John F. Datena

John F. Datena

86, Speedway, Indiana passed away Tuesday February 5th 2013 at his home after a lengthy illness.

John was born in Frankfort New York in 1926, the son of Mary and Frank Datena. In 1942, the family moved to Elkhart, Indiana and John graduated from Elkhart High School in 1944. After his first semester at Purdue University John was drafted into the U.S. Army and served until 1946. After his Honorable Discharge from the Army he resumed his studies at Purdue graduating in 1950 with a Bachelor of Sciences Degree in Forestry. After graduation John began working for the old Conservation Department in the State of Indiana and held several positions in Indiana's Department of Natural Resources retiring after 39 years as the Director of the Division of Forestry. John thoroughly enjoyed his work and the land owners with whom he worked, looking forward to each day.

Upon his retirement in 1989, John began spending time at his forest land in Eastern Greene County Indiana, putting into practice what he had preached for many years, managing the timber, building ponds for wildlife and carving trails for walking. John loved to walk the trails, work in the woods and just sit and enjoy the fruits of his love of forestry.

John was a member of the Roman Catholic Church and attended Saint Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church. He was a member of the Linton Indiana Elks Lodge and several forestry groups and was active in the forestry groups until his health no longer permitted it. In 1979, John was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Bowen.

John is survived by his wife of 61 years, Betty, two sons Michael Datena, Odenton, MD and Stephen Datena, and Stephen's daughter Meredith, Portland OR and his two beloved daughter's-in-law, Ellen and Lori. John was preceded in death by his parents and three sisters and a brother. He is survived by two sisters and a brother.

The family wishes to thank all those who cared for John during his lengthy illness.

Special thanks go to Dr. Fred Butler and Dr. Barry Krieble for their wonderful medical care, and their kindness and support over the past several years, also The Indiana University Health Hospice Group for being there when they were needed most. Special thanks to Melissa, Shane and Dr. Michael Graham. We also wish to thank the volunteers and staff of Indiana University Health West, especially Andrea, Lynne and Sharon.

Per John's wishes, there will be no viewing. A Celebration of his Life will be held at a later date at the farm he loved so much. Friends wishing to visit the family may do so at John and Betty's home.

Those wishing to make a contribution in John's name should do so to the Riley Foundation for Children or Indiana University Health Hospice. John also asked that everyone practice wise management of our resources for the future or plant a tree.

Online condolences may be shared at

Published in the The Indianapolis Star on Feb. 8, 2013