Pendleton swims in limelight at ‘roast’
Heavy rain that caused some flooding Friday could not dampen the spirits of the guests who came to honor former Corydon banker Gordon Pendleton at Old Capital Golf Club just east of the town.
The ‘roast’ of Pendleton was hosted by Blue River Services. And guests were forced to enter Old Capital from the back entrance because the main entrance bridge was under water.
Evelyn McPherson, BRS’ director of fund development, welcomed everyone, and Pendleton’s sister, Sharon Timberlake, gave the invocation. Sam Uhl, president of First Harrison Bank, served as master of ceremonies.
It didn’t take long for the roasting to begin.
‘They always say the best things in life are free,’ said Uhl. ‘I guess that’s why we paid $75 to be here.’
Continuing, he added, ‘I tried to find people that admired and revered Gordon. I couldn’t find any, so we just got a few people that would speak about him.’
Former Indiana First Lady Judy O’Bannon, who has known Pendleton and his family for nearly 50 years, addressed Pendleton and the audience first. Pendleton was a close friend of the late Gov. Frank O’Bannon.
‘You were one of his very best friends,’ said O’Bannon. ‘I wish he was here to tell you, ‘You are the best’. ‘
One of the things O’Bannon said she remembered about Pendleton was that he was a backstroke champion swimmer at Ball State University.
‘He learned to swim in Buck Creek, and you didn’t want to be face down in Buck Creek,’ she said. ‘He’s been backstroking through life ever since.’
Bud Bennett, one of Pendleton’s best friends growing up, took the microphone next.
‘This is unusual for me, but I had to do it,’ said Bennett.
‘Gordon is very smart; he graduated from NMIT ‘ New Middletown Institute of Technology,’ he said.
Bennett also commented on Pendleton’s swimming abilities, saying his trainer in Buck Creek was ‘the crawdads.’
‘That’s why he could swim on his back,’ Bennett said.
Bennett reminisced about a few adventures he and Pendleton had in their younger days and thanked Pendleton for his friendship.
‘I owe you an awful lot,’ he said. ‘You have been a great influence in my life. You’re one of my dearest friends.’
Denny Huber, former publisher of this newspaper, spoke about Pendleton’s days on the basketball court.
Huber said Pendleton’s New Middletown teams never beat the Morgan Township squad.
‘They had a strategy to throw up against New Middletown: all five players will guard four people and no one will guard Gordon,’ said Huber. ‘Gordon showed them; he had two points that day.’
On a more serious note, Huber thanked Pendleton for ‘growing’ his Federal Savings and Loan business into the large community bank it is today.
‘There are a lot of folks in this area that should be thankful to Gordon for allowing them to live the American dream and own a home,’ Huber said. ‘He would find a way. He was always there to help.
‘Gordon, we’re very happy to be friends with you,’ he said. ‘Thanks for all you’ve done for the community.’
Pendleton’s son-in-law, Kevin Burch, and friend, Joe Shireman, also joined in the fun. Burch went back to Pendleton’s basketball days, relaying something Tommy Troncin once told him about Pendleton.
‘He was shorter when he jumped than standing flat-footed, he was actually shorter when he jumped,’ said Burch.
‘I’m proud to be here,’ said Shireman. ‘Thank you for all of the things you do for us.’
Joel Voyles, who worked for Pendleton at First Harrison Bank, was the last person to speak.
Voyles went through many of Pendleton’s accomplishments since graduating from New Middletown in 1952. Pendleton scored 900 points in his high school basketball career and went a combined 36-8 in his last two seasons.
Pendleton graduated from Ball State in 1956 and married his wife, Christine, the same year. He served in the Army, was stationed in Germany in 1958, and became a basketball coach at Corydon Central in 1960.
Pendleton has been a farm worker, a cook for the YMCA camp, and taught high school bookkeeping and business math.
Currently, Pendleton serves as chairman of the board for First Harrison Bank.
‘Because of this man, the county’s in good shape,’ said Voyles, who mentioned that Pendleton currently serves on the Harrison County Council. ‘This is the only time I’ve ever questioned Gordon.’
Uhl also read a letter from Indiana Ninth District Congressman Baron Hill.
‘I have come to cherish your wisdom and insights,’ Hill wrote to Pendleton. ‘You have been a good friend and supporter.’
After Uhl read the letter, it was Pendleton’s turn at the microphone.
‘So many people in here have been a part of my life,’ he said.
Pendleton said one saying he tries to live by was taught to him by his mother: ‘If you give the other person the benefit of the doubt, you’ll be all right.’
He said he always tries to be an optimist. ‘I’ve never seen a monument erected for a pessimist,’ he said.
Pendleton is chairman of the county’s Economic Development Corp., serves on the Corydon 2008 Committee and Capitol Courts board, and is a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, the O’Bannon Memorial Committee and Masonic Lodge 32 in Corydon.
Pendleton’s past activities in the community include being appointed to the state school board by the late Gov. O’Bannon and a past member of Indiana University Southeast Advisors.
He also served as president of Corydon Rotary Club, the Corydon Chamber of Commerce and South Harrison Community School Corp. board of trustees. Pendleton is a past member of the Millennium Committee and serves on the Lifelong Learning Development Committee.
At night’s end, the roast and silent auction had raised more than $12,000.
Half of the proceeds went to Blue River Services and the other half went to the BRS Endowment Fund at the Harrison County Community Foundation, at Pendleton’s request.