News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News


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
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help Today in History for August 1st Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill
NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"

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