The Ohio Department of Aging will induct 15 outstanding older Ohioans into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame during a special ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Members of the Ohio General Assembly and leaders from Ohio’s aging network will be on hand to congratulate and thank the inductees for their lifelong contributions to their communities, their professions, and their vocations.
This year’s inductees range in age from 66 to 101. Their stories are compelling and represent lifetimes of dedication, ingenuity, perseverance, kindness and compassion.
Rashid A. Abdu, M.D., F.A.C.S. - Canfield, Ohio
Dr. Rashid Abdu was born in a small village in Yemen in 1932. Driven by poverty, curiosity, and adventure, he left his village at age 9 and went to Aden, where he worked low-level jobs, until he met Mr. Harlan Clark, United States Consul, who hired him as a houseboy.
He followed the Clarks to the U.S. where he continued to work and study, earning his BA from Lafayette College, and his medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine.
Dr. Abdu completed his surgical residency at Saint Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown and, in 1976, became Director of Surgical Education. He became one of the original faculties of the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. He graduated 54 surgeons, many of whom remained in Ohio. During his 23 years in that role, he was honored to be one of 12 founding members of the American Association of Program Directors in Surgery, and one of four professors to meet in Philadelphia to write its bylaws. He is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a member of the American College of Surgeons, and International College of Surgeons.
In 1994, Dr. Abdu lost his wife, Joanie, to breast cancer. During their ordeal, he learned about comprehensive breast-care centers and vowed to bring a world-class facility to Youngstown. With the help of Mercy Health, Mercy Health Foundation, and a caring and generous community, the Joanie Abdu Comprehensive Breast Care Center opened in 2011, and has become one of the finest breast-care centers in the country. Its mission is to provide the best care to every woman, regardless of color, creed, or economic status. Joanie’s Promise Fund pays for mammograms to low-income/uninsured women, including transportation, if needed, and a full-time liaison to teach them about breast cancer, and the importance of early detection.
Since turning 70, he has volunteered as a physician/surgeon with Mission of Love to the Mayans in Yucatan, Mexico, to an orphanage clinic in Guatemala, the Indian Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and for more than 25 years, as a mentor/tutor at Harding Elementary School in Youngstown.
Dr. Abdu has served as a consultant to Yemen’s Minister of Health and visiting professor at the University of Science and Technology (UST). Finally, he helped secure two container ships of hospital equipment valued at $145,000 from the Stryker Corporation, as a donation to the new UST hospital, which he helped design. In 2008, he was one of three delegates, selected by the U.S. State Department, as part of a Citizens Dialogue Program to Algeria, Oman, and Yemen.
His autobiography, “Journey of a Yemeni Boy,” was published in 2005. In 2017, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) named him their Arab-American of the Year, in addition to numerous honors and awards. He has four children and three grandchildren.
John A. Anderson – Cincinnati, Ohio
For John Anderson, it’s always been about giving back – to his family, community, co-workers, neighbors, and future generations.
Mr. Anderson came from humble beginnings, his family struggling to make ends meet, especially following the death of his father when he was just 10 years old. Despite these hurdles, he graduated from Walnut Hills High School, earning an Industrial Scholarship from a local chemical company. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Mr. Anderson was drafted into the U.S. Army. While serving, he worked as a dental and oral surgery assistant at Fort Bragg.
In time, he went to work for Procter and Gamble (P&G), where he worked in Process Development on personal care products. Eventually his involvement with advanced statistics led him to work as a Senior Systems Analyst in Information Technology. His passion for helping others led to participating in the creation of P&G’s technology help center, which flourishes to this day.
Mr. Anderson, his wife Helen, and their four children lived in Wyoming, Ohio. After retirement, he began teaching illiterate adults to read through the Laubach Literacy program; assisting visually impaired older adults through local senior services; and was heavily involved in local Boy Scouts efforts as well as being a “friendly visitor” for Children’s Hospital for more than 20 years. He was an initial participant in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s “StarShine” program, which allowed parents with children in hospice to receive a respite by offering caring volunteers to visit with the child. He took a book cart to patients in the Pauline Warfield Lewis Center, a local psychiatric hospital, for ten years. In 1996, Mr. Anderson was named a Wyoming Citizen of the Year.
In 2010, he and Helen moved to Maple Knoll Village in Cincinnati. As an individual who has dealt with caregiving for a spouse, he has become a trusted resource for older adults in the community who begin to experience similar commitments. He allows Maple Knoll’s nursing staff and local chaplains to share his contact information as someone who has been through it and can help them understand they are not alone.
Additionally, he has served as a mentor for engineering students at the University of Cincinnati and meets regularly with other students at UC to share tips on physician and nurse interaction with older adults, aging population concerns, and more. He did all of this while supporting his wife who had Alzheimer’s Disease.
He is a member of the Maple Knoll Village Living Legacy Society. He received the 2019 Voices of Giving Award from the Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council. Before that, he received recognition from the Ohio House of Representatives as an outstanding volunteer and Hometown Hero under the sponsorship of former House Representative Dale N. Van Vyven.
He enjoys time with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren; playing, singing, and listening to music; reading and visiting the library; remaining an active member of his community; and, of course, giving back however and whenever he can.
Martha H. Boice – Centerville, Ohio
For more than 50 years, Martha Boice has literally saved numerous historic buildings and landmarks in southwestern Ohio from becoming just a memory.
Before she was a champion of preserving history in southwest Ohio, Mrs. Boice was a social worker in Toledo. After taking a series of interior design courses at the Toledo Museum of Art and moving with her family to Montgomery County in 1968, she found her true passion – historical preservation.
In 1972, she saved her first structure – the David Watkins-George Sears House – from being demolished by a developer. While working to preserve the nearly 150-year-old house, she also spearheaded the creation of Centerville’s National Register District. Entered in 1974, this marked Montgomery County’s first National Register District.
She then trained a committee to tour historic houses and find records from local government offices, court cases, estate packets, and library archives. The committee’s work led to publishing a book in 1977 titled “A Sense of Place” about the historic homes in Centerville and Washington Township.
In addition to preserving the David Watkins-George Sears House, Mrs. Boice was instrumental in getting the John Belville House and the Frederick Smith House (aka Fox Hollow) on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2015, she led efforts to preserve the longtime home of author (and 2001 Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame inductee) Erma Bombeck.
For the past 35 years, she has collected information about Watervliet, Ohio, a little-known Shaker community located in Montgomery and Greene counties. She has collaborated with other researchers across the country and in Ohio, and she presented programs on the subject in her community. In doing so, she realized that very few people know that the Shakers once had a thriving community right there in their own backyard.
Over the years, she also helped found several organizations related to historical preservation, including the Landmarks Foundation of Centerville-Washington Township, the Western Shaker Study Group and the Friends of White Water Shaker Village.
In October 2016, Heritage Ohio named her a Preservation Hero, recognizing her more than 50 years of saving historical buildings in the Buckeye State. The following month, the State Historic Preservation Office of the Ohio History Connection bestowed on her the Excellence in Public Education and Awareness award.
Mrs. Boice, who is also an avid gardener, was named a Volunteer of the Year for the Dayton-Montgomery County Park District in 1988 for her work at Cox Arboretum. She and a neighbor started a plant sale in 1975 and it is carried on to this day by the Penbrooke Garden Club. It has made about $40,000 over the years and shares its profits with various community gardens.
She now resides in Bethany Village, a large continuing care retirement community in Centerville. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan in 1955. She is a mother of three.
Ken Culver – Lancaster, Ohio
Ken Culver has been a champion for communities near and far for most of his life.
Mr. Culver joined the Peace Corps during his college years and was assigned to community development, basically organizing villages in countries around the world. While on assignment in Bolivia, he met and worked alongside Suzanne, a Corps member from Ohio.
They fell in love, moved to Lancaster, and married after completing their Peace Corps service 54 years ago. Mr. Culver, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, soon took on an active role in his new community.
His career included work in human resources for Anchor Hocking and as an investment advisor for 20 years. During his working career and into retirement, he has served his community in numerous volunteer positions, many times as the chairperson or another leadership role.
His past/current board involvement includes the Fairfield Medical Center Board of Trustees; United Way of Fairfield County; Habitat for Humanity; Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Fairfield County; Maywood Mission; Lancaster Public Education Foundation; Lancaster Rotary; Salvation Army; and he is the Finance Chair for First Presbyterian Church of Lancaster.
After his retirement, he would go on to become the president of the Lancaster City Council from 2007 to 2013. In his role, he used his skill in bringing people together by recognizing differences and working toward consensus to accomplish the goals of the city. He co-chaired a Citizen's Advisory Committee to recommend expense controls and funding options for the City of Lancaster.
As a positive leader, innovative thinker, trusted mentor and capable advisor, Mr. Culver has earned the unofficial title of “Lancaster’s go-to guy.”
He lived up to the title again in 2015, taking on the role of Interim Executive Director of Big Brothers Big, Sisters of Fairfield County after the organization unexpectedly lost its executive director. He also served as chairman of the Fairfield County Democratic Party from 2016-2018.
Just as he was ready to “retire” again, the Lancaster Arts Festival lost its Executive Director in 2016. Once again, Lancaster’s go-to guy was called upon. He began as an interim director which evolved into a permanent position within the organization. Serving as the Executive Director of the Lancaster Arts Festival from 2016-2018, he contributed his skill to ensure the continued success of the organization and remains with the organization in the role of grant writer and fundraiser.
Mr. Culver, known for playing Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain at area events, is a founding member of the Lancaster Playhouse and has been a member of theater groups, including the Garret Players and Ohio University. He’s also a member of his church choir and the Lancaster Chorus.
In his “spare time,” he and Suzanne have visited more than 50 countries. Since retirement, they have traveled to Nepal, Morocco, Cambodia, Iceland, Cuba, India, Israel, Jordan, Botswana, Namibia, and many European countries to learn about other cultures.
Mr. Culver and Suzanne are parents to five sons and grandparents to 13 grandchildren. The most recent addition to the family is a three-legged rescue dog named Molly.
Debbie Cannon Freece – Columbus, Ohio
Debbie Cannon Freece has spent her entire adult life caring for her patients and championing her fellow nursing colleagues. During her 50+ years in the field of nursing she has been a caregiver and advocate for her patients and their families, and a leader and mentor for the next generation of nurses.
From her early roles in long-term care – including nurse’s aide, staff nurse, and director of nursing for a skilled nursing facility – she identified the importance of advocacy for patients and their nurse caregivers. She continued this important work at the state level as Project Director for the Ohio Department of Health’s Nursing Home Area Training Centers.
In 1990, she became the Executive Director of the Mid-Ohio District Nurses Association (MODNA). During her 22-year tenure, she brought a focus on health policy advocacy and continuing education to MODNA’s 3,500 members. She also created a free continuing education program for the association’s members.
Ms. Freece worked for 12 years with legislators, the Ohio Board of Nursing, and nurses in every corner of the state to obtain legal recognition for nurses in advanced practice (e.g., nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives). This law has had a major positive impact on the health of millions of Ohioans and Ms. Freece’s sustained efforts in getting the law passed are acknowledged inside and outside the profession. In her continuing role as a geriatric nurse consultant, she brings current knowledge and practical innovations to a growing and ever-changing aging population. This includes strongly advocating for keeping elders in the decision-making process in determining their need for care at home, in assisted living, or acute care.
Her work with legislators continued in her role of legislative liaison for the Ohio Nurses Association. In this position she educated policymakers about health-care and nursing issues by establishing solid relationships with elected officials. She also facilitated an annual Candidates Night for political candidates to hear nurses’ concerns. Additionally, she recruited and coached expert nurses to testify before committees, and mobilized nurses to contact their legislators in the Ohio General Assembly and U.S. Congress when immediate action was required for specific issues.
To honor her outstanding leadership and commitment to fellow nurses, the Columbus Foundation established the Debbie Cannon Freece Leadership Scholarship. The scholarship recognizes student nurses who have been active in their campus student organizations and maintain a minimum of a 3.0 grade average. Since its establishment, more than 15 students have received this award and benefited from the scholarship.
Ms. Freece has also been a community leader, serving on numerous boards in the Central Ohio area. Over the years, she has received countless awards and honors, including recognition from the Ohio General Assembly. She graduated from The Ohio State University in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in nursing and in 1979 with a master’s in nursing administration and education.
Patricia Furterer – Loveland, Ohio
For four decades, Pat Furterer played pretty much every role there is to play within the Loveland Stage Company (LSC).
Mrs. Furterer helped found the company in 1979. During the next 40 years, she volunteered for every one of its productions. At one time or another she directed, produced, acted, did publicity, ushered, sold tickets, worked the hospitality counter, designed programs, constructed and decorated sets, was house manager, was stage crew, handled props, and developed the patron program. As if that wasn’t enough, she also served on the board in every position. In 2013, the board elected her as President Emeritus.
Her love of theater began in 1942, when she was just 8 years of age. She gathered friends from her Pennsylvania neighborhood and staged many backyard productions. Even as a young girl, she gave back to the community, donating the proceeds from the 5-cent admission to the Community Chest Fund.
In the years to come, Mrs. Furterer studied with several professional directors and helped to renovate an old movie theatre. Then in 1977, she and her husband relocated to Loveland, only to discover there was no community theater in town. Taking matters into her own hands, she placed an ad in the local paper, seeking individuals interested in starting a theater company.
Starting small, she formed the nucleus of the LSC. The company’s first production was, fittingly, staged in her backyard. Since those humble beginnings, the company has become a cherished institution within the community.
Since 2006, six shows had first-time directors, and 72 actors debuted in prominent roles. The company also offers seminars, workshops and mentoring programs for technical staff in sound, makeup, costumes, lighting, and production.
In 1999, the Loveland Firefighters Association purchased the Crist Theater, an old movie house, and donated it to LSC as their home. Soon after, Mrs. Furterer started the LSC’s Children’s Workshop/Theatre. Since 2004, it has evolved into a successful children's theater with more than 120 children participating annually. On Oct. 20, 2008, the LSC’s theater caught fire. The walls remained but the roof was gone. Again, her experience with renovation came into play in rebuilding the theater. She worked tirelessly with countless volunteers to rebuild and reopen the theatre one year later with the production of “Miss Saigon.”
Because of her belief in community involvement, the LSC stages free Christmas shows and participates in Loveland’s 4th of July parade. She is an active member of the Loveland Woman’s Club, is a Loveland Valentine Lady, and was director of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce.
For her dedicated community involvement, Mrs. Furterer took home the prestigious Louis Rookwood Award and the Key to the City in 1994 and the Art Rouse Award in 2006. In 1999 The Loveland Chamber of Commerce started a scholarship award in her name for a student who exemplifies her character and spirit.
Greer Glazer, RN, PhD, FAAN – Solon, Ohio
Born in Cleveland and raised in Cleveland Heights, Dr. Greer Glazer has been actively engaged in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in health care throughout her career. By strategically working to elevate the status of the nursing profession to a place of recognition on par with the critical role this field plays in the health-care space, she has exemplified great leadership. Her endeavors to increase diversity and cultural competency in the health-care workforce has positively impacted many Ohioans and will continue to do so for years to come.
Dr. Glazer received her bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan, and both her master’s and doctorate degrees from Case Western Reserve University. Her early practice was as a labor and delivery nurse and clinical nurse specialist at University Hospitals of Cleveland and as a women’s health nurse practitioner. Dr. Glazer has taught undergraduate, masters, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and PhD students and has conducted research continuously since earning her PhD.
Having served as dean of the University of Massachusetts Boston College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Dr. Glazer returned to Ohio to take the helm of the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing from 2012 through 2021. Her collaborative and innovative mindset has been key to implementing new programs, such as grants supporting underrepresented students through the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. These grants and other initiatives brought national recognition to the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing, as a five-time recipient of the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award. Dr. Glazer, herself, received the 2018 American Association of Colleges of Nursing Award for Diversity, Inclusion, and Sustainability in Nursing Education and the 2018 National League of Nurses Mary Adelaide Nutting Award for Outstanding Leadership in Nursing Education.
As a continuation of her efforts to promote diversity in the population of graduating nursing students, she formed valuable alumni and community partnerships that led to a significant increase in both the number of and dollar amount of scholarships, particularly for students from underrepresented populations and for first-generation students. She believes in being a role model for others, and how important strong mentors in the field can be in shaping the next generation of nurses. Her own life was positively impacted by nursing mentors including Joyce Fitzpatrick, Nancy Fugate Woods and Joyce Clifford.
Dr. Glazer co-led the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing’s digital transformation, changing content delivery formats in the classrooms, simulation laboratories, and clinical settings for the instruction of a tech-savvy and patient-centered nursing workforce. This initiative led to the College receiving global accolades for innovative uses of technology in learning, teaching and the school environment. A prime example of her focus on emerging technology implementation is the Innovation Collaboratory Smart House. This test environment, which is housed at an assisted living facility, is used for the development of technologies designed to help keep older adults in their homes and communities longer. Through her participation in the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Future of Nursing 2020-2030 Committee, she remains at the forefront of nursing policymaking.
Robert E. Grim – Sabina, Ohio
Robert Grim, who was born and raised in Fayette County, began adulthood by serving our country in the U.S. Air Force for four years during the Vietnam War. He has dedicated much of his life to teaching students about American history and to preserving the heritage and memory of American military veterans.
Completing three years of college work while in the Air Force, Mr. Grim finished his degree at the University of Maryland. He worked as an insurance adjuster before taking a teaching position at Miami Trace High School (MTHS), which allowed his passion for American history to blossom. A few years into his tenure at MTHS, he earned his Master of Education degree from Xavier University. During his 34-year teaching career, he was recognized with several honors, including being selected for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers twice. Recipients of this award are nominated by former students. He was chairman of the social studies department at MTHS when he retired, as well as President of the Miami Trace Education Association.
At MTHS, he started an annual Veteran’s Day program to honor an outstanding veteran at a school assembly. This tradition continues today with a student presenting the veteran and telling their story. Mr. Grim played a leading role in the Ohio General Assembly’s enactment of the Ohio Veterans’ Heritage Protection Act in 2021. A nearly decade-long legislative advocacy effort that began with his work to stop a Wilmington Cemetery from selling two Civil War cannons.
For years he has helped with the restoration and preservation of memorials erected to military veterans. He has also written newspaper and magazine articles to help preserve the history of his community. Many civic organizations, churches, and senior citizens groups have learned about U.S. history from a variety of programs he does. Mr. Grim has held leadership positions with numerous organizations, including the National Society Sons of Colonial New England, the General Society of the War of 1812, the Ohio Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and the Ohio 8th District of the Masonic fraternity, among others. In 2010, he became the first person to hold the rank of Major General in the Sons of Veterans Reserve.
Mr. Grim has been active in service to his community, including 10 years as manager of the local Junior Achievement program, as a member of the Bloomingburg Council and as Clerk-Treasurer of Bloomingburg. Since his retirement from teaching, he has received numerous awards and commendations, including his induction into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 2006. Rarely does an individual harness the joy he finds in his interests and channel it into his entire life’s work as Mr. Robert Grim has done.
Mr. Grim and his wife, Charlotte, recently celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. They reside in Sabina and are active members of the Clinton County Western Square Dance Club. They have participated in many national square dance conventions together as well as The National Civil War Military Ball in Gettysburg.
Jim Kerr – Lisbon, Ohio
Jim Kerr, a resident of Columbiana County since 1972, has taught biology in northeast Ohio for more than four decades. With years of service dedicated to the Beaver Local School District, Columbiana County Educational Service Center, and Ohio Valley College of Technology, he has educated numerous Ohioans.
As an extension of his career, he used the taxidermy mounts and skins he had acquired for his classroom to found the Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center (BCWEC). A beacon of community service, Mr. Kerr has volunteered thousands of hours to the BCWEC and its wildlife education mission.
Mr. Kerr’s appreciation for wildlife was initially sparked by his enjoyment of walking in the woods near his home. He began teaching science at the Beaver Local School District in 1971, passing along his enthusiasm for nature to his students. In 1977, a student brought Mr. Kerr a deceased bird he had found. Recognizing the instruction potential of the specimen, he kept the bird in a freezer while he worked toward obtaining a Federal Fish and Wildlife Permit, which would allow him to have the bird mounted and used for display. Although a lengthy process, he was steadfast in his focus to finally obtain this permit in 1981. He subsequently procured a vast collection of mounts and skins to use in biology and other science courses throughout his career.
Following his 30-year teaching career, his transition to the Columbiana County Educational Service Center allowed him to bring his collection to a new location where the public could learn about wildlife. His passion for nature and educating others led to the opening of the BCWEC in Columbiana County in 2001. He partnered with Jim Tillman, the Beaver Creek State Park manager, on a plan to develop a nature center in an unused building located on park property.
Shortly after the BCWEC opened, he began to receive inquiries from individuals wishing to donate items from private natural history collections to the center. He gladly authenticated and procured numerous additional specimens over the following decades, which allowed the center’s collection to grow exponentially in size. The collection of the BCWEC has grown to over 500 display specimens since the center was founded.
In 2002, the original bylaws of the Beaver Creek Wildlife Education Center Volunteers Association were adopted, allowing the group to become a certified non-profit corporation, with Mr. Kerr serving as the first president. In addition to his leadership role, he acted as a curator. He asked the officers to develop a curator position. This position started in 2014 with Mr. Kerr as the first official curator.
Understanding the need for additional facility space, he worked with local legislators and state officials to secure funding for additions to the building for the BCWEC. The new addition was completed and opened in 2011, with an additional room that was added in 2017 to house the North American Wildlife display.
His advocacy for the BCWEC continues, and he is still fondly referred to as “Mr. Kerr,” in homage to his storied educational career.
Dr. John S. Mattox – Flushing, Ohio
Longtime Belmont County resident Dr. John S. Mattox was a driven and inspiring individual who believed in bettering his community through his efforts as a steadfast resource on history and culture, as well as focusing his energy on a variety of humanitarian pursuits.
A life of service began for Dr. Mattox in 1959, when he joined the U.S. Air Force. Protecting freedom and the American dream from his post in the military for seven years, during the Vietnam War Era, he developed his strength of character and devotion to community.
Dr. Mattox graduated from the Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. Following many years of personal work invested into the community, in 2008, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Ohio University in recognition of his tireless efforts. Dr. Mattox was a member and leader of numerous community organizations, including the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, A Special Wish Foundation, American Legion Post 366, the Ohio Valley NAACP, the Belmont County Correctional Institution Community Board and many other organizations. He was also a member of the Ohio University Eastern Campus Coordinating Council and co-chaired the university’s African-American Cultural Committee.
In 1994, Dr. Mattox retired from a fulfilling career selling insurance, and established the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing with his wife Rosalind. Featuring exhibits that portray facts about slavery and the Underground Railroad in Ohio, Dr. Mattox curated information and artifacts, many from local sources, to depict an accurate representation of culture in 19th century Ohio.
Dr. Mattox and the museum were accepted into the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program, which was established by Congress in 1998. He made frequent appearances at local schools to talk about the Museum’s collection and was a lecturer for a variety of organizations. The Museum maintains a collection of over 30,000 items related to the Underground Railroad and slavery.
Dr. Mattox felt strongly about the importance of this part of American history receiving diligent retrospection. As a leader in bringing about the inaugural Juneteenth Celebration in the region in 2016, Dr. Mattox raised awareness for a key day in the history of the abolition of slavery in America. Finally declared a federal holiday by Congress in 2021, Juneteenth achieved the nationwide recognition that Dr. Mattox sought out for the day in the Ohio Valley.
In addition to his Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Ohio University, he received awards including recognition from Heritage Ohio, the Ohio Department of Aging’s Caregiver of the Year Award, the Belmont County Tourism Person of the Year Award, the Austin C. Furbee Award from Ohio University, the Effie Mayhan Brown Award from the West Virginia Education Association, and Community Builder Awards from the cities of Steubenville and Flushing.
Due to the leadership and servant’s heart of Dr. Mattox, Belmont County and the whole of the Ohio Valley region are stronger communities today. Countless individuals have benefitted from the time and efforts invested by Dr. Mattox, a truly great man whose work exceeded the known capacity of a single human being.
Edward A. McKinney, PhD – Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Longtime Ohio resident Dr. Edward McKinney has led scholarly research and performed community service that improved the lives of individuals both in his community and around the globe. Dr. McKinney inspires those around him to contribute their strengths to their own communities and the lives of those with whom they interact. He is a licensed independent social worker who has devoted much time and energy to the profession of social work through his role in the classroom as well as through his advocacy in the community.
Beginning his educational journey in Georgia with a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a master’s degree from Atlanta University, Dr. McKinney traveled to Pennsylvania where he earned both a Master of Public Health and Social Work as well as a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. Shortly after completing his post-graduate education, he moved to Ohio where he served as an associate professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Applied Social Sciences from 1975-1981. During this time, he worked with Cleveland-area pastors and religious organizations to develop programs to enhance the quality of life for all, especially children and older residents.
In 1982, he was named Director of the School of Social Work at Cleveland State University (CSU), where he worked until 2012. Once again, he offered his services and expertise at no cost to local religious organizations. In 2017, he took an active role in the Cleveland Clergy Alliance (CCA) to improve the lives of young and old alike. His work helped the CCA receive a $250,000 from the Cuyahoga County Council to hire “navigators” to assist seniors with their day-to-day needs.
Dr. McKinney’s research has spanned topics such as creative community economic development, long-term care policy, health-care reform, multicultural communities, and much more. His work led him to efforts in Africa, where he become an advocate for global economic equity for older adults and the eradication of ageism. He is a two-time recipient of the J. William Fulbright Senior Scholar Award as a result of his work there. Dr. McKinney earned a special academic invitation to serve as a visiting scholar in residence from the University of Botswana School of Social Work. Participating in the Street Children Project in Ethiopia, he was involved in humanitarian efforts focused on youth and young adults, particularly women preparing for future careers.
Dr. McKinney’s board memberships have extended beyond academia with his participation in the American Sickle Cell Anemia Association, Cleveland International Program, American Public Health Association, the Council of Older Persons of Greater Cleveland, Merrick House, the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging, the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, and countless other board memberships.
Over the course of his career, Dr. McKinney has served as a mentor and coach to students and colleagues alike. His forward thinking and compassionate demeanor have made a positive impact on the community in and around Cleveland as well as populations worldwide that continue to benefit from his humanitarian efforts and published research.
Ruby T. Miller – Cincinnati, Ohio
Southwest Ohio police and fire survivors pension organizer Ruby Miller dedicated years of her life to volunteer service for others through her work. As a result of her leading advocacy efforts, the Ohio General Assembly enacted pension fund reforms in 1997 for the survivors of police and firefighters, including codifying cost-of-living adjustments for them. As co-founder of the Cincinnati Connection, a dance organization of young women, she also mentored young ladies on how to represent themselves in a positive way, excel academically, and discover their passions.
Mrs. Miller formally began her life of service as a register accountant in the U.S. Navy at the naval base in Guam. During her service, she became a Navy majorette. She married James W. Miller, who served his community as both a police officer and firefighter. While Mr. Miller was active in his duty, she worked in a volunteer capacity as president of her school district’s Parent-Teacher Association and with the Women’s Auxiliary. She fundraised and supported those active in law enforcement and the families of the fallen through her role as President of the Fraternal Order of Police Associates of Ohio Lodge 69.
Mrs. Miller, along with her husband and daughter, established the Cincinnati Connection, a dance and guard team for young ladies aged 14-24. The group performed for the Cincinnati Slammers, the Cincinnati Stingers, and traveled to military bases to perform for enlisted personnel. Mrs. Miller worked with the young ladies not only on their dance routines, but in helping them to develop good manners, academic excellence, financial literacy, and a focus on citizenship. She and her daughter, Janet, were nominated as a team for their coaching endeavors and selected by Coca-Cola to be in the torchbearer relay for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.
After her husband’s death in 1994, Mrs. Miller joined the Police and Firefighters Widows and Widowers Association. Originally intended as a social venture, she quickly became aware of the financial needs of many of the members. She discovered many of the members did not know how to receive survivor benefits, and that the benefit amount had not been adjusted by the state for several years. This led her to more formally organize the association meetings, become its secretary, and create objectives for the membership.
Soon after, she led an effort to adjust the name of the group to the Police and Firefighters Survivors Association. This name modification, she felt, more accurately reflected the membership’s resilience and character. Following this, the association had successful advocacy efforts, with Mrs. Miller as the primary spokesperson, to raise the state monthly police and fire pension benefit and establish a cost-of-living increase.
Largely due to her advocacy efforts working with the Ohio Legislature, she was elected as the 8th District Vice-President for the Police and Fire Retirees of Ohio; she held this position for nearly two decades. She also started the program Helping Our Survivors in Transition (HOST), which designated and trained pension board representatives to meet with recent survivors of fallen police and firefighters about their benefits. Continuing her volunteer efforts, she spent many hours teaching visitors at the Cincinnati Police Museum and the Cincinnati Fire Museum. She received both the Police and Firefighter’s Citizen of the Year local awards.
A sense of purpose and dedication to her community led Mrs. Miller to be active in numerous organizations while maintaining a singular focus of promoting the lives of others.
Jerry Rampelt – Columbus, Ohio
Jerry Rampelt has dedicated much of his life to education, as a social studies teacher for a decade and through his research and consulting efforts relating to school district levies. With a heart for service, he continues to volunteer in the nonprofit space to improve the world around him. Mr. Rampelt also encourages others to enjoy nature through physical activity as well as taking part in the pursuit himself.
Mr. Rampelt holds a Master of Science in Education degree and a Master of Business Administration degree from Ohio State University. Using knowledge gained through his advanced coursework, at age 52, he started a performance improvement consulting firm where he served clients in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. A decade later, he created Support Ohio Schools (SOS), a nonprofit organization designed to assist public school district levy committees in passing levies with a focus on districts that historically struggled to pass school ballot issues.
Mr. Rampelt wrote “The Levy Book” in 2010 as a guide for school levy committees to follow. It is recognized as the standard book on the topic and he updates it each year. Also in 2010, he formed Support Ohio Schools Research and Education Foundation, a 501C3 charitable organization, with the purpose of conducting research and training sessions about school levy campaigns. This research has enabled school levy committees to better use their resources to effectively communicate the necessity of the levy with voters.
He has worked with over 325 school levy committees, spending countless hours meeting with community members and school personnel across Ohio. In 2010, he was named one of 37 people nationwide as a Purpose Prize Fellow by Encore.org (now GEN2GEN) for the creation of SOS. Mr. Rampelt also received the Central Ohio Education Association’s Friend of Education Award in 2017 in recognition of his efforts.
In addition to his work on school levies, Mr. Rampelt is an active Rotary member and charitable board volunteer. He was named Rotarian of the year for the 2019-20 year by the Short North Rotary Club for his volunteer efforts in developing a climate change education curriculum in Moshe, Tanzania. He traveled to Tanzania in 2012, 2015, and 2018 to work with the Hai School District and a local Rotary Club on the education project. Mr. Rampelt has also served on the nonprofit Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center Board since 2016. The Board’s top legislative priority, Marsy’s Law, which grants basic constitutional rights to crime victims became state law during his tenure on the board.
Maintaining a keen interest in outdoor exercise, Mr. Rampelt has formally served on the Columbus Outdoor Pursuits Board, as Executive Director for the Ohio to Erie Trail, and as interim Director of the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure. Notable achievements in his personal exercise quest include completing the Boston Marathon at age 60; climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro at the ages of 66 and 69 and climbing Mt. Whitney at age 69.
Residing in Clintonville, he enjoys being outdoors with his wife, Marilyn. They have been married 30 years and have five children and 11 grandchildren as a blended family.
Betty J. Wiechert – Zanesville, Ohio
Betty Wiechert was born in Newark on Oct. 19, 1919. Living in Zanesville throughout her adult life, she was the matriarch of a large family. She married Rudolph “Rudy” Wiechert in 1938. Together they had six children, 18 grandchildren, 48 great grandchildren, and many more great-great-grandchildren. After their youngest child enrolled in school, Mrs. Wiechert went on to attend Ohio University and graduated with a degree in education in 1972. Following her college graduation, she taught third and fifth grades at Maysville Local Schools in Zanesville across two decades before retiring.
Mrs. Wiechert’s entire life was a lesson in how to exemplify one’s morals through actions. A member of several community groups including the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, Church Women United, Christian Women’s Club, OWLS (Older Wiser Livelier Seniors) and American Association of University Women, she served others with countless volunteer hours.
Volunteering as part of the Inside Out Dads program and establishing the Forever Dads Prison Ministry at age 87, she ministered to the incarcerated men at the Noble County Correctional Institution in Caldwell for many years.
The Forever Dads Prison Ministry, which is a branch of a larger organization called simply “Forever Dads,” helps educate men on how to have a better relationship with their children, families, and community. Mrs. Wiechert frequently said she considered the inmates as her grandsons; many of the inmates fondly referred to her as “Grandma Betty.” She baked thousands of homemade cookies for their graduations from the Forever Dads program each year.
When she turned 100 years old, 2,500 inmates sang “Happy Birthday” to her when she arrived at the prison for a day of her Forever Dads program work. This touching moment was only possible due to Betty’s continued investment in the inmates’ personal growth and progress. In addition to encouraging and mentoring incarcerated men, she volunteered with HOPE Letters. This ministry of the Foothills District United Methodist Women is a correspondence program that seeks to encourage incarcerated women located at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.
In addition to her humanitarian work, Mrs. Wiechert attended and participated in the Muskingum Historical Society, Friends of the Muskingum County Library, Muskingum County Retired Teachers, Zanesville Concert Association and was a patron of both the Renner Theatre and Zanesville Community Theater. She believed in supporting local organizations as a way of strengthening human bonds within the community.
When asked about how she was able to live such a robust life, she said, “First keep a positive outlook for the future, faith in God for strength, know God is in control. Always try to look for the good in people, do the best you can, and try to do your best.”
A woman with great humility and a true service-centered heart, Mrs. Wiechert sought to edify and lift up anyone with personal struggles. Her personal mindset of committing lifelong acts of kindness and providing encouragement has helped multitudes of individuals in the Muskingum Valley area. Her actions were proof of her perspective that everyone can do something for the betterment of their community.
Vaughn Wiester – Columbus, Ohio
Vaughn Wiester, who was born in Abilene, Texas and grew up in Mount Vernon, Ohio, is a renowned jazz musician and educator who was part of the pioneering jazz program at Capital University, led by Ray Eubanks. Engaging with the musical community from an early age as a trombonist, he has continued to share his knowledge and expertise in music with students, peers, and audiences over his adult life.
Joining the U.S. Navy after high school, he earned a spot in the Commander 6th Fleet Band operating in the Mediterranean Sea. He joined the Woody Herman Orchestra in 1974 and toured with them for two years. Upon his return to Columbus, he joined the faculty of the Dave Wheeler Contemporary Music Workshop. During this time, he also played and arranged for the Jazz Arts Group of Columbus, founded and led by Ray Eubanks. In 1979, Mr. Wiester was asked to be a part of the newly developed Jazz Studies program at Capital University. He spent 17 years teaching music and directing jazz bands at Capital. Concurrently with his time teaching, he played with Terry Waldo’s Ragtime Orchestra.
Mr. Wiester founded the Famous Jazz Orchestra (FJO) in 1992. This 21-piece orchestra would go on to perform weekly for two years. After a hiatus, in 1997 the band resumed its activities as a now 22-piece orchestra at the Columbus Music Hall thanks to a welcome from Becky Ogden. Since 2011, the FJO has made its home at the Clintonville Woman’s Club where the band continues to perform every Monday. Due to his dedication to young musicians, several school jazz bands have been hosted by FJO. While continuing to arrange for and conduct the FJO, he enjoys membership in the national music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha as well as the Central Ohio Federation of Musicians Local 103, where he serves as secretary.
He is often sought by other jazz groups across Ohio to share his knowledge and artistry. He has worked with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, the Dayton Jazz Orchestra, the Rick Brunetto Big Band, Ernie Krivda’s Fat Tuesday Big Band, the Blue Wisp Big Band of Cincinnati, among others.
Mr. Wiester has earned several awards over his time as a notable central Ohio musician, including the Columbus Mayor’s Certificate of Appreciation in honor of the Orchestra’s 20th anniversary in 2017 and induction to the Columbus Senior Musicians’ Hall of Fame. Additionally, the Knox County Community Foundation’s Music Scholarship Fund was established in his honor. Each year, it is awarded to an aspiring instrumentalist or vocalist that is graduating from high school in Knox County. As he grew up in Knox County, it is a fitting scholarship that helps other young people attain music education.
Rarely does an individual find a calling for themselves that allows them to radiate the joy that they find within their craft to others. Mr. Wiester’s drive has brought musical excellence to the masses for decades, permanently marking his career as that of a notable Ohioan.