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Born: Thu., Sep. 27, 1945
Died: Tue., Apr. 20, 2010

Funeral Service

Sat., Apr. 24, 2010

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Robert E. Brittain, age 64, of Columbia City, IN was found passed away at 3:44 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at his residence. Born on September 27, 1945 in Columbia City, he was the son of Ernest and Velma E. (Paulus) Brittain.

He has spent his entire lifetime in the Columbia City area graduating from Columbia City High School with the Class of 1964. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Indiana University with the Class of 1968 and a Masters Degree from Indiana University in 1971. Mr. Brittain has spent his career teaching English and as a Speech and Debate coach at Columbia City High School since 1968, retiring in 2004. He coached 4 State Debate Championship teams. He continued a very close professional relationship with the high school, fellow teachers and his beloved students.

Mr. Brittain's memberships included, Blue River Community Church, where he faithfully served on the Board of Elders at the church, National Council of Teachers of English, Past President of Columbia City Kiwanis Club, a member of local, state and national Teachers Association and Indiana University Alumni, National Forensic League both the State and National Chapters, Peabody Library Board of Directors and the Landscape Committee of the Library, Whitley County Literacy Council Board of Directors, Bowen Center for Human Services Board of Directors, Columbia City High School Alumni Association President, in 1993 he received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award and others too numerous to mention over the years.

Survivors include his brother, Richard D. (Anna) Brittain of Powell, OH. He is preceded in death by his parents and 1 aunt, Edna Vance.

Visitation will be held on Friday, April 23, 2010 from 4-8 p.m. at DeMoney-Grimes Countryside Park Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City. Funeral service will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, April 24, 2010 at the funeral home with Pastor Brett Sauder of the Blue River Community Church officiating. Mr. Brittain will be sadly laid to rest beside his beloved parents at Blue River Cemetery, Columbia City. At the request of the family and in lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in memory of Mr. Brittain to Blue River Community Church, Whitley County Community Foundation, Columbia City High School Speech and Debate Department or the Columbia City High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home. Please visit www.demoneygrimes.com to send family condolences or sign the guest register book.

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Condolence Booklet

Randy Grimes
   Posted Wed April 21, 2010
To the Entire Brittain Family;

May each of you find courage to face tomorrow as you rest in the knowledge that we truly care about each of your needs and that we will walk beside you in your journey of grief.

Randy Grimes and the Staff of DeMoney-Grimes Funeral Home

Shannon (Galbreath) Eads
   Posted Wed April 21, 2010
I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of such an influential man. I have never known a teacher so dedicated to the success of his students and the success of the community at-large. Even though I moved from the area several years ago, one of my favorite summertime activities was visiting Mr Brittain in the Kiwanis trailer for corn dogs and fried pickles (Who would have ever thought those would catch on?). As a former student, I admit I did not always take his lessons as seriously as I should have, but I have never forgotten what he taught in the classroom or as the sponsor of CCHS Key Club. He inspired his students to be better, more involved citizens. His impact was wider and deeper than he knew. He will be missed.

Liz Berry Schatzlein
   Posted Wed April 21, 2010
Mr. Brittain was my 9th grade English teacher, but my major association with him came through speech and debate while I was in high school. I was able to reconnect with him over the past few years as my son competed in high school speech for Canterbury. I was so moved when Bob was on stage at Warren Central High School to present my son with his state finals award - how very appropriate! The speech and debate world will never have another one like him. May you and the community find peace during this difficult time.

   Posted Wed April 21, 2010
Mr. Brittain was an excellent teacher and man. He will be sorely missed in our community.

Marsha Vermilion
   Posted Wed April 21, 2010
Mr. Brittain helped shape the professional me into who I am today. His passion, his devotion, and his never-wavering attention to detail inspired countless students, and I was certainly one of them. For me, there was never any doubt that he deserved the respect afforded by the title MR. Brittain. (It was just within the past few years, since he retired, that I felt I could occasionally call him Bob when we ran into each other at speech meets.) God bless you, Mr. Brittain; God bless you Bob. Your legacy will live on in the lives of all the students who were privileged to have you as a teacher, a mentor, and a coach.

Marsha McKinley Vermilion
CCJHS Class of 1983

Julie Davis Turner
   Posted Wed April 21, 2010
Mr. Brittain provided for so many of us the foundation of true appreciation of language and literature: from our first experience with Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet to the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. (I can still hear his words about the albatross and "water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.") He demanded excellence of thinking, analyzing, and comparing. And it was in Freshman English where he provided so much to all of us through what we thought were "unrealistic" demands.
As my four years at Columbia City Joint High School came to a close, I began to realize what an impact he had on so many of us and how he enabled our education: 4am bus rides (weekly) to Indy or "the Region" for debate tournaments, attendance at every school play and most band concerts, and then every Thursday night in the Eagle's Nest, pushing out the weekly newspaper. He was also my homeroom teacher for those four years, where I could see into his world of stacked-up assignments awaiting grading, cabinets stuffed with yet-to-be-cataloged debate materials, and window-sills with boxes of ribbons and trophies for upcoming contests. In spite of his commitments, he never gave up on my poorly formed speeches, or my lackluster impromptu. He asked for more, he demanded more, and he *showed* us how to get there. He gave so much to so many.
And now I realize it has taken my early career for me to really appreciate the role he actually played in forming my path to interrogate life. Whenever I am asked, he remains my favorite teacher, because he lived commitment and honesty. Everyday, we use the mental skills and organizational abilities he found down deep inside of me and you. I pray that all of us will pass on his immortal legacy by offering thoughtful, skilled accomplishment and consistent selflessness. Through living these traits, we honor him and our Lord.

John and Jayne Bockman
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend and colleague of so many years. Those who knew him even slightly were aware that he was a gentleman and a gentle man. He cared deeply about his community and its welfare. Service was his calling, and teaching was his career. Our dear friend will be missed by so many whose lives he touched. His quiet manner, yet powerful contributions, will long be remembered by numerous individuals who had the honor of being able to call him teacher and friend.

Joni (Brown) Killian
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
My heart-felt prayers are with the family of this man who was so loved by all his students. I had the privilege of being one of them in the early 1980s in English class and as a writer for the Eagle. He earned our respect then and will be remembered as a man of character with high expectations from his students. We are all better writers and speakers because of his teaching. He will be dearly missed!

Darin Line
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
The Lord is going to have an awesome debate team. Few people will ever have the impact on as many lives as Mr. "B" had. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Paul A. Fleck
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
To the Family, Many Friends, and Many, Many Former Students of Mr. Brittain:

Mr. Brittain embodied servant leadership. Always available to his students and his community, he worked tirelessly for the promotion of their excellence and success in school and beyond. He challenged his students and accepted nothing less and nothing more than their best. To say that he was like a father or a friend does not do justice to the professionalism with which he approached his calling: He was an educator and mentor. We lost a great debate coach in Robert E. Brittain; heaven gained a great one. Thank you for all you did for us, Mr. Brittain.

Paul A. Fleck
CCJHS Class of 1988

Lisa Baker
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
I was so sorry to hear of Bob's passing. I knew him when I taught with him at Columbia City high school, and two of our sons worked with him on the speech and debate teams when they were in high school. He was a tremendously good influence on them, and an admirable role model for me, as a new teacher. He was definitely an asset to many, many young people whose lives he touched. He will be missed.

Linda Hicks
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
I coached against Bob and his teams for many years and consider him to be one of the best. He inspired all of us. Mu condolences to his family and extended family -- the students and graduates of Columbia City High School.

Jim Robbins
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
I coached debate for a number of years and Bob and I along with Ft. Wayne Elmhurst coach even went to each others schools during the week to have practice debates . I started my coaching career at Blackford High School and he along with Gary Schultz of Ft. Wayne Northside were of immense help when I was just starting out. There was no one more ethical than Bob. He will be missed. I lost my wife Joy in January so I know loss. "Death ends a life; but it does not end a relationship." My thoughts and prayers to his family and extended family.

Julie Stapel
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
To Mr. Brittain's family and the entire Columbia City High School community--I send my condolences. It was with great sadness that I learned of Mr. Brittain's passing. Mr. Brittain was so very influential in my life and my education and, even now, nearly over 20 years since graduating from high school, I continue to discover ways that he shaped who I am today. Mr. Brittain taught me to think and read critically and, especially, through 4 years of speech and debate, how to express myself effectively. I regret now that I did not thank him as much (or as deeply) as I should have.

Bob Beideck
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
It was a pleasure to know, Bob, someone who cared so much about speech and debate in general and not just his own team's. He was an inspiration to me and joined in the joy of my success in qualifying for state in original oratory, my senior year. I will miss seeing him when I judge at tournaments for my high school team. He his part of the reason I got to where I got, for he was my coach's mentor, teacher, and coaches. He will truly be missed, but he lived a great life and is in heaven with God, just like it should be.

Patty Kessie
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
My deepest sympathy to the family , friends and colleagues of Mr. Brittain. He was my Freshman year English teacher (1968-1969) and to this day I remember him well. Mr. Brittain made a very big impression on all of his students in one way or another. He will be sorely missed by all.

Patty J Kessie
Columbia City
Class of 1972

Kurt Patterson
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
My heart goes out to the Brittain family and the Columbia City community. I am saddened to hear of Mr. Brittain's death but I will always remember him with deep appreciation and a smile. He was a wonderful teacher and coach. I could not have asked for a better influence growing up.

Mrs. Barbara J. Pentangelo
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
I have fond memories of teaching English with Bob at CCJHS/CCHS. My first year at CCJHS was assisting Bob with the weekly newspaper and the Senior Eagle. My, have we moved on from counting copy, retyping the copy, and using a stylus to "burn" the page on the printing machine to then make copies! I still have a stylus if anyone needs an artifact! In an extra-curricular and academic teaching capacity, Bob allowed me to grow as a person and as a professional. He took that "newbie" no one and helped her blossom into a "someone." His integrity, dedication to students, tenaciousness, and slow-but-sure smile will always be remembered and also emulated, hopefully, by me. I remember the bus trips, standard stick shift of course, to Ball State for Journalism Day, and an English Department Christmas party at his house. We oldies but goodies remember the anecdotes he told during lunch or birthday celebrations in the English Office. We laughed about the trials and tribulations of his long lane, tractors, mowers, and wildlife. Now, Bob, don't go "debating" with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates! We need you on the inside watching out for us. No split infinitves, dangling participles, mixed metaphors, or comma splices allowed. Lovingly, Barb

Paul A. Miller
   Posted Thu April 22, 2010
It is impossible to post praises that will not be duplicated by others who have similar memories of an outstanding teacher and debate coach. (For me it was 1971 to 1974.) The last time I talked to him was in the summer of 1980 (?) when I was surprised to cross paths in an elevator of Eigenmann Hall at Indiana University. Bob told me that he was there for a summer session course at the School of Law. Why? Because taking a law school course was yet another way to build his skills as a debate coach. That sums up the kind of leader/mentor we all remember: always exceeding expectations. And year after year he and his colleagues made Columbia City High School a "powerhouse school" of speech and debate competitions. How many farming community schools consistently outgun the big city and private school teams in state-wide fields of competition? What a winning legacy! And in those days I don't think we realized just how fortunate we were to have been personally mentored by such an outstanding teacher. But we will never forget. Thank you, Mr. Brittain.

Don and Grace Brown
   Posted Fri April 23, 2010
The family of Mr. Brittian:
So Sorry about Mr. Brittian passing. I heard his name around our place many years because of his teaching abilities. He was hughly thought of. Our deepest condolences. The Browns, Lisa, Michelle, Angie, Joni, Leslie

Emily Gerdes Munk
   Posted Fri April 23, 2010
Bob and I attended several years of grade school and all of high school together. His mother was one of my 4-H leaders. I never saw him upset, and always with a smile. He certainly found his niche when he discovered speech class. What a passion he had for his vocation. He will be missed more than words can ever express..

Bill Hicks
   Posted Fri April 23, 2010
I can not begin to express the loss I'm feeling as Bob has passed on to a better place. I began teaching and coaching at Howe Military School in 1967 and a new coach arrived at Columbia City HS in 1968. We became close friends. We traveled the United States together as members of the NFHS Debate Topic Wording Committee (Bob authored the paper that became the national topic the year we debated "national health care". Bob always insisted we venture out to a local mall using public transportation. We were stranded when the buses stopped running in San Diego and had to get a lift from a friendly bus driver[driving workers to UPS] in Philadelphia. On the speech and debate circuit Tom Huber, Oak Hill HS, Bob and I shared the bus driving for our schools. Bob served as a District Chairman for NFL, from 1984 until the present, earning The Ralph Carey National Service Award last summer. Bob was an avid supporter of iu basketball. I still have the picture of him wearing a PURDUE sweatshirt at state debate one year. He was a long time member of the Executive Council of the Indiana High School Forensic League. He shared my love of accumulating things and we had a friendly competition over clutter in our offices. In 1984, when I moved (with all my "stuff") to Indianapolis, Bob was right there driving one of the U-Hauls with years of accumulated IHSFA material. He was a member of the committee that hosted Nationals in Indianapolis. I could go on and on.......I'm a much better person for having known and worked with Bob for the last 42 years. RIP.

Tom Hesting
   Posted Fri April 23, 2010
To Richard:
I was lucky enough to have your mother as a teacher at Collins. For the last couple of years I have driven the speech and debate team to contests. Nobody was more prepared or cared more about the kids he was taking. We talked a lot about the gool 'ol days and things present, it was so good to get to know him better. I will surely miss him alot.
9904 Tom Hesting

Holly Hathaway
   Posted Fri April 23, 2010
Bob was the kindest, most ethical man I have ever known. His gentle demeanor and quiet laughter made spending time with him a delight. It was a privilege to serve with him on the IHSFA Executive Council. Our discussion discussions and trips to Ripon are cherished memories of a cherished man. How blessed we were to have known and worked with him.

Holly Mettler Fry
   Posted Fri April 23, 2010
Mr. Brittain was a great teacher that made a huge impact. He showed me a love of Shakespeare and speech, and I've never forgotten it. Even to this day I'm comfortable speaking before crowds. And I really appreciate all his tireless efforts. I'll really miss him. Thanks for everything "big Bob." Holly Mettler Fry class of '84

Heather Fleck
   Posted Fri April 23, 2010
My condolences to Mr. Brittain's family and many friends. I am one of the privileged former students of Mr. Brittain, and as many others have expressed, believe his influence on my life has been immense. He taught me to think critically, write and speak well, and, most importantly, to challenge myself and be confident. His devotion to educating and shaping young people was unbelievable and so rare. I have been thinking of him often these past few days, and realize he will always be an important presence in my life.

Heather Fleck
CCJHS Class of 1990

Chuck and Linda Wilcoxson
   Posted Fri April 23, 2010
We were very fortunate to have been neighbors of the Brittains for 35 years. Bob will be solely missed.

Christopher Fields
   Posted Fri April 23, 2010
To the family of Mr. Brittain,

I was fortunate to have Mr. Brittain's mother many times as a substitute teacher and his father as my bus driver in jr. high. They were always kind and helpful. I met Mr. Brittain in his freshman English class and after a few discussions in class, was introduced to the world of speech and debate. That invitation began four years of "building character". His patience and guidance during those four years of Speech and Debate and the school newspaper helped me develop sklls that I use every day. He helped shape the person that I have become and I can only pray that every kid is fortunate enough to have a teacher like Mr. Brittain, the world would be a much better place. Thank you Mr. Brittain.

Christopher Fields
Class of 1983

Ann Wilson Smits
   Posted Fri April 23, 2010
My deepest sympathies to the Brittain family and to the CCJHS family. As a former student, many fond memories have surfaced when I received the news tonight of Bob Brittain's passing. The impact he has had on so many lives is impossible to measure. Not only will his loss be felt deeply by his family, friends and community but by his competitors as well because he pushed everyone to do their best and then some! He was a man of upright character, a true gentleman! May you feel God's comforting presence in your time of loss.

Melanie Grossman
   Posted Sat April 24, 2010
Mr. Brittain will be missed here greatly by the speech and debate community and I hope the rest of us can strive to be like him. I only have vague memories of him while I was a speech and debate competitor at another school years ago, but once I became a coach I came to greatly appreciate him. He was so approachable, that as a new coach I felt I could ask him anything and he never made me feel like he was too busy to answer. He was a coach you could tell was always looking out for the students, and no matter what school the students went to he wanted to make sure they all had opportunities and what they needed to do well. His wisdom, advice, and sense of humor will be missed.

My favorite memory of him is when we would compete at Columbia City High School, in the pre-tournament meeting he would remind everyone to take care of the school and try not to move anything -- but if we had to move things, make sure we everything (including the dust) back in their proper places.

Well done, good and faithful servant. We will do our best to continue the legacy you have helped build.

Archie Lintz
   Posted Sat April 24, 2010
Bob's reputation among the teaching staff in Whitley County was high, even among us elementary teachers who did not work closely with him. I had the pleasure of his company on a conference and wished he was a close daily colleague, because he was a great personality. My condolences to the family and friends of a great human being, a great teacher.
Archie Lintz

Domini Martin
   Posted Sat April 24, 2010
Mr. Brittain coached my coach, Linda Alt. He guided me and many of my classmates and competitors for years. He never ceased to have a smile on his face, or kind words for us Saturday after Saturday. Mr. Brittain made all of us better people, by exhibiting selflessness and leadership. He will be greatly missed. His love and compassion for everyone he met will continue to mold how we treat others.

Raymond Francis
   Posted Mon April 26, 2010
If a student is lucky, there is at least one teacher who blasts through the resistance and stubbornness of the young, developing mind. Mr. Brittain was that teacher for many students. He taught English, of course, but he also taught commitment by putting in countless hours and Saturdays coaching kids at speech and debate. He was patient, but he also insisted on putting in the hard effort to improve one's essays, speeches, and character. He was a true gentleman and a complete professional. Dealing with young people can cause anger and frustration, but Mr. Brittain exuded poise and calm. Mr. Brittain was the teacher who prodded and encouraged me, even when I was stubborn and recalcitrant. I was one of those lucky students. My condolences go to the Brittain family.

Joe Francis
   Posted Mon April 26, 2010
I have so many memories of his dedication. Long hours coaching speech and debate. Typing on the electric typewriter in the Eagle’s Nest late at night when there weren’t enough students to finish the job. Running the mimeograph machine early the following morning to produce the student newspaper. Driving a bus to and from speech and debate meetings. Giving my brother and I a ride home (on the other side of the county from his own home) when we couldn’t arrange our own transportation (this always left my parents mortified with embarrassment that Mr. Brittain went to so much trouble). His dedication was extraordinary.

But most impressive was what he did for the students. Over and over again, he took ordinary high school kids and made them into articulate and involved leaders. I don’t know how he did it, but maybe it was by believing that his students could do more and be more than they or anyone else could imagine. Somehow, he transmitted that belief to the students themselves.

He was a terrific educator and person.

Joe Francis, class of 1983

   Posted Mon April 26, 2010
I am sorry for the loss of Mr. Brittain, he was an excellent teacher to me, and encouraged me to learn beyond what was covered in class. His legacy lives on in the students he taught.

Gregory Francis
   Posted Mon April 26, 2010
In my box of high school items, I have a pass that is signed by Robert E. Brittain. In his rush, he forgot to date it or to indicate who the pass was for. I was so excited to have a free trip through the high school whenever I wanted. In hindsight, I wonder if he didn't do it on purpose to make me live up to his trust. That's what I remember most about Bob. Trust in his students to try hard, be ethical, and work to improve themselves.

I don't know how he found the time to keep up with all of his activities. He worked tirelessly on debate and the Eagle, and still found time for many other activities and teaching. He would drive me home late at night after we were the last people working on the newspaper. He picked up to attend a debate contest after I had moved to a different high school my senior year.

I've always been in awe of his dedication to his students and his community. He's a great example for everyone.

-Greg Francis
Class of 1985

Donna Terman
   Posted Mon June 14, 2010
After being in his mother's eighth grade class at Etna Troy, I was fortunate to be in Bob Brittain's very first freshman English class, in 1968 at CCJHS. How luck to have learned from both of them! That fall, Bob informed me that I was on the debate team, without giving me any choice in the matter, and there I stayed for four years. It was the best thing that could have happened, and 100% of the credit goes to Bob. Would I have made Phi Beta Kappa at Purdue and gone to Stanford Law School without Bob? Not a chance, no way, no how. He was the making of me.

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