News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Features

January 26, 2014

Flowing forward: As Riverscape leader retires, he sees great things ahead for the Wabash River

An iconic photo of Harry Truman hangs in John Mutchner’s office.

The walls of that room and others inside Mutchner’s scenic eastside home offer glimpses of his interests, from auto racing to basketball to political history. The famous picture of a triumphant Truman, hoisting an erroneous “Dewey Defeats Truman” Chicago Tribune headline, rests neatly framed alongside a 1952 campaign button and an autographed notecard from the former president.

It tells a story about Mutchner, too.

As an Earlham College student in the 1950s, Mutchner traveled to Missouri to watch the national basketball tournament for small colleges. While there, he realized Truman kept an office in the top floor of a downtown building in Kansas City after his eight years as president ended. Mutchner decided to visit, hoping to get Truman’s autograph. Once there, Mutchner reached the right floor, trekked to the end of the hall and saw a sign on the door that read: “Harry Truman, walk in.”

“So I did,” Mutchner recalled.

After the young collegian took a seat and got an intense look-over from a Secret Service agent, the president strolled in. Truman greeted Mutchner and asked what brought him to Kansas City.

The small talk subsided, and Mutchner asked the president for an autograph. Truman obliged, writing, “Best wishes to John Mutchner. Harry Truman 3/10/55.” Mutchner headed back to the tournament, objective accomplished.

Initiative has continued to serve Mutchner well for nearly six decades.

Last week, he stepped down after nine years as president of the nonprofit Wabash River Development and Beautification organization — better known around Terre Haute as “Riverscape.” He’s resigning to give younger leadership to the group, whose mission is to encourage a transformation of the once neglected Wabash into a natural center of community activity.

Local businessman Charlie Williams, chosen last week to replace Mutchner, sees rapid achievements in that nine-year stretch. “We’ve covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time,” Williams said. Mutchner and the pioneering members of Riverscape “accomplished some things that should’ve taken years, and only took a few short years,” said Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett.

“It’s clear,” the mayor added, “that John had a huge passion to make great things happen along the river.”

He spent a quarter-century as basketball coach at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, building the program at the renowned engineering school into a Midwestern hoops powerhouse among small colleges. His teams won 341 games from 1963 to ’88, drawing a noisy, loyal following in the Quonset-hut style Shook Fieldhouse, where the players took the court to the chest-thumping explosion of a cannon and an unfurling of a Fighting Engineers banner. For another 25 years, Mutchner led a successful property development firm. But nine years ago, when a group that began as Terre Haute Tomorrow under former Purdue Extension agent Max Miller evolved into Wabash River Development and Beautification Inc., Mutchner was asked to serve as its president, and he agreed.

Yet today, even considering his long career resume, the 79-year-old Mutchner calls that “Riverscape” organization “the most dedicated, goal-oriented group I have ever been around,” adding, “and it will go right on.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record
NDN Video
What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity