John Tolle, 72

John A. Tolle, 72, Windfall, died unexpectedly on Thursday, Jan. 16, at I.U. Health Tipton Hospital. He was born Nov. 25, 1941 in Tipton, the son of Lavon and E. Louise (Pettay) Tolle.

He was a mechanic for 26 years for Norfolk & Southern Railroad before retiring in 2000. He also formerly worked as a mechanic at Gene Cottingham & Hare Chevrolet in Tipton. He was a 1959 graduate of Windfall High School, and later served in the Indiana National Guard. John married Judith M. (Davis) Dowler on Jan. 25, 1997. He was a devoted member of the Hobbs Christian Church, where he served as Deacon and Chairman of the Church Board; and was the bell ringer at the church for many years.  He was also a strong supporter of the Hobbs Christian Church Youth Group.  John was an avid collector of railroad lanterns and has been recognized as having one of the largest collections of railroad lanterns in the country.  He was a member of the “Railroadiana Club”; enjoyed railroad shows and auctions; and was commonly known as the “Lantern Man”.  He was also an avid I.U. sports fan and loved being a photographer for various occasions.  John especially loved spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who knew him as “Grandpa Choo Choo”.  He will be remembered for his “lively” sense of humor and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

John’s surviving family includes his mother, E. Louise Tolle, Windfall; his wife, Judith M. (Davis) Tolle, Windfall; daughter, Melanie (Brian) Zolman, Wabash; three step-children, Julia (Mack) Fender, Hardeeville, S.C., Dana Dowler, Fort Wayne, and Amy (Troy) Garrison, Elwood; “adopted son”, Jeff (Susie) McCorkle, Windfall; sister, Mary Evelyn (Ron) Summers, Markleville; brother, Michael (Jenny) Tolle, Windfall; 10 grandchildren, Mason Zolman, Hallie Zolman, Mara Zolman, Andrew (Carey) Clouser, Angela (Brian) Carter, Ashlee (Steve) Buford, Lauren Fender, Travis Fender, Duane Dowler, and Bryan Dowler; three great-grandchildren, Crystin Clouser, Kendall Clouser, and Valerie Buford; several nieces and nephews who lovingly knew him as “Uncle Johnny”; and his beloved dog, Molly, who was at his side to the very end.  He was preceded in death by his father; a sister, Ruth Ann Sutphin; and a grandson, Zane Zachary Zolman.

Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the Hobbs Christian Church in Hobbs with the Rev. Melissa Grishaw officiating. Burial will follow in Brookside Cemetery in Windfall. Visitation will be held on Monday, Jan. 20, from 2-7 p.m. at Copher-Fesler-May Funeral Home in Elwood and one hour prior to the funeral on Tuesday at Hobbs Christian Church. Memorial contributions may be made to the Hobbs Christian Church Youth Program.  Online condolences may be made to the family at

Posted on 2014 Jan 20