Welcome Valley Grads and Friends of the Akron / Mentone Communities

Two thirds of 8000 alumni of Tippecanoe Valley -- and the schools that created it -- no longer live in the school district. This blog is intended to keep us all connected, to news of our hometowns and of each other.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Charlie Smith Left Football Legacy

by Kevin Deardorff, TVHS '79

Nearly all of us attending Valley from inception to 1983 were somehow impacted by Charlie Smith, whether as a teacher or coach. Even those following felt his legacy in one form or another. He is a living legend in many circles, and I’ve had the pleasure and benefit of knowing him in many capacities for over 35 years, and am lucky enough to spend most of my days in the office beside him at Lake City Bank. (And to answer your first question… he has “mellowed” over the years, but only to the slightest degree!)

Coach Smith literally built the Valley football program from the ground up, as the former Akron and Mentone High Schools did not offer football prior to consolidation. He had done the same successfully at Triton, after starting his coaching career at Manchester following graduation from Manchester College in 1967,

where he starred on the football and track teams. In 1974, he started a program with JV and Freshman teams on a consolidated basis, even though students were still attending school at both Akron and Mentone separately. The future was also fostered with the introduction of junior high teams under Charlie’s guidance (where I first came into contact with him, as a scrawny 8th grade quarterback).

In limited Varsity play in the fall of 1975, Valley (still with split campuses at the time) had a surprising record of 3 wins against 2 losses. Ryan Williams went on to play Division I at Air Force from that squad. In 1976, the first year of the “new” high school, the Varsity went 8-2. Amazingly, in 1977, the team enjoyed an undefeated regular season and finished as state runner-up, losing only 15-6 to Indianapolis Ritter. Ray Rockhill was chosen to play in the North-South All-Star game (which included schools of all class sizes), but was unable to do so due to an injury suffered during the basketball season. His younger brother, Charles (“Chewy”), played in the All-Star game the next year. Two more undefeated seasons followed, with a state title in 1979.

Charlie was also honored as the IHSAA Football Coach of the Year. The Vikings only lost three games over the next three regular seasons, including another undefeated season in 1981. Coach Smith had an amazing 88% winning percentage during his tenure at Valley, and only lost two games at home, which not surprisingly became known as “Death Valley”. Craig Kantner also played in the All-Star game before going on to star at Ball State. Another Division I player and All-Star was Tim Alspaugh, who played at Purdue. Several others went on to play collegiately at smaller schools, including Scott Bibler at Taylor, who ultimately returned to Valley to teach and become head football coach himself. All who played for Charlie gained maturity, confidence, and poise in the face of challenge and adversity. Most went on to achieve success in their academic, professional, and family lives, and many would give significant credit to lessons learned while playing for Charlie. He possessed the same passion and dedication to teaching, as well as also coaching track.

Charlie left teaching and coaching in 1983, taking on the challenge of a new career in banking. He started as manager of the Lake City Bank branch in Mentone, with one of his first employees being Valley grad Karen (May) Francis, who remains at that office yet today as Vice-President, Manager, and Regional Manager. In 1985, Smith was promoted to VP-Commercial Banking, and further promoted to SVP in 1992. In 2000, he was further promoted to Executive Vice President, where he now oversees
a commercial loan portfolio of nearly $2 billion. Charlie has also been very active in local government, currently serving on the Warsaw City Council, Board of Works, and Redevelopment Commission, as well as the Kosciusko County Economic Development Corporation, board of Senior Services, and the Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corporation. His community service endeavors include Warsaw Rotary, past YMCA board member, former graduate and past president of Kosciusko Leadership Academy, the county Educational Council, Junior Achievement, March of Dimes, United Way, Combined Community Services, and other organizations.
Charlie currently resides in Warsaw with Ann, his wife of 11 years. He is the father of three Valley grads. Michelle LeDrew (Class of ’88), a former cheerleader is the wife of a US Marine and the mother of three boys. Scott (’90), who played both football and basketball at Valley, is an attorney in Warsaw. Youngest son, Ryan (’99) is a professional airline pilot. Charlie states his three “best friends in the world” are his kids.

Remember me saying Charlie had mellowed slightly? Well, very slightly. He still gets the most of every moment in a day, literally. He is a licensed pilot, national ranked Alpine skier, avid football fan (especially of Notre Dame, flying himself to most away games and hosting the world’s greatest tailgate at home games), and in his “spare” time, enjoys boating, water skiing, cycling, and (not so much) golf. We used to play a lot of tennis, until he literally wore his knee (and me) out!

Charlie is contemplating retirement later this year, but I GUARANTEE he will not slow down in any way. He will only move on to another chapter in his life. For example, he is currently studying to obtain his instrument rating, on a mission to lose 20 pounds (though he’s fit as a fiddle), and looking for his next adventure. I’ll miss him being in the next office terribly, and will always envy his tremendous zest for life. Whether a former player, student, client, or friend, Charlie will always go out of his way to assist one in any way possible. He deserves all the world can offer. If you’d like to wish him well or reconnect, he can be reached via e-mail at charlie.smith@lakecitybank.com.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Twelve Steps to Building the Database

1. Plan a get together with two or three friends, somewhere with a laptop and internet access. It helps to bring a local phone book, and your old yearbooks can be helpful. Hopefully, one of you is a member of Facebook. Oh, and coffee and scones, or your favorite adult beverages come in handy too!

2. Before you meet, I will email you the current contact information I have for your classes, which is essentially two-year-old data from the ValleyAlumni site. Typically I have about 50 addresses for classes before 1990, and maybe 15 for younger classes. I will also email you any other class roster that we’ve been able to collect from reunion organizers, although these might be even older.

3. Go to the online ValleyMaster database here:


and click on the tab at the bottom of the page for your class (or whichever one you want to look at). You will be able to edit this document.

4. Check the partial address lists that I emailed you. Are there obvious errors? (i.e., people who you KNOW have moved or changed email addresses since this list was compiled?) If not, key in the mailing address, phone number, and email address into the ValleyMaster form on Google Docs.

5. Read down the remaining list of classmates that we don’t yet have addresses for. If you know or are fairly certain that someone still lives locally, or in Warsaw or Rochester, just enter the town name into the ValleyMaster document for now. We can set those aside for later. If you don’t have any idea, but know who you would ask (for example, a cousin who still lives locally), put that person’s name in the address field for now and move on.

6. As you go through the list on ValleyMaster (which should be alphabetical), you’ll probably remember classmates who’s name doesn’t appear. Since this list was drawn from the school’s official graduation programs, it misses some people who didn’t go through commencement (families moved, finished graduation requirements after May, didn’t actually graduate, etc.). Please feel free to add any of those names to the list. Try to include maiden names as if they were middle names.

7. Go down the list again from the top, both “locals” and “unknown,” and do a Facebook search for each individual. Common names will generate too many results to check individually, but you will find many this way. Some people actually list their email address on their “info” page. When they do, please enter it into the ValleyMaster spreadsheet.

8. Whether or not you can find their email address on their Facebook page, send these people a friend request. Include a message – “Hi Joe, good to find you. We are working to update our class roster, and the school and community foundation are starting an e-newsletter. Would you PM me with your email address?” And/or, “You should join the Alumni page on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=9609383241
And/or join the Valley Alumni social networking site at http://valleyalumni.ning.com

9. When you’ve worked your way through your class, you should have two groups of people left – 1) people who live nearby that you didn’t find on Facebook, and 2) people who you don’t know where they live, that you didn’t find on Facebook.

10. Divvy up the first group between yourselves, and simply look them up in the phone book or on Switchboard.com. From home, each of you can enter the mailing addresses and phone numbers into the ValleyMaster document on GoogleDocs. If you are willing to call some of them and ask them if they have an email address or a Facebook account, do that.

11. Send an email to some or all of the friends and classmates for whom you do have email addresses, and share with them the second list (the non-local people who you can’t find on Facebook). Who knows where members of this list are now, or were last?

12. Make an appointment to get back together in two weeks and share with each other what you’ve found from your phone book research and calls.

Ron Newlin

The Valley - Butler Connection

A couple of other contributors and I have started a “Where Are They Now” round-up of Valley friends who have moved out of state. When we started the research, during the first week of the “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournament, it occurred to me that we could easily fill a 64-team bracket (or three) with the names of friends who have moved to other parts of the country (East, Southeast, Midwest, and West).

That’s a project for another issue (although if you’d like to help, write me at valleyalumni@sbcglobal.net). Meanwhile, in honor of the amazing run by Indiana’s own Butler University, I thought I would take a quick survey of some of the Valley-Butler connections I could find. (This is by no means exhaustive; just some of the information shared by the 1020 Valley friends who have created profiles on the Valley Alumni social network site.)

Lisa Doran Canda (Valley ’76) was a Butler grad before moving to sunny Miami, Florida, where she and her husband Miguel own a Batteries Plus franchise.

Brett Hackworth ’76 graduated from Butler in ’80 after starting his college career at Taylor University, and served as student manager of the basketball team. “It was fun since I was able to be on scout team some,” he recalls. “ I actually did pretty well. Which made Mike Steele, the assistant coach, say "you need to walk on, what year are you?" That was great for the ego!” Today Brett lives with wife Sue in suburban Kansas City, where he is President of apparel manufacturer King Louie America.

Andy Knoop ’77 earned a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Butler in 1989, on his way to a doctorate and a position with the University of Missouri. “I was working full-time in Kokomo then, and commuted to the Butler campus two or three afternoons or evenings a week to complete my degree,” he shared. “As a commuter student, my Butler experience was significantly different than that of a resident student. Most of the time, when I was on campus I was either in Jordan Hall attending classes or in the Irwin Library digging through references. I didn't have a lot of time to "soak up" the Butler experience. However, I loved the Holcomb Gardens and the Carillon. Whenever possible, I'd drive to campus early and take time to walk through the well-kept landscaping. The leaves were majestic in the fall! When the weather was too cold for a walk, I'd sneak into Hinkle Fieldhouse, find a place to sit and watch the random pick-up basketball games.”

Maybe one of those games involved Leslie Miller Brouyette ’88, who attended Butler on a basketball scholarship – and no doubt left some good karma in Hinkle Fieldhouse that is still working to this day. These days she lives near Claypool with spouse Chad (’89), and works as sales manager for Wabash Valley Manufacturing.

Craven Lynn ’89 credits Valley friends Dayne and Deron Manwaring for leading him to Butler University. “Dayne, Deron and I were members of the TKE (Tau Kappa Epsilon) fraternity and lived in the house during our stay at Butler. I went there because of those guys. We swam together growing up for 7-8 years in JAWS at Valley.” Today Craven lives in Indianapolis with his wife Amy and works as an independent insurance claims adjuster.

Erica Egolf Eysturlid ’89 graduated from Butler with a degree in Music Education, and later added masters and doctorate degrees in education. At the time she joined the alumni site she was a school counselor in Geneva, Illinois.

Eric Toetz ’90 graduated from Butler with a degree in computer science. He works for Eli Lilly and Company and lives in Indianapolis with his wife Kelly.

Lael Leininger Dubois ’91 graduated from Butler with a degree in Spanish and Education, and later added a masters in library science. At the time she joined the alumni site she was working as a Library Media Specialist at Plainfield High School and serving as President Elect of the Association of Indiana Media Educators. She and her husband Chris Dubois (TVHS ’91), who is a counselor at Cascade High School, have two sons.

Here’s hoping all these Viking-Bulldogs enjoyed watching their second alma mater in its amazing NCAA tournament run.

These stories are no doubt just the tip of the iceberg – and just a sampling of the fun detail that can be gleaned by surfing through the Valley Alumni site. Now that most of the world in on Facebook, ValleyAlumni is no longer the site of as much activity as it once was – but I like to think of it as a Valley version of “Linked In,” which can be consulted on an occasional basis. We encourage you to periodically update your profile – and to invite others to join it.