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Joseph Satterlee Northrop


Joseph Satterlee Northrop passed from this life at 6:22 a.m. on Sunday, May 15, 2022 at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana, surrounded by his wife and children.

Joe Northrop was born at the military hospital at West Point, New York, to the Rev. Albert Hale and Florence Viola (Satterlee) Northrop on August 2, 1949.  Soon thereafter his family moved to England where his father was stationed as a Chaplain and officer in the United States Air Force.  For the first few years of his life, Joe’s family lived in a 1,000 year old medieval house in the village of Ogbourne St. George, England.  His family often had picnics at Stonehenge where Joe and his siblings would climb on the stones.

Joe moved around quite a bit after England due to his father being in the Air Force, living in Illinois, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia, and Maine.  He attended Wheelus High School at Wheelus Air Force Base in Tripoli, Libya, North Africa.  His family’s house was directly across the street from the Mediterranean Sea.  He was voted ‘Most Academic’ of the Class of 1967 and played baseball.  Joe and his family were evacuated from the air base and transported to Germany days before his scheduled graduation due to the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and pending invasion.

Joe attended DePauw University where he earned a B.A. in Political Science with an Economics minor in 1971, and he managed the school’s baseball team.  Most importantly though, it was at DePauw where he met the love of his life, Lynne Utter of Akron, Indiana.  Theirs was a whirlwind romance that led to marriage in June of 1970, and a 52 year union that never waned.

Joe attended law school at Indiana University Bloomington where he earned his J.D. in 1974.  He attended every home basketball game between 1971 and 1974.  Joe was a member of the U.S. Air Force R.O.T.C. in law school, and upon graduation was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force.  He was assigned as a Judge Advocate General (JAG), and served on active duty before moving to Huntington and continuing as a commissioned officer in the Air Force Reserve.  He served his country honorably for 29 years, retiring in 2002 as a Lt. Colonel.  At retirement, he was the Staff Judge Advocate for the 434th Air Refueling Wing at Grissom Air Reserve Base in Peru, Indiana, the head of the JAG Office, and the base commander’s lead legal advisor.  He completed Air War College, Squadron Officer’s School, and Air Command and Staff College.  He received the Air Force Commendation Medal twice and the Meritorious Service Medal twice, as well as various other decorations.  He spent time each summer stationed at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall in Mildenhall, England.

Joe and his family moved to Huntington in 1975 when he was hired by the late William “Bill” Mills.  Bill was the Huntington County Prosecutor and Joe served as the Chief Deputy Prosecutor from 1975 to 1978, followed by engaging in the private practice of law as Mills and Northrop until 1997.  Mills and Northrop hired Chris Goff out of law school in 1997.  When Chris became partner, the firm’s name became Mills, Northrop, and Goff, LLP, which remained the firm name until 2005 when Bill Mills retired and Chris was appointed judge in Wabash County, subsequently becoming the 110th Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court (we like to think because of Joe’s mentorship), and Joe continued practicing law as The Northrop Law Office, continuing to work every day until illness prevented him from doing so.  He was admitted to practice law in Indiana State Courts, both the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana in Federal Court, and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Joe was one of the longest serving Directors of Pike Lumber Co., Inc., helping grow Pike into an international company and Indiana’s largest manufacturer and distributor of fine hardwood lumber with a global customer base.  He spent almost ten years as Chairman of the company and was a member of the Board of Directors at the time of his death.  He was proud to say that Pike planted more trees than it cut.  It was this love of the forested environment that led him and his wife to start and operate Northrop Farms, investing in and improving farmland and forests across Indiana.  Together, Joe and Lynne planted over 40,000 trees by hand over the years.

Joe served on numerous boards, including multiple roles at Trinity United Methodist Church and the Salvation Army Advisory Board, where he could be found ringing the bell at Christmastime.  He was a long time member of the Huntington Optimist Club, and the Board Secretary of the Boys and Girls Club of Huntington County.  He also served on the Board of Directors of the Walnut Council.  He was a life member of the Huntington County Historical Society, the Milford Connecticut Historical Society, the I.U. Alumni Association, the Reserve Officers’ Association, the Air Force Association, and the Military Officers’ Association of America.  Joe quietly donated time and money to many philanthropic causes.  Joe and Lynne’s names appear on the plaque as named donors of the bronze Northrop, Mote, and Satterlee Family Tiger Sculpture at the entrance to Blackstock Football Stadium at DePauw University.

Joe and Lynne greatly enjoyed traveling, working on their farms, and spending time with family.  For many years they took annual trips to England, and each winter they visited their beloved Caribbean island of St. Martin.  Joe enjoyed working on his MG cars and was a member of multiple MG car clubs and associations.  He was an avid outdoorsman who spent deer season each year with his sons and family friends, and he was an amateur genealogist.  He had an unassuming and humble personality, and one hell of a sense of humor. When most people his age retired to warmer climates or kicked their feet up, he continued going to the office every day and spent his weekends working in the fields, planting trees, improving timber stands, and manually clearing brush.  His stellar health and intense work ethic made his sudden illness that much more of a surprise.  He worked up until the day he was hospitalized.  Joe bravely fought a hyper-aggressive illness with his usual steadfast, unshakable manner and never, ever gave up, but God must have needed a legal adviser.  Or an expert teller of ‘dad jokes’.  He had an infectious smile, a wry sense of humor, exuberant charm, and friends everywhere.  He had a storybook marriage lasting 52 years that served as inspiration to all who knew him.  He taught his children through his deeds and was a true gentleman.  He taught his children how to treat others, how to laugh, and how to find humor in all aspects of life.

Joe’s greatest joy in life, and that about which he was most passionate, was his family.  He was the rock upon which multiple lives were built, the steadfast supporter in everyone’s corner, and a cheerleader for his children and grandchildren.  Left to celebrate his life and mourn the time until they see him again are his cherished wife of 52 years Lynne, son J.H. Northrop of Akron, Indiana, daughter Elizabeth (Terry) Thornsbury of Ft. Wayne, and son Charles (Melissa) Northrop of Indianapolis, and ten beautiful grandchildren – Sarah Lynne and C.J. Northrop of Akron, Indiana, Oliver, Mary, and William Thornsbury of Ft. Wayne, and Zoey, Liam, Myles, Maizey, and Matilda Northrop of Indianapolis.  Joe is also survived by his sister Eleanor Hall of Indianapolis, and his brother, Hon. Albert W. Northrop (Karen) of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, as well as numerous nieces and nephews who loved their “Uncle Joe”, cousins, and extended family.  He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Florence Elizabeth Mote and brother-in-law John Mote of Tucson, Arizona, and sister Virginia “Dinny” Inkoff and brother-in-law George Inkoff of Indianapolis.

Visitation will be Sunday, May 22, from 12:00 noon until 4:00 p.m. at Bailey-Love Mortuary, located at 35 West Park Drive, Huntington, Indiana.  Additional visitation will take place from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m., Monday, May 23.  The funeral service will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 23, also at Bailey-Love, followed immediately by graveside services at Pilgrim’s Rest cemetery.  The funeral will be officiated by Dr. Todd Wilson.

Memorials may be made in Joe’s name to the American Cancer Society or the Boys and Girls Club of Huntington County, Indiana.

- Paid obituary -