John Ames, age 89, departed to play a new game on Thanksgiving Day Thursday November 28, 2019. He is survived by his wife Sandra Ames that he absolutely admired and adored, his best friend and son Benjamin Ames, his sister and closest confidant Marylin Decker, children by marriage Kristie Knorr, Keanan and Doria Kintzel, and Kurtis and Mimi Kintzel, his grandchildren Stephen (Katie) Knorr, Nicole (Ben) Kelly, Sandra (Tyler) Pearson, Sarah (Joseph) Appel, Jake Kintzel, Michael (Michele) Conn, Kendall Knorr, Sky Kintzel and Soleil Kintzel, as well as nieces, nephews, nine great-grand-children, and thousands of beautiful smiles across the globe. John is predeceased by his sister Catherine.
In his own words "My fundamental purpose is to be able to make some lives happier and better through the use of my talents, skills, experiences and sensitivity. For those of you suffering from the delusion that nature cannot be improved upon, look at the positive and powerful effects a beautiful smile has on another." Dr. Ames was born on August 4, 1930 at Methodist Hospital in Gary. His parents were June Elizabeth (nee Cunningham) and Lewis B. Ames. John, his parents and two sisters lived in Union Township where John was the local paperboy, devoted life-long member of the Wheeler United Methodist Church, attended Wheeler Elementary School and graduated from Wheeler High School with the class of 1948. Rumor has it with possibly a little embellishment that Dr. Ames was an absolute stud athlete as the captain of his Wheeler High School basketball and baseball teams, a heartthrob on par with James Dean, a skilled hitch hiker that traveled back and forth to Bloomington using his feet and thumbs, and even caught the largest fish ever in Lake Michigan (or perhaps the pond on his property). He loves following the Chicago Cubs, a good fish story and joking around warmed his heart, especially jokes about Purdue and the Lake County Democrats. Dr. Ames received his Bachelor of Science with majors in chemistry, anatomy and physiology and earned a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree with honors, all from Indiana University in Bloomington. Following dental school graduation, Dr. Ames served three years as a full Lieutenant serving his country through the U.S. Health Services in the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines as Chief Dental Officer in Chicago and Portland, Oregon. Dr. Ames patients were members of the various armored services, F.B.I., and the US Department of Internal Affairs. He received his honorable discharge in 1959 becoming a proud veteran and continued his pursuit of excellence in dentistry returning to Indiana to live and realize his occupational dreams, especially providing expert dental care to the people of his hometown. As both his parents were without a high school education, he has been a strong advocate of continuing education, even becoming a graduate of an Ivy Tech course in his mid-80s. He traveled extensively throughout the US, Canada, and the European Country of Austria in furthering his dental education receiving many accolades along the way. Dr. Ames was honored with a Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD), awarded to only five percent of all dentists practicing in the United States. He was a member of many professional organizations. Dr. Ames was written up in the Post Tribune, Chicago Magazine, many dental journals, and other publications for the beautiful reconstructive work he did on battered women, seniors, and the many pro-bono dental cases he took on to help people in need. He often said he was blessed to have grown up in a small country town whereas his first job as a paperboy would allow him to know just about everybody in town. His favorite hobby was amateur photography, loved following Chicago sports, fishing, loved a Dairy Queen ice cream sundae, and occasionally enjoyed a Blue Moon with an orange slice. Some of his fondest memories were those of playing baseball and basketball with his boyhood friends at Wheeler High School. He recently put on his Letterman's sweater and went through his year book and team pictures, easily rattling off the names of all of his teammates. On November 12, 2019, Dr. Ames had the best night at a Florida ocean front restaurant watching the sunset, devouring grilled scallops, listening to a live Jimmy Buffet style band, and cuddling up to and dancing the night away with his beautiful, lively wife. Their remarkable last dance generated a standing ovation and was a cherry on top of Dr. Ames wonderful ice cream sundae life.
A memorial service for friends and family will be hosted at Wheeler United Methodist Church on Saturday December 14th. Doors will open at 3:00 for a reception with a message delivered by Pastor Dave Benning at 4:00. In lieu of flowers, Dr. Ames requested those that want to contribute make a donation instead in his name to the Wheeler United Methodist Church, PO Box 113, Wheeler, Indiana 46383 where his small-town country church had such a great influence on the aspirations of his life.