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DONOR STORIES

Three cheers for our donors!  They are amazing.

Our donors all have one thing in common.  They wanted to give back and make Washington County
a better place to live and raise a family.

Their stories are all unique and we are honored to be the stewards of their legacy.  Take some time to peruse our list and read their stories.  More than likely, there is someone on the list that you know!

Johnica Branaman

 “Washington County, I love.” It is “home!” Among the various places the married couple has lived, “home” for Pauline has always been where she spent her first seventeen years. “We have covered a lot of Washington County then, and since, as adults,” Pauline said.

 With opposite personalities; George, an introvert and Pauline, an extrovert, they “jelled” well living together for 56 years and have developed a deep affection for the community.

 George Lewis Reyman was born to J. Ralph Reyman and Janette (Fultz) Reyman on November 16th, 1920 in Nishnabotna Township, Crawford County, Iowa. He has two sisters; Polly Reyman Ragsdale and Ann Reyman Yates.

 The family returned to Reyman owned farmland two years after George’s birth where he attended elementary school at Pleasant View, a mile north of Salem on State Road 135 before moving to Canton where they lived at the Stout-Tucker apple orchard.

 George graduated from Salem High School in 1938 and worked at Crane Naval Air station before entering college at Antioch in Ohio. During World War II George enlisted as an aviation cadet on January 26th, 1942 at Bowman Field, Kentucky. He was placed in the Southeast Training Command and was assigned to twin engine transitional school at Homestead, Florida.

 He arrived in India on March 15, 1943 and was placed on temporary duty to the Second Troop Carrier Squadron at Yangkai, China. On May 5, 1943, he was assigned to the 6th Ferry Squadron of the 1st Ferry Group at Mohanbari, Assam. He flew C-47 and C-46 aircraft and made 67 trips across the Hump. He received the Air Medal, the Distinguished Unit Badge with one Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal with two Bronze Stars. He returned from overseas on May 16, 1944 and was assigned to 3rd Ferry Group, Romulus Air Force Base in Michigan and was discharged at Chanute Field, IL on Nov. 19, 1945.

George and Pauline established residence in Michigan near the Romulus Air Force Base area west of Detroit where he was stationed after returning from “Flying the Hump” from India to China. There, he was picking up injured soldiers that had just returned from war and taking them to the hospital near their homes. When World War II ended, the couple had to decide whether to remain in the Air Force flying in-coming wounded soldiers or leave the military and finish college for George.

George chose to leave the military and entered Purdue University (School of Civil Engineering) in the fall of 1945. They found upstairs apartment housing at Dayton, Indiana, about eight miles east of Lafayette, Indiana, where they lived until the summer of 1947. During his time at Purdue, George was initiated into the Purdue University Indiana Alpha chapter of Tau Beta Pi, national all-engineering honorary, one of the highest honors a student engineer can receive. George graduated with Honors from Purdue’s School of Civil Engineering in August 1947. Following graduation, he began working in the central office for the Indiana State Highway Commission. George was named Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Roger Branigin and also Governor Robert Orr. In addition, he was also appointed Fellow of the International Department of Transportation Traffic Engineers which is headquartered in Washington D.C. Employed from 1947 through 1985, George’s work involved the entire interstate system with the toll roads included. He retired as assistant chief of the State’s Division of Traffic with over 38 years of service.

In retirement, besides traveling rather extensively, George enjoyed restoring farm equipment with the completed projects being one lung gasoline engines, three very old, all steel tractors, and one tricycle shaped machine. He also dug out and made a basement under their Salem home. Aside from his hobby, George and Pauline worked on six-week mission projects for the East Indianapolis District Methodist Church. The project consisted of one total construction of a church south of Pharr, Texas in 1988. Pauline’s job on the trip was food preparation for when the teens from Indiana traveled there. George also worked on a building a minister’s home near downtown Las Cruces, New Mexico where he and missionaries painted the downtown Mexican adobe church in 1990. Outside of philanthropy and personal hobbies, George helped Dorothy Cottongim and her family publish the Reyman Family Genealogy book in 1993. George was also a Life Member of the Hump Pilots Association and the couple attended and helped at several annual summer meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona and Reno, Nevada.

Pauline Mead Reyman was born to Walter Garfield Mead of Polk Township and Elsie May (Chenoweth) Mead on October 17, 1923 at 610 North Main St, Salem, Indiana while her parent’s new home was being built on the banks of Brock Creek at Salem’s north city limits on State Road 135. The new home, large yard and many large trees completed this 5 acres to the north and was the Mead home for the next 53 years.

Recalling early childhood memories, Pauline wrote, “This acreage and the liberty to explore north along Brock Creek and west with our neighbors consent was nearly heaven for me and my sister Virginia, the nearest one, to explore north and west. We did not explore toward Salem on Brock Creek. The Salem boys had a swimming hole in the near Homer Street area which was farmland. There was a deeper hole there. We mostly adventured north all along both sides of Brock Creek up to the empty Joseph Reyman House to look at the spring water running through its cellar. Fascinating to us! Climbing on the rock - slab fencing if the ground weeds were high. Snakes could be there!”

Pauline attended Salem Grade School on Hayes Avenue and graduated from Salem High School on North Water Street in May 1941. She rode with her father as he went to his law office most mornings but walked the mile after school to get home, adventuring along the way home. During high school at Salem, she enjoyed many extracurricular activities. Pauline was a member of the Salem High School Debate Team where she was partnered with Marjorie Hauger Hedrick. At that time, Ebert Whipple was their coach. He arranged out-of-town competition trips to debate other high schools such as Terre Haute and even went to Lexington, Kentucky. “Both of those we had to stay overnight. The debates were at night. We thought we were as important as the athletic groups that travelled,” Pauline claimed.

Following high school graduation, Pauline entered the IU Business school at Bloomington in September of 1941. In December of the same year, came Pearl Harbor and World War II. In late fall of 1941, she got a secretarial position working for 3 years with Professor Ben W. Miller, a professor in the Men’s Physical Education Department, earning 30 cents an hour. Thinking back to her college years, Pauline recalls, “Early in 1942, IU began a three-semester year for all the classes and accepted military personnel and their instructors to take over all the dormitories and classrooms that the military needed. We students housed in dorms had to find lodging in private homes in Bloomington.” Pauline graduated from the IU Business school in April 1944 and continued in post graduate classes for one more year.

In 2018, as an Indiana University alumni, she was asked to make a recording about her life in honor of their 200 year celebration as she was on campus throughout almost all of World War II, lacking the last four months of the war.

During her time at Indiana University, Pauline stayed on campus year round until George and she eloped and married on March 31, 1945 in the downtown Faith Methodist church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the day before Easter Sunday. “It seemed we always knew each other. At Salem High School, George was a senior having his civisc class in my homeroom when I was a freshman. When he lived at the apple orchard, he sold my Dad the apples we had gone to buy,” Pauline said.

While yet living at 815 North Main Street in Salem and George working out of the head office in Indianapolis during the week and staying with his Aunt Mary Knight, Pauline and her two youngest children resided here and with the children attending Salem Schools, she did occasional substitute teaching in the elementary grades.

Johnica Branaman was born in Salem, Indiana, on the 21st of June, 1963, to Chester Wayne and Rosemary Haley Sill. Under the influence of her parents who were small farmers, Johnica immersed herself in 4-H. “Horses. Oh, she loved her horses,” her husband, Tim responded when asked about Johnica’s favorite childhood memory. “Her Dad was a big inspiration for her with farming and other stuff,” Tim stated. Johnica attended Eastern Schools and graduated in 1981. Aside from 4-H, she was also heavily involved with basketball and church camp. Upon graduation, she worked at Tecumseh in Salem until the birth of her first son. Subsequently, she was a Teacher’s Aide and a bus driver. A young mother of three, she continued her studies at Indiana University Southeast where she received an education degree in 2002.

From there, she moved on to teach middle school language arts for eight years at Henryville West Clark Community Schools. In 2015, she was hired to teach high school agriculture class for East Washington School Corporation where she taught up to the final months of her life. Considered to be one of the greatest accomplishments during her time at Eastern High School, Johnica led a project where mums were planted in the shape of a giant letter “E”.

Johnica and Tim met each other working at Nolting’s Super Value, a grocery store at Hilltop Plaza in Salem. The couple married in June 15, 1984. They are the parents of three boys, Travis, Taylor, and Todd Branaman. The couple built a home on a family farm. “She would start her mornings with a cup of coffee on the porch and would work on the flowers,” Tim said. “We added on poultry barns in 2011 and we never thought about moving anywhere else,” He added.

Strong in her faith, Johnica is a lifelong member of Bunker Hill Christian Church. “Always big in family, she loved kids and supported all the sporting events. She has always got along with everyone. Positive, outgoing, and a sweet person, she never met a stranger,” Laura Mahuron commented. “The biggest quality in her was that she didn’t believe in giving up,” Tim added on.

“Suck it up, buttercup! That’s what she would always say,” Tim claimed. Throughout her life, she has learned to overcome various challenges in the areas of farming, economy, and raising three boys while completing her degree. “But she never complained,” Tim said. A very strong woman with lots of values and with lots of positive energy, she serves to be a powerful influencer for her family. Johnica was serious about her dedication to family, to work, and her faith. “She wants her boys to remember to be involved with church and always be there for family,” Tim said.

All having attended East Washington Schools, her children have all moved onto a new chapter of their lives. The oldest, Travis, is a full-time farmer. Taylor joined the military upon graduation and works at Haas Cabinets. The youngest of the three, Todd, is a graduate of Prosser and is a full-time welder.

Looking back on memories, Laura remembers taking Johnica on a trip to Florida. “She has never been to the ocean. She loved the water and being in the sun. We had a blast the entire time,” Laura said. Tim added on, “Showing cattle at the fair was our family vacation. She really enjoyed water, which is the reason why we got a swimming pool!”

As an educator, Johnica valued education and never ever giving up. She was always in the cattle barn at the 4-H Fair willing to lend a hand to anyone who needed help. After her death, family and friends established The Johnica Branaman Scholarship Fund for graduates of Eastern High School. This gift is able to give back to the community that gave so much to her throughout her life. Through this fund, Johnica will be able to reach out to many youth for generations to come by “lending a hand” for good and forever, in Washington County.

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Community Foundation

1707 North Shelby Street
Salem, Indiana 47167
Phone: 812-883-7334
E-Mail: info@wccf.biz

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