Lives Remembered

Lives Remembered

Kyle Martincic

*Staff report

Kyle Martincic, 34, was the kind of guy that everybody looked up to. His superiors at the White River Township Fire Department (WRTFD) where he was a paramedic said he was the kind of guy that people wanted to help them.

Martincic died in August after experiencing a medical emergency during a routine department training drill. He was immediately provided with emergency medical care at the scene by WRTFD paramedics, firefighters and EMTs who were also involved in the training.

Martincic joined WRTFD in September of 2019, stationed at Firehouse 51. 

“Kyle was one of those paramedics that if you were in need, you were happy that he walked into your house,” said EMT Chief Ron Hayes. “He wasn’t just a paramedic, he was a paramedic that took his job very seriously. He was very smart, very outgoing and without a question he loved his job.”

Hayes was Martincic’s direct supervisor in his time at WRTFD and he said he took that same mentality back to his home with his family. He said he loved his wife and kids more than everything and did everything possible to take care of his wife and two children.

Before becoming an EMT in White River, he worked down in Bloomington at IU Health with Hayes. 

“He’s one of those guys that the moment you meet him, his demeanor captures you and draws you in and the more you were around him, you could tell every day you were around him that he was where he’s suppose to be,” Hayes said.

Hayes said in their time down in Bloomington together, Martincic treated everyone with respect.

“He treated everyone with respect,” Hayes said, “It didn’t matter if you were homeless or if you lived in a $2 million home.” Hayes added.

Lieutenant David Scholl began reaching out to Martincic’s shift partners and people he worked with and they all said there is a big hole they have to fill now that he’s not with them. 

“They were definitely accustomed to Kyle coming in and his attitude and everything he was.” Scholl said. “He’s definitely left a hole in our organization for a while.”

Scholl added that he didn’t know Martincic personally, but from a departmental level, he was everything the department worked to be.

“We have the core values at our department, teamwork, respect, integrity and professionalism and Kyle met every one of them to the fullest,” Scholl said.

Jason Mueller

By Jacob Musselman 

Jason Mueller, or “Big guy” as his wife, Hannah called him, passed away surrounded by his family on July 22, 2021. 

Jason was a Center Grove graduate, along with Hannah. In high school, he played football and baseball. Fast forward several years: Jason became a teacher, Hannah’s daughter’s teacher at West Grove Middle School, to be specific.

After Jason and Hannah went through separate divorces, Hannah started coaching the high school dance team. On Friday nights, the dance team would perform during halftime, which is how Hannah met Jason.

“He was 6-foot-3 (inches) and 216 (pounds). He was just a big man,” Hannah said jokingly. “But his personality was even bigger.”

Hannah said Jason was involved with his community just as much as he was involved with his family. 

“He made everybody feel so special,” she said.

She said she never realized the magnitude of who he was as an announcer. He would meet with players and coaches before games to make sure he knew how to say everybody’s name and to learn little things about them. 

Brian Proctor is principal of Walnut Grove Elementary School, where Jason taught.

“When we opened up the building, Jason was instrumental in bringing his energy,” Proctor said.

Proctor said although he was “The Voice of the Trojans,” Jason was more than that. He was a family man who carried a lot of pride. 

Proctor referred to Jason’s battle with cancer as David and Goliath.

“He may not physically defeat Goliath but spiritually and mentally, he was winning,” Proctor said. 

Throughout Mueller’s treatment, Proctor said Jason showed his strength to those around him.

“I think one of the most incredible pieces of this whole thing with Jason is he wouldn’t want to be considered a celebrity or an icon at Center Grove,” he said. 

Proctor said the bigger message about Jason was taking some of the things he did and applying it to other people who were going through struggles in their lives. He said Jason would want everyone to make sure they invested in their community.

Scott Knapp, Center Grove athletic director, said Jason connected with the kids immediately, especially the student athletes. When those kids grew up through middle school and high school, he stayed connected with them. 

“He’s irreplaceable,” Knapp said. “He was a special, special talent.”

Prior to becoming the athletic director, Knapp worked as the assistant athletic director, and part of that role was to create the script for the PA announcer. He built that relationship through working on the script throughout the week.

“He knew those kids and families which made it special and unique,” Knapp said. “It’s not just a guy up there announcing names. He knew who they were.”

After his passing, his wife said she received stories from a lot of people from students, coworkers and various members of the community about how Jason helped them and made an impact in their lives.

Hannah said he was like Santa Claus because he was there for everybody. He’s been planting seeds for 20 years, as a teacher and now Hannah gets to watch those seeds grow.

Richard K. “Rick” Myers

By Gus Pearcy

Richard K. “Rick” Myers, 59, co-owner of Grow Local Media, died Oct. 14 at his Avon home surrounded by family following a long illness. He was the publisher of the Hendricks County ICON, Hendricks County Business Leader, Center Grove ICON and The Southside Times and a dedicated public servant to many Central Indiana communities.

Myers was a visionary with an unbridled passion for newspapers. He believed content was king. He encouraged new ideas but generated many assignments through his conversations with people in the community. He instinctively knew what people wanted to read and delivered it each issue.

But his heart was with his wife, Catherine and family.

Born Oct. 22, 1961, in Indianapolis to the late Robert and Mary Ellen Myers, Rick grew up just outside of Haughville in Wayne Township. When the family went on vacation, the first thing he would do is ask his dad for money to go buy a local newspaper.

“I learned early on that the newspaper was a mirror of the community,” Myers said in a podcast recorded in April. Listen to the entire recording at

As a senior at Crispus Attucks High School, he worked in The Indianapolis Star and News mailroom and moved up to copy boy before he was a sports clerk taking scores by phone on Friday nights. 

Myers graduated from Vincennes University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a photography emphasis from Ball State University. Later, he earned a master’s degree in youth development from Kansas State University.

He worked as a sportswriter at then new The Greenwood Gazette where he met his longtime friend and business partner Brian Kelly. 

“No one had a greater passion for our industry than Rick, and that’s why he was so successful,” Kelly said. “Nothing made him happier than serving the community, his customers and his readers.”

After Greenwood was sold to Central Newspapers, Myers eventually transferred to the former Hendricks County Flyer. In 2005 he and Kelly launched the Hendricks County Business Leader under the corporate publishing group Times-Leader Publications. The company also purchased The Southside Times, a publication that served southern Marion County and expanded to northern Johnson County.

Since then, in an era when many newspapers are shuttering and shrinking, Myers created general news publications, the Hendricks County ICON and Center Grove ICON

Myers was a leader in the Kiwanis Club of Avon, Rotary Club of Greenwood and Knights of Columbus St. Malachy Council 12540. He was named Range Line Pioneer (Carmel) in 1995 and received the Avon Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Professional Award in 2009. Leadership Hendricks County recently honored Myers with the Suzanne Whicker Distinguished Service Award.

In 2020, Myers was named in Editor & Publisher magazine’s inaugural “15 Over 50: Honoring the Leaders Driving the News Industry Forward.” He served as board president for Aspire (formerly the Greater Greenwood Chamber of Commerce) as well as the Hendricks College Network.

“I will forever remember Rick as a caring and compassionate individual who had an amazing zest for life,” said Erin Smith, Center Grove resident and owner of Spotlight Strategies. “He knew how important providing accurate and relevant information was to establish a great sense of community.”

David Michael ‘Mike’ Swango

By Jonie Gates

Several former area coaches and teachers socialize weekly over breakfast in Johnson County. David Michael “Mike” Swango, a Bedford-area native who taught classes and coached at Center Grove Community School Corporation beginning in 1968, is often fond fodder for outings these days. They lost their 79-year-old friend and colleague in September, but he lives on in their stories.

“The guy had a swing, I tell you,” said Rick Peyton, retired teacher at Prairie Township.

Swango’s 31-year impact on students and sports is legendary. He had small-town charm, coupled with humor and integrity. Swango was Peyton’s eighth-grade history teacher and basketball coach. “He had an impact on how you see life,” said Peyton.

Peyton gives a nod to Swango’s likability. “When his son Jonathan was born, he missed a few practices and the whole seventh- and eighth-grade teams crowded into his tiny office to yell ‘congratulations.’ That was over 50 years ago.” 

“Mike was an excellent golfer; he taught both of my sons and they had great respect for him,” said Bill Paddack, member and former executive director of the Indiana State Senior Golf Association, where Swango also served a three-year stint as a board director.

When Swango taught additional sports while working in other Indiana school districts, the common thread among coaching friends always came back to golf. 

Jim Williams, English teacher at Center Grove, paid tribute to Swango for influencing his coaching career. “He was a great guy,” he said. Trips to Chicago with him to see the Cubs are some of Williams’ fondest memories. But time spent as a student golfer brings out the most laughs.

“He was known for trying to find great car deals,” Williams remembered. “He bought this old Ford station wagon for $75 and the whole team would pile in. I remember going down State Road 37. If you kicked the plywood back in the floorboard, you could see the road. Nothing like we do today.”

Later, Williams would caddy for Swango in golf tournaments. “There was a sweet spot – almost a perfect circle – in the center of his iron,” he said.

Swango’s close friend Joe Lentz, also a retired coach from Center Grove, fondly recalled his late friend who had moved to Nevada with family.

“He was just a really great, super human being,” Lentz said. “He was a really good golfer. It’s a game of honor and that carried over into the rest of his life. He was a great role model. I’ve never known anyone who didn’t like him.”

Kim Bartram-Van Jelgerhuis

By Nicole Davis

When it came to helping others, Kim Bartram-Van Jelgerhuis didn’t know the word “no.” 

Kim, 62, co-founder of the Trooper Bartram Memorial Foundation, passed away on May 15, 2021.

“She never asked for anything for herself. She just wanted to do for other people,” said Patrick Etter, Master Trooper with the Indiana State Police and president/co-founder of the Trooper Bartram Memorial Foundation. “She would give the shirt off her back if she could. She was always trying to help someone else.”

When Kim’s brother, James (Pat) Bartram, was killed in a car accident while on duty in 1998, she wanted to do something to honor his memory. She began organizing poker runs in 2000 and donated the funds to the Fraternal Order of Police Post 86. State troopers would adopt families with children in need and take them shopping in memory of Trooper Bartram.

Eventually, she wanted to start her own foundation. She filed the paperwork to become a nonprofit, which was approved in 2013. She listed Etter, who had been shift partners with her brother, as president of the organization with herself as vice president. She never wanted to be the face of the organization or receive recognition.

“She did it all in honor of the fallen police officers,” Etter said. “She wanted every bit of recognition going towards them and no one else.”

That first year, the Trooper Bartram Memorial Foundation took 100 children Christmas shopping during its Christmas for Kids event, averaging $150 per child. Eventually, they maxed out at 225, Etter said. The organization would host the event at a different Walmart each year. The crowd of law enforcement officers from all over Central Indiana, children and their families filled the garden center – the event’s staging area. The foundation would also host a separate, smaller event for children with special needs.

“Kim did most of the fundraising because she was retired,” Etter said. “I didn’t have to do a whole lot. She got the Walmart grants, called a lot of businesses to get stuff donated. She was probably responsible for a quarter-million dollars or more (in donations) since we started and being able to shop for at least 2,500 kids on her own. She was committed to the organization. That became her purpose.”

Kim was living in Florida at the time with her husband, Mike Van Jelgerhuis. When it came time to do the bulk of the planning and organization for the poker run, motorcycle ride fundraiser, she would rent a hotel room on the Southside of Indianapolis for weeks, even months at a time to work on it. Eventually, she and Mike moved to Greenwood.

When Kim wasn’t fundraising for the foundation, she was finding other ways she could give back, be it to build a wheelchair ramp for a family in need or to raise money for things local law enforcement agencies could use.

Her health had fallen the past couple of years, but Kim didn’t let that – or the COVID-19 pandemic – stop her. The foundation still took 100 kids shopping in 2020, changing it from a large event to individual officers shopping with families, one at a time.

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