The Honorable George Vann, age 92, of Ogden Dunes, IN, passed away on Monday, April 6, 2020. George was born on October 14, 1927, as George Savanovich and was raised in “The Harbor” in East Chicago. As a child, young George had a great affinity for eating cookies, which led to his being given the nickname “Cookie”. While Cookie changed his last name to Vann in 1959, for professional reasons, he was known as Cookie Savanovich for his entire life to his family, friends, the entire East Chicago community, and probably the entire Region. He attended East Chicago Washington and was very proud to be a Senator. Like many Indiana boys at the time, he loved basketball. As a senior in high school, Cookie and his buddies led an ECW basketball team that was a powerhouse. Their team was the #1 ranked team in the state for most of the season. He and his teammates hooped their way to a Sectional Championship, a Regional Championship and then a Semi-State Championship. Cookie and his teammates made their way to Indianapolis to play in the Hinkle Fieldhouse for the State Finals before over 15,000 hopeful and excited basketball fans. The ECW boys played their hearts out but fell to eventual State Champion Shelbyville. After the dust had settled, Cookie was selected as an Indiana All-Star, the highest and most cherished accolade an Indiana high school basketball player may attain. Along with Cookie, his dear friend and spectacular player Ray Ragelis was also selected. One of Cookie’s fondest recollections was the pounding his Indiana All-Stars gave to the Kentucky All-Stars in Indianapolis, an 86-50 victory! After high school, Cookie left his beloved “Harbor” and attended Wabash College. At Wabash College, he received a great education that would lay the groundwork for him to attend law school at Indiana University. The summer before he left for Wabash College, Cookie met Ruth Blankenship, who had just bought an ice cream cone from Larry’s Drug Store in the Harbor. Cookie asked if he could try the ice cream she just purchased and Ruth said yes! The next week they had their first date at Wells Street Beach. This sparked a love for each other that would last a lifetime and a love for the beautiful Indiana beaches and Lake Michigan. While at Wabash, Cookie continued playing basketball. Some of the highlights of his career were being named most valuable player for one season and scoring 18 points in a game against a very good Notre Dame team. After Wabash College, he made his way to Bloomington to attend law school at IU. While in law school, his love of basketball continued. During his last year of law school he played in the Serbian National Basketball Tournament for the East Chicago team and was named to the Serbian National Federation All-Star Basketball Team. Ruth accompanied Cookie down to IU to attend undergrad. Ruth was intent to graduate in the three years it was going to take Cookie to finish law school. She did. While at IU, Ruth and Cookie married on June 12, 1954 beginning what would become a 65 year marriage. After law school, Cookie served his country in the US Army for two years. Upon being honorably discharged from the US Army, Cookie started his legal career, a legal career that touched thousands. A legal career that he dedicated to public service, his clients, and above all else, justice. Early in his legal career, Cookie was appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana. In September of 1960, he left the US Attorney’s Office to become a Senior Partner in the law firm of Barce, Barce and Vann in Kentland, IN. He served for over twenty years as Deputy and Prosecuting Attorney of Newton County. In 1986, he was elected as the Judge of the Circuit Court of the 79th Indiana Judicial Circuit. During his tenure as Circuit Court Judge, he was a member of the Civil Instructions Committee of the Indiana Supreme Court. On June 12, 1998, he was presented with the Czar Dushan Award by the Serbian Bar Association of the United States for his distinguished service in the legal community. Upon the conclusion of his legal career, Cookie and Ruth took a different path than most. Rather than retire to Florida, they chose to return to their roots and retire on Lake Michigan. They bought a beach house in Ogden Dunes which they dubbed the “family compound.” He was a Die Hard Cubs fan and was fortunate to live long enough to see his beloved Cubbies win the 2016 World Series. He also loved to golf, play tennis, run and draw with his grandchildren. Cookie was all about providing for his family and welcoming his many friends. With a big infectious smile and unrivaled hospitality, Cookie and Ruth welcomed so many people to their beachfront dream. Those fortunate enough to be a part of it will never forget. While Cookie will never be forgotten, he is survived by his wife Ruth Vann, (nee Blankenship), his daughter Laura Vann Childers (Stanley) of Ogden Dunes, IN and his son Robert Vann (Aimee) of Hobart, IN. Cookie is survived by his loving grandchildren David, Cassie, Gillian, Audree, Ty and Jackson; step-grandchildren Samantha and Zachary; great step-grandchildren Lilly and Benjamin; and Abigail and Gavin. Also surviving are George’s sister Violet Badovinich; nephews Rick Badovinich, Cary Badovinich, Brian Drazich, Gregory Jordan and Jeffrey Jordan; nieces Teri Blankenship Mallory and Roberta Drazich Pietz; brother-in-law Elmer (Lillian) Blankenship. George was preceded in death by his daughter, Lisa (Vann) Libbing, his parents Michael and Josephine Savanovich, his brother Robert Savanovich and two sisters, Annie Drazich and Dorothy Jordan.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a celebration of life will be held at a later date.
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