News and Tribune

February 21, 2013

NEWS AND TRIBUNE LETTERS — For Feb. 21


Judge pays tribute to Art Decker

I would like to thank the family of Art Decker for sharing him with so many members of the community over the years. No words can adequately cover this man’s life but I would like to make a few comments about his public service. Art died recently and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Art was a U.S. Navy veteran and extremely proud of that all his life. He would frequently send me — and many others I believe — photos of majestic-looking ships or America’s troops in perfect formation. Art had the knack of finding the most unique shots one could imagine.

His sense of humor was priceless. Few people may know that he served as a room clerk-bailiff for our Night Court sessions here in Circuit Court No. 1. Cases on that docket were sometimes hotly contested. It didn’t take Art long to learn the practices of the Court and to become very helpful in moving the cases along. He was always courteous and professional.

Art’s sense of timing was near perfect. In Night Court, Art would sometimes feign to be dropping the file on the floor, with all the papers slipping out on the floor. While parties and onlookers watched, Art would slowly pick up the file documents and place them back in the file, piece by piece. I could observe the litigants at the tables watching him and getting a much-needed breather from the heat of the moment. A couple of them would smile on occasion at that poor man who dropped the file. After a time or two, I realized this was no accident. 

Art’s actions were intended to provide moments of calm in the midst of sometimes emotional, heated family law disputes of visitation and the like. He had the innate wisdom to know that the people at the tables needed a breather. Once the file was put back together, the people in the hearing proceeded in a little more relaxed mode.

At other times, and on occasions between cases, Art would approach the bench and claim he wanted to tell a quick story. It was often the case that I didn’t get his “punch line” when he first delivered it. But there were many times when the meaning of the line later hit me and I would look over at Art, roll his eyes and see him mouth the word “gotcha!” My staff also appreciated his presence and the assistance he gave.

Art enlisted in the Navy in 1961 and left the service in 1971. He served honorably in the Vietnam conflict. 

Among some of the photos Art would e-mail were beautiful scenery shots from frontier places across America that, without hesitation, can be described as awe-inspiring. Art was a humble man and these e-mail messages always evidenced that he knew something existed much greater than all of us. He was at his best talking about America and was absolutely thrilled each and every time the LST would dock at the Port of Jeffersonville.

There would be no stretch of the imagination to surmise that Art Decker is likely in a place now where he is the captain of a fully equipped first-class Navy ship. He is enjoying the wind on his face and loving every moment of being outside in the country that he loved. 

Our best wishes and condolences, from this Court, extend to Karen and her family. We were all fortunate to have benefited from this American patriot and public servant to the Clark County court system.

All of us owe an ongoing debt of gratitude to our men and women in uniform and our veterans like Art Decker. We have independent courts in this country thanks to their public service.

— Dan Moore, Judge, Clark Circuit Court No. 1, Jeffersonville

 

Park volunteer urges support

I am writing to tell your readers about a terrific natural resource in our community, the Falls of the Ohio. The existence of the Falls as a barrier to navigation is a key reason pioneers stopped and Louisville developed as a city.

Just across the Clark Memorial Bridge from where I teach at Jefferson Community & Technical College on the banks of the Ohio River is a state park which is part of the Falls of the Ohio National Wildlife Conservation Area. It is one of the most marvelous natural wonders of our area. During a visit to the park, one can reflect on important American history of our area with its connection to the Lewis and Clark Expedition as well as a visit to the George Rogers Clark cabin and the connection to his importance in the American Revolution and our pioneer heritage. One can explore the early Native American history and the significance to our area or explore the geologic past of our region with the spectacular exposures of rock outcrops, learning about the very different life and climate of the distant past. It is one of the largest exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world.

I have been a volunteer at the park for about the past 10 years. Besides the tranquil woodland trails, spectacular river vistas and beautiful natural beauty of the area it is an important educational center for the area’s children. It provides critical hands on support of their discovery of nature and science.

I am asking for support of The Falls of the Ohio Foundation’s Crossroads Campaign for New Exhibits. Community support has been amazing and we have two projects to accomplish in 2013 — to raise $900,000 and to convince the Indiana State Legislature to commit $585,000 for structural changes to the building for the exhibits.

For more information about how you can help the Crossroads Campaign for New Exhibits at the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center, call Dani Cummins at 812-283-4999.

We thank Indiana State Sen. Ron Grooms and State Rep. Steve Stemler and Rep. Ed Clere for their support in the Indiana State Legislature. And we thank the many hands that have moved this work forward, community leaders including campaign honorary chairman Jamey Aebersold, local municipalities, state government, regional foundations, corporations, and individual donors.

— Mark F. Wood, Louisville