By Mitch Legan
Published by WTIU
Friday, October 18, 2019
The Monroe County Hall of Fame added ten new members during yesterday’s induction ceremony at Fountain Square Mall in Bloomington.
The Monroe County Hall of Fame was created in 1976 as a project for the country’s Bicentennial. It actively added members until 2011, but had been dormant since then.
“Having this event come back is great for all of us,” says Julie Thomas, president of the Monroe County Commissioners. “Because it’s recognizing our roots and the folks who have come here and made Bloomington and Monroe County their home and have done such incredible things for our community. It’s a moment of gratitude.”
The Monroe County History Center, CFC Properties and The Herald-Times decided to bring it back last year as a project for the Monroe County Bicentennial.
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton was in attendance and echoed Thomas’ sentiments.
“Communities grow and thrive and become wonderful places because individual people do things to make communities strong and evolve and change,” Hamilton says. “And today we’re celebrating people – there were many – but we honored several people who are part of the story of this community from way back in the 19thCentury to today. And hearing the stories reminds you of the importance of having people like that, who grab the community and hug the community and help carry it forward.”
One of those people is Charlotte Zeitlow, who has been active in Monroe County politics for decades. She spoke briefly at the ceremony, emphasizing the need for people to come together to make Bloomington and Monroe County a better place for everyone.
“For me, what is really important in life is developing community,” Zietlow says. “Community is a really important thing and I think we can take it for granted. Working with people with whom you do not agree, as well as with whom you do agree, for the best interest of everybody is the most wonderful thing to be able to do.”
Although the ceremony took place in 2019, those who were honored are considered part of the Hall’s 2018 class.
The Monroe County Hall of Fame Class of 2018 includes:
- Gayle Cook, who founded Cook Medical with her husband, Bill.
- Paris C. Dunning, former Indiana Governor from 1848-1849 who moved to Bloomington from North Carolina. It is believed he is the only person in state history to serve as governor, lieutenant governor, state senator and state representative.
- William “Bill” Hanna of Hanna Trucking Company. Hanna also served on the Monroe County Board of Commissioners from 1968-1980.
- Longtime Bloomington physician Dr. Frank Hrisomalos, who practiced medicine for 57 years, making him the longest-serving physician ever in Monroe County.
- Former Bloomington public servant Lloyd Olcott, who served four terms on the City Council, 14 years on the Bloomington Parks Board and decades with the Monroe County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. He was instrumental in the renovation of the Showers Factory into what is now City Hall.
- Joe Peden of Peden Farm. For more than 25 years, he and his wife, Joyce, have continued the tradition started by his parents in 1953 of having schoolchildren visit the family farm to learn about agriculture.
- Community and women’s suffrage activist Maud Showers, who became a partner in Showers Brothers Furniture in 1887 after her husband, Charles, died suddenly from infection. She was also instrumental in bringing a library to Bloomington and helped organize Bloomington Hospital.
- Former Monroe County Judge Vi Taliaferro, who began presiding over juvenile court in Monroe County as a magistrate in 1989 and became the first African-American woman to hold the position of Monroe Circuit Court judge in 1995.
- And her husband, George, the former IU football star who became the first African-American drafted in the National Football League. An outspoken advocate for civil rights, Taliaferro spent seven years in the NFL before serving as the dean of students at Morgan State and then chancellor of IUPUI. He was one of the founders of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monroe County. The Taliaferros were married for 67 years.
- Charlotte Zietlow, the former city councilmember who became the first woman elected to the Monroe County Board of Commissioners. She was the executive director of United Way of Monroe County and for 15 years served as development director for Middle Way House.
“This is part of looking back but it helps remind us look forward,” Hamilton added. “And to do the things we need to do to pass on a great community to our friends in the future.”