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Wilson - Caster

He discovered "The String Bean Dance"
By Karen Zach, Around the County
Thursday, January 14, 2021 4:00 AM

• • •
Caster Eugene Wilson, one of Crawfordsville’s own spent the majority of his life right here in our fair city before beginning his wintering in Boynton Beach, Florida in about 1965.
His WWII Draft card description described him to perfection, 5’10”, 145 pounds, blue eyes, brown hair with light complexion – that he was; however, they forgot to add – one heck of a great guy!
Proof of that was reflected in a couple of comments on Facebook, one from Gay Caster Fischer who said the Wilsons were their next door neighbors for 18 years and the five Caster children got very excited to see the Wilson’s return home from Florida. Gay told that she decided she wanted to wear glasses but at her exam discovered that she didn’t need them at all. Dr. Wilson whipped-out a huge, ugly pair and gave them to her. Excited, she put ‘em right on, “took one look at myself and never wanted to wear glasses again – he was a very wise man,” and Gay felt Caster’s wife, Dorothy was like a second grandmother.
Peggy Eakle had to have glasses, as well – her first pair in second grade, which she promptly broke as she did four more times that year. Dr. Wilson felt sorry for Peggy’s mother so gave them a discounted price. Another time, she was starting a doll collection from around the world and he brought her two Mexican dolls. Wow!
Caster’s mother, June Beck, was raised by Jacob and Eliza Caster, so that is assumedly how he received his unusual first name. Gay thought they might be distantly related, too. Caster’s father, Agee Wilson’s family was from Tennessee and he owned and operated a jewelry store. They lived at 410 E. Main in the 1930 census. Caster had two brothers, Alva “Norwood” and Ora “Loren.” By the way, they too were Optometrists, encouraged by the good doctor as was Caster’s business partner several years later, as well (Dr. Phil Grush).
Thus, Caster grew-up here and graduated from CHS in 1924. His organizations included Classical, Science and Glee Clubs, Athletic Association and he was active in the plays. His future wife was in the same class, Dorothy Hack, who was extremely beautiful and active, being Editor of the Athenian and holding offices in Sunshine and Jr. Arts. Other involvements were Tennis, Chorus, English Club and she was in three groups with Caster which included Classical, Glee Club, plus the Athletic Association. She was also the “Most Popular Senior Girl.” The prophecy given her was that she would go on to be the editor of the Chicago Tribune.
Caster’s prophecy that he would be dancing in Paris taking the place by storm with partner Dorothy Teague doing a feature he had created titled, “The String Bean Dance!” Caster was thin and I assume Dorothy was as well since many of the prophecies went along with personalities or interests but few came true! Mainly, it was just for fun!
After high school, Caster went on to Wabash where he was quite involved, being an active member of Kappa Sigma and Kappa Tau Alph. He loved to debate and won the Hays All-College Debating Award. Caster would aide in many aspects as an alumni of Wabash and especially helping with the debates to come. He went to Chicago after graduation and worked for the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada.
Dorothy went on to DePauw and earned her music degree, while being exceedingly active in the Alpha Phi (heading it up and even attending the National Convention in Ontario, Canada), Mortar Board and playing piano for several activities. During “Carmen,” the drama, she even played the drums. After graduation, she taught music at Linden for two years, then went to Chicago to teach, either reacquainting herself with Caster or because he was already there.
On June 19th in 1931, they were wed in her parents’ home (Frank and Ella Hack) at 304 S. Water Street in a simple, but beautiful wedding surrounded by loved ones only. Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church minister, Rev. Melvin V. Oggel pronounced them man and wife. They honeymooned on a lengthy motor car trip and then back to Chicago to their new home at 8119 Ingleside Avenue.
Together, they did not live in Chicago too long until he decided to go beyond and seek his optometry degree, attending the Southern School of Optometry, came back home to Crawfordsville, Indiana and began his business in the Ben-Hur Building (415). Then later as above, Phil Grush entered into the business and became not only a partner but a very good friend.
The Wilsons had two beautiful girls to match momma, now Suzann Hall and Marilyn Schneider. Like their parents, they are CHS graduates, encouraged by their parents to be involved in many activities. Both are college graduates. They gifted Dorothy and Caster with two grandsons and two granddaughters who in turn produced ten great grandchildren.
Caster seemed to be somewhat of an adventurer and one who would see a duty he needed to accomplish. One of those was to join the service. He enlisted two days after Christmas in 1943 and returned at the first of November two years later, having been stationed as an optometrist at the New Orleans Port of Embarkation. Those working with him called him “Dad” because of his demeanor, concern and the fact that he was 15-20 years older than most of them. Dorothy and the girls went down to see him and Marilyn ended-up in the hospital, a five-year-old in the midst of 30 or so young soldiers. A memorable experience!
Another family adventure began when Caster, a well-read individual, discovered the plight of the Navajo Indian tribe. They had horrid eye problems because of the treacherous weather conditions. With the blessing of the Presbyterian Church National Board of Missions, Caster rounded-up donations and freshman Marilyn (who did her school work there and sent back home) and the folks spent a couple of months with the tribe. There was a constant line to get into see Caster. One old gentleman was so pleased with his glasses that he queried, “Doc, these glasses are so good – can you make me a pair that I can see all the way back to Indiana?” Upon their return, he would send salves and medicines out to the mission for his friends, always considering the time he spent there as a privilege.
Church was a big involvement for both the Wilsons, she in music, singing and playing and he teaching the young men’s Sunday School class for decades. As vice moderator of the Presbyterian Synod (state), he traveled to cities and towns performing various duties. He was on the City Council and it seems at one point he saved the city an extremely large amount of money. Active also in the American Legion, and Kiwanis, he went through most of the offices there, as well. There is much, much more that Dr. Caster Eugene and Dorothy Hack Wilson did as they were widely-involved in the community. He also raised cattle and enjoyed his farm, taking the girls to help water the animals and such.
Good people who loved the Lord, their family, friends and each other, having been married 53 years when he passed away in 1985, Dorothy in 2001. They are resting in Oak Hill cemetery nestled among a multitude of other community-minded leaders of our area. Bless ya’ both!

Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. Her column, Around the County, appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County.
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