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The Versailles Republican

September 4, 2014 • Headlines

Open house for Versailles Safe Routes to School is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 10.
The committee is in the process of creating a plan that focuses on providing safer walking and cycling routes to and from the local schools.

Pictured above enjoying watermelon and music at the 25th Watermelon Reunion are from left,
Tammy Sizemore, Jesse McIntosh, Sierra Benham, Natalie Walker, and Jennifer McIntosh.

A large crowd attended the 100th year celebration of the Friendship Vol. Fire Dept. on Saturday. State Rep. Randy Frye presented a flag
that had been flown over the statehouse. Pictured from left, Matt Jeffries, Mark Jeffries, Fire Chief Tim Huntington and State Rep. Randy Frye.

Tom Tepe Autocenter
Tom Tepe Autocenter
Friendship State BankKing's Daughters' HealthWhitewater Motor Company Inc.
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Everyone invited to Tyson Festival on Sept. 14

On Sunday, Sept. 14, a first-ever festival will be held at Tyson United Methodist Church, and it’s not just for church members, but the entire community. This will be a chance to celebrate Versailles philanthropist James H. Tyson, who has provided over $9.5 million in numerous grants since 1930 for his hometown. His legacy has left an indelible mark on the town.

As Natalie Gilpin, co-chair of the Tyson Community Festival said, “His goal was to give back to his childhood home community for education, literacy, religion and social advancement to relieve the residents of Versailles of the burden of taxation. We have received so much from him and want to somehow show appreciation.”

Sunday also happens to be James Tyson’s 168th birthday, so it’s appropriate to have a party for the generous benefactor of the town. The following evening, grants will be awarded from the Tyson Fund at the Tyson Library, and the public is invited for the ceremony. (The grant awards are typically held on his birthday, unless it falls on a Sunday.)

The man: James Tyson
An industrialist, humanitarian, world traveler and philanthropist, James Tyson dedicated the twilight years of his life to the civic, religious and moral welfare of those in the Versailles community. “Uncle Jim” as he was affectionately known to his friends, remembered the place of his youth by building Tyson Temple United Methodist Church, Tyson Library, the Versailles Water Works, a large portion of the Versailles Public School building, and by leaving a generous endowment to the people of Versailles.

He started as a printer at age 15 at The Versailles Republican, and in the late 1800s moved to Chicago and opened a print shop. Tyson lived at the same boarding house as Charles Walgreen, and the two became close friends. Walgreen had just one drug store at the time, and mentioned he needed $1,500 to open another, which is how Tyson got involved. He later became treasurer of the drug company.

In 1930 a trust fund was established with 18,000 shares of Walgreen stock, to be administered by the trustees of the Versailles Methodist Church, many of them personal friends. According to historical accounts, he stipulated that a new church be built, “to the glory of God and in memory of his mother, Eliza Adams Tyson, a charter member of the 1834 church.” He also wanted a public library to be named Tyson Library, to be built as well. The value of the Trust Fund now exceeds $18.9 million.

Tyson knew both poverty and wealth. With his cardboard suitcase, Uncle Jim made several trips around the world and his taste in church architecture was reflected in the design of the Tyson Temple. In 1995, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several renovations have been made, keeping the integrity of the building. The former Tyson Auditorium, now the Tyson Activity Center, is currently being renovated, again keeping it true to the history and original structure.

The festival: Tyson Community Festival
Tyson Street will be blocked off so residents and visitors can enjoy a festival, complete with music, building tours and food. Through tours, people will learn how Tyson’s travels inspired the art deco Temple. For example, no nails are in the church building, and it is called a temple because hammers were not heard in construction just as when Israel built its temple. It’s constructed of stone, concrete, steel, terra cotta, brick and glass brick.

Natalie Gilpin said the idea for the festival came about as they realized many residents may never have stepped foot in the local church. “Our committee started planning the festival to be a community event, to bring the awareness of the many gifts that the Town of Versailles, the residents of Versailles and so many in this community have benefited from. This one man, James Tyson, started from a simple life in a small community but gave back so much to ALL of us and we want people to understand that it is for them, for the community.”

Tours will be available every 15 minutes of the church, library and school (the former Tyson Auditorium) “You can see and hear the history of these special buildings, which are so unique to Versailles,” Gilpin said. She also is excited to welcome back a former resident and local school educator/administrator, Dr. Richard Helton, the president of Vincennes University, who will speak at the morning service. “He’s a big philanthropist just like Tyson was,” she added.

Fourth, fifth and sixth grade students from South Ripley Elementary School will have a chance to learn about the man who has given so much to their community during field trips next week. This compliments the 4th grade Hoosier history curriculum. Gilpin also noted that the SR students are now using Chromebooks, provided through a grant received last year from the Tyson Fund. Gilpin commented. “I’m thrilled they will learn and understand where it came from. “ She hopes they go home and tell their parents about the man and his legacy, so they will then want to come and visit on Sunday. She emphasized, “It’s a festival for everyone, not just the church. It’s a community event.”

Read details of the Tyson Fund grant distribution on the front page of today's The Versailles Republican. Pick up a copy of the newspaper at your local newsstand or subscribe by clicking the subscribe link!

A life decision
Niece offers kidney to aunt

Sandy Day Howard


Decisions are part of life. Some are simple or easy. Others are painstakingly difficult and require thought, planning and consultation. Sometimes, life-changing decisions are made in an instant, without hesitation. Stephanie Copeland of Versailles has made such a decision. She will donate a kidney to her aunt, her mother’s sister. Claudette Day is Stephanie’s mother, and Marie Hager’s sister.

Marie Hager


Left, Marie Hager will be receiving a kidney donated from her niece, Stephanie Copeland, Claudette Day’s daughter.

Marie is in her mid-fifties and lives in Cincinnati. Marie, who works full time as a mental health case manager/supervisor at Central Community Health Board, began having health problems nearly 10 years ago when she had high blood pressure that couldn’t be controlled with medication. After a variety of tests were performed, Marie was given the life-altering diagnosis. She had Polycystic Kidney Disease. She would need dialysis for the rest of her life.

Marie continued to work her full-time position and began dialysis. The cost for kidney dialysis three times a week is an overwhelming expense: $9-$12,000 per week. Marie was glad she had good insurance coverage and soon learned that after 30 months, she would be forced onto Medicare which would then cover the cost of the dialysis. During her seven years on dialysis, Marie has had 20 catheters, countless types of medication and supplies, blood tests, and tens of thousands of dollars in other medical needs. She has suffered the side effects of many of the powerful medications she’s taken, and has had secondary diseases as a result. Marie developed skin cancer as a result of taking one of her medications. Although Marie’s doctor talked to her about what she could expect with her disease, she really had no idea how her life would change by being on dialysis.

Disease progression
Stephanie believes if Marie would have known then what she knows now she would have taken steps to help prevent the progression of the disease, like watching her diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise, and not taking certain medications that are damaging to the liver.” Marie says she believes if she’d have been sent to a dialysis center to see what it would be like, she would have changed things.

“Dialysis is not a solution for kidney disease, it’s just a method of treatment. Sometimes the disease progresses to the point that the kidneys are no longer functioning. That’s what happened with me,” explained Marie. “While I still was on dialysis, I was prescribed a medication called Celebrex. The prescribing doctor didn’t realize it, but Celebrex can destroy the remaining function of a damaged kidney when on dialysis. The 30 percent function I still had when I began dialysis was then shot.” Marie was in kidney failure. Marie would need a kidney transplant and was placed on the transplant list to await a matching donor.

Donor decision
Stephanie spent a lot of summers with her aunt. Marie didn’t have children and could spare more carefree time with Stephanie than her mother, who worked three jobs was sometimes able to.

“I was the oldest of seven children and so I had a lot of responsibility. That made me a stronger person. When I was with Aunt Marie, I was her only focus. She had a lot to do with the person I’ve become. I owe a lot of who I am to her.”

When she realized her beloved aunt couldn’t live without a new kidney, she didn’t hesitate. In the spring of 2014, Stephanie approached her husband, Keith, and two sons, Kevin and Konrad, with her desire to be a kidney donor to her aunt. She knew that the chances of a successful transplant were much higher with a living donor. She had researched kidney donation feverishly and says she spent many hours in prayer before approaching her family.

“I talked to Keith, my boys, and to God to be sure that they were ok with this. We prayed about it and then called Marie and told her I wanted to be tested to see if I would be a match.”

“Organ donors are so desperately needed,” Stephanie reasoned, “It’s not a big sacrifice. She would do the same for me!” Stephanie, who is a registered nurse, encourages people to sign the back of their driver’s license to donate their organs in the event of accidental death.

Stephanie said her aunt was cautiously elated when she learned of her decision! Marie was happy to think she might be getting a new chance at life, but had mixed feelings about accepting Stephanie’s kidney. “ I thought, ‘If Stephanie gives me this kidney and for some reason my body rejects it, I’ve put her through all of this for nothing!’”, explained Marie. “That’s a big burden.”

Marie laid awake nights thinking about Stephanie’s potential sacrifice for her. ‘She’s willing to go through the stringent testing process and then, if she’s a match, would sacrifice one of her organs.’ "That weighs on me a lot. If she gives me one of her organs, then she only has one kidney. What if something happens to her later in life?” Marie pondered. “That’s real hard for me.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: The second part of the series will focus on the donation process and transplant plans

Pick up a copy of next week's Osgood Journal or The Versailles Republican or subscribe to read the second part of this compelling story.

Pick up this week's edition of The Versailles Republican for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

• Family Connections aims to strengthen family unit
• Stroke and osteoporosis screenings in Milan (section A, page 3)
• On The Record from the Ripley County Courthouse (section B, page 1)

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