Quietly remarkable. That’s how Beryle Yvonne Longfield’s surviving daughter, Jean Pirtle, described her mother’s 100-year life the day she died on Friday, May 5, 2023, at Signature Healthcare in Terre Haute.
Yvonne was born to Clarence and Nora Charest in Detroit, Michigan, on Friday the 13th in October, 1922, a day she felt gave her a little bit of extra luck. She graduated from the Detroit Business University and went to work with the U.S. Navy as a teletype operator and personnel secretary, where she received the encoded message when World War II was declared and also met John Longfield. The couple was engaged before John left for duty on the battleship Idaho in the Pacific, and married when his ship returned for repairs following Kamikaze damage. When the Tokyo Bay surrender brought John home for good, they relocated to Indiana, where they welcomed daughters Judy in 1948 and Jean in 1951.
A wise person told Yvonne early in adulthood that beyond being a wife and mother, it was important to be truly engaged in her community. To say she took that advice to heart would be a serious understatement.
Yvonne was a powerhouse of energy with a relentless will for making a difference — in ways big and small. She served as an elder, secretary, and newsletter editor for Sullivan Presbyterian Church. She lent her voice to critical conversations about Sullivan’s schools and helped to craft the school policy handbook. She served as a Girl Scout troop leader and took the seat as the first-ever woman elected to Sullivan’s city council, which she governed as president for a term and provided leadership for in different capacities for 28 years.
And a great wife and mother Yvonne certainly was, too. Despite her many roles and responsibilities, she was never too busy to offer an honest word of wisdom to her daughters and nephews. She made time for the truly enriching things in raising a family, not the least of which was travel — across the country by car, from Sullivan to California and back through Canada and more. She picked up sick grandkids from school and cared for great grandkids so their parents could sleep between shifts at work. And when John became wheelchair-bound in 1992, she was steadfastly devoted in caring for him, and then soldiered on with the dignity and determination she was known for when he died seven years later.
So what was Yvonne’s secret to making it to 100 years old, with so many moments of truly meaningful life packed in? It wasn’t a secret at all, really. She’d tell anyone who would listen: “Every day — an ounce and a half of bourbon, five ice cubes, and fill your glass to the top with water.”
The takeaway? Perhaps we should all be having what Yvonne Longfield was having — in a cocktail glass, and in spirit.
Yvonne is preceded in death by her parents, her husband, brother Clarence, daughter Judy King, and son-in-law Wally King. She is survived by her daughter Jean (Dan) Pirtle, granddaughter Nicole (Mike) Caton, grandson Douglas (Sarah) Pirtle, great grandchildren Dakota, Nathan, Karver, Ava, Frank, Tucker, and Ivie, caring nephews, and a beloved friend, Ester.
Graveside service will be at 11:00 AM, Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Center Ridge Cemetery in Sullivan, Indiana with Rev. Dawn Black officiating. Arrangements were entrusted to Brust Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers the family request that memorial contributions be made to the John and Yvonne Longfield Endowment Fund at Wabash Valley Community Foundation or The Humane Society of Sullivan County.
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