During a recent walk to Murray Forest, two carvings on the side of a church caught my attention. One was of a man, the sun behind his head, wings in front, with the epigraph “Courage.”
The other was of a woman, same arrangement, with the epigraph “Virtue.”
My first thought was that these felt a bit lodge-y, like something you’d see associated with the Freemasons. The building looked like a church but the inscription on the building was Warren Dean Jones Memorial Christian Fellowship Center, and a cornerstone marked 1949.
After some searching for the name Warren Dean Jones, I found that he was a 17 year old high school senior in 1948 when he came home from basketball practice feeling ill. He was the center and leading scorer for the Bedford High School Cutters that year. His parents called the doctor to examine him but he died of an apparent heart attack before the doctor arrived.
The community appears to have been deeply affected by his death. Not only was the building (apparently) built in his memory, there is a unique marker at his Beech Grove Cemetery grave: a limestone basketball.
(For those who don’t know, Bedford was one of the world’s great producers of limestone and we have some excellent limestone carvings in town from the time when the industry was at its height and there were great carvers here. The high school’s name above is a reference to stone cutters.)
Buried alongside Warren are his parents.
The limestone basketball is worn at this point and wouldn’t be distinguishable as a basketball from a distance. (There’s a better picture of it at the link a few paragraphs back.) This story feels uniquely Bedford in that it involves both basketball and a limestone memorial. Basketball is an extremely important sport in Indiana, and nowhere more so than in Bedford.
The building that bears Warren’s name was the home of the Girls’ Club from 1972 to 2002, when it moved to its new location. I believe it was also briefly the home of Becky’s Place, a local shelter for women and children. It appears to be vacant now.
I have several questions related to this story. Namely:
- Was the building built (not simply named) in memory of Warren? It would appear so, given the date on the cornerstone.
- What else was the building used for? I found one reference to it being used for church league basketball in 1966.
- What is the origin and purpose of the carvings? They still feel lodge-y to me. Why those epigraphs? Are the people meant to be identifiable individuals?
- Why was the date of death for his father not on the stone? Is he not buried there? I can’t find his obituary online but the obituary for Warren’s mother says that she used to live in Holiday, FL. Maybe he is buried there? He died ten years before her in 1989.
These are all questions with discoverable answers; I just can’t find them online right now. My first stop would be the Lawrence County Museum if I decide to pursue them. If you have any answers please send them to email@example.com.
In any case, rest in peace, Warren Dean Jones.