The Princess City

A Museum for Mishawaka

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Our Mission

Highlighting the Extraordinary

The Mishawaka Historical Museum Corporation's mission is to preserve and celebrate Mishawaka's history, culture, and civic identity. We engage patrons with museum exhibits that include artifacts, historic photographs and other images, explanatory text about those items, and video. We also offer programs and events that nurture area residents' understanding of and interest in the history of Mishawaka. Our vision is to highlight and promote the extraordinary contributions of Mishawaka's people, businesses, and organizations, and to tell the story of events and landmarks that are significant to our community.

Meet the Board of Directors

Pete DeKever
President, Curator

Pete is a lifelong Mishawaka resident and a proud graduate of the Mishawaka High School Class of 1986.  He has taught at Penn High School since 1990, and his Spell Bowl and Academic Super Bowl social studies teams won a combined 28 state championships. For the past 25 years, he has also been researching and writing about Mishawaka’s history, including publishing widely read books on our city: With Our PastPast to Present, Freddie Fitzsimmons: A Baseball LifeWalking Mishawaka, and Rose Hartwick Thorpe and 150 Years of “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight”.  Pete is the Historian Laureate for the City of Mishawaka.

Randy L. Long
Secretary

Randy was born in South Bend and spent his formative years in Michiana, growing up primarily in Constantine, Michigan. Trips to the “big city” were often to Mishawaka. Randy joined the United States Navy in 1983 and served until the end of the first Gulf War in 1991. He works for the ANSI National Accreditation Board, accrediting laboratories testing various products which must meet government regulations. Randy has always had an appreciation for antique furniture and electronics and in more recent years an interest in U.S. history. Randy says, “I didn’t like history much in school, but now that I have some, I find it very interesting.”

Brianna Little
Board Member

Brianna grew up in Granger, Indiana, in a family that visited cemeteries for fun. She graduated summa cum laude from Saint Mary’s College with a BA in history, and she earned a master’s in library science from Indiana University, with a concentration in archives and records management. She has done work for The History Museum, Ruthmere Museum, the Saint Mary’s College Archives, and various libraries, and she is excited to be involved in the Mishawaka Historical Museum. After spending a few years in Bloomington and Baltimore, she returned to Mishawaka, where she is teaching her own children to appreciate local history.

Don Heirman
Founder, Past President

Don was a graduate of the Mishawaka High School Class of 1958.  He was born, raised, and lived in Mishawaka until he and his bride, Lois, moved to Arlington, Virginia, after Don graduated from Purdue University and their marriage on campus. After serving on active duty in the Pentagon, Don and Lois moved to New Jersey and were both employed by Bell Labs.  Don retired early after 34 years of service and started his own corporation in 1997—Don Heirman Consultants.  His continued interest in Mishawaka, where his parents lived for over 50 years, never waned to the extent that he formed the museum to spotlight the city’s history and served as its first president. Don died on October 30, 2020, and is buried with Lois in the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery. The Mishawaka Historical Museum honors Don Heirman’s memory by fulfilling his vision of a museum for his beloved hometown.

Joe DeKever
Founding Board Member

Joe was a lifelong Mishawaka resident and graduate of the Mishawaka High School Class of 1961. He worked for Mishawaka Federal Savings and MFB Financial for 44 years until his retirement. He served on the city council as councilman-at-large and wrote the weekly Joe’s Jottings, the Mishawaka Enterprise sports column, for over 40 years. He also attended the Indianapolis 500 race for 60 years and many Olympic Games. He was a strong advocate for Mishawaka and its unique identity. Joe was one of the Mishawaka Historical Museum’s founding board members and served as secretary and treasurer. He was a tireless advocate and fundraiser for the museum. Joe passed away on January 28, 2022, and is buried in his beloved Mishawaka. The Mishawaka Historical Museum lives on as a memorial to Joe’s devotion to our city and its history.