Elizabeth Marie Meyer Strain Gunn, aged 95 years, passed away on February 14, 2018. She was born on February 19, 1922 to Ernest and Helen Meyer at home in Indianapolis, the city where she lived and contributed most of her life. She is survived by her children Douglas (Cindy) Strain and Elizabeth “Betsy” Strain (Ronald) Neurauter, her sister Alberta Meyer (Richard) Fine, her sister-in-law Janet (John) McClary, all seven of her beloved nieces and a nephew, eight grandchildren, sixteen great-grandchildren and her dear friend Marion Wolen.
She was preceded in death by her husband Cyrus L. Gunn, her parents, her brother Air Force Captain Ernest H. Meyer, her sister Charlotte Newman Davenport, and infant grandson Douglas Lee Strain.
A lifelong resident of the Indianapolis Southside, Beth attended Shortridge High School and was the first in her family to graduate from college – Butler University, B.A. Journalism. During World War II, she worked at the Indianapolis Times when the male editor went to fight. She helped support her husband, Edward R. Strain PhD, in North Carolina, by working in the library while he attended Duke University.
Returning to Indianapolis, she raised her children and began a lifetime of volunteer and community service. She was active in the PTA at several Perry Township schools, often as an officer. When her good friend, the late Ardath Burkhardt, needed help with fundraising to start WFYI public television in Indiana, Beth became the Southside Chairperson and organized an army of volunteers, mostly female, to raise the funds to get on the air. They were successful. She continued to support WFYI by organizing on-air auctions to raise funds.
Working with several mayors, Beth was involved in the Keep Indianapolis Beautiful organization. She was President of the Women’s Southside Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra group, and served in leadership roles or as a volunteer for a host of other worthy causes and institutions including Perry Township Senior Services, Indianapolis Great Books Council, Women in Neighborhood Services (WINS), Mayors Social Services Advisory Council, Indianapolis Arts Chorale, Bucks for Books campaign (Indianapolis Public Library), Mental Health Association Gift Lift, and several festival committees.
An avid reader, Beth served on the Indianapolis Marion County Library Board from 1972-1976 and from 1979-1995, serving at times as Vice-President and President. During this time, Bookmobiles appeared on the scene and several new libraries were built, including the sorely-needed Southport Library.
Returning to the work-world later in life, at the State of Indiana Department of Aging, and the Central Indiana Council on Aging, Beth used her journalism skills for public information purposes.
In 1989, she married Cyrus L. Gunn who brought joy to her life. She became a stepmother to the late Barbara Gunn and Julie Gunn Barry. Cyrus passed away in 1999.
Beth’s gardens were a delight to all. She became a certified Master Gardener in 1998. She loved animals and over the years, family pets included dachshunds, a Weimaraner, Sheltie, Siamese cats, and the childrens’ assorted guinea pigs, turtles and fish. She also could not resist a homeless, stray animal and many became pets.
After suffering a terrible fall outside her home in October 2014, Beth was cared for by the wonderful staff at the Indiana Masonic Home in Franklin and Kindred Hospice. Having German-American heritage, she enjoyed a tasty cold beer right up to the end. Please raise your glass and give a toast for a life well-lived.
Visitation will be from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 18, 2018 at G. H. Herrmann Madison Avenue Funeral Home, 5141 Madison Ave.
A lifelong member of Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ (North and New Jersey Streets, Indianapolis), the funeral service will be held here on Monday, February 19, 2018 at 11:30 a.m., with visitation from 11:00 a.m. until service time. Interment at Crown Hill Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to any of the organizations or institutions mentioned above, or to the animal welfare society of your choice.