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R. J. (Steve) Panke Passes Away

R.J. "Steve" Panke 87, former Indianapolis businessman and horse industry advocate, passed away on October 9, 2006. Mr. Panke was born September 12, 1919 in Josephville, MO, the son of Peter and Rose Wilmes Panke. 


He was a member of Civilian Conservation Corps and served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He started Panke Machinery Corp. in 1963, a distributorship for mining and heavy construction equipment. Mr. Panke was former president of the Associated Equipment Dealers, member of the Build Indiana Council, former president of Hamilton Western Utilities, and former board member of the Indiana Horse Council Foundation. He was a board member and past president of the Indiana State Fair Board. He was a board member of the Center for Agricultural Science and Heritage. 


Mr. Panke's greatest passion in life was horses. He owned Woodlands Stud in Danville, which raised American Saddlebred horses and was a partner with the late Ralph Wilfong in Standardbred race horses. He was manager of the All American Horse Classic Show, Indianapolis, for 36 years. He always maintained a vital interest in the Indiana State Fair, serving as project manager of the restoration of the ISF'S historic speed barns in 1997. Although retired, Mr. Panke remained active as a consultant to agriculture and horse racing entities, including Hoosier Park at Anderson. He was currently associated with Frick and Associates of Indianapolis. 


He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 52 years, Helen Dement Panke. He is survived by daughter, Claire Panke, Avon; brother, Alfred Panke, Frankfort; sisters: Clara Panke, Josephville, and Sister Mary Arilda Panke, O'Fallon, MO. 


Visitation will be held on Wednesday, October 11, 2006 at Baker Funeral Home, Danville from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. In lieu of flower, contributions may be made to All American Horse Charities c/o Baker Funeral Home, 387 East Broadway St., Danville, Indiana 46122.

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