Lives Remembered: Southside residents who made an impact in their community before their passing

“The song is ended but the melody lingers on.” — Irving Berlin

In this edition, The Southside Times is not only looking ahead to all 2023 has to offer but reflecting back the past year. Lives Remembered pays tribute to the lives of Southside residents who have passed away in the last year, highlighting a handful of residents who had an impact in their community. From lives taken too soon to leaders who paved the way to a better community for everyone else, the Southside lost many great people in this past year. These community members were chosen to represent different areas of the Southside, with a variety of ways they impacted the lives of those around them. To all of our readers who are going through a loss, we wish you comfort in this hard time.

Sr. Phyllis Gronotte, OSB

Sr. Phyllis Gronotte, OSB. (Submitted photos)

Sr. Phyllis Gronotte, OSB (formerly Amelia Ann), 91, died at Our Lady of Grace Monastery. Sr. Phyllis was born on June 20, 1931, in Evansville, Ind. to the late Albert and Hilda Gronotte. She entered Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Ind. in 1949. She was a founding member of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove.

Sr. Phyllis graduated from the Academy Immaculate Conception, Ferdinand, Ind. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from St. Benedict College and a Master’s degree in Education from IUPUI. In 1982 she changed careers and a nursing degree from Ivy Tech.

As an educator, she taught in several schools in Indiana including Indianapolis, Columbus, Washington, Corydon, Cannelton and Tell City. She also taught at Transfiguration School in St. Louis. For six years, Sr. Phyllis spent time in Cali, Columbia working with children and in parish work. She worked at St. Paul Hermitage and in healthcare at Our Lady of Grace Monastery. Prior to her retirement in 2013, Sr. Phyllis worked as a teacher with Alliance for Work based Education and worked in the Marian Library at the University of Dayton.

She was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Albert Gronotte and sister, Sr. Alice Marie Gronotte, OSB. She is survived by several nieces and nephews and her Religious Community.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Retired Sister’s Fund, c/o Sisters of St. Benedict, 1402 Southern Avenue, Beech Grove, IN 46107 or online at benedictine.com. Little & Sons Funeral Home, Beech Grove, are entrusted with the arrangements.

James “Jim” Huser

Jim Huser (sitting in front) enjoys time at a family wedding in October 2018.

By Todd Travis

On Aug. 20, 2022, we lost a true family man and a servant of the community, James R. “Jim” Huser. He was known for helping as many people as he could and always being a supporter of the underdog. His top priorities in life were faith, family and friends.

After working for his father in the tool-and-die business for several years, Huser decided to go off on his own and opened Universal Tool & Die (now bo-mar Industries) with a partner. Around that time, he and his wife, Jeanne, also moved to the Southside of Indianapolis. With most of his family living on the Eastside of Indy, he created his own path and did things his own way.

“He was his own person. He called a spade a spade. Being a supporter of the underdogs, he always wanted to help those who didn’t have the opportunities that he did. One example of this is when he hired two deaf people and without knowing any sign language at all, learned sign language to be able to communicate with them,” said Maureen Bogard, Huser’s daughter.

Huser had a lot of love to give and a lot of family to love. With 73 years of marriage to his wife, he and Jeanne had 10 kids, 41 grandkids, 95 great-grandkids and two great-great-grandkids. His love reached beyond his own family and into the community to anyone he felt he could help. He was also actively involved in his church, Holy Name Catholic Church in Beech Grove.

“He was always involved in so many different activities and functions with the church. He put up and took down the manger scene at the church and stored it, for example. When my husband and I moved back to the Southside we wanted to come back to this church because so many people from the parish said that the church is Jim Huser because of how heavily involved he was,” shared Bogard.

Bogard always remembers being supported by Huser, who did everything he could to help his family members. Knowing that Bogard had a daughter with special needs (cerebral palsy), Huser would show up to help with any moving days so that the houses would have everything needed to suit the daughter’s needs.

“He helped make equipment for my daughter, and he would just be there to help because he knew how much care she required. He would come and help set up the swing set and with anything else needed during the moves,” Bogard recalled.

Huser was appreciated and loved by many, which was confirmed at his funeral with so many who came to honor his life.

“When Dad died, the church was full. People came from all over and talked about things Dad had done for him that I had no idea,” Bogard said.

Huser is survived by his wife, Jeanne A. Huser; his children, Mary Stewart, James C. Huser, Gerald T. Huser, John Huser, Maureen Bogard, Jean O’Gara, Joseph Huser, Terry Huser, Marilyn Haywood and Chris Huser; his sister, Marie Kern; 41 grandchildren; 95 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Cookie (Clifford Allan) Kight

Janice Uehline with her brother Cookie Kight at the 2016 Franklin Township Civic League annual gala, a fundraiser to help raise money for the community Christmas drive that the Civic League coordinates.(Submitted photo)

By Todd Travis

On Dec. 12, 2022, the Southside lost a larger-than-life man, Clifford Allan “Cookie” Kight. He was well known for the phrase “we can make that happen,” and was able to help so many people using that philosophy.

Kight’s family have been long-standing residents of Franklin Township – he lived in one of the original towns, Acton. He eventually grew to be referred to as the mayor of Acton. There was no elected mayor of the town but because of all he did, he was awarded that nickname.

His longtime friend Cathy Burton, who had a day care in Franklin Township for 42 years before retiring in May, provided a list of things he did for the town:

-Served as township trustee for one term

-Coordinated the community Fourth of July festival and fireworks show in Acton (this was started by the volunteer fire department, but the Acton Community Council took it over when the fire department was disbanded). The last year it was held, there was an estimated attendance of around 15,000.

-Worked as co-chair of the citizens committee that worked to get the ground donated for Acton Park (the historic site located at Southport and Acton Road, formerly Acton Campground).

-Member of Franklin Township Lions Club (helped with the demolition derby at the Marion County Fair every year).

-Member of Pleasant Masonic Lodge (on Acton Road) and annually assisted with the community Easter egg hunt and the haunted house that funded community projects.

-Collected donations to replace the Eagle Scout project at Acton Elementary that was destroyed by vandals right after it was completed (a bridge and walkway to the education wetlands).

-Board member and president of the Franklin Township Civic League

-Recipient of the Franklin Township Civic League Community Service award and the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award

-Ensured the veterans flag display was set up every year at Acton Cemetery for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

-Helped raise funds for the veterans memorial at Acton Cemetery

-Co-chaired the Memorial Day parade in Acton

-Took care of the American flags on the street poles in Acton and included Wanamaker when the man who started the display in Wanamaker passed away.

-Served on the Marion County Fair Board

-Organized volunteers in Acton to make sure the streets and people’s street parking spaces (if they couldn’t do it themselves) were plowed when it snowed

-Mentored many young men in Acton as they were growing up to keep them out of trouble.

-Organized a crime watch patrol in Acton.

“He did not really like public recognition and did a lot of things anonymously. There is no way to know how many people he opened his heart (and often his wallet) to when he found out they needed something,” Burton stated.

“Every summer Cookie would invite the kids from our day care center to come out to his body shop and paint their handprints on the cars he got ready for the demolition derby at the county fair. He said it was for good luck. Each year, more and more kids from the town of Acton would come down and join in. The guys from his body shop would block the street so the kids would be safe. When we were done painting cars, we would take a big group picture for the local paper and those pictures were hung up in the body shop all the time. Then he would treat all the kids to ice cream,” Burton shared.

“They used the gymnasium at the elementary school for his funeral because of the amount of people who planned to attend. They still ran out of room in the parking lot and in the gym. He touched so many lives – it was incredible,” she continued. Kight is survived by his wife, Sharon; his two daughters, Heather Ray and Krystle Hiott; and his siblings, Debbie, Don, Brenda, Jeff, Janice, Dennis, Greg and Kim.

Christopher Quinn

Student Anna Green with Christopher Quinn at the Academic Stars ceremony. Each student honors an impactful teacher, and she picked Chris. (Submitted photo)

By Todd Travis

On Dec. 7, 2022, the Southside lost one of its dedicated educators and longtime coach, Christopher Quinn. At the age of 49, Quinn passed away after a 15-month battle with cancer. He had been teaching and coaching on the Southside for 26 years before becoming ill.

As the assistant girls varsity basketball coach at Southport High School, he was remembered for his kindness and calm nature.

“He was the calm to my crazy,” described Adam Morelock, head girls varsity basketball coach at Southport High School.

“Chris was very selfless in that he would do anything for the program and anything for our kids and they knew that. Because of that, they would do anything for Chris,” Morelock added.

Quinn was also the head golf coach for the boys and girls varsity teams at Southport. Prior to coaching at Southport High School, he had a successful teaching and coaching career that began at Bishop Chatard High School and later included Irvington Middle School, John R. Wooden Middle School in Martinsville and Martinsville High School.

In October of 2021, Quinn was approaching his birthday while going through a difficult round of treatments. He had missed a couple days of practice due to the treatments but was able to make it to practice on his birthday. The girls on the varsity basketball team surprised him that day with cookies and balloons and sang “Happy Birthday.”

“They wanted to make sure that he knew even though he couldn’t always be there, that they were always there for him,” Morelock explained.

At Quinn’s showing and funeral, he had students attending who were current players but also former players from the last four years of his coaching. Several players who were attending college out of state made sure to fly into town to attend his funeral.

“That just speaks to the kind of connection that Chris had with the players and the type of person that he was – that those girls were willing to go out of their way to make sure that they were there to support Chris’ family,” Morelock said.

“We’re better because of Chris and hopefully long-term our kids can be impactful in their communities and families and lives of people because of that. That’s why we do what we do, and Chris did that as good or better than anybody,” Morelock shared.

Quinn is survived by his wife, Jennifer; his parents, Quentin and Marilyn Quinn; his brother, Jeff Quinn; his niece and nephew, Conner and Alex Quinn; His mother-in-law, Joyce Adams; his brother-in-law, Ryan Adams; and his furry buddy, Toby.

Darlene Clifton Williams

From left, Brad Nemeth, then-board member Candace Myers and Darlene Williams.

By Nicole Davis

Though she had only returned to her Greenwood hometown a few years before her passing, Darlene Clifton Williams made quite the impact on her community.

“She was a force of nature,” said Brad Nemeth, president of Restore Old Town Greenwood (ROTG). “You knew where she stood. You knew what she was thinking: she would let you know. Sometimes it wouldn’t be something you wanted to know, but that made us a stronger organization. She was such a unique person. She had a great sense of humor. She had such a great personality, very energetic minded but she always wanted what was best for the group and the community.”

Williams, 66, passed away on Dec. 17, 2022. A native of Greenwood, she spent a large part of her life in Michigan. She returned to Greenwood in 2019.

“I think when she came back, she really wanted to get involved again,” Nemeth said. “She reached out to us and asked how she can get involved. She came to a few board meetings, applied to be one of our board members in May 2019 and she’s been a very important part of our group since then.”

Nemeth said that Williams was always active at the nonprofit organization’s events, like Small Business Saturday, clean up day and its meet and greets. When ROTG wanted to obtain historical plaques for its local historic homes, Williams took charge.

“She really drove that,” Nemeth said. “She did all of the research. Her and I worked especially close on it for awhile, trying to find the right companies and when we found the company, she did all of the legwork. She worked with all the types of designs, she did the mockup drawings and brought them to the board meetings. We have a lot of businesses and homes in the National Register district that have those plaques on their structures because of her.”

In addition to ROTG, she attended Our Lady of the Greenwood Church and was also active in her neighborhood group, Neighbors of West Old Town Greenwood. She helped organize her graduating class’ reunion a few years back. She also loved classic cars (especially Studebakers) and was active member of  the Studebaker club.

She is survived by her son, Blair (Aya) Williams; daughter, Morgan (Brandon) Timmone; stepdaughter, Renee Cser and family; grandson, Kai Williams; soon-to-be-born granddaughter Williams; and siblings, Bill Reardon, Tim Standeford, Kelley Standeford, and Mike Galardo.