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  • Writer's pictureIndiana Angus

Our Deepest Condolences to the Family of Joey Kubesch

We would like to extend our thoughts, prayers and condolences to the family of Joey Kubesch.

Joanne Alice Cole Kubesch ("Joey") certainly left this world better than she found it when she moved on to Heaven on January 13, 2024, no doubt to hand the angels the first of many to-do lists.

Joey was the oldest child of James Omar and Alice (Freeney) Cole, born in Washington, D.C., while Jim was working in the White House. Three siblings completed the Cole family: Martha "Marnie" Renard (deceased 1998), James Omar Cole III (deceased 1964), and Margaret "Mag" Russell (presently of Indianapolis/Naples, Florida).

Early childhood was spent in Kansas City, Missouri, where her dad's federal government job took them. Joey's formative years were spent in Hillview, Illinois, at family-owned Hartwell Ranch, in a small community where, until the end of 8th grade, Joey attended classes in a one-room school house. The family moved to Westleigh Farms in Peru, Indiana, the summer before Joey's freshman year of high school, after the death of cousin Kate Porter. This move from one family farm to another during her teenage years sealed Joey's love of agriculture and all animals – a quality that would become a lifelong passion – inspiring her to show Angus cattle from her grandfather's herd at local, state, and national levels.

For college, Joey ventured to Purdue University, hoping to become a veterinarian at a time when women weren't allowed to enroll in the vet school, so she became an English teacher instead. Turns out, Joey's love of the written word was a close second to her love of animals. The Kappa Kappa Gamma house became her home away from home, leading to lifelong friendships.

Joey's first job out of college was at the Indianapolis Star, assigned to the Teen and City desks. After some time in the big city, she accepted a teaching position at Logansport High School, returning to Westleigh Farms. It would be an understatement to say that Joey had high standards. She expected a lot from her students (indeed, from everyone with whom she interacted) and was sometimes called "Mean Miss Cole" for reprimanding underperforming students (and confiscating yo-yo's). Former students became family friends years later, thanking her for teaching them to always try their hardest at whatever task they had to tackle.

A lifelong passion of Joey's was proper grammar, perfect sentence structure, and punctuation. If your subject and verb were not in agreement, or if you used the wrong word in the wrong way (for example: lay versus lie), Joey would instantly correct you. And Lord help you if you ended a sentence with a preposition. The breadth of her vocabulary was extraordinary. She frequently used her red pen to edit newspaper headlines and copy, personally delivering the highlighted mistakes to the editor. Joey loved reading about current events and often clipped magazine and newspaper articles to mail to friends and family near and far when she came across a story that reminded her of someone.

As Joey was settling into her teaching career, she got set up on a blind date with an Air Force pilot from Texas to attend a greased pig contest, and soon thereafter married Sidney Kubesch. A rapid succession of military relocations coincided with the birth of their first four children, starting at Bunker Hill Air Force Base with their first-born son, Kurt Cole Kubesch. A transfer to Montgomery, Alabama, brought the addition of daughter Maryalice Williams. Then a stint at Strategic Air Command in Omaha, Nebraska, accompanied the births of sons James (Jay) and Joseph (Joe) Kubesch. After Sid's retirement and following the death of Joey's grandparents, the family made its home at Good Enough Farm, in Peru, Indiana. On their 15th wedding anniversary, Sid and Joey added daughter Polly Dobbs to make their family seven. Joey often said that having a child later in life kept her young, because she was chasing a toddler instead of knitting in a rocking chair. It was a big, rowdy, large, loud Kubesch family, with lots of exchange students and pets along the way. Generally any stray that needed a home could find one at Good Enough Farm.

The word active does not fully express the way Joey lived her life. She was in constant motion with multiple projects brewing at all times, always excited to try new things. Not satisfied with just being married to a world-speed-record-holding pilot, Joey obtained her own pilot's license, as she learned to share her husband's love of aviation. Joey was a proud member of the Ninety-Nines, an International Organization of Women Pilots.

Joey loved all sports and outdoor activities, from playing basketball with her brother in the barn loft as a teenager, to skiing (water and snow), fishing, swimming, boating, snow mobiling, 4-wheeling, gardening, watering grass, flowers, and generally "hosing" anything, burning stuff (trash, brush piles, leaves), and her favorite thing of all: golfing. Joey was a great golfer! It's remarkable that amidst all the moving around and baby-having, Joey found time to hone her golf game. She was a frequent champion on the Air Force wives golf tournament circuit in multiple states. Once settled back in Peru, Joey played all over the state of Indiana, got a hole in one on #10 at Peru Municipal, and made her second home the links at the Kokomo Country Club, where she was a stalwart member of the ladies' league, often giving the pro and the grounds keepers plenty of unsolicited suggestions to better the course and the ladies golf program. Joey was a Past President of the Omaha Women's Golf and Indiana Women's Golf Associations.

The picture of Joey would not be complete without understanding her love of Angus cattle. Once Polly was old enough for 4-H, Joey jumped back into the show cattle scene with both feet. The mother daughter pair formed P&J Angus and trailered cattle all over to shows, spending countless hours choring. As grandchildren came along, any trip to "Maw's" house included time feeding, petting, and enjoying spoiled-rotten cattle. For a while, Joey served as President of the Northeast Indiana Angus Association. Maintaining the historic barns, homes, and grounds of her family farms in pristine condition was of the highest priority for Joey, and she was a member of the Indiana Rural Preservation Council and actively involved with Indiana Landmarks.

Education and the Arts have long been priorities for the Cole and Kubesch families. Following the deaths of her grandparents and parents, Joey was proud to carry on the funding of the Cole Porter Scholarships, which have been awarded annually to two Miami County high school students to pursue fine arts education in college since 1967, in memory of cousin Cole Porter and his mother Kate Cole Porter. Joey and her husband founded the nonprofit Animal Kindness and constructed an animal shelter, which along with shelter provided free spay and neuter services for many years. A quiet philanthropic legacy has been left in the wake of Joey's life, as she found discreet ways to help those in need and support community projects without ever making a big splash.

A truly well-rounded woman, this tomboy-athletic-cow girl also enjoyed the symphony, concerts, plays, and musicals. Her love of music continued to the end, as she retained her ability to recall lyrics and melodies even as her brain fought against the ravages of Alzheimer's. In addition to the classics, Joey prided herself on keeping up with cool new music She particularly loved all of Paul Simon's songs, telling anyone who meant anything to her "I Love You Like a Rock!" and signing off letters and emails with LYLAR… "My mama loves me, She loves me, She get down on her knees and hug me, Oh, and She loves me like a rock, She rock me like the rock of ages."

Beloved husband Sid predeceased her on October 26, 2020. Survivors who will cherish the memory of this dynamic woman and matriarch include her five children: Kurt Kubesch, Maryalice Williams (and son-in-law, Kent), Jay Kubesch (and son-in-law, Fermin Rojas), Joe Kubesch (and daughter-in-law, Leila), and Polly Dobbs (and son-in-law Steve). She leaves behind several grandchildren: Audreyalice Warner (husband, Paul, and great-grandchildren, Rex and Cora Jo), Jolie Kubesch, George and Peter (fiancé, Haley Meier) Williams, Jonathan (wife, Sarah Grace and great-grandson, Joseph), Sidney, William, and Cole Kubesch, Finley and Julian ("JT") Dobbs. Joey is also survived by her younger sister Mag (husband, Steve Russell), and by her niece, Betsy Ashe and nephew, Fred Ashe (who was her caddy during the hole in one round) (wife, Ginny, and children Laughlin, Liza, and Eli), who will always have special memories of Aunt Joey. Joey's extended Texas family by marriage will remember her fondly.

The family would like to thank the team of amazing caregivers who helped keep Joey at home on Good Enough Farm until the end: Tisheena Ambrose, Jo Hayes, Debbie Montgomery, Mary Kay McKinney, Lois Morris, Lori Rusie, Pam Tyler, Terry Quin, and Megan Wilson. Gracious appreciation is also due to Dr. Nancy Frappier and Guardian Angel Hospice for guidance navigating the terrible disease that is Alzheimer's. Special thanks also to the Amboy volunteer fire department, for decades of emergency response when Joey's fires got out of control.

If you would like to honor Joey's unique and amazing life, please support Miami County Helping Hands, or make a donation to the Indiana University Foundation, Inc., with a note that the funds be used for the benefit of the "Indiana Alzheimer's Disease Research Center."

A Mass of Christian burial celebrating the life of Joey Kubesch will take place at 2 p. m. on Wednesday January 24, 2024, at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, 58 W. Fifth St., Peru, Indiana. Family and friends will gather from 5 to 7 p. m. Tuesday, January 23, 2024, at Eikenberry-Eddy Funeral Home, 84 W. Main St., Peru, Indiana, concluding with a prayer service at the funeral home. Interment will occur at a later, warmer date.

Joey was an opinionated, one-of-a-kind powerful woman who worked hard and expected everyone else to do the same. She taught her children and grandchildren to be strong, independent, and responsible, and to always leave a place better than you found it; that was her motto for life, and boy did she do just that!

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