Apr 29, 2023

Marcia Wilhoite remembered as backbone of Boone County council

Loved ones remembered Boone County Council member and long-time farm proprietor Marcia Wilhoite as a dedicated public servant, committed community volunteer and financial wizard who kept county business humming along.

"She knew everything numbers, I don't know where we would be without her," said Councilor John Riner. "And she knew the history and had knowledge about the community that was just as valuable."

Wilhoite, 65, was found in her Lebanon swimming pool shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday. The Boone County Sheriff's Department said there did not appear to be anything suspicious about the death. The county coroner was scheduled to conduct an autopsy Tuesday.

Wilhoite and her husband, Alan, own Lebanon-based Wilhoite Family Farms, and she served on the county council since 2005. The University of Notre Dame graduate was a certified public accountant who opened her own firm in 1991 and did the books for many area farmers, including Riner.

"She could have made more money by not being so involved but she was a believer that if you are part of a community it is your duty to give something back," said Riner, who hired Willhoite 40 years ago.

Wilhoite was active in the 4-H Clubs, on the Boone County Redevelopment Commission and the regional electrical cooperative and a member of the Boone County Solid Waste Board.

But she shone as the County Council's Budget Committee chair.

"She lived and breathed accounting and was a dear woman who had so much historical knowledge," said County Council President Elise M. Nieshalla. "Her family farm is a pillar of this community,"

Wilhoite's daughter, Madeline Young, said the farm goes back at least three generations on her mother's side and has been managed by her father and siblings, while her mother handled the books.

Many of her clients became friends for life and it's likely many also own a memento of that friendship.

"She loved quilting and made baby blankets, so there are hundreds of people out there who have one of those," Young said. "It was a way of showing she cared."

Wilhoite had a "quirky side," too she said.

"She made up silly songs and silly dances around children," Young said. "Maybe it was a way to relieve stress from the accounting."

Councilor Aaron Williams said Wilhoite "took me under her wing" when he was appointed to fill a vacancy in 2021 and he has become close to the family since, often visiting the farm and attending a surprise 65th birthday party for her last month.

"She became like a mentor and mother figure to me at once," said Williams, the first Black person to be elected to the council. "She had an amazing ability to see beyond the future and wanted to leave things in a better place."

Wilhoite planned to retire after her term ended in 2024 but the last couple years have been personally agonizing for her, Williams said.

Wilhoite's son, Andrew Wilhoite, is in Boone County Jail awaiting trial on a murder charge. Prosecutors said Wilhoite hit his wife of 12 years, Nikki Wilhoite, in the head with a flower pot and dumped her in a creek in March 2022.

The Boone County sheriff handed the investigation over to the Indiana State Police to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest because of Wilhoite's position on the council.

The trial is scheduled for Sept. 18 in Boone County Superior Court in Lebanon.

Williams said the charges weighed heavily on Wilhoite, who loved her daughter-in-law and is a devoted mother.

"It was tragic and it was hard on her," he said. "She has a backbone and a grit and her daughter-in-law was like a daughter to her. Marcia embodies the importance of family and wanted to stay strong. As a mother, she handled the situation as best as she could."

Call the reporter at 317-444-6418.