Warsaw mourns: ‘They’ve left this place a better place’

WARSAW, Ind. (WANE) The Warsaw community is mourning the loss of the victims of last weekend’s plane crash in South Carolina. All four men were from the area, making a lasting impact in their own, unique way, city leaders say.

According to Warsaw Mayor Joseph Thallemer, in a city of 14,000 thousand people, most of them have been impacted by at least one of these men, in some way.

Charles Smith, 71, began coaching Tippecanoe Valley’s first football team in 1975, leading them to a championship in 1979, according to Tippecanoe Valley School Superintendent Brett Boggs.

“Charlie is a legacy in the community, as far as a football coach, there a lot of people that talk quite often about those days,” Boggs said, “Charlie was an extremely driven individual, he was probably the best motivators of anybody that I’ve ever known.”

Scott Bibler, 51, played for Smith, following in his footsteps as a coach and becoming the school’s counselor.

“He was one of those people that had that gift of being able to make everyone feel special. If you sat down and talked to him, you would think you were his best friend, that you had known him for a long time. This is a very personable guy, just really sincere, cared about people,” said Boggs.

Boggs said the school has been through a lot these last couple years, with several unexpected deaths. Bibler was a part of a group with the school that met regularly to help, which led to him eventually leaving last year to work for Crossroad Child & Family Services.

“[Bibler] rolled up his sleeves and did everything he could.”

Meanwhile, Smith became a banker and after retiring, a Warsaw city council member. He was currently running unopposed for a fifth term.

“He was not in it for himself, he wasn’t in it for anyone else but the community,” said Mayor Thallemer.

In his free time, he did everything with his son, Scott, a local attorney, including going to every home Notre Dame game and flying to every away game, bringing different friends with them. On Friday, the two brought Bibler and Sprint car driver Tony Elliott.

“The plane was registered to somebody from Warsaw and I told her at the time, I said ‘I hope it’s not Charlie and Scott’ because I knew that they flew to all the away games and about an hour later, my phone starts ringing and I first learned from my assistant superintendent, from Blaine Conley, that it was them. I did not realize though until he told me that Scott Bibler was with them,” said Boggs.

Those who knew the men said it was the passion of each, that in their own way, brought the community together.

“They all four lend themselves to the community in different ways. Charlie was a little bit more public with his service on the city council. These gentlemen owned businesses and had families, they did selflessly for the good of the community,” said Thallemer.

“We’ll be here for their families, today, tomorrow and forever but we’ll move on and they’ve left this place a better place because they were here,” said Boggs.

Visitation and memorial services for the Smiths are Monday, October 12 in Warsaw. Their funeral services will be the following day.

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