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Lasting legacy: Victim shared special kinship with nephew

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The bright yellow GTO was one of Dion Longworth’s most prized possessions.

He loved the classic car, having restored GTOs in the past and painstakingly rebuilding them. The sunshine yellow color was kind of his trademark, which everyone would recognize when he drove down the street.

But when his nephew, Tylor Smith, turned 16, Longworth climbed out of the driver’s seat. If the teenager was going to learn to drive, he was going to learn to drive in one of the best cars ever produced.

“I was so excited to drive it. He’d always try to teach me about cars, but I couldn’t believe that he was actually letting me drive his GTO,” Smith said.

Family, friends and co-workers will remember Longworth as a creative, engaging man with an eye for classic GTO cars, expertise in audio technology and a quirky sense of humor. The Indianapolis resident was quick to help with a new speaker system at work, or to pitch in with a family member’s film project.

Longworth services

Service times are set for Jennifer and John Dion Longworth, who were killed Saturday in the explosion on the southside of Indianapolis.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Sunday at Wilson St. Pierre Service & Crematory, Greenwood Chapel, 481 W. Main St.

The funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Barnabas Catholic Church, 8300 Rahke Road, Indianapolis.

Full obituary information is set to appear in Friday’s Daily Journal.

Smith, 18, remembers him like a father, a brother and a friend.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Dion,” he said.

Longworth, 34, and his wife, 36-year-old Jennifer, were killed in the explosion that rocked a southside Indianapolis neighborhood Saturday night.

Originally from Henderson County, Ky., Longworth had moved to Indiana to attend IUPUI in 1996. While attending college, Longworth had been involved in the chemistry and drama clubs, played intramural basketball and ran cross-country.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 2002.

The Indianapolis resident had an engineering background, working for a variety of electrical and optical technology companies during the past 10 years. He had worked at Indy Audio Labs, an audio electronics company in Indianapolis, as the director of product development and technology since March 2011.

Rick Santiago, the CEO and co-founder of the company, had known Longworth for more than 10 years. During that time, Longworth’s creative and technical contributions directly effected the development of several award-winning electronics products.

When he started Indy Audio Labs, Santiago made sure Longworth was one of the first people he brought in to help direct the company’s focus.

“He was a very intelligent guy, yet at the same time, very down to earth,” he said. “When he took on a project or came on an idea, he threw himself into it 100 percent. He had an incredible ability to focus.”

Around the Richmond Hill subdivision, the Longworths were known for the abundance of flowers and plants growing in gardens all over their property.

He loved sunflowers and took pride in the pear hybrid tree in their backyard.

Longworth also had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of native wildflowers, Santiago said. He could point out what looked like a regular flower and be able to tell which variety it was. Usually, he had it growing at his house, he said.

“He always said, ‘Grass is such a waste of space,’” Santiago said.

Longworth would play a game with Smith when he was younger, naming all of the different flowers that were growing.

Smith’s mother, Emily Voss, was Longworth’s sister. When Smith was born, Longworth was still in high school. He would help baby-sit his nephew, and as they both grew older they formed a kind of mentorship.

“I grew up around him, and he grew up around me,” Smith said.

They would pick on each other, such as brothers would. Their relationship included a lot of teasing, but Longworth also was quick to step up and help his nephew when he needed it.

He introduced Smith to some of his favorite bands, giving him Red Hot Chili Pepper albums and Beastie Boys mixes. Since Smith is an inspiring filmmaker, Longworth would do whatever he could to support his nephew’s interest.

He had a supporting role in Smith’s first large-scale production, a zombie movie called “Decay.” When Smith entered the 48-Hour Film Project this past year, a two-day effort to shoot a movie, Longworth shuttled actors wherever they needed to go. He would bring them food and chaperone the filming locations.

Voss and another sister, Brookley Longworth, are spearheading an effort to have the land where the Longworths’ home stood converted into a community garden. The family has set up a Facebook page in support of the idea as a way to honor them, and a fund is coming together to help make that happen.

Smith is also compiling old family videos, photographs and stories to make a film compilation for the couple. He felt it was a way to show how much he cared for them.

“He supported me so much. I want to do something for him,” he said.

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