Published 7:22 am Saturday, May 22, 2004
By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Cassopolis VIgilant
CASSOPOLIS -- When tragedy struck the Linton family they weren't prepared, even dealing every day with grieving relatives at Michiana Monuments out on Robinson Road.
Stephen Ray Linton, 51, of Cassopolis, died on Aug. 23, 2003, when his yellow-and-white Cessna 140 plunged into Juno Lake in Calvin Township.
The southbound plane clipped power lines which cross the channel between Juno and Painter lakes and crashed in approximately 20 feet of water just east of Camp Wildwood. Linton was an experienced pilot who flew out of Elkhart Municipal Airport and from Don Duck's airstrip in Adamsville.
Linton, the Ross Beatty High School wrestling coach, opened Michiana Monument, a tombstone engraving business outside of Cassopolis, in 1991. The last two years before his death he had worked closely with his father Ron in the business.
Linton grew up in Elkhart, Ind., and worked as a former sheriff's deputy for the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department between 1974 and 1984. His father is retired from the Elkhart Police Department, "the only one of five friends still alive," he added.
Ron lives at Kelsey Lake, between Dowagiac and Cassopolis. His wife Jean works in Dowagiac at Signal Travel.
Ron has continued to keep the business open and has included Steve's sons.
All three boys were in the Navy at the time of their father's death. Trev, 26 and Joe, 23 are presently learning from their grandfather. Joe is doing recruiting for the Navy in Niles. Josh, Joe's twin, is still in the Navy stationed in San Diego, Calif. with one year left.
Trev, a 1997 Ross Beatty graduate is married to Tammi (Bowers), a '98 grad. They have two sons, Blake, 5 months and Tate, 2 and a half, who just returned home to recover from open heart surgery.
Not only are monuments personalized for humans. The Lintons have had requests for rocks engraved with sports teams and pet's names.
They also can have photos added, either etched or on porcelain.
May bring their busiest time of the year, with Memorial Day coming.