Editor’s note: This post is Part 16 of “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” a special retrospective revisiting some of the stories Bloom has published since its inception in 2006. The details in these stories have not been changed since they were originally written, but we have provided updates when possible. Each story highlights an individual who contributed to making Bloomington a compassionate, diverse, and creative community. For more stories from “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” click here.
John “Spider” Miller: Golfer
Last August, local golf legend John Miller was selected to head the 2015 USA Walker Cup Team in the competition pitting America’s top amateurs against their British and Irish counterparts.
Nicknamed “Spider” because of his boyhood penchant for climbing, Miller, 63, played for the U.S. team in 1999, having twice won the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championships.
To Miller, playing for the Walker Cup is the higher honor. “My goal was always to make the team. Being named captain is the greatest golf honor I’ve ever been given.”
The 1973 Indiana University graduate honed his golf skills at the university driving range. “Every time I contribute to IU, I’m just paying it back for all those golf balls I hit.”
David Anspaugh: Back in Bloomington Where It All Began
Bloomington is once again home for filmmaker David Anspaugh, who attended Indiana University from 1965–69.
Five years after leaving IU for Aspen, Colorado, Anspaugh followed his friend Angelo Pizzo to the University of Southern California to study film production. There, he made a sudden and unexpected splash. “I started to believe that maybe there is something going on here,” he says, so he took his first directing class. “It changed my life.”
Anspaugh went on to direct episodes of the hit television shows Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice before collaborating with screenwriter Pizzo to create the monumental films Hoosiers and Rudy.
Anspaugh says he hopes to begin teaching directing and is excited to get to work on an upcoming Bloomington Playwrights Project production.
Jim Madison: A New Look at Indiana’s Past
After earning his Ph.D. in history at Indiana University, Jim Madison and his wife, Jeanne, left town in 1972, imagining they might never again call Bloomington home. But they returned within a year, when Madison became the newest faculty member in his beloved history department at IU.
Madison, 69, retired from IU in 2011 after having won numerous awards for his teaching and writing, including his seven books. His best-known work, The Indiana Way: A State History, was published in 1986 and is widely regarded as the state’s definitive history.
Now Madison has written his eighth book—Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana, which will be published this July. “History is not carved in stone,” Madison says, “even limestone; the discipline and the stories are constantly developing.”
Ron & Carol Remak: Mentors to Young Marrieds
Three Sundays each month, Ron and Carol Remak welcome 12 couples into their home to talk about strengthening their marriages. “No one takes a class in what it’s like to be married,” says Ron, president of Bill C. Brown Associates, which provides insurance and financial planning services. “Carol and I have been together 34 years now. This is an opportunity to give back in a way that relates to what I’m most thankful for.”
Their Christian-based get-togethers include social time, prayer, and discussion of a video or book about relationships.
Bill Breeden: Peace Activist
Bill Breeden is a humble man with an extraordinary claim: “I consider myself the luckiest guy on the planet,” he says.
“And I’d be willing to debate that with anyone.” From evangelical preacher to passionate peace activist to minor player in the Iran-Contra scandal, the Odon, Indiana, native has covered a lot of ground in his 65 years.
Breeden is best-known for having appropriated a street sign in his hometown that honored Odon’s John Poindexter, national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan. For a long time, Breeden was the only person to serve jail time for anything related to the Iran-Contra Affair (felony theft of that $35 street sign), an incident that became the topic of a 1994 PBS documentary, The Times of a Sign.
Melanie Castillo-Cullather: Director, Asian Culture Center
Arriving in Bloomington in 1993, Melanie Castillo- Cullather was a disoriented newcomer and a newlywed with a serious case of culture shock.
Born and raised in the Philippines, she came here via Washington, D.C., with her husband, Nick Cullather, an assistant professor in Indiana University’s history department. “I wondered, ‘Where am I?’ The Midwest was very alien to me,” Castillo-Cullather remembers.
Now, she is one of Bloomington’s ultimate insiders. Since 1999, she has served as director of IU’s Asian Culture Center (ACC). Under her leadership, ACC produces close to 100 programs and events annually and, after 15 years at the center, Castillo-Cullather still sees opportunities to expand its reach.
Barry Wallock: Downtown Specialist
Downtown Bloomington is nearly deserted when Barry Wallock hits the streets at 6:30 a.m., whether it’s dark, cold, or rainy.
He doesn’t mind. He loves his job cleaning the street and sidewalks, even though it’s a bit unconventional for a 68-year-old retired business owner. “When I knew I was getting bored with one business, I went looking for something else,” he says.
Now, Wallock is the City of Bloomington’s Downtown Specialist. It’s a job he takes seriously and does with a passion.
“I’m happy to do what I do,” says Wallock, who considers this “retirement” work. “I’ll do this as long as they’ll have me,” he says. “I’m not one of these people who looks forward to sitting on a beach.”
Nate Powell: Illustrator of Best-Seller About Civil Rights Leader
When graphic novelist Nate Powell first learned that an illustrated memoir of congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis was in the works, he couldn’t have guessed that it would rise to number one on The New York Times’ Graphic Books bestseller list—or that he would be the illustrator.
Powell collaborated with Lewis and co-author Andrew Aydin on the three-volume series entitled March, the name alluding to the 1963 March on Washington which Lewis helped organize alongside Martin Luther King Jr. “John is the genuine article,” says Powell. “It’s been a very transforming experience personally.”
Dawn Johnsen: Law Professor
Four years ago, Dawn Johnsen withdrew her name from consideration as President Barack Obama’s choice to become assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the president on all legal matters.
It was a telling harbinger of the Congressional gridlock, and to use Johnsen’s term, obstructionism, that will be a legacy of the Obama presidency. Johnsen, 52, a professor of constitutional law in the Maurer School of Law at Indiana University, had served as acting assistant attorney general under President Bill Clinton from 1997-98.
Johnsen’s nomination languished for 14 months before the Bloomington resident stepped aside. “My life was very disrupted for more than a year, with personal, professional, and financial costs not only to me, but to my husband, John Hamilton, and our two sons,” she says.
With Johnsen by his side, Hamilton went on to become mayor of Bloomington.