Class of

2021

Clare H.W. Bangs

Community & Public Service

During his life, Clare Hobart William Bangs earned many titles. He was known as a college president, city mayor, newsman, attorney, pilot, major land owner, and social advocate. But he made his mark on a national scale with another moniker — jail inmate.
Bangs was just 25 years old when he was named president of Central College in 1919, becoming the youngest college president in the country. The school’s name was changed to Huntington College and Bangs oversaw its rapid expansion.
He left the college in 1919, earned a law degree, and started his own law practice in Huntington. He was a fierce advocate for the poor and underprivileged until his death in 1973. He also owned the Huntington News and ran the newspaper for 37 years.
Bangs was elected mayor in 1934, and became a national figure when he was jailed for ignoring a court order to desist from providing city utilities to citizens struggling to pay for commercial services during the Depression. He spent 633 days and a bulk of his mayoral term behind bars in defiance of the order.

Blessed Solanus Casey

Historical

On November 18, 2017, more than 60,000 people filled Detroit’s Ford Field to witness a special ceremony honoring a simple, humble man of God who had spent his life among the poor and the infirm.
The beatification of Father Solanus Casey bestowed upon him the title of “Blessed,” the final step before sainthood, which would make Father Solanus the first American-born Catholic male saint.
Bernard Francis Casey was born in Wisconsin in 1870. Known as Barney, he was the sixth of 16 children in a devout Catholic family. As a young man, he worked a series of odd jobs before a life-changing incident led him to pursue a call to the priesthood.
Taking the religious name “Solanus,” the new priest soon became known for his inspirational words and healing hand that followed him through his mission assignments. From 1946-56, he lived at the St. Felix Friary in Huntington, where he never turned away visitors who made pilgrimages to see him.
Fr. Solanus died in 1957. There is a statue and shrine to him at St. Felix.

John Crago

Community & Public Service

John Albert Crago was with the United States Army’s 17th Ordnance Company in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Crago soon found himself in combat.
In the early months of 1942 and with supplies running out, American and Filipino soldiers were captured and force-marched to a prisoner of war camp, an event known as the Bataan Death March. Crago survived the brutal three-day march, but more than a thousand of his fellow American prisoners did not.
Crago spent four years in the horrendous conditions of Japanese prison camps, during which his weight fell from 140 to 95 pounds. Allied forces liberated Crago and the American POWs in September, 1945, ending 40 months of captivity. He returned to Huntington and married Florence Walters in 1947 and they had four daughters. He later served as National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor from 1983-84. Crago died in 2005.

Francis “Bill” Fink

Humanities & Cultural

Francis Anthony “Bill” Fink’s lasting legacy to Huntington County was overseeing the expansion of Our Sunday Visitor, including the construction of its current building at the eastern edge of Huntington.
After his graduation from the University of Notre Dame in 1930, Fink joined OSV with his uncle, Bishop John Francis Noll, who founded the printing business in Huntington while pastor at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
Fink held the title of managing editor, and worked closely with Bishop Noll in the original building located in downtown Huntington. With the expansion of the company, it became clear that the OSV building at Park Drive and Warren Street was inadequate. The new building was completed in 1961, by which time the circulation of the publication had reached one million copies per week.
As executive vice president, Fink guided the continued growth of the company. He served as a national leader with two terms as president of the Catholic Press Association. He died on Dec. 4, 1971.

Dale Francis

Humanities & Cultural

Dale Francis was a passionate man.
He certainly was passionate in his Christian faith. His lasting imprint was his passion for communicating; for telling stories, whether it was as a 14-year-old writing sports for a small Ohio daily newspaper, or as a columnist reaching out to a million American Catholics through his commentary as executive editor of Our Sunday Visitor.
Francis served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, during which he converted to Catholicism. He started diocesan publications in North Carolina and Texas, and was the founder of the University of Notre Dame Press.
He wrote a syndicated column that ran in 23 newspapers across the country and provided one of the most prolific and influential voices on issues of importance to the Catholic Church. He joined OSV as executive editor in 1964.
Francis showed his passion for the Huntington community in the last 10 years of his life through his “Our Town” columns for the Huntington Herald-Press, with his local vignettes painting a vivid tapestry of his adopted hometown.

Gene Hartley

Athletics & Recreation

Though nearly 60 years have passed since wiry Roanoke native Gene Hartley qualified a car for the Indianapolis 500, his family’s business and sporting roots still nourish pride and memories in his hometown of Roanoke.
Leslie Eugene “Gene” Hartley was born Jan. 28, 1926, to Paul T. and Sarah Rupert Hartley. His father, who went by Ted, was a mechanic in the family business – the Hartley Garage.
Gene Hartley graduated from Roanoke High School in 1944. After stints in the Army Air Corps and at Purdue University, he returned to Roanoke and began racing in earnest.
His success in smaller race cars soon brought him to the attention of car owners in the highest levels of American racing. He qualified for the first Indianapolis 500 he entered, in 1950, and finished 16th. Over the next 12 years, Hartley qualified for nine more Indianapolis 500s.
Hartley competed in the top ranks of U.S. racing in midgets, sprint cars, stock cars, and Indianapolis-style “championship” cars for 16 years.

Denny Jiosa

Humanities & Cultural

“If Eric Clapton played jazz, he’d be Denny Jiosa.”
The comparison from a leading music magazine puts into clear context the quality of Denny Jiosa’s music and the level of regard the guitarist has earned over his career.
While still a student at Crestview Junior High, Jiosa was writing and performing music. It wasn’t long after graduating from Huntington North High School that he was producing and on tour opening for major acts such as Bo Diddley and BB King.
He is a Grammy-nominated producer and sought-after session guitarist, playing everything from polka to gospel, rock to country, to blues and his signature jazz. All those influences plus his natural gifts have fed into a diverse solo style, giving him a sound that defies classification and draws respect as an innovator.
Jiosa made his way to the American music mecca of Nashville, where he has been a fixture for more than three decades. In addition to working on more than 200 albums as producer, engineer or musician, he has put out nine solo albums. He recently has shared his love of wine, creating events to pair tastings with his music.

Kil-so-quah

Historical

Kil-so-quah was a member of the Myaamia nation and granddaughter of Chief Little Turtle. She was born in 1810 at the Forks of the Wabash.
When she was a little girl, Kil-so-quah moved with her family from the Miami Village at the Forks to the junction of Rock Creek and the Wabash River, near the present town of Markle. She was married twice, first at the age of 16. She had six children, four of which died in infancy. Her surviving daughter left with the Miami who were relocated to Kansas and Oklahoma in the late 1840’s. Kil-so-quah and her surviving son were allowed to remain on their land.
Kil-so-quah remained loyal to her Native American heritage, retaining the Miami language and adhering to their customs. In her older age, she delighted in telling visitors about her childhood and helping to preserve Miami history.
On July 4, 1910 the citizens of Roanoke honored Kil-so-quah with a massive celebration. As many as 10,000 visitors filled the streets. She died September 4, 1915, and was mourned as the “last of the royal Miamis.”

Orville & Ruth Merillat

Business & Professional

The transformative bond between Orville and Ruth Merillat and Huntington University was forged through a common purpose, based on a shared faith.
After World War II, the Merillats, both Ohio natives, settled down in Adrian, Mich., and opened Merillat Woodworking, Inc. Orville provided the design and craftsmanship while Ruth ran the business operations.
Over the next four decades, Merillat Industries grew into the nation’s largest manufacturer of kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, produced by more than 3,000 employees at 10 facilities. The Merillats, both dedicated members of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, dedicated themselves to return much of what they made to faith-based and community causes.
In the late 1960s, the Merillats’ son Richard was a student at Huntington College, supported by the United Brethren denomination. That association evolved into a philanthropic relationship that transformed the appearance of the 160-acre campus and continues to this day. Both Merillats served on the college’s board of trustees and were awarded honorary doctor of humanities degrees in 1978.

EJ Tackett

Athletics & Recreation

Like so many others of his age, E.J. Tackett grew up idolizing Tiger Woods. He played golf and found early success. At the same time, he was also becoming a top bowler, following a family tradition in the sport.
Tackett won a state high school bowling title, and earned All-State honors in golf, including a fifth-place finish in the state finals and a pair of Huntington County Amateur championships. He followed the golf path into college at IPFW, but soon decided his future might be in bowling.
The change of course quickly paid dividends. In 2013, Tackett was named Rookie of the Year on the Professional Bowlers Association tour. In 2016 at age 24, Tackett won four events on the tour, including his first major in the PBA World Championship. He earned the Chris Schenkel Player of the Year award, named after the legendary sports broadcaster, also a Huntington County native. With 13 wins over a four-year span, Tackett established himself as the top bowler of his generation.

Dr. Douglas Ware

Business & Professional

Doug Ware has spent his life in agriculture, and he understands the importance of having deep roots.
Even through his own travels across the country, and a worldwide reach from the products and methods he has created, Ware credits the foundational strength of his hometown Huntington for the successes in his life.
Ware was a top athlete and student at Huntington High School, playing on the legendary state runnerup 1964 Viking basketball team, and earning a football scholarship to Purdue.
He went on to earn a Ph.D. in animal nutrition and became an innovator in the industry, earning 33 patents for his natural products and methods that have enhanced efficiency in animal production, food safety and animal health.
Ware and his wife, Virginia, have shared their success by giving back to their hometown through donations for a science building at Huntington University and scholarships to help develop a new generation of leaders. He takes a personal mentoring approach, often meeting one-on-one with scholarship recipients.

Lisa Winter Finn

Athletics & Recreation

By the time she was a senior at Huntington North, Lisa Winter had become the top girls basketball player in Indiana, leading one of the top prep programs in the country.
Winter grew up with a number of strong role models in Huntington. She saw Jenny Eckert become Huntington’s first Indiana All-Star, and watched the Lady Vikings reach the state finals two straight years, including a state title in 1990.
She joined coach Fred Fields’ team at HNHS, establishing herself as a leader of a talented squad. Winter was relentless as a defender, and flashed a multifaceted game on offense. She led the Lady Vikings to the state title in 1995, and was named the tournament MVP.
In Winter’s final two seasons, Huntington North compiled a 53-2 record. As a senior, she averaged nearly 20 points a game and was named Indiana Miss Basketball.
Winter went on to play collegiately at Ball State and Valparaiso. She followed with a career in coaching, first at Ben Davis High School and then at Indianapolis Cathedral.