View Full Version : Wife of Stude. Employee Passes

07-22-2009, 09:44 PM
Anyone in South Bend area remember Mr. Ullrey from 1978 and prior? He COULD have been a Studebaker owner. :)

From the South Bend Tribune, July 20, 2009

Diamond Avenue fire victim, 92, 'wasn't ready to go'
Son recalls her vitality; arson suspect still sought by police.

South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

An article in the May 20, 1962, edition of Michiana magazine, a longtime supplement to the Sunday South Bend Tribune, mentioned that only "amiable women of good character" were taken into the Michiana Chapter of the Sweet Adelines, a national association of women's barbershop quartets.

Thula "Sue" Ullrey, an alto and a South Bend area recruiter for the Michiana Chapter, could certainly be described in those terms, her son said. On the magazine's cover, she is pictured at far right, smiling and holding a washtub bass next to three other women.

"This is a woman who made tremendous contributions to life," 66-year-old Cincinnati resident Bruce Ullrey said late last week, during a break from preparations for his mother's funeral service, which took place Saturday. "She was very involved in politics she worked the polls for many years and she was an avid reader."

Thula Ullrey, 92, died July 11 at St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Wayne, where she had been rushed five days earlier after suffering critical injuries in a fire at her home in the 700 block of Diamond Avenue.

Investigators allege 29-year-old Douglas Grant, a homeless man, intentionally set the fire as an act of revenge against Thula Ullrey's neighbors. Grant has been charged with murder in the case and remains at large.

Thula Ullrey had lived alone at the home since her husband's death in 1978, her son said. The couple moved there from Mishawaka in the mid-1940s, he said, when his father was still an accountant for Studebaker Corp.

During the fire, the home and most of its belongings were destroyed, Bruce Ullrey said, including a studio grand piano his mother and father, also a member of a barbershop quartet, used for rehearsals.

Only memories remain.

"I grew up in that house, so that's one of the extra sad parts," Bruce Ullrey said. "Not only did I lose my mom, but I lost my childhood home."

Besides music, Thula Ullrey also loved Notre Dame football, her son said, cheering the squad even during the lean years.

"Her passion for Notre Dame was unquenchable," Bruce Ullrey said. "Even during the bad years, she said, 'Well, don't give up on 'em, they're gonna come back.' "

She also had a sweet tooth, he said, but refused to allow her three children to indulge theirs.

"She would never let us have chocolate," Bruce Ullrey said, "only chocolate cake once a year on our birthdays. But we would always find Hershey's wrappers around the house. She told us she had a bushel basket of chocolate hidden somewhere around the house, and we would never find it."

To her last day, Thula Ullrey remained active, her son said. She had "rickety knees," he said, but was otherwise in good mental and physical health. The day before the fire, she attended a concert.

"The perception I hear from people is that she was old and she must have lived a full life," Bruce Ullrey said, "but this woman wasn't ready to go."

Staff writer Erin Blasko:
(574) 235-6187