Meditations from the Milkhouse
-Guest Authors Jennifer Hamm and Becky Aelick
The many names and titles an individual accrues over the course of his life tell the story of who he was and what he found important. As “Avie,” the 10th of your 14 brothers and sisters,born October 23, 1930 in rural Warrick County, Indiana to Roye Henry and Rebecca Francis Callis; who loved his dogs and pet squirrel Ethel, learned to work on farm machinery, cars, and trucks, played bass in the local “Green Valley Boys,” and lovedyou and your spouses as his own siblings. His and your visits almost always involved the transfer of some sort of home-grown, home-raised, or home-made food.As Uncle Arvil who fished, hunted small game, raised chickens, and grew blackberries; told stories about the daily life of subsistence-farm living and the shenanigans the younger boys got involved in;and played guitar and sang country and bluegrass with your parents at the Family Reunions, Christmas parties, and occasionally at Fletcher Chapel UMC where a service in his memory will take place on July 29, 2021 at 11 a.m. As “The Deacon” at Oakland City College where he matriculated at age 28.
You were his grooms men and lifelong friends. At your mother’s behest, he guided and mentored one of you. To some, he was Hamlet in a well-received production by the Dramatics Club. Always grateful for the educational opportunity he was given there, he earned a Bachelor of Science in 1962 and made many return visits. As Mr. Callis, your English teacher or Drama Advisor at Triton Central High School and Seymour High School following his Master of Arts for Teachers from Indiana University in 1969. He enjoyed hearing from you and attending some of your reunions. Knowing he inspired theatre majors and encouraged new theatre groups brought him deep fulfillment.As “Slim” in Jackson County, Indiana, where he, along with his then-wife and mother of his children Mary Ann Danneil Callis, lived for over 25 years,rode his favorite Honda and BMW motorcycles over the blue highways, played Abe Lincoln for student groups, and wrote a long-standing column,“Meditations from the Milkhouse,” for The Jackson County Banner. He was the creative director and a founding father of the Royal Off-The-Square Theater,instrumental to the first productions at Pyoca, in the Brownstown Presbyterian Church (membership in1968), and at the county courthouse. He helped with the early renovations of the theatre’s first and current home on Walnut Street, serving as technical director and actor along the way.As the 16-year director of Camp Pyoca in Brownstown, Indiana, and mentor-cum-friend who could pitch tents and build cabins, drain the lake or canoe it as needed, tell ghost stories, lead hikes, and call owls.Some of his strongest non-family attachments were from the friends he made at church camp. He treasured your friendships, wore his SPAM hat and others, and never gave up on the idea of visiting you one more time. As a son of Indiana and Warrick County, especially. He loved the land — working it, driving or riding over it, hunting on it, gathering water from a particularly special and spiritual place, annual trips to certain walnut trees, helping to tend the family cemetery at Mt. Olive in Lynnville, where he will be laid to rest, and above all walking endless miles gathering the arrowheads and implements left by generations of previous residents. As “Hey, Neighbor” and friend who enjoyed your visits while out on his walks, under a shady tree in his backyard over the occasional beer, or the many hours spent over a cup of coffee at McDonald’s with The Prevaricator’s Club.As “Papa Slim” or “Papaw” to his son-in-law, Joel Aelick and former son-in-law Francisco “Paco” Hamm; and his grandchildren, Carmen Rebecca Gabaldón Hamm, Nicolas Gabaldón Hamm, Joshua Lloyd Aelick, and Justin Samuel Aelick. His writing and musical talents live on through them. As Mr. Callis to his kind and wonderful caregivers, especially Liz Murray (Boonville, Indiana); Jenny from Embrace Home Healthcare; and Latoya, Mechele and Mark from Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region; as well as Dickinson & Levine Hospice House at South minster. They knew him as a gentle man who enjoyed Jennifer’s cooking, a cup of coffee with a cookie or two, and watching the birds and squirrels from his new home in Charlotte, North Carolina.To us, his daughters, he was Dad — a man who loved his family and his dogs, was equally at home in a machine or carpentry shop as in the works of Shakespeare or Walt Whitman, and who found satisfaction in the deceptively simple things like husbandry, writing, and music that touch at the heart of what it means to be human. Your final and most enduring title is Heavenly Citizen.Your story is inspiring, Dad. We hope to live up to it, and we love you.
Visitation 10 a.m. and funeral at 11 a.m. at Fletcher Chapel UMC, Boonville IN Committal at Mt. Olive Cemetery, Lynnville IN Lunch following Committal, Fletcher Chapel UMC Thursday, July 29, 2021
Memorials may be made to any of the following or a charity of your choice:
• Mt. Olive Cemetery, c/o Connie Warren, 4433 N.State Route 61, Boonville IN 47601
• Oakland City University, 138 N. Lucretia St., Oakland City IN, 47660, Memo Line = “Arvil Callis Memorial”
• Jackson County Community Theatre, PO Box 65, BrownstownIN 47220 (or through link on this page:http://www.jcct.org/get-involved/), Memo Line = “Arvil Callis”