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Published: Monday, 1/15/2001

Retired dispatcher was councilman in Montpelier

MONTPELIER - M. Gail John, who was a Montpelier council member and retired police and fire dispatcher, died Friday in Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind. He was 74.

His wife, Betty, said he died from complications caused by heart problems.

The couple, who had seven children, including triplets, had celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in December.

For an anniversary present, their children gave them a trip to Las Vegas, where Mr. John became ill, causing the couple to return home early, Mrs. John said.

A native of Rock Creek, Ind., Mr. John graduated in 1945 from nearby Idaville High School, where he played basketball.

“He was tall and skinny. He played a little basketball,” Mrs. John said. “Doesn't everybody play basketball in Indiana?”

After high school, Mr. John went to work for the Wabash Railroad as a telegraph operator. He also worked for the Monon Railroad.

After his job was abolished in the late 1950s, Mr. John and two other businessmen opened Main Electronics, which sold televisions and antennas.

Mr. John left the business in the 1960s and took jobs in several factories in Montpelier. He went to work for the village of Montpelier as a dispatcher in 1978. He retired in 1988. While their children were growing up, Mr. John was a volunteer coach for the community swim and dive team, which trained and competed at the municipal pool.

Mrs. John said her husband learned to swim in the lakes near his home in Indiana.

After retiring, Mr. John ran successfully for council in 1989. “He was interested in Montpelier events and he didn't want to sit back and watch the world go by,” Mrs. John said.

He subsequently was re-elected to two more terms. He was finishing out the last year of his current four-year term and would have been up for re-election in November.

William Shatzer, who was mayor from 1989 to 1999, said Mr. John was among the council members who were instrumental in getting storm and sewer service and paved and curbed streets in the north end of the village.

“He was always interested in anything that would improve the village,” Mr. Shatzer said.

Among Mr. John's hobbies were gardening, especially fruit trees and flowers.

Surviving are his wife, Betty J.; sons, Jeffory H., Kent, Kurt, Kraig, and Scott.; daughters, Diane C. Crooks and Pamela Shaull; brothers, Lowell and Jack; sister, Pauline Tucker, and 13 grandchildren.

Services will be at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the Thompson Funeral Home, where visitation will be after 5:30 p.m. tomorrow.



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