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Monday, January 9, 2023
Civic Leader, Sagamore of the Wabash Recipient Passes Away
from the editor: Kristiaan Rawlings
J.R. Showers III, former Shelby County Republican Party Chair, President and CEO of Indiana Cash Drawer, and Sagamore of the Wabash recipient - Indiana’s highest honor - passed away Saturday, January 7.
On a personal note, Showers’ passing is a deep loss to our community. He loved his family foremost, and politics, and people regardless of their politics. He and his wife, Carol, believed in and supported those making an effort to better Shelby County.
J.R. always - and I use that adverb sparingly - was proud of his marriage, always proud of his family. If you wanted to hear a positive story, just ask him about his daughters, sons-in-law or grandchildren.
He was there for people. Always. Like the time Shelbyville Middle School held an essay contest in which sixth graders wrote their own presidential inaugural speeches. The prize was lunch with Showers, then the Republican Party Chair, and Bob Williams, Democrat Party Chair. Understandably, the winning kids arrived at the event nervous. But within minutes, the veteran chairmen had these students - and Principal Ryan Mikus and me - laughing and heartily discussing the good side of politics.
Those two students will graduate this spring. A few months ago, one of them approached me at a local grocery store to reminisce about that lunch in the school conference room. She added, “That was the first time in my life I felt important.”
Indeed, time spent with J.R. Showers was time spent feeling important.
Incidentally, Showers was on the cover of the first edition of the weekly Saturday Shelby newspaper, published June 6, 2015, in a feature written by Gabrielle (Reed) Hundley. Showers’ obituary follows, and below is a re-publication of that first article. Also included in today’s edition is a piece for The Columbian, magazine of The Columbia Club in Indianapolis, which provides details about Showers and his family not included in the traditional obituary.
I extend my sympathy to the Showers family. J.R. Showers - his laugh and wit - were one of a kind. Those of us who knew him will miss him. Always.
J.R. Showers III, 69, of Shelbyville, passed away Saturday, January 7, 2023, at MHP surrounded by family.
He was born August 10, 1953, the son of Joe and Martha (Tuerff) Showers. On December 18, 1976, he married the love of his life Carol (Willey), and she survives. He was preceded in death by his parents. J.R. is survived by his daughters, Brendon (Dan) Neal of Indianapolis, and Martha (Thomas) Showers of Shelbyville; grandchildren Eli, Olly, Ella, Felix, Carter, Zoe and Nya.
He will also be missed by his beloved dog, Lulu.
J.R. was associated with Indiana Cash Drawer Co. for over 30 years, ultimately as President and CEO. Indiana Cash Drawer was started in 1921 by his grandfather, Joseph Ralph Showers, Sr. J.R. graduated from Waldron High School in 1971 and attended Vincennes University.
He served as director at Farmers National Bank and as a board member of Shelby County Youth Shelter. He was a member of the United States Power Squadron and Hoosier Power Squadron boating clubs, a Freemason with the Sugar Creek Lodge 279 in Fairland, Ind., Elks Club, Jaycees, Waldron United Methodist Church, Wi-Hub, and Columbia Club.
J.R. was Shelby County Republican Chairman from 2007 to 2017. He was also a proud recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash bestowed upon him by Governor Eric Holcomb.
J.R. enjoyed boating, taking his family on cruises, reading biographies, talking politics, and especially watching his grandkids swim in the pool.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, January 13, 2023 at Freeman Family Funeral Homes, 819 S. Harrison St. in Shelbyville. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 14, 2023 at the funeral homes, with Rev. Marcy Patrick officiating. Interment will be at Forest Hill Cemetery in Shelbyville. A Celebration of J.R. ‘s life will follow from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, at the Blessings Opera House, 18 Public Square, Suite 200, in Shelbyville. Donations can be made to the Shelbyville/Shelby Co. Animal Shelter or choice of fund at Blue River Foundation: Norman Willey Beautification Fund, Willey Scholarship Fund at University of Indianapolis, or the Free Clinic Fund. Online condolences may be shared with J.R.’s family at www.freemanfamilyfuneralhomes.com.
Getting There is Half the Fun, According to Local Political Party Official
ABOVE: Original 2015 newsprint photo of J.R. Showers admiring his model of the Queen Mary II, a ship he sailed on several times.
by GABRIELLE (REED) HUNDLEY
Flight attendants, prepare for landing please. Cabin crew, please take your seats for landing.
The Eastern Airlines plane travelling from Florida to Indiana begins its descent, finally landing on the runway. One passenger is distinctly aware of the contention bubbling between the stewardesses, pilot, and co-pilot, stemming from the recent talks about an impending employee strike. After all, they have made it aware throughout the entirety of the flight with their behavior towards the passengers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Indianapolis International Airport,” the pilot announces over the intercom.
As a small business owner, the passenger knows a thing or two about customer service. He is appalled. He speaks up.
“What’s going to happen is Eastern Airlines is going to go out of business and I am not ever going to fly again.”
“They did and I haven’t,” Republican Party County Chairman J.R. Showers said. Twenty-nine years later, the Waldron native has not even set foot on an airplane once.
Athens, Greece. Italy. Casa Blanca. Gibraltar. Senegal, Africa. Norway, Denmark, and all through the northern countries. Nova Scotia. Halifax.
“In fact, we’ve went as far north as the Arctic Circle and then in the British Isles,” Showers added.
Rotterdam. Germany. All through the Caribbean islands and the Panama Canal. All the way out to the west coast in Los Angeles.
All these places, not one airplane involved for Showers. Instead, Showers and his family have opted for ships and trains to transport them from point A to point B.
“My family always travelled by ships,” Showers said. “My grandparents and all by Transatlantic; that’s all there was back then.”
“And then my parents did,” he said.
He vividly remembers the first ship escapade his father and grandfather took him on when he was only eight years old. The trio drove to Florida and sailed out of Miami onwards to Nassau. One night of sailing and two nights in Nassau was all it took to get Showers hooked and hooked for life.
Showers lives by the slogan shipping company Cunard rolled out at the end of the 1950s: “Getting there is half the fun.”
“It is, I mean, you relax, it’s part of your vacation when you go, and I enjoy it,” Showers said. “And the whole family did too.”
J.R. admitted that while his wife and Shelbyville native, Carol, does love the ship, she is less enthused about travelling by train.
“When our kids were little, we did ride the trains as a family, which even now both of our daughters say was a good experience, but they don’t choose to ride that way unless they have to for some reason,” Carol said. “It just takes too long to get there.”
Carol will more often than not take an airplane back home, where Showers sticks by his ships. And now, so do his daughters and their families. For example, Brendon and her husband Dan own a boat in Florida, which they regularly take their children, all currently under the age of five, on. They have also travelled on a ship with their grandparents, J.R. and Carol.
A NAUTICAL AFFAIR
Over the years, Showers has amassed a large collection of nautical memorabilia and has utilized the majority of it, including a white flag with blue text spelling Brenmar, the name of a boat the family used to have which is named after J.R. and Carol’s daughters Brendon and Martha, to decorate the walls, desks, and tables in his guesthouse. The first floor living room and open floor kitchen area alone holds a telegraph Showers retrieved from a collector in Chicago, a hull he purchased at an auction, along with ashtrays, pen trays, and nearly everything in between.
“A lot of these things, the different little things, were my parents’ when they brought them back as souvenirs,” J.R. said. “And then I picked up souvenirs.”
The guesthouse fridge is cluttered with magnets J.R. has acquired over the years from his adventures.
Although he travels frequently, J.R. said there is no place like Shelby County. Through his service with the Republican Party, he tries to recruit honest candidates, with an obvious conservative bend who stray away from taxes and encourage economic development, to represent the party in local elections. His days are usually spent raising funds for candidates and the party, keeping up-to-date on state regulations that affect candidates at the local level, fielding questions from the public, and helping folks register to vote.
While he has represented the community in his position as the Republican Party County Chairperson for nearly 10 years, he has never considered running for public office.
“I don’t want to be king, I want to be king-maker,” Showers jokingly exclaimed.
Looking forward as the county approaches the 2016 elections, Showers said he would be vacating his position.
He won’t be gone for long, however, ensuring that he would not turn down the chance to help a Republican with their campaign. That is, after he gets back from the 40-day trip to Australia he and Carol are planning to take with friends after J.R. leaves the county Republican headquarters for the last time as county chairperson in 2017.
“It’s time for me to go on; let somebody else do it,” Showers said. “I’ve enjoyed it though.”
Columbia Club Part of Showers’ Story
From major milestones to holiday traditions, the Columbia Club has served as the backdrop for countless family memories over the course of J.R. and Carol Showers’ 45 years of marriage.
J.R., a third-generation Club member, recalls his first trips to the iconic downtown Indianapolis Club from his hometown of Shelbyville.
“My grandfather, uncle and father were members,” he said. “I enjoyed many fun dinners at the Club in the 1960s.”
The Harrison Room was the natural choice to bring his fiancé, Carol, and both sets of parents in December 1973 for an engagement dinner. The young Showers couple joined the Club after marrying in 1976.
“We had many memorable times when our children were growing up, at Tree Trimming, holiday dinners and other fun events,” J.R. said.
Their two daughters enjoyed their own major moments at the Club. Their oldest daughter’s graduation from Butler University with a degree in Early Childhood Education was celebrated at the Columbia Club, as was their youngest daughter’s graduation from Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law.
Their oldest daughter was married in the Club lobby in 2007, followed by a reception on the 10th floor ballroom. The newly married couple was featured in The Columbian in a horse-drawn carriage in front of the building.
J.R., now retired from his CEO position at Indiana Cash Drawer Co. in Shelbyville and from 10 years of service as Shelby County Republican Chairman, and Carol, retired after more than 25 years as a surgical nurse and childbirth educator at MHP and a Women’s Health Practitioner in the community for another 12 years, have enjoyed passing the Columbia Club experience on to another generation. Tree Trimmings and birthdays at the Club are a regular occurrence for grandchildren who enjoy visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus every year.
When not at the Club, the Showers spend summers in Shelbyville and winters in Punta Gorda, Fla. with their dog, Lulu.
Houses under construction line Honeysuckle Drive in the new Summerfield addition, located off Progress Parkway in the southeast section of Shelbyville. The local real estate market remains strong compared to the rest of the Indianapolis metro region, the latest MIBOR report shows. Closed sales in Shelby County increased to 38 in December 2022 from 34 in November 2022 locally, compared to a 4 percent decrease throughout 15 other area counties. Of homes sold in Shelby County last month, the median sales price increased from $220,250 in November to $237,488 last month. Homes are taking longer to sell, though. The average number of days a home in Shelby County was on the market increased from 33 in November to 43 last month.
HOOSIER NEWS: Indiana lawmakers are drawing up changes to the state’s property tax system, with high value assessments last spring pointing toward potentially high bills this year. But their approach has been cautious, laden with warnings about a lack of data and negative consequences. Taxable assessed values shot up 15% from 2021 to 2022 — even after tax abatements, deductions and credits — according to data from the Association of Indiana Counties. That’s compared to a 5% increase the year before, and increases under 5% in each year since at least 2014. Association Executive Director David Bottorff said Indiana has several safeguards to protect property owners — caps, maximum levies, discounts — but said, “Admittedly, the system probably never anticipated this type of assessed value increase all in one year.” (Franklin Daily Journal)
This Week in Shelby County" works by George L. Stubbs Sr. are owned by the Shelby County Historical Society (Grover Center) and used with permission.
THIS DAY IN SHELBY COUNTY HISTORY
News around Shelbyville and the surrounding area as reported on or about this date in history. Selections are curated from the Shelby County Public Library Genealogy Department.
20 YEARS AGO: 2003
The future of the Shelbyville Municipal Airport was taking shape with a new 14,000 square foot maintenance hangar under construction. Progress on the building had been slowed due to the weather, Board of Aviation Commissioners President Elmer Brattain said. A new 5,000-foot east-west runway was another work in progress.
30 YEARS AGO: 1993
A newspaper photo showed Dee Compton, one-time Shelbyville basketball coach and secretary of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, and Carroll Muck, a member of the 1940 Mount Auburn squad that was the first team to win the Victory Bell, leaving the Triton Central High School court after the bell was formally retired. The bell would be on display at the Hall of Fame in New Castle.
40 YEARS AGO: 1983
Ray Sears, the 75-year-old, record-holding Shelbyville runner, had set a new world 8-kilometer record for his age in Fort Wayne on New Year’s Eve. The run began just before midnight and ended about 12:30 a.m. The old record was 42 minutes and 49 seconds. Sears’ time: 41 minutes and 10 seconds.
50 YEARS AGO: 1973
The Triton Central junior varsity team won the county championship, defeating Waldron, 39-29. Members of the team were Gil Asberry, Dave Crawford, Dave Fisher, Matt Hodson, Mark New, Steve Kanucks, Gary Willey, Terry Helms, Ed Harlamert, Steve Piatt, Jeff Pauls and John Barger. Bob Sims was coach.
60 YEARS AGO: 1963
Shelbyville’s school board voted to establish a special M-2 class in the fall for those with developmental disabilities 12 years of age and older, in addition to the city’s M-1 class for those under 12.
Shelbyville Police Chief Ezra Dagley said there were an estimated 5,000 bicycles in Shelbyville.
70 YEARS AGO: 1953
Thomas Fischer won reserve honors with a 10-ear sample of hybrid corn at the annual Purdue University Winter Agricultural Conference.
End of the year data showed 727 babies born and 324 deaths in Shelby County in 1952.
80 YEARS AGO: 1943
The five sons of Mrs. Carl Page, 238 East Mechanic Street, were all serving in the armed forces, The Republican reported. The oldest, Gordon, 30, was a member of the Army Reserves, the result of a childhood injury that made him ineligible for service. James, 28, was in the Coast Guard and assigned to a base in New Jersey. John, 25, was in the Air Corps on a California base. Edward, 24, a teacher, had enlisted in the Navy. Donald, 21, had enlisted in the Coast Guard and was stationed in Washington, D.C. Walter, 18, was in boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. A service flag with five stars hung in Mrs. Page’s window. “Worry? Of course, but we mothers have to push fear away and keep so busy that we don’t have time to worry too much,” she told The Republican.
90 YEARS AGO: 1933
A school essay contest was announced, sponsored by the Indiana Farm Bureau. The essay subject was to be, “Why Dad Should Belong to the Farm Bureau.”
100 YEARS AGO: 1923
Eric Huber, of Brandywine Township, was injured when he fell from a manure spreader. Dr. C.A. Tindall was the attending physician.
Mary “Joan” Addison, 94, of Gwynneville, passed away, Saturday, January 7, 2023, at Major Hospital in Shelbyville. She was born October 29, 1928, in Morristown, the daughter of Wayne W. and Nellie T. (Talbert) Wilcoxon. On April 23, 1948, she married James H. Addison, and he preceded her in death on April 7, 2003. Joan is survived by her son, James Michael Addison of Nineveh; grandson, Michael A. “Tony” Addison and wife, Jennifer, of Fairland; granddaughter, Lesley A. Denison and husband, Dan, of Nineveh; great-grandchildren, Summer, Joe, Kaiman and Tripp; and several nieces and nephews. In addition to James, Joan was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Robert Wilcoxon and Jack Wilcoxon; sister, C. Jean DeHart; and daughter-in-law, Regina Ann “Gina” Addison.
Joan graduated in 1946 from Morristown High School. She was a member of the Gwynneville Christian Church, where she participated with the Ladies’ Aid group.
Joan formerly worked in the office at Morristown High School. She retired in 1992, as the Gwynneville Post Master, with 18 years of service. She was also a member of the former Morristown Order of Eastern Star No. 316 and the American Legion Auxiliary.
Visitation will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, January 11, 2023, at Freeman Family Funeral Homes and Crematory, Frazier Chapel, 124 E. North St. in Morristown. Funeral services will follow at 3 p.m., at the funeral home, with Ted Hagel officiating.
Interment will be at Hanover Cemetery in Shelby County. Memorial contributions may be made to the Gwynneville Christian Church, 7104 E. Mulberry St., Gwynneville, IN 46144. Online condolences may be shared with Joan’s family at www.freemanfamilyfuneralhomes.com.