Eulogy for 
  Virgil St John

  Prepared by Jim Hanks and presented by Phil Klinger
  Given at Rotary Club July 17, 2012

 When Paul Harris founded Rotary in Chicago in 1911, he no doubt hoped to attract as members successful, straight shooting, ultra honest businessmen like Virgil St. John.

When Eli Lilly founded what would in time become the chemical giant known worldwide, he probably hoped his company would employ intelligent, ambitious young men like Ohio farm boy Virgil St. John. (A popular St. John family story: Virgil hitch hiked to Indianapolis in 1945 to apply to Lilly for a job.)

When his country was in the crisis of World War II, this Purdue chemistry graduate student surfaced as a dedicated young scientist superbly right to work under a heavy cloak of secrecy on the hush hush Manhattan Project.

For almost 40 years Virgil served as treasurer of First United Methodist Church where he was a member more than 60 years. Simultaneously, he was the top executive of Lilly plants in three different Indiana counties and a fourth in Ireland. His generosity included Double Diamond recognition to this Club's Foundation and regular gifts to our International Foundation.

I have never had a better friend than Virgil St. John. Nor have I ever known a man more devoted to his wife of 65 years, Ruth, and the family they built: daughters Janet and Debbie, sons in law Jim Amy and Rick Mishler and four grandchildren, David Amy, Kristen Amy Maier, Elizabeth Mishler and Ben Mishler, all of whom Virgil and Ruth treasured. This family is Virgil and Ruth's greatest legacy.

Neither have I ever known a person more generous to his church, more supportive of his community, and more loyal to his employer and fellow employees than Virgil St. John. He is a role model for the ages. Service beyond his church includes a distinguished honor roll of organizations that make our community great. In most of them he held time consuming leadership positions. Every listing of important non-profits seems always to include the names of Virgil and Ruth St. John.

After moving to Indiana in 1974, I tried for years to persuade him to become a Rotarian. I always felt the way he lived his life was the ideal embodiment of the Four Way Test. He courteously deferred membership until retirement, saying he was mindful and respectful of Rotary's emphasis on attendance. It had always seemed to me he lived as if he had created the 4-way test. Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned? His lifelong deeds answered in positive affirmation long before he became a Rotarian in 1988. Every organization he joined he faithfully enhanced by leading in the right direction.

Rotarian Phil Klinger at the memorial service evoked best this man: "He was a man of deep faith which influenced all he did. Always supportive and steady, he was the rock of the family and was always there when he was needed. Virgil St. John was the epitome of what we read from the Old Testament Prophet Micah: A man who acted justly, loved mercy and walked humbly with his Lord."

Thank you, Friend. Virgil, by how you led - by what you gave -by what you believed -by what you supported, this community, your church and this club will serve more people better in the years ahead. Thank you, Virgil St. John.