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home : columnists : columnists April 16, 2014


5/9/2013 2:00:00 AM
Arvins bring out best in one another

By Karen Zach
Around the County


When I perused several quotes regarding marriages in order to begin this article, I thought it would be a simple task to choose one for such a perfectly matched couple as Charlie and Isobel Shanks Arvin, but alas, I came-up with not one but at least a dozen which all reflected their amazing life together!  Finally, though, I chose Barbara Gage's words: "Love is a partnership of two unique people who bring out the very best in each other and who know that even though they are wonderful as individuals, they are even better together!" 

Both Arvins grew-up in the fine little Montgomery County town of Waveland.  Of course, they had known each other all along, going back to being in a 3rd-4th grade room with  Mrs. Evans as their teacher, but it wasn't until Charlie put his girlfriend (after a little Jr-Sr play party at Wilmer Sharp's store in uptown Waveland) on the bus for home, then followed Isobel home that night that their love story really began.  Charlie graduated in 1946, she in '47 but it wasn't until seven years later the duo tied the knot.  In the meantime, Isobel tried George Washington University (he to Indiana State) but missing Charlie and home, she returned to attend and graduate from Ball State. 

Originally, Charlie was scheduled to start his teaching career close to home in Kingman but he was drafted into the service and spent two years in personnel work in Germany.  Charlie noted that most of the men in his unit were college grads.  Upon his return, he and Isobel finally became an official couple with the ceremony held in the Waveland Methodist Church.  That was 60 years ago last September, an amazing feat in this day and age!

I found it unique that when Charlie worked on his doctorate (Masters was from IU), the Arvins, with two of their three sons, Jeff and Jon (Chris came later) went seven summers in a row to northern Colorado where Charlie took classes while the family tried to beat the heat. 

Richmond, was their first jump into education the week they were married. Charlie's degree was in secondary education but at Richmond, he taught with Isobel in the same building for the first year.  After five years, Charlie became principal and began his administrative career.   In 1961, the Arvins arrived back in Montgomery County, where he was principal at Hose and was assistant superintendent. for 29 years.  Isobel taught for a total of 40 years in all the grades.  Charlie began the gifted program and Isobel was lucky enough to teach the gifted students for several years.  She noted that one of her prize possessions is a letter from a boy she had had in class, a Wabash College graduate who completed his residency in Detroit.  This young man wrote her a letter, saying that had she not kicked his rear-end in third grade and made him work to his potential that he'd have never made it that far.   Isobel also worked with Carolyn Horney to begin Pioneer Day, and the 5th grade camping program.  The most fun she had as a teacher likely was the involvement in staying overnight with the Amish family in southern Indiana which taught the children a different culture.  She portrayed an Amish woman for several years teaching the students about that culture.

During this time, Charlie wasn't idle, working with Don Whitecotton and others to start Adult Education, Vocational Education, Special Education and the Even Start program.   Both Arvins are proud that several of those curriculum area programs are still in existence today.

The Arvins are proud of their three boys.  Jeff is in timber frame construction in Bellingham, Wash.; Jon teaches computers in Plainfield and Christ is Director in the Wellness and Fitness program in the School of Recreation at IU.   Charlie and Isobel are thrilled with eight grandchildren (six girls) from the ages of 3 to 27. 

Today, Isobel is heavily involved as coordinator of Meals on Wheels, the Quilting Guild, United Methodist Women's Group and she served on the Library Board for 16 years, including construction of the new library.  Charlie spent two terms on the city council and served on the school board after retirement.  He loves reading, especially history, and spent a couple of terms on the Community Foundation as well as the Country Club Board. 

It seems odd that the Arvins aren't still on West Wabash after 51 years, but have a lovely new place. 

I think it reflects what Barbara Gage noted - that they have had a wonderful and supporting partnership that worked.  Hopefully, you agree!  Definitely,  thanks so much to the Arvins for letting me feature them as this week's subjects in Around the County! 







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