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Southern Wells Alumni

For goodness sake, Southern Wells alums, send in your news!

Here's a link to what's just been added.


About Southern Wells

(Awwww, I know this already! I went there for 13 years, so just jump me to the alumni news!)

Southern Wells Community Schools, kindergarten through senior high, is a complex of attached buildings in the cornfields of our county. Although the mailing address is Poneto, Indiana, the school stands alone, in a beautiful campus on a county road. This school district has no industries to tax. All the money comes from those who live there on small farms or in tiny towns. It is awesome. The actual corner where the school sits used to be the Chester Center school before consolidation.

When the elementary school caught fire, they (we) built it "one brick higher." The town of Warren in Huntington County gave us a big old traditional school that had been consolidated out of business. Our kids bussed over and went right on learning while the new school was being built. This earned a national award for both towns.

The Midland Community Spirit Award

This award commemorates the rescue of Jessica McClure from the well where she was trapped for 58 hours. There are hundreds of nominations each year. The Warren/Southern Wells award is a major and richly deserved honor.

The Midland (Texas) Community Spirit Award has been given five times in five years. You want to know who the winners were, don't you? They are

    Sioux City, Iowa, for their response to the DC-10 crash.
    Yakima, Washington for ridding their neighborhoods of drugs.
    Bangor, Maine for personally welcoming 63,000 Desert Storm veterans.
    Warren/Southern Wells Schools for turning a civic center into an elementary school after the school had burned down, and
    Petaluma, California for the massive search for 12 year-old Polly Klaas and for the ongoing efforts to establish a foundation in her memory to serve other young victims.

Nominations and information: the mailing address is Midland Community Spirit Award, PO Box 1890, Midland Texas 79701. Their email link has gone dead, so I can't update this news.

Southern Wells Alumni News

  • From Michael T. Hiester,'90
    Personal Financial Analyst
    Pager: 888-609-0079 | Voice: 219-827-8320

    As my 10 year class reunion gets closer, I thought I would update my information on this site. I graduated in 1990 from Bluffton High School. Even before graduating, I joined the Indiana Army National Guard. After graduation, I went full-time with the National Guard, and am still there today. I was married in 1994 to Dawn Espy (Southern Wells - 1993). We are the proud parents of a daughter, Emily, born June 29, 1998. We are expecting our second child in August of 2000.

    Dawn and I owned a computer sales and service business in Bluffton for about two years. We ran the business out of our home for the first year and then had a storefront downtown for the last year. In 1996 we decided to close up shop and focus on building a family. In addition to the National Guard, I own a financial services business and I am a member of the Bluffton Volunteer Fire Department. My email is Please drop me a line if you have any information on members of the BHS class of 1990. We are compiling a list for the 10 year reunion. Thanks

  • This good news is from Loretta (Rains) Twigg from the class of 1973. (Loretta is Rusty's aunt and Heath's Mom.)
    Heath Twigg, class of '97, got married April 3, 1999. His wife's name is Terri. Terri is from Valpo. Also Rusty Ramseyer's e-mail address is       Rusty has a wife and daughter. His wife's name is LeeLynn and his daughter's name is Hollie. She looks just like him. Rusty just now got on line, so I am sure he will be knocked over if anyone e-mails him.

  • Brett Lancaster, brother of John and Michelle, died in a car wreck on April 3, 1999 in Adams County. Brett was 23. He lived at 7711 South 200 West, Poneto IN 46781. Also killed in the same car was Steven McClain, 24, who lived in the Montpelier area at 3293 West 1200 South in Chester Township. Details were few in the Bluffton News Banner. I would like to thank any of you who were kind to Brett after his tragedy. It is very hard for a twelve-year-old to lose his mother, and Neat's death was an unbelievable shock. There was that same wounded little boy inside Brett all these years. Now he is at peace, with Anita.

  • Marilyn Towns Snider
    I was in the Class of 1971, from Sourthern Wells. My name was Marilyn Towns, now it is Marilyn Snider. I live in Texas and work on Genealogy for people and I write children's stories. I'd like to hear from any of my old classmates and friends. I didn't come back to Indiana after being in the USAF, which I joined right after school.

    Never did get to fly any planes, but got to ride in quite a few and travel. Also looking for the Predictions that were read about our classes future. I'm sending phone # and E-mail, would like to hear from everyone. Thank You Mary (Marilyn Towns)
    Phone: 940-872-3166
    FAX= 940-872-2380
    FAX 940-872-1349
    Address: Mary Snider, 609 E. Nelson, Bowie Texas 76230

  • Brad Kauffman has a home page. He wrote "I just revised my home page to include stories about a few road trips I took with my girlfriend Andrea. I'm now a senior at IU in Bloomington, and I student teach at Martinsville High School in January 1999. I plan to coach basketball and teach English upon graduating in May 1999." Brad may have the best sense of humor on campus. Nice page, Brad! Brad sends us this update on alums he knows:

    You want news on Southern Wells grads? I've got it... Just got back to Bloomington after spending a week in Bluffton with many alumni.

    • -1995 grads Brad Johnson and Caryn Davis are set to be hitched in the summer of 1999.
    • -1995 grad Ben Markley is engaged to Greenfield resident Lesley Brewer, who recently won the coveted Bloomington T.I.S. Bookstore scholarship.
    • -Former Raider basketball star Tyler "Showtime" Blevins will be enrolled at Indiana-Purdue of Fort Wayne this spring. Showtime plans to major in elementary education (i.e. headache management).
    • -1992 grad Brian Johnson resides in Indianapolis where he works for Tranex Credit Union. Brian recently received a raise but still managed to run out of money at the Wagon Wheel Tavern in Warren this Thanksgiving.
    • -1994 grad Jamie Uptgraft is playing his final season of basketball for West Point and is engaged to Woodlan graduate Amy Ball.
    • -Multi-sport superstar Mike Fosnaugh is in his sophomore year at Harvard. He plans to graduate in May 2001 and return to Bluffton to manage the Mike Fosnaugh Athletic Hall of Divinity, which is set to open in June 2001 if Kauffman & Sons Construction soon finalizes the 1.4 billion dollar deal. (Had to pick on you again, Mikey)
    • -1995 graduate Dan Herring is in his senior year at Huntington College.

    Thanks Brad, and everyone should email Brad and urge him to take over the updating of this page! I obviously am not up to it!

  • Christopher A. Cole, M.D., class of '86, completed his residency in anesthesiology June 30th, 1998, at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Chris earned a B.S. with honors in biochemistry and went on to IU Medical School. He interned at St. Vincent's in Indy and now practices at Methodist Hospital as an associate of Anesthesia Consultants of Indianapolis. Not one of us from Southern Wells is the least bit surprised at Chris's success! Congratulations, Dr. Cole!

  • My name is Julie (Mynatt) Desper and I graduated from Southern Wells in 1990. I went to Indiana University and received my bachelor's and master's in Speech and Hearing Sciences. I was married in 1996 to Chris Desper and I work at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne as a Speech/Language Pathologist. My email address is

    Thanks, Julie, that was my major too. Maybe you'll take over the alumni news some day! from your editor, Sandra Weinhardt. Send me all the alumni news!!

  • Barb Zoll Chapman died suddenly in June of a blood clot. She was 42 and living in Montpelier. I was out of town, but I think both her daughter and son are grown now. I have no more details.

  • I ran into Junior Ramseyer's wife the other day and she said Junior is fine and Rusty Ramseyer, class of 88, is married, living in Tennessee and has a baby daughter. Does anyone know more details??

  • David Barcus married Nikki Studebaker, of Bluffton High School, a few years ago, and they had a baby boy in January 1998. Way to go!

  • Tom Wade and his wife Marian had twin boys! Tom was stationed over in the Middle East when he got a call from the Air Force saying he had better just go back to Texas, because they would all have their hands full! The babies, born February 10th, 1998, are named Michael Christopher and Kevin David, They have siblings named Martin, age 11, Steven who is 4, and a lone baby sister named Sarah who is "just barely two." She's two and the two twins are two, too. But not too many! Just right.

    The twins were hefty boys for twins, weighing in at 5 pounds 13 ounces and five pounds 12 ounces. Way to go! For a late starter, Tom has done himself proud.

  • Matt Biberstein was at Taco Bell recently on his lunch hour. He is welding full time for Nesco, the company on State Road 124 East that rents huge equipment. He is happily married with three children. It is always uplifting to run into Matt because he is such a happy person.

  • Is there anyone who went through Southern Wells without knowing one of the Zolls? Betty Zoll, their mom, was in a car wreck just before Christmas. The car she was a passenger in hit a slick spot at the county line down on old 303. Betty had bad head injuries and was taken to Parkview. She had been critical and unstable for days, right after the wreck. The Bluffton News-Banner kept progress reports on Betty on the front page.

    After calling hours for Faye Glessner at Glancy-Walker's, I stopped at Betty's house and found her home! She had just been released from the rehabilitation place and they were all gathered there to celebrate Christmas, on January 3rd. This is a reason to celebrate! She was her perky self; if she hadn't been in a wheelchair I wouldn't have known she had been injured. Send her a card if you can; she will be in physical therapy a long time.

  • Sadly, Barb Zoll Chapman died suddenly in the spring of 1998.

  • Sean Borror went through Purdue in AFROTC, received his degree in Astronautical & Aerospace engineering and was sent to MIT for his master's in the same field. He is stationed out at Kirtland AFB near Albuquerque. Married Missy Herring who teaches elementary education. And yes, Sean IS a rocket scientist!
    Email Sean and Missy at
    AND Big News!!! Sean and Missy had a baby boy in December '97! Way to go! This is their first baby, so call Karla and Rich "Grammy and Grampy" next time you see them.
    And even more news, our son Lance reports that Sean is in pilot training now! That is one possible route to being, dare I say it, an astronaut!! Wouldn't that be fantastic, fabulous and extraordinary?

  • Dawn Espy Hiester's husband sent in loads of news about their big family. It is on the Bluffton alumni page.

  • Heidi Smith Bryant stars in another front page story, by Jim Barbieri, in the Bluffton News Banner. Heidi started as a bailiff in our local Circuit Court, She became court reporter in 1989 and has been instrumental in developing administrative and technical improvements. After 11 years of watching tragedy in the court, Heidi is going home to be with her own three [adorable and bright] children, in hopes of averting any possible problems as they grow up. She will continue to be a court reporter, in private service to lawyers.

  • On 31 August, 1996, Judge Hanselman announced the appointment of Jody (Runkle) Blowers to Heidi's Circuit Court Reporter post!! Southern Wells rules! Jody has been in court-related posts in the courthouse since 1989. Heidi stayed on to work with Jody until late September '96, and Jody's former position of court administrator is now held by Susan Smith (Bluffton High School). August 1998: Jody has moved on to another position. There is a new person at that job now.

  • Rex and Vivian (Steffen) Drennen are the proud parents of Vanessa Rose, born 23 August 1997 at 7 pounds, 20 inches. Welcome, Vanessa Rose Drennen! Out at Hiday Motors, Rex keeps my eight-year-old car running.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Williams (she is Janice) have taken well-earned retirement after 37 years of teaching (Janice) and 41 years of teaching and administrating (Bob.... I still can't call him that!) They will be sorely missed. Daughter Betsy Williams works in Indianapolis at that huge building that processes student loans. You know the one I mean, off I-69. USA Something....
    Glennis Dick has taken on the principalship so the Williams can rest easy. Well done, to a wonderful, dedicated, wise couple and a great new principal.

  • Not an alum but newsworthy in his own right, Superintendant Michael Bushong has departed for a superintendency closer to his home. We were very lucky to have had him at the helm through the fire years and afterward. We wish him well in his new school system. His position is now open at Southern Wells. I never knew how he could commute from New Castle and still stay so centered and pleasant.

  • The 1997 school board race is heating up. This will be interesting.

  • John Martin, Southern Wells High School, began work on his Ph.D. in German at the University of Illinois in August 1996. He has two masters degrees from IU and specializes in the earliest forms of the German Language. E him at He is co-ordinated the exchange program in Austria this past academic year ('97-'98). On August 8, 1998, in Bloomington, Indiana he wed Susan Udry from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is getting her doctorate in, umm, mideval French literature, I think.

  • Dawn Gray Ertel is now an O.D. Dawn was a classmate of John Martin. She practices right here in Bluffton with Dr. VanWinkle.

  • It is a bit scarey to have your dentist be someone you knew when he was in grade school. Fully trained and now a practicing dentist, dentist Mark Sills, D.D.S. Update: Mark and his wife have moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where he now practices.

  • David Frayer is doing post-doctoral work in Toronto in his field, astronomy. He has received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

  • Jenny Hogston is a physical therapy assistant in Fort Wayne. Her youngest sister, Becky Hogston was married in the summer of 1996. Irma Jean got married, but I refuse to believe that she is old enough. I can remember her in her baby crib. Time needs to stand still.

  • Troy Ray came back after the Army and graduated from IU-Purdue-Fort Wayne in May 1997. His brother Aaron graduated from Southern Wells that same month. He is still the guy with the best smile in the class of 1988! He is an accountant at Hot Crews!, a Fort Wayne company that rebuilds refractory furnaces. He's living near the old Corning Plant on land owned by Davey Barcus's grandfather. Southern Wells rules! (5 April 1997.)

  • Christina Ellison Masterson, class of '83, died on May 20 1997, at home. Survivors include her husband Keith, son Kirk and sister Stacey (Mrs. Shane) Gearheart of Montpelier, IN.

  • Update: Lance Weinhardt and wife Nicole Bickham have moved to Baltimore, Maryland where they are doing their internships at the University of Maryland Medical College.

    Lance Weinhardt and Nicole Bickham are both in the clinical psychology Ph.D. program at Syracuse University. Lance's dissertation involves his HIV/AIDS prevention research on a National Institutes of Mental Health research grant. He was married to Nicole in May, 1996. They have both finished their Masters' degrees and are working toward their doctorates. See the wedding page, this site.

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