Herod Andrew (Pete) Toon, Jr., of Plainfield, passed away peacefully on April 3, 2017, surrounded by family, after living a rich, fulfilling, and memorable life of 91 years.
Pete was born in New Bethel, Indiana, the first son of Herod Toon, Sr. and Lottie Marie Wickliff. From an early age he excelled as an athlete, both on the baseball diamond and the basketball court. At Franklin Central High School in Marion County, the slugging catcher helped his team, the Flashes, win the county baseball championship in 1943. When he wasn't on the receiving end, he ably moved to the mound, whizzing fastballs by opposing hitters. He graduated from Franklin Central at 16, where he played both basketball and baseball. He credits his Coach, Angus Nicoson, with having a great impact on his athletic career.
At age 17, he joined the farm team of the Chicago Cubs. Homesick, he returned to the family farm after a few weeks. He then spent a semester at Indiana University on a basketball scholarship, again returning home due to homesickness. This actually worked out for the best since he was recruited by Coach Paul D. (Tony) Hinkle to play on full scholarship for Butler University in Indianapolis, which was closer to home. He lettered in both basketball and baseball, graduating in 1948. Coach Hinkle liked 'farm boys' because they were disciplined and strong and became an important mentor during his college years.
On the court, Pete helped Butler establish itself as an up-and-coming force among basketball programs in the Midwest. During his tenure with the Bulldogs, he developed a reputation for his clutch late-game play and helped Butler compile a 56-28 record during his time on the team.
He was equally skilled as a ballplayer on the diamond. Pete started as an infielder for Butler for four seasons, leading the team in batting average as a senior and captained the team from 1946-1948. He also won the Andy Williams Memorial Award in 1946, the university's highest recognition of sportsmanship.
He earned the nickname "Hero" from his teammates for his penchant for the big play. In one such example - against Indiana State, he clubbed a game-winning home run in the 12th inning to lift Butler to a 7-6 win and the Indiana Intercollegiate Conference Championship. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and Phi Delta Kappa, an education honorary. He was the first in his family to graduate from college and went on to earn a Masters Degree from Indiana University in 1964.
During the summers, Pete continued playing baseball for several seasons, competing with the P.R. Mallory & Company team, which won the Indianapolis City Title in 1947 and '48. While playing for P. R. Mallory, he met his future wife, Dorothy Anne Jose. They were married for 63 years, until her death in 2012. He credits her as the stabilizing force in his life, who always encouraged his career development. He also greatly enjoyed her gourmet cooking.
Pete had a long, distinguished career in public education throughout the state of Indiana and showed that he was just as adept at teaching the game and educating young people. He coached, taught health, physical education, driver's education, and English at Milroy High School, Knightstown High School, and Plainfield High School. During these 12 combined years as a basketball coach, he was very proud of his compiled record of 145 wins / 88 losses.
At Plainfield High School his teams won 2 mid-state conference championships in basketball, as well as 3 straight mid-state conference championships in baseball. His most famous player, Dell Harris, went on to coach the NBA teams: Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Lakers, and was selected NBA Coach of the Year in 1995.
He then spent 29 years in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township, starting as a Guidance Counselor at Fulton Jr. High School, a Guidance Counselor and then Guidance Director at Ben Davis High School, and retiring in 1991, after serving 20 years in the position of Assistant Principal at Ben Davis High School.
To support his growing family, in addition to the academic year, he worked during the summers as the Recreational Director of Parks in Plainfield, did construction work, was employed by the State Highway Department, and worked as a night security guard. In addition, for 20 years, he officiated IHSAA and college baseball, basketball, and football games.
Pete was a member of the Plainfield United Methodist Church, for over 60 years. He worked on Christmas Tree Sales, was co-sponsor of the Methodist Youth Fellowship, and co-chairman of the Methodist Fish Fry, along with his wife Dottie. He was a fifty+ year member of the Plainfield Masonic Lodge and was awarded the Good Government Award by the Plainfield Jaycees.
As a charter member of the Plainfield Elks Club, he enjoyed playing golf regularly with his group of friends. He frequently won tournaments and proudly recorded 5 'holes-in-one'. He was also recognized with the Elks Member of the Year Award.
As a civic-minded person, who believed citizens should actively participate in their communities, he served on the Plainfield Town Board for 12 years, and as the President for 3 years.
Through example, Pete taught us that honesty is priceless and rare and that wisdom and knowledge are treasures that must be sought throughout life. He was someone who got respect because he deserved it, trust because he earned it, and love because of all he was. We will miss him and cherish all the wonderful memories we shared together. We will always feel his love in our hearts and will proudly carry it with us.
He was preceded in death by the love of his life, his wife of 63 years, Dorothy Jose Toon, his sister, Clara B. Toon, and his grandson, Christopher E. Manzanares.
He is survived by his four children: Terrence Toon of Plainfield, Deborah Toon and husband Carlos Manzanares of Texas, Beth Crider and husband Don Barron of Indianapolis, and Tami Toon and husband Ward Wojciehowski of Wisconsin, and grandchildren: Charlie Manzanares, Christina Manzanares, Sarah Crider, Ashley Crider and her husband Kevin Barth, Drew Wojciehowski, Abby Wojciehowski and her husband Alec Shelander, Aidan Wojciehowski, Austin Wojciehowski, and great-granddaughter Lauren Barth.
The family will be available from 2:00-4:00 p.m., Saturday, April 22 2017, at the Plainfield United Methodist Church, 600 Simmons St., Plainfield, to share your memories. A memorial celebration of his life will begin at 4:00 p.m. You are invited to visit www.bakerfuneralservice.com. Where you may sign the guest book, share a memory with the family, or if desired, in lieu of flowers, make donations in Pete's memory to the Plainfield United Methodist Church, 600 Simmons St., Plainfield, IN 46168.
Published on April 18, 2017