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Remembering those lost locally in 2013

Allen County lost several people who made a difference in far-reaching ways

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 4:31 pm

A tireless advocate

Charles Redd, who died Jan. 27 at age 82, served in the political and civil rights arenas. In 2008, Mayor Tom Henry presented the first “Key to the Fort” award to Redd for his 40 years of community advocacy. “Charles has been a tireless advocate for equality and democracy in Fort Wayne and beyond,” Henry said at the time. “He has lived his ideals in service to others through City Council, the Fort Wayne Urban League, the NAACP, his church and numerous non-profit organizations. We share many of the same personal and political values so I wanted to publicly recognize Charles for his service.”

Redd led the Urban League as its executive director in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a time of desegregation of Fort Wayne's lunch counters and schools. He continued to work for equality for area residents in other capacities, including the Fort Wayne Housing Authority.

35 years at the Statehouse

Phyllis Pond, who died Sept. 22 at age 82, made history as the longest-serving female state representative in Indiana's history. Pond, of New Haven, died after 35 years in office. She was first elected to her Fort Wayne-area district in 1978. Pond retired as a kindergarten teacher after 41 years – 37 of them at New Haven Elementary School in East Allen County Schools. During her tie in the Legislature, he pushed measures that reduced class sizes throughout the state and helped minority students attend law school.

In a News-Sentinel interview before announcing plans to resign her seat in October because of pulmonary fibrosis, Pond said, “I really appreciate the kindness and confidence that's been shown to me. I hope I've been helpful.”

Allen County Commissioners approved asking state highway officials to designate Allen's portion of the new U.S. 24 in honor of Pond. It would be renamed the “Representative Phyllis J. Pond Memorial Highway.”

Never afraid of controversy

Bishop Emeritus John M. D'Arcy, who died Feb. 3 at age 80, dealt with controversy during his years in church leadership. D'Arcy retired in January 2010 as leader of the diocese after nearly 25 years in that post. He made national news when he said he would boycott Notre Dame's commencement ceremony in May 2009 when the Catholic university had President Obama as the speaker. D'Arcy cited the new president's pro-choice politics. He decided after all to speak on campus, saying it was right for the university to invite Obama to speak.

D'Arcy's effort to improve the quality of priests highlighted his tenure as bishop – and also generated its share of controversy.

“I became known as 'D'Arcy the hatchet man,'” he told The News-Sentinel in 2005, shortly before celebrating his 20th anniversary as bishop. “In addition to helping the good guys become priests, I would help others out of the seminary, and I was criticized for that.”

But D'Arcy's attention extended beyond seminary students in training. He also removed priests from parishes — often without warning or explanation. The reason for his actions became clear in late 2003 when he announced 17 priests in the diocese had apparently molested about 33 people – mostly minors – since 1950.

D'Arcy had warned of the sex-abuse problem in the priesthood while serving in Boston. In December 1984 – just two months before being named bishop – D'Arcy wrote a letter to then-Boston Archbishop Bernard Law in which he questioned the fitness of the Rev. John Geoghan. After more than 130 people ultimately accused Geoghan of sexual abuse, he was convicted in 2002 and murdered by a fellow inmate in 2003.

Pizzas, politics and philanthropy

Dick Freeland, who died at age 76 on Oct. 20, grew a business from one Pizza Hut restaurant.

Freeland went from being an ironworker and part-time Pizza Hut worker in Iowa to growing one Pizza Hut franchise store in Fort Wayne into a corporation including 48 Pizza Hut restaurants in Indiana and Ohio and four KFC restaurants.

He was active in Republican politics and many philanthropic efforts. More than 500 people attended his memorial service, including Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and former Indiana governor and current Purdue University President Mitch Daniels.

Pence noted Freeland was a generous donor to ministries, veterans programs and “countless worthy causes.” In September 1990 Freeland donated his private plane to fly a woman and her son from Raleigh, N.C., to Fort Wayne after they had fled Kuwait during the invasion by Iraq.

In February, Pence named Freeland a Sagamore of the Wabash.

In addition to business successes, Pence noted that Freeland has helped bring political success to many Republican candidates through his financial support.

Others lost in 2013

Bettye Poignard, 75, Nov. 27, a former Fort Wayne Community Schools board member and director of multicultural services at IPFW.

Mildred V. Roese, 96, Nov. 27. In 1940, Roese – born Mildred Korte – and her father, Fred, helped co-found Korte Paper, a staple in Fort Wayne until it closed in 2007.

Frances Kaye Shine, 94, Sept. 21 had been executive director of the Allen County League for the Blind & Disabled and associate director of the Anthony Wayne Rehabilitation Center. She received a Presidential Citation for her work with those with blindness and disabilities from President Lyndon B. Johnson. She served on the Governor's Commission for the Blind and Disabled under former governors Matthew E. Welsh and Roger D. Branigan. She was instrumental in obtaining a grant to start the Northeast Indiana Reading Service, through which volunteers read local news and features from area newspapers, magazines, books and more.