someone who cared deeply for what was important to him. That included his wife, Carolyn; rescuing animals; educating people on nutrition; and the beauty in his community.
Dr. Landon was a neuropathic doctor. He owned and operated Natures Cupboard for 20 years. After the store’s closing, he became very involved with the Greenwood Social, where he was on the board and made many friends. He was a Shriner, Mason, Knights Templar, a Greenwood City Councilman and a lifetime member of the John Birch Society. He was also instrumental in helping to revitalize downtown Greenwood.
Dr. Landon, of Greenwood, passed away on Aug. 8, 2018.
Bob Goodrum, a former executive director with the Social of Greenwood, often chatted with Dr. Landon during his visits to Nature’s Cupboard.
“Chuck was highly informed on a vast array of topics,” Goodrum said. “He was certainly a lifelong learner about natural treatments for ailments, city, issues, etc. While Chuck possessed a wealth of knowledge on many topics, he was also an avid and active listener. He consistently practiced seeking to understand before being understood. Chuck loved life and people. He seemed as comfortable speaking to those in power as those in the line for the food pantry; treating each with respect.”
Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers remembers Dr. Landon’s involvement with the Greenwood City Council and as a board member for the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission.
“He was very knowledgeable, outgoing, driven and really cared about his community,” Myers said. “He was very passionate about the Social of Greenwood and became the sounding board for the Social. We were taking a tour of the Social and at the same time they were starting fundraising for their gala and Chuck volunteered me to be a large financial donor to the Social for that event and I did it. It was funny. They were talking about the different levels of sponsorship and he said, ‘I’m sure the mayor will do that.’”
Myers also recalls Dr. Landon’s love for his wife, Carolyn, saying, “he made sure she was always close to him or being taken care of by him.”
Goodrum said he frequently saw the Landons together when they exercised at the Social. The couple were also animal lovers.
“There was a stray dog running around the property at the Social,” he recalled. “The Landons took it home and it became a furry child. They both doted on that dog. It was so cute to witness that and listen to them speak about their new dog.”
Goodrum said he appreciated the opportunity to get to know Landon.
“I personally enjoyed how he challenged me personally, and our community to question practices, grow, think creatively and create strategic partnerships.”
Lt. Philip Parmelee was known for playing by the rules. He was always on time for his job as a volunteer desk officer for the Southport Police Department, even though he drove from Zionsville every day. He sometimes worked late and could seem strict, yet he often cracked a corny joke. He was very generous to families in need and cared for his fellow officers, who considered him a good friend.
“He would go out of his way to help anybody,” said Lt. Col. Larry Ford of SPD. “He was a great man. He was one of my best friends. We talked almost every night.”
Lt. Parmelee passed away on Aug. 28.
“You could see what a difference he made in people’s lives. It was so packed in the funeral home,” Ford said.
Lt. Parmelee grew up on the southside of Chicago, where he worshipped sports: the Chicago Bears, Cubs and Blackhawks. After graduating from Chicago Vocational High School, he enlisted with the U.S. Navy. One he returned back home, he took a job as a pipefitter/welder. He later chose a career in retail and worked his way up to becoming a district manager for National Presto Industries.
After being transferred to Louisville, he decided to become a volunteer fireman. Parmelee then worked for Ingersoll Rand. Once the company downsized, he began serving as a reserve police officer with the Zionsville Police Department in 1974. Three years later, he became a full-time officer and graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in 1978. He was promoted to police chief two years later and worked with ZPD until 1992. He later joined the Indiana War Memorial Police Department.
“The position of War Memorial Police Officer was not known for its great pay and on more than one occasion the officers who worked for Phil would find themselves short for a car payment or other necessity and Phil would step up with a short-term or even a long-term loan to assist,” said Lt. Don Bender of the SPD.
Parmelee retired in 2009. Never one to sit back and enjoy a break for very long, Parmelee found that he missed serving his community and decided to volunteer as a desk officer for the SPD. He was known for being “old school”, refusing to use new technology, choosing to stick with pen and paper instead.
Yet, “he would be a team player and do whatever he could to help,” Ford said.
That included helping families in need. A few times a year, SPD Chief Tom Vaughn chooses a family in the community that needs help financially.
“Phil would always put money in on that and he was never cheap. If we had someone come in to the SPD that needed assistance, he was always one of the first to say, ‘people, say let’s help them,’” Ford remembered.
When families or individuals would stop by to thank Parmelee for his help and ask what they could do for him, he had one request.
“He’d say, ‘go to Long’s and get a doughnut’; people would always do that for him,” Ford said.” He was a diabetic, but he’d say, ‘you might as well have fun while you’re here,’ Then he was as happy as he could be. “
Rich Parnell (center in photo) was a rare and special individual; he consistently put others before himself. The Southport Police Officer worked holidays so that his fellow officers could spend time with their own families. He spent countless hours mentoring officers in training so they could graduate. And he loved spending time with children, helping to show them that policemen can be their friends.
He did all of this, even while battling stage 4 cancer. Parnell was diagnosed in 2017. He passed away on Sept. 27, 2018.
“Rich was the kind of police officer that wanted to help everybody,” said Lt. Col. Larry Ford of the Southport Police Department. “Everybody loved him. When he was going through cancer he would still get up and come in. He wanted to be out on the streets and help people. He’d say, ‘I could be here and be sick or be home and be sick.’”
Parnell, an Indianapolis resident, joined the police department in 2015.
“We were both part of Southport’s first Reserve Academy,” Officer Joshua Whitlow remembered. “While in the academy, during defensive tactics training, I had a recruit that was like, 6 feet 5 inches tall. When he was on his knees, I was barely taller and we had to fight. Rich was always there to give pointers and help make the other guys better. He showed the young guys what hard work and determination was. He was always willing to help make the guys better officers.”
Ford recalled a female police officer who was struggling to get through the physical requirements of the job while in training. Parnell was there to work with her and give her advice.
“He would have her out in the hallway doing pushups,” he said. “He’d tell her, ‘You work hard at this.’ He would work her until she couldn’t stand up. He’d coach her; he was a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout. He touched everybody’s life somewhere. He was ready for whatever was coming next.”
He mentored children as well, even those who were scared of policemen. Ford recalled a little boy who was frightened of police. The boy’s grandmother brought him to the station for a visit.
“Rich mentored him and talked to him. He’d say, ‘Let’s get in the police car and have fun with that.’ He’d wander with him and go throw a ball.”
“Rich was very community-oriented,” Whitlow added.
Parnell’s serious commitment to service helped him to earn awards in his short time with the department, including the Medal of Merit and Officer of the Quarter. The recognition message for the Officer of the Quarter award read as follows: “Rich Parnell demonstrated tremendous attention to duty and service to the Greater Southport community. During his extended shift he took multiple reports that ended in an arrest and assisted the Greenwood Police Department in a pursuit in which Officer Parnell made the apprehension of the suspect.”
Outside of the department, Parnell worked a full-time job doing security for federal buildings. He had a black belt in Jitsu and enjoyed fishing, camping and playing video games. He also had unwavering faith and was trying to decide on a tattoo that would display a Bible verse.
“He’d made his life good with the Lord,” Ford said.
Michael St.Pierre is remembered as a role model, a trailblazer. Someone who cared enough to make a difference, who cared how people were treated.
As a fifth-generation funeral director for Wilson St.Pierre Funeral Service & Crematory, St.Pierre served on various boards for funeral associations during his career, constantly educating himself and others about changes in the industry. He formed genuine relationships that lasted a lifetime. And he encouraged and supported others.
“He was my biggest role model,” said his son Paul, a funeral director with Wilson St.Pierre. “He was my role model as a father, a funeral director and a servant to the community. Words cannot express how grateful I am to him. For everything he did, he did with love and grace.”
St.Pierre , a longtime Greenwood resident, passed away on Dec. 6, 2018. He attended college and graduate school, including the Indiana College of Mortuary Science and the National Foundation of Funeral Service School of Management and co-owned the Indiana College of Mortuary Science in the late 1970s. He immersed himself in various organizations, becoming president of the Associated Funeral Directors International, the Alumni Association of the National Foundation of Funeral Service School of Management and the National Funeral Directors Association.
“I don’t know how he did what he did and still manage to run a business,” Paul said. “He served on every committee of every organization so he could learn and teach others how to serve. He helped change services in the last 30 years. His passion for the business helped connect generations.”
St.Pierre helped to form the Preneed Act for preplanned funerals in Indiana to keep trust funds from being withdrawn for any reason other than costs involved for the funeral. Paul called his father a “trailblazer” for initiating these types of governing laws.
St.Pierre’s caring, selfless and respectful nature extended to everyone he knew, whether the person was a longtime friend, colleague or someone he just met, according to Woody Burton, Indiana State Representative for District 58.
“When I first met him, I was first getting into politics,” Burton recalled. “He knew me by name. He said, ‘you’re going to run for election; I’ll support you.’ He was always there to help. He was the treasurer of my campaign. He helped me work hard with the district. He would always ask, ‘how can I help?’”
Burton and St.Pierre were both members of the Masons. One day, to Burton’s astonishment, he received a phone call informing him that he had been nominated for the 33rd degree, the highest level someone can achieve in Masonry. Burton’s first thought was that he had been pranked. Once he was informed that the nomination was no joke, he knew without asking who had nominated him.
“(St.Pierre) never told me, he never asked for credit, he just did it. That’s the way he was. I’ve never seen anyone more caring than him,” Burton said.
If there was ever a reason to doubt the hundreds of lives that St.Pierre impacted, the line at the funeral home during St.Pierre’s showing and during his service said it all. From the friends he made as an Eagle Scout to funeral directors who had flown across the country to pay their respects, “I heard his passion inspired so many,” Paul said. “That was special. His passion was contagious.”
Those who knew Paul Totten’s life story would tell you that he was an American hero. He was someone who put others first and was always ready to take on a new challenge. As a survivor of multiple Japanese internment camps and one of Indiana’s most decorated WWII veterans it seems as though Totten would qualify as a hero, but to him he was adamant that he was not a hero. He considered himself an “average, ordinary citizen,” living his life as best he could by serving his God, country and community.
Totten was born in Greenwood on Aug. 29, 1924 to Joseph and Flossie Totten. Being brought up during the Great Depression taught Paul from a young age that if he wanted something he had to work for it. He had a strong work ethic from a young age. It was this work ethic and a sense of patriotism that lead him to enlist in the Army at just 18 years old to aid in the fight against tyranny.
While overseas in Japan, Totten faced many close brushes with death, including being captured and beaten in Japanese prison camps. His time in these camps was trying and hard. He went days without food or water and was constantly defiant of his captors. Then, even after being rescued and liberated by American forces, he asked to be put back on the front lines with his old company, the AT, 145th Regiment of the 37thDivision.
After returning home to Greenwood he was haunted by his past in combat.
“He would wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night screaming. He would jump when a nearby car would back fire,” said his close friend and co-author of Totten’s memoir, Michael Alexander.
Clearly suffering from PDST, Totten worked hard to move on from the war, starting by helping his father refinish floors he worked his way up to becoming a very successful realtor and property owner.
Finding great success in his business and marrying the love of his life in 1953, Carla Jean Porter, still left Totten feeling hollow. It was not until his close friend Gene Bertolet reintroduced him to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that he truly began to heal from his wounds in combat.
Bertolet said that whenever someone would write Totten’s story, “Paul did not want his faith filtered in any way.” Totten continually cited his decision to commit his life to Christ as the most important thing he had ever done.
After finding peace through God, Paul wanted to help serve those around him in his community. Paul became involved with the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce as well as The Greenwood Planning Commission that erected the Greenwood Amphitheater in 2001. All in all, Totten put in more than 50 years of continual community service to the city of Greenwood, and never accepted so much as a dime for his work.
Though people familiar with Paul Totten would consider him a hero, he was also an ordinary citizen. People can look to him as a shining example of what we, as ordinary citizens, can aspire to. To learn more about Paul Totten’s story, his memoir is available for purchase for $20 as a donation to Warrior’s Hope. For God, Country, and Community: The Life and Times of Paul R. Totten. For more information on the book, contact Greenwood Veterans Memorial Committee, 704 S. State Road 135, Box 307, Greenwood, IN 46143 or call (317) 416-7766.
The American flags hanging from utility poles in Southport are instantly recognizable. These flags serve as a symbol of patriotism in divisive times. The waving of these flags today is the legacy of five men, one of them having passed way this year, John Wombles.
John, a Southport resident, was born in 1936 in Ano, Kentucky. He grew up in Kentucky but moved to Indiana in the 1950s and married Barbara McDonald. While living in Indiana he worked as a diesel mechanic at Central Engineering. His friend and fellow Southport Flag Committee member Kenny Winslow described John as everyone’s go-to for fixing cars, washing machines, or really anything. He had a talent with his hands and a gift for ingenuity to create solutions to problems.
His unique ability to find solutions and create made him the perfect fit for the Southport Flag Committee. Shortly after the terrorist attacks on American soil on Sept. 11, 2001, George Julius and a tightly knit group of individuals in the Southport community, including John Wombles, wanted to spread a message of patriotism and unity in the trying times when the American people were facing the threat of terrorism in the Middle East. Naturally, the symbol of the American flag became an obvious choice to display this message, but this idea to hang up flags on every utility pole in Southport was just that; an idea. It took dedicated and talented people like John to execute.
Winslow compared the founding members of the Southport Flag Committee to the classic 1970s television program, Mission: Impossible. George Julius, the president, was the Peter Graves style leader and everyone else were specialists in their field that came together to complete a mission larger than themselves. Winslow recounted his days of door-to-door fundraising to purchase the materials required to hang the flags, while John’s job was to design and manufacture the brackets used to hang the flags.
When asked to describe John for someone that has never met him before, Winslow answered with just three words, “Quiet, hardworking and dedicated.” According to Winslow, John was much more in the business of action rather than discussing with words. He would much rather dedicate himself to tangible solutions to issues than to talk about them. John Wombles singlehandedly designed and manufactured the brackets used to mount the flags onto the poles lining the streets of Southport. Turning a great idea into action, without John, the flag committee would not have been able to complete the project’s budget with which they had to work.
Wombles passed away this past year, on Aug. 16, 2018 after a long and painful battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, sister Retha Jones, his numerous nieces and nephews and countless friendships he made throughout his life. Many flags routinely fall due to extreme weather conditions, damage to poles, or debris catching onto a flag, but Winslow said he never saw a bracket show any signs of breaking. Just as his brackets will remain mounted as a reminder of his patriotism, so too will they serve as a reminder of his dedicated and hardworking legacy.
John Wombles will be recognized by the city of Southport with a plaque near his home as well as a dedication ceremony. Stay updated with the Southport Mayor’s office (southport.in.gov/mayor) to catch the announcement.