By Todd Travis
On Oct. 16, over 100 people were gathered to celebrate the centennial birthday of Walter E. Johnes in Beech Grove. His actual birthday is Oct. 18, 1922. Since this type of celebration doesn’t come around very often, Walter’s daughter Mary Ann Senft pulled out all the stops to honor her accomplished father. From the dance floor to big decorations, the party was one to be remembered.
“We had door prizes at 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. and there were a lot of them. The party was catered, and a pastry chef was brought in. We had WWII music playing featuring the music of the ‘Rat Pack’ and other bands from that time period. He had three cakes – one was a flag, and another was a typewriter, which symbolized his prolific writing career – he has written 24 books on top of writing editorials and newspaper articles,” Senft described.
As a WWII veteran, Johnes’ writing ability earned him a trip to Australia, where he served in General Douglas MacArthur’s unit. Being able to type over 100 words per minute and taking shorthand allowed him this spot over 1,000 other members who had reported in his unit. He also went to Japan under that unit and did a lot of administrative work directly for MacArthur during the war.
“When he was first called into the headquarters from his unit, he thought he was in trouble,” Senft laughed. “Instead they asked him to gather nine other soldiers and go to Brisbane to report under General MacArthur.”
Senft and her sister Faith Johnes, among others, spoke at the celebration to honor their father. Mayor Dennis Buckley attended and also spoke at 2 p.m.
Johnes has been a lifetime resident of Beech Grove.
“He got a certificate for being a patrol officer at the school where he helped people safely cross the street. That was around 1935 so things were a little different back then,” Senft said.
“He’s had six kids and 14 grandchildren. He lives on his own and is very active and able to take care of himself. I’m real proud of the work he’s done and the man he is,” she concluded.