It’s The People

Welcome to the 22nd annual Best of Evansville issue, complete with 45 readers’ and editors’ picks. All the winners are deserving of their award, but one thing we hear time and again is, “The best thing about Evansville is its people.” It’s the reason natives cite for staying and why those relocating to our river city often choose to remain. It’s also why folks come back, sometimes after decades of living and working elsewhere. You could say our best attribute is our people. While this asset is visible to us in our daily lives — in the workplace, at the grocery store, on the bleachers at the ballpark — it is in tragedies and times of need that our people-focused city shines most brightly.

With the death of my middle sister last month, I experienced firsthand the kindness of Evansville’s people. Miekka Maureen Cox died at her Nashville, Tennessee, home on Aug. 1. She was 56, soon to be 57 — two years younger than me. As word of her death spread after her children made social media posts, we were flooded by an outpouring of care and sympathy from so many people from all the walks of her life. Phones rang, emails were sent, and tears were shed in the small town in Iowa where we lived in 1970 before moving to Evansville. Here in Evansville, friends from our childhood — the Greencove Acres neighborhood kids we staged parades and talent shows with — reached out in agreement that our childhood was the best and to relive memories. Our teachers and friends from Caze Elementary School, where Miekka and I both attended and our mother taught, showed up with support and fond recollections. Jeff, a grade school friend who grew up on Conlin Avenue a few streets over, drove up from south of Nashville to pay his respects.

Our family moved from the East Side of Evansville to Newburgh in 1977, where we also developed lasting ties. Miekka’s Newburgh Elementary and Castle Junior and Senior High School friends reached out with support for her family and to share their memories ranging from hanging out at Pizza Chef, owned by our father and his friends, to marching band antics.

My sister’s communities from her more recent life — Haubstadt friends and the University of Southern Indiana, where she worked before relocating — also have demonstrated strong support, for which we are grateful. Indeed, these are the ties that bind. Miekka is remembered for the countless hours she spent during the COVID-19 pandemic sewing masks — our mother was an excellent seamstress, a talent not passed down to me or our younger sister, Tiffany. Miekka also is remembered for volunteering and working with Davidson County’s (Nashville, Tennessee) Metro Public Health Department’s COVID-19 Strike Team and volunteering at cat shelters.

Her oldest child, Jake, recalls his mom was the “oldest person he ever saw do a cartwheel.” The girls agree their mom made everything better in the kitchen with extra butter. (She was born in Iowa, in all fairness!) Miekka was known for her amazing fudge. Sadly, the kids are not sure they have the recipe; I do not as I would never have attempted fudge when hers was delicious and gifted to the guys (sure!) in the family each Christmas.

At her remembrance service, I shared the well-known family story that has appeared in part on these pages: My husband Todd claims that, to attract his attention (I was 17, he was 19), I paraded my dog Skippy by his house in hopes of a chance encounter. Well, the rest of the story is where Miekka busts me. At our stepfather’s funeral visitation four years ago, she gently reminded me — and everyone gathered in a small group — that I “made her curl the back of my hair” before I took that fateful walk — where yes, I did meet my future husband. Keep in mind, please, this was 1981, and we had very big hair!

Miekka and her ex-husband raised their family first in the greater Saint Louis, Missouri, area, then returned to the North Side of Evansville and later moved to Haubstadt, Indiana. My sister had relocated to Nashville within the past five years. Their children all are in their 20s. Two are married and two have partners; they all are terrific young people. None of them are living in Evansville, though they all are close and spend time with each other.

Her obituary can be read at Alexander Funeral Home-Newburgh Chapel’s website. Due to publishing deadlines, my nieces and nephew were not able to print her obituary in the newspaper before the service.

Sadly, when she was in her 40s, Miekka received a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. She also received other diagnoses that contributed to her too-young death.

Thank you, readers, for spending time with this letter and for your care and concern. I have heard from many of you, and I appreciate you and your kind thoughts.If

If you see me out and about and I seem a bit distracted, you can find me in Greencove Acres, playing kick-the-can with Miekka and Tiffany, Linda and Denise and their brothers, Jane, Kenny, Kim, another Linda, Suzanne, Stephanie, Michell, and the rest of the gang. Our childhood truly was the best.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Kristen K. Tucker

Publisher & Editor

Letters to the editor can be sent to

Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti
Maggie Valenti joined Tucker Publishing Group in September 2022 as a staff writer. She graduated from Gettysburg College in 2020 with a bachelors degree in English. A Connecticut native, Maggie has ridden horses for 15 years and has hunt seat competition experience on the East Coast.

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