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Area public servant, Dale Sturtz, dies

Dale Sturtz passed away Friday, July 24, leaving behind a long legacy of public work for LaGrange County and Indiana.

Sturtz, 77, of Howe, had served in a variety of public posts, including LaGrange County Sheriff from 1980-1990. Following his tenure as sheriff, he was elected to serve as the Indiana State Representative of LaGrange and Noble counties, a position he held until 2002.

After his time as a legislator, Sturtz continued to work for the public, including time as the Ft. Wayne District director of the Indiana Department of Transportation and Commissioner of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.

Sturtz earned a number of awards for his service, including Sagamore of the Wabash, J. Edward Roush Award, and Outstanding Legislator Award.

One of the most telling things of Sturtz’s life, and how well liked and respected he was, was his ability to be elected, and reelected, as a Democrat in a predominantly Republican area of a largely Republican state. And, while in state office, his work alongside State Senator Robert Meeks benefitted the area. “I continue to say that when we had Meeks and Dale together at the state, and they had so much respect from their colleagues, it really benefitted our area,” LaGrange County Democratic Chairman Mark Eagleson said. “They crossed party lines and worked together. I’m sure there were times when they agreed to disagree. But when it came to a need for the area, they were almost always united.”

Eagleson first worked with Sturtz when Sturtz was sheriff, and then later within the Democratic Party in the county. “He treated everyone well,” Eagleson added. “I don’t think he ever met a stranger. And when he would win an election, he was clearly well liked. You have to be respected to cross over like he did and get elected here.”

Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City commented that “I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend and colleague. Dale was a brilliant public servant with a larger-than-life personality. He truly understood the struggles of everyday people back home in his district and across Indiana.” Pelath considered it a highlight of his time in office to serve alongside Sturtz. “He was a cherished friend and colleague not only to me, but all members of the Indiana General Assembly who knew him,” Pelath stated.