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November 13, 2013

Longtime Indiana Beach owner dies at 100

MONTICELLO —

Thomas Spackman, who led the Indiana Beach amusement park for decades, has died at the age of 100.

Spackman died Monday at a Monticello nursing home, according to Springer-Voorhis-Draper Funeral Home.

His father, Earl Spackman, founded what was then known as Ideal Beach along Lake Shafer near Monticello in 1926. Thomas Spackman became the park's CEO in 1945 and changed the name to Indiana Beach seven years later.

Numerous rides and other attractions were added during his time at the helm of the park, which became known for its infectious television and radio commercial jingle "There's more than corn in Indiana."

Indiana Beach was drawing about 750,000 visitors a year when the Spackman family sold it and two nearby campgrounds in 2008 to New York-based Morgan RV Resorts.

Spackman was always willing to take risks to improve the park about 30 miles north of Lafayette, White County Community Foundation director Leslie Goss told the Journal & Courier.

Goss recalled an 85-year-old Spackman taking the first leap when Indiana Beach added its first bungee jump.

"He wanted to test it and make sure it was safe for everyone else," Goss said.

Spackman was also known for his exacting nature, said Janet Dold, executive director of the Monticello Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

"You would always see him at Indiana Beach," Dold said. "He would walk the grounds and make sure everything was clean."

Spackman graduated from Shortridge High School in Indianapolis and received a business degree from Indiana University in 1937. He was married to his wife, Helen, for nearly 56 years; she died in 1993.

Spackman's funeral is scheduled for Friday at Monticello Christian Church.

 

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