R. Stephen “Steve” Gookins, 75, of Osgood, Indiana, passed away at his home on Friday, November 6, 2020 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was born on April 11, 1945 to the late Ralph B. and Fanny (Booth) Gookins.
Steve graduated from Jac-Cen-Del High School in 1963. Upon graduation from Franklin College in 1967, Steve embarked on a 32 year career with the Jac-Cen-Del School Corporation, serving as a history and government teacher as well as an elementary school principal. In 1980, he became the superintendent at Jac-Cen-Del, a position he served in until 1999 when he accepted the superintendent position at Delaware (Delta) Community School Corporation near Muncie, IN. Steve retired from Delta in 2007 and went on to serve as an interim superintendent for the Lawrenceburg, Madison and Milan school districts post retirement. Steve was active in the education community throughout his career. He was instrumental in bringing technology to JCD students’ homes with the “Buddy Program” in early 1990’s. He was an active member of the Indiana Public School Superintendent’s Association (IPSSA) and was recognized as District Superintendent of the Year in 2004. He was recognized by Governor Daniels with the Sagamore of the Wabash and with the Bell Ringer Award by IN Superintendent of Public Instruction Sue Ellen Reed in 2007.
Steve was always very active in his community. He was a member of the Board of Directors at the Napoleon State Bank from 1972 until his death. He was an integral part of the growth and prosperity of the community bank that now has branches in Napoleon, Holton, Greensburg, Westport, & Milan. Additionally, he was a life-long member of the St. John’s Lutheran Church where he served many terms on the church council.
Steve married his high school sweetheart, Rita (Vollmer) Gookins, in 1966. They lived on their family farm in Osgood, which Steve affectionately referred to as ‘God’s Country,’ since 1974. Steve farmed the land on their farm as well as the farm ground at his childhood home, Ozark Farm, that has been in the Gookins family since 1901. Steve enjoyed his herd of miniature horses, the 4-H steers and sheep, as well as his garden, flowers, and watching the crops grow over the years.
Steve is survived by his wife, Rita, and two children Stephenie (Tom Purtlebaugh) of Sheridan, IN, and Ryan (Angie) Gookins of Shelbyville, IN as well as three grandchildren, Zachary (15) Purtlebaugh and Roddick (12) and Annabelle (9) Gookins. He is also survived by his brother, Henry “Hank” (Nancy) Gookins of Bargersville, IN, his sister, Letitia “Tish” Burill of Skiatook, OK and several nieces and nephews. Steve always enjoyed spending time with his family at IU and Colts sporting events, attending his grandsons’ ball games, Tennessee Thanksgiving family trips, and long rides through the country on the 4-wheelers and Gator.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, November 8, 2020 from 2 pm to 8 pm at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Napoleon, IN. All attendees are asked to wear a mask and use appropriate social distance measures while waiting in line. There will be an additional hour of calling beginning at 9 am with Funeral services beginning at 10 am at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Napoleon, IN on Monday, November 9, 2020. In person attendance inside the church will be reduced to comply with Covid-19 state guidelines. The service will be broadcast over the radio at 100.9 FM and can be heard in the church parking lot and throughout the Napoleon Community. The internment will be at the St. John’s Cemetery in Napoleon and all are encouraged and welcome to attend.
Neal’s Funeral Home will handle the arrangements. Memorials can be made to St. John’s Lutheran Church to a fund in his memory.
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