ITRA Memorials

Max Ault

January 28, 1946 - February 3, 2024

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Max E. Ault, 78, of Butler, Indiana, passed away on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024.

He was born Jan. 28, 1946, in Butler, Indiana, to Martin Lewis and Madge (Haynes) Ault.

He served in the Indiana Army National Guard.

Max was a welder and also worked in maintenance at GE in Fort Wayne, retiring in 1999.

He was a member of the Indiana Trail Riders Association.

He enjoyed camping, hunting, especially his hunting trips to Colorado, traveling, snowmobiling and trail riding on his horse. He loved his dogs and his family was everything to him.

He married Sarah G. Warwick on Aug. 9, 1980, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and she survives in Butler.

Also surviving are two children, Tammy (Matt) Smith, of Garrett and Greg (Kim) Ault, of Fort Wayne; nine grandchildren and their spouses, Skyler (Krista), Gregory, Coleman, Blake (Madison), Johnathon (Aliyssa), Taylor (Justin), Cameron (Sydney), Joe and Logan; four great-grandchildren, Hunter, Lincoln, Cora and Marshall; and his brother and sister-in-law, Phillip and Janet Ault, of Angola. He is also survived by his canine family, Cody, Buck and Lady.

He was preceded in death by his parents; son, Joe Edward Ault; grandson, Adam Smith; and a brother and sister-in-law, Allen (Judy) Ault.

Memorial donations may be directed to Humane Fort Wayne, 4914 S. Hanna St., Fort Wayne, IN 46806.

Bob McPheeters

May 3, 1946 - December 27, 2023

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Clyde R. “Bob” McPheeters 77, of Anderson, passed away at home on December 27, 2023.

He was born in Bloomington, IN on May 3, 1946, the son of Donald and Luella (Hohenhaus) McPheeters. He was employed as a “milkman”- truck driver with Best Ever- Prairie Farms Dairy for 41 years and was an active member and leader with Indiana Trail Riders Association. Bob had also served in the United States Army.

He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Debi (Fisher) McPheeters; children, Scott (Lori) McPheeters and Traci Gossett; grandchildren Austin, Spencer, and Rebekah Gossett; great grandchildren, Brandt, Carson, Grayson and one on the way; step daughter, Gina (Kyle) Green and their children Morgan and Rylee; stepson, David Grandbois and his children Kyle, Lucas Colton and Orion; special family member Katelynn Whisler; mother of his children, Patricia McPheeters; niece, Dominica Riley and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents and a brother James.

Remembrance of Bob by Larry Sidell, ITRA

It’s with a sad heart that I bring the news that Bob McPheeters, one of our devoted members, passed away on December 27, 2023. Bob served for several years as a director, three years as vice president, and three years president. That’s a lot of service! Bob enjoyed ITRA immensely. He and Debi were always at work sessions, even if he wasn’t feeling up to it physically. Bob's kids and grandkids would come to the Horse Fair each year. Debi and Bob would show them around so the kids could enjoy the horses and the scenery. Bob hauled milk for most of the 20 years I knew him. He retired once, went back to work , retired again, and went back again. He finally retired for good when his health began to fail. In his later years Bob bought a lot on the lake because he liked the water. He got a boat and had a lot of fun with his family on the water. Family was really important to Bob and Debi, and we send our sympathy to the family and everyone who loved Bob.

Terry Sickels

11/24/1947 - 12/19/2022

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Terrell Eugene Sickels was born “100 years too late” on November 24, 1947. He rode into the sunset on December 19, 2022 at the age of 75. Terry graduated Lynn High School in 1965 and was a lifetime resident of Randolph County, farmer, horse breeder and employee of Best Way of Indiana for 20 years. Member of American Guernsey Cattle Club, National Cutting Horse Association, American Quarter Horse Association, American Paint Horse Association, and Indiana Trail Riders Association. He loved camping, trail riding, and playing cards. Terry rode out his life on a horse. We always gave him heck for getting us lost in the woods while trail riding. Getting lost was his way of teaching us that life is about enjoying the journey. His journey wasn’t easy to love all the time, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be missed. Happy trails, Dad. Terry is survived by his wife of 8 months Marisa Liliana Sickels. Children: Theresa (Eric) Moler, son Chris (Jennifer) Sickels, daughter Tamara Barnes, son Seth (Mia) Fisher; 7 grandchildren; 2 great-grand children; sisters Audrey Murray, Marsha (Tony) Kritsch, Barb Fisher; aunt Betty Sickels. He was proceeded in death by his parents Gene and Judy Sickels; uncle Bud Sickels; brothers-in-law Leland Murray, Wayne Fisher; grandsons Oliver Sickels and Jackson Moler.

Obituary from the Palladium-Item, Richmond, Indiana.

Paul Thiry 

8/3/1950 - 7/14/2022

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Paul William Thiry, 71, (aka Paul Baby), Denver, Indiana, passed away on Thursday, July 14, 2022, at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, after a courageous three-year battle with cancer. 

Born August 3, 1950, in Peru, Indiana, he was the son of Paul G. Thiry and the former Nellie Spencer.  On August 31, 1990, in Peru, IN, he was married to Irma L. Ray, who survives.

Paul worked for fifty-three years for Borkholder Buildings, where he was a regional sales manager and truck driver.  He loved his horses and all the years he spent at horse shows contesting.  He loved traveling and the beautiful places he enjoyed trail riding, especially his two absolute favorites in Brown County and the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. He was a member of Denver Saddle Club. He also truly enjoyed watching his children and grandchildren participate in multiple sports throughout the years. 

Along with his wife, Irma L. Thiry, Denver, he is survived by three children, Danny (Jennie) Thiry, Denver; Charity Thiry (Doug) Brown, Lafayette; and Justin Thiry, Fishers; grandchildren: Morgan, Tyler, Casey, Carter; siblings, Brenda (Herb) Herbruck, Massillon, Ohio; Ethel Thiry, Minerva, Ohio; Robert Jake Thiry, Panama City, FLorida; Midge (Jeff) Hendershot, Canton, Ohio; and Donald Hall, Minerva, Ohio; and several nieces/great nieces, nephews/great nephews, cousins, and ALL the dear friends that were like family, which were many. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul Thiry and step-mother, Mildred, and Nellie Hall and step-father, Walt; one sister, Vickie Moore; and one brother, Quinton Dale “Red” Thiry.

Mary Williams

September 26, 1950 - October 28, 2021

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Our Beloved Trail Mix Editor Mary (Karst) Williams (age 71)

Lucia Mary Karst Williams, more likely known as Mary, was 71 years old, born 9/26/50 and passed 10/28/21. Mary was in the ICU with Covid. We were getting daily updates until--what an awful day that was--we got the text that her lung collapsed and she went into cardiac arrest and passed. You see, Mary only had one lung and she struggled with asthma. She'd also had cancer back in high school and had to have her hand and forearm removed.

Mary was a very talented artist and taught art in the Indy schools for 31 years. She was also a 4-H leader for many years. And she kept horses and trail rode for a lot of years--one of her many passions. You may know her as the editor of ITRA’s Trail Mix and as chairperson of the ITRA membership. Mary did such an awesome job with the Trail Mix, another one of her passions. She worked hard and diligently at getting it out and most always on time. I got to know Mary when I was a director, but I really got to know her since I’ve been president, working more closely with her on the Trail Mix, membership and the Covid cancelations and BS.

I truly enjoyed our conversations that helped solve ITRA issues and "the world’s issues.” "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary…" Mary was a fighter and quite contrary, that’s probably why I liked her so well (some of y’all think I’m like that.) I remember once I sang to her “Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?" and she popped off “Not worth a s***, I can’t get rid of them d*** rabbits”.

Mary asked me once to get her a site at Brown County for a clean-up, so I put her next to me. When she got there, she couldn’t get her trailer where she wanted it as it was muddy. I went up to help and I asked her if she had it in 4-wheel drive, and she said "Yeah, I think so." So I got in and on the dash it was telling her to do xy and z. I asked her, “Hey, Mary, did you read this on the dash?” She said “What stuff? Oh, I don’t read all that s***.”

But my best one is about her prosthetic hand she got a few years ago. She was showing me how well it worked and how she could move her fingers. Then she says, “Now I can go around on 465 and give them drivers one back.” So, yeah, Mary will be missed, but she will be remembered a lot more.

ITRA President Larry Sidell

Arlene Smoot

April 27, 1935 - June 18, 2017

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Arlene was born in Indianapolis to Arthur and Edith (McGuire) Copeland. She was a 1953 graduate of New Winchester High School. Arlene married Donald G. Smoot Feb. 14, 1954, he preceded her in death Nov. 13, 2014. She had been a bookkeeper/office manager for Mutual Benefit Life in Indianapolis, as well as at Danville Chyrsler-Plymouth for 46 years. She was a charter member of Northview Christian Church in Danville. Arlene was very active volunteering to keep and obtain horse trails in Indiana. She was a life and board member of Indiana Trail Riders Association, the Indiana Horse Council, and the Hendricks County Trail Development Association. Arlene was also a charter and board member of the Red Hats and Purple Chaps; the first equestrian chapter of the Red Hat Society. She enjoyed camping with horses and collecting hand painted antique dishes.

Survivors include her nieces and nephews, Diana (Jim) Williams, Donna (Kenny) Sale, Sharon (Don) Spencer, all of Danville, and Steven (Danena) Price, of Lizton. Arlene is also survived by several great nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by a niece, Patty Earles, 2 sisters, and a brother.

Larry Gates 

November 16, 1919 - August 14, 2016

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Larry E. Gates, 72, of Kingman, died at 9:49 pm August 14, 2016 in Union Hospital Terre Haute. He was born November 16, 1943 in Paris, Illinois to Ralph Jackson Gates and Reba Kathryn Van Houten Gates. On June 16, 1963 he married Judy Irene Gard in Martinsville, Illinois. He was a member of the Kingman Christian Church and the Indiana Trail Riders.  Larry submitted this article in the September 2013 issue of the Trail Mix newsletter:

The Greatest Horse I Ever Owned

In 2007 I built a new barn after the old barn was destroyed by a heavy snow load. When I built the stalls (nothing fancy) I installed a sliding gate latch. When I began to stall the horses in the winter, several times I would go to feed and my Arabian mare would be in the aisle of the barn eating hay from the haymow. One time I went out and another stall was open and Judy's horse was also out. I got a lawn chair and sat and waited to see what was happening. Before too long, Tippy (Arab mare) took hold of the gate latch and worked until she got it to slide and then she took her nose and pushed the gate open. She then proceeded to another stall and undid the latch on that one too. I drilled a hole in the gate latch and put a snap through it so she could not get out. That was 6 years ago and she still tries to get the latch undone. When folks come by to visit they all want to watch the ESCAPE ARTIST at work. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly she can work her magic. I still love her and think she is the greatest horse I have ever owned.

Dave Maksymczak

May 27, 1957 - August 2, 2015

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David W. Maksymczak, 58 of Carmel, passed away Sunday, August 2, 2015 at his home. David was born May 27, 1957 in Hammond, IN to the late Michael and June Maksymczak. He was a graduate of Purdue University.

David was a founding member of INDesign, LLC, a software development firm that started in 1996. Prior, he was a software engineer with AT&T/Bell Labs.

David was active in the Hamilton County 4-H, was a member of the Indiana Trail Riders Association and was a board member of the Hamilton County Horsemen's Club.

David is survived by his wife, Beth; children, Chris Maksymczak and Erin (fiancée, John Bilderback) Maksymczak; brother, Tim Maksymczak; sister, Betty (husband, Joe) Pagurko.

Richard King

February 16, 1943 - January 16, 2014

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The Trail Riding community has lost another great friend and trail advocate.

Our good friend Richard King passed away January 16 after a very short battle with pancreatic cancer.

For those of you that were at Brown County during the fall cleanup and saw Richard down there out and about this was something that was very hard to believe. Richard had served as a board member and officer for the ITRA. He had helped us move the ITRA to the next level with our current corporate sponsor Kerlin Trailer Sales and Western Store in Warsaw and Silver Lake. Richard was always trying to sell the ITRA to trailriders as he was a great believer of what the ITRA does.

This past fall cleanup he had signed up a new member and brought him down to my cook shack to introduce him to me welcome him to the ITRA. An ironic part to this is the new member Terry had lost his wife to cancer not long before that.

You could find Richard around during any of the ITRA workdays and rides displaying trailers for Kerlins but always selling ITRA. He was always willing to help or answer questions about trailers no matter what kind of trailer you wanted to talk about. One Thanksgiving I know he worked two whole days helping people with frozen water in trailers and did it all for nothing more than a thank you!

Richard had worked with us on getting the ITRA our new country store trailer and getting it equipped with shelves storage for us using Kerlins craftsmen to make it very usable and packing friendly. After leaving the board, not because of not wanting to serve anymore, but saying he would always be around to help because of being with Kerlins he wanted to give his spot to someone else to get more involved and us have more help. With us setting up the new Midwest Equine Trails Foundation we had asked and Richard had accepted a position on the board of directors for the foundation. He was looking forward to us getting it up and running which has now happened.

Connie has requested all memorials for Richard are to go to the new foundation, so Richard is still giving to the horsetrails even after passing. His legacy will live on with these gifts to the foundation. Richard could make friends wherever he went and never took long in knowing everybody around. I know Richard and Roger have met up and are talking big trailers and Ford 550"s and big rides.

Ride those big rides my friend!

Tony Ragains

November 15, 1923 - October 17, 2011

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Arnold R. “Tony” Ragains, 87, of Nashville, formerly of Indianapolis, died at 1:33 p.m. Monday, October 17, 2011, at Hospice of South Central Indiana Inpatient Facility in Columbus.

Mr. Ragains was a U.S. Army veteran of World War II and was the retired owner of Industrial Sandblasting Inc. and Simmons Industries.

He enjoyed membership in the American Legion, Civitan and the Horseman’s Camp Community Outreach in Brown County. A horse enthusiast, he was a member of Marion County Sheriff’s Department Mounted Patrol and Indiana Trail Riders Association, and he carried the flag for the Indiana Contingent of the Bicentennial Wagon Train to Valley Forge.

Born in Fredericksburg, November 15, 1923, Mr. Ragains was the son of James “Roy” and Ottilia Heidenreich Ragains. He married Martha Lois Addison July 31, 1943. She preceded him in death May 10, 1974.

Survivors include his daughters, Mary Ann Stonebraker of Indianapolis and Katrina (Jim) Byram of Leawood, Kan.; grandchildren, Marianne, Melissa, Trent and Elyse; a great-granddaughter, Isabella; many nieces, nephews and other relatives; close friends, Arlene and Sharon and many friends in the horse community.

Mr. Ragains was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, three brothers, and a sister.

The family would like to give a special thanks to Hospice of South Central Indiana Inpatient Facility for their care and to Tony’s church family at HCCO for their love and support.

Sonia Novak

December 6, 1937 - October 15, 2010

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Sonia was born December 6, 1937 in Indianapolis, IN to the late Rupert and Lula P. (Lawhorn) Forney.

On June 6, 1956 in Nashville, Indiana she married William V. Novak who passed away on October 18, 2005.

Surviving are five daughters: Susan Marie Novak of Michigan City; Catherine Ann (Michael) Krenkel of Michigan City; Caroline J. (Wesley) Mallady of Shorewood, IL; Mary Ann (Drew) Hyer of Valparaiso, IN; and Michell L. (James) White of Martinsville, IN; four sons: Keith William Novak of Canon, CO; Kevin Patrick Novak of La Porte, IN; Charles Rupert (Lisa) Novak of La Porte, IN and Robert Lloyd Novak of Michigan City; nineteen grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; one sister: Mary Slevin of Franklin; and one brother David Forney of Columbus.

Preceding her in death is one sister, Helen Earl, and one brother, Rupert "Shorty" Forney.

She was a member of the Indiana Trail Riders Association and helped to establish the girls' volleyball Program at Marquette High School. She loved to camp and enjoyed outdoor activities.

Roger Montgomery

8/11/1938 - 10/29/2007

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Roger D. Montgomery was an avid member of ITRA. He was not a director but many knew him as Greg Hersberger's right hand man or chief of staff.

If there was work to be done he was there to help get it done. He gave so much of his time to the group by bringing his horse and chainsaw to work days and work-weekends. Even if it wasn't a work day he was working.

It was always a pleasure to ride with him and go camping with. He is greatly missed but is still contributing to our group in many ways, from the knowledge he passed on to many of us being a great mentor.

He is always watching over us and with every cut and ride we are on, he is with us. Thank you "Pops" for everything!