With each passing year we mourn and celebrate the lives lost of those members of the community who made a difference in their places of work, to civic organizations, and to their families and others. We pored through death records and obituaries to find notable men and women who helped shape the Tri-State through their contributions.
Phyllis Bonn Ruthenburg, 95 — Jan. 1, 2015
A nationally ranked competitive runner until age 80, Phyllis had a personal trainer up until her death at 95 years old. The Evansville resident was born in Portland, Maine, and became a popular fitness instructor in the River City. She loved to sing and dance, including dancing on ice skates in figure skating competitions.
George Bennett, 89 — Jan. 2, 2015
In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established a presidential directive allowing African-Americans the opportunity to be recruited into the Marine Corps. George received his training at Montford Point, a facility at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and remained there until World War II was over. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor as one of the original Montfort Point Marines; the original medal is displayed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. He also was granted the key to the City of Evansville. He was the first African-American golfer to qualify for the City Golf Tournament.
Helen Roberta Mulzer, 84 — Jan. 2, 2015
As a longtime member and supporter of the Evansville YWCA, Roberta swam with their synchronized swimming group for more than 40 years. She taught crochet classes for 10 years at the YWCA and made many crocheted afghans. She was the president of the Edgar and Roberta Mulzer Foundation, which supports local charities and community programs in Perry, Spencer, and Crawford counties. Nearly every day, she baked a pie, cake, or cookies, while her cat of 18 years, Sassy, watched.
Sally Kincaid Diaz, 80 — Jan. 3, 2015
The 1953 Bosse High School graduate used her experience working on the newspaper and the yearbook to land her a position on The Evansville Press at age 17. During Sally’s early years of reporting, she developed a full page of news about Evansville’s “Teen Scene,” which became a weekly feature. She also took photographs, many of which were sent by wire service for use in other newspapers. After 22 years of working for the paper, she became clerk treasurer of Newburgh, Indiana. She was awarded the key to the Town of Newburgh, and was designated a Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest distinction in Indiana.
James “Tim” Dempsey, 53 — Jan. 6, 2015
Tim played the drums and recorded his first album with the late Little Jimmy Dickens. In 1997, the Atlanta native was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame for his contributions to country music. The Henderson, Kentucky, resident’s favorite number was seven, which he wore on sports jerseys and carefully planned his wedding to be on July 7, 2007.
Karen Marie Ault, 49 — Jan. 13, 2015
Karen spent many years participating in the Special Olympics and various other events. The Evansville native retired from Evansville ARC on Kotter Avenue after more than 20 years of service. A 1985 Harrison High School graduate, Karen enjoyed crafts, moving, joking with friends, traveling, and drinking diet cokes.
Stanley Robert Ballard, 79 — Jan. 20, 2015
As an Evansville native, Stanley was the original owner and operator of the Stan’s Una Pizza West. He was a graduate of Bosse High School and served for 12 years in the Navy Reserve. Stanley retired from Industrial Contractors, where he worked as a sheet metal fabricator and welding journeyman.
Jacqueline S. Coleman, 75 — Feb. 3, 2015
A teacher with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. for 20 years, Jackie was dedicated to making her students successful. She received the Reading Teacher of the Year Award in 1996. The Evansville native still holds the 100-yard dash school record at Washington Middle School.
Logan Brown, 15 — March 14, 2015
Fifteen-year-old Logan was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. He attended F.J. Reitz High School and played baseball and football, was a school mentor for school athletics, and was on the “A” Honor Roll. He dreamed of becoming an airplane pilot and attending the University of Tennessee. Out of the tragedy, family and friends have created an organization called Logan’s Promise to help halt drinking and driving.
Marilyn Durham, 84 — March 19, 2015
A bestselling author, Marilyn wrote three novels, including “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing” (1972), “Dutch Uncle” (1973), and “Flambard’s Confession” (1982). “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing” was adapted into a film released in 1973, starring Burt Reynolds and Sarah Miles. The Evansville native worked as an instructor for McGraw-Hill’s Continuing Education Center for more than 10 years.
Diane G. Casalena, 67 — April 10, 2015
Diane served as the general manager of Turoni’s Pizzery where she retired in 2009 after 41 years of service. She worked at both the N. Main Street and Weinbach locations. A North High School graduate, she was known as a hard worker and a loyal employee. She was an avid reader and loved traveling with her cousin and best friend Hazel Enrici.
Roy C. Cobb, 93 — May 15, 2015
A business computer pioneer, Roy established one of the first automated payroll systems in Southern Indiana. Noted for embracing technology throughout his life, the Whiting, Indiana, native started his accounting career working for Arthur Anderson in New York City. He later moved to Evansville and began his own accounting firm. He retired at the age of 70 in 1991 selling his firm to Riney Hancock CPAs.
Lonnie Gayle Albin, 76 — June 4, 2015
Lonnie graduated from F.J. Reitz High School in 1956, and played baseball at the University of Evansville. In 1962, he took his first job at Rockport High School teaching chemistry. He later worked as a math teacher at his alma mater Reitz, and coached golf, cross country, track, and baseball. He earned his master’s degree from Indiana University, and also taught at Central Evening School and the University of Southern Indiana.
Emmy Lou Dennis, 82 — July 25, 2015
A long-time Newburgh, Indiana, resident, Emmy Lou Dennis was an honorary member of the Newburgh Women’s Club where she held the position of president twice and was a parliamentarian for 30 years. She held various positions on the boards of Historic Newburgh and the Park Board. She was presented a key to the town in 1990, and Emmy Lou Dennis Day was held on Nov. 9, 2013. On her 80th birthday, a Newburgh park was renamed Lou Dennis Community Park for her unwavering commitment to the construction of the Fortress of Fun and for serving on the Park Board for 30 years.
Rayma Cook Carter, 66 — July 30, 2015
Evansville native Rayma became the first female mayoral assistant in Evansville under Michael D. Vandeveer from 1983 until 1986. Rayma’s career success as an executive assistant led her to companies such as Mead Johnson, Channel 7, Indiana University Medical, and Citizens Nation Bank, which later became Fifth Third Bank. She also opened the first plant shop in Downtown Evansville, called The Gazebo. The 1966 North High School graduate loved plants, flowers, and animals, especially dogs.
DeMarco Hampton, 52 — Aug. 19, 2015
DeMarco helped to found Our Times, a newspaper providing a voice for the African-American community in Evansville, and served as its advertising and production director for nearly 32 years. While in this position, he volunteered his design and marketing talents to many nonprofits, as well as launching the Evansville African American Museum, Inc., which honored him with a lifetime membership award. Known for his love of social and arts venues of the city, he landed a spot on the front cover of Evansville Living in the September/October 2001 issue.
Stephen P. Small, 65 — Sept. 6, 2015
As a life-long learner, Steve graduated from Bosse High School in 1968 and from the University of Evansville in 1976. He took additional acting courses at the University of Southern Indiana under Scott LaFeber and Elliot Wasserman, while studying secondary education, and under Jon David Lutz, R. Scott Lank, and Dr. Dudley Thomas at UE. He worked in various positions for Welborn Hospital before leaving to be the public relations director and fundraiser for the American Red Cross of Southern Indiana. He received his teaching degree at USI and taught at Bosse High School. Steve was a fervent fan of William Shakespeare and performed for many years at the Evansville Civic Theatre, UE, USI, and New Harmony Theatre.
James J. Donahue III, 63 — Sept. 15, 2015
A 1970 graduate of Reitz Memorial High School and Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, James was employed by his family’s business Donahue Studios, Inc., a photography studio archiving historic and illustrative pictures. It was at the family business where the Evansville native developed his love for vintage photographs. Later, he was employed at Schultze Printing and managed his own graphic design and printing business. He published a book titled Donahue Studios Commercial Photographers: 1940s Photographs and created a website to archive his work online at donahuestudiosphotographs.com.
Robert Glaser, 72 — Sept. 19, 2015
Robert, born in Chicago, retired after 42 years of service as the director of recreation at the Evansville State Hospital. As a graduate of the University of Evansville, he was active in athletics for the Aces playing four years of football and two years of baseball. He received his master’s degree from Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. After college, the Newburgh, Indiana, resident served as the assistant football coach for the university for many years. He was inducted into the UE Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
Dave Lyons, 59 — Oct. 11, 2015
For the past 35 years, Dave was a news reporter for WIKY in Evansville and was an accomplished radio news announcer winning many awards. He enjoyed watching sports, especially the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks, and was an avid golfer who played at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Dave was a committed volunteer with the Southwestern Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition and
many other charities.
Helena Berfanger Davis, 93 — Oct. 16, 2015
During World War II, Helena worked for Republic Aviation as a “Rosie the Riveter” on the P-47 planes, Emge Packing Plant, and Seeger Sunbeam. The Haubstadt, Indiana, native also worked as an upholsterer at Bartels Furniture. She donated her time as a quilter at church. She and her husband Edward Davis were members of St. Anthony Catholic Church for 42 years, and she was a member of St. Theresa Catholic Church for 20.
Arthur A. Gann, 69 — Oct. 20, 2015
For 29 years, Arthur served as an Evansville Police Officer and retired in 1998, after eight years as Chief of Police. After retiring, he was director of security of Bristol Myers and Mead Johnson until 2013. He served as the president of the Fraternal Order of Police on both the state and local levels, and was a past president for the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police.
Carmen Stuart, 90 — Nov. 8, 2015
Carmen was the first woman awarded the F.J. Reitz High School band’s first chair for clarinet. The Evansville native sang professionally at the McCurdy Hotel, Trocadero Club, and the Colonial Club with prominent bandleader Charlie Kroner. In 1947, she moved to New York City to live with her aunt on Park Avenue and attended the Barbizon School for Modeling while working floor shows at nightclubs in New York, Montreal, Boston, and New Orleans. She performed twice on “Ted Mack Amateur Hour,” a TV show begun in 1948. In 1954, she played the lead role in Guy Lombardo’s “Arabian Nights” off Broadway for three seasons. The New York Times gave several sensational reviews of the performance. She was signed as a feature performer on the ocean liner S.S. Brazil.
Kurt Kluger, 88 — Nov. 27, 2015
In 1964, Kurt established the iconic Newburgh Country Store, where he was proprietor until his retirement in 2007. The Newburgh, Indiana, resident was a World War II Navy veteran and served on the USS Sangay. He attended the University of Evansville where he met his wife Marilyn Marshall of 65 years.
Christine Alvey, 94 — Nov. 29, 2015
As a single mother of five boys, Chris worked for many years as a waitress in various local restaurants serving at the old Jackson House for 20 years. A native of Marion, Kentucky, she moved to Evansville in 1953. She found a rewarding second career as a Foster Grandparent, working for another 20 years as “Grandma Chris” at St. Vincent’s Day Care on First Avenue. She was named the Foster Grandparent of the Year by the State of Indiana. The City of Evansville held a Christine Alvey Day in 2001 for her community service.