Steve Todd + Dennis LeBlanc | Milan, IN

This is a story of two friends whose friendship started from elementary school in Sunman. Even though they did not plan it,  they lead almost the same milestones in life. “Our lives seem to track along the same interests, for whatever reason,” Dennis said. 

- Both attended Sunman elementary and high school. 

- In 1969, both of them enlisted in the Marine Corps together under a buddy system, which lasted in the bootcamp and then they split up. After graduation, they were assigned to different units and went to Vietnam. Steve was in Okinawa for a few months before being sent to Vietnam. Unbeknown to them, they were stationed just 10 miles apart from one another. 

- Both took classes in Police Administration and ended up working as Indiana State Police officers, based at the Indiana State Police office in Versailles. 

Both are now retired, but for the past 3 years, they continue to meet for breakfast on every first Monday of the month.

​What does this friendship means to you?

Dennis “Steve to me is a confidante. We talked about a lot of things that were personal, things that I wouldn’t talk about with anybody else and having that trust is a pretty neat thing.”

​Steve “Same here. I always can rely on his opinion in decision-making situations, because I trust him and when you trust someone, you value that person’s opinion.”

Cheri Schutte + Bonnie Walker | Milan, IN

Both of them started working at the Milan Elementary School as teacher assistants, in 1988 and 1989 respectively. Cheri retired in June 2018, and Bonnie might retire in the next couple of years. They consider each other as ‘sisters’ or ‘sidekicks.’ To be precise, they are each other’s ‘soul and school sisters.’

​Bonnie “We were both raised in Milan. 

Went to school in Milan.

We both worked in both the Milan Elementary and High Schools.

She has 2 children, and I have 2 children.

She has 6 grandkids, I have 6 grandkids. 

She has 4 grandsons and 2 granddaughters, and so do I. 

Each of our kids have 2 boys and 1 girl. 

We have worked for more than 30 years together, and there are so many similarities between us, it’s too funny!”

Kea + Angela Foreman | Friendship, IN

“My husband, Gilbert, started doing wildlife rehab for at least 10-11 years. One time while I took my parents to visit my brother in Florida, my husband called me and told me that a lady in Milan had found a baby raccoon in a dumpster. She’d called the conservation officers and he’d picked up the raccoon from them. He said, ‘She doesn’t have any fingers or toes because they were burnt by all the chemicals in the dumpster - they had dried up and fallen off.’ He’d actually had her for a few days before he called me. I was just getting ready to come back and I was so upset with him for taking this raccoon because I knew we wouldn’t be able to release it. And if we did, she wouldn’t survive, so we’d have to keep it. And I was absolutely beside myself because I could just picture us with this raccoon forever. And I didn’t know how long they would live. But when I got back, I fell absolutely in love with her. 

​My husband was with us for 6 more months and then he had a fatal stroke. This was in 2008. And so we took the raccoon to the funeral and she kissed him goodbye.

​So we’ve had her ever since. I met a lady, whose husband’s adopted wild raccoon lived to be 25 years old. So I’m assuming they can live that long. She will be 10 this year. She and my daughter, Angie, share the same birthday - April 21. I think it was a sign we were supposed to keep her and we’re glad we did.

​We named her ‘Angel’ because I figured she must have had some angels watching over her. So now I have two Angels living with me.” 

Gene + Anita Pitts | Milan, IN

Gene & Anita, married for 53 years. 

How they met

Anita “Through a friend. I was working at Keillor’s and a co-worker introduced us. I was a senior in high school and he was a sophomore at Purdue. He came in to get a cup of coffee and talked to me and flirted. It worked!”


Anita “He was a sweetheart, just smiley and friendly. All the girls were talking about him. Where I worked, a lot of his friends and neighbors, they’d come in and tease me about him.”

​Gene “She was smiley and happy. And she was cute, and still is. So I thought, 

‘I think I should get to know her better.”


Anita “He gave me a necklace first, which had a heart with three teeny-tiny diamonds and I was disappointed because I was really hoping for a ring. So then he brought out another box which had the ring. We have three sons, so I figured a diamond for each of them.”

Secret to a successful marriage

Gene “Loving each other. You put your relationship above yourself.”

Anita “I want to make him happy. I want to do things with him. I enjoy him. So it’s a lot of togetherness. We share the same interests - we like to travel, do gardening, the outdoors, we do dishes together. I didn’t care too much about sports when we first got married, but I learned to like them. He takes me out to a girl movie now and then, and he survived. We’re Christians, so our faith has given us a lot of strength. We never ever disagree about discipline in front of the children. We were a team when it comes to parenting.”

Patty Studt | Sunman, IN

Patty came to United States when she was 13 years old with her parents and 3 siblings. At the time, no one spoke English except her dad, a electrical engineer with King Records. Her father chose Cincinnati because he wanted his children and family to blend into the culture and learn the language. 

​Patty retired as the Librarian Assistant in the Osgood / Milan Public Library. “I love working in the library because we’re helping the community by making a difference. Knowledge is power.”

​What do you love about Ripley County?

“The people are non-pretentious, down-to-earth and friendly. And for those reasons, I love Indiana small towns even more.”

Ralph Hochstetler | Batesville, IN

“In 2010, retirement came along and knowing that I would have a lot of free time, I decided to join a gym in Batesville. I had never been athletic or inclined to do anything like that, but my mother was going through some health issues which helped to motivate me to not get myself in the same situation as her. Diabetes runs in my family, so I knew I had to do something. I started walking with a little short run in between, then I got to the point where I could run for a couple of miles without stopping, then it led to 3 miles, 6, 10 and so forth. 

​I’m a big fan of Disney. In 2013, there was an opportunity to do a 5K at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom at night and I thought, ‘This is gonna be my first try at an official race.’ As that was my first run, little did I know that it was also a challenge course! I made through all the obstacles in good time. So from that point on, I’ve participated in many other runs, such as the 5K in Indianapolis for The Colts, Mud Stash at The Perfect North, and not forgetting the virtual races - they’re races which you sign up and run at your own pace; my favorite was the Solar Eclipse 5K run in 2017. 

​I give credit to my mom, she persevered until she was 91. She was my reason to work on my health and I made her pretty proud too. 

​What I want to say is you can start running even at an older age. Take baby steps, change your diet, work out a little. You can do some changes and make your life easier and better. I have a 5 year old granddaughter who still runs me ragged, I don’t know if I can keep up with her if I hadn’t done this.”

Ashley Gardner | Osgood, IN

“I’m a person with many hobbies. Creativity, I think is really important. I love music - I play the guitar and am learning the piano and I sing a lot. Actually, I tried out for The Voice when I was 18. That was very nerve-wracking. I printed my tickets and left for Nashville, TN with my mom and stepdad. The lines were not so bad, we waited for about an hour to get in. You go through a multitude of judges and you just go up and sing 30 seconds of your chosen song. I sang ‘Bubbly’ by Colbie Caillat. After that, the judges will analyze your performance and let you know if you’re going to the next round. I did not. All this happened within 5 minutes. It was very fast. To me, it was a very good experience and my feelings were not hurt. I was just happy I had the courage to do it. It was very fun.

​My philosophy is to not be scared. Fear is just an illusion.”

Linda Guthrie | Versailles, IN

“My dad flew back in the early 1920’s and I would remember stories that he would tell about the things he did and saw. I think that planted the seed for me to wanting to fly, although the first few airplane rides just scared me to death. Back in 1978, there was a gentleman at the Career Center that was doing ground school for aviation but there wasn’t enough people signed up for it, so I didn’t get to do that.

​When I turned 50, a few of my co-workers gifted me a few flight lessons at the North Vernon airport. And after the first flight, I was hooked. It took about 1.5 years to get my license and it has been 19 years ago.”

​First flight as a pilot

“I took my friends to fly around Versailles so they can see their houses and the surrounding areas. That was a fun and special experience to share with those who have encouraged me.” 

​Feelings when you fly

“Peaceful and yet exhilarating all wrapped in one. I thank God for the opportunity to fly and for giving me the knowledge and ability to do so.”

Shirley Manning | Versailles, IN

“I have been here in the United States for 50 years. I’m originally from Newfoundland, Canada. I moved here in 1968 when I married my American sailor husband who was in the Navy. We got married at Key West, FL, then moved to Rhode Island, Lowell MA, Lexington KY and to Batesville in 1980. We moved to Versailles on Thanksgiving 1999.

​Indiana is my favorite place to live in. 

I just like the people and the way of living here. I do miss the ocean though, and that’s why I go back home every two years. 

​When my husband and I retired, we traveled all around the county. Then he had cancer and passed away. I started working at the Butternut store in Versailles and I was there for 13 years. I enjoyed meeting all the people in the community. When the store closed in 2012, I just retired altogether. I enjoy life and travel whenever I can and just have fun doing things with my friends. 

​In 2013, I went through 2 cancer surgeries - bladder and lung. The lung cancer was environmental as I have never smoked. During those trying times, my siblings came down to be here with me. That’s one great thing about my family - we are so close that all I have to do is just pick up the phone to ask for help and they’re here. The distance does not matter. 

​And if I need anything right now, I have my preacher and church family. They’re there for me.

​I’ve been through some rough times, but it all worked out. I just pray to God and He has helped me a lot. I couldn’t have done it without all of His help.”

Dr. Stephen Glaser | Batesville, IN

“I love to photograph landscapes. I like not being rushed at all - just being out there, be present and appreciate the things and beauty around you. There are so many things that we see that are really special to us. Nature is amazing - they are God’s creations. Through my lens, I want to capture the beauty out there and share what I see with other people. Most of the times, I feel the need to capture what I see as I’ll never see it again in my life, not in the same way.”

​Dr. Glaser donates all profits from the sales of his prints and digitals to the American Cancer Society in the honor of his mother, who passed away from breast cancer in 1976. “I started doing this about 10 years ago.”

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