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John Sinks dies; served 32 years in House, Senate

– John R. Sinks Jr., a Fort Wayne teacher and guidance counselor for 38 years and a state legislator for 32 years, died Dec. 8 in Pennsylvania, where his son’s family lives. He was 83.

Sinks taught government at Elmhurst High School until his retirement in 1993, and he served 32 consecutive years in the Indiana House and Senate until his retirement in 1996.

“He had a profound effect on a lot of people,” John Sinks III said. “My whole life I’ve run into people he’s impacted.”

Sinks died of Alzheimer’s after being diagnosed about eight years ago, his son said.

Born in Fort Wayne, the elder Sinks graduated from North Side High School and served in the Air Force during the Korean War. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and later earned a master’s degree in education from Ball State University.

Sinks said his father’s generosity with his time for constituents was sometimes difficult for him to understand growing up. Now he is grateful.

“He was always so giving to other people, he was committed to his constituents. I had about the best role model a person could have,” the younger Sinks said. “If he believed he could help them, he would do anything he could, that was just his nature. … He was on the phone lot or being pulled aside at a restaurant a lot or pulled aside at church. But he was very patient and always willing to see what he could do.”

Sinks said his father, a Republican, was respected by all.

“He was a unique breed of politician,” Sinks said. “He was respected by not only those in his own party, but those he went up against.”

Tim Borne, CEO of Asher Agency, was in Sinks’ classroom in 1964 and said the experience still affects him.

“He was just one of those teachers where I had a profound experience in learning what he taught me,” Borne said. “That’s kind of what got me interested in government, politics, governance and public policy.”

Borne majored in political science in college because of Sinks, he said.

“He was one of the coolest guys you could ever meet,” Borne said. “I would drop over to his house and just chat long after I was out of high school. He was still fun to learn from.”

Sinks was an active member of the Scottish Rite, where he was awarded the 33rd degree for his community service, the Mizpah Shrine and Trinity Episcopal Church.

Besides his son, Sinks is survived by his daughter-in-law, Lisa Sinks, and grandson Dane Sinks.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Trinity Episcopal Church, 611 W. Berry St. Calling is from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Klaehn, Fahl & Melton Funeral Home, 420 W. Wayne St., and from 10 a.m. until time of services at church Monday.

Memorial contributions can be made to the church or the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, www.alzfdn.org.

dstockman@jg.net

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