Honoring those who passed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2024

County, Tri-State lost many valued contributors in 2023

The year 2023 saw the passing of many notable people, whose contributions ranged from politics, the arts, education and sports, enhancing our community and touching many lives.

Here is a tribute to some of those we lost in the past year:

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• Violet “Eileen” Lambert, who died on Jan. 10 at age 100, was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II and a charter member of the Navy WAVES. Following her military service, the Ironton native worked in the business office at the West Georgia College in Carrollton, Georgia.

• An Ironton athlete who was a member of the state runner-up 1998 baseball team died on Jan. 10 in New York City at age 42. Following his graduation from The Ohio State University, Chad Lewis went on to be vice president of sales for New York division of Lime Media

• Mark Massie, who died on Jan. 22 at age 62, was a longtime contributor to the county, serving as a member of Ironton in Bloom, the Lawrence County Historical Society and the Rotary Club. He worked for 32 years for the U.S. Treasury Department at the Internal Revenue Service.

• A familiar face to students of the arts in Ironton died Jan. 19 at age 72. Cheryl Pleasant retired as the secretary of the Yvonne DeKay School of Dance in Ironton.

• A pastor for five churches in the area died on Jan. 20 in Portsmouth. Garlen Johnson Sr. let Missionary Baptist congregations in Macedonia, New Valley, Myrtle Ridge, Sheridan and Harmony. He also preached at several of the Ohio Baptist Association meetings.

Benita Heath

• The Ironton Tribune lost a valued contributor on Jan. 20. Benita Heath was a former reporter and editorial board member for the newspaper and had continued to submit work as a freelance writer.

Dan Hieronimus

• A man described as a “legend in law enforcement” died on Jan. 26. Former Lawrence County Sheriff Dan Hieronimus was known as a pilot and for his work with youth programs.

• The longest serving faculty member in Marshall University’s history died Jan. 27 at age 92. Dr. Simon Perry was professor emeritus and former chair of the school’s political science department. The university’s constitutional law school bears his name.

• The parent company of The Ironton Tribune lost its founder on Feb. 13. Jim Boone, president of Boone Newmedia Inc. died in Birmingham, Alabama at age 87.

• The eldest member of Ironton’s Catholic community died Feb. 15 at age 102. Genevieve Riley belonged to the Legion of Mary and the Catholic Women’s Club and was the president of the St. Lawrence PTA. She and her late husband, James, were responsible for the donation and development of Our Lady of Fatima Shrine.

• Phyllis Walton was known for her career in education, working as a teacher in Rock Hill schools, as well as St. Joseph High School. She was active in the Ironton Child Welfare Club and other organizations. She passed on Feb. 7, followed by her husband, former Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton, on Oct. 29.

• A Kentucky colonel and local musician passed on Feb. 2. Ironton resident Dallas Jarvis “D.J.” Topping, 70, was a bluegrass musician, songwriter and producer. 

• A founder of the Aid Township’s volunteer fire department and its former chief died on Feb. 6 at age 83. Charles Bowling, of Kitts Hill, was a contractor with Ohio University Southern and the father of the late Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Scott Bowling.

• A local athletic legend died on Feb. 5 at age 92. Herb Lewis was a star athlete for Ironton High, then went on to play semi pro for the Ironton Bengals and win a golden gloves amateur boxing championship. In addition to working at Armco, he owned a downtown shoeshine parlor in the city.

Bill Van Bibber

• South Point’s former village chaplain died on Feb. 19. Bill Van Bibber retired from the position in 2019 and was a former ARMCO Steel worker. 

• The Tri-State lost a loyal champion of its arts and music scene. Danelle Ray Gilbert, 43, a Huntington, West Virginia artist known for her creativity and support of those in the arts, died on March 22 from injuries received in a fall.

• A member of the Rio Grande Athletic Hall of Fame died April 5 at age 87. Dick Meyers, an Ironton native, was a basketball player and graduate of the school. He coached basketball and football at Dawson-Bryant schools and was head basketball coach at Ironton High School, followed by a 24-year tenure at Auburndale High School, where he was a teacher, dean, athletic director and assistant principal.  

A veteran hand in broadcast journalism for the Tri-State passed on April 11. Wes Armstead worked for WSAZ, WCHS, WVAH and WVVA over the course of his long career in television, in which he served as an assignment editor, news director, photographer and even a stint as Beeper, the sidekick on Mr. Cartoon’s children’s program.

• An advocate for those with disabilities died on April 14. Sharon Odekirk was a board member for Lawrence County Developmental Disabilities and she and her husband were also owners of Lawco Disposal Company in Hanging Rock.

• An Ironton native who had a distinguished career in New York politics died April 18. Jean Somores Miller was the former New York State Commissioner of the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and an attorney, among holding other offices in the state.

• A star athlete from Green High School, who went on to serve the district as a teacher, coach and superintendent, died April 21. Frank Barnett was a member of Green High School’s Hall of Fame.

Patrick Sheridan

• Patrick Sheridan died on May 7 at age 87. An Army veteran, he spent 12 years at St. Joseph High School, where he taught and coached, before becoming the school’s principal. He later became a teacher and assistant football and baseball coach at Ironton High school, before returning to Ironton Catholic Schools to serve as vice principal.

• An accomplished and long life of one of the county’s centenarians came to an end on May 17. Clarence Boggs, a U.S. Marine veteran of the Pacific Theater in World War II, was active in the Ironton Elks Lodge and was the oldest living Past Exalted Ruler of an Elks lodge in the State of Ohio.

Tom Allyn

• A staple of downtown Ironton died June 26 at age 89. Gemologist Tom Allyn was the second generation owner of Allyn’s Jewelers, a 93-year old city business, founded by his parents, which he ran for decades. Following his passage, the business closed later in the summer.

• A familiar face to the Village of Chesapeake died on July 25. Beverly Hart, the wife of council member Paul Hart for 58 years, was active in civic functions in the village and a regular participant in activities and events there, as well involved in her family’s

Beverly Hart

businesses throughout the county and Tri-State.  

• An Ironton native who earned international acclaim died on July 25. Jim Loukx, 84, of Accomac, Virginia, was a hardware store owned there, whose expertise of farming took him to Venezuela in the 1970s, where he was tasked with helping to develop that nation agriculture. His was recognized by President Carlos Andres Perez as a national asset.

• Otto “Bob” Schweickart Jr., the former chief of the Decatur Fire Department, and owner of Schweickart Greenhouse in Pedro, died Sept. 10 at age 93.

• Ironton lost a veteran of law enforcement, with more than four decades of service, when Grove Carter Jr. died at age 78 on Sept. 16.

• Suellen Selb, the former owner and operator of Shamrock Carry Out in Ironton, died Sept. 23 at age 80. She was also a member of the Catholic Women’s Club and, along with her late husband Tim, part of a family with long business ties in the city.

• A former executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America died Sept. 25. Jerry Cartmill, 75, of Huntington, was a U.S. Navy veteran.

• The former director of the Lawrence County Early Childhood Center died on Oct. 2 at age 68. Sue Vanderhoof, of Ironton, worked for 40 years serving local children and families.

• The pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic Church of Chesapeake died Oct. 7 at age 82. Father Charles Moran served that congregation for 17 years and was known for charitable work throughout the region, including the Chesapeake CMO’s efforts toward the needy, as well as similar projects through his church. Moran was also known for leading the Children’s Mass at St. Lawrence and St. Joseph Schools in Ironton.

• One of the county’s oldest residents died on Oct. 16 at the Wyngate at RiversEdge in Rome Township. Norma Loftis, formerly of Cross Lanes, West Virginia, was 103 and retired as a cafeteria worker from Macke Company at Carbide Technical Center.

• South Point’s village chaplain died on Oct. 24 at age 77. Boggs, a bus driver for South Point schools, had served in the chaplain position since 2019, taking over from the retiring Bill Van Bibber, who died in February.

• A woman known for her dedication to children passed on Oct. 28 at age 72. Lena Clar-Conn, of Ironton, was employed as a child care worker at Golden Girls Group Home in Ceredo, West Virginia, where she received the Childcare Worker of the Year from the State of West Virginia.

Richard Walton

• One of the county’s most dedicated political figures died on Oct. 29 at age 85. Former Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton was a U.S. Army veteran and attorney who served on the court for three decades. Walton was known for his involvement in Ironton civic activities, such as the Lions Club, Cub Scouts and the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade, for which he served as honorary grand marshal in 2010.

• An Ironton native, who pastored  First Baptist Church of Burlington and its community for 43 years died Nov. 18 at age 94. The Rev. Dr. Douglas C. Carter, a Korean War veteran, was also known for his athletic career, including playing with the semi-pro Ironton Bengals. Carter also served as moderator of the Providence Regular Missionary Baptist Association Inc,,  first vice president of the Ohio Baptist General Convention,  and was a delegate to the National Baptist Convention, USA.

• Joyce Lewis died Nov. 23 at age 81. A member of the Child Welfare Club, Catholic Women’s Club and the Future Faith Program in Ironton, she was a co-founder of the Ladies Golf Association at the Ironton Country Club. Lewis worked in nursing for more than five decades and was a nurse’s aide state tester for the State of Ohio for many years.

• Robert Glidden, former president for Ohio University, died Dec. 5 at age 87. Glidden was known for technological improvements to the school and spearheading its Bicentennial Campaign, which raised more than $221 million for scholarships, endowed professorships and innovative programs.