Steve Schwinghame
Steve Schwinghame
HUNTINGBURG — Steve Schwinghamer will be Huntingburg’s new leader.

He was elected mayor by a caucus of Republican committeemen Thursday evening.

“I’m honored that they chose me,” the mayor-elect said after the caucus. “I’m going to do as much work as I can for the people. That’s what it’s all about. I will work as hard as I can to make sure things get done.”

Schwinghamer, 69, is a retired funeral director and currently serves as president of the Fairmount Cemetery Board in Huntingburg.

He will complete the last three years of Denny Spinner’s term as mayor. Spinner is stepping down, effective Wednesday, to become executive director of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Schwinghamer was born in Huntingburg and spent the first 17 years of his life there. His family left after his father was transferred to Florida. There, he finished high school, attended Miami Dade College’s mortuary program to earn his associate degree, obtained his director’s license and went into the funeral business.

He managed multiple funeral home locations, including budgeting and maintaining services before retiring in 2010. At one time, he managed 22 locations in Florida. He is a past president of the Florida Funeral Directors Association and was a representative on the national policy board for the National Funeral Directors Association.

Schwinghamer always knew that he eventually would return to the area. “Even though I lived there for 47 years, when I retired, this is where I came back to,” he said.

Schwinghamer and his wife, Becky Menke, returned to this area permanently in 2011. They have between them eight children and 16 grandchildren. Twelve of the grandchildren live in the area.

“That's one of the reasons I decided to put my name in the hat, so to speak,” Schwinghamer said. “Everything that we do is supposed to be for our children. We certainly want a better place for them to live. That’s one of the important factors for me.”

When they returned, they first moved to Santa Claus until they could find a home in Huntingburg. They got involved at Santa Claus Methodist Church, which started a grief program that is available to the public. The couple still attends services at the church, Schwinghamer said.

Up until the virus stopped activities, Schwinghamer was the under 12 all-star baseball coach for Huntingburg Little League.

“It’s always been community-oriented, as far as my mind is concerned,” he said. “And coaching the youth and and being involved with youth has a lot to do with that.”

He also stays active through his hobby of woodworking. “I still do odd jobs. We flip houses and we do remodeling and building, things like that,” he said. “I just love doing that kind of stuff. I actually work harder now than I did when I was running funeral homes."

Now, Schwinghamer is adding mayor to his service list.

“This community is always home. And I want to make sure that it keeps heading in the right direction, which is where we've been going with the leadership that we've had with Denny,” he said. “I just think that it's time for me to step up and do my part and to serve. This was one way that I can do that.”

Schwinghamer will be sworn into office at 8 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

© 2010 - 2020 Jasper Herald Company. All Rights Reserved.