The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024

Obituaries can be emailed to The Van Wert independent no longer accepts no-cost death notices. As of October 1, 2023, the cost of full obituaries will be $95 (including a photo). Local funeral homes are billed for full obituaries, while out-of-town funeral homes can also be billed, if so requested. Obituaries submitted by individuals must be paid in full prior to publication. The Van Wert independent accepts credit cards by telephone from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Monday-Friday at 419.238.1220. 

POSTED: 12/28/10 at 3:42 pm. FILED UNDER: Info

Tiffany M. Stuckey, 43, of Celina, passed away Thursday, February 22, 2024, at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.

She was born May 26, 1980, in Van Wert, to Theresa (Gardner) Stuckey and S. Bruce Stuckey.

Tiffany Stuckey

Tiffany was a kindergarten through second grade music education teacher at Celina City Schools. Music education was her passion and purpose in life. She spent personal time reading and caring for her pets.

Tiffany is survived by her mother, Theresa Stuckey of Van Wert; her father and step-mother, S. Bruce (Denise) Stuckey of Van Wert; a brother, Ryan Stuckey of Columbus, and a stepbrother, James (Kimberly) Brown of St. Marys.

Although Tiffany was not a mother in the traditional sense, she had hundreds of students who filled that role in her life. She cared for each of them dearly and was devoted to educating and encouraging them every day.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 28, at Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory, Van Wert. Burial will immediately follow in Woodland Cemetery, Van Wert. Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, February 27, at the funeral home.

Online condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 02/25/24 at 9:23 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Margaret Evelyn Gamble, 92, of Willshire, was called home to be with the Lord at 9:07 p.m. Wednesday, February 21, 2024, at Adams Woodcrest Memory Care in Decatur, Indiana.

Margaret was born in Putnam County on March 25, 1931, to John and Evelyn (Dangler) Craine, who both preceded her in death. Margaret was married to William (Bill) Gamble on June 9th, 1951, at the Dupont Church of the Brethren, Dupont, Ohio. Bill preceded her in death on March 29, 2014.

Margaret is survived by four of her children, Ray Gamble of Ohio City, Steve (Kathy) Gamble of Rockford, Dean (Angie) Gamble of Willshire, and Joy (John) Koch of Huntington, Indiana. She is also survived by daughter-in-law, Rickie (John) Gamble of Rockford; a sister, Frances Sroufe of Defiance; a brother, Robert (Sue) Craine of Brookville; sisters-in-law, Carolyn Craine of Xenia, and Alice Clark of Erie, Colorado, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Margaret Gamble

She was preceded in death by a son, John Neil Gamble; grandson, Trey Koch; brothers, Charles (Armenta) Craine, John Edward Craine, Glenn (Ginny) Craine; and brothers-in-law, Bill Sroufe and Jack Clark.

Margaret has seven grandchildren, Michael (Megan) Gamble, Trent (Betsey) Gamble, Troy (Brittany) Gamble, Amanda (Seth) Kohnen, Ashley (Jordan) Thompson, Kayla (Aaron) Wolf, and Karmen (fiancé Wade Walder) Koch. Margaret also has 15 great-grandchildren, Mason, Gavin and Braelyn Lawyer, Adelynn Gamble, Colton, Jace, Ty, & Crew Gamble, Leighton, Lincoln and Lillian Gamble, Micah and Maylee Kohnen, and Rory and Lo Margo Thompson. Her 16th great-grandchild is expected to arrive in early March.

Margaret was a 1949 graduate of Continental High School. Margaret and her husband, Bill, were very involved with the Old Fashion Farmer’s Association and the Oliver Gang for many years. Margaret could often be found working at the Oliver Gang booth selling merchandise and promoting Oliver memorabilia. Margaret served in a variety of supportive roles in the Oliver Gang, particularly assisting in organizing bus trips including having the bus stop at the “Little Brown Church In The Vale” near Waterloo, Iowa, about which a hymn of the same name was written. Margaret was an active member of the Zion United Brethren Church on Winkler Road in Willshire, and later, she and Bill attended Willshire United Brethren Church in Willshire. More recently, she and Bill attended Pleasant Mills Baptist Church in Pleasant Mills, Indiana, and just prior to her move to Woodcrest she attended Willshire Union United Methodist Church in Decatur, Indiana.

Margaret loved to tend to her flowers at her home and was best known for her great love of hymns, patriotic songs and music. She loved playing hymns on the piano, directing the children’s choir, and helping with Vacation Bible School. She started a ukulele band, with the help of Larry Merriman, which entertained many. With Bill and others, they built a float called the Good Ship Zion, on which the Zion Chimes Choir participated in many parades. Margaret was so proud of directing the children’s choir, including a tribute service to Stuart Hamblen, best known for his song, “It is No Secret (What God Can Do)” and taking the children’s choir to perform at the United Brethren National Conference. Margaret played the piano for services at the Pleasant Mill Baptist Church in Pleasant Mills, Indiana, until the age of 90. She also enjoyed playing hymns at Adams Woodcrest, where she resided from November, 2022 until her passing.

Margaret wore many hats in her lifetime. In her younger years she served as an employee of Lima Locomotive in Lima, Western Auto in Van Wert, City Loan & Savings in Van Wert, and she worked as a seasonal employee at Sharp’s Tomato Canning factory in Rockford. Many also knew her as a Willshire area Avon lady representative. Her most cherished roles were that of farmer’s wife and homemaker to her beloved family.

Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 2, at Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory, Van Wert, with Pastor Wayne Gullion, officiating. Burial will immediately follow in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Van Wert. Visitation will be from 3-8 p.m. Friday, March 1, at the funeral home and one hour prior to services on Saturday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, preferred memorials: The Oliver Gang, Adams Woodcrest (Memory Care Household), Willshire Union United Methodist Church or Stillwater Hospice in care of the Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home.

Online condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 02/25/24 at 9:16 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Lori E. Suever, 63, of Van Wert, passed away on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, at her residence.

Lori Suever

She was born October 20, 1960, in Lima, OH, to Arthur and Eileen (Hessling) Suever. They both preceded her in death.

Lori is survived by her brother, Ron (Pam) Suever of Lima; sister-in-law, Cheryl Suever (LeHigh, Florida), her “fur babies”, Milo and Oreo; and several nieces and nephews.

Lori was preceded in death by brothers, James, David, and Joe and a sister, Mary Ann “Sam”.

Lori graduated from Lincolnview High School with the Class of 1979. She worked at Tenneco; retiring after 31 years in May 2023. Lori was a selfless caregiver to her brother, her mother, and her sister. She was deeply loved by her family and friends. Lori will be greatly missed.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date privately.

POSTED: 02/23/24 at 3:32 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Larry E. Laukhuf, 83, of Haviland, passed away Monday, February 19, 2024 at Vancrest of Payne.

Larry was born in Haviland, Blue Creek Township, on April 1, 1940, a son of Elmer E. and Betty M. (Waldron) Laukhuf, who both preceded him in death.

Larry Laukhuf

He was a farmer for 64 years, attended the Latty Apostolic Christian Church and most of all, was a loving husband, father and grandfather.

Larry will be sadly missed by his wife of 62 years, Charlotte (Sperry); children, Cynthia (the late Lyle) Quackenbush and Ross (the late Karla) Laukhuf; sisters, Iva Lou (the late Ervin) Owens and Patricia (David) Greulach; grandchildren, Madeleine, Adrian, Stella and Lukas Laukhuf, and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was also preceded in death by his brother, Willard Junior “Bud” Laukhuf.

A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, February 24, at Latty Apostolic Christian Church, Paulding. Viewing will be from 8:30-10:15 a.m. Saturday at the church. He will be laid to rest in the church cemetery.

Preferred memorials: the Latty Apostolic Christian Church Alms Fund, or Everheart Hospice, Greenville.

Fond memories may be shared at

POSTED: 02/22/24 at 3:58 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Danielle Nicole Long, 49, embarked on her final adventure beyond the skies on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, in Littleton, Colorado, after a vibrant life that began on September 19,1974, in Van Wert. She leaves behind a legacy of laughter and a treasure trove of memories.

Danielle Long

She is warmly remembered by mother, Sherry (Long) Craig; her stepfather, Randy Craig, and her most precious productions, her sons Elliott and Pierce Essex. Danielle also leaves behind a supporting cast that includes her uncle, Robert D. (Laurie) Long, Jr.; her aunt, Angie (Michael) Shellabarger, and a band of cousins who could rival any ensemble cast: Amber (Julian) Walls, Bob (Aubrey) Wise, Codi Wise, Jerod (Melissa) Long, Lucas (Devi) Edwards, JaNahn (Thomas) Evans, Madison (Rob) Adams, and Justice McConnahea. Her leading ladies and supportive cast are her best friends: Jennifer Wood (Van Wert, Ohio), Beth Prinzi, Rachel Purtill and Sara Holmes (Littleton, Colorado).

Taking their final bow before Danielle were her leading man and love of her life, Harper Essex; her beloved grandparents, Jean and Robert Long, and her aunt, Randi Wise, who surely greeted her with open arms and the best seats in the house.

Danielle’s script in life may not have been written for a long run, but the episodes were filled with plot twists, laughter, and an abundance of love. Her final scene may have come too soon, but the reruns will play on in the hearts of those she touched.

Danielle’s family and friends will remember her as a loving mother, daughter, and friend. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her.

Danielle’s favorite quote was,”High tide or low tide, I will always be by your side my beautiful gentlemen.”

A celebration of life will be held In Van Wert at a later date.

POSTED: 02/22/24 at 10:32 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Max W. Bennett, 97, of Ohio City, passed away at 11:30 p.m. Monday evening, February 19, 2024, at Adams Heritage Nursing Home of Monroeville, Indiana.

He was born on June 18, 1926, in Rockford, the son of Carl Herbert and Blanche Elizabeth (Shaffer) Bennett, who both preceded him in death. He married the former Dorothy J. Mottinger on June 2, 1951, and she preceded him in death on November 20, 2010.

Max Bennett

Family survivors include his son, Greg A. (Susan) Bennett of Ohio City; two grandchildren, Chad (Jackie) Bennett of Convoy and Marie Bennett of Ohio City; five great-grandchildren, Emberlee, Makayla, Alec, Natalie, Adam and 11 great-great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his three brothers, Lloyd Bennett, Keith Bennett and Theo Bennett, and three sisters, Lois Fox, Donna Trisel, and Mary Snyder.

Max was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II, and was retired truck driver after 25 years. He was a member of Ohio City Community Church of God and a member of the American Legion Post #346, of Ohio City.

Per Max’s request, there will be no services or visitation at this time.

Online condolences may be expressed on the Tribute Wall at

POSTED: 02/21/24 at 10:36 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

H. Joann (Bebout) Thomas, 90, of Convoy, passed away at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, February 17, 2024, at OhioHealth Van Wert Hospital.

She was born May 7, 1933, in Van Wert, to Nick and Leota (Butcher) Bebout. She married Robert D. Thomas on March 25, 1951.

Joann Thomas

Joann retired from Central Insurance. At the time of her retirement, she was the longest tenured Central employee. After enjoying her retirement for the better part of an evening, Joann started working at Bob Evans, in Van Wert, the very next day. She also owned and operated B & K Drive-In for many years with her husband, Bob. Joann was an avid walker and exercise enthusiast. She loved attending her families ball games and cheering on The Ohio State Buckeyes.

Joann and Bob wintered in North Fort Myers, Florida for 25 years.

She is survived by her daughters, Joellen (Michael) McGinnis of Convoy, Linda (Michael) Clay of Convoy and Sandy Hartman of Convoy; grandchildren, Kimberly (Rob) Hughes, John (Emily) McGinnis, Shannon Hartman, Nathan (Sandy) Clay, Cassidy (Rusty) Taylor, Courtney (Tyler Mohr) Hartman and Ian (Joanna) Clay; great-grandchildren, Korbin (Jaylin) Hartman, Hannah Binnion, Addison and Ayla Hartman, Levi Thomas Hughes, Kerric Hartman, Able Mohr, Beckham and Blayze Taylor, Karter Mohr, Xander Clay and Stella Taylor; great-great-grandchildren, Brayliegh Hartman, Sophia Binnion and Briggs Hartman, and a sister, Pat Sowers.

Joan was preceded in death by her parents, Nick and Leota Bebout; her husband, Robert D. “Bob” Thomas; a son-in-law, Terry Hartman; brothers, Gene, Don and Robert Bebout; sisters, Glendola Myers, Mary Sheets, Donna Dunlap and Edith Bebout, and two grandchildren, Kelli McGinnis and Kodi Hartman.

A memorial service will be held at 12 p.m. Wednesday, February 21, at Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory, Van Wert, with Rev. Stuart Wyatt, officiating. Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

Online condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 02/19/24 at 12:10 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Everett J. “Jr.” Thatcher, 88, of Convoy, passed away Friday evening, February 16, 2024.

He was born December 4, 1935, in Van Wert, to Everett “George” and Sylvia (Prichard) Thatcher. He married the former Patricia L. Rodman. Jr was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a member of the Van Wert American Legion post.

Everett “Jr.” Thatcher

He retired from Aeroquip in Van Wert after 27 years of service. He also drove truck for EJ Evans for many years. An avid musician, Jr. also collected antique cars and enjoyed hunting and fishing for many years.

Jr. is survived by his daughters, Kimberly (Rob) Stemen of Ohio City, Debra (Randy Perl) Thatcher of Van Wert and Tricia Thatcher of Van Wert; brothers, Ron (Diane) Thatcher, Doug (Brenda) Thatcher and Gary Lee Thatcher; a sister, Judy Wisner; many grandchildren and great grandchildren, and his four-legged companion, Sage.

He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Sylvia Thatcher; his wife, Patricia L. Thatcher, and a brother, Donald Wayne Thatcher.

A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, February 22, at Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory, Van Wert, with Rev. Stuart Wyatt, officiating. A private burial in Scott Cemetery will take place at a later date. Visitation will be from 2-6 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.

Online condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 02/18/24 at 9:50 am. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Thomas R. “Tom” Tindall, age 77, passed away at his Fort Wayne residence on Tuesday, February 13, 2024.

He was born November 6, 1946, in Van Wert, a son of Richard and Patricia (Sheeter) Tindall, who both preceded him in death. He married Bonnie (Butler) June 18, 1991, and she survives.

Tom Tindall

Also surviving are his children, Joshua (Lori) Tindall and their daughter Olivia Perez, Jason (Crystal) Tindall and their children, Jordan, Jaden, Kiya, and Cody, Jennifer (Jeremy Fudge) Tindall and their children Skylar, Austin, and Bradley Sudduth, and stepson Todd Killion and grandson Kyle Killion. He is also survived by a sister, Theresa Lambert. and four great-grandchildren plus many nieces and nephews.

Preceding him in death was a sister, Barbara Snyder.

In 1966 following graduation from Van Wert High School Tom joined the United States Marine Corps and served as a tank sergeant in Vietnam. In Fort Wayne he was employed at International Harvester for 13 years. Later he worked for several entertainment centers. Tom was also a very talented bow and arrow deer hunter.

Those wishing to pay their respects may do so from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 20, at Brickner Funeral Home, Van Wert. There will be a short service at the end of the visitation. Burial will follow in Woodland Cemetery in Van Wert. Military rites at the cemetery will be in charge of representatives of the United States Marine Corps and the Combined Honors Unit of VFW Post 5803 and American Legion Post 178 of Van Wert.

Online condolences may be left at or emailed to

POSTED: 02/15/24 at 9:18 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries

Richard J. Barnett, 95, of Lima, passed away early Thursday morning, February 15, 2024, at Mercy Health- St. Rita’s, in Lima.

He was born February 21, 1928, in Spencerville, to Merle Barnett and Ruth (May) Lauth, who both preceded him in death. On June 11, 1949, he married the former Dorothy Wilder on June 11, 1949.

Richard Barnett

Richard retired from A&P after many years of service. He loved his cats, enjoyed camping with friends and family and fishing.

Richard is survived by his children, Larry (Michelle) Barnett of Van Wert, Richard L. (Susan) Barnett of Cuyahoga Falls and Cheryl (Lewis) Rogers of Pittsford, Michigan; his brothers, Ray Lauth and Ronald J. Barnett of Canton; six grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren, and a brother-in-law, Daniel (Ethel) Wilder of Paulding.

In addition to his parents, Richard was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy Barnett; a brother, Roy Lauth, and a sister, Clara Louise Smith.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, February 19, at Alspach-Gearhart Funeral Home & Crematory, Van Wert, with Pastor Melissa Mullins, officiating. Burial will immediately follow in Mohr Cemetery, Van Wert County. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.

Preferred memorials may be directed to the Van Wert County Humane Society.

Online condolences may be expressed at

POSTED: 02/15/24 at 2:54 pm. FILED UNDER: Obituaries