Donald Earl “Don” Pelkey, 91, of North Vernon, passed away at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 03, 2020, at the home of Gary and Kelly Pelkey in Muncie, Indiana.
A memorial service will be conducted at 1:00 PM on Saturday, September 19, 2020, at the Jennings County High School Don Pelkey Auditorium. Private Burial to follow at the Vernon Cemetery, Family only. Visitation will be held from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 19, 2020, at the Jennings County High School Don Pelkey Auditorium. Sawyer-Pickett Funeral and Cremation Service are entrusted with the arrangements. Social distancing and masks are required.
Born on November 25, 1928, in Terre Haute, Donald was the son of Lewis Earl and Doris (Plimmer) Pelkey. He was united in marriage to Elizabeth Ann (Susie) Jones on June 14, 1953, at Maple Avenue Methodist Church in Terre Haute. They were married for 63 years until her death, she preceded him in death on August 12, 2016.
Don graduated from Terre Haute Garfield High School in 1946 and Indiana State Teacher’s College (now known as Indiana State University) in 1950. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout in 1945 and was a cross country and track and field athlete at Indiana State. Mr. Pelkey started teaching Physical Education at North Vernon High School in August of 1950. In November of 1950 he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He is a Veteran of the Korean War and served in the U.S. Army from November 29, 1950 to August 28, 1952. He was honorably discharged with the Rank of Sergeant First Class. He attended Teacher’s orientation August 29, 1952 at North Vernon High School and remained in the Jennings County School System in various capacities until his final retirement in May of 1994. Mr. Pelkey was a Physical Education, Driver Education teacher, and a guidance counselor from 1960 to 1969. He then went back to classroom teaching in 1969 to 1971. During the 1971 and 1972 school year he was the Principal at North Vernon Junior High School when Carl Wildey was getting his Doctorate Degree from Ball State. Mr. Pelkey was Assistant Principal to Mr. Charles “Chuck” Hurley at Jennings County High School from 1972 to 1989 and he was the JCHS “At Risk Counselor” from 1989 to 1994. During his tenure with Jennings County Schools, Don was Athletic Director, Head Football Coach, Head Track Coach, Junior Varsity Basketball Coach, Assistant Cross Country Coach, Student Council Sponsor, and he was honored to have the Jennings County High School Auditorium named the Don Pelkey Auditorium in 2001.
During the 1960’s, 1970’s, and early 1980’s Don was the “Color Man” and then the “Play by Play Man” for WOCH Radio Station on the North Vernon and then Jennings County High School Football games. Because of this association with WOCH Radio Station and Station Manager Charlie Plummer, he was selected as the “Local Press Secretary” for President Richard Nixon’s visit to Jennings County on June 24, 1971. Mr. Pelkey has been a member of the First United Methodist Church of North Vernon since 1950. During this time, he served the Church in various capacities: Sunday school teacher, board member, God’s Squad leader, building committee member, and part of the crew that constructed the new sanctuary. Don was a charter member of the North Vernon Kiwanis Club in 1977. He was the very first “Kiwanian of the Year” for the North Vernon Chapter in 1978 and would later serve several times as their President. He was the Campaign Chairman for the Jennings County March of Dimes in the 1960’s and he was the Campaign Chairman for the Jennings County United Way in the 1990’s.
Donald is survived by sons, Brian Earl (Lisa Teeter) Pelkey of Plainfield, and Gary Dean (Kelly) Pelkey of Muncie; grandchildren, Dr. Samuel Robert (Vicki) Pelkey of Lewis Center, OH, SarahAnne Pelkey (Dr. Colin Good) of Muncie, Robert Earl (Kathryn) Pelkey of Zionsville, and Justin Donald (Morgan Maxwell) Pelkey of Greenfield; step-grandchildren, Scott Butsch of Indianapolis, and Christina Butsch of Indianapolis; great grandchildren, Charlotte, Caleb, and Kate Pelkey of Lewis Center, OH, and Jacob Earl Pelkey of Zionsville; sister, Ruth Dean of New Port Richey, FL; 5 nieces and nephews; 2 In-Home Caregivers, Katy Church and MicKenzy Routh of Muncie.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Lewis and Doris Pelkey; wife, Elizabeth Ann (Susie) Pelkey.
In Lieu of flowers,memorials may be made through the funeral home to the First United Methodist Church of North Vernon or the JCHS Athletics.
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