Alumni: Obituaries

George K. Englehart, BA’42, was 93 when he died Dec. 3, 2015. He was a longtime Courier-Journal Indianapolis bureau chief, covering politics national politics and elections, the Indiana Statehouse and Southern Indiana news. He also wrote a political column for years before retiring in 1984. Englehart was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1987 and was the first president of the IU Journalism Alumni Association.

Katherine Virginia Patton Sinn, BA’49, longtime academic adviser in the former School of Journalism, died March 17, 2017. Sinn also worked as a recorder in the College of Arts & Sciences. She retired in 1988.

Betty Weesner, BA’51, died March 23 at the age of 90 in her hometown of Danville, Indiana. After earning her degree in journalism from IU, Weesner returned to Danville to cover the happenings of the town over eight decades, including a visit from former President Ronald Reagan.

N.V.K. Murthy, MA’56, died on Aug. 2, 2017. During his career in India, he was the head of the Department of Journalism at Osmania University in Hyderabad, India; producer of newsreels at the Films Division in Mumbai; registrar of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi; chief executive of the Film Finance Corporation of India in Mumbai; director of the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune; and director of the Nehru Centre in Mumbai. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1985 by the Indian government for his contribution to films and television. 

Ellen Hackney, BA’60, died Oct. 7, 2017, at age 79. She was editor of the North American Retail Hardware Association magazine for 49 years before retiring in 2009. Hackney authored a history of NRHA and wrote and edited in-depth research reports on the home improvement industry. She was a longtime member of the former School of Journalism Alumni Board, serving as secretary of the board from 1984 to 2006. Hackney was also an active member of Women in Communications Inc.

Bill Plummer, BS’73, died of injuries resulting from a car accident April 9, 2016, at 71. ​He worked for the Amateur Softball Association for more than 30 years, filling roles such as communications coordinator and the National Softball Hall of fame services manager. As a sports writer, he contributed to 14 books, authoring one and co-authoring two. His book, The Game America Plays: Celebrating 75 Years of the Amateur Softball Association, was published in 2008. In retirement, he was a contributing editor to Fast Pitch Magazine and a writer for CollegeSportsMadness.com.

Sue A. Lafky, MA’86, PhD’90, died in Portland, Oregon, Dec. 12, 2015 after battling brain cancer for 20 years. Lafky, professor emerita of journalism and mass communication at the University of Iowa, was 62. She began her education in her home state at the University of Oregon. After receiving her bachelor’s degree there, she received a master’s and Ph.D. degree from Indiana University. As a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, Lafky received the Presidential Service Award in 1995, the Baskette Mosse Award for Faculty Development in 1996 and the MaryAnn Yodelis Smith Research Award in 1998. Lafky was a founding editor of the journal Feminist Teacher and worked at newspapers including  the Herald-Times in Bloomington and Portland’s Oregonian.

Scott Barnes, BA’88, died Sept. 9, 2017, at age 50. Barnes was the web content specialist and SEO editor for the American Medical Association and a renowned professional photographer specializing in headshots, creative portraits and fine art. His work was featured in New York City, Chicago, Quebec City, Miami and Indianapolis as well as in international books and calendars. He was a Best Emerging Artist nominee at the GLAAD Art Auction in 2011. Barnes volunteered for the NCAA swimming and diving championship and Indiana Youth Group prior to moving to Chicago. In his time at IU, Barnes was a member of Sigma Delta Chi.

Eric Edward Hauck, BAJ’91, died on Oct. 2, 2015, at age 48. Hauck earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in journalism from IU. He spent several years in Bloomington working as a web developer and teaching journalism courses.

Joyce Nyakato, MA’15, was 29 years old when she died Sept. 2, 2015. She was diagnosed with three brain tumors in July and hospitalized in August.  Nyakato was born in Uganda and was a writer at New Vision, one of the country’s largest newspapers. She travelled to Uganda last summer with professor Jim Kelly to help with a summer class that reports on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A fund has been set up to raise money to send Nyakato’s body back to her family in Uganda for burial.

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