Uesseler remembered as ‘great warrior, encourager’
Family and friends spent the past three days paying their respects to Carl E. Uesseler, a long-time Harrison County educator and servant leader who died Saturday morning, May 8, at his New Middletown home after a 16-year battle with cancer. He was 66.
‘The Lanesville Community School Corp. has lost a dear friend, advisor and patriarch,’ said Donnie Hussung, a 1974 graduate of Lanesville High School.
Uesseler was principal at LHS from 1965 to 1994, and was also superintendent of the school corporation from 1971 to 1999.
‘I had the privilege to have Mr. Uesseler as my high school principal and the honor of working with him as superintendent,’ Hussung said, since 1991 when Hussung was appointed to the first Lanesville school board. ‘A unique characteristic of Lanesville schools has always been the close knit, almost family, atmosphere that exists in the school.
‘Mr. Uesseler and his concern for everyone in the school family was the force behind that,’ he said. ‘He was instrumental in the community’s struggle to keep our school independent and avoid consolidation.
‘He believed in the ability of all children to learn and fought to preserve that opportunity for all the kids of the Lanesville community,’ Hussung said. ‘His love for our school and his commitment for our students’ success spilled over to his staff. At a time when conventional wisdom favored ‘bigger schools,’ Lanesville was able to survive and compete due to the quality of education our staff provided through Mr. Uesseler’s guidance.’
When the new Lanesville gymnasium was opened in the fall of 1994, the school board commissioned a crystal eagle for the dedication to honor students and athletes. The inscription on the sculpture reads, ‘We never know to what heights we can soar until we first spread our wings.’
Hussung said, ‘Mr. Uesseler was dedicated to helping all of our students learn to spread their wings … While he will be truly missed, he has created a legacy that will last for quite awhile.’
The funeral yesterday afternoon, held at Old Capitol United Methodist Church in Corydon, conveyed many of those same images: The program cover, complete with the picture of a soaring eagle, had a passage from Isaiah 40, and the group One Voice sang ‘On Eagle’s Wings,’ with many of the mourners joining them in singing the chorus.
‘It’s difficult for us not to feel some sadness,’ said the Rev. Neal Kentch, who repeatedly reminded everyone to ‘be mindful’ of many things, including ‘the love that surrounds us’ and ‘the love which God has for Carl Uesseler.’
Kentch added, ‘It was also Carl’s wish for (the service) to be less about him … and more about God.’
But it was hard for the speakers to separate the two.
Ed Gaubatz, a friend of the Uesselers for about 40 years and former teacher at Lanesville, said Carl Uesseler’s faith was ‘strong. He never asked God why this was happening to him.
‘I believe Carl Uesseler is having the time of his life right now with all that God has planned for him,’ he said.
The Rev. Richard Ryan said that Uesseler ‘had a hand in planning the service’ which Uesseler wanted ‘to be a joyful time.’
He called Uesseler ‘a true disciple and true servant.’
Ryan, who later sang ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ read tributes from several people who knew Uesseler through the DaySpring Emmaus community, a group Uesseler served as president at one time. They referred to him as ‘a great warrior’ and ‘a great encourager.’
Also participating in the service was Uesseler’s cousin, the Rev. Wayne Smith, a retired Presbyterian minister, and Carl Armstrong, who read scripture. Cathy Ryan, a former principal at Lanesville Junior-Senior High School under Supt. Uesseler, played the piano and sang with One Voice. Uesseler’s son-in-law, Mark Carl, also is a member of One Voice.
Because of the shortage of parking space at the Salem United Church of Christ Cemetery in New Middletown, where Uesseler was buried, two school buses transported those wishing to accompany the family to the burial site, which was prepared by Larry Lowe, a former student of Uesseler’s.
Robert Hess, who was a student from the first class Uesseler taught at Lanesville, drove one bus, while Carl Jenkins, a member of the Thursday morning men’s reunion group with Uesseler, drove the other bus.
Visitation was held at Gehlbach and Royse Funeral Home in Corydon. Often the line of people waiting to speak to Uesseler’s wife of 40 years, the former Carol Philpot, and their five children ‘ Jill Fitzgerald of Elizabeth, Sarah Carl of New Middletown, John Uesseler of Norcrosse, Ga., and Beth Boman and Carrie Uesseler, both of Corydon ‘ stretched from the casket to the back door of the funeral home.
The Rev. Gilbert Duley said that Uesseler’s life ‘reflects not only his love for Christ but as a true witness through the Emmaus community as a leader, whether on the Emmaus Walk, REC or the reunion groups. He was always there, guiding those who wanted a more spiritual walk with Jesus.’
Uesseler was called to be director of the men’s Walk 65. He also was involved in RECs (Residents Encounter Christ), a spiritual retreats for inmates.
In 2002, Uesseler was elected to a four-year term on the South Harrison Community School Corp.’s board of trustees.
Dr. Neyland Clark, superintendent for South Harrison, said he doesn’t think people have realized yet ‘the tremendous loss’ the community has suffered with Uesseler’s passing.
‘He was respected by his fellow educators throughout the state,’ Clark said. ‘He ran a tremendous school system.’
The South Harrison Community School Corp. will not make any decision about Uesseler’s successor until its June meeting, Clark said. ‘We don’t want to be disrespectful to his family.’
A native of New Middletown, Uesseler was born May 16, 1937, the son of the late Edward and Bessie Beckort Uesseler.
Uesseler was a member of the Salem United Church of Christ in New Middletown; a board member of the Harrison County Hospital Foundation; past chairman of the Harrison County Community Foundation board, chairman of the HCCF’s grant committee and a member of its executive committee. He served as secretary of the Harrison County Fair Board of Directors from 1979 to1987. He and his family operated Grandstand Concessions for many years during the Harrison County Fair.
Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by a sister, Sarah (Jean) Uesseler Smith.
Other survivors include a brother, William Uesseler of Lanesville; two sisters, Edna Gunther of Corydon and Helen Philpot of Trafalgar, and five grandchildren.
Pallbearers were Paul Beckort, Eddie Gunther, Roy Harmon, Phil Partenheimer, Al Rudolph, Danny Utz and Roger Windell.
Honorary pallbearers were Gary Bernardi, Tim Bridges, Don Clark, Ed Gaubatz, Jerry Geswein, Bruce Green, Marvin Kersey, Delores Leffler, Jerry Reinhardt, Dale Snider and Cletus Zollman.
The family suggests memorial gifts to ‘Freed From Within,’ c/o Bob Reilly, 5670 Cedarview Court NE, Corydon, IN 47112.