Terry White gives a tour of the museum. Photo Provided.
Terry White gives a tour of the museum. Photo Provided.
WINONA LAKE – The most recent release in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books, subtitled “Age is Just a Number,” features a Winona Lake resident who accidentally stumbled into a new career in his 70s.

The book went on sale Tuesday at Wal-Mart, in bookstore chains and on Amazon.com.

Dr. Terry White, retired Grace College professor, is featured in an article titled “Accidental Historian.” White, who does not have an academic background as a historian, details in the article how he came to be known as “Mr. Winona History” in the Warsaw/Winona Lake area.

Sometime around 2011, White began thinking about the upcoming centennial of the incorporation of Winona Lake as a town, which occurred in June 1913. He began asking whether any celebrations were being planned (they were not) and whether the history of the town had been updated from the Gaddis and Huffman history, which had been published more than 50 years ago.

Sensing a need, White began collecting material, interviewing town officials and senior citizens and prowling the archives in the Grace College library, the Indiana Room of the Warsaw Community Public Library and the files of the Winona History Center in Westminster Hall in Winona Lake. His wife agreed to frequent local garage sales, keeping an eye out for materials on local history and scrapbooks of newspaper clippings about Winona’s history.

The result was the publication, in June 2013, of a 340-page illustrated book titled “Winona at 100: Third Wave Rising.” In consultation with local academic Dr. Steve Grill, White detailed the history of Winona Lake in 20 chapters, featuring not only Winona Lake celebrities Billy Sunday and Homer Rodeheaver, but also including chapters on the restoration of the town, crimes and tragedies in Winona Lake, notable structures throughout the history of the town and more.

With the publication of the book came invitations to speak at local service clubs and the eventual creation of a half-dozen PowerPoint presentations. The most popular, according to White, is titled “Bibles, Booze and Billy,” which details the Bible Conference movement at Winona, the Temperance Movement that was active here and the two Billys whose ministry have roots in Winona Lake – Billy Sunday and Billy Graham.

White’s article concludes, “So at a time when I thought I was about to retire (age 70), this whole new career appeared and has come to be one of the greatest joys of my life. We feed historical information regularly into the Facebook pages of the Winona History Center and the town of Winona Lake and would invite anyone interested or who is passing through northern Indiana to visit us at the Winona History Center, 105 Ninth St., Winona Lake.”

Editors of the Chicken Soup series point out that White’s chapter was one of 101 selected from more than 5,000 submissions. “Age is Just a Number” is available at Wal-Mart, bookstore chains and on Amazon.com, as is “Winona at 100: Third Wave Rising.”