Class of

2022

Nelson Bechstein

Business & Professional

A child of German immigrants, Nelson Bechstein was born into the grocery business.
His father opened the namesake downtown market in 1900, and Nelson became owner in 1937 after his father’s death. Nelson ran the Bechstein’s for 55 years, providing quality goods including a full-service meat department and a deli featuring barrels of its signature sauerkraut from a recipe the family brought with them when they immigrated from Germany in 1883.
Customer loyalty allowed the small, family-owned grocery to survive through an era when large supermarkets were running out the neighborhood stores. The Bechsteins never turned away anyone who was in need. They always made sure customers had milk, eggs, cereal or diapers, even after regular store hours.
Nelson was active in the community and was named Chief of the Flint Springs Tribe in 1976. When he died in 1992, his son Steven took over the store. The family celebrated 100 years of the grocery in 2000, but the store closed later that year.
The Bechstein’s building continues to provide food to those in need as a food pantry run by Love, INC.

Drabenstot Family & Nick Freienstein

Business & Professional

Many eateries across Indiana claim to have created the breaded pork tenderloin, and even more say they produce the best the state has to offer. But only at Nick’s Kitchen does the tale of the crispy bun-filler have firm roots. Unofficially recognized as the birthplace of the sandwich, the restaurant tops most rankings as the best tenderloin in Indiana and throughout the Midwest.
Nick Freienstein, who got his start selling hamburgers from a pushcart, opened Nick’s Kitchen in 1908 at 506 N. Jefferson Street. There, he added a new sandwich, a handheld version of the German wiener schnitzel, which quickly became a local favorite.
Gene and Peggy Drabenstot purchased the restaurant in 1969. All five of the Drabenstot children took part in the family business. Daughter Jean Anne bought Nick’s Kitchen from her parents in 1989, and she and her husband Kenny Bailey run the original downtown restaurant. Son Jim and his wife Dana purchased Nick’s Junction in Roanoke that same year. In 1992, daughter Nancy and her husband Ray Bonebrake opened Nick’s Country Cafe in Huntington. All three feature the famous tenderloin.

Mike Frame

Athletics & Recreation

Mike Frame knows all about baseball’s facts and figures. In more than 40 years of playing and coaching at Huntington University, Frame accumulated some impressive numbers himself. But even as a baseball purist, Frame’s time around the diamond has left him believing that the numbers occupy only a small part of his baseball life. The most pride he feels as a coach is watching each of his players come to HU as boys and then grow into young men, husbands and fathers.
Frame was first a player at Huntington, and in 1984 became the Foresters’ head coach. In his 38 seasons, he averaged 24 wins a year. His overall record is 920-754, making him one of the 10 winningest coaches in the history of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
In November of 2020, he was hospitalized with COVID, which later progressed to double pneumonia. Frame developed blood clots, including one that eventually led to the amputation of his right leg below the knee. After missing the 2021 campaign, Frame coached in 2022 before retiring following the season.

Herbert LaMont

Community & Public Service

The outward persona of Herb LaMont was that of a quiet man, preferring to go about his work in the background. Instead of being the center of attention, he would rather be in his den tying flies for his next fishing trip.
Forty years after his death, however, the legacy he left is very visible, and still impacting the Huntington community. LaMont was one of Huntington County’s business leaders, creating the Maco Corporation and serving as its president until his death.
LaMont suffered a loss when his wife, Edith, died in 1964. A year later at the age of 69, he married Kay Hartzell, who had also lost her spouse the previous year. Their partnership marked a new chapter in each of their lives, and in the lives of many others in Huntington County.
LaMont was one of the organizers and supporters of the Huntington County Association for Retarded Children, which later became Pathfinder Services. Pathfinder honors his efforts with the Herbert D. LaMont Award, annually given to the Pathfinder volunteer of the year. It has become one of the highest honors presented in Huntington County.

Lessel Long

Historical

Lessel Long’s memoir “Twelve Months in Andersonville” was a shockingly realistic retelling of his experience in the infamous Civil War prison camp in Georgia.
Born in Randolph County, Indiana, Long initially worked on his family’s farm in Andrews, leaving to apprentice with a blacksmith. When the Civil War broke out, Long joined the Union Army in 1862.
He was captured in Virginia in 1864 and was sent to Camp Sumter, the Confederate prisoner-of-war camp at Andersonville. Of the 45,000 prisoners at the camp, 13,000 died from malnutrition, exposure or disease. Long survived and returned to his home in Andrews following the war, where he held a variety of jobs, from running a carriage business to being proprietor of a grocery store.
He wrote a newspaper column in the Andrews Express with stories of his time in the war. He was encouraged to compile his entire experience in a book. Long’s book shocked the public and became a definitive historical and cultural record, spurring reforms in prisoner treatment.

Stanley Matheny

Business & Professional

Law was an unlikely career choice for a farm lad from west-central Illinois, but Stanley H. Matheny has made the most of it. He has been an attorney in Huntington for more than six decades, earning a place as a leader in the legal community not just in Huntington County, but throughout Indiana.
Matheny was valedictorian of his high school class and was awarded a full scholarship to Wabash College. After attending Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington he joined the venerable Huntington practice of Lesh & Lesh in 1959 and is still of counsel to the firm, known today at Matheny, Hahn & Denman, LLP.
Matheny has long been active in the local and state bar associations as well as numerous community organizations and as a lay leader at Trinity United Methodist Church. His career has been highlighted by terms as judge of Huntington City Court and as Huntington City Attorney. Over time, his focus has settled on the realm of elder law, and Matheny has maintained his role as the unofficial “dean” of Huntington County attorneys.

Marilyn Morrison

Community & Public Service

Marilyn Morrison holds the distinction of being the first officeholder from a small Indiana town chosen to head the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns (IACT). That milestone came in 2001, during the third of her eight terms as clerk-treasurer of the Town of Warren.
Morrison was born in Warren and graduated from Warren High School before earning undergraduate and master’s degrees from Ball State University. She was elected her hometown’s clerk-treasurer in 1991. When the IACT honored her with its Russell G. Lloyd Distinguished Service Award in 2002, she became the first town clerk-treasurer so honored. In 2001, Morrison was recognized by the Warren Chamber of Commerce with its Samuel Jones Award for her contributions to the community. The award holds special meaning for her because it is named for the town’s founder — who is also her great-great-great grandfather.
Though long a fixture at Warren’s Town Hall, Morrison now considers a key part of her job as identifying and mentoring a new generation of leaders for the community she has so ably served.

Leo Scheer

Historical

Leo Scheer was surprised to still be alive.
It was June 6, 1944 — D-Day — and he was pinned down under German fire on Omaha Beach. As a Navy medic, Scheer did his duty and helped those that he could, but he could not ignore the soldiers falling all around him. He was finally able to get off the beach three days later. Dodging death many times, he had come through relatively unscathed. He questioned why he had survived when others around him had not. For the rest of his life, Scheer was convinced he had been watched over by a guardian angel.
Ten days after D-Day, Scheer was on his way back to England. He was sent to the Pacific Theater aboard the USS Lander and spent the rest of the war on the ship before being discharged in early 1946.
Back in Huntington, he returned to the family’s contracting business. His brickwork remains on many Huntington buildings. He donated memorabilia of his service to the Huntington County Historical Museum and National World War II Museum in New Orleans, where his medical belt continues to be on display.

John Wenning

Humanities & Cultural

Growing up as one of 13 children, John Wenning’s early life was often chaotic and confusing.
As high school graduation approached, he was unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. He had been taking piano lessons since the eighth grade, and his mother encouraged him to consider a career in music.
A stop-and-start time at Ball State culminated with degrees in music education, and a teaching position at Huntington North High School. Wenning remade the school’s show choir and created one of the most consistently successful programs in the state. His Varsity Singers captured numerous grand championships, including being named Indiana’s top concert choir in 1996.
Wenning has earned multiple teaching awards. He was Huntington County Community Schools Teacher of the Year in 1996, and was recognized by Ball State with an Alumni Achievement Citation in 2006.
Many of his students have followed their choral experience into careers in music. In particular, Wenning has taken pride in finding those students who have the potential to be great, and seeing them overcome circumstances to achieve success.

Ezra Williams

Athletics & Recreation

He never took “no” for an answer, and as was the measure of the man, Ezra Williams turned personal tragedies into opportunities to make a positive impact on his community.
He was a farmer and a big basketball fan who played, coached and officiated games. But in 1950, Williams was stricken with polio, which left him partially paralyzed. Told he would never walk again, he managed to regain limited use of his legs. He turned his basketball attention to the youth of the community and created the Midget League to introduce young boys to the game at an early age.
One promising league player, Kim Howenstine, died in 1964. Williams honored the 10-year-old’s short life by renaming his league as the Kim League. Williams never missed a game, often having to crawl up the steps of the YMCA. He was named Chief of the Flints Springs Tribe in 1973.
Nearly every high school player in Huntington over the past 60 years can trace their basketball beginnings to the Kim League and Williams’ vision emphasizing basic skills, team play and sportsmanship.

Rev. Milton Wright

Humanities & Cultural

A few years before the Wright Brothers soared into history from a wind-swept hill at Kitty Hawk, their father helped a Huntington County institution take wing.
Rev. Milton Wright was a pivotal figure in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ at a time when church leaders were seeking a place to educate the denomination’s young people. Without his support and approval, the institution we now know as Huntington University might not have been established here.
Doctrinal difference had led to a division in the Church of the United Brethren Church in 1889 and Wright, one of the denomination’s bishops, led a breakaway group. In 1897, shortly after a group of civic leaders brought Wright and other church officials a timely proposal to locate a college in Huntington, what was initially called Central College came into existence.
Without the courage and determination of Milton Wright’s sons Orville and Wilbur, mankind’s conquest of the air would not have begun as it did. And without Milton Wright’s vision and influence, a transformative chapter in Huntington County’s history might have unfolded differently.

Jenny (Eckert) Zorger

Athletics & Recreation

The road to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame was not an easy one for Jenny Eckert Zorger, completed only through toughness, a fierce competitive nature, and a love for the game.
By the time she arrived at Huntington North High School in 1982, it was clear she was a special talent, and was a varsity player even as a freshman. In her senior season, Eckert led the Vikings to a 19-4 record and their second-ever sectional title. She became the first Huntington North player to be named to the Indiana All-Star team.
Ball State made Eckert its top recruit in 1986, and she didn’t disappoint. In her final season in Muncie, Eckert earned First-Team All-MAC honors, and she was named the conference’s player of the year in 1990.
She was selected as Ball State’s Player of the Decade for the 1980s and was chosen for the school’s Hall of Fame in 1998. The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame selected her to the Silver Anniversary Team in 2011, and she earned the ultimate honor when she was individually named to the hall in 2014.