Dr. E. DeWitt Baker was the president of Huntington College from 1965 to 1981, bringing to the position the sensibilities and dedication of the missionary he had been for 16 years. Enrollment grew steadily in the Baker years. A residence hall, the Huntington Union Building were built, the Merillat Physical Education Complex was begun and Lake Sno-Tip was completed during his term as president. Baker was revered in the African nation of Sierra Leone, where he had served as a missionary. He was the driving force behind the establishment of a number of United Brethren in Christ mission schools there, including two high schools that brought literacy and hope for a better life to thousands. After he returned to Huntington, Dr. Baker used his contacts in Sierra Leone to gain a foothold in that country for a polio-eradication initiative that had been started in the late 1970s by Rotary International.
The man who would write the definitive history of early Huntington County got his start as the area’s original music man. Born in 1859 in Roanoke, Frank Sumner Bash was a farmer and had a piano and organ business. He was a singer and choirmaster, and taught and promoted music throughout the county. He headed many musical societies and performed across the country. Bash entered the world of journalism, eventually became editor of the Daily and Weekly Herald, where he remained for 17 years. In 1914, he compiled a book, “The History of Huntington County,” a two-volume, 850-page tome written with the help of U.S. Lesh, Monroe Wiley and Frank A. Miner. Bash continued to write about the history of Huntington County, interviewing county residents for a series of newspaper columns from 1922 to 1931. Many of the subjects were the county’s oldest residents who recalled their memories of the earliest days of Huntington County.
Eugene B. Habecker was born in the house he grew up in – one of six siblings on a dairy farm in Lancaster County, near Hershey, Pa. As a student with “big dreams” of a life beyond bucolic Pennsylvania, he yearned for an education at a Christian college. He found that at Taylor University, where he also found a fellow student, Marylou Napolitano, who would become his wife. Habecker came to Huntington in the summer of 1978 as the eventual successor to President E. DeWitt Baker. He spent his first year on the job assembling the college’s long-range development plan, which has served as the blueprint for the ongoing physical transformation of the campus. At age 35, Habecker became one of the youngest college presidents in America. For the next decade, Eugene Habecker worked to carry out the plan he had designed. He left Huntington in 1991 to head the American Bible Society, then returned to Taylor as its president in 2005. He retired from Taylor in 2016.
One of the country's most decorated sportswriters and sports authors, Hammel was named Indiana sportswriter of the year 16 times and has been honored by numerous halls of fame. A graduate of Huntington High School, the longtime sports editor of the Bloomington Herald-Times has covered NCAA basketball championships and multiple Olympic Games, among many other top events. He is the author of several books, including numerous publications on the Indiana University men's basketball team and coach Bob Knight.
Fred Loew was a Michigan native who was among the earliest graduates of Huntington College. He returned to his alma mater just two years later — in 1904 — to teach botany and biology. Those pursuits led him into the broader study of agriculture, inspiring him to establish a degree program and an agricultural experiment station on campus. During World War I, Loew was tapped to organize 60 acres of community “victory gardens,” and that effort led to his being appointed in 1918 as the county’s first Agricultural Agent. He served just four years in that capacity, but is credited with championing the cold pack method of canning and introducing soybeans to northeast Indiana as a cash crop. Loew taught at Huntington College for more than 30 years, and during that time was instrumental in creating the school’s botanical garden/arboretum and its herbarium. The herbarium contains more than 12,000 plant species from Huntington County and survives to this day. Loew also championed development of local 4-H program and, as an influential fair board member, was a driving force in imparting a 4-H focus to the annual Huntington County Fair.
Perhaps the best-known Catholic communicator of his time, the works of Archbishop John F. Noll and his Huntington-based Our Sunday Visitor publication reached nearly every Catholic household in the country, with a circulation of 1 million at its peak. He was an outspoken advocate for numerous causes and worked against anti-Catholic efforts. He was instrumental in the building of churches, schools and orphanages, and was a best-selling author of numerous books.
Eiffel Plasterer was a teacher-turned-showman who used the humble soap bubble to both instruct and entertain. He became intrigued by bubbles as a physics student at DePauw University in the 1920s, and after a 40-year career teaching physics at Huntington High School, took his “Bubbles Concerto” to audiences across America. He created bubbles in unusual colors and geometric shapes, while some would perform “tricks” at his bidding. Along the way, Plasterer used his fragile tools to impart lessons in chemistry, physics … or everyday aspirations: “Life,” he once observed, “is like blowing bubbles – our hopes and our dreams. And they don’t all have to break.”
In 1904, Luke Scheer was born in Huntington County, and from an early age he was immersed in the rich native history of the area,. His mother Elizabeth was raised in St. Marys, Kansas, which had been a Jesuit Mission for the Pottawatomi. As a child, Scheer attended Miami-center events, such as the 100th birthday of Kilsoquah, the granddaughter of Little Turtle. As an adult, Scheer followed his interest in the Miami people. In 1943, he purchased the historical home of Miami (Myaamia) leader Jean Baptiste Richardville located at the Forks of the Wabash, near Huntington. He spent years researching and preserving the Miami culture. Through his work, he gained a reputation for being knowledgeable in Miami history and genealogy. He was a champion for the Miami’s rights and was dedicated to the goal of federal recognition of the Miami Indians of Indiana. He helped lay the groundwork for Huntington’s Historic Forks of the Wabash.
Among the greatest sportscasters of all time, Chris Schenkel broadcast sports on television and radio from all corners of the world. With his recognizable baritone, the Bippus native was the voice of New York Giants football, boxing, Triple Crown horse racing, the Masters golf tournament and the Olympics, among many others. Later in his career he became the most recognizable broadcaster in the history of professional bowling. Schenkel was National Sportscaster of the year four times. He was inducted into 16 halls of fame and earned a lifetime achievement Emmy award.
The writing career of humorist H. Allen Smith, who delighted readers worldwide in the middle of the 20th century, began as teenage cub reporter for the Huntington Press. Smith was born in 1907 in McLeansboro, Ill. His family moved to Huntington shortly after World War I. He left school after the 8th grade and joined the Press at age 15. By 1929 he had worked his way to New York City, where he honed his unique style. During World War II, Smith became one of the most popular authors in America. It was a time when people desperately needed a laugh, and he delivered. He burst into the literary scene in 1941 with the autobiographical “Low Man On a Totem Pole,” which included chapters detailing his exploits in Huntington. The last of his 37 books was published in 1970, six years before his death
Warren’s Pulse Opera House was a center of entertainment more than a century ago, but it took Cynthia Smyth-Wartzok to rescue the theater and revive it as a home of the arts. Since she restored the building in 1986, Smyth-Wartzok has directed more than 130 productions. She has exposed the local population, including more than 10,000 young people, to live theater, many for the first time. She has been honored numerous times from the local to international level, and continues to give her time as a volunteer in addition to her work with the Pulse Opera House.