Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

November 22, 2013

Batesville residents recall presidential tragedy


“I couldn’t believe it. It shocked me because I always liked John Kennedy. I thought he was very honest and when he said something, it made sense. He was a good president, and I think we accomplished quite a bit during his presidency.”

Kay Dickey, a former Batesville Bureau of Motor Vehicles employee, recalls being home with the children. “In those days, we had a bread man, and when he came to the door, he told me about it. Then I turned on the TV. I remember it was Friday, and I was cleaning.

“I was stunned like everyone else. How could this happen to our president? .... Today you hear a lot about people getting shot, but when the president got shot back then, it was a shock.”

Consultant Vicki Kellerman and husband Jack, both area natives, were living in Bloomington. She was working at the audiovisual center at Indiana University. “My dad, who was a long-distance truck driver, was delivering furniture to IU, and he stopped by the office and told us” about JFK’s death.

“Then he said, ‘Why don’t you come along home with me?’ and I did .... Jack was a waiter at a fancy restaurant and had to work that night,” so he returned to Batesville the next day.

She remembers thinking, “This doesn’t happen in America .... (and) everybody was a little bit afraid because you didn’t know how the transition was going to work.”

After returning from lunch, Romweber Furniture salesman Jim Fritsch was at his Batesville desk when “somebody came into my office and asked, ‘Did you hear the news? JFK was shot.’ Right away everybody went home and watched television.”

Fritsch reflected, “I respected that man so much and I figured he overcame a lot of hurdles. No. 1, being a Catholic. They didn’t think he’d get elected because of his religion ... I admired him for his guts and family background.”

The former city councilman, then mayor starting in 1975 said later on Nov. 22 “people who had flags flew them at half mast. I just think it was a universal grieving. Everybody was shocked and upset, mad at this guy for killing him.”

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