Although Henry Arthur Becker’s story began in Evansville on July 29, 1944, and ended in Indianapolis on Feb. 9, 2021, the most important chapters took place in Wabash County.
After graduating from Indiana State University with a degree in industrial arts education, he began his teaching career in Peru. He met the love of his life, Gayle Kelsey Becker, on a blind date in Indianapolis, and they were married on June 17, 1967.
He often said “I married up.” Gayle died on April 4, 2015.
Henry, 76, rural Roann, and who was a friend of Bill W., loved Wabash County, and Roann even more. A member of the Roann First Brethren Church, one of his greatest joys was helping raise the funds to restore the Roann covered bridge.
He served as the president of the Roann Covered Bridge Association, a title that did not matter to him as much as working with a dedicated group of people who simply wanted to get the job done. He built the pancake cookers that serve countless people during the pancake breakfasts in the bridge each year.
Henry had several jobs, each with a boss who just did not recognize his brilliance, before starting Rotam Tooling Corp. in the garage behind their house. It was hard work, and his business changed with the times. In the beginning, he did a lot of work with factories based in Indiana.
Later, he sent his machines farther afield, including Mexico and even Japan. When he realized the manufacturing sector was changing in Indiana, he branched out to material handling. Total Tote and the Tote Goat, an idea for which he was awarded a patent, were born.
His machines have stacked and destacked a lot of totes over the years. In his later years, he was blessed with a team of four people who were more than employees. They were, and are, family. He sold the business in 2020 and finally retired, but he never stopped thinking about how to improve a machine or a process.
Henry loved living on the Eel River and improving the house and yard. A lung transplant recipient, he spent a lot of time at the doctor or in the hospital in Indianapolis, and he never grew tired of telling the caring staff about his view and the various animals that would amble through the yard.
He also loved dogs, and he and Gayle used their wedding money to adopt a Saint Bernard. From that point on, the family was never without at least one dog, right up to the end.
He was blessed with so many kind and caring individuals, both friends and professionals, who supported him before and after his transplant. The doctors and nurses who work with IU Health are some of the best in the business. He saw IU Methodist Hospital as his second home and was often welcomed with shouts of joy when he arrived for his all too frequent hospital stays.
Although much to his disappointment he never had grandchildren, he and Gayle acted like surrogate grandparents to many children around Roann. It was not uncommon to see a swimming pool full of neighbors on summer weekends, and kids went out of the way to stop by the Becker house for the “good candy” on Halloween.
Henry died at 11:20 am on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, at IU Methodist Hospital.
He is survived by a loving and grateful daughter, Alison Becker, Indianapolis; his sister, Marianne Waller, Philadelphia, Pa.; five nieces and nephews; and many friends and business associates who touched his life in numerous ways.
He was also preceded in death by his parents, Elmer and Louise (Ledgerwood) Becker.
Friends may call 4-7 pm on Monday, Feb. 15, at Grandstaff-Hentgen Roann Chapel, 335 S. Chippewa Road, Roann. A memorial service will be held at a later date. The preferred memorial is IU Health Foundation, Lung Transplant Program, Box 775589, Chicago, IL 60677-5589, or any Wabash County charity.
The memorial guest book for Henry may be signed at www.grandstaff-hentgen.com.