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Nelson named 2023 Flint Springs Tribe Chief

John Nelson (left), 2023 Flint Springs Tribe Chief, chats with former chiefs Wilford Hahn, 1998 chief, and Jim Scheiber, 2014 chief, following the ceremony.
Photo by Joseph Slacian

Honest. Trustworthy. Kind. Considerate. Caring. Humble. Stan Bippus, the 2022 Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe, used those words to describe his replacement, John Nelson, the 2023 Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe. Nelson received the honor Thursday morning, June 15, during the 54th annual Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe Breakfast at the Historic Forks of the Wabash. Bippus used the opinions of others to describe Nelson, an Edward Jones financial advisor based in Roanoke, but tried to keep the introduction as basic as possible so as the audience couldn’t guess early on who the honoree was. “He has a strong, but respected, opinion of those who differ from him,” Bippus said of Nelson. “Is rarely seen without a smile on his face.” Another described Nelson as “one of the hardest working people I’ve ever known,” Bippus continued. “In fact, some people think that the future chief actually has a sibling that is an exact twin and is in hiding and does some of the work because this individual cannot possibly accomplish all the things that he or she does.” But, Bippus noted jokingly, that there are some concerning aspects to the new chief’s life. For example, he said, the new chief has been a part of a gambling ring for the past 25 years. (Nelson has been a part of an Indianapolis 500 pool during that time. In addition, Bippus said, the new chief doesn’t “demonstrate loyalty for Indiana professional teams.” (He is a Denver Broncos fan.) “We’re also a little concerned about the university he attended, because it’s not one of the more respected ones in Indiana,” Bippus joked. (Nelson is a 1983 graduate of Purdue University and takes his giant Purdue flag on vacations and takes pictures with family members at different vacation spots.) Nelson said he was surprised and honored to have been awarded the Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe designation. “I am very humbled and honored,” he told The Tab following the ceremony. “There were many folks in this room that are deserving. It’s just been an honor and a privilege over the years to have served various entities in Huntington County.” Nelson has been president of the Roanoke Youth Sports for more than 10 years, and also has been a board member of the Roanoke Beautification Foundation for that long. He has been a board member of A Renaissance in Roanoke for more than 12 years, and president of the Roanoke Fall Festival for more than 15 years. Nelson also is a past chair of the Parkview Foundation, has been active in Huntington County’s United Way, is a Parkview Huntington Hospital board member and is a member of the Huntington County Community Foundation. He also is president-elect of the Rotary Club and is a member of the Cosmopolitan Club. Nelson also volunteers with the Roanoke Farmers Market and the Roanoke Car Show. As his first duty as chief, Nelson read a proclamation opening the 2023 Heritage Days Festival. As one of his final duties as 2022 Chief, Bippus presented the Chief’s Legacy Gift (a $500 check) to New Life Ministries. Bippus and Nelson, who also served as emcee for Thursday’s breakfast, were just two of several speakers at the event. Huntington Mayor Richard Strick discussed the city’s 175th anniversary. “Demisemiseptcentennial is a real word,” he said. “You could choose another word, because when it comes to words like that, everyone disagrees on which one is the proper word, but that’s the one we went with. “That is a ten-dollar word that means it is the 175th anniversary of the founding of the town in 1948 and recognition by the governor of the State of Indiana at the time. It also is the 150th anniversary of leveling up from a town to a city in 1873.” Strick talked about a video about the community in which participants were asked what word comes to mind when thinking about the city. “The word that comes to mind for me, that I couldn’t shake from my mind, was overlooked,” he said. “Throughout much of our history, Huntington has been an underrated footnote in the minds of many in this region, in this state and sometimes even amongst our own population. But we know better than that, don’t we?” The mayor discussed several former residents who had a big impact locally, in Indiana, in the national and in the world. Some of those mentioned were Helen Purviance, who became known as the first Salvation Army “Doughnut Girl” for serving the sweet treats to soldiers in France during World War I, Elizabeth Smith Friedman, an American cryptanalyst who deciphered enemy codes in World War I and World War II, and former Vice President Dan Quayle, himself an honorary Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe. Strick also pointed out several local businesses and industries also are playing significant roles across the nation and world. “Who can say what talent is bubbling up through Huntington County Community Schools today?” he asked. “Huntington County Community Schools, our local Home School Association, Huntington Catholic and Huntington University are laboratories of talent and development for us.” Strick urged those in attendance to not “sleep on Huntington. Now is our time to double up again and face our challenges head on.” Steve Kimmel, Huntington County Chamber of Commerce executive director, played off the demisemiseptcentennial during his brief remarks about Heritage Days’ 60th anniversary. “Our word is ‘carnycarshowhotairballoonseptcentennial,’” he joked. Heritage Days began in 1963 and was established to recognize community, cooperation and pride, he said. “The success of that first event has grown through the years and has become one of Huntington’s most popular,” Kimmel said. “Sixty years of Heritage Days is no small task, either. It takes a lot of people giving selflessly of their talent, and they make this happen every year. “Heritage Days brings families and friends together. It’s about putting smiles on the faces of children of all ages and creating memories for a lifetime. “It’s about community and it’s about remembering our past and the people who made Huntington what it is today.” The hope is that younger generations will continue to be involved with the festival, Kimmel said. “Heritage Days is a tradition that has been passed from generation to generation. Our prayer is that sixty years from today, a group of community minded individuals … will be celebrating 120 years of Heritage Days.”