Harry Althoff honored by REMC, State of Indiana with ‘Sagamore of the Wabash’


Harry Althoff, a longtime member of the Switzerland and Ohio county communities; passed away unexpectedly a year ago.

A year later, the people and the organizations that he served took the time to honor him.

At the annual meeting of the Southeastern Indiana REMC on Saturday, March 28th, the cooperative took time in its business meeting to honor the man who had served REMC as its Board President for many years with some very special awards.

At the forefront was when State Representative Randy Frye came to the podium to tell the audience that Indiana Governor Mike Pence had honored Althoff with the ‘Sagamore of the Wabash’ – the highest honor that a person can earn in the state.

On hand for the presentation was Althoff’s widow, Ethel; and son Alan.

The award presentation was coordinated by Barry Lauber and other members of the leadership team at REMC, along will support from Representative Frye.

In the letter asking for the honor, REMC wrote:

Following is Harry Althoff’s bio and some personnel remarks about the man, his character and how he led by example – a good Christian role model who took nothing for granted and never took advantage of his fellow man.

Harry Wayne Althoff was born November 23, 1932 in Fairview, Indiana where he spent his life in business and cattle farming. He was a 1950 graduate of Vevay High School. In 1954 harry began a partnership with his father-in-law, Everett Oatman in the Althoff & Oatman Feed Mill in Bear Branch, Indiana. Later he co-owned and co-operated A & W Milling, Inc. in Bear Branch, as well as the Bear Branch General Store. He passed away April 8, 2014.

Harry was married in 1952 to the late Wilma Oatman and they had one son, Alan Wayne. They were married for 34 years until her death in 1986. Harry later married Ethel Mae Curry and they shared 27 years of marriage until Harry’s untimely death in 2014.

Harry’s community service included serving on the board of directors of Southeastern Indiana REMC from 1968 until 2014; serving as secretary of the board from 1977-1995 and then served as President of the Board from 1995 until his death.

He also served as a board member representing Southeastern Indiana REMC on the Hoosier Energy Board of Directors, a position he would hold for 24 years. In his Hoosier Energy board capacity, he co-chaired the Operations Committee which dealt with transmission lines, substations, fuel procurement, and EPA regulations. He never missed a board meeting in all his years of service.

He was formerly a Republican Precinct Committeeman for Pike Township in Ohio County for many years. He was a deacon for the Olive Branch Baptist Church in Bear Branch as well as being a charter member of the Bear Branch Volunteer Department from 1969 until his death. He was a former reserve deputy for the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department and served on the building committee for the Ohio County Elementary/Middle School in Rising Sun.

Harry was a member of the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association and the Farmer’s Mutual Aid Society. The new fire house/community building in Bear Branch was named after Harry Althoff in appreciation for his dedicated service and devotion to his community.


“From REMC’s perspective, Harry was an individual who served in many important positions,” Barry Lauber said this week. “He served as President of the board for many years. He always had a servant’s heart. Very much a gentleman. He never took advantage of anyone. He was the epitome of a director as well as an employee.”

Along with the Sagamore presentation, Althoff’s family was also presented with a plaque of appreciation from REMC for his year’s a service.

The plaque, in part, reads:

“He was a man of honesty and integrity in business, politics, and community service, and a protector of life and property as a Charter Member of the Bear Branch Fire Department. He will be missed, but never forgotten.”

“It was our privilege to have worked with him here,” Lauber said. “He was always dependable. He always put our employees first and foremost, as well as for all members. The list goes on and on. He was just a great man.”