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June 13 2013

Father knows best!
Versailles dad shares joy, pain of raising children, grandkids

Cindy Ward
Staff Writer

Terry and Gail Brown, in the far background, gather with their children and their grandchildren.

Editor's note: As a way to celebrate Father's Day Sunday, we decided to talk to a local dad who takes his role seriously. Terry Brown will be the first to say he's far from a perfect dad, but after losing a child and helping raise grandchildren, he shares some insight he's gathered over the years of fathering.

This Sunday, fathers all over will be honored during the traditional Father's Day celebration. But, what makes a good father? Terry Brown of Versailles says with maturity comes wisdom. You become a better father and a better mother as you mature. Brown, 72, and his wife, Gail, 73, have been married for 53 years and were blessed with two children, Cherri Lynn and Kenton, as well as five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Over a span of 20 years, Cherri Lynn fought a battle with brain tumors. She developed her first one when she was a freshman at Purdue University and studying to be a nurse. Fortunately, this tumor was operable, as well as the next six that developed over the years. However, the seventh tumor grew inward, making it inoperable. Cherri Lynn lost her battle just shy of her 43rd birthday. Cherri Lynn and her husband adopted a daughter, Faith Ann, before Cherri's passing. She is now 14.

"With my daughter's passing, I didn't understand it. I still don't," said Brown. "Maybe I never will on this side, but that's okay. I have to believe I can deal with it. That was the crowning moment, having my first born, the pride and the joy that you get from that, and then to have it rudely terminated. So, I got to experience pure joy and pure agony out of the same child in a sense that I didn't think I could overcome the agony. There are still days that are tough."

Brown said that being a father is probably the most terrifying and satisfying thing that has ever happened in his life and he says that after 53 years, he's still working to get some of it right. Brown has become a rock for his grandson, his wife and their two children, ages 19 months and five, as his grandson prepares for his release from prison later this month.

"It's about the children, not about the adults. I'm more into the children and seeing that they're secure. That's what it's all about with us, is the great-granddaughters being secure," said Brown, who helps out financially and also provides moral support.

Brown says he believes that in order to be a good father, you have to love your children unconditionally. You don't have to like what they do, but they need to understand that you love them, that you are going to be there for them regardless. However, he also believes a good father allows his children to pay the penalty when they step over the line. "You've got to love them regardless of what they do, but there comes a time when a father is going to let them suffer the consequences of their behavior," he said.

Set boundaries

Brown believes that children need borders and boundaries, because if they don't have them, they are going to try something that is going to get them into trouble. And, if they know there is a form of discipline outside of those boundaries that are set and they do it, there is some form of discipline there. Once they learn that, Brown says allow them the next level of freedom.

"There has to be boundaries for the child - always. Then when they are on their own, you just hope you did it right. You can just sit back and watch it happen," said Brown.

Brown is hopeful that when his grandson is released that through moral support and the love for his children, he will pull his life together. He provides ministry to inmates at the local jail and says that through his experience, those who have been incarcerated tend to pull themselves together when they have a strong love for their children. If they don't have a love for their children, they'll go right back in to where they are at," Brown said.

He talked about a new law passed recently that will expunge felonies if the person stays on the straight and narrow for a certain period of time and how that person needs some sort of a support system, as it is very difficult for a felon to land a job after being released from prison.

"You have to love them unconditionally, in spite of what they do. We're all human. As we look back on our lives, we had our problems and our mistakes, but time has given us the ability to see that and work and change it in our lives. That's part of their growing up process," said Brown.

Teacher, provider

Brown considers his children a gift from God and calls himself a teacher, provider, friend, counselor and sometimes the bad guy. Being a father is something Brown feels is an awesome responsibility. He admits that through the years, he has fell short and when he was younger, pride would have kept him from admitting it. However, he says that maturing changes your priorities - you are going to act different in your prideful younger stage than in your later years.

Brown worked at Cincinnati Incorporated for 38-1/2 years before retiring. Since then, his love and generosity has extended to everyone in his family at different stages of their lives, depending upon their needs, adding that he addresses needs, not wants.

"We expect them to grow and be their own person. That's how we raised our kids. That's what we infuse into all of them - grow up and move on," said Brown.

Brown's love for people and God has extended beyond his family. He currently works at Fisherman's Paradise Christian Church down in Underwood, Ind., south of Scottsburg, twice a month where he offers an ear and moral support to those in need. Brown attends Cave Hill Church of God, now known as Bridge of Hope Church, as a member, where he is sometimes asked to help others there, as well. The newly constructed Bridge of Hope Church will hold its first service on Father's Day.

His wife, Gail, runs a grief ministry and a prayer shawl ministry, both of which were born out of the loss of their daughter. The ladies in the church make the shawls and pray over them, not necessarily knowing who the recipients will be. She started this at Cave Hill Church and at Versailles Baptist and through both, hundreds of prayer shawls have been distributed to those in need, whether it be for sickness, financial distress or other. Gail credits God for creating the ministry.

"It lets them know that somebody loves and cares about them, even though they don't know them personally. As Christians, we love our people and those who are in need," said Brown.

The idea of Father's Day was conceived slightly more than a century ago by Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., while she listened to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm. A day in June was chosen for the first Father's Day celebration, June 17, 1910.

Father's Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.

Do you have a Little Mr. or Miss Relay contestant? If so, applications are due Friday. The pageant will be held at 11 a.m. Contestants must be between 5 and 7 years old. There is a $10 registration fee. Forms are available at...

Idol entries

Entries are limited to 20 for the Ripley County Relay Idol 2013 contest. The deadline to apply is June 13. This is a talent contest for all ages. Music acts can perform acapella or with accompaniment from either CD or by acoustic instrument. Send entries, photo and music to Rhonda Linkel at 147 Winding Way, Batesville, IN 47006. Inquiries: rondalinkel@etczone.com or 212 0659

History of Father's Day

One-room schoolhouse
Students experience 'old' school

Cindy Ward
Staff Writer

Switzerland County Elementary students recently spent a day at the one-room schoolhouse as part of their 4th grade Indiana history lesson

How cool would it be to be able to go back in time to the days before cell phones and computers were invented? Back to the days when children walked several miles up and down hills just to get to school or if they were lucky, got to catch a ride on a horse and buggy. Well, 61 fourth grade students from Switzerland County Elementary School got to experience just that on May 29 as part of their Indiana history lesson when they spent the day studying at the restored St. John's Old Brick School in Farmer's Retreat.

For the entire day, fourth-graders learned what it was like to go to school in the "olden days," taught by Lorene Westmeier of Dillsboro. Pastor Garry Wickert also took part in the instruction, telling of the history of Farmer's Retreat. Students enjoyed writing on slates and singing songs of yore. At recess, kids played "drop the hankie", jump rope, tug-o-war, spin a button on a string, and dropped clothes pins into bottles.

Play 1900-style

Back in those days, students did not have any furnished playground equipment. A tin cup and a hickory stick were used for a dangerous game of "shinney." They also played with homemade bats - girls used tapered boards. Balls were bought with pennies collected from various homes. Cow chips were used as bases in the pastor's pasture in lieu of a baseball diamond. Instead of climbing metal monkey bars, kids climbed trees. A boy's proudest possession was his pocket knife and a girl's jewelry was her new hair ribbon and pin.

The school features an old pump organ that was originally used in the church. The organ was moved to the school to be used by students. Fourth grader Abby Cole had students gathered around her as she played a hymn on the antique instrument.

The school was built in 1888 and served as a reminder and memorial to many who passed through its doorway in search of secular and religious training. Its restoration was made possible by a generous donation from Gene Schwoeppe, Cincinnati, whose late wife, Dorothy (Linkmeyer) Schwoeppe, attended the school. Financial and material gifts were also given by Carole Ulmer, Goshen, Ind., also a former student.

Approximately 90 students crowded into a small log cabin before it was built into a more modern brick building.

The first full-time teacher was H. Engelbrecht. In 1874, a separate teachers' home was turned into a larger school room. The log school served its purpose for 20 years.

The new brick school measured 28 feet by 48 feet and was dedicated in the fall of 1888.

Each family who attended the church was responsible for hauling two loads of brick from Aurora to help with its construction. The largest enrollment was between 1895 and 1900, with 102 pupils. Louis Rullman was the single teacher responsible for teaching all of them.

Discipline 1900-style
Students who acted up in class back then me the paddle or leather strap. Back then, teachers dealt with horrified girls as an "innocent" boy produced a mouse, bird or chipmunk from his pocket during class. Students also had the task of school sweeping, washing the blackboard, carrying in the coal and stacking wood in the shed.

Over 62 years, 12 were called to serve as ordained teachers at the school. It was vacated in 1950 when a new brick school was constructed.

Westmeier invites all fourth-grade classes at all schools to take advantage of this unique history program at St. Johns. Interested teachers can call Westmeier at 812-432-5401.

To read these and more articles pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican at your local store or subscribe by clicking on the link above or by calling 812-689-6364.
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