Author: Carrie Evans

William “Bill” Best

Loving husband, father and grandfather, William Martin Best, Jr. of Crown Point, Indiana passed away peacefully on October 4th, 2021, at the age of 78. His children were by his side.
William (Bill) was born in Gary, Indiana on January 13th, 1943, to father William Best, Sr. and mother Helen Kuchenbrod. Bill grew up in the Glen Park area and graduated from Lew Wallace High School. He began his career at US Steel Gary Works as an Electrical Apprentice in 1961.
On May 1st, 1965, Bill married the love of his life, Judith Denise Velligan, at Assumption Parish in East Chicago, Indiana. Together for 50 years, they enjoyed raising a family and taking many trips, including Michigan, Las Vegas, Florida, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Niagara Falls, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon.
At US Steel, Bill advanced in his role to Operations Services Area Manager of Electrical Services/Crane Repair. Bill was a member of the Association of Iron and Steel Engineers. He remained with US Steel for 38 years, until his retirement in 1999.
In his next chapter, Bill joined Calumet Coach in Calumet City, Illinois, returning to his trade as an Electrician. As a highlight, he was selected to travel to Saudi Arabia to help build advanced medical and dental trailers for the King. Bill retired from his second career in 2011.
Bill will be remembered by all who knew him as an avid storyteller. He enjoyed the great outdoors and often relayed stories about family fishing trips to Crystal Falls, Michigan, which he referred to as “God’s Country.” He would fondly reminisce about hunting trips to Pennsylvania and fishing trips to Canada.
In recent years, Bill regularly attended mass at St. Mary’s Church and Our Lady of Consolation. He enjoyed swapping stories at monthly “Retired Manager Breakfasts,” which he hosted. He also enjoyed making trips to local casinos on occasion.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, by his sister Judy Stefan, and by his wife Judith Best. He is survived by his children Susan McCowan (Stuart) and David Best (Michelle); by his sister Debbie Leguen; and by his grandchildren Jason Best (Hailey Smith), Emily Best, Alyssa McCowan, Chris Best, Conner McCowan and William Best.
Following his wishes, a private family service was held on October 8th, 2021 at Calumet Park Funeral Chapel/Mausoleum in Merrillville, Indiana. Condolences and special memories of Bill may be sent to the family at
Anyone wishing to honor Bill’s legacy is asked to make a donation to Sunshine PAWS. Please send all donations directly to Sunshine PAWS at PO Box 72, Crown Point, IN 46308 or online at

Alan Melevage

Alan Melevage, of Merrillville, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 67.  He is preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Gladys.  He is survived by his loving siblings: Ray Melevage, Laurie Karagas, Lynette Fredricks, and Bernadette Pakalniskis and their families; many beloved extended family members; and a host of friends.

Alan proudly served in the US Navy, and spent many years as an electronics technician at Amtek.

He will be fondly remembered and dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.

Valentine Sanchez Jr.

Valentine F. Sanchez Jr., a Gary, IN resident since 1964, passed away peacefully on July 30th 2021 at the age of 57. He was preceded in death by his parents: Valentine F. Sanchez and Rita Sanchez; his brother, Joseph Cintron; brother-in-law, Raymond “Ray” Cortazar; and grandmother, Emma Hernandez.
Valentine is survived by the mother of his children, Tammy M. Hernandez; his 4 children: Valentine F. Sanchez III, Dolores G. Sanchez, Nicole E. Sanchez-Leal (Jose Leal), and Rita M. Sanchez; his 6 grandchildren: Alicia Leal, Alyssa Boland, Jose Leal Jr., Alena Boland, Ezra Valdivia, and Valentine Sanchez IV; siblings: Theresa G. Sanchez-Cortazar, Patricia Sanchez (Debra Sanchez), Frances Sanchez, Edward Sanchez (Kimberly Sanchez), Lou Martinez (Patricia Martinez), Maria Torres (Ramon Torres); sister-in-law, Carmen Cintron; his Uncle John ‘Yonko” Hernandez (Mary Mickey-Hernandez); and a host of nieces and nephews and family and friends.

Sandra Smoot

Sandra S. Smoot (nee Jackson), age 84, of Crown Point, Indiana, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, after a brief illness.

Sandra is survived by her loving daughters: Jami (Ronald) Naughgle, Lori Johnson, and Sherri (David) Ward; six grandchildren: Joel (Meredith) Naughgle, Bethany (David) Gill, Rachel Johnson, Derek Johnson, Erika Ward, and Andrea Ward; six great-grandchildren; sister-in-law, Jeanne Jackson Blane; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Sandra was preceded in death by her loving husband of 62 years, Walter Smoot; her parents, E. W. and Vivian Jackson; her brother, Dick Jackson; and her sister, Bonnie Leas.

Sandra was born on December 28, 1936, in Gary, Indiana. She graduated from Lew Wallace High School and earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Indiana University. Sandra retired after 28 years as a teacher in the Merrillville Community School Corporation. We will forever miss her sweet nature, joyful laughter, and witty one-liners.

Visitation will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 8, 2021, at Calumet Park Funeral Chapel, 7535 Taft Street, Merrillville, Indiana. The service will immediately follow the visitation at 11:30 a.m. with Reverend Linda Jackson officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society (

Jerome Otawka

Jerome J. Otawka, age 85, of Crown Point, IN, passed away Saturday, June 5th 2021. He was born July 13th, 1935 in Gary, IN to the late John and Helen Otawka. In 1953, he graduated from St. Procopius Academy (now Benet Academy) in Lisle, Illinois. He served active duty in the US Army from 13 May 1958 to 6 May 1960 and was honorably discharged in April 1964. Jerome worked at US Steel in Gary for 47 years and 23 days, retiring from his position as a machinist in the electrical shop in 2000. He was a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Merrillville.

He is survived by sister, Marie (Arnold) Rettig; nieces: Debra (Ronald) Simko, Cynthia Martinez, Janice (Robert) Nikolich, Susan (William) Cooper, Christine Rettig; nephew, Richard Rettig; and ten (plus two on the way!) grand nieces and nephews.

Jerome enjoyed vehicles, photography, food, Slovak culture, and reminiscing about his military service, especially winning rifle matches and being stationed at Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany. Many in Northwest Indiana knew him as ‘Uncle Jerry’. He was buried with full military honors in Calumet Park Cemetery, Merrillville, Indiana.

Jule Bell Jr.

Jule L. Bell, Jr., “Buddy” 62, of Crown Point, passed away peacefully on Friday, May 28, 2021. He was born on April 20, 1959, in Hammond to Jule and Patricia Bell of St. John.
He is survived by his loving wife of 34 years, Anne (nee Kerekes); his parents; and siblings: Jana (Robert) Larkin, David (Dawn) Bell and Scott (Sara) Bell. He was the proud uncle and great uncle of many nieces and nephews.
Jule attended St. Joseph Catholic School in Hammond and Dyer, was a graduate of Lake Central High School in St. John, and attended Marquette University.
“Buddy” was born with an innate ability to fix things and he put his talents to work through his proprietorship of Bell Refrigeration in Northwest Indiana. He was respected for his knowledge, and loved for his big heart and ability to make people smile. He was ready to help anyone when needed. His sense of humor and smile will be greatly missed.
A memorial visitation will be held Friday, June 25th from 10 am to 12:30 pm at Calumet Park Funeral Chapel, 7535 Taft Street, Merrillville. A private interment will follow at Calumet Park Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Humane Indiana.

David Kent Springmann

David “Dave” Kent Springmann, age 66, passed away peacefully at home in Valparaiso, Indiana surrounded by his family, on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. He succumbed to a rare gastric cancer which he battled for over a year.
Dave was born in 1954 in Gary, Indiana to Attorney Glenn W. Springmann and Ruth (nee Warner) Springmann. He graduated from William A. Wirt High School in 1972. While in high school, he was active in the Steel City Chapter of the Order of DeMolay, attaining the rank of Master Councilor. On August 27, 1974 he met the love of his life, Theresa Marie Lazar, in a Microeconomics class at Indiana University Northwest (IUN). Dave graduated from IUN with a B.A. degree in Business in 1977. While in college, Dave was active in the business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, serving as Chapter President and President of his pledge class. Dave and Theresa married in 1980 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana after Theresa graduated from the Law School. In 1989, David earned his MBA degree from DePaul University in Chicago. In 1990, Dave became a CPA. Over the years he maintained membership and served as an officer with the Indiana CPA Society, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), Financial Executives International (FEI) and Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). He practiced in various capacities for companies in Chicago, Portage, Valparaiso and Fort Wayne in a career that spanned 40 years. His proudest professional achievement was helping to start Okaya Electric America, Inc. in Valparaiso for its Japanese parent in 1990. The company has flourished over the years and remains in business to this day.
Dave retired from accounting in 2016 while living in Fort Wayne. He became a volunteer with various charities including the Knights of Columbus Saint Vincent Council #11353, Saint Vincent DePaul Society of Fort Wayne and Carpenter’s Sons. He was also a member of Rotary International chapters in Valparaiso, Fort Wayne and Van Wert, Ohio and received the Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellow Award. After living and working in Fort Wayne for 15 years, Dave and Theresa returned to Valparaiso in 2018 and rejoined Saint Paul Catholic Church. Dave joined the Knights of Columbus Valparaiso Council 738 and the Saint Paul Catholic Church Men’s Club, serving as President in 2019-20.
He is survived by his wife of 41 years, the Hon. Theresa Lazar Springmann, and sons Glenn “Gus” Francis (Jeana) Springmann of Chicago, Illinois and Anthony “Tony” Kent (Cassidy) Springmann of Carmel, Indiana. Also surviving are his Springmann nephews, niece, great nephews and great niece, sister-in-law Joyce Springmann of Racine, Wisconsin, and a multitude of Lazar family members. His older brother, Thomas “Tom” E. Springmann, predeceased him in 2007.
Dave’s most cherished memories were of time spent with his family. He used to say that “life really began when our sons were born!” His boys were his pride and joy. He will be remembered by all who knew him for his kindness, generosity and good humor. His only regret in life: not growing up to play football for the Chicago Bears.
A private interment service will be held for immediate family at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville, Indiana on June 9, 2021. There will be a Celebration of Life Visitation at Saint Paul Catholic Church in Valparaiso on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at 9:00 AM CST. A Memorial Mass will follow at 10:00 AM CST, with the Reverend Jeff Burton officiating. Luncheon will follow at the Valparaiso Country Club.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Saint Paul Catholic School in Valparaiso, Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, the VNA of NWI Hospice in Valparaiso or The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chicago.

Martha “Marcy” Baron

Martha A. Baron, age 74, of Demotte Indiana passed away Wednesday, April 7, 2021. She was born on Feb 13, 1947 in Presque Isle, Maine, later moving to Ohio, then Indiana. She was married to John Baron Jr who passed away on January 3 1998. She is survived by three step-sons, Jim Baron, Don Baron, John Baron; and 2 sisters Debbie (Jeff) Zellers and Becky Yakel.

Funeral services will be held Friday, April 16, 2021 at 1:00pm at Calumet Park Funeral Chapel, 7535 Taft St, Merrillville, IN. Interment will follow at McCool Cemetery, Portage, IN. Visitation will be from 10:00am-1:00pm at Calumet Park Funeral Chapel.