April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Hope loses long-time community leader

By HSJ Online [email protected]

The town of Hope has lost a long-time community leader and half of a couple that has been a driving force in the town for generations.

Norma Clouse, 94, died on Sunday, April 10th at Our Hospice of South Central Indiana, leaving behind Merrill, her husband of 74 years, among others.

She and Merrill, have been community leaders whose guidance led to the creation of Hope Heritage Days, the establishment of the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment and the start of the Yellow Trail Museum.

"Whenever you talk Merrill Clouse, you are talking Norma," said Tom Miller. "They are the best example of a husband and wife team in this community that we have seen in a long, long time."

Miller, who worked with the Clouses on the formation of the endowment, said their support was instrumental in getting the project off the ground. He said the support of the Clouses in a project meant others would follow and support it also.

"They were that quiet force behind a lot of the good things that have happened in the Hope community for the last 30 or 40 years," Miller said.

"It is a loss to the community," Miller said. "Even for someone who is 94 years old, they have still have had an impact on the community after their active working years, which were long."

The Clouses were the long time owners of the IGA grocery store on the Town Square. Beth Ellison worked for them at the store for 14 years, starting in the mid 1970s. Ellison recalls the Clouses being excellent bosses.

"They made it feel like it was a big family up there at the store," Ellison said.

She said the atmosphere at the store made for loyal and long-time employees.

"She was an awesome lady.... She worked many, many hours up at that store. She was probably one of the firsts one in and the last to leave."

Barb Johnson, director of the Yellow Trail Museum, remembers their help launching the museum including providing rent-free space for the growing collection in its early days. But they were involved in almost everything in town, Johnson said.

"She was a very mild-mannered, very well-organized person," Johnson said. "She wasn't one to step on toes, at all. Very hard-working and involved in anything that came along. She was not the type of person that got bossy when it came time to do something but yet everyone knew where she stood on an issue. And were able to work together, thanks to her."

"She was just one of those people that were always, not in the limelight, but working on the fringe and probably the person who got the most done, actually."

Tom Finke, president of the Hawcreek-Flat Rock Area Endowment, said that the Clouses are members of the fund's Orchard Society of major donors.

[[In-content Ad]]