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May 10, 2016 • Headline News
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100 and still counting!
Osgood educator celebrates milestone

Mary Mattingly

A hundred years ago, in 1916, World War I was in full swing, a Boeing aircraft flew for the first time, Coca-Cola was introduced to America, and the first “super” market the Piggly Wiggly, opened in the U.S in Tennessee. It was also the year Sherman Lemen was born. The Osgood resident has seen a lot in his 100 years, from the start and end of World War II (which he served in), a man walk on the moon, and inventions that have become commonplace, such as color television, central air conditioning and phones you carry in your pocket!

Sherman Lemen of OsgoodMARY MATTINGLY PHOTO
Sherman Lemen shows the Sagamore of the Wabash award he received last year.

As of May 3, the Osgood resident became just 0.02 percent of the population to live to 100 years old. He will celebrate his 100 years on May 14 with an open house at the St. Florian, which is appropriate since it was the former school he attended. When asked what’s his secret to a long life, the retired educator/administrator replies, “Good whiskey!” Apparently age has not affected his sense of humor…the centenarian has never been a big drinker! A card player perhaps, but not a drinker nor a smoker. “I don’t think it will keep you from heaven,” he comments, but perhaps lessen your days on earth. Sweets, on the other hand, is far more tempting, and this senior citizen can’t resist a scrumptious dessert.

Most people in Osgood know of Sherman Lemen through his 44 years in education. He served as principal at Holton for four years, 10 years at Napoleon and 20 years as superintendent of Jac-Cen-Del before retiring in 1980. Others may know Lemen from one of the many church and civic organizations he’s been involved with. He’s been in many leadership roles of the Osgood First Baptist Church, is a 75+ years Osgood Mason, a life-long American Legion member, member of the Indianapolis Valley of the Scottish Rite and the Shriners, a charter member of the Lions Club and a charter member of the Osgood Civic Club. He is a member of the county and state retired teacher’s associations. He was the Ripley County 2015 Citizen of the Year, and the same year, named a Sagamore of the Wabash. Sherman was nominated by the Lions group. “That so surprised me! I very much appreciated it,” he said humbly of the state’s highest civic award.

Lemen grew up on a 240 acre farm, one of 13 children, graduating from Center Township school, and started teaching at age 20 with a two year license but was drafted to serve in WWII in 1941. He was in the 81st artillery, and when President Truman dropped the atomic bomb in Japan, it likely saved his life! He recalls the one light bulb rooms at Osgood grade school, and riding on the first school bus driven by Henry Tucker. “He used to haul chickens in it for Osgood,” Lemen remembered before hauling children. That’s also when they had a sandbox in the first grade room, and when students went to school for just eight months with the “last month going barefooted” he recalled. One of his most memorable life events was when Sherman was about 12 years old and had an unfortunate accident with a piece of farm machinery. He doesn’t know exactly how his face was cut, “It’s still a mystery to me!” Most of his memories are good though; he recalls seeing his first airplane and hearing the radio in the back of a barn, meeting President Johnson, and riding the train with Holton High School seniors to DC for their senior trip.

Lemen and wife Jean, who passed away three years ago, have four children. Only daughter Martha Kessens lives next door and often stops in to check on dad. He has a little trouble on his feet, and his hearing isn’t great, but his mind is very good and so is his spirit. Son Dave lives in Carmel, Steve in Santa Claus, IN, and Larry in Westfield.

Sherman says his 100 years could be attributed to good genes (younger sisters Phyllis Courtney and Mary Ellen Hammersley are still living, and his mom, Naomi died at age 94, his dad, CW, at age 76 (but he was a smoker). His Aunt Golda Reynolds also was pushing 100 before she died. He also ate much of the produce he and Jean grew on their land, and it probably helped that Jean omitted grease and lard from cooking after he had his gallbladder removed in the late 60s. At this point in his life, the 100 year old doesn’t take anything for granted, and is blessed for each day given to him. He is looking forward to seeing his family, friends, neighbors, past co-workers and community members on May 14 at the open house. The celebration will be from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the St. Florian in Osgood, and all are invited to share his 100 years!

Local Bulletin Board

Deadline: June 10
Entries for farm award
Indiana Landmarks and Indiana Farm Bureau welcome nominations for the 2016 John Arnold Award for Rural Preservation. The award recognizes the preservation and continued agricultural use of historic farm buildings in Indiana. Anyone, including farm owners, can submit a nomination for the Arnold Award. Read rules and more details on page 2 of the Osgood Journal dated May 3.

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