HUNTINGTON, IN — The history of Huntington County is rich with the stories of people whose achievements have made an impact on the local, state, national or international stage. Some have used their time and talent to contribute to the betterment of life here at home, while others have built on their local upbringing to make a contribution elsewhere.
Huntington County Honors was created to shine a light on those individuals and their works in an effort to educate, inspire and instill pride in the community. The organization recognizes both the well-known and those who are more obscure, but all of them have been significant in their contributions to the reputation of the county.
The inaugural class of inductees to Huntington County Honors reaches back to the earliest days of settlement in the area with the inclusion of Chief Francis LaFontaine and Chief Jean Baptiste de Richardville. Also represented are giants of business and religion, community leaders of the past and present, nationally-known communicators, and politicians such as Vice President Dan Quayle and Congressman Ed Roush.
A total of 25 individuals in five different categories comprise the first group. The initial class will formerly be introduced in a public ceremony at 2 p.m., October 22, in the rotunda of the Huntington County Courthouse. Living inductees have been invited to the event. For those recipients who are deceased, individuals with close ties to the inductee have been invited to accept on their behalf.
Joe Santa, a Huntington native who was formerly athletic director at Huntington North High School and who currently owns Trophy Center Plus in the city, initially developed the idea of a hall of fame to honor the best of Huntington County’s history.
Santa tapped others to help in the creation of the new organization. He brought on board local attorney Joe Wiley, local physician David Carnes, and two former staffers from the Huntington Herald-Press — editor Mike Perkins and sports editor Paul Siegfried.
“We wanted to create something that went beyond the normal definition of a hall of fame, which tends to have more of a sports connotation,” says Santa. “We wanted to recognize individuals from all walks of life. We saw it as an opportunity not only to recognize them personally, but also hold them up for all of us to take pride in as a community.“
The process began in 2014 and took shape over the next two years. Huntington County Honors reached out to community leaders for assistance. These “living legends” helped create a database of individuals to be considered, and from that list came the first class of inductees.
Inductees are grouped in five categories — historical, community and public service, business and professional, humanities and cultural, and athletics and recreation.
Candidates must have made a lasting contribution to the betterment of Huntington County, or brought recognition to the community through their actions or achievements.
A large part of the creation of Huntington County Honors focused on its educational aspect. Santa said the initial research turned up names that were not well-known – people who might have been lost to history if not for this kind of investigative effort.
“There are obvious names everyone knows, but even for those individuals there are parts of their lives that some might not know about,” says Santa. “Along the way we ran across someone like Mickey Erehart, who was one of Huntington’s first standout athletes, and who went on to be a football and baseball star at Indiana University in the early 1900s. He still owns the Big Ten record for longest touchdown run. He’s not very well-known but has a great story and definitely deserves a place on the list of inductees.”
A display featuring the 2016 class of Huntington County Honors will be on view at the Huntington City-Township Public Library beginning in November. Information on all the inductees is also available on the Huntington County Honors website at www.huntingtoncountyhonors.org.
Huntington County Honors plans to announce a new class each year. The organization will also look to individual and corporate sponsorships to help offset operational costs. Anyone interested in sponsorships may contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail at Huntington County Honors, PO Box 481, Huntington, IN 46750.
The inaugural class of Huntington County Honors includes:
• Chief Francis LaFontaine
• Lambdin P. Milligan
• J. Danforth Quayle
• Chief Jean Baptiste de Richardville
• J. Edward Roush
BUSINESS & PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY
• J.L. Brenn (Huntington Lab)
• Don Purviance (Majestic)
• Alvin and Clara Schenkel Family (Schenkel Dairy)
• James Shuttleworth (Shuttleworth)
• Welcome Weaver (Weaver Popcorn)
COMMUNITY & PUBLIC SERVICE CATEGORY
• Jean Gernand
• Marj Hiner
• Father Ron Rieder
• Arthur Sapp
• Gene Snowden
HUMANITIES & CULTURAL CATEGORY
• Bob Hammel
• Archbishop John F. Noll
• Eiffel Plasterer
• Chris Schenkel
• Cynthia Smyth-Wartzok
ATHLETICS & RECREATION
• Mark “Mickey” Erehart
• Glen Hummer
• Ralph “Boag” Johnson
• Steve Platt
• Robert Straight