It was 20 years ago, in November 1998, that Michael Miller came to live in Mooresville. He had graduated from the Indiana University School of Optometry in 1991. After several years with the Indiana Eye Clinic in Greenwood, he had decided he wanted a private practice of his own. He began the search for an optometrist who was ready to retire or sell his practice. He learned about Dr. Bill Kirby in Mooresville. Dr. Kirby had about four decades serving the Mooresville community.
Looking at the beginning
Miller grew up in a small town in northern Indiana called Plymouth. His mother had developed early onset macular degeneration and had been legally blind since the age of 28. He understood the challenges visually impaired persons faced on a daily basis. Driving, in particular, was an issue. She needed special permits and could only drive under certain restrictions. Living out in the country made it a more of a hardship. When Miller and his sister earned their driver’s licenses, it was easier for the family.
The personal understanding of the importance of eyesight, along with his interest in science and mathematics, led him to the medical field, particularly relating to the study of sight and sight correction. He was not interested in medical school or actually performing surgery on eyes. With that in mind, and because all of his family, including himself, wore glasses or contacts, his thoughts turned to optometry. “We developed a really good relationship with the family eye doctor,” Miller said. “He was very encouraging and supportive of me going into optometry.”
Although Jeff Faull was following four generations of preachers when he graduated from high school at 17, he found himself as an apprentice meat cutter on his way to a life as a butcher. He still felt the call for theological training, which led him to Cincinnati Christian University. His intentions were to complete a semester and then go back home to Indiana and the apprenticeship.
It wasn’t his pastoral calling that held him back. “I struggled with stage fright,” Faull said. “I had an unwillingness to be in front of people.” Being in front of people is one of the essential skills needed by a preacher and Faull knew it from watching his father and grandfather.
Part of the course of study at the Bible school was being part of teams sent out to other churches in the region. “A leader (at the Bible school) took me under his wing and instilled some self-confidence in me,” Faull said. “I was coerced into giving the message at a country church in Kentucky. The moment I stepped down from that platform, I knew what I was going to do with my life.”
Talk with Larry Elsner about business or life and he is quick to say that he does not really make plans. In the next breath he is saying he is a workaholic who must always be doing something, and he says his wife Donell would confirm that. Take a walk around the lovely grounds on the outskirts of Martinsville that are home to Cedar Creek Winery, Cedar Creek Brew Co. and Cedar Creek Distillery and you will see the results of a family doing something.
Larry’s son, Bryce, quickly qualifies his father’s statement about always staying busy. “He does everything to the best of his capabilities,” Bryce said.
Larry, son Bryce, and daughter Alyssa Sims work together to operate the special attraction referred to as Drink at the Creek, with each one owning their own business that contributes to the whole.
If you have ever resided in Morgan County, especially in Martinsville, it is very likely that your life has been touched by Ruth Rusie in some way. This remarkable woman will turn 100 years old this October. Although that is a wonderful achievement, the list of what Rusie has contributed to the community and county since she came to Martinsville in the 1940s is extensive, wide-ranging, and amazing.
Her involvement and contributions are too many to list comprehensively. Some include service to the Morgan County Coalition for Literacy, the Morgan County Public Library Foundation Board, the Martinsville Education Foundation Board, the Martinsville Literacy Club, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, Greater Martinsville Chamber of Commerce, Community Foundation, City of Martinsville, United Way and the First Presbyterian Church in Martinsville.
Rusie has been honored and recognized for her service. In 2008, she was named grand marshal of the 49th annual festival parade at her alma mater, DePauw University. In 2014, she was named Senior Volunteer of the Year by CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions, and in 2015 she received the Legacy Award from the Community Foundation of Morgan County.
It was a proud moment for Bill Fite when he went to his grandmother to seek her approval to resurrect the business name of Fite Plumbing. She was excited about the revival, telling him to “absolutely bring Fite Plumbing back out!” With her blessing, the second iteration of Fite Plumbing opened on January 1, 1989. It is another proud moment for Bill Fite to host the grand opening of the new Fite Plumbing location this month.
Fite’s grandfather had operated a plumbing business for many years on the west side of Indianapolis. Several other Fite family members worked in the business. As a boy, Bill would be in and out of the plumbing supply barn next door. “We would build forts and there were always plumbing pipes in them, as grab bars or weapons, not for running water. I would ride the back hoe with him, too.” When Fite was in junior high school, his grandfather died, and the business was dissolved.
Over summer breaks in high school, Fite worked in a local plumbing business and after graduating, he worked there to pay for college. He says that he really enjoyed construction plumbing and always figured he would eventually be a builder in some way.
When Martinsville native Jeff Main left for college, economics was his major. He was interested in economics, but his primary objective in selecting DePauw University was both more focused, and broader. “My intention in college was to learn to learn,” Main said. “I tried to develop a broad-based knowledge and understanding of business, but then learn how to apply a variety of skills.”
His first job was as a bank examiner for the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions. After three years, it was a personal connection with fellow church member, Charlie Horrell, that changed his course. Horrell asked Main to join him in opening an office of Hilliard Lyons in Martinsville. “Charlie was in business in the Bloomington office and saw a need and opportunity in Martinsville,” Main said. “He became my mentor and senior partner in the business.”
Main says that for the first part of his career it wasn’t his position to think organizationally. “But it informed my beliefs,” Main said. “I learned from other talented people and I learned to trust the things they emphasized. Because of them I developed the confidence to put my own thoughts into practice.”
The heart of the services the Hilliard Lyons teams in Bloomington and Martinsville provide is helping families and businesses save, plan, invest, and manage their money and assets.
For individuals and families, Main and his team work toward goals such as securing lasting assets for retirement, savings for college educations, and transitioning wealth from one generation to another.